The Best Home Defense Shotgun Reviews of 2021

Last Updated on January 12, 2021.

Shotguns have long been a staple in the quiver of home defense guns.

If you’re pressed for time, just read this:


Spoiler: if you’re in a hurry, here’s the good stuff: the Mossberg 500 Tactical is the wise option for defending your home.

Top Options on the Market

With that out of the way, these firearms are fairly simple to operate and are specifically designed for quick target acquisition and engagement.

However, there are a couple myths about them that have been passed around quite a bit:

  1. You can’t miss with a it.
  2. Simply cocking a firearm is enough to deter an intruder.

The first stems from the idea that the buckshot will spread out enough to form a wide pattern, and at least some of the pellets will connect.

However, most houses aren’t big enough for the pellets to spread out much. So, even with buckshot shells, you still need some precision.

The second myth may work for an intruder who broke in because they thought you weren’t home.

But it’s not very difficult to identify whether or not someone is home. If someone breaks into your house while you’re home, there’s a good chance that they’re there to get you, as disconcerting as that may be.

So, cocking your firearm simply tells the intruder where you are and what defensive tool you have.

This removes at least part of your defensive advantage.

This is the ideal course of action:

  1. Move to a position of advantage.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Put the phone down (the 911 operator can still hear you).
  4. Get two hands on your weapon and wait for the police to arrive.

With that in mind, here are a couple reasons why a shotgun can be a capable home defense platform:

Why Use One for Your House?

1. With the right home defense ammunition, they rarely over penetrate.

2.Designed to be sighted with just the front sight bead.

Even with these benefits, there are still a few considerations for using a this one for defending your home.

Here’s what you need to know:

Considerations of Using a Shotgun for Home Defense

  • A sling
  • An ammo pouch or shell holder
  • challenging to shoot

Home defense situations almost always require some close quarters tactics. In close quarters engagements, a good shotgun sling is necessary to allow you to use both your hands without dropping your weapon or being disarmed.

And many models have a low rate of fire (especially pump shotguns).

This means that some close quarters and weapon retention training is super valuable if you use a firearm for home defense.

These may sound pretty serious, but don’t let the considerations scare you away if you’re looking for a solid home defense shotgun.

A good shotgun is an effective self defense tool.

12 gauge or 20 gauge?

If you’re still up for getting a defensive firearm, there’s still one major question:

12 gauge or 20 gauge?

This has been a debate in the shotgun world for a long time.

However, the difference between 12 gauge and 20 gauge is most apparent at longer ranges where it’s possible that not all the pellets in the load hit the target. Some also prefer 20 gauge for hunting since the pellets tend to damage less meat.

For defensive purposes, though, the difference is less stark. At short ranges, it’s highly unlikely that the pellets will spread out enough to miss a man-sized target.

In terms of ballistic power, both 12 gauge and 20 gauge are plenty powerful enough to stop a person.

The main consideration between the two is how easy they are to shoot. 20 gauge has a lighter recoil than 12 gauge.

So, the round you use actually depends mostly on how comfortable you are with shooting a shotgun.

12 gauge is fine for those who have good familiarity with them and decent shooting technique.

On the other hand, new shooters and smaller shooters may be more comfortable with 20 gauge.

However, with training and consistent practice, the majority of shooters can get good enough to handle 12 gauge. So feel free to pick up a 12 gauge if you’ve got the resources to practice with it. If you don’t plan to use your gun often, it’s probably wise to go with a 20 gauge model.

Fortunately, most of the models mentioned in this article come in both 12 gauge and 20 gauge models.

With that in mind, we’ll review the top defensive firearms on the market  in order from most expensive to lease expensive.

Read on to find out which one is right for you...

The Best Home Defense Shotguns of 2019


The Benelli M4 is one of the most legendary models ever produced. Since its inception, the M4 has been adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and a whole host of special operations units.

The leading characteristic of the M4 is its rate of fire. With good shooting fundamentals, it’s possible to unload rounds nearly as fast as a fully-automatic firearm.

However, the most valuable aspect of the M4 in terms of defending your house is the reliability. The M4 employs a gas piston system similar to that of an AK-47 to give the M4 superior reliability. So you know the M4 will come through when you need it most.

Then, the M4 is also extremely easy to shoot for its kind. It’s equipped with an inertia recoil system, synthetic stock, and a specially designed pistol grip to enhance the controllability during rapid fire. This is key for keeping follow-up shots on target and minimizing collateral damage in an incident in your home.

It’s also fitted with an enhanced two-stage trigger for more precision. An extended magazine tube minimizes the chances that you’ll need to perform a critical incident reload.

Lastly, it’s covered with a corrosion resistant coating. So it will hold up for years of use.

There are only a couple of downsides to the M4:

It requires regular maintenance for proper operation.

It’s rather heavy.

But, if you can stomach the price tag, the M4 is an outstanding defense tool, that can easily double as a competitive one for even experienced three-gun and trap shooters.


Fabrique Nationale (FN) is one of the premier manufacturers of defensive and military firearms.

The FN SLP is a legitimate competitor to the Benelli M4. Special operations units and militaries around the world have opted for the SLP over the M4.

One of the most notable characteristics of the SLP is its ability to function reliably with any ammunition.

The SLP comes with a heavy and a light gas piston for excellent performance with any type of load. Additionally, the SLP features a cylinder and improved cylinder choke, called the Invector Choke System, for accurate delivery of rifled slugs, if you need them.

FN added their proprietary soft-recoil system to keep the SLP manageable during rapid fire. Additionally, the SLP features ghost ring sights for more accuracy than a standard bead during sighted fire.

If iron sights aren’t your thing, the ghost ring sights can be removed so you can use your favorite optic.

Of course, the SLP is coated in a durable, corrosion resistant finish for improved durability and minimal maintenance requirements.

Overall, the price and quality make the SLP the top semi-automatic model shotgun you can get right now.

Under $500

Mossberg 590 Special Purpose

Mossberg is a household name when it comes to shotguns. They make firearms for nearly every shooting context.

The Mossberg 590 Special Purpose is the base model of the type that Mossberg provides to the Marine Corps for urban combat and breaching doors.

The most notable thing about the 590 is the ammo capacity. The 590 sports an impressive 8 rounds in the tube plus 1 in the chamber. With 9 rounds loaded up, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll need to reload during a home  incident.

Mossberg designed the 590 for ease of use in competition and tactical situations. The safety is located on top of the receiver for easy operation with your thumb. The locking bar is in front of the trigger and easy to depress with the middle finger of your firing hand. This reduces the likelihood for user-induced malfunctions in high stress situations.

The 590 also employs an open loading port to make reloading as easy as can be for a shotgun.

The sights are similar to those found on an M16 or M14. The rear aperture is a ghost ring design and the front sight is a high visibility post. This means the sights are easy to use in low light conditions.

The 590 is also an exceptionally light one. This makes it easy to handle and carry for long distances, which is handy for competition shooters and prolonged tactical situations.

Overall, the 590 provides amazing value for defensive users and competition shooters looking for a reliable firearm in the $500 dollar price range.

Under $400

Mossberg 500 Tactical

The next step down in Mossberg’s lineup is the Mossberg 500 Tactical. The 500 is the top tactical option for defensive use because it strikes an amazing balance between tactical features and price.

Mossberg started with an 8 round magazine tube, so the 500 holds 9 total rounds. This helps circumvent the complex buckshot reload issue with a high round count.

For more tactical viability, the 500 features completely ambidextrous controls to make life easier for left-handed shooters. However, ambidextrous controls are handy for right handed shooters as well, since reloading a one requires jockeying the gun around more than other platforms.

The ergonomics are also designed for high stress situations. The safety is located on top of the receiver and the locking bar is accessible with the middle finger of your firing hand.

The 500 also comes standard with a high-visibility bead sight and a heat shield. Some say the heat shield isn’t necessary, but it can help keep you from getting burned if you need to reload.

Additionally, the 500 is fitted with a synthetic stock, which is ready to accept a sling for the ultimate defense setup.

All these features add up to create a combination of battle-proven features and price point that makes the 500 the greatest tactical defense shotgun that you can get for under $400.

For The Money

Remington 870 Express

The Remington 870 is one of the oldest models still in use. The design is over 100 years old. However, it’s still a very relevant one.

One thing about the Remington 870 Express that’s worth noting is that there are a TON of aftermarket upgrades available for this shotgun. So, even if the features of the base model aren’t quite what you’re looking for, you can easily mix and match parts to create a weapon that you’re really into.

The biggest standard feature of the 870 is the reliability. The 870 will eat any ammo you feed it. This is handy since you’ll want the right rounds for defending your house.

Remington has also been refining this design for a long time, so the slide action is very smooth and easy to operate, for better shooting performance under stress.

The stock sights are a standard white front bead. However, the sights can be replaced with any optic you want.

Remington designed the 870 with superior weight and balance, which help smooth out the recoil and make the 870 easy to handle under stress.

Unfortunately, the are a few things that Remington hasn’t improved since the original design.

The first is that the 870 uses a floating load gate, which makes reloading a tad more complex.

Then, the safety is a non-ambidextrous cross-bolt design, which can be difficult to actuate.

Last (and least), is the 870 is a little bit tricky to reassemble if you’ve taken it apart to clean.

The good news is that almost all of these quirks can be remedied with aftermarket parts.

Given the excellent price point of the 870, it’s entirely possible to get exactly the type of 870 you want for less than the base cost of some other models.

This means the 870 is the greater budget defensive shotgun choice.

It’s that value that makes the 870 the an excellent defense

 shotgun for the money.

Under $300

Mossberg All-Purpose Field

The Mossberg All-Purpose Field is designed for hunting. However, the All-Purpose Field passes the MilSpec 3443 torture test, so it has plenty of tactical and home defense viability.

The main thing that the torture test reveals is that the All-Purpose Field is exceptionally reliable. Reliability is one of the most important factors for any defensive gun. This means that the All-Purpose Field is plenty reliable enough to be your home defense shotgun.

Mossberg used the same configuration for the controls that they use for their tactical models. The safety is on top of the receiver and the locking bar is accessible with your firing hand. So the All-Purpose Field is easy to operate under stress.

To improve usability, the All-Purpose Field uses an open load slot, which helps make reloading a little easier.

The wood stock is fitted with a rubber recoil pad to make the All-Purpose Field more manageable for repeated shots.

Lastly, the standard choke on the All-Purpose Field produces a nice pattern even at short ranges so you get the maximum effect from home defense loads.

At the end of the day, the All-Purpose Field is an exceptionally affordable shotgun that can be used for defensive purposes or even competition right out of the box.


Remington 870 Tac-14

The Remington 870 Tac-14 isn’t actually considered a shotgun by the ATF. The standard model comes with a shockwave grip that doesn’t have a stock. So this gun is considered a “pump action firearm.”

Ballistically, though, the Tac-14 operates just like a the real thing.

The most notable thing about the Tac-14 is that the Shockwave Grip means that you cannot shoulder this gun when you fire it. The recoil could cause the gun to hit you in the face.

So the Tac-14 should only be fired from the hip.

Naturally that means that this gun has serious range limitations in terms of the mechanics of shooting. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get good accuracy beyond about 7 yards without very extensive training.

But, the short ranges of defensive shooting mean that it’s still a viable home defense option.

The Tac-14 is essentially an 870 with synthetic furniture and a short barrel. So it has some of the same limitations as the 870. Assembling the Tac-14 can be tricky. The safety is also a little hard to operate, especially for left-handers.

Another thing to consider is that the Tac-14 only holds 5 total rounds. So you’re really prioritizing compactness with the Tac-14.

However, Remington did clear the floating load gate out of there so the Tac-14 is easier to reload than a standard 870.

Overall, the Tac-14 is a really fun and affordable little gun. However, this gun is only really viable for defensive shooters who:

Have a necessity for a really compact gun.


Plan to buy the Tac-14 and add a stock so they can use it more like a standard shotgun with a short barrel.

So the Tac-14 is a good option for those who want a gun that will fit in their car or have very limited space for defense oriented firearm storage. Defensive shooters who plan to build a custom home defense platform will also find the Tac-14 to be a good choice.

Of course, this is also great as a fun gun, too.

Final Shots

A shotgun is a solid home defense gun. They’re also fun recreational and competition guns. You can’t go wrong by adding one to your collection.

Our pick for the top model from this article is the Mossberg 500 Tactical. It’s a capable model at a fair price point. Not only that, but there are so many upgrades available, that you can customize the Mossberg 500 till it’s perfect for any shooting context.

It’s easily worth every penny.

And those are the firearms you should have on your radar this year. Get one and start blasting!