Today I’m going to show you the best tactical shotgun.
I’ve hand-tested 15 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 home defense shotgun, you’ll find it here.
Let’s dive in!
The 3 Best Tactical Shotguns
If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best home defense shotguns:
- Mossberg 500: Best Tactical Shotgun for Home Defense
- Remington Model 870 DM Tactical: Best Tactical Pump Shotgun
- Maverick 88: Best Tactical Shotgun Under $300
1. Mossberg 500: Best Tactical Shotgun for Home Defense
The Mossberg 500 is one of the best shotguns for hunting and home defense.
I’ve been using a Mossberg 500 for self-defense for as long as I can remember. And I have to say: It’s never let me down.
Let’s take a closer look…
The Mossberg 500 is not a rifle — it is a classic 12-gauge shotgun.
You can not expect to hit a 12 inch target at 500 meters with this, or any other shotgun.
However, this shotgun is accurate.
It comes with a 28 inch barrel with a choke, and a double bead sight system, with one bead midway down the barrel and the second bead at the front of the barrel.
The choke holds the shot in a proper pattern, to give shot shells accuracy.
However, it is a shotgun. With some practice, you should be able to look down the barrel and shoot, without taking time and effort to actually sight in on the target.
The shorter 18.5 inch defense barrel is a rifled barrel, which will increase the accuracy in defensive situations.
In such close quarter defense needs, the Mossberg 500 will provide an accurate shot placement (with just a little training).
The Mossberg 500 was first manufactured in 1960, and has sold over 10 million units.
It has been used, and continues to be used, by military and law enforcement agencies all over the world.
The Mossberg 500 is the only shotgun to ever pass the rigors of the U.S. Army’s Mil-Spec 3443W test which requires that a shotgun be able to fire 3,000 rounds of full-power 12-gauge buckshot without a failure.
It should be noted that the U.S. military technically uses a model 590, which required a few minor changes such as a metal trigger guard and a heavier barrel.
However, for practical purposes the 500 and the 590 are fundamentally the same shotgun.
The action inside the shotgun is not constricted, allowing room for the mechanisms to work even if dirty with:
- Gunpowder residue
- Or under other adverse conditions
As long as you can pump a shell into the chamber, you can fire that shell.
The Mossberg 500 features an aluminum receiver, which cuts down on the weight when compared to other 12-gauge shotguns.
This makes for less tiresome days when carrying the shotgun for extended times.
Some detractors claim that the lesser weight of the 500 is not sufficient to counterbalance the force of firing 12-gauge shells.
However, there does not seem to be any negative effects of having a shotgun that is little lighter than comparable 12-gauge shotguns.
The safety on the Mossberg 500 is a slide centered on the top and towards the rear of the receiver, where the thumb of the shooting hand naturally rests.
This allows the shooter to easily articulate the safety with the thumb of the shooting hand. A definite advantage for left handed shooters over other shotguns.
Here comes my favorite feature…
The Mossberg 500 barrels can be switched with ease. Here’s how you disassemble a Mossberg 500 barrel:
- Unscrew the magazine knob
- Pull the action down midway
- Twist the barrel just a little and the barrel will pull right off from the receiver
Then just reverse it, place the end of another barrel into the receiver, screw the knob into the magazine tube, and pump the action.
And you just changed barrels…in less than a minute.
The 28 inch barrel is choked, and does have a wooden dowel plug so that the gun can not hold more than three rounds — to keep it legal for hunting in some jurisdictions.
(Mossberg does sell a Mossberg 500 Tactical version, featuring a pistol grip, adjustable stock, and tri-railed forends if you’re looking for a defensive shotgun).
The trigger is stout, with a trigger pull weight of 8.5 pounds.
It does require effort to pull, but does function smoothly. Many shooters do tend to want a lighter pull, and may modify the shotgun for that purpose
Magazine & Reloading
The Mossberg 500 has a traditional under-the-barrel tube magazine.
It holds six shells, but can be restricted to three shells to make it legal for hunting in some jurisdictions with the simple use of a wooden plug.
(Which is included with the gun packaging from the factory).
Length & Weight
The combo comes with a 28 inch vented rib barrel, and a 18.5 inch defense barrel.
With the 28 inch barrel, the overall length is 47.5 inches, with a weight of 7.5 pounds.
That’s not too bad.
This is a 12-gauge shotgun. So the recoil isn’t going be like a .45 ACP Carbine.
However, it does come from the factory with a thick recoil pad that definitely aids in absorbing the recoil.
The vented 28 inch barrel helps keep the recoil at a manageable level.
With over 10 million units being sold and used world wide, the recoil can obviously be managed by most shooters. For me personally, I had zero issues with recoil.
The Field and Defense combo has a MSRP of $477.00.
Essentially, you get two shotguns for less than $500.
Here are the best accessories for the Mossberg 500:
- Pistol grip – Helps with retention and support.
- Barrel Heat Shield – If you’re going to be chewing through stacks of ammo, get this. It’ll help a lot when the barrel gets hot.
- Ghost ring sight – For quick, accurate target acquisition.
- Trijicon RMR Red Dot – Since it excels in close range combat, use a red dot. Trijicon RMR is a battle-proven red dot that is used by law enforcement worldwide.
Mossberg 500 Review: Is It Worth It?
The Mossberg 500 is a classic 12 gauge shotgun, and you can’t go wrong with owning one.
Here’s why, it’s:
- Exceptional handling
- Intuitive (The safety is right by your thumb — no fumbling for it)
- Reliable (10 million sold & the choice of law enforcement and military)
If you’re looking for a battle-proven shotgun that has everything you need, get a Mossberg 500.
Plus, you’re backed by Mossberg’s 10 year warranty. So if anything happens to the shotgun, they’ll repair it free-of-charge.
2. Remington Model 870 DM Tactical: Best Tactical Pump Shotgun
The Remington Model 870 12-gauge shotgun is the classic pump action shotgun.
It’s been manufactured for over 70 years and has sold more than 11 million units. It’s a classic tool in the firearm toolbox.
But what makes the Model 870 DM different from the 870? And is it even worth the extra money?
Let’s find out…
Is the 870 DM Tactical accurate?
The 870 DM Tactical comes from the factory with Magpul furniture and includes a XS Steel Front Sight and XS Tactical Rail/Ghost Ring Rear Sight, a vast improvement over the single ball front sight.
It also comes with a picatinny rail on top of the receiver, making mounting an optical system a breeze.
It is a fact that the 870 is reliable.
And the 870 DM seems to be even more reliable and simple to operate.
The 870 DM simplifies the action and feeding process by eliminating the internal lifter that lifted the shells from the tube magazine into the chamber.
The DM shells are fed directly from the magazine and makes for an even smoother feel as shells are fed straight upward for firing.
The 870 DM is still a pump shotgun and relies on the shooter to run the action.
It is not susceptible to ammunition variants causing issues with jams like semi-automatic firearms can have.
If you can rack it, you can shoot it.
The 870 DM Tactical handles very similar to the classic 870. The obvious difference is loading and reloading.
The 870 DM Tactical also comes with a ported tactical breacher choke in the cylinder bore.
The choke has a serrated edge, which gives this shotgun an even more aggressive look. But it is also functional, helping disburse the shot, and keeping the shotgun on track.
Hunting purists may not like the extended magazine hanging below the magazine well. This extra appendage could be an issue if it gets hung up if moving through thick brush or woods. In these cases, the streamlined classic 870 may be a better choice.
After all, this shotgun is called “tactical” for a reason — it’s not made to be a hunting gun.
The detachable magazine also has a safety component to it.
Ever load a magazine tube, not fire all the shells, then manually eject the live shells? This can lead to a negligent discharge.
Unloading the DM is simple. Simply remove the magazine, and make sure the chamber is empty.
Simple and safe.
The 870 DM has a trigger pull weight of 4 pounds, 13 ounces.
The trigger has the traditional feel and fit of the 870 shotgun.
Magazine & Reloading
The detachable magazine is the obvious defining characteristic of the 870 DM.
It comes from the factory with a single polymer magazine, topped with a steel rim to secure the magazine in the magazine well. The classic 870 holds between four and six shells, depending on the model.
The 870 DM magazine holds six 2 ¾” or 3” shells. This has a few advantages…
With an additional magazine, loading six more shells into the shotgun is infinitely easier and quicker than reloading shells, one at a time, into the traditional magazine tube.
An additional magazine also allows different types of shells to be ready at hand for different tasks.
To release the magazine from the shotgun, there is a large magazine release lever suspended in the center front of the magazine well, making it ambidextrous and able to be manipulated with gloves.
However, the magazine does not automatically drop when the release is pressed. It must be pulled out and removed.
Not a hard task by any means, but it is unusual for those used to the magazine dropping freely from the magazine well.
This is by design.
The forces exerted by the repeated blasting of a 12-gauge rounds are far more powerful than forces exerted by other types and calibers of firearms with removable magazines.
In order to ensure proper fitting and retention of the magazine during firing, a more robust retention mechanism is required.
Length & Weight
Barrel: 18.5 inches
Overall length: 38.5 inches. Stock can be adjusted by removing spacers.
Weight: 7.5 pounds
This is a 12-gauge shotgun.
Recoil is to be expected but can be managed with proper stance and handling.
The 670 DM Tactical comes from Remington with Magpul furniture which includes an SGA Stock with Super Cell Recoil Pad, along with spacers to ensure proper fit when firing.
The ported tactical choke also helps minimize recoil.
Anyone who can handle the recoil of any 12-gauge shotgun will be able to handle the recoil from this shotgun.
870 DM Tactical comes with Magpul furniture and one six shell magazine and has a list price of $799.
Additional magazines seem to retail for between $30 – $40, but can be hard to find.
Remington 870 DM Tactical Review: Is It Worth It?
This gun is ideal for anyone in the market for a tactical shotgun for home defense, hog hunting, or any other purpose that requires quick reloading.
Here’s why, it’s:
- Reliable (11 million sold over 70 years)
- Accurate (Comes with high visibility sights)
- Exceptional handling (with the Magpul furniture and recoil pad)
- Quick reloading (Very quick, if you have a loaded magazine)
How can you go wrong with an improvement on a classic?
The Remington 870 DM Tactical shotgun is a beast and I’d recommend it any day of the week.
3. Maverick 88: Best Tactical Shotgun Under $300
The Maverick 88 is the best budget tactical shotgun.
It costs less than $250 and works just as great as any other shotgun.
Keep on reading…
The Maverick 88 is an accurate, well-balanced shotgun.
It uses a bead and groove sighting system (line the bead between two grooves and you’ll hit what you’re aiming at).
The gun is accurate at ranges of up to 40-50 yards, and regularly hit center mass on a standard silhouette at 25 feet (even with a first-time shooter!).
For home defense, you’ll never almost never need to fire the gun at a longer range.
The Maverick 88 is designed to shoot reliably and accurately with no extra frills, and it definitely accomplishes its goal of shooting accurately.
The Maverick 88 is a pump-action shotgun.
Pump-action shotguns have less moving parts than semi-automatic shotguns. Less moving parts means more reliability.
The Maverick 88 also boasts steel-to-steel lockup. Which means, that metal is on metal (not plastic) for all moving parts of the weapon. This makes the weapon more durable.
The slide cycled smoothly and the gun fired with no issues (as long as appropriate ammo was used).
I had no jams or feeding problems (thanks to the anti-jam elevator).
In fact, I have a friend who fired thousands of rounds through the Maverick over the past 15 years and has yet to experience a failure.
Breaking down the weapon for cleaning is somewhat difficult — requiring tools and a chunk of time.
Fortunately, removing the barrel was simple. You should only have to clean the barrel after shooting, making a more extensive breakdown to clean only needed every thousand rounds or so.
Ultimately, this weapon will shoot when you pull the trigger.
The Maverick 88, while not the most comfortable weapon to handle, was intuitive and easy to use.
The action release lever (which allows the weapon to cycle without shooting – a necessity for safely removing a loaded shell) was located on the left side of the gun in a convenient spot.
The standard stock was serviceable & comfortable to shoot, but many owners choose from the wide variety of after-market stocks available.
The Maverick comes with a basic sling mount and the choice for a shoulder stock or a pistol grip. Some users had issues with firing the weapon (when shouldered) with the pistol grip stock.
However, I didn’t experience any problems.
The weapon was easy to put together right out of the box. The Maverick 88 handled well, particularly for its low cost.
The Maverick 88 comes with a steel trigger.
The trigger pull had 7 lbs of force (perfectly acceptable for a home defense shotgun).
Although the trigger guard is manufactured from polymer rather than higher quality metal, it gets the job done.
Magazine & Reloading
The Maverick 88 holds 8 rounds (7 loaded in the tube with 1 round already chambered).
The 88 boasts a strong ejector.
You won’t have to deal with hot spent shells falling on your arm or shoes when shooting.
The weapon was easy and intuitive to load.
Depending on the variant you purchase, the Maverick 88 can shoot 20 gauge or 12 gauge, making it one of the best tactical 20 gauge shotgun on the market today.
Length & Weight
The Maverick 88 comes with a barrel length of 20 inches with an overall length of 41.5 inches.
The weapon weighs 7 pounds (unloaded), so it’s on the lighter side of shotguns.
This is the shotgun’s biggest con…
The recoil is intense.
Using good technique to fire the weapon can mitigate some the pain received, but the Maverick 88 definitely is not a weapon optimized to reduce recoil.
It’s designed to fire and fire reliably, which it accomplishes — albeit at the cost of a sore shoulder.
So you might be wondering:
How does Mossberg manage to make a reliable shotgun and sell it for that cheap? Here’s why…
- Some of the parts are manufactured in Mexico (unlike the Mossberg 500, which is produced exclusively in the US).
- It doesn’t come with a wood stock or swivel sling mounts.
- Most of the weapon is made of polymer (rather than metal), while the metal parts of the weapon are blued steel (rather than an advanced alloy).
- It’s a pump action (which are usually a few hundred dollars cheaper than semi-automatic or double-barrel shotguns).
The weapon is designed to provide security for ~$200 — not much else. Can you buy a better weapon? Absolutely. But not at this price point.
The Maverick 88 is a rugged, reliable weapon that will provide you home security for dirt-cheap price.
Any accessory made for a Mossberg 500 (except any relating to the trigger group) is compatible with the Maverick 88 (including barrels).
I recommend changing the sight on your shotgun to the following:
- Trijicon RMR – This will help improve accuracy and target acquisition.
Mossberg Maverick 88 Shotgun Review: Is It Worth It?
The Maverick 88 is a perfect weapon for those looking for a reliable home defense weapon without breaking the bank.
It also makes a good weapon for first time gun owners. Here’s some of the features that make it stand out:
- Light weight
If you’re looking for the best 20 gauge home defense shotgun without destroying your bank account, go for the Mossberg Maverick 88.
Now It’s Your Turn
I hope you enjoyed my best tactical shotgun guide.
So as a recap:
If you’re looking for the best 12 gauge shotgun for home defense, I highly recommend the Mossberg 500.
What about the best tactical pump shotgun? The Remington Model 870 DM is what you’re looking for.
Or if you’re on a tight budget, I’d opt-in for the Maverick 88.
Whichever one you choose, you’ll get a reliable home defense shotgun that’ll work every time. I’ve fired various rounds through each one with no failure.
Now I want to turn it over to you:
Which tactical shotgun will you pick for home defense?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.
7 thoughts on “The Best Tactical Shotguns for Home Defense [All Budgets]”
Looking for a Mossberg 500 12 gauge 20 inch barrel . Where can I buy this shotgun?
Good article. One typo: on the Maverick you said the trigger pull was “7 pounds of pressure”. It should read “7 pounds of force” or just “7 pounds”.
Fixed! Thanks Jim 😀
I bought the 12 gauge Mossberg 500 Classic about 2 years ago and I love it. It has some nice goodies (many of which are not found on the normal 500 series) such as a gold colored trigger, a red colored recoil pad, a ventilated upper rib, a “hammered iron look” on the discharge plate, an upgraded high-gloss walnut stock, accu-set chokes (variable choke set), a 28″ removable barrel, two gold colored bead sites on the upper rib, a high-polished blued barrel, is chambered for 3″ shells and, as you mentioned about the 500 series, the barrel is removable. As soon as I bought it I purchased an 18.5″ barrel and you are correct, it can be swapped out/in very quickly. I did it in under 30 seconds and thats the first time I ever swapped a barrel. Also, the short barrel gives it a nice tactical look.
In my opinion, the 500 Classic is the nicest looking shotgun, by far, that Mossberg makes and many people overlook it. Check it out on their website. Again, great article.
WERE CAN I BUY THEN.
My new Mossberg 500’s top tang safety button split & went flying off the 1st time I fired it w/basic 12 ga. birdshot, rendering it useless. It also kicked holy hell out of my now-arthritic shoulder. Do yourself a favor & get a new or used GAS operated semiauto Beretta, Fabarm, or Benelli AND put a high tech recoil pad on it. Don’t be a macho fool! And NO mechanical device is 100% guaranteed. But generally, the Italians are worth the money.
I enjoyed your article. I just purchased a Mossberg 500 retrograde for use as a home defense shotgun. It has and 18.5 inch barrel, magazine capacity of ( (5) 2-3/4 rounds (it will shoot 3″). Walnut stocks. I have not shot it yet, but I’m sure will be reliable. I also love that it is 100% made in the U.S.A!