The Best Semi Auto Shotgun: What to Take to the Range and What to Keep at Home

Last Updated on January 7, 2021.

Semi-auto shotguns are one of the handiest guns to have in your safe. They’re good for home defense, hunting, and you can’t shoot 3-gun competitions without one.

However, shotguns can be built for very specific shooting contexts. A shotgun that’s intended for a certain kind of shooting is actually surprisingly weak in other shooting contexts.

You can go with a one-size-fits-all approach. But, you’ll be happier with a shotgun that’s designed for your primary use.

  • Super versatile barrel length and feature set
  • Beveled loading gate for faster reloads
  • Fiber optic front sight

If you decide you’d like one shotgun for everything (this is the spoiler, get ready), get the Mossberg Jerry Miculek Pro Series 930. It’s affordable. It holds a lot of rounds. It’ll work well enough in most shooting contexts.

If you’d like a shotgun that’s more purpose-built for the type of shooting you do, keep reading and see which semi-automatic shotguns you can choose from.

Top Semi-Automatic Shotguns on the Market

Best Semi-Auto Shotgun Reviews: Good and Bad Patterns

We’ll kick off our reviews with our winner. Then we’ll tear right through the rest of them in order of price. The least expensive get the critical eye first. The most expensive will have to wait till the end.

1. Mossberg Jerry Miculek Pro Series 930: Best Overall Semi Auto Shotgun

Mossberg has been a big name in the shotgun game for decades. The Mossberg Jerry Miculek Pro Series 930 is their flagship model, with a few tweaks from a professional shooter.

The barrel is 22 inches long. It’s a good all-around length. Accurate enough for competition and hunting. But not too long for tight situations like home defense.

There’s a beveled loading gate for faster reloading, which is handy since most of us take forever to reload a shotgun.

But, you won’t have to reload so much because the tube magazine holds 9 roundsPlenty for competition, hunting, or any home defense incident.

The forend is also shortened to help minimize the movement you need for reloading. It also provides easier stabilization with a more compact hand position.

There’s a fiber optic front sight for fast sight acquisition, along with a full length rib along the top rail to help with accuracy. However, the sights are built for speed more than accuracy. You’ll be able to shoot quickly. But, they’re not as accurate as ghost ring sights or an optic.

The trigger has a short pull and a quick reset, meant for fast shots. The good news is that there’s no downside to the trigger, even if you’re shooting slowly.

Some may prefer a pistol grip on their semi auto shotgun. This model has a standard rifle gripThe rifle grip works for everything. But it’s not as consistent if your rifle has a pistol grip.

This shotgun is an excellent option for anyone who wants a do-it-all shotgun at a super reasonable price. It might not be the best in at anything. But it’s definitely good at everything.


  • Super versatile barrel length and feature set
  • Beveled loading gate for faster reloads
  • 9-round capacity
  • Nice trigger
  • Fiber optic front sight


  • Rifle grip isn’t congruent if your rifle has a pistol grip
  • Sights aren’t ideal if you want more precision

2. Panzer Arms AR 12 Gauge: AR-15 Shotgun

There aren’t a lot of shotguns that match the AR-15 platform. The Panzer Arms AR 12 Gauge is built on the AR-15 form factor. It’s nice if you’re already an AR-15 shooter.

First, 3 gun competition shooters will appreciate the design because it’s consistent with their rifle. Platform familiarly builds efficiency.

This shotgun has all the same controls as an AR-15. So, many of the weapon manipulations are the same as an AR-15. You’ll be able to run this gun faster if you’re already competent with an AR-15.

The barrel is 18.5 inches long. It’s a good length for home defense and tactical shooting. But, the spread might be a bit wide for hunters.

There’s also threading on the muzzle. No muzzle device is included with the gun. But, you can add any muzzle device you want.

All the furniture is proprietary. The stock is very minimal, and keeps the weight down. It’s got an integrated recoil pad, though. So, the shooting experience is rather pleasant.

However, the pistol grip leaves something to be desired. It’s got good texturing. However, it’s shape is reminiscent of a standard A2 grip. Which isn’t all that comfortable.

There’s ample rail space and attachment points on the forend to add any accessories you want. And the gun comes equipped with flip-up sights. So, you can add an optic without tossing your irons.

Unfortunately, the magazine only holds 5 roundsThis is kind of middle of the road. Competition and tactical shooters may prefer something that holds more rounds.

All in all, this shotgun is most suitable for home defense and competition. Hunters will probably prefer a more traditional shotgun.


  • AR-15 style controls
  • Compact barrel length
  • Threaded muzzle
  • Lightweight furniture
  • Lots of space for accessories


  • Barrel is a bit too short to be good for hunting
  • Pistol grip is only okay
  • 5 round magazine capacity

3. Stoeger M3K: Competition Semi Auto Shotgun

The Stoeger M3K is a great designated competition shotgun. It’s built for fast shooting and reloads. But, the dimensions make it slightly less desirable for other shooting contexts.

At the top of the list is the barrel length. The barrel is 24 inches long. For competition, this is excellent. It offers strong accuracy and delivers a well directed spread.

The magazine tube holds 10 rounds of 12 gauge ammunition. Again, excellent for competition. Fewer reloads means faster stage times.

However, these two attributes require a 48 inch overall length. That’s a pretty long gun. This shotgun will be tough to handle in close quarters.

But, this model does feature an oversized bolt release and safety, a beveled loading port. So, you get a lot of shots and can reload this gun fast. These are two attributes that will help you out in any situation.

There’s a fiber optic front sight and full-length rib for fast sight acquisition and improved accuracy. So, you’ll get your shots on target quickly, as long as there’s enough light to make the fiber optic front sight glow.

The stock comes with shims so that you can adjust the length of pull to fit any shooter. The shimming system is simple enough that you could quickly reconfigure this shotgun for multiple shooters if you’re sharing it with a friend or family in a competition.

Interestingly, the muzzle is plainYou’ll need to tap and thread it if you want to add a muzzle device.

Overall, this shotgun is intended to excel in the competition world. Hunters will probably find it to be more than adequate. However, home defense shooters may find that it’s too long and difficult to handle inside a house.


  • AR-15 style controls
  • Compact barrel length
  • Threaded muzzle
  • Lightweight furniture
  • Lots of space for accessories


  • Barrel is a bit too short to be good for hunting
  • Pistol grip is only okay
  • 5 round magazine capacity

4. Mossberg 930 SPX: Tactical Semi Auto Shotgun

The Mossberg 930 SPX is one of the most popular modern tactical shotguns. The design is excellent for tactical and defensive shooting. However, it’s versatile enough to succeed in most shooting contexts.

The barrel is 18.5 inches long. It’s plenty for short range tactical shooting and home defense. Hunters and competition shooters may want something a bit more ample for hitting more distant targets.

However, the shorter barrel makes this shotgun very easy to handle in tight spaces.

This shotgun holds 8 rounds in the tube magazineIt’s plenty for tactical scenarios or home defense. Competition shooters may find that they have to do an additional reload during some stages, which is not ideal.

There’s a Fiber optic front sight and a ghost ring rear sight for better sight acquisition in tactical settings and continuity with rifles. Those who use only their front sight for point shooting may find that the dual sight apertures get in the way. AR-15 shooters will appreciate the familiarity, though.

If the iron sights aren’t your thing, there’s a rail on top for mounting an optic.

The stock features a pistol grip, which builds nice platform familiarity with rifles. A pistol grip also makes recoil management better for some shooters.

There’s no threading on the barrel. So, no muzzle devices on this one.

Even so, this is an excellent shotgun for tactical shooters and home defense right out of the box. It’s a bit short for competition and hunting. But, it will get the job done if you’ve got nothing else.


  • Good home defense and tactical length
  • 8 round capacity
  • Rifle-style iron sights
  • Top rail for optics
  • Pistol grip


  • On the short side for a competition or hunting gun
  • Rifle-style iron sights may get in the way for those who use a bead to point shoot

5. Browning A5 Stalker: Semi Auto Shotgun for Long Range

The Browning A5 Stalker is built to get hits at long range. Well, as long range as you can get with a shotgun. However, this limits it’s capabilities in other areas.

Here’s the big deal with this model: it’s got a 30 inch barrel. It’s excellent for controlling the spread so you can put pellets on target at pretty long distances. If you hunt flying fowl, you’ll appreciate this.

Unfortunately, that means this gun is 51.625 inches long. That’s a big boomstick. 

But, this shotgun is unwieldy in tight spaces. It’s not an ideal tactical or home defense shotgun.

The front sight is a fiber optic bead, and the aiming rib extends all the way to the back of the receiver. This makes for excellent point-and-shoot accuracy.

Additionally, the forend is extra slim to bring your hand closer to the bore line for a more natural point of aim and easier target tracking.

This model is recoil operated. On one hand, recoil operation is incredibly reliable. However, it does have a slightly lower rate of fire than gas operated guns. But, Browning contoured the internals to produce an incredibly fast-cycling recoil operated shotgun.

Unfortunately, this shotgun only holds 4 roundsIt’s plenty for hunting and skeet shooting. But, other competitors, tactical shooters, and home defenders might want to opt for something with a little more gas in the tank.

This gun is built to be a hunting and skeet shooting platform. If you want a gun for those contexts, this could be the one for you. However, it’s a tough shotgun to handle for most other types of shooting.


  • Super long barrel for hitting targets at max range
  • Fiber optic bead and full-length rib make for excellent sight acquisition and accuracy
  • Slim forend makes for natural point of aim and target tracking
  • Reliable recoil operation


  • Recoil operation produces slightly slower rate of fire
  • 4 round capacity

6. Benelli M2: Semi Auto Hunting Shotgun

Tactical things might be all the rage right now, but an article about semi automatic shotguns wouldn’t be complete without a hunting gun. The Benelli M2 is an excellent go-to shotgun for any hunter.

First, the barrel is 24 inches. It’s long enough that you’ll be able to hit flying birds easily. But, it’s short enough that it won’t snag on everything while you’re walking in the woods.

Next, it has iron sights. However, they’re simple post-and-notch sights that work just as well as a front bead and rib for tracking moving targets. 

And they offer potential for a bit more accuracy at longer ranges.

The action is inertia driven. It’s reliable and cycles fast. Additionally, it functions well with any type of shotgun load. So, shoot whatever you want.

Unfortunately, since this shotgun is meant for hunting, it only holds 4 rounds in the tube. Not great for tactical and defensive shooting.

Benelli also offers this shotgun in a 20 gauge, which is handy for new shooters and teaching children to shoot.

At the end of the day, this is a hunter’s shotgun that’s capable enough for taking down any sort of game. However, that means that it’s not so great for other types of shooting.


  • Versatile barrel length
  • Simple iron sights work for all shooters
  • Reliable, fast cycling action
  • 12 gauge and 20 gauge options


  • 4 round magazine capacity
  • Overall length is a bit too much for easy handling in tight spaces

Unloading and Showing Clear

Ultimately, there’s a semi auto shotgun for every type of shooting, and a few shotguns that are decent at most type of shooting. And that means that there’s a shotgun out there that’s perfect for you.

If you want a great shotgun that’s good for just about everything, get the Mossberg Jerry Miculek Pro Series 930. The design favors competition a little bit, but it’s got a great feature set that’s helpful for any sort of shooting.

Now that you’re savvy on which shotguns are king in which arenas, check them out. Pick out your favorite shotgun. Then, lock and load.