home defense shotgun on house porch

When Protection is Paramount | Best Home Defense Shotguns

A shotgun is a popular choice for home defense, as the multiple pellets fired from the barrel spread out and provide tremendous stopping power.

After comparing some of the best home defense shotguns, I came up with a list of suggestions (more on that soon!)

Finding the best shotguns involved looking at various features, including the type, gauge, capacity, pull length, and price of different shotguns.

woman practicing shooting home defense shotgun

Hopefully, you never have a situation where you would need to defend yourself and your loved ones in your home, but if so, you want to have a shotgun that you can operate effectively.

While you have many shotguns to choose from, the Mossberg 590A1 is the best overall choice.

The Mossberg 590A1 is a pump-action tactical shotgun with a capacity of six rounds plus one in the chamber. It stands out as the only shotgun to pass the Mil-Spec 3443E test, making it the most reliable option. 3,000 buckshot rounds were fired through the weapon without any part breakages.

Yet, the Mossberg 590A1 may not be the best fit for everyone. Some people may prefer a shotgun without a pistol grip or a semi-automatic shotgun instead of a pump-action one. 

You may also prefer the best budget shotgun. Each option has distinct advantages that may better match your needs. 

Best Shotguns For Home Defense (List)

Keep reading to explore the top picks for best home defense shotguns and learn more about the features to look for when comparing choices.

1. Best Overall – Mossberg 590A1 

mossberg 5901A1 tactical pump shotgun

The Mossberg 590A1 is pump-action, has a removeable stock, and can accept various types of scopes/optics.

The Mossberg 590A1 offers several advantages that should appeal to anyone looking for a shotgun for home defense.

First, it’s a pump-action shotgun, which is recommended for first-time shotgun buyers. Pump-action shotguns are traditionally more reliable compared to semi-automatic shotguns, as they contain fewer moving parts.



The 590A1 is also the only shotgun to pass the military’s reliability test. If you keep the shotgun well-maintained, you should never need to worry about it jamming. On the odd chance that the gun malfunctions, you can cycle to the next round and fire as normal. 

The Mossberg 590A1 is a 12-gauge shotgun with a 6+1 capacity. It has a barrel length of 18.5 inches and a length of pull (LOP) of 13.9-inches. It comes equipped with a pistol grip and a stock for increased maneuverability and less recoil.



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As with most of the top shotguns, the Mossberg 590A1 comes with standard iron sights but supports a wide range of aftermarket sights and accessories. You can add optics or scopes that use Picatinny rails.

The 590A1 is also a popular choice with the military and law enforcement agencies around the country. It is a durable, heavy-duty shotgun and is available at a reasonable price. (The following Mossberg 590A1 video review from Hickok45 offers a detailed look at the shotgun’s parts and performance.)

Pros

  • The pump-action design is highly reliable
  • Supports a wide range of optics and scopes
  • Includes a comfortable pistol grip and removable stock

Cons 

  • The safety is on top of the receiver, which some people may find awkward


2. Best Semi-Automatic Shotgun – Benelli M2

benelli M2 Field Semi-Auto Shotgun

The M2 from Benelli is a semi-automatic with good accuracy, due to the 26-inch barrel.

The Benelli M2 is a semi-automatic shotgun. While most semi-auto shotguns use a gas-powered system, the M2 uses an inertia-driven system for smooth, reliable action.

It includes just three parts, resulting in increased reliability compared to other semi-autos.

As with most of the recommendations, the Benelli M2 is a 12-gauge shotgun. It also features a barrel length of 26 inches. The long barrel helps deliver increased accuracy.

You can also choose from a pistol grip with a stock or a standard stock. Other options include a ghost ring or standard open rifle sights.



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The ghost ring has a small, circular aperture that lines up with the post on the front of the shotgun. If you are not an experienced marksman, you may find that the ghost ring allows you to quickly line up your shot.

The Outdoor Limits YouTube channel provides an in-depth look at the Benelli M2 in a video review of the shotgun. Overall, this is one of the most reliable semi-automatic shotguns on the market. However, it also comes with a high price tag that may put off some buyers.

Pros

  • Faster firing speed compared to pump-action shotguns
  • One of the most reliable semi-automatic shotguns
  • Available with a pistol grip or a standard stock

Cons 

  • One of the most expensive options 


3. Best Compact Shotgun – Kel-Tec KSG Shotgun

Kel-Tec KSG Pump Shotgun

The Kel-Tec KSG has a pump behind the trigger, giving it a unique look and compact size.

The Kel-Tec KSG does not resemble the earlier recommendations due to its compact design. It has an 18.5-inch barrel, which is the same length used in most other shotguns. However, the overall length is just over 26 inches.

The KSG is also a bullpup shotgun. Instead of a manual pump in front of the trigger, the pump is behind the trigger, which allows for a more compact size. 



The Kel-Tec KSG also offers a larger capacity compared to other options. The total capacity is 14+1 when using dual magazine tubes. It also has a pistol grip and a length of pull (LOP) of just 13 inches. 

Kel-Tec is not the most recognizable manufacturer. The company mostly produces low-budget pistols. However, the KSG is a step up for the company and a reliable option for home defense. However, it is also one of the more costly choices. 

Check out the Kel-Tec KSG Shotgun video review from The Gunmeister for a closer look at the shotgun in action. 

Pros

  • Has a large capacity of 14+1 rounds
  • The compact design measures just 26.1 inches
  • Includes a pistol grip a short length of pull

Cons 

  • Relatively expensive shotgun


4. Best Budget Shotgun – Mossberg Maverick 88 

Mossberg Maverick 88 Security Pump-Action Shotgun

If you’re looking for a good home defense shotgun on a budget, the Mossberg Maverick 88 fits the bill.

The Maverick 88 is another pump-action shotgun from Mossberg. It is also one of the most affordable shotguns available. 

The Mossberg Maverick 88 uses 12-gauge rounds and has a capacity of 7 rounds plus one in the chamber. It is also available with a pistol grip or a standard stock. With the standard stock, the gun measures 41 inches long.

The length of pull is 14.5-inches, which may be a little long for some users. However, if you have larger hands or longer arms, you may find it more comfortable compared to some of the other options.



The safety on the Maverick 88 is in front of the trigger instead of on top of the receiver. If you choose to use a standard stock instead of a pistol grip, the placement of the safety may be a little awkward.

As you can see from this Maverick 88 review from TFB TV on YouTube, the Maverick 88 is a surprisingly dependable shotgun for its price. You can also accessorize it as necessary to meet your needs, such as adding a scope or different sights.

Pros

  • One of the most affordable shotguns from a reliable manufacturer
  • Available with a pistol grip or a standard stock
  • Compatible with parts and accessories designed for the Mossberg 500

Cons 

  • The safety is in front of the trigger 

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Home Defense Shotgun Buyer’s Guide

Some of the main factors to consider when shopping for a shotgun for self-defense include:

  • Pump action vs. semi-automatic action
  • The gauge of the shotgun barrel
  • Pistol grip vs. standard stock
  • Length of pull and overall size

The capacity, sights, and aesthetics are less vital when comparing shotguns. Most options have a capacity of five or six rounds, which is all you need for home defense with a shotgun.

Most shotguns also come equipped with standard iron sights and support scopes and optics using Picatinny rails or Weaver rails.

Below is a closer look at the rest of the considerations…




Pump Action vs. Semi-Automatic

Shotguns use different types of action to eject and load rounds. The two most common options are pump-action and semi-automatic. Pump-action shotguns use a manual pump to eject and reload. 

The pump-action design is a common choice due to its reliability. It requires fewer parts compared to a semi-automatic design and is less susceptible to jamming and malfunctions.


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Semi-automatic shotguns include more parts, resulting in higher costs. However, the top semi-auto shotguns are often as reliable as cheaper pump-action models. 

The best semi-automatic shotguns use gas to cycle the action. The gas-operated action ejects the used shell and loads the next one without requiring you to manually pump the gun. You get greater firing speed and less recoil.

For a more nuanced comparison of pump versus semi-automatic shotguns, watch the following discussion and demonstration video. It clearly explains the pros and cons of both choices.



The Gauge of the Shotgun Barrel

The gauge of the shotgun barrel determines the size of the shots that it uses. The gauge measures the inside diameter of the barrel and typically ranges from 10-gauge to 28-gauge.

A smaller gauge has a larger diameter, which means that it uses larger shots. For example, a 12-gauge shotgun uses larger shots compared to a 20-gauge shotgun. 

The 12-gauge shot is the most common recommendation for home defense. However, a 20-gauge shotgun still offers enough power to stop an intruder in his tracks. It also offers less recoil. 

Yet, the top recommendations are mostly 12-gauge shotguns. A 12-gauge shot offers a wider spread at longer distances and the ammo is often cheaper.



Pistol Grip vs. Standard Stock

Shotguns traditionally feature a straight grip with a long shoulder stock. The traditional shotgun stock absorbs more recoil and offers easier access to the underside of the gun. You may find that the traditional design feels more comfortable when firing a 10-gauge or 12-gauge shotgun.

The pistol grip is often recommended for beginners, as you can handle the shotgun with one hand. It also feels more like holding a tactical rifle, which may appeal to those that are used to firing rifles. 

Length of Pull and Overall Size

The length of pull (LOP) is the distance from the butt of the gunstock to the trigger. The typical LOP on a shotgun is 13 to 15 inches. The standard length is 13.5 inches. 

The LOP should match your size. If you have longer arms, you may feel more comfortable with a longer LOP. A shorter length requires you to bring your shoulders up in an awkward position. 



Conclusion 

When it comes to choosing the best home defense shotguns, the Mossberg 590A1 is the clear winner. It is relatively affordable and incredibly reliable. It has a pistol grip and a pump-action design, which are two features that are often recommended for those that have never owned shotguns before.

home defense shotgun home image

In the unfortunate scenario where you have to defend your home, hopefully this article has provided you with detailed and helpful information to guide you in your selection of a home defense shotgun.

The Benelli M2 is a top option for those that want a semi-automatic shotgun. However, it is also one of the most expensive choices.



The Maverick 88 is the best budget choice. It costs a fraction of the other shotguns, but still offers dependable performance. The Kel-Tec KSG is great for those that want something more compact, as it only measures about 26 inches in length.

Click on one of the links to check the current prices on the best home defense shotguns.

rifle scope on eat elk rifle

How To Choose The Right Scope For Your Rifle [On A Budget]

If you’re not an expert on rifles, picking the right rifle scope can seem overwhelming.

So, how about a little crash course on what to consider in a rifle scope so you can make a purchase you are happy with…  

Rifle Scope Considerations

man shooting rifle with scope on range

Everyone’s budget is different, but there are certain things you should consider before purchasing a rifle scope.

Below are things to consider before purchasing a rifle scope:

rifle scope diagram
Rifle scope diagram


Objective lens

The objective lens is the lens opposite your eye. The diameter of your objective lens determines the amount of light that can enter the rifle scope. If you intend on using the scope in low-light conditions (i.e. hunting), you need a bigger objective lens.

A larger lens size means you have to increase the mounting distance above your barrel. If your rifle scope is too high, you will have difficulty getting the correct eye alignment which affects your shooting accuracy.  

Scopes with overly large objective lenses are heavier, and more expensive. If you will be using a rifle for hunting purposes go for a 50-mm maximum. 

However, if you need a general purpose scope then settling for 40mm or 42mm like this one is an ideal choice. 




Rifle Scope Glass

man holding rifle on wood pile

Rifle scope glass has a direct correlation to the image quality a rifle scope will provide.

Glass lenses are the centerpiece of any rifle scope. Pick the best glass within your budget.

The ED, or extra-low dispersion glass, is great because it minimizes any chromatic aberration giving you real-life colors and sharper images.  



Some lenses are commonly called HD, however it has no bearing on the type of glass, but rather the image quality it gives.

The coating used on the lenses directly affects the image quality by improving the light transmission and adding scratch resistance. A “coated lens” means that there is a one-coat layer on one or more lenses. 




“Fully coated glass” has a single layer on all the air to glass surfaces. Multi Coated glass means you have multiple layers on more than one lens.

Lastly, a “fully multi-coated glass” means the lens has multiple layers on all the air to glass surfaces.  

In short, a lens with more coating is better. So, choose a rifle scope with multiple coatings covering all the interior lenses. 




Scope Magnification 

rifle lying next to dead bull elk

A greater scope magnification will make images in the scope look larger, making them appear brighter. This can be helpful in leading to greater accuracy.

The magnification of the scope largely depends on the kind of game you are hunting and your shooting range.

Many big game hunters, like deer hunters, take aim at their quarry 200 to 300 yards away. Traditionally, a scope with 4X-12X or 3X-9X is plenty for that. 



Likewise, open-country hunters, who mostly target smaller games like varmints and predators, benefit greatly from scopes with greater magnification. Advances in scope design have led to greater zoom ranges.

Greater magnification will cause target objects to be larger, which will make them appear brighter, which can lead to greater accuracy.  





Gas filled

Rifle scopes filled with anhydrous gas is mainly to displace water vapor or moisture and prevent the scope from fogging up. Nitrogen is the most commonly used anhydrous gas. This is mostly because it has a lesser chance of effusing through the seal or membrane.  

Argon is more resistant to any temperature changes compared to nitrogen. Regardless of what gas you fill your scope with, moving between environments having big temperature gradients will make any exterior scope fog.  



Main tube diameter

In the past, scopes had a 1-inch main tube. Nowadays, rifle shooters desire more distance envelopes and want scopes with 34 mm or 30 mm main tubes which are increasingly common.  

Having a larger diameter tube creates more room for the reticle to move. In turn, it increases the adjustment range.

Bigger tubes are sturdier and allow more light through them. However, they are more expensive and heavier. A 1-inch tube is enough for normal hunting ventures.  



Field of view

Normally measured at 100 yards in feet. The field of view is what you can see through the rifle scope from right to left at a particular distance. Increasing the magnification lowers the field of view.

Decreasing the magnification means increasing the field of view. In short, a 3X variable rifle scope can have a field of view at 100 yards of at least 30feet, but at 9X variable scope, the field of view will be close to 14 feet.

Likewise, having a larger objective lens doesn’t affect the figures. So, the field of view is determined by how the eyepiece is constructed.  



Scope reticle

target showing through rifle scope

The rifle scope reticle can vary in styles and appearance from different scope manufacturers.

Some people call the reticle the “crosshairs.” This is the aiming point of any rifle scope. The reticle can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, having lines, dots or other markings.  

Some scopes have illumination for better visibility in low light conditions. Most rifle scope manufacturers have different reticle styles.  



Turrets

scope turrets for sighting in riflescope

The windage and elevation adjustment knobs on a rifle scope are called turrets.

A turret is an adjustment knob on the scope allowing the shooter to adjust the reticle. The top knob on the riflescope is your elevation adjustment while the knob on the side is your windage adjustment that adjusts from left to right.  

Examine the turrets before buying the scope to ensure it fits your preference, as some turrets are adjusted by hand and others need a special tool to adjust.

Consequently, some turrets make a clicking noise during adjustments and some don’t.  



Minutes of angle

Many inexperienced shooters have difficulty understanding minutes of angle (MOA).

Below is a video that explains MOA.

One MOA is equivalent to 1.0472 inches at approximately 100 yards commonly rounded down to 1-inch per 100 yards.



Final Thoughts On How To Choose A Rifle Scope

rifle with scope

At the end of the day, you want your bullet to find the mark. Consideration of these rifle scope features will help you find one that fits your budget and your intended use.

The last thing you want is to settle for a rifle scope that will not have the features you need to take down your game.

So, don’t just settle for any scope. Use the considerations we’ve covered in this article to help you make your decision.  

The good news is, you can get yourself a reasonable sighting tool for under $500 and have a scope that meets your shooting needs.

Happy and safe shooting and hunting!

thermal imaging rifle scope

Do You Know Your Weapon Optics? | Types of gun sights

The effectiveness of shooting depends not only on the design and technical characteristics of the weapon, or the level of training of the shooter. But, it is also dependent on the type of gun sight or scope that is used.

Just as weapons have evolved, sights have as well.

Initially, front sights were the only type used. Then, in the 16th century, rear sights appeared. And, a little later, a circular orthoptic sight.

It wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th century that sighting optics were used.

Types of gun sights

So, let’s take a look at some of the types of gun and rifle sights…

Open sight

man looking down rifle barrel with open sight

The open sight is the simplest in design. Its device is a rear sight and front sight located on the same line (differ in shape and design). The rear sight can have a fixed or fixed bar. To aim the weapon at the target, the shooter needs to visually combine the rear sight, front sight, and the target so that they are on the same line, exactly in the middle of the sight slot.

The advantages of open sights:

  • Reliability;
  • Low cost;
  • Compactness and lightweight;
  • Ease of maintenance, maintainability;
  • Simplicity of design;
  • Mechanical strength;
  • Unlimited operating temperature range

Disadvantages of open sights:

  • At long distances, the front sight covers the target;
  • Low aiming accuracy, limited by vision capabilities;
  • It takes a long time to train shooting skill


Diopter sight

man shooting rifle with diopter sight

The diopter sight provides the highest accuracy of all mechanical sights, but has very low light transmission. So, it’s not a good option in low light or at dusk.

The Diopter (ring or aperture) sight is easier to use because the shooter needs less effort to aim because it is easier to find the desired position of the eyes, body, and barrel of the weapon.

The design of the diopter sight is a combination of an annular or ordinary front sight with a special hole (a disc with a small hole 0.5 – 1 mm in diameter). This hole is scientifically called a diopter or aperture.



The rear sight disc serves as an obstacle that completely blocks the light flux in the direction of the target, and the aperture hole serves as a diaphragm. Through it, a contrasting image is projected into the lens.

The shooter is forced to position the pupil exactly on the target line. This is the only possible position in which it will be visible. Aiming is intuitive.

Diopter sights are typically used with small-bore or air rifles.

Main advantages of diopter sights:

  1. High accuracy;
  2. Simplicity, reliability, mechanical strength;
  3. Low cost;
  4. compact and lightweight

Disadvantages of diopter sights:

  1. Narrow field of view;
  2. Poor low-light transmission;
  3. Covers the target (except for the point of impact).



Optical sight

man shooting pistol with optical sight

An optical sight is basically like a telescope with a reticle that simplifies the aiming process and increases accuracy and chances of a successful shot.

The tubular metal housing of optical sights contain the lens and eyepiece. These two lenses have a reticle installed in one of the focal planes. To obtain a straight, non-inverted image, an inverting system is used.

The sight is rigidly mounted on the weapon, and the precise adjustment of the reticle position is performed by the ballistic correction mechanism. Many optic sights have LED lighting for hunting at dusk.

Advantages of optic sights:

  • Highly accurate;
  • Ability to see the target at long distances;
  • Convenience, simplicity, and speed of guidance;
  • Simple and reliable design

Disadvantages of optic sights:

  • Small viewing angle;
  • Increases weight and dimensions of the weapon;
  • Overlaps the open sight: Inability to take a shot at close range (except for enclosures)


Laser sight

A laser sight is not a weapon sight in the literal sense of the word, but rather an auxiliary sighting device that has a limited range and accuracy.

A laser range finding rifle scope is a compact device that forms a light spot on the target that coincides with the midpoint of impact. This makes it possible to increase the effectiveness of the weapon at close ranges, as well as the speed of guidance, and the accuracy of fire. The range finder feature give the distance to the target.



man holding gun with laser range finding scope

A laser sight provides a single pinpoint dot rather than the wide beam of light like you’d get from a flashlight. A well-zeroed laser sight gives you a precise location of where the muzzle of the gun is pointing, allowing for quick aiming.

Benefits of Laser sights:

  • Simplicity and high speed of aiming;
  • Minimal weight and dimensions;
  • Simplicity and reliability of design

Disadvantages of laser sights:

  • Dependent on battery power;
  • Light spot of the radiation source can be difficult to see at long ranges;
  • Bright sunlight can make mark difficult to see
  • Laser light shoots straight but bullet trajectories are not; therefore works best at shorter ranges


Night Vision Scopes

man holding rifle with night vision gun sight

Night vision scopes enhance the image of a target that has a low brightness. It allows for accurate shooting in almost complete darkness.

Advantages of night vision scopes:

  • Highly accurate in poor visibility conditions;
  • Range up to 300+ meters, depending on the image intensifier;
  • Relatively low weight and dimensions;
  • Long-term life;
  • High reliability (compared to digital ones).

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Disadvantages of night vision scopes:

  • Relatively high cost of modern models (generation 2 and above);
  • Snow, rain, fog, dust, branches, and tall grass are obstacles;
  • In complete darkness, and IR illumination is required;
  • In the opposite light, protection against illumination is triggered.


Thermal Imaging Sight

thermal imaging rifle scope

A thermal imaging sight is a device that visualizes the target’s thermal radiation. It does not need external light sources, allowing you to aim the weapon in complete darkness. This uses data on the temperature of the object itself in comparison with the surrounding space.



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Advantages of Thermal Scopes:

  • The farthest detection distances for thermal targets;
  • Works in complete darkness;
  • Can work in light, there is no flare;
  • Accuracy like telescopic sights;
  • Snow, rain, fog, foliage, and grass are not a hindrance.

Disadvantages of Thermal Scopes:

  • Complex construction;
  • High price;
  • Additional power supply required.


Conclusion

Hopefully this has provided you with some helpful information so you can choose a sight/scope wisely.

Shoot straight!