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The Top Five Tactical Shotguns For Home Protection Part 1
The Most Popular Tactical Shotguns For Home Defense
Right as I'm typing this, I have a pretty big safe downstairs filled with plenty of handguns and rifles. Their value runs into the thousands of dollars and most of them are supremely reliable. But what's the gun I rely on for protection, the one next to my bed? It's a shotgun.
Want to know why?
It's a very simple equation for protection. With every pull of the trigger, a shotgun delivers a larger, deadlier payload than any other accurate shoulder-fired gun.
Home defense is a job that calls for the most effective and reliable tools we can get our hands on. Our lives, our homes, and our families deserve nothing less.
Before you start shopping for tactical shotguns online, take a little time to make yourself an educated buyer. Besides providing useful general information, we've also prepared a closer look at 5 of the best tactical shotguns available, covering a full range of budgets:
- Mossberg 590A1
- Benelli M3
- Hatsan Escort Aimguard
- Mossberg SPX 930
- Remington 870
Defining The Tactical Shotgun
What's the difference between an ordinary hunting shotgun and a tactical shotgun? To properly qualify as "tactical," there are certain essential features a home defense shotgun should have:
- Barrel Length Of 18-20 Inches: A shorter barrel translates into more maneuverability, which makes the weapon more practical for enclosed spaces - even inside vehicles. 18 inches is a practical lower limit because shorter shotgun barrels require federal registration and tax stamps.
- Semi-Auto Or Pump Operation: Shotguns come in a vast range of different operating mechanisms. Examples include semi-auto, pump action, lever action, bolt action, and more. Semi-automatic and pump actions are the best, most practical options for home defense purposes. Speed and ease of operation are the key advantages they offer.
- Accurate Sights: The most common sight setup for shotguns is a single bead at the end of the barrel. For home defense purposes, you want something a little more functional. Your shotgun needs both front and rear sights, and you might even want to consider a red dot sight (Trijicon, Aimpoint, or similar).
- Sling Mounts: A sling is an extremely important part of a good tactical shotgun setup. It allows you to retain control of the weapon even if you need to use your hands for non-shooting purposes and makes it harder for assailants to take your weapon away from you.
- 12 or 20 Gauge Chambering: 12 gauge is the most popular caliber for combat shotguns with good reason. It offers plenty of power and it's ideal for semi-auto shotguns. A 12-gauge tactical shotgun does have significant recoil and it's a large, heavy weapon. 20 gauge makes a good alternative for shooters who need a smaller, more forgiving weapon.
- Shell Capacity Of At Least 4+1: Because of their large size, shotgun shells are relatively difficult to house inside a firearm and magazine sizes tend to be small. You should consider 4+1 to be the minimum acceptable load for a combat shotgun; magazines that can take 7+1 are even better.
- A Stock: Proper stocks are an absolute must for tactical shotguns. Though pistol-grip shotguns look potent and have certain limited uses, a full shoulder stock makes your shotgun far more versatile. They deliver more accuracy, comfort, and control.
The Shotgun's Capabilities
One major factor in the tremendous flexibility of the shotgun is the variety of different projectiles it can handle. The same shotgun is capable of defending me from small pests in the possum range, two-legged hostiles, and bigger threats like bears.
There are three common loads of shotgun ammunition:
- Birdshot: Birdshot shells are filled with small metal pellets. Depending on the exact load, the number of projectiles ranges from dozens to hundreds. As the name suggests, these loads were originally intended for use on birds, small game, and clay pigeons. They aren't particularly suitable for the home defense mission.
- Buckshot: Buckshot loads feature a smaller number of larger-diameter pellets. The caliber of the individual projectiles ranges from 0.24 (the classic No 4 buckshot) to 0.36 (000 buckshot). Buckshot is ideal for both hunting medium game and for tactical use. The most commonly-used caliber of buckshot is 00 or "double aught" buckshot.
- Slugs: A slug shell fires a single heavy projectile. The chief advantage that slugs offer is a greater effective range for your shotgun.
The Key Principle For Tactical Loading
A tactical shotgun is designed for a singular purpose: ending a threat as quickly as possible. It should be loaded in accordance with this goal.
For home defense purposes, the two important shotgun loads are buckshot and slugs. Buckshot is perfect for indoor defense applications. Slugs come into play if you're preparing for a situation where longer range might occasionally be needed - for a trunk or truck gun, for instance.
Shotgun ammo is extremely easy to find, and you'll find yourself practically spoiled for choice when you pick out buckshot and slugs for home defense. Every major ammunition vendor offers a diverse range of defensive loads.
Shotgun ammunition may seem a little pricey on a round-by-round basis. Common pistol cartridges like 9mm can be found (with a little effort) as cheaply as 16 cents per round. Shotgun shells are going to cost more. Bear in mind, they also do a lot more damage.
Guidance On Shotgun Ammo Pricing
My personal choice for self-defense shotgun ammunition is Federal FliteControl 00 Buckshot, which I can usually find for a dollar a round or slightly more. For training, I fall back on cheaper options like Nobel (60 cents a round).
Birdshot is also effective for some training purposes, like reloading drills and weapons manipulation. It typically costs just 25 cents a round.
On the slug front, I favor Winchester PDX Defender slugs, which cost about $1.50 each. Simpler non-segmenting hunting slugs can be found for 86 cents a shell.
Home defense applications usually call for close quarters combat. CQC is chaotic and fast-paced; this is why ending the fight quickly is your top priority. A running gun battle in your home would be a nightmare; this is why shotguns are ideal for CQC.
Paying For Quality
A reliable, premium-quality shotgun can be just as expensive as a rifle. (See our AR-15 Buyer's Guide for more.)
A quick price check on a Daniel Defense AR-15 reveals that the rifle costs $1,700. This is almost exactly what you'd pay for a Benelli M4. In terms of design and quality, these weapons are strongly comparable; they're both top-of-the-line choices.