One of our readers recently asked:
… [I am] very interested in buying a shotgun for home defense purposes. I would love your and staff opinion on brand (870 vs. Mossy, etc) and how you like to set them up (pistol grip, etc.)
First off, a shotgun isn’t our first choice for home defense. As John Holschen once said fairly succinctly:
I’ll start out by saying that a shotgun is my last choice to procure for employment as a defensive long gun. This is because:
1. It is heavy.
2. It’s manual of arms is relatively complex.
3. It’s recoil is more difficult to manage for quick follow up shots (as might be required for multiple threats.)
4. It’s ammunition supply is relatively limited (this is not a critical factor in a typical home defense situation but could become one in case of large scale civil disturbance.)
If I absolutely could not have a semi-auto rifle I would rather have a pump-action rifle (or a lever action rifle) than a shotgun.
Now that is not to say that a shotgun is not a serviceable weapon or that it is totally unsuited for the task of home defense. Some of the things that the shotgun has going for it is that they are relatively inexpensive, widely available, and widely legal to own in more jurisdictions than a semi-automatic rifle.
If past production quality and what we have seen in classes over the years holds true, a Remington 870 Police model is going to hold up a little better than a Remington 870 Express, and much better than a Mossberg.
Regarding the modifications or accessories, your shotgun needs:
- Sights you can see.
- A sling.
- additional ammunition.
- A flashlight.
Most of us have extended magazine tubes as well as side saddle carriers or butt cuff carriers for additional ammo, and SureFire fore ends. Beyond that I would size the stock for a comfortable length of pull (most shotgun stocks are a little too long for most users) and that is about it. A factory stock shotgun with a sling will work just fine as far as the class is concerned.