When it comes to home defense, a good shotgun can take care of business.
They are widely available and can be purchased new for as low as $250.
If you are looking for a gun for home defense, here are some reasons why you should strongly consider one of the shotguns on our list.
1. Spray pattern
A shotgun shell contains shot that sprays outward increasing your chances of hitting the target.
With a regular rifle, while the shot will have a lot of force and do a lot of damage, it must be placed with greater accuracy.
Recommended Reading: How to Make Home Made Shotgun Shells
2. Safer to use in high density environments
A rifle bullet can penetrate multiple walls and maybe even go further depending on what a structure is made of and the type of bullet. This can lead to others getting injured or even killed.
While shotgun pellets or slugs may penetrate walls somewhat, they are far less likely to go through a lot of a structure and hurt others.
If you live in an apartment, townhouse, or just very close to neighbors, this is something you really need to consider when choosing a home defense weapon.
3. Easy to operate
There are not a lot of bells and whistles on a shotgun. They are very easy to learn to use. For those that have not shot a lot, they are great for building confidence with firearms.
4. Allowed in more places than some guns
While plenty of places have laws restricting handguns and assault style rifles, a shotgun might be allowed. Note – you may still have to get a permit and/or pay a fee to possess one legally in your home.
Choosing the best shotgun for home defense
The choices below reflect a wide range of prices and styles but all offer good knockdown power and are suitable for home defense.
Mossberg Maverick 88
Shotgun Style: 12G Pump | Barrel Length: 18.5″ | Overall Length: 39.5″
Weight Unloaded: 7lbs | Shell Capacity: 6+1
I really like the Mossberg Maverick for a good all purpose shotgun. For home defense it offers a great shell capacity, is very easy to load, and simple to operate.
Since it is such a common shotgun, you get the cost benefits of mass production. We bought our Mossberg second hand a over decade ago and never had any major problems at all!
This shotgun is a utility gun that you can use to throw in a vehicle for farm use or take out for some skeet shooting too!
This is the gun that stays over my doorway most of the time.
During a situation where we had unwanted people wandering in through the woods after we were in bed, this is what was reached for. Didn’t have to use it but it was sure nice to have during a situation where we did not know the intentions of the trespassers.
Remington Model 870
Shotgun Style: 12G Pump | Barrel Length: 18.5″ | Overall Length: 38.5″
Weight Unloaded: 7.5lbs | Shell Capacity: 6+1
The Remington 870 is one of the top selling shotguns out there. It offers quality craftsmanship and an extended tube that allows you to have a 7 shell capacity without increasing weight substantially.
The receiver is made from a single piece of milled metal while the barrel is fully rifled with a heavy contour for accuracy and knock down power when you need it most.
Those that want a very well known and trusted shotgun at a reasonable cost would do well to look for an 870.
This is a shotgun that you might be able to find used at a pawn shop, gun show, or through a private party.
Shotgun Style: 12G Pump | Barrel Length: 18.5″ | Overall Length: 39″
Weight Unloaded: 7.75lbs | Shell Capacity: 8+1
The top mounted safety trigger pull is factory set at 5 lbs which makes it have a solid pull for safety but not too hard to fire at the same time.
This is important when it comes to any defensive situation. You are going to be stressed especially since most of the time it is the first time the person has found themselves in that position.
Site can be adjusted for elevation and wind resistance. The fiber optic sites are easy to use and extremely accurate. For those familiar with the M-16, the front sight is styled the same way.
This shotgun has an 18.5” barrel so it has good knock down power while also offering an amazing 9 round capacity counting one in the chamber. The weight of the gun is impressive considering how sturdy it is made.
Savage Arms Stevens 320
Shotgun Style: 12G Pump | Barrel Length: 18.5″ | Overall Length: 38.25″
Weight Unloaded: 6.8lbs | Shell Capacity: 5+1
This shotgun offers a budget friendly solution for home defense.
With a 5 +1 shell capacity you have plenty of rounds on hand for defending your home. The Stevens is made in China so some people will not own them based on that. However during shooting tests they seem to perform with no problems.
While I would not recommend the Stevens for someone that wants to do more than have a defensive weapon for the home, it is worth considering if that is really all you need and you don’t want to spend any more than you have to.
The pistol grip is not something always seen on this style of pump but it can help with stability especially if you are new to shooting.
Shotgun Style: 12G Semi | Barrel Length: 18.5″ | Overall Length: 40″
Weight Unloaded: 7.8lbs | Shell Capacity: 5+1
This gun was introduced in 1999 to the US Marines and now it is a big part of the US military arsenal. Reliable and still in service after 18 years.
Is usually 5 +1 but can be made to be 7 +1 if you install the tube extension. 8+1 with 2 3/4 shells
Those sold to civilians have no 7 round extension included. You have to do an aftermarket tube extension if you want to have the higher capacity.
For most users this is not worth it. This is a $2000 shotgun but very well made and they maintain their value well so if you ever change your mind, they are not hard to sell.
Beretta Model 1301
Shotgun Style: 12G Semi | Barrel Length: 18″ | Overall Length: 37.5″
Weight Unloaded: 6.7lbs | Shell Capacity: 5+1
The Beretta Model 1301 is designed for fast tactical shooting.
In fact, Beretta claims that thanks to Optima Bore HP choke compatible and the Blink engine, shooters can expect to shoot up to 36% faster than other traditional semi automatic shotguns.
The 1301 features a heavy duty Stellium barrel and ghost ring sites. The 1301 is lightweight but still features a 3” chamber so you can use big shells with ease.
If you are looking for a shotgun that is going to be used for sport and home defense, this model could serve you well over the years. Berettas also hold their value well.
Kel Tec KSG
Shotgun Style: 12G Pump | Barrel Length: 18.5″ | Overall Length: 26.1″
Weight Unloaded: 6.9lbs | Shell Capacity: 12+1
The Kel Tec KSG gets credit for having a high shell capacity and compact size. At a mere 26” long, this is a shotgun you can tuck back somewhere. For shooting in closer quarters it has its advantages. Most of the shotguns on this list are 11-13 inches longer than the KSG.
The shorter length allows Keltec to make a gun that while it has two barrels and a shell capacity of 12+1, still comes in at under 7 lbs empty weight.
I recommend the Keltec for those that want something that can take on a major situation without reloading. Its size makes it a good choice for those living in smaller spaces or the city.
Winchester SXP Shadow Marine Defender
Shotgun Style: 12G Pump | Barrel Length: 18″ | Overall Length: 38.5″
Weight Unloaded: 7.8lbs | Shell Capacity: 6+1
Those that live in wetter climates or near salt water need to consider their circumstances more when choosing a shotgun.
If you plan on using your gun near salt water or taking it with you on excursions to salty environments at times then you should consider a shotgun that is made with a synthetic stock and non corrosive metals.
For the durability and shell capacity, the SXP is an outstanding value for home defense.
Russian Molot Vepr-12
Shotgun Style: 12G Semi | Barrel Length: 18″ | Overall Length: 38.5″
Weight Unloaded: 9.7lbs | Shell Capacity: 5+1
This shotgun is getting harder to find but if you can get your hands on one they make an excellent self defense shotgun.
Although a bit heavier than some shotguns, they have a reputation for being accurate and reliable. The semi automatic magazines allow you to have a lot of ammo loaded in magazines and ready to go if the situation calls for it.
The metal stock was originally designed to fold down but a lot of them being sold are welded into place. The weld is small and can be broken so you can fold it. The weld has to be there in order to import the gun into the US.
This is an amazing shotgun to shoot. Experienced shooters report that recoil from firing doesn’t feel any different than a rifle. This is important since shotguns have varying degrees of recoil.
Shotgun Style: 12G Pump | Barrel Length:Two 18 ¾” | Overall Length: 29.5″
Weight Unloaded: 9 lbs 12 oz| Shell Capacity: 16 rounds total
The DP12 is well built but a little heavy. It is made by a company called Connecticut Shotgun Co and Standard Manufacturing.
It features an aluminum body and AR style safety and slide release. There are two magazines feeding into 2 tubes so it is like having two shotguns in one. There seems to be no major jam up or complications from two magazines feeding a single tube.
You cannot not fire both barrels at once but will fire two as fast as you can pull the trigger. The right barrel fires first and then second fires even if one magazine is short.
The DP 12 will hold 14 shots normally or 16 if you have rounds in the chamber.
This video is worth watching if you are curious about how a two barrel high capacity shotgun actually performs.
What is your favorite shotgun? Do you have any personal experiences you would like to share?
Leave a comment
Damn good piece folks!
I’d just like to say thanks for this guide and also can you send a copy to everyone involved in our current gun control debate?
I grew up on a farm, learned to shoot early and, while I support the right to own weapons for whatever purpose, I cannot but shake my head at all the people who want to buy an assault rifle or a handgun for home defense.
In the middle of the night, woken out of a sound sleep? Really?
Shotguns are proven for generations to be the thing you need.
If I could have a magic “common sense” wand, we’d only have 5shot internal magazine weapons available to any person who isn’t a collector(and goes through that rigorous routine).
Shotguns are common sense weapons
12 gauge will penetrate a wall easier than a JHP though. I see your point but, with a shot gun there’s so many projectiles to worry about. It damn sure will stop what it hits, and everything behind it too
Need this. But I suppose it will throw me on my butt.
How about my hearing ?
Just want to be forewarned