We have done a few articles on shotguns and even more on shotgun-related topics like ammo selection, staging conditions, and on and on. In a world of AR-15s, shotguns still hold a special place for some of us (read: me). I was asked what would be my top picks for home defense shotguns. Since there are plenty of really good shotguns at the higher end of the market, and this list would go way past 10, I decided to put parameters on it. I imposed a cutoff at $1,000, which covers most of the shotgun market but does leave some of the rock stars off the list. Maybe there will be another list later 😉 So these are what I think are the 8 best defensive shotguns under $1,000.
Mossberg Maverick (Model #31046)
We have reviewed this shotgun before. As far as value for the dollar, it would be really hard to beat. It is a no-frills, just-enough-to-get-it-done kind of shotgun, and it won’t break the bank. Retailing in that $200-$250 range, if I am on a budget, this is where I am going. Toss a few upgrades at it, and it can be a really great shotgun for not a lot of money.
Remington Arms 870 Tactical Magpul (Model #R81192)
The 870 has been brought back to life by the new Remington Arms. Word on the street is these new 870s are improved over their Freedom Group predecessors. The 870 Express Tactical Magpul addresses some of the typical issues with shotguns by coming with a Magpul SGA stock and a Magpul forend already installed. Out of the box, you get an adjustable length of pull (which is important) and the ability to mount a light. The only real downsides here are the bead sight and that it uses the 6-round magazine tube. Since that is a non-standard tube length for the 870, it means aftermarket barrel options aren’t really there. These retail for around $500.
Mossberg 590S (Model #51602)
While Remington was going through bankruptcy and being sold off piecemeal to various buyers, Mossberg was stepping their game up. Part of that was reorganizing their product line, and the other part coming out with the “S” series of 590s. These are shotguns specifically designed to shoot the short shotgun shells at 1.75” all the way up to 3” shells. To this point, end-users had to rely on adapters to be able to sort of reliably cycle the mini shells. Now there is an out-of-the-box solution. Just a bonus that it already has decent sights, an MLOK-compatible forend, and the ability to run chokes to get every bit of performance possible from the otherwise pretty basic shorty shells.
Mossberg 590a1 (Model #51773)
What list of shotguns would be complete without a 590a1? The a1 is the real powerhouse of Mossberg’s pump gun line. It has that extra little sprinkle of pixie dust. This one runs XS ghost rings and Magpul furniture front and back. That means adjustable LOP and the ability to mount accessories right out of the box. Mossberg’s a1 shotguns have been pulling in pretty high money the last few years, but we are finally seeing those prices start to come back down if you look hard enough. If I wanted a current production pump gun, the a1 would be top of the list. They can just be a little difficult to find for not outrageous money.
Remington Arms 870 Tactical (Model #R81198)
Wait, didn’t we already do this one? Not quite. This version of the “tactical” 870 uses a factory 4-round tube with an extension, better sights, and choke tubes. We lose the Magpul furniture, which is unfortunate but can be dealt with. It is easier to replace a stock and forend than it is to add good sights and choke tubes. This is the version of the 870 that I would be looking for if I just had to have an 870. It checks all of the right boxes. They run around $600, which isn’t that bad in today’s market.
Stoeger M3000 Freedom Series (Model #31890FS)
Budget-friendly semiauto shotguns that are reliable, durable, have good aftermarket support, and have a good feature set for the intended purpose are tough to find. This is the one that has all the right things and that I would be willing to bet on. Because of its fairly extensive use in 3-gun, there is a literal boatload of spare parts and upgrades available for this gun. Arguably, it has better parts support than any of the 870s right now. It also tends to be fairly reliable as far as inertia guns go. For the price, I think it is hard to beat. Generally, around $600 and under, but it can be tough to find.
Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical (Model #85152)
Coming in just under our price cutoff is Mossberg’s latest version of the 940 Pro, the Tactical. The Mossberg 930 didn’t have the greatest reputation in the defensive shotgun training world. Plagued by hit-and-miss reliability. The 940 Pro is the shotgun that evolved to fix the 930’s problems, and allegedly it has. Bonus points, it comes from the factory milled to accept a mini red dot and with an adjustable length of pull. Even though MSRP is over $1k, street price brings the gun home for $850-$900 when you can find them in stock. Probably one of the best semiautos under a grand out there right now.
Mossberg 590 20 Gauge (Model #50699)
While 20 Gauge isn’t my favorite answer for the shotgun, I understand there are people out there who like the yellow shotgun shells the most. There are not many 20 gauge guns purpose-built as defensive shotguns. This is undoubtedly one of the most well-rounded options. It has good sights, decent capacity, easy-to-service key components, and a manageable length of pull. There isn’t much wrong here, except that it is in 20 gauge. These retail for around $400. This is a lot of shotgun for what is really not a lot of money.
There you have it. Our list of 8 best defensive shotguns under a grand. I would be happy with any of the guns on this list. They are all rock-solid performers and will serve almost anyone quite well. As you might have noticed, it is dominated by two manufacturers. We might call that a clue.
If you have guns you would put on this list, be sure to hit the comments with your suggestions.