The pump-action shotgun is arguably the best firearm available for home defense. It is easy to use and versatile, delivering hard-hitting stopping power when the situation calls for it. For over a century, U.S. law enforcement officers have favored pump-action shotguns over handguns when facing dangerous criminals. And American military forces have relied upon pump-action shotguns from the trenches of World War I to the fight against terrorism today. With only basic instruction, a person can easily learn to operate and fire a pump shotgun. And in a defensive situation, the ability to rapidly reload by manipulating the pump action can mean the difference between life and death. The pump action has also proven to be inherently more reliable than semi-auto shotguns in combat situations.

Today there are many options when it comes to stock configurations, recoil pads and spacers, allowing shotguns to be adjusted to people of different statures and physical abilities. Choice of ammunition is also a major advantage of using a shotgun for home defense. Tactical shotshell loads using buckshot or slugs offer remarkably lethal stopping power, and there are less-lethal options such as rubber pellets or beanbag rounds. Shooters can also choose from heavy-recoil magnum loads and reduced-recoil loads. The adaptable and proven pump-action shotgun has a lot to offer when it comes to personal and home defense. A careful examination of available products will help responsible citizens to select the features they find desirable and at a cost that is affordable. Here are a few that caught our eye.

Benelli Nova Pump Tactical
Benelli’s Nova Pump Tactical is a 12 gauge, pump-action shotgun that integrates a polymer stock and lightweight receiver into a single unit for high strength and resistance to the elements. Dual action bars and rotary head-locking lugs allow the Nova Pump Tactical to properly handle and function with the full spectrum of shotshell sizes and loads up to 3½-inch magnums. A magazine cutoff on the forearm allows for safe carry with a full magazine and empty chamber. Because different shooters have different needs when it comes to personal defense, the Nova Pump Tactical has two options when it comes to sights: either rifle sights or adjustable ghost-ring sights. Well-thought-out ergonomics are hallmarks of the Nova Pump Tactical. These well-engineered surfaces make the shotgun comfortable to hold and easy to handle. Distinctive grooves on the pistol grip and forend, in place of checkering, provide a positive gripping surface. The Benelli Nova Pump Tactical is a reliable and an easy-to-handle pump action that’s ideal for personal defense. (301-283-6981;

CZ-USA imports rifles and handguns from Ceská Zbrojovka in the Czech Republic, and the CZ-USA line of shotguns from Huglu and Akkar of Turkey. Two new pump shotguns suitable for personal and home defense were introduced in 2013: the 612 Home Defense and the 612 Horde Control-Pump (HC-P), the latter of which pays homage to the ongoing zombie phenomenon in popular culture. The 612 Home Defense is a no-nonsense 12 gauge fitted with an 18.5-inch, cylinder-bore barrel and a black, synthetic stock. Its components, construction and application-specific features make it ideally suited for personal protection. An added bonus is that the available 26-inch, vent-rib barrel easily converts the 612 Home Defense into a field gun for hunting. The 612 HC-P features a tactical pistol-grip stock and ghost-ring sights with glowing fiber-optic dots for fast target acquisition. An accessory rail on the receiver allows aftermarket optics to be easily installed. The 20-inch barrel and full-length pump forend make it an excellent home defense gun as well. The barrel accepts CZ choke tubes and ships with one cylinder choke. (800-955-4486;

Rugged and filled with desirable defense features, SARPASP shotguns are a good choice. The SARPASP is manufactured in Turkey by the longtime shotgun experts of Sarsilmaz and is imported by U.S. Sporting Goods for European American Armory (EAA). Sarsilmaz has been in the firearms business for more than 130 years and produces both military and sporting arms. Sarsilmaz uses state-of-the-art CNC technology and the latest manufacturing methods to ensure flawless production. As a result, Sarsilmaz shotguns are highly regarded in Turkey. EAA is able to offer the high-quality SARPASP pump action to American shooters at an affordable price. This shotgun has a Picatinny-type accessory rail for mounting optics and a standard ghost-ring sight for quick target acquisition. The gun features available options such as a breaching-style choke tube and black
synthetic furniture with a soft, polymer pistol grip. (321-639-4842;

FN P-12
FN has a long and proud tradition of producing high-quality firearms for personal defense. The release of the P-12 pump shotgun marked FN USA’s reentry into the pump-shotgun market. The P-12 brings the tradition of genuine FN quality to a highly desirable firearm. Perfect for home-defense, general-purpose and recreational shooting, the P-12 is designed as a multipurpose, premium-quality tactical shotgun. The P-12 has a five-round magazine capacity and premium, matte black finish over anodized aluminum. At 18 inches in length, the Belgium-made cantilever barrel is fully chrome-lined for long life and added corrosion resistance. The barrel is factory installed with an Improved Cylinder (IC) stainless steel choke tube. Interchangeable standard Invector choke tubes are offered as accessories. Also standard on the new P-12 are fiber-optic front sights and flip-up iron sights. A Weaver-type accessory rail is also included for mounting optical sights. (703-288-3500;

Mossberg 500 Tactical Light Forend
Mossberg continues to refine the 500 series shotgun design with innovative features that give it a tactical edge when it comes to personal-defense situations. The Mossberg 500 Tactical Light Forend series comes with an L-3 Insight Technology flashlight that is integral to the polymer forend. This shock-resistant light delivers 125 peak lumens that allow any intruder to be clearly seen and identified. With ambi side touchpad operation, the forend light has different modes that include temporary on, fixed on and strobe. This combination is ideal for personal-defense use since it can be used as a normal flashlight or as a blinding strobe to disorient intruders. Mossberg is proud that its pump shotguns are the only shotguns purchased by the U.S. government that meet or exceed the Mil-S-3443 specifications for a combat shotgun. With many decades of military and law enforcement use behind its design, the 500 Tactical Light Forend shotgun is an excellent choice for personal- and home-defense needs. (800-363-3555;

Remington Model 870 Express Tactical Magpul
Remington continues to offer new variations of its tried-and-true Model 870. The 870 has a reputation for being tough and ultra-dependable when defensive firepower is needed. At the heart of this rugged shotgun is a receiver milled from solid steel. Both the receiver and barrel feature a tough, weather-resistant Cerakote finish that is both functional and pleasing to the eye. The Model 870 Express Tactical Magpul features a range of custom improvements to the stock and forend from Magpul Industries. The SGA stock is an ambidextrous, user-configurable buttstock designed to add adjustability to the 870. It features a spacer system for length-of-pull adjustment, improved grip ergonomics, a recoil-reducing buttpad, and optional cheekrisers for use with raised sights. The MOE forend offers extended length and front/rear hand stops for improved control. It is compatible with MOE rails, mounts and accessories available from Magpul. Other features of the 870 Express Tactical Magpul include an extended tactical choke tube and fully adjustable XS ghost-ring sights. (800-243-9700;

Savage Stevens 350 Pump Security
Savage Arms offers up its Stevens line of shotguns, which includes the Stevens 350 Pump Security. A distinctive characteristic of this pump shotgun is that it is loaded and ejects from the bottom. This can be an advantage in some tight indoor situations. A bottom-ejected shotshell falls to the floor, while a side-ejected shotshell could bounce off a wall and hit the shooter at a very inconvenient time, such as during an altercation. The overall length of the Stevens 350 Pump Security is 38.25 inches, while the barrel length is 18.25 inches. Aiming in high-stress situations is quick thanks to the ghost-ring sights, and both the synthetic furniture and metal surfaces of the Stevens 350 Pump Security feature a matte black finish that is non-reflective. (413-568-7001;

Stoeger P-350 Defense
For the better part of a century, the name Stoeger has been associated with fine firearms. Stoeger provides a complete lineup of shotguns, including double barrels, over/unders, side-by-sides, semi-autos and pump actions. The Stoeger P-350 pump-action shotgun is a reliable personal-defense weapon designed to fire any 12-gauge ammunition, from light target loads to 3.5-inch magnum loads. Designed for use in tight quarters, the Stoeger P-350 provides a simple, sturdy and reliable platform for self-defense in even the most stressful of circumstances. It comes equipped with a newly designed pistol-grip stock that provides superior handling and control. The pistol grip allows for one-handed control and helps steady the gun for accurate, effective shooting when time is of the essence. A forend assembly with twin action bars delivers smooth, non-binding cycling. The barrel on the P-350 Defense models features a blade front sight attached at the muzzle for positive target acquisition. An optional 13-ounce, mercury-filled recoil reducer tames the kick of heavy ammo. (800-264-4962;


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