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Old March 3, 2007, 02:05 PM   #1
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Multi-purpose shotgun advice wanted

New to modern firearms and am looking to purchase a shotgun for self-defense, both at home and for use during long backpacking trips. I had considerd a handgun, but as I backpack in different states a shotty seems to be more practical as it doesnt require any special permit to own/carry.

Keep in mind I may need to carry this 8 hours a day for multiple days, and in varied climates; be it coastline, desert, snow-line mountainous, etc.

I'm fairly set on a 12g pump model as ammo is widely available and from the research I have done, seem to be the easiest to maintain.

Factors I'm contaking into consideration are durability, weight, finish, ammo capacity, barrel length, type of stock and of course, price.

Anything else I should consider when deciding on what will best suit my needs?

Thanks in advance.
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Old March 3, 2007, 04:24 PM   #2
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Both Mossberg and Remington can meet your need.

Both make "Marine" finish guns that are made for use around salt water, and are highly rust resistant.

Both are popular brands that have a large amount of accessories made for them, so you can change the configuration to suit your needs.

Both make guns that have extended magazines, and other options, both are relatively light weight, and can be set up to use a variety of slings and sling mounting methods.

Remington has a forged and milled steel receiver, with heavy-duty internal parts.
Mossberg has a cast aluminum receiver and stamped and plastic internal parts.

No pump gun has a better reputation for quality, durability, reliability, and strength then the Remington 870, and this is the gun used by over 95% of American law enforcement.

Mossberg makes a "budget" version named the Model 500, and a Police and Military grade as the Model 590 and 590-A1.
They also make a Marine version.

Remington's "budget gun" is the Express line.
Their new "combat" line is the Tactical which is available with OD Green finishes and tactical stocks and accessories.

Their Marine version is the Magnum Marine which is available with either a satin nickle finish, or new this year, a black corrosion resistant Marine finish.

The absolute top of the line is Remington's Police line, which are made for police and military use, and are as good as it gets, but expensive.

I recommend getting online and looking at both the Mossberg and Remington web sites.
There are so many choices and options, you'll just have to look for yourself.
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Old March 3, 2007, 05:20 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input!

Nothing compares to personal experience and that is why I am asking as there is too much too much info that simply extoles the virtues of a particular product, marketing hype, and mis-leading/confusing technical jargon.

Yeah, I have gone to the web sites, browsed numerous reviews, and searched through a few BB's and it seems that I would not be well served by the budget models as I would likey upgrade them to heavier duty components

Or is this thinking "wrong"? Perhaps buying a budget model and upgrading with aftermarket parts is the way to go.... Yup, Im a noob and it shows....

You mention the Rem 870; from what I have read so far little is mentioned about how well it would serve in a carrying capacity... Its one thing to pull it from a vehicle for limited range use, or used in a simple patrol pattern in an urban environment but a totally different animal if one has to haul that along with a 50 lb. pack through unforgiving terrain/weather.

As for "marine" finishes, are they really "all that" or do other types of finishes hold up as well if properly maintained?

All in all, I may not ever need face the worst that an environment has to offer, but I would like to have the peace of mind that should it occur I would be prepared for it; just one less thing I would need to be mindful of and in stressful situations, that is not a good thing.

P.S. The models that I originally focused on were the Rem 870 Tac-2 and the Mossberg 590A1

Last edited by EJJR; March 3, 2007 at 05:22 PM. Reason: add on
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Old March 3, 2007, 08:13 PM   #4
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As far as weight goes, most "tactical" shotguns are pretty close.
Where the weight comes in is when you start hanging accessories on them.

So to compare apples to apples, here's how the tactical versions stack up:

The Remington 870 with a synthetic stock 18" barrel and magazine extension weights about 7 1/2 pounds.

The Mossberg 500 with synthetic stock 18" barrel and extended magazine weights about 7 pounds.

The Mossberg 590-A1 weights 7 1/4 pounds.

So, when you have a synthetic stocked, 18" barreled, extended magazine gun, the weight is largely a wash.

No available stock shotgun finish is as rust resistant as the Marine type guns, since they are usually a plated finish that's a lot tougher than the usual bluing or parkerizing used on other guns.
The Remington Tactical OD Green finish is very good, but I'm hearing that it does scratch, and is NOT inside the bore like the Marine finishes are.

Based on what you want, I'd personally recommend a Remington, for it's extra durability and quality, and the larger amount and types of accessories and parts.
Another factor is, the Remington is the easiest of the guns to strip and maintain in the field since there are no tools needed, and there are no small parts to loose.

The Magnum Marine with the satin nickel finish is VERY durable, and the new 870 XSC Black Magnum Marine would be even better.
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Old March 3, 2007, 08:36 PM   #5
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Nice, that deff. helps, Thnx!

870 XSC Black Magnum Marine!?

I googled that but not a single relevant link came up; Is that model still in development or something?\

:edit: NM, found it
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Old March 3, 2007, 08:42 PM   #6
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Benelli H2O

Consider the Benelli Nova H2O pump tactical.
I just picked up a SuperNova Tactical and have been shooting my HK/Benelli M1 Super 90 since 1993 with zero problems.
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Old March 3, 2007, 08:53 PM   #7
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SuperNova Tactical: Thats a sweet shotty.

Thanks for the input, will have to look into those.
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Old March 3, 2007, 11:35 PM   #8
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I think you would be hard pressed to beat a Remington 870. Granted, I think that any reputable company can provide a decent shotgun, however both of my brothers own variations of Mossberg shotguns and as I see it they seem a bit clunky to me. It's not really to much of an issue though, more a personal opinion when compared to my 870.

"NRA members are burdened with supporting and defending the rights of about 95% of America's gun owners"
Anti gun Democrats are not the problem, the laziness and apathy of the common gun owner is.

Last edited by Diesel1; March 3, 2007 at 11:41 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old March 4, 2007, 01:23 AM   #9
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Here's a like to Remington's 2007 catalog showing the new XCS Black Marine Magnum:

It's down toward the bottom around page 14 and 15.
Has a new black finish, a magazine extension, a Speedfeed I stock, the super recoil-reducing R3 butt pad, etc.
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Old March 4, 2007, 01:29 PM   #10
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I really like my Mossberg 590 special-purpose... heavy, parkerized finish, 8-round mag, ghost-ring sights.

I'll spread targets on an impact berm, stand back 50 feet and boom-shucka-boom-shucka-boom-shucka-boom..... as the targets turn to dust. This is great practice, great fun, and I have shared this with men, women and children who all thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from the 'game'.

I have a bandoleer with #7, #4, 00 and slugs that ride around in the bag whenever my Mossberg goes out. I can heartily recommend this gun for relibility, durability, maintainability and that hard-to-quantify pride of ownership.

Watching it rock my little wife back, though, makes me wish she had an identical gun in 20 gauge. I just haven't seen it for sale anywhere.
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Old March 4, 2007, 02:01 PM   #11
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Everyone covered the guns very well. But don't forget the barrel & choke. Short smooth bore with a choke can be changed to a rifled choke so you can shoot sabot slugs...just another level of versatility.

For me, I have an 870 12 ga. and a Winchester 20 ga. setup up for HD. I am getting old and like the 20ga. better. Just tired of being beat up by the 12. But 20ga buck is harder to find....especially 20ga 3" #2 buck.
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Old March 4, 2007, 04:20 PM   #12
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"I am getting old and like the 20ga. better. Just tired of being beat up by the 12."

That is actually a very validpoint for me and something I failed to initially address. Im not a large framed person, (5'11", 160 lb.'s ,average build) so how much consideration should be given to guage and type of round used?

Would a 20g utilizing buckshot provide adequate stopping power versus a black bear/mountain lion/tweaking assailant or are slugs preferable? I would think that, as far as shotguns are concerned, precision would be more important than raw power. I think I would be mostly dealing with shot and not slugs ( though I would likely carry slugs as well, just in case; +1 for the Benelli in that regard). Also to consider I'm not a hunter and would only use it in that capacity in a survival scenerio.

I wish I could test out differnt models with in different configurations but that is just not practical at present.

Sorry if all this is addressed elsewhere; Ive searched through many threads but it is quite overwhelming; especially as a noob to firearms.

Thanks for all the help and patience so far.
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Old March 4, 2007, 09:25 PM   #13
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A lot of shooters and police agencies are going to the new "reduced recoil" shot shells.

These reduce recoil by as much as 40%. These are available in both buckshot and slugs.

These reduce the amount of recoil by either reducing the powder charge or by reducing the number of pellets.
Remington sells a reduced recoil 00 buck load that contains 8 00 pellets instead of 9.

Combine these low recoil loads with a 7 1/2 pound gun that's fitted with the Remington/Limbsaver R3 Super recoil pad that reduces felt recoil by up to 30%, and you have a gun that shoots slugs or buckshot that feels like field loads.

At the closer ranges of home defense or animal defense, the reduced loads are just as effective.

It's no secret that game wardens in bear country use 12 gauge Remington Police pump guns.
After the stupid "Bear man" hippie got himself and his girl friend killed and eaten in Alaska, the game agents that showed up killed the bear with 870's loaded with buckshot and slugs.

There is an overlap between the 12 gauge and the 20 gauge.
Shoot Magnum loads in the 20, and it's "about" comparable to standard loads in the 12 gauge.
Where it falls short is in ammo availability and selection, and in gun selection.
No one I'm aware of makes a Marine, Tactical, or Police 20 gauge.
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Old March 4, 2007, 09:47 PM   #14
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Don't buy a shotgun -


First honestly ask yourself what level of experience and training you have.

If zero to none. Find a qualified person to Mentor you.
First up, is gun fit to YOU.
Mentors, Seasoned Shooters, and Instructors know about gun fit to shooter.
Actually shooting a variety will reveal to YOU what fits YOU.
Fit encompasses a LOT more than " okay I got the recoil pad in my arm with elbow bent , and I got my finger to touch trigger".

That is not gun fit.

Gun fit also encompasses platform. Can YOU reach the controls and manipulate the shotgun quickly and effectively - under "pressure".

Once a BONE STOCK shotgun is found that fits you, and the Gun Fit is further tweaked to fit YOU even better.

BA/UU/R . Continue to Buy Ammo/ Use Up/ Repeat. Besides the Patterning Board for pellet loads, also slugs.
Training, shooting and getting that Bone Stock Shotgun to become an extension of you.

Then. Get More Training. Inform Instructor/ Trainer - " I have a bone stock shotgun that has been fitted to me. I have shot a bazillion rounds through it, and it works, and it feels like a body part. I am here to learn more. My situation is _____ so I would appreciate assistance on tweaking gun fit for this/these tasks. IF...IF...IF I need to add anything to my shotgun for these tasks, I sure would appreciate some input, guidance and assistance"

This is the part where the instructor either falls over dead from disbelief or gets plumb tickled to grab any all guns and you and Instructor go shoot a variety, discuss, cuss and let you actually shoot these to see what YOU need for YOUR tasks.

Then you can buy anything else instructor suggests you need for your tasks.

I suggest this for handguns and rifles too.

Yep, I also check the carton of eggs before I buy them too.
Use Enough Gun
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Old March 5, 2007, 12:05 AM   #15
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There is an overlap between the 12 gauge and the 20 gauge.
Good point. I have used the reduced recoil 12 ga. and they do make a big difference. The point I did not mention is my 20ga just fits me better, so it is my current choice for SD. Anyway, I have shot the reduced recoil 12ga. buck and it does take the edge off of the kick.

This last summer I did shoot 3" (not reduced recoil) mag's from my Rem. 870 12ga wearing only a T shirt. They just put 5 rounds to the pack because that is all you want to ever shoot...ever!
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Old March 5, 2007, 08:56 AM   #16
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Point taken. No worries, I'm not one to think that tech. spec.'s will equate with good markmanship. Read the sig.

I do plan on getting instruction and practicing as much as possible. I realize I am the weakest link in the equation. and am not one to overestimate my own prowess.

I may be a noob, but Im not a fool who is only concerned with the "TactiCool" aspects. ( Heh, I get a good chuckle from that term; kudos to whomever coined that one.) On that note the only accessory I had planed to initially add was a white light source; and even then only after I have recieved training.

I''m just looking for somewhere to start. As I mentioned earlier, this is where personal experience is invaluable; especially in the durability/reliabilty dept. I dont want to buy a firearm that I may end up trading off 6 months down the road because the mfg.'s fancy ad campaign was more hype than substance or because the product was just plain junk for the application. Plus, trying out any and all makes/models is just not realistic for me. Much better to have the field narrowed down to say maybe 20 different makes/models.

Valid points and good advice from everyone.
Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. Thomas Jefferson

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Old March 13, 2007, 11:41 AM   #17
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Proper training aside; In your experience, is it more economical to initially spend more, at time of purchase, or better to buy "cheap" and upgrade?

I'm not planning on becomming a collector (though only time will tell.) and would prefer to own just 1 all-purpose SG. One that would be acceptable to learn on, and constructed well enough, that it will last as along as I may need it for; at the same time, giving a level of performance that it wouldnt "need" any aftermarket mod.'s ( Ie. trigger jobs/better barrel's, etc..) Maybe that is not possible.

I am currently looking at mid-range priced SG's that would likely recieve a minor amount of modifying. I'm wondering if I buy a more basic package, and add more modifications to it, than I would the mid-priced model, if I would arrive at the same level of performance.

I would prefer to not need to upgrade to a "better" firearm once I am sufficiently profficient in their use. (Would help with Muscle memory/familiarity with platform I would think.)

If I could find one that would need no modifications, that would be even better IMO. I havn't found any model in the mid-to low price range that would fit that criteria.
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Old March 14, 2007, 10:24 AM   #18
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An 18" Mossberg or Remy would easily suit your needs. I'd go with 12ga and consider packing along some 12ga (marine) flares with your buckshot and/or slugs - - you just never know.

Here's a link to ATI and some of their accessories.
For ease of carry, over the shoulder, in a scabberd, or in a backpack I'd seriously consider the "pistol-grip top-folder" or the "pistol grip telescoping" stock.
America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards. Claire Wolfe
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Old March 16, 2007, 06:39 AM   #19
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Like SR420 I would opt for a Nova. You can get it plain jane , in a Marine config or as the Super Nova.

Be safe,

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Old March 16, 2007, 06:57 AM   #20
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The Benelli "Nova" should fit your needs.
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Old March 17, 2007, 06:08 PM   #21
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Last year I was also looking for a "multi-purpose" shotgun. I'll try and explain my own rationale - hope it helps.

I wanted a shotgun for the following reasons:

1. Home Defense (the world seems to get more scary everyday and dont want to depend on dialing 911 alone)
2. World comes to and end, but I'm still here - need to hunt.
3. Target Shooting (needed a new hobby)

I read a huge amount about Mossberg 500 vs. Remington 870 both in 12g.

Based mainly on this article:
(no dremels please, no painful thumb crunch, location of satefy)

I purchased a Mossberg 500 - 12g - 5+1 - blued (on sale at Big5) - looked at the Marine finish but ultimately decided I couldn't afford it - in hindsight, I haven't needed it - but still may have been nice.

The purchase I made at Big5, came with:
1. A 18.5" smooth bore (home defense - short range barrel)
2. A 26" improved choke (bird shot - clay pigeon, hunting if the world comes to an end)

I then purchased a Mossberg scope/barrel combo ( - was the best price at the time):
3. A 24" fully rifled barrel w/Bushnell Sportsman 3-9x32 scope.

I'm 6' - 135lbs on a good day will a pocket full of change (been underweight for decades cant seem to do anything about it).
My son is 15yrs old 5'9" - 150lbs.
My wife is 5'1" and she would kill me for posting her weight so I'll very slender.

I purchased the Knoxx SpecOps - recoil reducing stock ( ), and the optional Knoxx Limbsaver for SpecOps pad (direct from knoxx - phone order only). These items, have made my 12g the most popular among all my friends who shoot, as the easiest recoiling, most easily adjustable LOP shotgun they've ever fired.

So on that note:
1. 18.5" - I used #00 buck 2 3/4"
2. 26" - I shoot #4 bird 2 3/4"
3. 24" or sometimes 18.5" - I use rifled slugs 1oz 2 3/4" or sometimes for fun 600grain 3" magnums.

With the replacement stock, none of us have any problems with the 12g recoil or Length of pull (LOP).

Since Oct, when I got the gun, I've put around 200 rnds of #4 bird, 250 rnds of #00 buck, 60 rnds of 3" magnum 600grain slugs, and ~450 rnds of 1oz slugs through the gun. I've had - ZERO - jams, or feed problems.

Cleaning mainly with boresnake only... (opps!)

So just last week, doing some patterning on 00 buck (many differnt brands), I started having a problem on my 18.5" setup not wanting to fully eject rounds therefore I had to "double-pump" the gun - I took it down to a gunshop this morning, and the guy laughed at me and told me to use solvent (not just a boresnake) - as I have melted plastic goo in the chamber.

Oh! Almost forgot... Also I ended up on a camping trip in the Mt Shasta area for several days, the gun stayed nicely in hand w/18.5" barrel installed, and 00 buck loaded (5 rnd mag), during hikes with friends, it was an easy extra the whole time. At night back at the cabin the gun rested in my SKB dry-tek case ( ) sitting on the outside "shooting deck" all night with many other guns exposed to the elements - several other people complained about finding mild rust on their weapons after the trip. I had no problems with mine.

Anyway, hope this helps!

A very happy Mossberg 500 12g owner,

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Old March 19, 2007, 05:56 PM   #22
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EJJR My 2 cents

If you plan on doing alot of hiking and are looking for a self-defense gun.Look at Mossbergs "Cruiser" in either 20GA or .410. They weigh in at 5 1/2 lbs. If by self defense you mean the two legged kind either should efficiently deter an attack. I know they would change my mind.
Thanks Blueclaw
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Old March 23, 2007, 12:35 PM   #23
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You cant beat a mossburg 500 12guage combo package changable barrels in 28" and 18 1/2". That meets about any need and is very affordable.
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Old March 23, 2007, 01:46 PM   #24
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Thanks all, all perspectives are welcomed and appreciated.

So, I went to the local Dick's Sporting-goods and handled a few different SG's
( Moss 500/590, Rem 870, Benelli SuperNova) Handled pistol-grip only, full stock with pistol grip and full "traditional" stock models.

Long story made short, I prefer the "traditional" stock the best. Over-all the Benelli's had the best ergonomics for me. Moss and Rems seemed to possess more rattling than the Benellis; (Though I'm not sure if this isan issue related to manufacturing or in-store demo'ing/handeling.) and felt "cheaper" even though the Benelli's had more plastic. ( no bash intended, just my intial perception to the models I actually handled.)

mcubed4130: Very informative post, ty. It gave me an idea that I hadnt previously hadnt considered. Perhaps I should just consider using a dry bag. Can get a Class 5 (Waterproof and submersible to depths greater than 12 feet.) roll-up dry bag for less than $100.

I guess all that is left is to wait until I can actually test-fire them to see if my intitial preferences remain the same.
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Old March 23, 2007, 03:11 PM   #25
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