Top 5 Shotguns for Home Defense (Under $350)

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In most movies with climactic home defense scenes, the hero usually carries a semi-auto pistol or a Dirty Harry style .44 Mag revolver. There are two reasons for this:

1.) Hollywood movie producers know next to nothing about guns. 2.) These shootout scenes wouldn’t last nearly as long if the hero was armed with a pump shotgun.

To drag a shootout scene out for maximum cinematic effect, many shots must be fired… and the vast majority of them need to be misses. If you know much about firearms, you can probably guess where we’re headed…

Why the 12-Gauge Pump is the Ideal Home Defense Weapon

No assailant, no matter how skilled in martial arts can evade a shotgun blast… It doesn’t matter if the person pulling the trigger is an 80-year-old-woman and the attacker is an NFL linebacker, the result is the same.

That’s precisely why, if you want to own a single firearm for home protection purposes only, it should be a 12-gauge pump shotgun.

1. Point and Shoot

The number one reason we recommend the 12-gauge pump as “the” essential, must-own firearm is that, in home defense situations, you’re not likely to miss your target entirely. Let’s face it, you need to give yourself the best possible chance possible.

With a shotgun, the closer the target, the more likely you are to hit it, given the barrel length vs a snub nose revolver. The further away, the larger the pattern becomes.

Because shotguns shoot a pattern of pellets, AKA “shot,” rather than a single bullet, it requires significantly less precision to hit a target. In a home defense scenario, the shotgun is more of a “point and shoot” weapon.

On the news, we often hear about police shootouts in which dozens of bullets are fired from close range, and yet no one was injured. That outcome would be very unlikely if one of the officers was carrying a 12-gauge pump. Are the police watching too many movies?

With a shotgun, only a small percentage of these pellets need to hit their mark in order to subdue a threat. You don’t need to be a highly skilled marksman. Of course, that’s not to say that you don’t need to undergo proper training to use a shotgun safely and proficiently.

2. Deterrence


The second reason we recommend this weapon above others is simply the sound the pump makes when a shell is loaded into the chamber. This pump-action “click-click” sound is recognized by criminals the world over… it’s an international language.

Let’s paint a picture from the intruder’s perspective for a moment, shall we? Imagine you’re a professional burglar and you’ve just managed to gain entry to a home, it’s pitch black inside, and you believe that you have entered undetected…

Then you hear “click-click” of someone upstairs jacking a shell into the chamber. What would you do?

This sound alone should be enough to drive all but the most determined trespassers back through the window they just pried open. That’s the beauty of the pump-action shotgun, as opposed to other designs — it has a built-in warning signal.

Once you’ve made that sound, you will be able to gain critical intel into the trespasser’s mental state and his intentions. If the trespasser leaves quietly, you may never have to actually use violence. The threat alone was sufficient…

3. Maximum Localized Damage, Minimal Collateral

As explained above, the shotgun’s spread pattern makes it very effective at close range, highly capable of inflicting massive damage. Once again, it’s hard to miss your target entirely.

bondarmsOn the flipside, shotguns have a much more limited range than other firearms. In a home defense scenario, this limited range has some decided advantages for your family and neighbors.

Basic firearm safety requires that you ALWAYS know what lies beyond your target. In the event of a home invasion, knowing what lies on the other side of a wall is not always possible. If you share a wall with a neighboring unit, this becomes an even greater liability.

RELATED: Top 8 “Shirt Pocket Pistols” 

Unlike a bullet from a rifle or pistol, a shotgun blast releases a cluster of small projectile that have less mass, and thus less momentum to push through objects like walls.  This is not to say that shotguns can’t penetrate sheetrock; they’re just not as likely to emerge on the other side with deadly force.

The Top 5

A lot of new firearms manufacturers have made it to the market in the last few years, but we like to stick with the tried and true favorites. Each of these shotguns can be had for well under $350. We spotted two of these models on sale for under $300 at a local sporting goods store just the other day.

Click “Next” for Our Top 5>>

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  1. I total agree with the rem-870 pump but I want a 20 ga so as to shorten the power and increase the shot pattern for home defense I have a 12 ga semi-auto but have always had a yen for the 870 pump there is just something about the smaller barrel the click-clack of loading a round that I just love

  2. Thanks for your articles and your recommendations on the best home defense weapon. I’ve owned the Remington 870 Wingmaster pump-action for many years now and was my first gun purchase. I’m glad to see that others agree on its convenience for home defense and appreciate he validation on choosing this weapon. It’s been a reliable companion and brings some peace of mind knowing that I have a way to protect my family in case of a home intrusion.

    When my oldest son was a teenager, I began teaching him gun safety and how to shoot this and the several handguns I own. Because of its smaller size, at first site he asked if the 870 was a toy. I assured him it was no toy and after shooting it he understood the ease of use, but also the power behind it and to this day, it’s his favorite weapon when we shoot together.


    A 12 GAUGE SHOTGUN beside the bed and a .45 under the pillow at night seems obvious; that especially considering the home invasions by the government SS troops come in the wee dark hours, i.e either in the middle of our ‘8 hour’ night sleep or just before dawn when the sleep is ‘deep’.
    During our ‘awake hours’, a Concealed WORN handgun (Mine an S&W M4506 .45 acp, a always worn constant companion for some 20 years now – and yes, it is heavy now at age 76 but still comfortable in its Blade Tec IWB holster and after it ‘points & delivers its loads’ where I look and into a dinner plate size area at the usual ‘social’ close combat altercation range usually encountered in dealing with adversaries and thus the ‘REPELLING OF BOARDERS’ . . . that conclusion based on a 70 year life experience with GUNS and gun savvy folks from which much was learned.


    A 12 GAUGE SHOTGUN beside the bed and a .45 under the pillow at night seems obvious; that especially considering the home invasions by the government ‘SS troops’ come in the wee dark hours, i.e either in the middle of our ’8 hour’ night sleep or just before dawn when the sleep is ‘deep’ (they seem to ‘favor’ 3 am hour).

    During our ‘awake hours’, always WORN CONCEALED is a long time sidearm ‘friend’, Mine a S&W M4506 .45 acp, with its back up twin, the S&W M1006, an ALWAYS worn constant companion for some 20 years now – and yes, it seems to get heavier as years go by, now at age 76, but still so comfortable that I , at time, have to ‘feel to see if it is where it supposed to be’ that is, in its Blade Tect IWB holster, BUT it ‘points & delivers its loads’ where I look and into a dinner plate size area at the usual ‘social’ close combat altercation range usually encountered in dealing with adversaries, I.E. WHEN CALLED UPON FOR THE ‘REPELLING OF BOARDERS’ . . . that conclusion based on a 70 year life experience with GUNS and gun savvy folks from which much has been leaned from they who had ‘been there and done that’ in the course of they having ‘gone in harms way” and survived; especially from WWII, the Korean War & the USBorderPatrol veteran, friend Bill Jordan who was especially kind to me and my family.

  5. Alton D. McDonald

    Any pump shotgun would be fine except for the limited fact of a five round capacity. My choice is the NRW Remington Versa-Max Tactical Shotgun. This is a Semi-Autoloader with a total 9 round capacity, which WILL take out any normal SS Government SWAT team in perhaps 15 seconds when defending your home from any Gov’t invasion ever!!! Of course you’ll need to use #00 Buckshot, oh and don’t worry about body armour, just point for the HEAD, this WILL be extremely effective!!!

  6. James Allen Wyatt, JR we must have grown up in a similar way. though I am 10 yrs. younger I was taught gun safety from the age I was old enough to pick a gun up. There was always a loaded, ( all guns are loaded), 12 gauge by the front door, a loaded 1895 Winchester 3040 above the front door and moms 20 gauge bolt action by the back door. As we lived only a few miles from a prison mom always had her 32 revolver on when she was awake. The community where we lived we knew everyone and everyone knew us. When Dad was working on the ranch he would carry his 45 Colt single action. My father was born in The panhandle of Texas in 1903. Mom was a farm girl and born and lived her entire life in Colorado.
    GOD Bless and everyone have a very Merry CHRISTMAS
    Bruce F. Andrews
    an American patriot
    a disabled veteran

  7. A 12 Ga. Pump & A Glock #31-357SIG Under the Pillow & 2 Nervous Dogs Sleeping In The Same Room (that Alerts To Anything Moving Around My House) Lets Me Sleep Comfortably Every Night….BOB

  8. If you are defending your home, you are most likely shooting across the room. the Judge pistol shooting .410 shotshells is best for this. With a 3 inch barrel from 10 feet, it will produce a shot pattern over 1 foot wide. I doubt that a 12 Ga. with an 18 inch barrel will have nearly as much spread at that range (try it if you don’t believe me). Also, at that range, you can hit a man-sized target with any gun (CQB training in the military stresses point and shoot with pistols and rifles).

    The overpenetration issue should also be considered carefully. I have fired 000 buckshot from a .410 at 10 feet and penetrated two interior walls (4 layers of drywall) and penetrated about an inch into a poplar tree. The largest shot I could find that would not penetrate 2 interior walls was #4 shot in .410 when fired from the Judge. I would expect the 12 Ga. to penetrate more (once again, try it and see). If an unintended target is behind an interior wall shot with 00 or 000 buckshot, they will be hurting (maybe dead).

  9. My home defense gun of choice is the Mossberg 500 Marine defender. I think it’s a tinch better then any listed above because of the eight shot tube.

  10. I have several shot guns in the house. Bought a Mossberg pistol grip-8 shot. Unless you are intending to clear out a warehouse of intruders it’s too much. I’m almost 80 with arthritis everywhere–The pistol grip is hard to handle-it kicks back enough to cause pain in my wrist-If you have a hostage situation-the thug has your wife or kids at knife or gunpoint a shot gun will not do. My favorite remains a little .22 Beretta. I also like my Kel-Tec 9mm for inhouse.

  11. Is this a toy gun? I have a number of guns in the house and guns were a part of my childhood. My father always had guns in the home, I learned to shoot a pistol when I was 5, that was 74 years ago. My son in law recently took an interest in guns and began to instruct my grandsons in safe operation and letting them shoot. They live outside New York City and on one visit the boys came into my home office, spotted a display of old toy pistols-Gene Autry and Roy Rogers live again.. They were shocked that I had “guns” on open display. Boys, they are toys. Well, what do you do with them? Nothing now I explained but when i was your age 12/10 we (my pals and I) played with them. In a declaration of utter shock-YOU PLAYED WITH GUNS?
    We sure did.

  12. There is not nearly enough emphasis placed on the ‘legal after shot’ potential here. In most states the ‘intruder’ has to be on the INSIDE of your home before you even think about pulling the trigger, otherwise you could be in for more heartache and other discomfort imaginable. You shoot someone on your front porch our outside of a window and the ‘gun grabbers’ will see to it that you will lose a lot more than just your gun. If you ‘wound’ another person and they do not die, you will likely be paying them for the rest of your life. It may prove a little bit more on the side of “RESPONSIBLY” armed citizens to give a little more pertinent information as it applies to these matters of home and personal defense.

  13. I do agree that a pump shotgun is a good choice for a home defense weapon but I think the 20 ga might be a better choice for people that are of smaller stature or may not be able to handle the recoil of the 12 ga. As far as point and shoot, that is just not entirely true. The shot pattern at 10 to 15 feet is only going to be about 2 inches. Yes it’s a big hole but shot placement is still critical.

    Shotguns are long and if you haven’t practiced clearing your home with one you can be clumsy. But that goes with any firearm, you must practice for things to work when the time comes (but that is another article).

  14. Whether answering the door or waking up at night, my family, my grandparents, ALWAYS keep a shotgun near at hand.
    I grew up that way. It’s “normal”. It should be normal for everyone and every criminal should expect to be met with one.

  15. I have no trouble sleeping at night with Glock 10MM under my pillow and a 12GA sawed off pump loaded with Fiocchi # 4 nickel plated buck shot will take care of what goes bump in the night . If that’s not enough then my 12GA loaded with the first two rounds of double OO buck and the rest slugs should take care of any stupid mistakes intruders make. Batter up.

  16. I have no trouble sleeping at night, with a sawed off 12Ga. eighteen inch pump shotgun loaded with #4 nickel plated buckshot and a 10 MM Glock under my pillow, a back up 12Ga.Winchester pump shot gun loaded with OO buck and slugs should cure any thing that goes bump in the night. I believe shot guns are made for close quarters combat, no mistake about it. As a Police Officer I would not go any where without it.

  17. I have a Bond Arms Snake Slayer that shoots 410, and I bought all the new high tech ammo. Although I carry a 9 mm S&W M&P with a Crimson Trace Laser Sight, I use the derringer for backup. If you were in a threatened situation, it is not likely to be 20-30 feet away. That make the Bond Arms tool a good one for short shots. I love the pattern it shoots. Dave

  18. Scott Greentree

    Why does everyone overlook the Saiga?
    Semi- automatic 20 round drum with 12 round magazines for back up
    Built on an AK platform, they don’t jam they work perfectly and I do have a Mossberg 590 8 round pump for back up
    And then we go along with the Sig sauer 556 Russian and then the AK-47 with a sig sauer 9 mm P 28 and a P238 nightmare

  19. I’m trying to figure out how I can protect myself. I haves felonies on my record from 7 years ago. Any suggestions?

  20. I thank you for the informative article. I have owned a Remington 870 marine magnum for many years and swear by it . I have made many after market improvements to it that give tactical advantage in many ways. I too agree that the sound that one makes when a round enters the chamber is more than enough to convince someone who is intent on doing harm, be it bodily or, otherwise that if they continue they my see the business end that they may not like. I think some may even call that sound a fair warning.

  21. I really like my Weatherby PA-459. Compact and easy to maneuver. Keep it safe out there (except when the SHTF).

  22. Not a simple question to answer, a lot depends on the type, class, and number of felonies. If it’s domestic violence, your out of luck. Your local, county, and state laws are another factor. Your best bet would be to consult your attorney. Depending on the jurisiction, you may not even be able to carry pepper spray, or you might be able to own a long-barreled firearm, but not a handgun. One thing you CAN do is to aquire the techniques, and mental practices that every responsible armed citizen should learn to avoid, or mitigate the need for drawing and firing their weapon. These are actually MORE IMPORTANT than carrying a firearm itself. Best of luck to you.

  23. Richard Marchitto

    I have an Akkar 600 HD / SA. holds 5 rounds if needed I have my choice of either 10mm, 45 , 40 or 9mm all readily accessible… It is just one of those things I would rather have it and not need it rather then need it and not have it… And in this world I will take all the un fair advantage I can get my hands on….God bless. And Merry Christmas

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