The Best Shotgun For Home Security – We Pick The Ultimate Shotgun To Protect Your Home

If you’ve read an article or two here before, then you know that a weapon’s place in home defense is something that I frequently consider when evaluating it. Shotguns in particular have a storied history around the world, and they have been used for home security for as long as they have been around. As much as I hate the phrase “It’s the way we’ve always done it,” there is a distinct reason why the shotgun has retained its relevance in the home defense realm despite the advent of more modern firearms.

What Makes the Shotgun an Ideal Weapon for Home Security?

Shotguns are easy to maintain, and they are even easier to shoot. One of the major perks of using a shotgun for home defense is that it is an extremely simple gun to shoot under stress. At the distances in which you would engage a threat in a home defense situation, the shotgun is effectively a point and shoot weapon. Grip, trigger pull, and sight picture all have much less of an effect on a shotgun at close distances than any other gun that you would likely use in a similar scenario. That’s not to say that training and proficiency are immaterial, just that a shotgun is more forgiving to common errors under pressure than many other firearms.

Additionally, shotguns are powerful guns that are very likely to neutralize a threat with just one hit. Furthermore, I would have a hard time thinking of a more fear inspiring sound to a criminal when they’re in someone else’s home than the cycling of a shotgun’s action. Deterrence is an even better benefit than stopping power. If you can send evildoers scurrying for the exit just by chambering a shell, then you’re already ahead of the game.

One negative to the use of a shotgun inside the home is it’s length. Long guns are notoriously unwieldy when trying to navigate interior residential hallways, and they are not ideal for clearing thresholds and corners without practice. This can be mitigated by selecting the right make and model shotgun which will provide you with all the benefits of the platform in a more compact package. We’ll talk more about those specifics shortly.

Ideal Characteristics in a Home Defense Shotgun

One of the biggest concerns that you will have to consider with the use of a shotgun inside the home is the weapon’s overall length. Depending upon your jurisdiction’s laws regarding “sawed off” or short barrel shotguns, you may decide to forego a shotgun altogether. It’s important that you have a gun of a maneuverable and useful length for the environment that you may need to use it in. This is going to vary based on the characteristics and layout of your home, but remember that you want a gun that isn’t going to hamper your movements within interior hallways and clearing a threshold. You can make a full length shotgun work; it just entails more training and awareness on your end.

In my opinion, a pistol grip is an absolute necessity for a home security shotgun. The added stability that feature will provide you is huge. Another critical feature is a choke. We’ll discuss ammunition specifics later in this article, but if you are not using a slug round, the choke will give you a much tighter spread pattern for shot rounds.

I also recommend that you add a sling to any long gun that you plan on using outside of a strictly range use only gun and that includes a home defense shotgun. This gives you the ability to free up a hand or two if needed while still keeping your gun within your control.

What Gauge is Best?

Your most popular calibers of shotguns are 12 gauge, 20 gauge, and .410 bore. Larger guns like 10 gauge aren’t uncommon, but they’re way too much for home defense use. Ideally, 12 gauge or 20 gauge would be a perfect size. Both are more than capable of stopping a threat in its tracks, and they can both be handled by family members of all sizes and strengths.

Obviously, the 12 gauge is going to be the more powerful of the two, but you are still capable of firing it without necessarily shouldering the shotgun which will be important in a minute. Ammunition selection is going to be significantly more critical than the decision between 12 and 20 gauge.

Ammo Considerations

Ammunition is your single biggest factor when designing your home security shotgun setup. A weapons platform that is capable of hunting big game animals can be an absolute nightmare in the confines of your home if you don’t carefully select your ammo. The three most common types of shotgun ammunition are birdshot, buckshot, and slugs.


Slugs come in both rifled and sabot (smooth) versions with rifled slug rounds intended to be shot out of a smooth bore shotgun. Slugs are also generally a poor choice for home defense due to their risk of over penetration. If you remember from some of our other articles, the effective penetration depth according to the FBI is between 12-18 inches, and the lightest recoil-control 12 gauge slug averages approximately 30 inches of penetration.


Birdshot and buckshot both refer to multiple pellets that are encased in a single shell and all fired at once. The projectiles spread during flight, and this spread can be lessened with the use of a choke as mentioned above.

Birdshot pellets come in many sizes but are significantly smaller as they are designed for bird hunting, and there are more of them per shotgun shell. They also all tend to average penetration depths of less than 12 inches making them not an ideal choice to neutralize a human threat.


Buckshot also comes in various sizes, and it is designed to take down larger animals. The most commonly available size is 00 buck. Generally, you will find 9 pellets in a 00 buck shell, and they flirt dangerously close to the maximum recommended penetration depth. On the other hand, #1 buck contains 16 pellets which amplifies the impact of the shot, and it sits comfortably in the penetration window.

Overall, I would rank buckshot as the best choice for ammo with rifled slugs in second and birdshot last. Over-penetration can be managed with proper backdrop management and awareness, but the failure to stop a threat is much more dangerous.

Top 5 Shotguns for Home Security

Remington 870 Tac-14

The Remington 870 Express in 12 gauge has been a staple in law enforcement, military, and security applications worldwide for decades. Nearly every US police academy recruit in the last 40 years has fired this weapon or one substantially similar. The Tac-14 model includes some alterations that make this shotgun perfect for home security use. It’s available in both 12 gauge and 20 gauge, and it has an overall length of only 26.3 inches with a 4+1 capacity.

Equipped with M-Lok attachment points on its fore end, you can mount a variety of compatible accessories. With a Raptor pistol grip and no shoulder stock, recoil management shells are going to be a necessity, and I still would go with the 20ga option. This is a good compact shotgun, but it’s not going to be overly fun to shoot. You can find them fairly easily for under $300.

Kel-Tec KSG

I can’t even pretend to not be biased. I absolutely love this shotgun. It is everything that you would expect from a standard 12 gauge shotgun with the amazing feature of having two independent magazine tubes that the shooter can feed from with the use of a selector switch. This means that you can load one tube up with my recommended #1 buck and a second with rifled slugs. Should buckshot fail to stop the threat or you find that you suddenly need increased penetration for some reason, a simple flick of a switch provides you with instant access to a devastating round with double the penetration.

At 26.1 inches, this pump-action shotgun has a capacity of 6+6+1 or 7+7+1 depending on the length of the ammo that you pick. It features a pistol grip, downward ejection, and Picatinny rails both above and below the barrel for mounting of your accessories and optics. There are multiple other variants offered by Kel-Tec, but this is the best all around home defense option of the bunch in my opinion. You get all of this for an MSRP that’s still under $1,000, and you can find them typically between $500-$750 when they’re in stock. The biggest negative for this model is actually finding one.

Rock Island Armory Meriva 12ga

Here’s our budget offering on this list. Rock Island is a quality gun manufacturer, and this is a solid 12 gauge shotgun for less than $150. If you’re on a tight budget, you absolutely will not do any better than this gun right here. You will sacrifice in the length department as this 18.5 inch barrel is the same as the KSG, but it is mounted on a platform with a 40.15 inch total length. While it doesn’t come with a pistol grip, you can swap out the stock to add one without major expense. Three-inch shells will give you a 5+1 capacity here.

There’s nothing to write home about with the Meriva. It’s effectively an 870 Express clone with a synthetic stock but for a fraction of the price. Honestly, the price point is huge. I own shoes that cost more than this shotgun.

Mossberg 500 Tactical

This next gun is not a small one either. The Mossberg 500 Tactical measures a lengthy 41 inches, but when compared with the Meriva, the same length gets you a 20 inch barrel and an 8+1 capacity. Seven pounds in weight is not bad given the size, and this is possible due to the synthetic stock and integrated pistol grip. It comes stock with a ghost ring rear sight which is a good deal better than most of the other stock sights on this list.

Mossberg is another veteran shotgun manufacturer with a track record of proven reliability. Price points between $300 and $450 for this gun leave some room for additions. If you’re looking at other Mossberg 500 and 590 platforms, they also offer a Flex TLS system which allows tool free swapping of multiple barrels, accessories, stocks, grips, and recoil pads.

Benelli M4 H20 Tactical

The Benelli M4 H20 Tactical is the only semi automatic shotgun to make the cut, and that is more due to the reliability of pump actions suffering from minimal use and possibly poor storage conditions. Gas-operated and piston-driven, the semi-auto function of this shotgun is a dream to shoot. It comes equipped with a ghost ring rear sight and also offers three dot tritium inserts as a factory option. A barrel choke also comes standard along with a pistol grip and sling attachments.

An overall length of 41 inches holds an 18.5 inch barrel, and a Picatinny top rail comes standard. This shotgun has a 5+1 capacity and weighs 7.8 pounds unloaded. A Titanium Ceracote finish adds some corrosion resistance and also gives a unique look to this gun. The most expensive entry we have will run you nearly $2,000 without any customization or accessories.

Best Shotgun for Home Security

Kel-Tec KSG

If I didn’t make it clear before, I’m an unabashed fanboy for the Kel-Tec KSG. Staying middle of the road price wise, this shotgun gives you so much in such a small package. While still measuring just over two feet, it’s a shouldered weapon, so you have added stability and better accuracy on top of the best ammunition capacity on the list. It’s also the only truly ambidextrous option here as the downward ejection makes no difference to right or left handed shooters.

Even without those perks, the ability to carry and instantly select between two separate types of ammo if you so desire would seal the deal for me anyway. If you choose to load both tubes with the same ammo, you can complete the world’s fastest reload just by flicking a switch.

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