When it comes to self defense, the shotgun does not usually come to mind. More archaic kinds of shotguns, the double barrel and tube magazine semi auto shotgun are among the most common and cheap guns to own. That being said, they also make great self defense tools. See, as much as you might want to use a little 9mm luger or even a 5.56, which is considered dangerous in home settings, shotguns have a different atmosphere around them. Whereas one shot from a 5.56 or a 9mm may kill someone, a single shotgun slug at the minimum interaction distance is 100% fatal.
Shotguns can come in all shapes and sizes. There are semi automatic shotguns, which have recently become popular in the civilian market. Traditionally, semi automatic shotguns use tubular magazines under the barrel, but advancements in technology have given way for detachable magazine fed shotguns. Like any gun out there, it may have all the features, but it takes practice to really become proficient
Now more tactical models of shotguns have come out, which have proven to be equally, if not more suitable for home defense than rifles. The problem with rifles is that while they are often customizable, do not carry a cartridge that is suitable for self defense. Rifle calibers at such short distances are prone to exiting the assailant’s body, continuing its flight into another part of the house.
Best Attachments for a self defense shotgun
Self defense shotguns are made for one thing: defending your home and family. It is necessary to make sure that it can be functional for any situation inside the house. Take into account the size of your house, the length of hallways, access points and the placement of your loved ones in your home in comparison to the access points. Then plan accordingly with the size, shape, and build of your home defense shotgun.
A Sling is important to have. Slings help keep a gun close to you so it is ready to aim much quicker. For tactical shotguns that may be heavy, a sling can redirect that weight to the body rather than to the arms, helping maintain aim over a longer period of time.
The right optics are tricky, but a general rule of thumb is that if you have an electric sight, to have a flip sight as a backup. However, with a shotgun, it is more important to line the barrel up with the assailant. While some aim is necessary, shotguns are not made for precision accuracy. That means that sights can be good enough to conveniently get a sight picture, but nothing more. In preparation for nighttime defense situations, a flashlight should always be present.
Chokes are vital to an optimal home defense shotgun. The main purpose of the shotgun choke is to either widen or shrink the spread of the projectiles when the gun is fired. Making sure the spread is as low as possible will help you ensure that no other casualties besides what’s at the opposite end of the barrel will be harmed. In situations of defense at the home, it is important to note that protecting property and loved ones should be as high of a priority as incapacitating the threat.
What to Consider with a Home Defense Shotgun
There are a few things to consider when it comes to a shotgun’s barrel length. A longer barrel on a shotgun means more effective range. The powder will likely be burnt up in the bore, increasing the max potential of the shell. The barrel will also determine the spread of the projectiles. Chokes do this as well, but the disbursement will be affected by longer and shorter barrel lengths. In a home setting, a low spread is typically optimal to reduce casualties. Make sure to either have a properly sized barrel or the right choke for your home defense shotgun.
A barrel length of around 18-20” should suffice for home defense. However, going even smaller will require the use of chokes to further decrease the spread of the projectiles depending on what shot you are using. Slugs are typically the most sought after defense shells because of how lethal they are at close distance.
Practice makes perfect. Shotguns operate in a similar way as typical long guns. Pull the trigger and it fires, but there are training methods unique to the shotgun that will help in cases where self defense with the shotgun is needed. It is important to become proficient with your home defense shotgun, how it feels when shooting, the recoil, fire rate, spread at various ranges. These are all things to consider when using a shotgun for self defense. Because typically more than one projectile is shot at a time with a shotgun, it does pose a little more threat to other things. Training with the shotgun will heavily reduce any margin of error or potential for mistakes.
10 Best Home Defense Shotguns
Few can argue against the reputation Mossberg has been able to garner throughout its history selling some of the top of the line shotguns to civilians. The Mossberg 500 is a great shotgun and has been traditionally used by law enforcement as well. It features a pump action on a lightweight frame making it great for self defense situations. It has long been held as one of the top pump action shotguns of all time.
Mossberg 590 A1
The Mossberg 590 is for all intents and purposes a combat shotgun. Originally developed for the armed forces, it is a shotgun made to be suitable for use in combat situations. With its resilient pump action and thick barrel wall it is a tank, able to take any number of magnum loads you can think of. And for an added feature, it can even be fitted with a bayonet.
The Remington 870 is a close competitor to the Mossberg 500, not really displaying anything too far from the previous member on this list. However, the Remington 870 is built to perfection making it a reliable companion for any self defense altercation. The Remington 870 is great and comes with a forward sight on it, meaning the only extra you will need is a rear sight to make it even more accurate.
The Benelli M4 is the epitome of gas operated semi automatic shotguns. Its very tactical coming stock with an adjustable buttstock and pistol grip. It works off the ARGO system which utilizes a dual piston gas system making it one of the most reliable semi auto tactical shotguns on this list. It comes with a picatinny rail on top of the receiver and can be fitted with all sorts of attachments.
The Hatsan Escort is a pump shotgun made with polymer and metal to create a reliable yet affordable entry in this list. It fires the 20g and has a 22” barrel great for self defense in confined quarters. It is a reliable shotgun which is very well suited for self defense purposes. The main appeal with the Escort is that it is much cheaper than any of the other members of this list, but still has a decent amount of reliability for life and death situations.
Mossberg Maverick 88
The Mossberg Maverick 88 is a short pump action shotgun featuring an adjustable buttstock and a pistol grip. Instead of its safety being on the receiver, it is on the trigger. This makes safety selecting much more seamless as it can be done while aiming. Safety first, yet while this is capable of keeping the shooter and others safe, it uses the Mossberg 500s platform optimally for self defense.
Mossberg SPX 930
A tactical variant of the Mossberg 930, the SPX brings on a set of features that makes it great for use in self defense situations. It features a semi automatic action, has a picatinny rail on top of the receiver, with both a rear and front sight. The fact that it is semi automatic means that it has superior recoil reduction as opposed to other pump shotguns. For comfort and ease of use, the Mossberg SPX 930 is one of the best options.
Kel Tec KS7
Kel Tec’s take on tactical shotgun really blew everyone out of the water. Not only is this shotgun semi automatic, but it features a bullpup system in which the action is actually behind the trigger. This reduces the forward weight immensely and helps create one of the legally shortest shotguns that can be used by civilians. Its size alone makes it a great option for self defense. It weighs 6 pounds and has an excellent rear and front sight.
The Beretta 1301 is a semi automatic shotgun feeding rounds from a tubular magazine with 6 rounds of capacity. It is a reliable option for those looking to defend their homes with a shotgun. With the claim that it fires 36% faster than any other semi automatic shotgun, you won’t need to worry about how fast you are shooting, only if you are quick enough at reloading. Although you shouldn’t need to with its rear and front sight.
The Armscor VR80 is one of the coolest on this list. It separates itself from the others on this list because it is the only one here that is built on the AR-15 platform. That’s right, it is a semi auto shotgun with an upper receiver, lower receiver, and detachable magazine. Unlike the others in this list, it is fed rounds from a detachable magazine making reloading a more viable option. The VR80 is highly customizable with its handguard and picatinny rail.It is extremely lightweight and easy to handle.
Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12
The Iron Horse Sentry 12 is a box fed pump action shotgun. While it resembles the VR80, the systems display some differences in the kind of actions they have. That being said, they are both fed from detachable magazines. Since it feeds the magazine from a detachable magazine, the barrel resonance will not be constantly affected by the changing number of rounds at the bottom of the barrel. It is great for people who want to use a shotgun, but don’t like the look or feel of regular shotguns. The Sentry also features a picatinny rail for attachments and optics.