When it comes to home defense their is probably no better weapon than the shotgun. The shotgun is still one of the most versatile firearms on the market. They can shoot many different types of ammunition from highly lethal to non-lethal: birdshot, buckshot, slugs, flechett, sabots, rubber slugs, breaching rounds, cs gas and rock salt to name a few.
When choosing a home defense shotgun there are several things to consider.
First should be gauge of diameter of the barrel. The 2 most common are 20 gauge and 12 gauge with 12 ga being larger in size. The 12 gauge shotgun is by far the most popular size. Next is the action type: semi-auto or pump/slide action. Reliability of the slide or pump action is hard to beat as there is way less chance of something going wrong.
Another key feature is the stock. There are pistol grip stocks and collapsible stocks and full length rifle type stocks. Shotguns although being an area weapon with proper ammo still need to be aimed and as such it is best to have a stock. There are lots of stories and videos to be found of people firing pistol grip shotguns with a bad result; getting smacked in the face, eye, mouth etc. The accuracy is just not there. That leaves either a full or collapsible stock. The collapsible is versatile and can be adjusted to the shooter.
Next question is Make and Model. There are several well made models on the market to choose from:
Mossberg: 500A or 590A1 are probably the best. SMade here in the USA. See HERE for the differences between the two models. Receivers are made from aircraft grade aluminum. Either one is a solid gun.
Remington: 870 express magnum receivers. Made here in the USA. Remington 870 pump action website HERE. Receiver is made from steel.
Winchester: 1200 or 1300 speed pumps, website overview HERE. Receiver is made from aircraft grade aluminum.
Ithaca: Model 37 defense model is a good option. Made in the US and the receiver is made from steel. Website HERE.
Browning: The BPS pump is made in Japan. Their website HERE. Receiver is made from steel and the rounds eject out the bottom.
Benelli: The Nova Pump is a versatile option made in Italy. Their website HERE. Comes with military front blade and ghost ring rear sights. The receiver is made from a steel reinforced-polymer. Very light guns.
Savage/Stevens: The Savage/Stevens 350 pump is similar to the Ithaca model 37. Company website HERE. This is basically a Chinese made knock-off of the Ithaca model 37. They can be purchased for around $250. Proceed at own risk.
There are other makes and models available, but this is a great place to start. Of the models listed above 3 are made here in the USA, and 4 are imported. The Benelli is made in Italy and the Browning is made in Japan. The Winchester pumps are now made in Istanbul, Turkey and the company is partially owned by Browning Arms Co. and FN of Belgium.. The Savage/Stevens 350 is a Chinese made knock-off of the Ithaca 37.
You can’t go wrong with any of the above models. The various modifications and tactical accessories available for each will differ greatly. There will be many more accessories for the Mossberg, Remington and Winchester models for home defense and tactical applications. We will look at accessories for home defense shotguns in a future article so stay tuned.
Lastly home defense ammunition is another area to explore. Standard birdshot won’t over penetrate walls like a slug or sabot but also won’t have the same knockdown. Overall for price and effectiveness it’s hard to beat the standard 2 3/4″ Double 00 Buck rounds.