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Old August 30, 1999, 05:22 PM   #1
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I'm beginning my research for a home defense shotgun. I plan on using it for home defense only (not hunting), but I do like to shoot, so any info on which guns provide more of a "fun" factor would be appreciated. Also, I'd appreciate comments on ease of care and maintenance, ease of use, and the company's reliability and customer service. I'd like to keep the price below $500 for a new gun.

Any advice would be appreciated.

P.S. I'm not familiar with shotgun jargon so please tailor your comments to the uninitiated.

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Old August 30, 1999, 06:49 PM   #2
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I'd suggest a MOSSBERG 500 with 18 or 20" barrel and 6 or 8-shot magazine tube. Mossbergs won't win any beauty contests but they are utterly reliable. I carry one on duty in a patrol car and keep it near the bed at night. You should be able to find a used one for $160.

You mentioned fun: fed law allows you to purchase a short-barreled shotgun (barrel less than 18") for a $5 tax to the US Treasury. This would be classified as an AOW (any other weapon) and is regulated like machine guns and other NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934) weapons. I've seen Mossberg 500s w/10, 12, or 14" barrels listed for $450. Most of the Ithaca Stake-Outs, Win pumps and Rem 870s have been more expensive.
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Old August 30, 1999, 07:18 PM   #3
Al Thompson
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Hi Pipper,

Texas Lawman is right on the money. I would only suggest that you also take a look at a twenty guage as well as a twelve.

Most of the brands (Winchester, Remington and Mossberg) are all good guns. There are some differences but these are truthfully minor.

Get the flavor of choice (you really shouldn't spend more than 300 bucks or so) and buy yourself a case of cheap ammo. (dove loads) Learn to shoot the thing well and then pattern it with buckshot..


"Hear the voices in my head, swear to God it sounds like
they're snoring." -Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"

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Old August 30, 1999, 07:21 PM   #4
Zach Vonler
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I know it's a little out of your listed price range, but I don't think I've found a gun that's more fun than my Benelli M1. It's a semiautomatic 12 gauge that fires literally as fast as you can pull the trigger - I've gotten three shots in a second before, and have been told that with some practice 5 fully aimed shots are possible in a second. Another really nice thing about it is that it is recoil operated, so it's incredibly easy to clean. After a full day of skeet shooting a couple of weeks ago (est. 400 rds through the gun with no cleaning) I took it apart and the _only_ place I could find any fouling was inside the barrel. Took all of ten minutes to clean... that's hard to beat.
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Old August 30, 1999, 08:47 PM   #5
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Mossberg is the way to go, but go for the 590. It was designed to be a combat shotgun and you get some of the extras as standard equiptment. Besides it just looks like a serious defense weapon which serves to increase the shotguns already impressive pucker factor.
As for fun, show up at the trap range with it.
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Old August 31, 1999, 09:13 AM   #6
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Another question to ask is: are you going to be the only person to operate the shotgun?

I have a small-statured wife, who also needs to operate the shotgun. So, our choice was the Remington 870 Express in 20 guage with the barrel cut to 18 1/2" and stock cut to 12 1/2" length-of-pull.

We also like the Remington 1100 LT-20 Youth, which is a really light and handy weapon.


For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

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Old August 31, 1999, 09:43 AM   #7
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This is great info to get me started. I should have mentioned that my wife will need to be able to shoot the shotgun as well. She is 5'3" and petite: it will be no easy task for me to get her comfortable with a shotgun. Recently we were visiting my uncle in west Texas, and several of the family were taking turns shooting traps with his Remington 1100. My wife was concerned about the gun's kick, and I told her to watch my cousin's shoulder as she fired in order to see that the kick wasn't that bad (my cousin is same age, height, and weight as my wife, but she grew up with guns). My wife took one look at the kick and said, "no way am I shooting that shotgun".

I must say, however, that she's becoming more comfortable with guns. We took a concealed carry course a week ago, and, although very nervous, she did quite well on her shooting test with a Glock 19: afterward she said it was fun.
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Old August 31, 1999, 09:51 AM   #8
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take your time with the wife and bring her along slow----ive seen to many women turned off by moving too fast to larger calibers or shotguns....luck to ya..fubsy.
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Old September 1, 1999, 05:32 PM   #9
Jeff Thomas
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Pipper, you should give the 12 gauge Remington 870 (in various config's) a very close look. It is the most modified and modifiable shotgun for home defense ever made, I do believe. It is a tried and true design, and very, very durable. It is probably the most common shotgun used for home defense and police work (I hear the Mossberg is very close).

Check out these web sites for more info:

For less than $500 you can get an excellent Rem 870, and add an 18" barrel along with a sidesaddle for ammo. Later modifications, if you choose, could be done as you can afford them. Or, it will work great as is. Porting will reduce the felt recoil, as will low-recoil 'tactical' ammunition.

Don't overlook the 870. Remington's site is located at:

Regards from AZ

[This message has been edited by Jeff Thomas (edited September 01, 1999).]
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Old September 2, 1999, 03:09 AM   #10
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Pipper, if all you need is a home defense gun, go with a basic Mossberg 500 Persuader. I bought one NIB a couple months ago with a pistol grip for $189 at a local shop. You can get them at Wal Mart for about $199 with a full stock. Also the Mossberg 590 is a great shotgun. I have one of those too (paid about $275 a few years back and I have not seen them that low since), but if you just need one for around the house go with the 500. You can spend the extra on some accesories like a light or side saddle, and ammo.
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Old September 4, 1999, 03:45 PM   #11
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While the Mossberg is a fine gun my preference runs to the 870. And therein lies the basis for this comment. If possible try to shoot the different brands that you are thinking about getting. As a minimum try to handle (play with has negative conotations) as many as you can. Next to pistols, shotguns are one of those variables that people just seem to have differing opinions on. What's good for one person isn't good for the next. So look around and make your own decision. Mossberg, Remington, Winchester, Bennelli, etc. you really can't go wrong with any of these brands. They all make fine dependable guns. In the end it'll come down to personal preference, quircks, budget, etc.


It's amazing what a large group of stupid people can accomplish.

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Old September 5, 1999, 10:38 PM   #12
Join Date: November 7, 1998
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Hey Texas Lawman, where do I send that $5.00 to legally own short barreled shotgun? Is this a something a civilian can do.
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Old September 10, 1999, 05:07 AM   #13
Tom B
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I own The Winchester Defender and Mossberg 500. I prefer the Winchester because the rotating bolt action is smoother and it patterns better for me.
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Old September 10, 1999, 05:29 PM   #14
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All of the above mentioned smoothbores are good choices. I suggest however that you look at a double barrel 12 or 20 guage. I have a police trade in Savage 311 Guard Gun that has 18 1/8" factory bbls. You also have the option of the new cowboy action double barrel/hammer shotguns available. The advantages are the shorter legnth of the firearm that still has the full stock for control and legal length barrels, and a simple action to use. For the distances you will use the gun I suggest either lowbase hunting loads in one barrel and low recoil/LE ammo in the second.
I have had fun practicing with both shooting skeet and sporting clays.


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Old September 10, 1999, 05:39 PM   #15
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Sorry it took so long to reply, I've been off the net for a while.

AOWs may be purchased by civilians as long as it is legal in your state. The $5 tax is paid to the U.S. Treasury and accompanies your application to the ATF.

Suggest you post a WTB (want-to-buy) add for an AOW shotgun on Tom Bowers' board. You'll get any number of replys from Class 3 dealers, who, for the most part, are really nice people who will explain the process (and who will be happy to sell you their favorite AOW). Here's the location:

Good luck!
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Old September 15, 1999, 10:13 PM   #16
steve j
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What about a winchester model '97. In my opinion, shooting a '97 is the most fun you can have with a shotgun. They are fast and durable. At a bowling pin match last year I won the pump division with a '97. My time with the '97 would have won the auto shotgun division as well by 2/100's of a second. The '97's (like older ithaca 37's and winchester model 12's) don't have a trigger disconnect, so if you keep the trigger held down after the first shot, the gun will fire with each pump. You would be suprised how fast you can empty a '97. Women shoot them all the time in cowboy action shooting competition-with low brass shells. They are starting to get a little pricey these days with the increased popularity of cowboy action shooting. You should be able to find a good shooter for less than $300.
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Old September 16, 1999, 07:37 AM   #17
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After much research I have determined the following:
-For home defense a short 20 gauge (18 1/2)is best. Especially if a woman will shoot.
-Longer barrels are harder to manuver and easier to grab.
-finding the right round is the hard part.
Use the link I provided to narrow down the choices and then measure the possible shooting lines in your house. Then take your round choices to the range and test them at the same distances. You want a pattern no bigger then a mans chest at the longest distance. Hope I helped.

"It is easier to get out of jail then it is a morgue"
Live long and defend yourself!
John 3:16

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Old September 16, 1999, 05:30 PM   #18
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I strongly recomend the Rem 870. I hate to suggest anything except 12 gauge for defense, but your wife is rather small, and lets face it, 12 gauge pump guns kick. Now, a pistol grip configuration will allow the arms to roll with the recoil, avoiding the severe impact to her shoulder, but it takes practice to use this technique effectively. My suggestion is: Rem 870HD Express in 20 gauge. The "HD" stands for home defense, it goes for around $220, and I would add an extended magazine tube to hold more shells, and purchase a laser sight (for around $120) with a coil cord to a pressure switch on the pump. This will make practice more fun for both you and your wife, and greatly increase her confidence in effective shooting. Brownells catalog has a "modified" pistol grip which looks like it will work perfectly in minimizing recoil while still allowing effective aiming, and the laser will make up the difference. Good Luck!
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Old September 17, 1999, 08:27 AM   #19
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Ptpalpha: Where do you find an extended magazine tube for a Remington 870 in 20 guage? I know that there are lots of brands available for the 12, but did not know that there is a version available for the 20.

Sure would like know...


For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

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Old September 17, 1999, 08:04 PM   #20
Bill Bryant
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The Remington 870 gets a lot of recommendations when compared to the Winchester 1300, but I think this is mostly because of all the add-ons available for it. The question, then, is: do my home-defense needs mandate the add-ons? If not, then the 870 is no better than the 1300. In fact, in a couple of very important ways, the 1300 may be a bit better. 1. It comes standard with a larger capacity magazine. 2. It seems to make a follow-up shot a bit faster.

Of course there's something MUCH more important than whether you get an 870 or a 1300 (or a Mossberg). It's whether you're willing to practice with it. When I put a 1300 under my bed loaded with #1 low recoil buck shot, it didn't give me much peace of mind until I had been to the range A LOT and gotten totally confident with this tool. Same goes for the wife. Until she shot and shot with it, and thus gained confidence, its presence under the bed was arguably more a liability than an asset.

Above all, practice!

Bill Bryant

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Old October 14, 1999, 12:08 AM   #21
Lord Grey Boots
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All the info that I have seen suggests that 20 Guage has lots of stopping power, with lots more controllability that the 12 guage. For the smaller statured folks, the increased controllability, and less painful recoil will easily beat out the advantages from the additional power of the 12 Guage.
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Old October 14, 1999, 07:29 AM   #22
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If you are planning to do much "fun" shooting, you should also consider the cost of feeding your new pet. The real deals on shotgun shells seem to always be in 12 gauge. 20 gauge, even though it is a smaller shell is often more expensive to buy.
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Old October 14, 1999, 10:54 AM   #23
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There are many quality defensive shotguns on the market. The best is not the most expensive and the cheapest is not the worst given attention to subtle variances and needs. Choose what you like best based on reliablilty, quality, and durability. Use what you choose and practice until you are extremely proficient. If you do not practice you are just a fool with a gun. Fools die every day so do not be one! My personal top two choices would be the 870 platform or the 500/590 family. Based on 20+ years of personal experience and having owned and extensively used both types I have and always will stick with the 870 in 12 ga. Regardless of my intended use (and there have been many) the 870 has never failed to function and has never let me down. As long as I take care of the weapon in regards to cleaning and treatment and so long as I stay well trained in the use thereof it has palyed its intended role perfectly. I find the 870 lighter and faster than the 590 but on par speed wise with the 500. I think the 870 is a bit better made and therefore more durable than the 500. Either format would be a top rated choice for personal defense. My own 870 tops out at only $350.00. I use the HD model in factory std. barrel length. Have added only a Tac-star side saddle which mounts on the receiver, a Tac-star shortened and ribbed fore-end (the factory fore-end is too long to function with the side-saddle as it makes contact when chambering or ejecting a round and a high impact polymer follower for magazine verification and durability. The only other modification I will make is a 2 rd. mag extension and steel heat sheild for the barrel. The heat sheild is is only for looks/intimidation and does nothing to add to or take away from the weapons ability to function properly. I find my self set with an accurate, lightening quick, short weapon with 11 rounds of available persuasion. Again, buy wisely, modify adequately but not excessively and practice, practice, practice.

Good luck, stay alert and be prepared.

Fear the government that fears your guns.

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Old October 14, 1999, 05:42 PM   #24
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Mossberg 590, it is the king of pump guns. It is a military issue gun, 20" barrel (18" is optional but you lose 2 rounds) and 9 shot capacity. The most important thing is that it comes stock with ghost ring sites and a hard assed parkerized finish! Let's see, can the same be said about the Remington 870? NO! The 870 Police may have a parkerized finish but it lacks the fast ghost rings. The Mossberg was the only 12 gauge pump to pass all Mil-Spec testing, I think it had to shoot over 5,000 rounds without a malfunction. This gun is going to run you anywhere between $350-400, well under your $500 price cap. Oh, yeah, Mossberg also includes the Speed-Feed stock as an option (the stock is synthetic and holds 4 shells internally in the stock) and Mossberg backs the 590A1 with a 10 year warranty!

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Old October 15, 1999, 04:34 AM   #25
Dave McC
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First,during my career with the Md Dept of Public Safety, I taught hundreds of Correctional Officers to shoot shotguns. Here's a few thoughts on same and Home Defense.

The only folks who ever made it past minimal competence(load and fire w/o horrible accidents or ineffectiveness) were those who liked to shoot and practiced. Maybe half of our officers were only paper qualified.

While other shotguns were suggested and tested from time to time, the only one that demonstrated durability and reliability was the 870. Tower weapons get abused, and the 870s would just keep on working. The old Winchester 97s and 12s would too, but they were and are more collector's items than weapons these days, unfortunately.

So, for Home Defense, I recommend a 20 gauge, since it will be used by a small statured female. Remington makes a Youth Express Model 870 in 20 gauge with a shortened stock and 21" bbl.Choate makes a 2 round mag extension that will add a little weight to the muzzle and tame recoil.Even with the extension, this little 20 handles like an M-1 Carbine
Note, Sidesaddles are nice, but the plain truth is if a scenario is not resolved with 4 rounds of shotgun ammo, what's needed is backup, not mo' rounds.
As for aftermarket bells and whistles....

Lazer sights are expensive and fragile. Folding stocks make sense if you're trying out for Miami Vice II, but not in A-S Scenarios. I'm probably better than most with tactical shooting, but I'd only utilize hip shooting at contact ranges.

Tactical flashlights attached to the weapon have pros and cons. They give the perp an exact location,as well as aiding target acquisition for you.

IMO, the next thing to buy after the weapon as described is lots of ammo, starting with light skeet loads. Even a 20 gauge recoils pretty hard for a tyro.As for ammo, I HIGHLY recommend testing different brands for tight patterns. Forget about spread,what you want is a single big hole,center mass. Chokes can or should be tight, stray pellets end up where they're not wanted.And,at HD ranges, the shells could contain breath mints and still be effective.I'd go with #3 buck in a 20,tho.

Also, for shooter comfort,especially for barrel cheasted men and ,uh, buxom women, sand off the toe of the recoil pad a little to stop it digging into chest muscles or tender tissues.

Hope this helps....
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