Defending your home or property with a firearm is not an easy choice to make. However, shotguns are a popular choice and relatively easy to learn how to use – When it comes to home defense, most experts will tell you that shotguns are preferred. But we’ll narrow that down just a bit and say that the best home defense weapon is a “tactical shotgun”.
Tactical shotguns are effective, reliable, easy to use, and are (for the most part), very affordable. However, like anything else, choosing the right tool to defend your home will involve some different factors as well as personal preferences.
Last year I recorded a podcast with Spencer Courson, a nationally recognized threat management expert, and the founder of Coursen Security Group. And one of the things he repeated to me, which is true when discussing home defense, “when they come in the day, they are coming for your stuff, when they come in the night, they’re coming for you.”
4 Top Shotguns To Secure Your Home – Factors in Choosing Tactical Shotguns –
So, circling back a bit, why tactical shotguns over hunting shotguns? In general, the preference here is for a .12 gauge shotgun with a tube-fed magazine rather than a box type of magazine which are prone to jamming. There’s a reason why military and police units use .12 gauge shotguns, they are by far, the most effective.
The ammunition required is important as well. Birdshot is out, and it is recommended to use .00 buckshot or a slug. Again, the type and make of the ammunition need to be paired with the shotgun of your choice to ensure it works well.
Here are some other factors that need to be considered.
Barrel length – While that long-barreled goose gun is great for hunting, it may be very unwieldy inside of a dwelling in a home defense situation
Under Federal law, shotguns must have a minimum barrel length is 18 inches and an overall length of 26 inches. The ideal home defense shotgun should be as close to those minimums as possible, and while there are some weapons that are smaller than that, there then comes in the proper Federal licensing that comes with it.
The shorter barrel of a tactical shotgun makes it easier to maneuver inside of your home.
Actions, Pump, or Semi-Automatic – A tactical shotgun will either have a pump, or semi-automatic action. Obviously, a semi-automatic is faster than any other but pump-action shotguns, with appropriate training, are very effective.
Semi-automatics are generally lighter on recoil but are prone to jams which is why the ammunition selected and practice are not just recommended but essential.
Stocks and Pistol Grips – While shotguns with no stocks look cool, they aren’t the best for accuracy or recoil. In a crisis situation, aiming and accuracy are imperative, and having a stock is necessary.
Tactical shotguns usually have synthetic stocks that are lighter, and while adding a pistol grip is a personal preference, I like them. But they aren’t essential.
Accessories – While not absolutely a necessity, having a rail will aid in adding a red dot optic is a great tool for getting quickly on target and re-acquiring the target after shooting. And adding a light to the shotgun is also recommended, as you’ll probably be operating in the dark.
So, in no particular order, here are our choice for the four best home-defense shotguns.
4 Top Shotguns To Secure Your Home – Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun –
The Benelli was designed for and sold to the US Marine Corps, so if you’re looking for some instant street credibility, there you go.
The Benelli M4 is extremely accurate, and fast, as it cycles very quickly. Recoil is minimal. With practice, a shooter can empty the 5 +1 magazine in just a few seconds. The overall length is 40 inches with a barrel length of 18.5 inches. It weighs in at 7.8 pounds. The trigger pull is nearly equal to a rifle, which is a rarity in shotguns.
The Benelli is a “wicked-fun mutha” to shoot, very accurate and ergonomically (it was designed to be a combat shotgun) is my favorite. It comes with Picatinny rails for red dot optics, lights, etc. It is an excellent weapon, however, the only drawback to it is the price. The Benelli retails for about $1,500- $1,800. That’s a lot of bucks.
4 Top Shotguns To Secure Your Home – Beretta 1301 Tactical –
The Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun is another very good home defense weapon. It is light, weighing in at just 6.4 pounds unloaded, but it doesn’t translate into more recoil as the Beretta uses its own “Blink” gas system and rotating bolt that cuts down on recoil. Although with .00 buckshot, there was more recoil than with other weapons.
The Beretta measures 37.5 inches in overall length with a barrel length of 18.5 inches. It feels excellent in your hands, very well balanced, and comfortable. According to a factory release, the 1301 cycles 36 percent faster than other automatic shotguns.
The weapon handles 2.75-inch and 3-inch shells with equal ease. The bolt handle and the bolt release are all oversized for fast easy use even with gloved hands. The synthetic stock has a grippy texture but won’t tear up your hands. It has a Picatinny rail for a red dot optic, but the design doesn’t allow for a light. The tube magazine holds 4+1 shells which are a tad on the low side. It is a really good home-defense shotgun but like many others, it requires some practice.
4 Top Shotguns To Secure Your Home – Remington 870 Express Tactical –
The Remington 870 is an iconic and arguably with the next weapon, the most popular pump-action shotgun. It is well made, dependable, accurate, and functional. It uses a steel receiver, which while increasing its durability, it also increases the weight somewhat. It is also very affordable, coming in at about $450 to $500.
The overall length is 38.5 inches with a barrel length of 18.5 inches. The 870 weighs in at 7.5 pounds. The tactical version is equipped with a pistol grip and it and the stock are synthetic and come in matte black. The tube magazine holds 6 +1 and can handle both 2.75 and 3-inch shells easily, so, there is plenty of ammunition for a home defense option.
The 870 has a bit of a long length of pull at 14 inches, but it is fun to shoot and has an XS Ghost Ring rear sight and XS front blade sight. The sights can be pretty easily adjusted for windage and elevation. However, it also has a rail, so you can add a red dot optical.
4 Top Shotguns To Secure Your Home – Mossberg 590A1 Tactical Shotgun –
The Mossberg 590 is among the very best home defense shotguns on the market. It and the Remington 870 are the two most popular among pump-action shotguns, while the Mossberg was selected by the US military. This is a tactical, combat-designed shotgun that even has a bayonet lug. While I personally don’t want a bayonet on a home-defense shotgun, in close quarters if some assailant tries to grab it out of your hand, the bayonet would most definitely discourage that.
The 590A1 weighs in at 7.25 pounds unloaded. It is 41 inches long, with a barrel length of 20 inches. The tube magazine holds 8 +1 shells and easily handles 2.75-inch and 3-inch shells. The synthetic stock also has a unique Speed Feedstock that holds an additional four rounds of ammunition. It has nice ghost ring sights that allow the shooter to accurately hit targets at its maximum range.
While it is an excellent combat shotgun, it may be a bit too long for some shooters as a home-defense weapon. However, ergonomically, it is a sweet weapon, and the safety, which is mounted on top of the receiver is in a perfect position. It is reliable and accurate.
Like everything else, using a shotgun as a home-defense weapon requires just as much practice as using a handgun. One of the other topics that Coursen and I discussed is that in a crisis situation, people, on average, will fall back on their highest level of training during an incident. So, get out to the range and practice.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.