The Best Single Shot Shotguns [Hands-On Tested]

Today I’m going to show you the best single shot shotgun.

In fact:

I’ve tested 13 shotguns alone for this review.

The best part?

I’ve sorted each shotgun by use. So whether you’re on a budget or need the best best single shot shotgun for the money, you’ll find it here.

Let’s dive in!

The 3 Best Single Shot Shotguns

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best single-shot shotguns:

  1. CZ Sharp-Tail Coach Shotgun: Best Overall Single Shot Shotgun
  2. Henry Wisconsin Single Shot: Best for Hunting
  3. Midland Backpack: Best Compact Single Shot Shotgun

1. CZ Sharp-Tail Coach Shotgun: Best Overall Single Shot Shotgun

The CZ Sharp-Tail Coach is the best overall single shot shotgun.

In fact:

This shotgun remains a popular choice for hunting, home defense, and sport shooting today.


Read on to find out…


After firing several rounds of different brands and styles, I give this a 4 out of 5.

I got a great spread on both birdshot and buckshot, and the gun hit center mass reliably after hundreds of shots, with both barrels.

The left and right barrels did shoot just to the left and just to the right, respectively, but the elevation was dead-on.

This makes sighting on quick and easy.


After firing hundreds of rounds, not once was there a failure to fire OR a failure to release the cartridge.

Every time I pulled the trigger, the gun fired with no problem, and the cartridge popped right out.

This saves me from having to reload in a hurry, while allowing me to reload in a hurry if I needed to.


Handguard is wider than the Hammer-tail version of this gun, a similar product from the same manufacturer.

This makes the gun very comfortable to hold.

It’s a reasonably light gun, with a smooth pull to the firing position.

The short barrel made it slightly more difficult to track fast crossers when firing at clays, but this gun is meant to be brought to bear quickly, stopped on a dime, and shoot accurately up close — all of which it did with no problems.


The single select trigger on the Sharp-Tail is mechanical, not inertial, and the firing mechanism in internal, making this a very smooth gun to shoot.

Pull the trigger the first time, and your selected barrel (chosen with the switch in the safety) will fire.

Firing the second barrel requires only a second pull of the trigger, and does not rely on the recoil of the gun to switch.

This means even in the event of a misfire (unlikely but possible) the firing mechanism will switch to your second barrel despite not firing the projectile.

Unfortunately, unlike with some hammered shotguns, you’re unable to fire both barrels simultaneously. However, you can fire both in quick succession.

Magazine & Reloading

Because the firing mechanism is internal on this firearm, the action is a little stiffer on the reload.

When you break it open, you’re actually cocking the two internal hammers. This will likely loosen a bit after your first few hundred rounds, but out of the box it’s a bit sticky.

The cartridges extract, but don’t eject, saving you from hunting around for spent cartridges at the end of a shoot.

If you open the Sharp-Tail facing up, the cartridges drop out freely, making extraction and reloading quick and clean.

Length & Weight

At 37.5” overall with a 20” barrel and weighing only 6lbs (unloaded), this weapon can be handled by just about anybody. It’s even lighter than the 30-06 Winchester Model 70 Featherweight.

It’s light weight makes it easy to bring to position, and it’s also available with a 30” barrel.

Recoil Management

The Sharp-Tail comes with a rubber recoil pad, which is great because it does have a little bit of a kick.

As expected, heavier shot comes with a heavier recoil, but it wasn’t excessive with any of the different ammunitions.


At just over $1000 MSRP, this is a great weapon at an affordable price.

While it doesn’t come with antique wood or some of the embellishments you might see on a $4000 shotgun, it’s beautiful to look at and versatile for the price.

CZ Sharp-Tail Coach Review: Is It Worth It?

If you’re looking for a reliable home defense weapon that could be used for target shooting, small game hunting and self-defense, look no further than the CZ Sharp-Tail Coach.

It’s got everything you need:

  • Smooth trigger
  • Customizability
  • Great accuracy
  • Manageable recoil

In short:

It’s a solid all-in-one shotgun with a price tag you can’t say no to. If this calls out to you, feel free to give it a spin:

2. Henry Wisconsin Single Shot: Best for Hunting

The Henry Wisconsin Single Shot Shotgun is a medium weight, solid, single-shot rifle.

It debuted in late 2017, and offers a challenge:

One shot to hit your target.

It’s a good mid-priced rifle, fitting right between the cheaper budget-oriented options and the pricey classic replicas.

It’s certainly not cheap, but also not too expensive for the average person.

Let’s take a closer look, starting with…


My first few shots from the Henry were in the 2-inch range, from 50 yards offhand.

Later, I maintained a grouping under 1.5 inches at 100 yards.

I did experience a few misfires at first, but the issue went away when I continued testing. I speculate this had something to do with a rough spot on the inside of the gun that smoothed out as I continued since later sessions yielded no misfires. A red dot sight could improve the accuracy even further.

In short:

Accuracy is great. Moving on to…


Both the 12 gauge and 20 gauge gun proved to be 100% reliable in the testing process.

In my countless test shots, I experienced no malfunctions whatsoever. Even the case extraction proved itself reliable, which is no small feat with a break-open rimless bottle-neck cartridge.

It’s clear that Henry did not sacrifice any reliability in the process of making this firearm aesthetically pleasing.


Henry shows with the Wisconsin Single Shot, that they can make a good old-fashioned single-shot rifle.

It’s light, smooth, and carries comfortably while hiking through the deep woods.

The checkering gives you a firm grip, and everything is factory-assembled tightly. If you were to ever need to disassemble the gun, it breaks down in seconds into just two pieces — neither of which are longer than the barrel.

To disassemble it, all you need to do is tap out the hinge pin. That’s it. No removal of fore-end necessary.

This is incredibly useful for storing and transporting to different areas. It swings beautifully, and everything including the trigger, action, and controls are smooth.

I was definitely impressed by the handling of this gun.


The trigger on this gun is single-stage, single-action.

Henry enhanced the safety of this rifle by using exposed hammers that must be manually cocked for each shot, and a dual-direction pivoting lever lock that blocks the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled.


The pull of the trigger is somewhat inconsistent, measuring between 5.75 lbs and 7.5 lbs over 10 consecutive pulls. It’s somewhat heavy, but lighter than a double-action revolver.

I noticed a catch in the pull at around 5 lbs, and the heavy trigger pull can cause you to flinch.

Magazine & Reloading

As a single-shot rifle, the magazine capacity is, of course, just one.

The Wisconsin Single Shot is chambered to accept 12-gauge shells up to 3.5 inches in length, and it has an extractor rather than an ejector.

The shells are fully removed when the action is broken open. Simply tip the barrel downward and push the extractor rearward to remove the shell.

Although I wish it came with an spring-loaded ejector instead, it is as simple of an extraction method as I could hope for.

Another bonus is that the opening lever is ambidextrous. Meaning it can be pushed either way to unlock the action.

If you’re left-handed, like me, that’s very exciting!

When I first started using the firearm, a couple of the cases got stuck in the chamber, but a quick barrel and chamber cleaning solved that problem.

Length & Weight

This gun comes as a 12-gauge and 20-gauge. This means, like the LWRC International IC-SPR, it comes in two different barrel lengths.

The 12-gauge has a barrel length of 28”, an average weight of 6.65lbs, and an overall length of 43.5”.

The 20-gauge is a bit smaller, with a barrel length of 26” and overall length of 41.5”, but has the same average weight as the 12-gauge at approximately 6.65lbs.

Recoil Management

The Wisconsin Single Shot is equipped with solid rubber buttpads.

The well-designed pad is soft on the shoulder, and is also slick and rounded at the heel so it doesn’t catch on to your clothing.

Additionally, the weight helps to reduce the recoil.


This is a relatively mid-priced shotgun, with suggested retail prices between $427-$549. For the money, it is a solid choice for a single-shot rifle!

Recommended Accessories

Although this is a great single-shot rifle on it’s own, I do recommend a Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40.

This will help improve accuracy and extend your range.

Henry Wisconsin Single Shot Review: Is It Worth It?

If you’re looking for a single-shot shotgun that is ideal for hunting, then get the Henry Wisconsin Single Shot shotgun.

For the price, it’s got everything you need:

  • Accurate
  • Budget friendly
  • Quick disassembly
  • Ambidextrous locking lever

In short:

This shotgun is great for deer, antelope, and small hog hunting. You’re not going to find a better single-shot field gun for the money.

3. Midland Backpack: Best Compact Single Shot Shotgun

Attention all hikers, preppers, hunters or anyone that’s looking to carry as little as possible.

I’ve got great news…

While you’re trekking, you no longer have to hold a shotgun in your hands. Midland Arms came up with a solution.

Enter: Midland Backpack shotgun.

As you’ve probably guessed, it’s a shotgun that can literally fit into most backpacks. Simply fold it in half and stash it away. It’s that easy.

But how’s the overall performance?

Keep on reading to find out…


The Midland Backpack Shotgun is accurate.

In fact:

It proved more than adequate for shooting clays, and was accurate when firing at a person-sized target 15 yards away.

The weapon comes with a modified choke, and is compatible with interchangeable chokes made by famed gun manufacturer Beretta.

(Chokes modify the spread of the pellets exiting the barrel of the shotgun, allowing for increased range and accuracy).


The Midland Backpack Shotgun is a well made, reliable shotgun.

Manufactured by Khan Arms, the Backpack Shotgun boasts a forged steel receiver.

Forged steel is a more durable metal compared to lighter materials such as aluminum and plastic. The waterproof, synthetic stock is more than capable of handling the elements, which means you won’t have to deal with extensive maintenance.

Although I had some issues with light primer strikes (failed to shoot) when using Aguila Minishells, I didn’t have issues with any other brands of ammunition.

Overall, the Backpack showed itself to be a reliable weapon.


Why is it called the Backpack?

Because with one pull, the weapon breaks down and can be folded neatly in half, allowing it to fit in a normal sized backpack.

This makes it an easily transportable weapon, perfect for hikers, hunters, and preppers alike.

The Midland Backpack comes with sling studs installed, allowing for an easy addition of a shotgun sling. I found that firing heavier loads lead to my hand sliding forward and hitting one of the sling studs located on the bottom of the barrel.

If you aren’t going to attach a sling, you may want to remove this stud.

It also comes with removable rubber grip panels, which were comfortable and assisted with grip.


Unfortunately, the trigger is not comfortable.

Requiring 8 heavy pounds of pull, the trigger was somewhat of a chore to use.

Nevertheless, the trigger is for a shotgun, not a precision rifle. While definitely not a selling point, the trigger gets the job done

The shotgun also comes with a cocked indicator, showing whether the weapon is cocked or not. When fired, the indicator depresses, showing that the weapon is now uncocked. This is a nifty little feature that adds a layer of safety to give visual information about whether or not the gun is primed to fire.

Fitted with a traditional trigger block safety, the weapon clearly indicates red for “ready to fire” and black to show that the safety is engaged and the weapon prevented from firing.

Magazine & Reloading

The Backpack Shotgun is a break-action, single shell shotgun.

This means that when fired, the shooter pulls a separate trigger which folds the weapon between the receiver (where the trigger is) and the barrel.

The spent shell is then manually extracted by the shooter, and another is placed in to reload.

Think Elmer Fudd’s gun, except with one barrel instead of two. This simple design involves less moving parts, which also means less chance for something to break. While more labor intensive to reload than a pump-action or semi-automatic shotgun, it’s more reliable.

The Backpack offers a wide variety of options for types of loads it will fire. Coming in .410, 20 gauge, and 12 gauge models, the Backpack allows you to shoot your preferred load.

Length & Weight

The Backpack shotgun prides itself on its easily transportable frame.

And it’s true:

The 20-gauge model comes with a 26-inch barrel, the .410-gauge with an 18.5-inch barrel, and the 12-gauge with an 18.5, 24, and 26 inch barrel.

The best part?

The shotgun is insanely light — only 4.25 pounds!

Once again, the weapon can be easily folded to around 20 inches, small enough to fit in the vast majority of backpacks.

The Backpack also ships with two spacers that can be added to the stock to lengthen the shotgun. All that’s required is to remove two Phillips-head screws and simply slide the two spacers on.

This allows the gun to “grow” with a young shooter who is also growing, allowing proper proportioning.

Recoil Management

Unfortunately, the recoil management of this weapon is poor.

12-gauge and slug shells were downright painful to shoot. The .410 and 20 gauge, with their lighter loads, were less punishing.

The light weight of the weapon combined with larger loads can be discouraging, intimidating, and downright painful for younger or inexperienced shooters.


This feature rich weapon has a shockingly low MSRP of only $149.99.

You’re not going to find a more reliable (or feature heavy) shotgun for a lower price.

Recommended Accessories

Here are the best accessories for the Midland Backpack shotgun:

Midland Backpack Shotgun Review: Is It Worth It?

If you’re a backpacker, hiker or prepper, then the Midland Backpack shotgun might be fore you.

Here’s why:

  • Compact
  • Customizable
  • Easy to carry
  • Budget friendly

In short:

The Backpack is a lightweight, easy-to-carry shotgun that isn’t going to break the bank and is a perfect weapon to start with.

Strap on your backpack and give Midland Backpack Shotgun a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best single shot shotgun guide.

You always have the choice between a rifle and a shotgun when choosing a single-shot firearm, it really just depends on what you prefer.

So as a recap:

If you want the best overall shotgun, I highly recommend the CZ Sharp-Tail Coach.

But if you intend on using it for hunting, go for the Henry Wisconsin.

Or if you’re looking for the most compact single-shot, opt-in for the Midland Backpack.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which single shot shotgun will you pick?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

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