Best Tactical Shotguns of 2020 – Complete Guide

| Last Updated: January 13, 2022

Are you looking for the best tactical shotgun? If so, you’re in the right place. Finding a shotgun for so many high-pressure situations like home defense, tactical, or competition application is key. These were designed to be some of the most reliable shotguns in the business. Most of them are rugged and intimidating, but their performance is second to none.

To get you started on the search, we’ve put together a list of six of the best tactical shotguns that are currently on the market. One of these will be yours if you are planning on using one for the purpose where either your life is on the line or if you’re in the heat of competition.

Now, let’s take a look at what a “tactical shotgun” and what aspects you need to consider while looking for a shotgun of your own.

Comparison of the Best Tactical Shotguns

  • Single-sight bead.
  • Pump-action function.
  • 6-round magazine capacity.
View Latest Price →
  • 4-round capacity.
  • Pump-action function.
  • Barrel length at 18.5 inches.
View Latest Price →
  • Contains a 9-round capacity.
  • Best tactical shotgun for the money.
  • Includes XS sight ghost rings for better accuracy.
View Latest Price →
  • 6-round capacity.
  • Measured at 18.5 inches.
  • Best 20 gauge tactical shotgun on the market.
View Latest Price →
  • 6-round capacity.
  • Pump action function.
  • Best tactical shotgun under $300.
View Latest Price →
  • 5-round capacity.
  • Fits 2 ¾ - 3-inch diameter rounds.
  • Barrel measured at 18 inches in length.
View Latest Price →

What is a “Tactical Shotgun”

A tactical shotgun is different from your standard style shotguns that are used for hunting purposes. So what’s the difference between the two? First of all, the tactical shotgun barrel will usually be measured between 18 to 20 inches.

That’s because you’ll be able to move faster in certain situations. You won’t bump and bang around with barrels that long. Also included in these shotguns are some must-haves like sling mounts. This is also implemented for better maneuverability to ensure that you’re moving around much faster. Plus, it will allow you to free up your hands for other applications. 

A good tactical shotgun will either be a semi-automatic or pump action. The reason being is that it allows for faster use. Faster reloading, faster shots, and faster follow-up shots. Time will definitely work to your advantage if you use these types of shotguns in a tactical situation.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

There are some aspects that will factor into your final decision buying process. It is important to consider this list below so you know what to look for while you’re looking for a tactical shotgun of your own. Knowing some of the characteristics and what makes a great tactical shotgun is key.

Plus, you’ll also be able to distinguish a great tactical shotgun from one that is considered crappy and unreliable. Here are the following aspects to consider:


If you're a budget shopper, there's a good chance that you might hold the price tag to high importance. One of the things that you want to consider aside from price is quality. It's important to look at the best quality shotgun that you can afford, even if the price is on the higher end of the budget scale. Don't settle for a "cheap" shotgun because of the low price tag. You may end up with something that's disappointing in performance and reliability. 


A great tactical shotgun is top-notch in reliability. You want a shotgun that will function properly and be put to good use in the situations where you need it the most. You need to know which shotgun is best for you. Do you find it easier to use a pump-action shotgun? Or is a semi-automatic more of your type? Either way, they’re highly reliable. And they’ll definitely come in handy in times when no other shotgun can stand the test.


When it comes to shotguns that thrive in high-pressure situations, quality is important. More specifically, you want a shotgun that won’t be able to easily damage due to the constant bumping and banging. One of these situations is while you’re navigating the low-light or dark rooms inside your home or outdoors (if applicable).

Either way, you’ll need to move quickly and be able to easily maneuver around obstacles. Your shotgun should have parts and accessories that are made from high-quality parts (i.e.--aluminum and polymer). The higher-quality the shotgun, the better off you’ll be.

Review of the Best Tactical Shotguns

The following is a list of the six best tactical shotguns that are currently on the market. You’ll need to look through each of these carefully as you’re going through the list. You may have an idea of what your kind of tactical shotgun looks like and how it functions.

Be sure to take note of any of the features and functions that each shotgun has. You might find the closest thing to your “dream shotgun”. With that in mind, let’s begin by unveiling our “best overall” choice for tactical shotguns:

Best Overall:
Remington 870 Express Tactical Magpul 12 Ga Pump Shotgun


  • Super Durable
  • Pump Action is Nice and Smooth
  • Excellent for Home Defense Situations
  • Trusted by the Military and Law Enforcement Officials
  • Barrel is Measured at Just the Right Length for Better Maneuverability


  • Some Were Not Happy With the Recoil Pad Included
  • Some Have had Issues With Customizing it With Additional Accessories
  • Iron Sight May Not be Effective in Some Situations. You May Want to Invest in an Upgrade

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers were happy with the shotgun itself. While testing this at self-defense practice ranges, they were able to move around with such quickness in low-light conditions and retain their ability to stay out of the shadows. The pump action was smooth and it made for much quicker shooting. Each shot took a matter of seconds.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This shotgun looks rugged. And it definitely makes its bones in most tactical and home-defense situations in so many ways. The shotgun is long enough so you’re able to navigate dark rooms and corners. You won’t be able to bang and bump around when you’re dealing with a lack of light. This definitely stands out as the shotgun to have if you ever find yourself in a life or death situation.

Who Will Use This Most

Most of the users will typically use this for the purpose of home defense. However, we expect members of law enforcement and the military to use this shotgun for their appropriate purposes (i.e.--tactical). This will be best used by a shooter who wants to get quick shooting and top quality reliability out of a shotgun.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the things we would like to see improve is the recoil pad. The recoil pad should be a little thicker to ensure that will absorb a lot more shock and recoil. To us, we think it might look a little too thin. Sure, it does reduce some recoil. But we’d love to see it do a better job of reducing more of it.

Bottom Line

If you’re simply looking for the best of the best when it comes to tactical shotguns, then the Remington 870 Express Tactical might be your best possible option. This is built at the right length and is definitely built for the right applications. No target or enemy will stand a chance against you with a shotgun like this.

Remington 870 Hardwood Home Defense 12 Ga Pump Shotgun


  • Super Quick Follow-Up Shots
  • Iron Sight is Surprisingly Accurate
  • Very Smooth Pump Action Functions
  • Excellent for Home Defense Situations
  • Long Enough for Better Maneuverability


  • A Little Weighty for a Tactical Shotgun
  • Some Have had Issues With the Iron Sight
  • Some Were Not Happy With the 4-Round Capacity

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were accepting of having 4-rounds at their disposal, despite the fact that it doesn’t seem like enough to some die-hard tactical shotgun fans. But it makes up for it in firepower and reliability. They are also able to move around with such ease, despite being a bit on the weighty side.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This shotgun stands out as something that might be considered a starter tactical shotgun. One of the things that will make it a starter shotgun is the magazine capacity. Maybe starting out with 4 is a little better than 6 or more. It might seem a little overwhelming at first. We won’t blame you if you prefer 4 over 6 rounds.

Who Will Use This Most

We can expect first-time users and buyers to use this shotgun to their advantage. This will definitely come in handy in a self-defense situation. They will have enough rounds on them to ward off an attacker or prowler. It will be enough to ward off at least one or two of them.

What Could Be Improved and Why

If you’re expecting us to mention the magazine capacity, surprisingly we’re going to leave it be. But what can be improved is adding on sling swivels. That way, you’ll be able to carry your shotgun and be able to use your hands for non-shotgun applications. Imagine having a hands-free solution for carrying your shotgun.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a shotgun that is reliable and works as a tactical shotgun should, this Remington 870 Hardwood Home Defense 12 Gauge will likely be your best possible option if you’re looking for an excellent tactical shotgun that will definitely stand up to any possible threat against you and your family.

Best for the Money: 
Mossberg 590A1 9-shot 12ga Shotgun With XS Ghost Ring Sights And +4 Stock


  • Very Useful in SHTF Situations
  • Very Accurate Shooting at 100+ Yards
  • Ghost Rings Make the Sight Very Useful
  • Very Solid Build. Feels Durable and Looks Rugged
  • Recoil is Very Much Reduced Thanks to the Recoil Pad


  • A Little Bit on the Heavy Side
  • Some Have Complained About the Top Rail Being a Little Short for Their Scopes
  • May Not be Legal in Some Local or State Jurisdictions. Please Consult With Your Local and State Laws Before Purchasing

What Recent Buyers Report

This shotgun is the epitome of a self-defense shotgun. Most recent buyers were able to put it to good use at the range to test the reliability. In fact, most were able to move around just fine while carrying it around. You can move and shoot at the same time with this kind of shotgun, despite some complaints about it being a little weighty.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is no ordinary budget shotgun. It’s tough as nails and has the ability to give you a lot more accurate shooting thanks to the XS sight. You already have a nice sight that will allow you to hit targets from short distances. If you have the right kind of optic or scope, you can go a hell of a lot farther with it (probably 200 yards or so). If you upgrade it to make it go that far, you’ll have quite the force to be reckoned with.

Who Will Use This Most

If you can handle 9-rounds in a tactical or home defense situation, then you’re definitely going to love having this shotgun at your disposal. This will be a go-to shotgun for law enforcement and military personnel. This was built to handle all kinds of high-pressure applications. If that’s what you’re looking for in a shotgun, then you’ll love the Mossberg 590A1.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the things that might be improved is the rail. Slightly lengthen it or make some minor adjustments that can make it as close to universal as possible for most scopes or optics. This has the potential to be a dang good shotgun with the right kind of scopes and optics in place.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a shotgun that will definitely give you a leg up in a home defense or tactical situation, this Mossberg 590A1 shotgun might be exactly what you’re looking for. Especially if you’re looking for something that will be affordable for your budget. It’s one of the best in quality and reliability. You’d swear that this shotgun would be a lot more in price.

Best 20 Gauge Shotgun:
 Mossberg 500 Tactical 20 Ga Pump Shotgun


  • Pump Action is Smooth. No Jamming or Creep
  • Recoil Reduction is Immediate Upon Initial Use
  • Easy to Grip for Better Control and Accurate Shooting
  • Superior Grip. You Won’t Lose it in Wet Weather Conditions
  • Lightweight. Doesn’t Feel Like You’re Carrying a Heavy Dumbbell


  • Iron Sight May Not be Effective at Some Distances
  • Some Have Claimed That There Isn’t Enough Felt Recoil Reduction
  • Customization Options Might be Limited for Additional Sights or Scopes

What Recent Buyers Report

This shotgun is quite powerful, according to some recent buyers. The firepower is remarkable and definitely does a good job with its intended application. It’s at a decent weight where you can run and shoot (when the opportunity presents itself). Plus, you’re working with six rounds. That’s a pretty standard count if you’re looking for a shotgun that will just be used for self-defense purposes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

A good 20 gauge is usually best for hunting purposes, right? Wrong. But most hunters rely on that kind of shotgun. But what about home defense situations? Yes, there is a 20 gauge for that. Another thing that stands out is its ability to give you a superior grip when your hands are sweating. You’ll never lose grip even when you’re defending your home against invaders or prowlers.

Who Will Use This Most

In short: most of the users who will benefit from this will be people who use a shotgun for home defense purposes. The 6 round capacity is good enough for such an application. You will definitely benefit from this since it will be light in weight so you can be able to move around a lot quicker when compared to heavier shotguns.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the improvements might just be the sight. It’s a standard iron sight, but it can definitely use some improvements so you can be able to make your shots more precise and accurate. We also believe this has the potential to reach a bit farther with the right kind of scopes and optics.

Bottom Line

Mossberg has long been one of the most reliable brands when it comes to shotguns. So it’s no accident that this shotgun performs like nothing else on the market. If you’re looking for a shotgun that will get the job done in high-pressure applications, then you might consider the Mossberg 500 20-Gauge Tactical Shotgun one of your shortlist candidates.

Best Under $300:
Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12ga Shotgun


  • Works With 2 ¾” Shells
  • Compact and Very Well-Made
  • Excellent for Close Range Shooting
  • Short in Length, Making it Very Maneuverable
  • Very Easy to Control. Especially for First-Time Users


  • Some Have Found the Pump Action to be a Little Stiff
  • Some Report it Not Being Very Accurate at Close Range
  • Disassembly Might be a Little Challenging. The Same Can be Said About Reassembly

What Recent Buyers Report

There are a lot of happy customers. Especially with this Mossberg shotgun being very affordable for most budgets. Most of the recent buyers were able to reload their shotguns with the greatest of ease. The pump action isn’t as stiff as some complain though. But it might be a little difficult at first. But once you use it more, it’ll become easier to use. Other than that, the shotgun is solid and really does a good job holding its end of the bargain.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Aside from its price tag, the design is perhaps the most interesting. It’s probably one of the most ergonomically friendly designed on the market. So it’s quite comfortable to carry while in the firing position. So don’t be shocked that it can function a lot better than regular shotguns. The design itself shouldn’t throw you off in the slightest.

Who Will Use This Most

This will likely be used by those who are looking for a reliable shotgun without having to break the bank. At the same time, this will definitely be used for nothing else other than a self-defense application. This might also be a go-to choice for law enforcement and military personnel as a spare shotgun if their primary tactical shotgun tends to fail or doesn’t perform as expected.

What Could Be Improved and Why

One of the things that could be improved would be possibly adding on a sling swivel to allow for hands-free carrying. Once again, having a sling handy will definitely give you a chance to free your hands so you can use them for other purposes while you still have your shotgun on you. For example, you’ll need to use one of them to reload the shotgun while giving it extra support. This way, it won’t have to slip out of your hands and onto the floor.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg 590 Shockwave in our opinion might be one of the most ergonomic tactical shotguns on the market. The design alone might be one of the main reasons why people will buy it. If you’re looking for a shotgun that will make it more comfortable for you during its use, then you might not want to look any further than this.

Best Pump Shotgun:
Mossberg Maverick 88 12ga


  • Very Affordable for Most Budgets
  • Recoil is Minimal and Manageable
  • Folding Stock Works Smoothly. Provides Compact Storage
  • Solid Construction. Very Solid for High-Pressure Situations
  • Pistol Grip is Quite Reliable, Especially in Bad Weather Conditions


  • Might be Sensitive When Dropped
  • Folding Stock Might be a Little Gritty
  • You May Need a Glove While Shooting

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were satisfied with the stock being easy to fold and making it very compact for storage. The shotgun can only be fired while the stock is extended. The pistol grip is pretty decent and will give you a great deal of control over your shotgun. You’ll also be able to resist a good amount of recoil every time you shoot your rifle. Plus, having great control will give you an excellent advantage in almost every tactical or a home defense situation.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The folding stock is perhaps one of the most interesting features of this shotgun. But unfortunately, it’s not the kind of folding stock that will allow for a shorter length of pull. Nonetheless, it solves a major problem: the storage problem. Aside from that, the shotgun is tough all over. This will definitely work to advantage when you’re trying to navigate through your home or obstacles in low-light or complete darkness

Who Will Use This Most

Most users will be those who will use this shotgun in a home defense or tactical setting. This shotgun will be used by both civilians and law enforcement personnel alike. The shotgun will also be light in weight, so expect this to be used by those who want a light shotgun that will help them move around more fluidly.

What Could be Improved and Why

One of the things that might use some improvement is the ability to add additional scopes or sights. That way, if your iron sight is not as reliable as advertised then you’ll need a good scope or sight to upgrade to. So a top rail might be sufficient enough so you can fit almost any scope or optic.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a shotgun that will definitely do some damage in the applications where it matters most, this Mossberg Maverick 88 shotgun will stand head above shoulders over the competition. It’s durable and definitely built to take on the high-pressure applications. Whether you’re a homeowner or a police officer, the Mossberg 500 is one tactical shotgun that will definitely work to your advantage in close quarters.

Types of Tactical Shotguns

There are a few popular types of tactical shotguns that are popular among gun owners today. Each type is different in its own way but still delivers an impressive performance like nothing else. Here are some of those shotgun types:

Pump-Action Shotgun

This includes a mechanism that is used for you to “pump” up and down, allowing the feeding mechanism to transfer a round from the magazine tube to the chamber. A pump action shotgun will give you faster loading and reloading, especially in high-pressure situations. This will obviously give you more time to focus on your targets.

Semi-Automatic Shotguns

These types of shotguns will use magazines. So you’ll be loading some shells into a magazine without having to use a pump action or a bolt to ensure that a fresh new round is loaded. Once fired, the old round will discard and the magazine will instantly feed another round to the chamber. 

Combat Shotguns

These shotguns were made exclusively for tactical and self-defense situations. They are often used by law enforcement and military personnel around the world. This is packed with a lot of firepower that will subdue almost any enemy that will dare mess with someone who used a shotgun like this. These will usually have shorter barrels (18 inches). 

Pros and Cons of Tactical Shotguns

Of course, there are both advantages and disadvantages to tactical shotguns. It’s always good to know what to expect when you’re using one for your own personal use. Here are a few of the pros and cons of using a tactical shotgun:



Yes, tactical shotguns are compact in size compared to standard shotguns. They are not as long and don’t take up too much space. Not to mention while you’re moving about in the house, your shotgun isn’t touching the floor and making noise.

Very Effective

This is exactly what you need to have in a shotgun. Something that will put an end to the conflict in one shot. Tactical shotguns have the capability and the firing power to subdue most enemies. Most tactical shotguns will accept buckshot rounds, which have a lot more stopping power than most shotgun shells.


Even though there are shotguns that are on the pricey side, tactical shotguns are still affordable compared to standard shotguns. In fact, they’re even cheaper than handguns. You have a better chance of buying a tactical shotgun as opposed to a 9mm pistol.


Heavy Recoil

These shotguns will pack a punch. And it might be hard enough for a user to lose control of it. That’s why you’ll need a shotgun with a recoil pad so you can resist as much of it as possible. If you cannot control recoil, you will definitely have shots that are not very accurate.

Very Loud

Simply put, these shotguns are loud. You might need some hearing protection if you’re simply firing rounds off at the range. However, it can damage your hearing a lot worse if you fire them off in a closed space.


The best tactical shotgun for you is out there. It is important to find one that will stand out as your go-to choice for self-defense or tactical situations. Find one that will fit your personal needs and preferences so you are able to make your search for a new shotgun as easy as possible.

Once you find one, be sure to determine whether or not it really is a good investment. Do your in-depth research on gun forums to see what others are saying about it before making your final decision.