7 Best Home Defense Shotguns – Pump-Action Shotguns

What makes the best home defense shotgun? When it comes to safeguarding your home and loved ones, a reliable pump-action shotgun stands out as a top choice. These firearms are renowned for their effectiveness in stopping threats quickly, often with just a single action. In this detailed guide, we’ll delve into the world of pump-action shotguns for home defense. Whether you’re new to the world of home defense shotguns or an experienced enthusiast, this article will offer valuable insights into the best pump-action options available in 2023/2024. Your home defense strategy starts with choosing the right shotgun, so let’s explore your options and ensure you’re well-prepared to protect what matters most.

Best Home Defense Shotguns – Pump Action Shotguns

TL;DR – Dirty Bird’s Picks for Best Home Defense Shotgun – Pump Action Shotguns

Remington 870

The Remington 870 is an iconic and highly regarded shotgun in the firearms community, earning its reputation as a top pick for various applications, including as Dirty Bird pick for best home defense shotgun. With a history dating back to the 1950s, the 870 has remained a staple in American culture and a favorite among shotgun enthusiasts.

One of the standout features of the Remington 870 is its affordability, making it an excellent choice for those new to firearms or looking for an economical option. This affordability allows individuals to explore the world of shotguns without a significant financial commitment.

Remington 870 Hardwood Home Defense Pump Shotgun 12 Gauge 18.5″


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Versatility is another hallmark of the 870. While it excels as a home defense pump-action shotgun, it’s not limited to just that role. Whether you intend to use it for protecting your family or taking it out for a hunting expedition, the Remington 870 performs admirably in various scenarios.

Durability and low maintenance are key attributes of the pump-action Remington 870. Constructed with high-quality materials, this pump-action shotgun can withstand the test of time without requiring constant upkeep. Whether you use it frequently or infrequently, you can trust in its reliability.

The ergonomic design of the Remington 870 is immediately noticeable as it feels comfortable to carry and provides a smooth shooting experience. Its user-friendly nature makes it an ideal choice for those who may not be seasoned firearm experts, particularly in close-quarters situations where ease of use is paramount.

The pump-action mechanism of the Remington 870 is renowned for its smooth and reliable operation, making it one of the tightest and most dependable designs available. Whether you’re using it for home defense, sport shooting, or other purposes, the 870’s pump action ensures consistent and slop-free performance.

In conclusion, the Remington 870’s long-standing design, affordability, versatility, durability, user-friendly nature, and intimidating appearance make it a top pick for those seeking the best home defense shotgun. With a wide range of available models and a proven track record, the Remington 870 remains an iconic choice in the world of shotguns.

Best Home Defense Shotguns
A Remington 870 in action, photo via Remington.

Mossberg 590, Mossberg 500

When it comes to shotguns renowned for their reliability and versatility, the Mossberg 500 series stands tall on our list of the best home defense shotguns. Designed by Carl Bensen in 1961, the Mossberg 500 was conceived with a simple yet ambitious goal: create an affordable pump-action repeating shotgun that could rival its contemporaries. The Mossberg 500 achieved just that and more, quickly becoming apparent that it could handle a wide range of tasks with ease.

Mossberg 500 Special Purpose 18″ 12GA 5+1 3″ Pump-Action Shotgun


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The Mossberg 500’s layout bears some resemblance to the classic American pump-action shotgun, the Model 12, but it distinguishes itself with an aluminum receiver, reducing both weight and cost. Another unique feature is the tang safety located at the rear of the receiver, positioning it as a direct competitor to the well-regarded Remington 870.

Both the Mossberg 590 and 500 employ the renowned Mossberg tang safety and share compatibility with the same furniture. The interchangeability extends to various internal components, making these shotguns highly similar in function.

The primary differentiation between the Mossberg 590 and the Mossberg 500 lies in their magazine and barrel designs. The Mossberg 590, widely used in commercial and military roles, incorporates a clean-out cap on the magazine tube, simplifying maintenance and debris removal. In contrast, the Mossberg 500 relies on a magazine cap to connect the barrel to the magazine tube, leading to a slightly different assembly process. Additionally, the Mossberg 590 often offers a higher shell capacity and boasts a sturdier construction, making it a popular choice for tactical applications. Potential buyers considering the Mossberg 590 and 500 should weigh their specific needs in terms of maintenance, shell capacity, and intended use to make an informed decision.

The Mossberg 590 has earned its stripes over decades of use by military and law enforcement professionals. Its reputation as a dependable choice for personal and home defense needs remains unblemished. Much like the standard Mossberg 500 models, the Mossberg 590 boasts essential features, including a positive steel-to-steel lockup, dual extractors, a top-mounted safety, twin action bars, and an anti-jam elevator.

Different shotguns excel in different roles, but one thing you can always count on with Mossberg is American-made quality. These shotguns are robust, user-friendly, and capable—simply pick the one that aligns with your requirements.

Typically equipped with bead sights, Mossberg 500 shotguns provide adequate targeting capabilities. However, the Mossberg 590 and 590A1 series offer additional options, such as ghost ring sights, enhancing precision for engagements beyond typical ranges.

When your needs demand a dedicated tactical shotgun, the Mossberg 590 or 590A1 steps into the spotlight. These shotguns are rugged, well-crafted, and purpose-built for combat. Many models feature extended magazine tubes, accommodating up to 8 rounds of 2.75-inch buckshot, with the option to further extend capacity.

The Mossberg 590 series often comes outfitted with modern accessories and furniture tailored to tactical users. Features include M-LOK pump systems for attaching accessories, adjustable stocks, and pistol grips similar to those found on AR-15 rifles.

One additional consideration is choosing between the Mossberg 590 and 590A1. The Mossberg 590A1 stands out as the top-tier combat pump-action shotgun, featuring a heavier barrel and a metal trigger unit. While the added weight of the barrel may deter some users, it provides benefits such as improved recoil resistance and reduced muzzle rise during rapid firing.

Mossberg 590A1 12GA 20″ 8+1 3″ Pump-Action Shotgun w/ Ghost Ring Sights


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In summary, the Mossberg 590, a staple in military and law enforcement circles, offers increased shell capacity and faster reloading compared to the Mossberg 500. It also presents various additional features, including heavy-walled barrels, ghost ring sights, bayonet lugs, and heat shields. The Mossberg 590 is designed to withstand harsh conditions, making it the preferred choice for rigorous applications. However, both the Mossberg 590 and 500 maintain reputations for reliability.

Many enthusiasts, like myself, hold the Mossberg 590A1 in high regard. Although it may be heavier, the assurance of absolute reliability when it matters most makes the weight inconsequential in a home defense context. In the face of an intruder, my 590A1 serves as a steadfast guardian, ready to protect and deter with unwavering certainty.

Mossberg Shockwave

The Mossberg Shockwave is a unique and compact shotgun designed for specialized purposes. Whether you live in a confined space like a small apartment or spend your time on a boat and an RV, the Shockwave offers a compact and easy-to-handle option for home defense. Its signature bird’s-head grip is uniquely shaped to minimize felt recoil, making it manageable even in tight spaces.

Mossberg 590S Shockwave Pump Action 12 Gauge 3″ Chamber 18.5″


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The Shockwave retains the essential features that have made Mossberg pump-actions a popular choice worldwide. These include an ambidextrous safety, dual extractors, positive steel-to-steel lockup, twin action bars, and a smooth operating anti-jam elevator. Despite its unconventional appearance, the Shockwave is surprisingly accurate and easy to master, requiring minimal range time for proficiency.

It’s worth noting that the Shockwave does come with some limitations. Compared to shotguns with traditional stocks, it lacks the third point of contact, which can affect control and stability. While it offers a unique and fun shooting experience, its practical applications are somewhat limited.

For those who are willing to invest time in training and familiarizing themselves with the Shockwave, it can serve as a viable home defense option. Additionally, opting for a 20-gauge Shockwave may provide easier handling while still delivering the shotgun’s distinctive features. Ultimately, the Mossberg Shockwave offers a blend of fun and utility, making it suitable for various uses within its specific niche.

Mossberg Maverick 88

Yet another Mossberg is on our list, and for the cost-to-performance ratio, I believe this to be the best home defense shotgun on the planet. The Maverick 88 by Mossberg is nothing short of remarkable, offering an exceptional level of affordability without compromising on performance. In fact, it’s not just an affordable shotgun; it’s arguably the best low-priced shotgun you can purchase, and here’s why.

Mossberg Maverick 88


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First and foremost, the Maverick 88 boasts impressive compatibility with Mossberg 500 components, including stocks like Magpul. This interchangeability allows you to customize your shotgun to your heart’s content, enhancing its ergonomics and functionality to meet your specific needs.

One standout feature of the Maverick 88 is its surprisingly good trigger, offering a level of crispness and reliability that defies its budget-friendly price tag. The inclusion of a cross-bolt safety adds an extra layer of security, ensuring safe handling and operation.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Maverick 88 is its exceptional value proposition. It’s not just an entry-level shotgun; it’s an entry-level, affordable (made in Mexico) pump shotgun that punches far above its weight class in terms of what you get for the price. Mossberg has managed to keep it incredibly affordable while delivering impressive performance.

The Maverick 88’s compatibility with Mossberg 500 parts (except the trigger guard) means that replacement parts are readily available and easy to source. This convenience ensures that you can easily maintain and customize your shotgun without the hassle of dealing with hard-to-find components.

In summary, the Maverick 88 is the epitome of value in the world of firearms. It’s an ultra-reliable pump-action 12-gauge shotgun that you can acquire for just around $200. It excels as a pump-action home defense shotgun and offers a level of quality and performance that is truly outstanding for its price range. When you’re in the market for a first pump-action shotgun that’s almost a Mossberg 500 but comes at an affordable price, the Maverick 88 is an exceptional choice that combines affordability, reliability, and customization options seamlessly.

Benelli Nova Pump Tactical Shotgun

Benelli is a well-known entity in the world of pump-action home defense shotguns. Shotguns like the semi-auto Benelli 121, Benelli Super 90 and the more recent Benelli M4 were the pinnacle of tactical shotguns at their time of release. This reputation for excellence is captured well in modern pump action shotgun, the Benelli Nova.

Benelli Nova Pump Tactical Shotgun


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The Benelli Nova Tactical earns a place on our list of best home defense shotungs as it has made a name for itself with its competitive pricing, offering shooters an alternative to renowned brands like Remington and Mossberg. What sets the Nova Tactical apart is its unique blend of features and innovative design.

One notable feature of the Nova Tactical is its ghost ring sights, which provide rapid target acquisition, making it an excellent choice for tactical or home defense applications. Moreover, it’s optics-ready, allowing you to further enhance your shooting experience by adding your preferred optics or red dot sights. This adaptability to various sighting systems gives the Nova Tactical an edge in versatility.

The shotgun’s ergonomic design ensures a comfortable and secure grip, allowing you to maintain control even in high-stress situations. However, it’s worth noting that the Nova Tactical has a length of pull of 14.25 inches, which may be slightly long for some users. Fortunately, this can be easily addressed by replacing the stock with a shorter one, tailoring it to your specific needs.

One of the standout characteristics of the Nova Tactical is its ability to handle 3 1/2 inch shells. This impressive capability allows you to choose from a wide range of ammunition, catering to various shooting scenarios. Whether you’re using standard 2 3/4 inch shells or need the extra power of 3 1/2 inch magnums, the Nova Tactical has you covered.

The Nova Tactical’s design is simple and rugged, a testament to Benelli’s commitment to reliability and durability. When your life is potentially on the line, reliability matters. It maintains a streamlined appearance, down to the trigger, which contributes to its no-nonsense functionality. What makes the Nova truly unique is its Italian heritage. Benelli took a bold approach when crafting this pump-action shotgun, opting for a single-piece polymer stock and receiver—a departure from conventional designs. This innovation not only reduces weight but also lends the Nova its distinctive appearance, often described as futuristic.

Underneath its eye-catching exterior, the Nova Tactical incorporates a rotary bolt, similar to Benelli’s renowned inertia-driven shotguns. This design not only simplifies the firearm’s construction but also results in an exceptionally smooth and fast pump stroke. The Nova’s action operates seamlessly, ensuring reliable cycling and minimal recoil.

In summary, the pump-action Benelli Nova Tactical offers a unique and compelling option on our list of the best home defense shotguns. While it may not be the platform of choice for intricate customizations, it excels as a dependable, out-of-the-box shotgun with a range of appealing features. If you’re in search of a rugged and functional shotgun for home defense that won’t break the bank, the Benelli Nova Tactical is a solid recommendation, standing as a testament to Italian craftsmanship and innovative design.

GForce Arms Tactical Pump-Action Shotgun

Like the Mossberg Maverick 88, the G-Force Arms GFP3 stands as a testament to reliable and robust pump-action home defense shotguns at an affordable price. This shotgun is chambered for 2 3/4″ or 3″ 12-gauge shells, providing the firepower needed for various applications. Its 20-inch barrel, coated in matte black, is not only visually appealing but also functional, and it comes equipped with a standard bead front sight for quick and easy target acquisition.

GForce Arms Tactical 12GA 20”4+1 3” Pump-Action Shotgun


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Designed for both comfort and durability, the GFP3 features a polymer stock that ensures a secure and comfortable grip. Additionally, it boasts a rubber buttpad that helps mitigate recoil, making it more user-friendly during extended shooting sessions. The matte black receiver adds to its overall aesthetics while maintaining durability.

One of the notable features of the G-Force Arms GFP3 is its 4+1 round capacity, allowing users to have an ample supply of rounds readily available for various shooting scenarios, including home defense. Whether it’s for home defense, sport shooting, or general-purpose use, this shotgun provides the necessary firepower to get the job done.

What sets the GFP3 apart from other firearms on our list of the best home defense shotguns is its Turkish origin. While some may be surprised, Turkey has gained recognition for producing high-quality firearms at competitive prices. The quality of metals used and the stringent quality control measures employed in Turkish firearm manufacturing rival those of renowned American brands.

In summary, the G-Force Arms GFP3 is a reliable and robust pump-action shotgun that combines affordability with quality craftsmanship. Its versatility in accepting both 2 3/4″ and 3″ 12-gauge shells, comfortable design, and impressive round capacity make it a compelling choice for shooters seeking an effective and budget-friendly home defense shotgun.

Best Home Defense Shotguns – Pump Action – Conclusion

In conclusion, when it comes to selecting a pump-action shotgun for home defense, there are several excellent options available to suit your needs and preferences. Whether you opt for a trusted classic like the Remington 870, a versatile Mossberg 500/590, or a more budget-friendly choice like the Maverick 88, each has its unique strengths. However, it’s crucial to remember that the effectiveness of any firearm ultimately depends on the operator’s skills and familiarity with the weapon. I strongly recommend doing thorough research, seeking professional training, and spending time at the range to become proficient with your chosen pump-action shotgun. Being well-prepared and confident in your abilities is key to ensuring the safety and security of your home and loved ones.


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