Suppose somebody said, “Here’s $1,500 and a list of shotguns — and you can only buy from the list,” I know what I’d do:

Buy two  of these:

…rather than just one of these:

…and I suspect that 80% of my Readers would do exactly the same.  (The other 20% would buy one  of the 590A1s and a boatload of ammo with the change.)

A note to all the manufacturers of tacti-cool firearms:  there’s a price point for most people when it comes to any gun, and just calling it “tactical” doesn’t warrant a 70% jump in price for very little added utility.

We may be Ignorant Clingers from Flyover Country, but that just means we’re familiar with the smell of bullshit.

I’m not a huge fan of shotguns for the above purpose — I belong to the AK-47 School Of Home Defense — but the one I would  consider is the Mossberg 500 or 590 Mariner for under $600, because it’s weatherproof and pretty much unbreakable.


  1. I have a Mossberg 500 in the collection that I bought in 1974 for $90 in a K-mart in Wayne NJ (forgive me). 46 years of slugs and buckshot loads ranging from low recoil tactical stuff to 3″ 15 pellet zombie killers with no problems at all. I bought a Shockwave (basically the same gun) some time back just because I could and the action felt like somebody threw a handful of gravel into the receiver. I know that I won’t live long enough to smooth out the Shockwave by wear. To prove my respect for diversity I also have an older well broken in police model 870 that I bought from an officer in a neighboring town. His department had gone to rifles. And yes the 870 was privately owned. I’m still a shotgun guy and given my long success with my old 500 Mossberg gets my vote.

  2. I don’t think anyone could go wrong with putting a slug barrel on a Remington 870, Mossberg 500, or Ithica 37 to get an inexpensive home defense gun.

  3. Good lord they’ve jacked prices on those. I paid $150 for my (used but mint) Remington 870 about 15 years ago…from a gun shop no less. Synthetic, open choke, 18.5″ barrel. Dead simple and reliable. For self defense I wouldn’t reach for any shotgun over my AK or AR, but it’s still nice to have around.

  4. I too keep my junky-but-reliable old no-name Spanish SxS (cost: $75) for sentimental reasons.
    One never knows when an invitation to go duck- or pigeon hunting may arrive… and yes, I do have a sufficient quantity of 16ga ammo on hand. Why do you ask?

  5. I’m going to use the $1500 to buy something else. Already have a Mossberg 590. I’ve had it a long time and don’t remember what it cost. I’m thinking around 200 bucks.

  6. For the true value hunter, if looking for a shotty solely for HD, consider the Mossberg made Maverick 88 Security 12 GA 18.5″ Cylinder Bore 5+1 (5 shot tube plus 1 in the chamber). Made by Mossberg, it is basically a Mossberg 500, but with a cross-bolt safety in front of the trigger guard rather than a tang safety, and an old-school corncob fore-end. Bolt, barrel, action parts are Mossberg 500 parts. Same dual action bars, same dual extractors, same anti-jam elevator.

    If you want a BASIC, home defense shotgun (like Kim I prefer other things, but if you want one …) and that is your sole reason for getting one, this is available for $200 from Academy Sports, if there is one near you. $220 at Sportsman’s Warehouse. Cheaper than Dirt or Bud’s Guns about $250 have it sent to your local store, makes it a bit less of a valule, but still. I’ve also seen it in a 20″ barrel version with 7-shot magazine.

    This works out of the box, is as durable as the legendary Mossy 500 (basically is one except for the safety). Load it and leave it alone. Or, if you are anal retentive like I am, disassemble, use some fine grit emory paper to gently ease the edges of the action bars, and rack it, oh, 500 times or so to smooth it out.

    Don’t forget to use the Rob Haught push-pull technique. NO recoil. I promise. My son was shooting 00-Buck like a boss at age 10 this way.

    1. Thanks for posting that. I’m so used to using the push-pull with 12ga loads, it’s actually an unconscious action for me.
      Less efficacy on non-pump shotguns, of course.

  7. Another vote for Mossberg. I bought my 500 back in the 80’s in a combo pack. It’s been my HD shotgun for decades with the short barrel and I’ve shot many rounds of skeet back in the day with the long barrel.

    Nothing against Remingtons. I just got a good deal on the Mossberg and tend to stick with brands I already own.

  8. The 500 family has lots of choices, I settled on a 590A1 when the USMC did, and I’ve never been disappointed.

  9. I gave $750 for my Beretta 1301 Tactical (LNIB PD trade in), and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. By far the best, fastest, and most reliable shotgun I’ve ever owned.

  10. The major problem with slide action (pump) guns is short-stroking. Most shooters seem to do this occasionally, even those in 3 gun competition. When it really counts, under goblin-killing stress, will it happen less, or even more? This does not instill confidence that the gun will go bang when it HAS TO, in time critical situations.

    My preference is the Beretta/HK autos. The tactical models with ghost ring sights works well, although a red dot might be a good update. I think mine will hold 11 rounds (one on the lifter). If needed, it will shoot all the ammo with one hand, no need to do the FBI Miami Shootout (Alverez?) rack-with-one-hand technique. My Super 90 is the most reliable shottie I’ve ever seen.

  11. I think mine was about $800 back around ’93, for the tactical model (19.75″ barrel) with pistol grip/butt stock, which I then had to replace (for about $90) with a standard stock, to avoid getting classified as an assault weapon in CA. That PG stock allowed me to shoot with either hand, which I can’t do with the standard profile stock with my off-hand, sigh… (damn drunk drivers)

  12. The only pump shotgun legal for Western action shooting is the Winchester 1897 or a replica. My budget forced me to give the Norinco knock-off a chance. It was a surprisingly (at least to me) solid piece.

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