9 Best Affordable Pump Shotguns for Home Defense – Firearms News

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When fighting to defend hearth and home, let alone your life, there are few tools more useful than a good pump-action scattergun. Sure, a semiauto handgun holds more ammo, and a rifle shoots farther. You should have those, too. But if the conflict occurs inside 40 yards (and almost all do), frequently, the best tool for the task is a shotgun. In the realm of shotguns for fighting, pump actions have reigned supreme for a century. Before that, double-barreled side-by-side guns were popular. Currently, there are semiauto guns that are outstanding. But all in all, pump-action shotguns are simplest, most reliable, and least expensive.

Following is a list of solid choices. You’ll note that these are mostly base models. You’ll also note that this list is free of gimmicks. There are no pistol-grip, short-barrel shotguns, because cool factor aside, those are rather inefficient fighting guns. There are no bullpup types and none with detachable box magazines or multiple tubular magazines. Those features are cool but are often unreliable, heavy, and awkward to maneuver. Included are guns that are quick-handling, to help you get on target and get a critical shot off before you get dead. They are relatively light, so your arms don’t fatigue and turn into noodles after just a few minutes of holding your shootin’ iron in the ready position. They all have design features proven by decades — even centuries — of field use and combat, such as tubular magazines. Most importantly, the guns listed here are generally known for reliability. Some, such as the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500, are legendary for it. Let’s get to it. Here, in alphabetical order, is a list of fine fighting guns that won’t flatten your wallet.


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Benelli Nova Tactical

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This Italian brand is better known for fine field guns than for fighting guns, but they do create some excellent tactical weapons. The Benelli Nova is a metal-and-polymer marriage of durability, much like a Glock. Serration-type texture at the grip and forend makes it easy to hang on to and control even when firing slugs or heavy buckshot payloads. Like all the guns featured here, the Nova is non-temperamental about shotshell length, so you can feed the chamber anything from 2-inch shorty shells to 3.5-inch heavy magnums. Magazine capacity is four plus one in the chamber. Several variations are available with different finishes and sights; the model shown is the Ghost Ring sight model and is my pick for the best version.

  • Gauge: 12
  • Weight: 7.2 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18.5 in. 
  • Choke: Fixed cylinder
  • MSRP: $449
  • Manufacturer: Benelli USA

Maverick 88 Shotforce

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If you really think you need a folding or otherwise very compact pump-action shotgun, this one’s a reasonably good choice. Maverick is an entry-level brand owned by Mossberg, so the company has decades of reliability-enhancing tech bleeding down into its DNA. Model 88s feature dual extractors and other features that endow the lineup with durability and dependability. They’re compatible with Mossberg 500 accessories and barrels. This specific variation features an ATI top-folding synthetic stock. Magazine capacity is 5+1, and the chamber accepts shotshells up to 3-inches long.

  • Gauge: 12
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18.5 in. 
  • Choke: Fixed cylinder
  • MSRP: $283
  • Manufacturer: Mossberg

Mossberg 500 ATI Tactical

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This Mossberg 500 ATI Tactical is more costly than others listed here but offers a generous set of bells and whistles. The stock is a six-position collapsible version. A side saddle holds extra shells. The robust vertical grip offers modern ergonomics and helps control recoil. A heat shield atop the barrel prevents burns when running the gun hot. Side-mounted 1913 rails provide locations to mount a weaponlight and/or laser. The bead front sight features wings to protect it. Model 500 shotguns have a well-deserved reputation for dependable performance. They’re an excellent choice for south-paw shooters, thanks to the tang-mounted safety. Capacity is 5+1 with a 3-inch chamber.

  • Gauge: 12
  • Weight: 6.75 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18.5 in. 
  • Choke: Fixed cylinder
  • MSRP: $728
  • Manufacturer: Mossberg

Mossberg 500 Retrograde

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Ahh… now we come to a fighting gun that speaks to my soul. Mossberg’s 500 Retrograde is a classically-styled, pump-action gun of the sort that fought through two World Wars and a dozen other conflicts, as well as in the hands of law enforcement across our great nation. Nice walnut graces the gun rather than plastic stocks. A vented recoil pad takes the bite out of aggressive 12-gauge personal-protection ammo. The barrel is topped with a simple brass bead sight. As a concession to modern times and old eyes, the receiver is drilled and tapped, making it easy to mount a red-dot combat sight. If you like fine cigars, single-malt Scotch, and pocket watches but still want an edge if things go south, Mossberg’s Retrograde will suit you just fine. Capacity is 5+1.

  • Gauge: 12
  • Weight: 6.75 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18.5 in. 
  • Choke: Fixed cylinder
  • MSRP: $606
  • Manufacturer: Mossberg

Remington 870 Hardwood Home Defense

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A few years ago, had you asked me to recommend the best pump-action fighting gun in the world, I’d have suggested an Remington 870 without hesitation. Then Remington sold at the auction block. Its assets — Remington ammo, Marlin, Barnes Bullets, Bushmaster, AAC — all were sold too and scattered to the wind. But Remington the gun company hung like a dark cloud shaped as a question mark, its fate unknown until recently. Finally, it seems to be emerging, and new Model 870s are finding their way to dealer’s shelves. I have no idea what the quality is like, but the 870 design is so good that it’s pretty hard to screw up. Initial offerings are limited, but I like the way the new owners think: They brought out a version termed the “Hardwood Home Defense.” Like the Mossberg Retrograde, it’s a connoisseur’s fighting gun. Dark-stained wood stocks are reminiscent of the 870Ps that rode in police cruisers for so many decades and battled so honorably. A deep rubber recoil pad tames kick when using heavy-payload shotshells. Two magazine lengths are offered: a standard 4+1 and an extended 6+1. Meanwhile, there are more than 10 million 870s across America, and you can likely find a used one for sale in a local gun shop.



  • Gauge: 12
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18.5 in. 
  • Choke: Fixed Cylinder
  • MSRP: N/A
  • Manufacturer: Remington

Stevens 320 Security

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Stevens is owned by Savage Arms and historically produced thousands of useful single-shot break-action shotguns. Now solidly in the world of pump guns too, the company makes a decent product for a shockingly good price. The 320 Security has dual side bars, a rotary bolt for strong lockup, and good ergonomics. Stocks are made of polymer, with a near-vertical grip incorporated into the rear for added recoil control. Sights vary; I like the ghost-ring version best because of its added precision capability with slugs.

  • Gauge: 12
  • Weight: 6.7 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18.5 in. 
  • Choke: Fixed cylinder
  • MSRP: $330
  • Manufactuer: Savage Arms

Stoeger P3000 Freedom

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Angular and sleek, this gun is modern but understated. Stoeger is a sub-company of Benelli, and the P3000 is something of a gentleman’s battle axe: no frills, no show, all business. The stock and forend feel good and functional in the hands. The blade-type front sight is highly visible without being pretentious. A full-length extended magazine tube offers 7+1 capacity — the most yet in our list of fighting guns.

  • Gauge: 12
  • Weight: 7.3 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18.5 in. 
  • Choke: Fixed Cylinder
  • MSRP: $389
  • Manufacturer: Stoeger Industries

Winchester SXP Defender

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Here’s the gateway into Winchester’s arsenal of fighting shotguns. The Winchester SXP (Super X Pump) does not have the reputation of Remington’s 870 or Mossberg’s 500, but then, it’s a lot younger as a design. A half century from now, it will likely own a top place with them. This gun features a classic, ribbed, corncob-shaped forend, which was one of the legendary features of Winchester’s Model 12 Trench Guns that fought through both World Wars. It’s got racy modern styling in the buttstock and hardware. Black hard chrome plating on the bolt provides natural lubricity and superior corrosion and wear resistance. The rotary bolt locks up with vault-like strength. At 18 inches, the barrel is slightly shorter than the rest featured here. Capacity is 5+1.


  • Gauge: 12 or 20
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18 in. 
  • Choke: Fixed cylinder
  • MSRP: $359
  • Manufacturer: Winchester

Winchester SXP Extreme Defender

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Building on the fundamental qualities of the basic SXP Defender above, the SXP Extreme Defender is tricked out to the nines. Dark Earth stocks, hardware, and trim gives it visual appeal and protection from corrosion. A hard chrome chamber and bore give it extreme durability. A Picatinny rail with built-in ghost ring rear sight and winged-type front sight provide best-in-class sighting capability. A perforated heat shield protects your hands when shooting the gun hot and gives the Extreme Defender undeniable visual cachet. Invector Plus flush-fitting choke tube compatibility enables flexibility for a variety of different types of shotshell and task-driven performance — the only gun on this list with such capability. One Cylinder-bore “door breacher” choke tube is included. Interchangeable comb height inserts and stock LOP spacers allow the end user to configure stock fit to perfection. It holds 5+1 rounds and has side-mounted Picatinny rails at 3 and 9 o’clock that make it easy to mount a weaponlight or laser.

  • Gauge: 12
  • Weight: 7 lbs. 
  • Barrel Length: 18 in. 
  • Choke: Invector Plus
  • MSRP: $550
  • Manufacturer: Winchester

This article was originally published in Scattergun magazine. You can find an original issue at OSGnewsstand.com. If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at [email protected].



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