When it comes to home defense, the shotgun is a popular choice for many gun owners.
If you’re also considering purchasing a shotgun but don’t know where to start, this guide will take you through everything you need to know to ultimately choose the best shotgun for home defense for your needs.
Without further ado, let’s start from the very beginning.
What Is a Shotgun?
A shotgun is a long gun with a smooth barrel used to shoot small pellets called shots or a single solid projectile called a slug. Shotguns come in different sizes, with 12-gauge and 20-gauge being the most common. They can have a single barrel or double barrels.
These weapons are designed for short distances. They can be fired once before reloading, or a semi-automatic, or other repeating action to shoot multiple times before reloading.
What Is the Difference Between a Shotgun and a Rifle?
The key difference between a rifle and a shotgun is that a rifle shoots towards a single target, while a shotgun shoots across a wide space.
Rifles can hit targets accurately up to 300 yards away or more. Shotguns are effective at approximately 35 m (38 yd) with buckshot, 45 m (49 yd) with birdshot, 100 m (110 yd) with slugs, and more than 150 m (160 yd) with saboted slugs in rifled barrels. This means that the spread of the shot can effectively stop close threats.
When it comes to reloading, rifles generally hold the upper hand, particularly in the realm of semi-automatics. However, there is a growing number of shotguns drawing inspiration from the AR platform that combine the reliability and familiarity of the AR design with the versatility of shotgun ammunition. The ergonomic controls and modularity of the AR platform make these shotguns appealing to both sport shooters and home defense enthusiasts.
Pros and Cons of Owning Shotgun for Home Defense
When it comes to home defense, shotguns have big advantages:
- Stopping power: Shotguns can be an effective option for home defense given their strengths up close. Their 12-gauge ammunition delivers tremendous stopping power that few other firearms can match.
- Projectile spread: The pattern or spread of a shotgun shell on a target is tailored to its intended purpose. Shotgun barrels can have chokes – constrictions near the muzzle – to tighten the shot pattern. Chokes come in full, modified, and improved cylinders, with full being the tightest. Firing slugs from a choked barrel is not advisable. Compared to birdshot, buckshot has a much tighter pattern to deliver maximum damage. Slugs do not have a spread pattern.
- Intimidation factor: Shotguns have a certain visceral intimidation factor. Some studies show criminals often flee when facing a shotgun.
For personal defense inside the home, a shotgun’s close-range power and intimidation make it a favored choice among many gun owners. While no firearm is right for everyone, shotguns have several advantages over other firearms.
What Is the Best Shotgun for Home Defense?
There are three main action types of shotguns to choose from:
Pump-actions are known for their simplicity and reliability during stressful situations. By manually loading shells, they minimize the chance of jams. Some pros include:
- Pump designs work equally well for both left and right-handed users.
- These classic defensive firearms are also widely available at affordable prices.
- Owners can choose from a variety of ammunition types to match their needs.
However, pump-actions do not fire rounds as rapidly as semi-automatics. Mastering the motion takes practice to build memory and confidence. And absorbing recoil from each shell requires strength and good technique.
For those focused more on dependability than rapid-fire, a pump shotgun makes an ideal home defense choice.
Break-action shotguns keep things simple, with easy visual inspection and maintenance thanks to their hinged opening design. Pros include:
- Straightforward mechanics mean fewer malfunctions compared to repeaters.
- Quick to load and unload, they handle smoothly with little weight.
The disadvantage is that the capacity is quite limited, holding only two rounds at a time. Break-actions offer less flexibility in accessories and ammo choices too.
Semi-automatic shotguns are another option for home defense. The advantages are:
- Faster follow-up shots than pump-action shotguns.
- Less recoil than pump-action shotguns.
- Can be used with a variety of ammunition types.
- Can be used by both right- and left-handed shooters.
These shotguns are trending because they combine the familiarity of the AR layout with the raw firepower of a 12-gauge shotgun, ultimately making them excellent options for home defense. Examples include the Typhoon Defense X12, Panzer Arms AR12 Gen3, and the Genesis Arms Gen-12.
However, semi-automatics are more expensive than pump-action shotguns, have more complex designs, and require more maintenance than pump-action shotguns.
As you can see, when it comes to choosing the best shotgun for home defense, it ultimately depends on personal preference and needs. Pump-action shotguns are the most common and reliable type of shotgun for home defense, while semi-automatic shotguns offer faster follow-up shots.
Who Has the Right to Own a Shotgun for Home Defense?
Requirements for owning a shotgun intended for home defense vary between different states and local areas.
Some states also short waiting periods or new gun owners need to take safety courses before they can legally take possession of their guns.
While shotguns are an allowed option for home defense in general, there are also exceptions. Individuals with criminal backgrounds or mental health histories may be restricted.
As long as you follow the guidelines in your area, owning a home defense shotgun is fully possible.
How to Choose a Shotgun for Home Defense?
Choosing the right shotgun for your home protection involves a few key factors:
- The Gauge: This refers to the diameter of the firearm’s barrel and the matching ammunition size. The most common gauges for defense are 12 and 20. The 12-gauge is the most popular and versatile. It also has the widest types of ammunition available. However, 20-gauge models are often lighter in weight and have less recoil, making them easier to aim and control.
- Barrel Length: While shorter barrels, those between 18 to 20 inches, are highly maneuverable in narrow spaces. They sacrifice accuracy compared to longer barrels. Consider your needs and shooting areas.
- Action Type: Common shotgun actions include pump-action, semi-automatic, and break-action (mentioned above).
Best Shotgun Ammo for Home Defense
When it comes to choosing the best shotgun ammo for home defense, there are several factors to consider. The most common types of shotgun shells are birdshot, buckshot, and slugs.
- Birdshot: Using birdshot for home defense is not advisable, as it has been shown to be ineffective for self-defense because it lacks the ability to penetrate sufficiently to stop an intruder.
- Buckshot is the preferred type of shotgun ammo for home defense. It is available in different sizes, with 00 buckshot being the most popular.
- Slugs are the most powerful type of shotgun ammunition and are best suited for long-range shooting.
Here are some popular shotgun ammo options:
- Winchester Super-X #1 Buck is a trusted 12-gauge brand with reliable stopping power.
- Federal Power Shok #4 Buck provides quality 12-gauge defense at a budget-friendly price point.
- Popular in law enforcement circles, the Winchester Super-X 00 Buck is a popular 12-gauge brand that uses tactical buckshot.
- For those preferring lighter 20-gauge shotguns, Winchester Super-X #3 Buck is a great choice.
- Federal Premium #4 Buck is a 20-gauge weapon that uses a controllable buckshot from a leading ammunition maker.
How to Store a Shotgun for Home Defense
Storing a shotgun securely is crucial. It is important to keep the shotgun in a place that is easily accessible in case of an emergency, but also secure enough to prevent unauthorized access.
Here are some storage options available for home shotgun owners:
- Gun safes provide maximum security and protection from theft or damage. Various sizes are available, with high-quality key combinations or biometric locks. Bolting these safes to floors or walls helps keep shotguns accessible yet properly stored.
- For a more budget-friendly alternative, locked metal gun cabinets or concealment furniture, such as secret shelving units or storage ottomans, are ideal gun storage alternatives
- Fast-access wall and floor safes offer the quickest availability during emergencies. Smaller and more affordable than large gun safes, fast-access safes feature digital locks and convenient mounting placements.
No matter the chosen storage method, following fundamental firearms safety rules such as ensuring that gun chambers are free from ammo before storing or gun shells are kept separate when not being used is paramount to home safety.
Best Shotguns for Home Defense in 2024
With plenty of options to choose from, here are some top-rated home defense shotgun and their features:
The Benelli SuperNova
The Benelli SuperNova pump-action is known for being reliable during high-stress scenarios. It has a 12-gauge chamber, 7+1 capacity, firm handle, and ghost ring sights.
Available in multiple calibers, the budget-friendly classic Mossberg 500 brings versatility to defense needs. Its proven 12-gauge platform offers 6+1 capacity, smooth cycling, and value across generations.
For a rapid response, the Beretta 1301 semi-auto cycles shells swiftly while reducing recoil through smart engineering. At just over 6 pounds, its 5+1 12-gauge loads stay quick and controllable.
The SRM 1216 bullpup packs impressive 16+1 rounds of 12-gauge into a maneuverable defensive powerhouse. Ambidextrous operation and Picatinny rails boost tactical capabilities within its compact frame.
The classic Remington 870 continues being reliable in close quarters. It’s a no-nonsense 12-gauge loading firearm that you can count on when trouble calls.
Genesis Arms Gen-12
The Genesis Arms Gen-12 is an innovative AR shotgun system that bridges the gap between rifles and shotguns. It allows you to swap on a .308 lower, enabling you to run 12-gauge shotgun shells using a standard AR-10 magazine and bolt catch. Key features include a 10-round capacity, smooth bore 10.5-inch barrel, and ergonomic AR controls.
With their time-tested reputations and owner-ready designs, any of the abovementioned shotguns can help you guard your hearth and home.
When you’re ready to make a purchase, make sure to locate the best stores near you by finding their listings here. We appreciate your support as a valued member of Arms Directory!