View Full Version : I need advice on a good home defense shotgun

November 21, 2008, 12:17 PM
I'm looking for advice here. I have never owned a shotgun, but plan to buy one for home defense. I own several handguns and shoot regularly. But, shotguns are new to me.

So what should I get and why? Please include which gauge, barrel length, capacity, make, model and anything else I should know.

All advice is appreciated.


November 21, 2008, 12:31 PM
Shotguns are just like any other firearm, what works for one person may or may not work for someone else.

For a home defense shotgun, I like short (18-20") barrels, that holds as many rounds as feasibly possible, with a full stock. Caliber of choice would be 12 guage. It has the widest variety of ammo, and packs the most punch of common HD shotgun calibers.

My house howitzer is a Mossberg 590, 20" bbl, 7+1 capacity. You can't go wrong with a mossberg or Remington.

November 21, 2008, 12:34 PM
Moss500 or Rem 870. 18 inch bbl. I don't add mag extentions on my 870's. I don't see the need.

November 21, 2008, 12:39 PM
go to your local gunnery and ask to play with the shotguns, you'll find that Mossberg and Remington are a lot alike, the safety and pump release are in different spots. Personally i prefer Mossbergs, if you have a buddy who ones one or the other ask to borrow it and go put a few shells through it and see if you like it.

its like buying a pet, the shotgun will call out to you from the display ;).


November 21, 2008, 12:40 PM
500 Mossberg for me. I prefer the location of the slide release and safety location. I don't like crossbolt safety on my HD weapon for another reason... MEMORY!!! Some guns safe is to the right and others it is safe to left. Just one more thing to have to think about. The mossberg tang safety is forward to fire or the other way I never forget is push towards where the hot stuff comes out.
For me it is the most ergonomic design in a shotgun platform. I have no tackycool stuff on mine and 5+1 is fine for my needs.

November 21, 2008, 12:46 PM
Lemme add, Mine is a 20 gauge as it was intended to be for my wife to use during the day while I worked and she was raising our first born. It has the 18 inch barrel and full synthetic stock.

November 21, 2008, 01:30 PM
I think there is 2 ways to approach this - a "fighting shotgun" or a general use shotgun as a "defensive weapon" - both in a 12ga.

The fighting shotguns - get you into the shorter barrels on Rem 870's, Benelli MP4, Browning BPS, Mossberg, etc. ScattergunBob and others can give you a lot of tips on Fighting Shotguns - which is not my area of expertise. But if I were to pick one off the shelf, I would take the Benelli M4 ( mostly because my son speaks so highly of the version they use in Marine Corps) / and I like the way it feels and shoots. It has an 18 1/2" barrel and retails around $ 1,500 .

A general purpose gun - you can shoot some clays with, hunt a little and make a defensive weapon - almost any pump or semi-auto shotgun and I would suggest a 28" barrel. Personally I prefer the Browning BPS pump for about $ 475 - or one of the Benelli semi-autos for $ 1,200 - $1,800 depending on the model you want. Keeping a gun around as a Defensive Weapon / to me is different that a pure "Fighting Weapon" - but if you can afford both - I would probably say buy a Fighting weapon and a General purpose shotgun to have some fun with - and shoot them both a lot ...

November 21, 2008, 05:04 PM
load this with flachette rounds nothing can live


November 21, 2008, 06:26 PM
12 gauge,pump,4+1 or more,18.5" or 20" barrel,sights or bead. remington,mossberg,winchester,maverick.

try some on for fit and size. if you can shoot any of them before buying that would be the best thing. after you buy the one you want,practice with it at the range. my house/hunting shotgun is just the plain synthetic stock rem express mag,20" rifle sighted barrel 4+1 shell capacity.

i can put the mag plug in and hunt deer with that barrel or swap the 20" off and put the 28" on for other stuff.

the M-79 would be a great alternative, but i don't think they are available to the general public, would be nice if they were though and they made buckshot rounds for it :D.

November 21, 2008, 06:45 PM
REM 870, its better made than the mossberg.

Buy an express combo, with a non rifled slug barrel and a 26 or 28 inch Vent Rib barrel.

the slug barrel becomes your home defense gun, but you get your practice out shooting clays or other things (birds) with the longer barrel.

Load heavy shot or buck shot in your gun, and it depends on where you live, if you live alone, in the rural areas, then straight 00 buck is best, in a smaller area, with close neighbors, Lead BB or 2 shot, or #4 buck are your best options evening out the need for power and penetration with the risks of hitting someone you do not mean to hit with "strays" hitting neighbors or apartment holders.

November 21, 2008, 06:47 PM
My home defense shotgun is the same one I'd use for defense everywhere.

Personally, I'm a dedicated 870 guy, and my grab and go shotgun is a Scattergun Tech/Wilson border patrol model w/side saddle. I sent in my gun and they converted it. The only thing left of the original gun was the receiver, and it was converted to 3".

My other Scattergun Tech, purchased new, has the SureFire fore-end, side saddle removed, and doesn't leave home (it would, if I didn't have two). The smoothness of it's action is beyond anything necessary for a practical shotgun. Wow.

Yes, I know, one doesn't have to spend that much money on a reliable shotgun---but I did.;)

I don't own a semi-auto, but the gas operated models are probably best used with standard ammo, while the recoil operated ones may be more reliable with low recoil Tactical ammo---but some can fail to cycle with any ammo, if you're not solidly behind the gun. A little insight provided by Clint Smith's Shotgun DVD.:cool:

November 21, 2008, 08:30 PM
would be nice if they were though and they made buckshot rounds for it .

they did, grenadiers couldnt carry a rifle too so had a massive buckshot load

Dave McC
November 21, 2008, 08:51 PM
Good defensive shotguns are quite common.

Good defensive SHOTGUNNERS are rather scarce.

Be the exception. Learn to run your gun until it's more of a body part than a tool. Shoot it until you know it the way your tongue knows your teeth.

This can be fun. Shooting anything from landfill rats to dove to starlings to evil little clay frisbees rates as major fun. And it all counts towards expertise.

We get obsessed with brands, choices and debating same.

However, our time is better spent using our shotguns.

Pick one, go shoot it plenty. Ask questions if there's problems.

Katrina Guy
November 21, 2008, 08:53 PM
I admit I'm no expert on firearms, approach this topic (your thread topic) purely from a common sense perspective I prefer the Mossberg and am waiting for the local sporting goods store to get some Mossberg Persuaders in (presently out of stock). Reason; both safety location and more importantly (to me) is a slide release that is quickly and easily accessible. For a home defense gun, not a fighting gun as was stated in another part of this thread (good info there by the way), but for home defense, I'd opt for the easiest to get into action shotgun and that would be the Mossberg over the Remington. Especially if you plan on keeping your shotgun loaded but unchambered. Basically, you don't have to take your eye off the ball nor switch hands or fiddle with any "controls" on the Mossberg. May not last as long as other brands, I don't know, it does feel rickity but sill reliable, by all accounts in here anyway. Does it matter to you for home defense if the shotgun will go 25,000 rounds as opposed to 50,000??? Not to me it doesn't.
My opinion,keep fishing for info, you'll find it here alright.

November 21, 2008, 09:46 PM
My suggestion would be either a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500.
Both offer home defense guns with extended mags but I don't see the need. A standard 870 or 500 will hold 5 rounds and give you the ability to use multiple barrels.
I've owned both and while the slide release and safety are in funky places on the Remington 870, I do prefer the 870. I just feels right in my hands, better balanced, smoother action, much better trigger.

That being said...the gun I own is a Mossberg 500 with the standard 5 round tube and an 18 inch home defense barrel. I also have a 28 inch vent-rib, ported barrel for skeet, trap, and hunting.

November 21, 2008, 10:48 PM
Be the exception. Learn to run your gun until it's more of a body part than a tool. Shoot it until you know it the way your tongue knows your teeth.

Correct. My choice of the 870 was a natural after 3 decades plus of using it for trap, skeet, chukar, sage grouse, quail, waterfowl, etc.--- and now for SD because I know it well.

And knowing it well still doesn't eliminate the need for continued practice-- no matter how many years you've used your shotgun.

November 21, 2008, 10:59 PM
I have owned the Remington 870 clone made bt Remington, Mossberg 500, old Savages and Chicom remakes of the old Winchester classic

Except for the placement of the safeties and slide release levers there is not a dimes worth of difference in any of them for HD

For hard use guns I may look to a higher end brand name but for the type use a HD shotgun is going to get look at the pawn shops for good worn in and smoothed out guns for about half price
If you want new look at the Mossberg Maverick or that Chinese 870

get an 18 or 20 inch and stay away from pistol grips

November 21, 2008, 11:35 PM

If new to shotgunning, and considering one for home defense, may I suggest you first peruse Scattergun Bob's thread
Level 101 Fighting Scattergun (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=320877).

November 22, 2008, 06:20 AM
Level 101 Fighting Scattergun.

I liked Bob's article. The one place where I might dare differ, is in "hip shooting".

I prefer the method taught by Ayoob at LFI where the shotgun stock is tucked TIGHTLY up under the arm pit, with the butt sticking out rearward.

Recoil obsorbtion is excellent, the shotgun can be drawn back away from an opponent, and no method of operating the pump shotgun is faster as you lean slightly forward over the gun-- in effect, aiming with your body. CQB only---simply devistating.

November 22, 2008, 06:41 AM
Good defensive shotguns are quite common.

Good defensive SHOTGUNNERS are rather scarce.

If new to shotgunning, and considering one for home defense, may I suggest you first peruse Scattergun Bob's thread
Level 101 Fighting Scattergun. (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=320877)

The very first line of that excellent article Scattergun Bob posted is 'Some folks make the very dangerous assumption that owning a shotgun is the same as knowing how to fight with a shotgun. Such is not the case'

I suppose taken after Clint Smith ala Jeff Cooper's famous quote 'Owning a firearm doesn't make you armed anymore than owning a guitar makes you a musician'

I know that to the well read regulars this all seems like preaching to the choir, but what is more important than sound fundamentals?

A shotgun is not a magic cure for limited practice and bad marksmanship.-nate

November 22, 2008, 11:17 AM
My philosophy on self defense guns has become much more basic over the years. I have gone from tricked out "Combat" 1911s to stock hammerless (64Xs) S&W J-Frames for carry and from "Tactical" UberKewl shotguns to a basic "stock" Mossberg 500 shotgun with a 18.5" barrel. I bought the shotgun used with the standard 28" field barrel and ordered the short barrel extra. Otherwise the gun is strictly stock. I put the short barrel on for HD use and the 28" for my "walks in the woods."

I have a Mossberg 835 with a full complement of chokes for serious hunting, but the 500 would actually do in most hunting cases.

I am in the process of refinishing the Mossy 500, stock and metal, and will be retiring my Tactical Maverick 88 to the gun safe when I get the 500 done. The Maverick is a super good house gun but I am trying to get everything down to a less objectionable "professional killer" appearance in my SD guns. Revolvers and sportsman guns are a lot more acceptable in our "gentle and kinder" society we are now entering. I am also picking up a lot of retired "Yankee" neighbors from Florida and Illinois these days and they lose it at the sight of anything that looks "military". Even without that factor, as I get older I need to simplify my "drill" for SD.

Pick up a Mossberg or Remington with two barrels, a short one for HD and a long one for field use. It's a simple system that will probably pass down to your great grandchildren! A basic Mossberg or Remington in the lower end models (500 or 870 Express) is always a dollarwise good investment, quite possibly the single very best investment in a firearm.

November 22, 2008, 12:45 PM
I couldn't help but notice while reading about scattergun 101 that he was using a combo shotgun and handgun,I think this very wise indeed.He didn't mention that if something happen to you,like losing one of your arms or the shotgun gets taken away you still have a fighting chance.As far as shotguns go any working shotgun will do.I have a mossberg 500 with a rifled slug barrel and a snubnose .357 attached to a shotgun shell belt that can be clipped on in a hurry.I use this rig for all the bumps in the night.


November 22, 2008, 03:36 PM
I agree with the masses here. Any repeating 12 or 20 gauge shotgun in good condition will serve well as a defensive arm, and one with an 18-20 inch barrel is just about perfect. The only thing I would like to add is make sure it's still being produced and common so you can find parts such as extra barrels. This of course only applies to used or rare guns. Also, something to keep in mind is if it’s ever used in a justified homicide (aka self defense shooting) it may be present to a jury who will grade your character by what they see. I personally use a wood stocked Mossberg for this reason. Don’t let this be your only consideration, but don’t forget about it either.

In the end, get what you like the most. If you like it, you’ll take better care of it and take it the range more often.

Katrina Guy
November 22, 2008, 06:28 PM
A Mossberg (to pick a brand for this purpose) "hunting" model with a Home Defense shotgun looks far more kindler and gentler then the same framed Mossberg but in the Persuader version. It's civil liability that you really have to be careful of, some slime ball attorney goes after you not because you are guilty but because you have easy to get to/easy to sway a typical mindless jury, assets you may have-easy pickens these days.
Get whatever you think your circumstances require or may require (under worst case situations), if you feel your needs require a six or seven round Home Defense model offered by say, Remington or Mossberg, then by all means get that type,if on the other hand you feel that five rounds would be more then enough for your defensive purposes/your abode/situations you think you may befall yourself in, then get a "hunting" model that holds five rounds and looks user friendly, and obtain (typically cheap) a shorter home defense barrel.
Everyone will probably agree with me on this one, although most of them also own a military looking carbine such as an AR or an AK or something, so that kind of flushes all of the above down the toilet *LOL*
Five rounds out of a shotgun in the 12 gauge variety ought to be more then enough for most all break in kind of things, then again it does feel better probably to know going into it that you have two additional rounds. Whatever you do don't put so much creedence in this "if I rack a round the bad guy will flee", what if you ran across a deaf bad guy! *chuckle*
Adding bayonets and everything else under the sun to one wouldn't appear to look all that user friendly to a jury either. A slime ball attorney could hold that bad boy up to them and point out the items you were not satisfied with coming from the factory, no, you had to make it all Rambo looking, obviously (attorney speaking to jury) this guy couldn't wait for an "excuse" to unload (then pointing to greaving minority widow sitting there). Something to think about!

November 22, 2008, 06:44 PM
Katrina guy.. this is a persuader...
http://www.mossberg.com/products/default.asp?id=5&section=products item #50411
Nothing evil there...
Here is the 500 field...
http://www.mossberg.com/products/default.asp?id=3&section=products item #56420
I am thinking the shiny blue looks sedate compared to the parkerized finish and that muzzle porting looks "skeery" too:eek:

November 22, 2008, 10:07 PM
"A Mossberg (to pick a brand for this purpose) "hunting" model with a Home Defense shotgun looks far more kindler and gentler then the same framed Mossberg but in the Persuader version. It's civil liability that you really have to be careful of, some slime ball attorney goes after you not because you are guilty but because you have easy to get to/easy to sway a typical mindless jury, assets you may have-easy pickens these days." Katrina Guy.

Been thinking about this too. I have sat on several civil juries and I approach the whole SD scene from a different perspective now. I have gone to stock S&W J-Frames(642 and 640) for carry ( hardened gunmen wouldn't carry such cute little guns!). No modifications to guns whatsoever.

Although my current HD is a Maverick 88 (somewhat tricked out) I just purchased a used Mossberg 500 (field, wood stock) with a 28" Modified Choke barrel. I ordered the 18.5 " barrel, should be in next week. I am refinishing the wood and have stripped down the receiver and I am replacing the older parts that are prone to wear and breakage (springs, firing pin, etc.) I am leaving the wear marks on the metal parts, so gun looks well used for hunting. In short the house gun will be a well worn "Plain Jane" shotgun, looking just like the one the jurors or their kinfolk probably have at home. I also end up with a good "survival" gun, with short barrel for defense work with Buckshot and a field barrel for game gathering with bird shot.

I'm sure the "I'll carry whatever the hell I want to" crowd are tough enough to live under highway overpasses and bridges in the freezing rain, but I'd rather just keep my house, thank you.

November 23, 2008, 03:07 PM
shotguns using a 18 " to 24" barrel with a least a "Improve cylinder" Choke are good for HD situation. Again as your service experience supports that marksmanship is the key for best firearm use. (Practices, Practice, etc.)

Now, are there any other personnel that will need to use the shotgun?
Are they of smaller stature than yourself, if so then a 20ga may fit your need.
If you want to consider use for hunting animals either a 12 or 20 will suffice. Here you will want a longer barrel with additional chokes.

May I suggest an alternate: Why not an M1 Carbine?
(You may have experience with one)
Using soft-nosed ammo, you now have 100yd capability with 5, 10 or 15 rd capacity? using the butt-stock pouch, allow two mags to be available. (I recommend slight smoothing of feed ramp to minimize "stuttering" of the soft-nosed ammo)

Katrina Guy
November 23, 2008, 05:27 PM
not some form of a hunting shotgun, it has that "black evil" gun look, black stocks, bad ass looking pump grip. It "looks" Ramboish compared to a wood stock Mossberg, you'd have to admit that. Next time you have some non gun types over at your place for dinner, without telling them, just pull a Persuader out and see if they go WHOA or not.

wjh2657, from a civil liability perspective, I wouldn't change or add on anything, perhaps something to the inner workings, let's just say for example that brand x shotgun is known to have a weak spring or something, yea, that could be replaced with a better brand or aftermarket etc, but adding bayonets and all sorts of other tactical stuff doesn't look, look being the key word here, to be your "typical" shotgun that you employed in this situation to defend yourself with.

That said, I bought a Remington 870 HD model, parkerized looking with dark grey stocks, I admit it does look bad, well ugly is more like it. And I'm looking at a Mossberg Persuader. After Katrina my assets aren't worth going after. Besides, I opted for a shotgun for defense coming out of New Orleans, I mean I bought it for kind of a when SHTF kind of thing, different ball game.

November 23, 2008, 05:34 PM
But of the 2 models I posted, one is a hunting gun with black plastic stocks and matte finish with a muzzle brake. The other is a shiny black gun. There was once a time when all shotguns had wooden furniture and it was either in woodgrain or painted black. Now we have just so much available for various uses.

Katrina Guy
November 23, 2008, 05:42 PM
Each product comes in five varieties. And I do admit that some of the hunting Mossbergs do look bad arse, but comparing Persuader to the standard field Mossberg it what I meant.
Someone posted a thread about having great difficulty switching barrels on a Mossberg field type (standard type if you will) shotgun, that persuaded me to get a persuader vs standard with a home defense barrel.

November 23, 2008, 05:59 PM
Persuader is only mention of the stock. Same barrels for all 500 type. The only nasty bugger is the hi-cap 590 being so limited. My shotgun is an 18+ year old that came with 18 inch barrel and pistol grip and was the Camper's Combo or Camper's Special (can't remember) at the time... pre-tacticool stuff...

Katrina Guy
November 23, 2008, 06:10 PM
of the whole nation seeing the aftermath of Katrina.
Some cool camping type guns I wish were still on the market, Steven's over and under shotgun rifle combo, and I wish the Marlin camp 45 I think it was called, 45acp carbine, was still available.
Academy sporting goods, large outfit, is still out of the Persuader, it's been weeks. I wonder if Mossberg and the others are working overtime cranking guns out due to this policital climate? Wonder how their stocks are doing, stock trading that is, not butt stocks.

Katrina Guy
November 23, 2008, 06:26 PM
but the thread posted seemed interested in civil liability as relates to what gun to use.
I have a Marlin 30-30, and am looking for a WSHTF SKS carbine, I would never never never reach for the SKS in a home break in if I had other firearms handy. A 30-30 has better (slightly better) balistics then the 7.62x39 and the Marlin is more accurate then the best of the SKS line up I'm sure, but boy, to have a military rifle (especially with a granade launcher and a bayonet on it) paraded in front of a jury vs a lever action, American mainstay-seen in every John Wayne western, firearm, well... point being how something looks can be everything.
I say fouey on the M1 carbine if you are fearful of civil liability wjh2657. These are great when SHTF kind of firearms to have but to use under "normal" day in and day out times, ugh...no. Ask your attorney.

November 23, 2008, 07:03 PM
Don't know how I got linked to the M1 Carbine, but again I wouldn't have anything for house defense that even begins to look military. Mossberg 500s and Marlin 60s are part of everybody's household in this part of Tennessee so the Mossy would appear to belong in the house of a "normal" guy. No mods on the Mossy 500, just the 18.5" barrel (stock Mossy issue) and new internal parts (springs, firing pin, etc).

Just some good old boy grabbing his rabbit gun and shooting those bad guys breaking into his house to hurt his family.

Wouldn't go beyond Grand Jury, gun back in a month!

Katrina Guy
November 23, 2008, 07:26 PM
You got it Grasshopper LOL