Few firearms have the battle-proven pedigree that the Benelli M4 has. This semi-automatic shotgun has seen combat in the hands of the U.S. Marine Corps and law enforcement agencies around the globe. Gas-operated, this 12-gauge scattergun uses standard chokes and is topped with a Picatinny rail for mounting a red-dot optic. Benelli offers several variations of this gun, including those with pistol grips and ghost-ring sights with tritium inserts.
One of my favorite semi-automatic shotguns is the 1301 Tactical from Beretta. This is a very smooth-shooting shotgun that demonstrated extremely good reliability in my own personal testing. The 1301 Tactical’s controls are oversized, which helps you run the gun when you are suffering from the effects of being startled in a life-threatening situation. Beretta equips these shotguns with a large blade front sight, a ghost-ring rear sight and an accessory rail for adding an optic.
The pump-action C6-12 from Chiappa uses a classically shaped synthetic stock and forearm. Chambered for 12-gauge shells, this gun holds five rounds in its tubular magazine. The 18.5-inch barrel is chrome lined and is set up to use standard Remington chokes. A cylinder-bore choke is included. Both the bolt release and crossbolt safety are in places similar to those on the Remington 870, making this gun instantly familiar to many shooters.
Well known for making military rifles and machine guns, FN also makes top-notch defensive shotguns like the P-12. This European import has the subtle styling of a sports car with the raw power that only a 12-gauge delivers. The extended magazine holds five rounds, and the chamber can handle both 2¾- and 3-inch shells. Both the chamber and bore are chrome lined. The receiver is ready for an optic, but FN builds in a fiber-optic front sight and flip-up rear.
When capacity is a concern, the Kel-Tec KSG is well worth your attention. This very compact 12-gauge shotgun uses a pair of parallel feed tubes that each hold up to six 3-inch shells. As it is designed, the shooter can select which magazine the gun feeds from to allow you to keep two different loads on tap. Although the gun does not ship with sights, a long Picatinny rail allows you to add flip-up sights or an optic. Lefties will like this gun because it dumps empty shells downward rather than to the side.
Ever since I shot one some 20 years ago, the Mossberg 590A1 has been my favorite pump-action shotgun for self-defense. For 2016, the company has updated the classic fighting gun to a 7+1 capacity and added a tri-rail on the forend, making it easy to add a white light or laser. With its ghost-ring rear sight, this gun is quick on target, and the tang-mounted safety makes it easy to run no matter which hand you favor. These guns are tough and were selected for use by the United States military.
Nighthawk Custom offers a range defensive shotguns in its new Overseer line. These guns begin life as standard Remington 870s but are then completely disassembled and built up by a gunsmith into the weapon of the customer’s choosing. The Model 1 gun, the base package, adds a ghost-ring rear sight with a front fiber optic, a sidesaddle, an extended magazine and a Hogue OverMolded stock. Additionally, the action and rails are hand-honed, and the entire gun is finished in black Cerakote.
A standard law enforcement tool for confronting violent felons, the Remington 870 Express Synthetic Tactical is just as good for the private citizen defending his or her family against armed intruders. This simple design has proven to be extremely durable and easy to learn by even gun novices. Four rounds are held in the tubular magazine (a 6+1 model is also available), and the gun has a 3-inch chamber. A single bead up front keeps the sight picture simple as well.
Although the company is more frequently associated with its line of value-priced 1911-style pistols, Rock Island Armory also makes quality defensive scatterguns. The S605 TAC SA shotgun is an affordable, reliable semi-auto that uses an inertia-driven operating system. It also has a pistol grip, a fiber-optic front sight and a synthetic stock. The magazine can hold four rounds, and the chamber can handle the 3-inch magnum shells.
A great value in the defensive shotgun market, the Stoeger P-350 Defense is a quality pump-action shotgun that has a surprisingly affordable price tag. This 12-guage riot gun has a synthetic stock with your choice of either a traditional or pistol grip. Both styles have use a tubular magazines that can hold four rounds. Stoeger opted for a low-glare, matte black finish. Up front, the shotgun has a bead-type sight.
Developed by Turkish manufacturer UTAS, the UTS-15 is a compact shotgun with dual magazines and a polymer receiver. Although more than 80 percent of the gun is made of fiber-reinforced, injection-molded polymer, there is plenty of steel where it is needed. The barrel, bolt and flash suppressor are all made of 4140 steel. Each magazine holds seven rounds, and the shooter can select which magazine will feed the shotgun. Beretta-type chokes are used in this gun.
Some of the best guns on the market come from Wilson Combat, and The Standard is a great example. This 12-gauge shotgun has an extended six-round magazine and a sidesaddle shell carrier to keep you in the fight. A SureFire forend with a built-in tactical light allows you to quickly identify targets, while the Trak-Lok ghost-ring rear sight and tritium front sight will help you put rounds on target. Wilson Combat rounds out the package with a heavy-duty magazine tube spring, a high-visibility follower and an Armor-Tuff finish.
One of the best values on the defensive shotgun market is the SXP Defender from Winchester. This pump-action shotgun is specifically designed for self-defense duties, from its matte, non-glare finish to its inertia-assisted action. Winchester elected to use a barrel with a fixed-cylinder choke for wider patterning. The company states that this barrel is very accurate with Foster-type slugs. The chamber and bore are both chrome plated for enhanced durability. A front bead sight is standard, and the receiver is drilled and tapped for the installation of an optic if so desired.
Some things never change. One of those universal constants is the usefulness of a home defense shotgun to protect yourself and your loved ones. The deterrence of the sound of a slide racking is overblown, but the devastating impact of nine 00 buckshot pellets hitting the chest of an intruder is not. Few things offer the same incredible ability to stop an attack as a home defense shotgun.
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When defending your bedroom, a shotgun hits like a howitzer. Here’s a look at some of the current home defense shotgun options that might make sense for you when you’re protecting those you care about.
Home Defense Shotgun Information
Rock Island Armory
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by Personal Defense World / Nov 24, 2016