The 5 Best Home-Defense Shotguns

A good shotgun is a powerful defense tool in the right hands. Here are our picks for the best shotguns for home-defense.

Though they don't come without shortcomings, a home-defense shotgun can be an incredible tool for defending your family. However, like any tool, you need to use the right one for the job.

For instance, while you can drive a nail with a screwdriver, a hammer is a much better choice.

By the same token, a shotgun specifically designed with a home-defense situation in mind is a much better choice for that sort of work than your trusty turkey or duck hunting shotgun. That shotgun isn't the best choice for concealed carry, but it's absolutely deadly at close range and is an excellent home defense gun.

Whatever home-defense shotgun you end up choosing, your work is only beginning once you actually obtain your shotgun. It can be extremely effective in the right hands, but it takes a lot of time and effort to truly become a master at running a shotgun. Invest the time and energy necessary to become an expert with your chosen home-defense shotgun and you'll be a formidable obstacle to those who wish to hurt you.

Winchester SXP Defender


First up on this list of the best home-defense shotguns is the Winchester SXP Defender. The primary feature of the SXP (Super X Pump) series of shotguns is their inertia-assisted action, which Winchester markets as one of the fastest and smoothest pump shotguns currently available.

The SXP Defender combines this outstanding and innovative pump-action system with an 18-inch, fixed-cylinder-choked barrel (no constriction) that makes it a great choice for birdshot, buckshot, and slugs.

It is reasonably priced, lightweight, very handy, and can hold six (5+1) 12-gauge shotgun shells. The fact that it's manufactured in Turkey is a strike against it in the eyes of some, but make no mistake: the Winchester SXP Defender is an excellent shotgun for defending your home.

Benelli M4


One of the biggest problems with using a semi-auto shotgun for home defense is that they tend to be more finicky than pump-action shotguns about the type of ammo you use in them. However, like it's distant relative the Benelli M2, the Benelli M4 has a self-regulating gas system that is specifically designed to reliably function and eject a wide variety of shotgun shell length and power levels.

Add a barrel length of 18.5 inches, a six-shell (5+1) magazine tube, and a comfortable pistol grip, and you're on the right track. Then by adding a ghost ring sight and a Picatinny Rail that gives the shooter the option of adding an optic, you get a very potent home-defense shotgun.

The Benelli M4 has such an excellent reputation for reliability and durability that it's used by a number of military and law enforcement forces all over the world, including the U.S. Marine Corps (where it's known as the M1014). With an MSRP of around $2,000, the Benelli M4 doesn't come cheap, but it's one of the best home-defense shotguns money can buy.

Remington 870 Express Tactical

best home defense shotguns remington 870 express


No list of the best home defense shotguns would be complete without a Remington 870. The pump-action 870 is the best-selling shotgun of all time for good reason: it works. That's why it is such a popular shotgun for hunters, police and people who want a reliable shotgun to defend themselves from both 2- and 4-legged predators.

Sometimes simpler is better, and with an 18.5-inch barrel sporting a fixed-cylinder choke and up to a seven-shell (6+1) magazine capacity, the 870 Express Tactical has all the basic characteristics you need in a home-defense shotgun. Another cool feature is that it will safely and reliably shoot 2-3/4-inch or 3-inch 12-gauge shot shells. You can also get a version with a polymer Magpul stock and a ghost ring rear sight for more precise shooting with slugs than the simple bead sights most shotguns have.

In addition to being very reasonably priced, the Remington 870 also has a stellar reputation for reliability. It's also incredibly versatile.

By simply switching out the barrel and adding a magazine plug, it's an easy matter to turn the Remington 870 from a great home defense shotgun into a great hunting shotgun. For those reasons, this particular shotgun is the perfect firearm for hunters who are just trying to get started and want a single firearm that will work extremely well at home and afield.

Mossberg 590A1 Tactical


Though the Remington 870 is the best-selling shotgun of all time, the Mossberg 500 series is a close second and is also an excellent tactical shotgun. In fact, the Mossberg 590A1 Tactical is built to mil-spec requirements and is currently in use by the U.S. Army because of its rugged durability and reliability.

The base model has an overall length of just 39.5 inches, a 18.5-inch barrel with a fixed-cylinder choke, a seven-shell (6+1) magazine capacity, and a synthetic stock.

However, Mossberg also makes variants of the 590A1 Tactical with a 20-inch barrel that increases the magazine capacity to nine shotgun shells (8+1). Add an aftermarket side saddle shell carrier for even more extra rounds to facilitate rapid reloading if necessary. You also have the option to add a Picatinny rail (and possibly a red dot sight), an adjustable stock, a fiber optic front sight, and a ghost ring rear sight.

Be sure to have some ear protection close at hand with your shotgun too! Shotguns are extremely loud and that's especially true when shooting indoors as well as with shorter barreled shotguns like this one that are so popular for personal defense and close quarters work.

All in all, the Mossberg 590A1 is one of the best home-defense shotguns around though.

Remington Versa Max Tactical

best home defense shotguns remington versa max


Like the Benelli M4, the Remington Versa Max Tactical is a semi-automatic shotgun specifically designed to reliably operate with a wide variety of slug and buckshot loads. The Versa Max Tactical's special gas-operated action combined with a high-quality recoil pad also dramatically reduces recoil, making the Versa Max much easier to shoot (and reload) rapidly and accurately.

At the same time, it also has a nine-round (8+1) magazine and high-quality sights. Combine all of those features with synthetic stock and an attachment point for an aftermarket flashlight and you have another great choice for a home-defense shotgun.

What do you think of our choices for the best home-defense shotguns? Did we miss any?

Like what you see? You can read more great articles by John McAdams on the Big Game Hunting Blog. Subscribe to his show: the Big Game Hunting Podcast or learn more about an African hunting safari.