How to Build a Powerhouse Shotgun on a Budget

How to Build a Powerhouse Shotgun on a Budget

What if I told you that another $100 or so could turn that beater of a shotgun into a home defense workhorse? Any shotgun. Would you believe me? Let me walk you through this.

The Stock

The first thing to address is stock length. Most shotguns come from the factory with a 14” length of pull (LOP), which quite honestly is almost always too long. If in doubt, shorter is better in this case.

On a wood-stocked gun, this is nearly a free upgrade if your woodworking skills are up to the task. It is pretty straightforward to trim an inch or so off a wood stock with a good handsaw. Slap on a grind to fit Hogue butt pad, breakout the Dremel, or a set of files, and use some elbow grease to get it to the right shape. Done for the price of the butt pad.

Other stock options are the Hogue 12” LOP stock, or the Magpul SGA. Pro-tip though, these aren’t available for every shotgun. Keep that in mind when picking out that beater gun. Aftermarket support matters if you want to optimize the gun.

See It Better

Most cheaper shotguns come with small bead sights that are hard to see. Especially in less than ideal lighting conditions, and when in a hurry. There are a few approaches that we can take here to get an easier-to-see sight.

Marble Arms makes several options that range from $15 for a non-illuminated bead to $35-ish for a tritium sight. These are meant to replace existing beads and screw into the same hole, so you have to know what thread pattern your existing bead is. These also have to be “timed” to the gun. It is easier said than done. Trust me.

The next option is the XS Big Dot. XS makes a sight that is epoxied over the existing bead. It is available for both vent rib guns and beads mounted directly on the barrel. While it is probably the easiest option to install, it is also the most expensive at around $75.00.

Put Ammo On It

To finish rounding this thing out, we need a side saddle. The rule of thumb is that shotguns are brought to the party with the ammunition in them and on them. It is rare that the user will have spare ammo on their person. While shotguns tend to be a conclusive solution when well employed, a little extra just in case is never a bad idea.

The old school standard for side saddles is the TacStar. While it isn’t a perfect solution, it has been around forever and is serviceable. You just have to find one available for your gun. This goes back to making sure to buy a shotgun with good aftermarket support.

Being the cheapskate that I am, I usually roll a strip of heavy-duty adhesive velcro and a $20 Vang Comp Systems shell card. The Vang shell card is the most robust velcro and elastic-based carrier I am aware of. This method is also universal, it will go on any shotgun, and for cheap too.

The Cost

With a little shopping and the correct combination of parts, $100 will get you one heck of a shotgun. Next, get some ammo and good training. 

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Nate spends his days trying to find ways to afford more ammo. Nate is a performance driven shooter with over 400 hours of formal firearms instruction, dabbles in local handgun matches, and teaches the occasional shotgun class.
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Taking apart the trigger and soothing things up a bit could be added to the list.