This is an article that gives an overview of the best tactical shotguns currently available on the market. How we choose those tactical shotguns is defined here. We took a look at this from the most simplistic angles.
At its baseline the idea of “tactical” firearms has to do mostly with consistent performance that never leaves the user unable to make a decision that would secure their safety and defensive protection.
That speaks directly to the consistency and reliability and durability of a shotgun. More finitely, it also includes things like basic accuracy and basic user friendliness too, though it could be argued that many modern takes on a tactical weapon system has unnecessarily complicated the base use of a firearm.
Secondarily, we believe that tactical superiority can also be achieved by allowing the user to customize the interaction, and given the proper training and experience, these add-ons could allow a user to be more tactical in their approach and achieve a level of superiority over a given aggressor.
Instead of relying only on consistency and reliability to ensure a shot can be fired to mitigate a threat, the user can also rely on specialty equipment and concepts that allow additional functionality that may put distance between them and the target, or offer faster shots, more accurate shots etc.
It is these two concepts regarding how a gun might be configured tactically, that we will use as a guideline for choosing the best tactical shotgun in this article.
With thousands of available models and plenty of opinions, it will go without saying, some of you are not going to see your favorite tactical shotgun on the list. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We have several guns we feel could have easily been included on this list that just barely missed being considered a top tier option for us.
The author’s favorite tactical shotgun is mentioned only briefly, and did not make the list because it’s a perfect fit for the author, not necessarily the general shooting population reading this.
Sometimes it’s because the price was too high for a mainstream user; sometimes the gun was amazingly innovative but ultimately unproven; sometimes it was a simple technicality that kept the gun off of this list. Whatever it was, we feel confident that the below included shotguns are a very good representation of what is available and at the upper tier of the market available tactical shotguns.
Ultimately, it’s important to understand that it’s the concepts that make a tactical shotgun, not necessarily a brand name or a model number. We want to deep dive into the best options through the lens of different shotguns and how they achieve tactical superiority, and that should help you understand our choices and the way we lay out the overviews of each of these excellent tactical shotguns.
The Best Tactical Shotguns on the Market
Remington – 870 Express
No list of the best shotguns, regardless of the slant to the article would be complete without a mention of the proven reliable, durable, and classic Remington 870 pump action shotgun.
It’s the obvious choice for a majority of users who need a tactical shot gun. Referencing the brief concepts touched upon in the article introduction, this takes on the concept of reliability and functionality when it comes to the use of the word “tactical”. The ultimate tactical superiority is reliability and consistency.
The Remington 870 pump shotgun is probably the gun that best represents this concept over time.
Notice we said “gun” and not specifically “shotgun”. A bold statement obviously, but with the Remington 870, this is not a huge stretch either.
You can shoot any game on the American continent within reason with some form of 12 gauge ammunition. You can defend a home better with a shotgun than with any pistol; and arguably better than most rifles or carbines. The pump action can digest or reliably fix any malfunction caused by different loads, and the lethality of a 12 gauge is beyond question.
A 12 gauge shotgun, and specifically a higher capacity pump action makes a lot of sense for a lot of scenarios.
For this list, we tried to be even more austere: we picked a substantially basic version of the Remington 870. It can hold its own with just about all the others on this list too, even though it’s a basic, 7 round blued shotgun with no frills and costs just over $400 USD.
This is a testament to the 870’s history of reliability and durability. It’s the gun you pick if you can only have a single one. It will digest any ammunition; can shoot a 3″ magnum shell and has an 18″ barrel which makes it perfect for home defense and duty use. The 7 round capacity (6+1) is more than enough with a trained shooter for most scenarios.
The ability to customize the gun and the lower price point means you can make this gun yours very easily. For the money it delivers easily the most value thanks to it’s proven performance and basic features.
- Simple, robust and intuitive
- Reliable, durable, consistent
- Good capacity and excellent value for money
- It’s still a very basic gun, so you may require some additional accessorizing or modification
This is best for
The new shooter who needs a do-it-all gun. The defensive user that needs reliable, consistent performance. The tactical power user that wants a blank canvas with which to build the ultimate tactical shotgun.
Kalashnikov USA – KS-12T
All-in from a “features” perspective, the AK shotgun variant offers more than just about any other tactically oriented shotgun on the market. But that’s not the full story, or even the most relevant part of the story.
This is an AK. It’s not proven on the battlefield like the 7.62×39 or the 5.45x39m sure. But it is an AK.
It’s a substantially similar build. A substantially similar gas system. It’s made on the same machinery; from the same materials. It is a historically proven entity in the gun world. Furthermore, this specific variant HAS BEEN proven for more than 10 years as a tactical shotgun option.
The most important part of the story is that it has legendary reliability and durability, high capacity, excellent consistency and very good fundamental handling.
Now the rest of the story:
You are getting throughput like you cannot get on any shotgun anywhere else, drum fed included. The cost of magazines and the ability to access magazines means you can continuously load this gun out for hundreds of rounds. You’ll melt your barrel before you run out of the ability to reload your gun with even a basic amount of planning.
The 18.25 inch barrel gives decent accuracy, but easy mobility too. The overall length is exceptionally short too. It’s perfect for moving in a CQB (close quarters battle) type scenario. Yes, it’s just under 9 lbs. so it’s not exceptionally light, especially with ten rounds hanging below it in a magazine, but it’s well balanced.
The gas system is capable of handling a wide range of loads, and while it might not be as perfect in split second scenarios as a pump shotgun, it’s pretty solid. AK’s have a history of being able to handle everything. This gun doesn’t suffer a lot in that department.
It can be easily accessorized and has a broad aftermarket offering.
- Easy to maintain and easy to understand
- Can fire just about any load reliably
- Super durable – among the most durable shotguns on the market
- High capacity and high throughout – faster reloads
- No Real CONS
This is best for
An already existing AK user – as the features and controls will be very familiar. Hardcore tactical users that anticipate the need for a lot of lead going downrange.
Mossberg – Jerry Miculek Pro Series 930
This is a fast shooting, competition specific shotgun that can double as a high capacity, rapid fire tactical shotgun, provided you don’t need to be in super close quarters (though admittedly, the 42.5″ OAL is not that bad).
The main feature is the semi-automatic operation and the high capacity (9+1 rounds). The gun swings light, and balances much better than the front heavy looks would indicate.
A 22 inch barrel is optimum for longer range shots and allows some distance between the user and the target. The combination of this barrel length and the under 43″ overall length, makes this a very good option for those who want the extra accuracy past 35-45 yards that can be gained with the extra barrel length over most tactical type shotguns and their shorter barrel lengths.
Exceptional sights including a front fiber optic atop a vent rib and a longer sight plane helps improve overall accuracy and distance of shot patterning. The comfortable balance, despite the barrel being quite long, thanks to the aluminum receiver means you can get on target very quickly, and with the semi-auto and the optimization’s made by Mossberg, this is a quick shooting shotgun.
There are ample aftermarket options to enhance the user experience and the gun is very robust, especially considering it weighs under 8 lbs. and has an aluminum frame/receiver build.
- A proven performer in the competition circuit
- Fast and well-balanced
- High capacity
- Pretty good feeding and variable load capabilities
- A semi-auto shotgun, even the best will have some adjustment period, or manual adjustments needed for multi-variate loadouts of different shells
This is best for
Fast shooters, who understand how to gauge threats and need the extra range and accuracy of a longer barrel. Shooters who want maximum capacity and very good performance from a semi-auto.
IWI US – Tavor TS12
Thirteen rounds of magnum shells or sixteen rounds of 2 ¾” shells. This is a massive capacity with unbelievable control and unprecedented overall length (only a little over 28 inches).
From the perspective of first shot readiness, this is perhaps the most qualified tactical shotgun. It carries on-board, more firepower than just about any firearm in existence by volume of lead.
It is going to take a backseat to some shotguns after the initial load because it functions with magazine tubes rather than with a detachable magazine, but from a first shot perspective the capacity is incredible.
The short overall length makes it amazing in small areas or for transport, despite its nearly 9 lbs. weight. The 18.5 inch barrel adds a layer of accuracy and control that other shotguns cannot match considering the overall package size.
MLOK compatible rails and a ton of sling attachment points help to make this a power packed, small and easily maneuvered shotgun with the capability of taking all of the tactical accessories you might desire.
The auto load changeover from different magazine tubes (there are three magazine tubes) makes it much easier to remain in the fight.
The ability to mate Benelli/Beretta choke tubes enhances accuracy and gives you unique ability to custom tailor rounds to the expected battlefield.
- Bullpup design is perfect for shotguns
- Incredibly high capacity in three magazine tubes, despite short overall length
- A compact heavy package helps to mitigate recoil a bit, especially for those using with a sling
- A ton of mounting points for accessories and add-ons
- Ambidextrous concept
- Very heavy when loaded and built out with add-ons
- Great capacity, but not as easy to reload as others on this list – you may never have the problem of reloading with this much capacity though
This is best for
Those who want traditional design features with a modern approach. Existing TAVOR (rifle/carbine) users who prefer the function set and control group placements. Users who want the shortest possible tactical shotgun, with the largest possible capacity.
This is an innovative tactical shotgun, even if it’s several years into its market debut. It still offers something a lot of other shotguns cannot. The design has been copied by other power players in the industry, including by IWI, in the above listed shotgun.
The innovation is that there is a dual tube fed magazine to offer 15 total rounds of shotgun loads. The overall length of the gun, considering it has an 18.5 inch barrel, this OAL is a miniscule 26.1 inches long.
A pump shotgun with a compact size and a balanced load carrying capability that has now been proven for the better part of a decade and, despite being a bit finnicky has been a good solid purchase for most users. This is the KelTec KSG.
The rails and stock configuration lend to the more tactical slant of the shotgun and the ability to mount additional accessories makes this a potentially very feature heavy shotgun.
One of the best parts of this shotgun build is the easy opening and maintenance of the concept which allows field stripping with two simple pin pushes.
It’s not the most durable gun on this list, but it can take a beating, too.
- Pump allows a lot of leniency in load selection
- High capacity
- Good build durability for the most part
- Very compact design
- Not as well made as some of the competitors from a fit and finish perspective
This is best for
Shooters who understand Kel-Tec, and realize that they are making truly innovative guns, even if they are risking customer satisfaction by being first to market. Shooter who want the absolute smallest footprint possible combined with very high capacity. Shooters who need easily transported concealable package transport.
Since 1999, this has been the official duty shotgun of the U.S. military. That statement alone is enough for many readers to want to own one, but that is probably the least interesting part of the story for the Benelli M1014. While the author probably would prefer to have a Benelli M3, instead of this shotgun, it’s important to note that the M1014 has more mainstream appeal and a mor market centric approach.
We highly recommend the Benelli M3 [[LINK HERE]], but recognize it has a more specific audience than the general shooting public. It is a standalone value in its own right and could easily challenge for a spot on this tactical shotgun list.
Back to the M1014 – the gun is made to be an all in one solution for door breaching and up-close conflict. The adjustable stock, ghost ring sights and quick firing semi-auto build denotes this. The rail offers a quick heads up display with most modern optics and allows fast target acquisition and easy two-eyes-open usage of the gun.
The gun is tuned to operate on a wide variety of load types, and while it’s not as versatile as a pump shotgun, it is much faster, and the gas system can accommodate the different loads you desire to shot with it, with some basic adjustment.
The overall build it a combination of aluminum and steel, with a semi-skeletonized stock. The aluminum minimizes overall weight, but the felt recoil is not annoying as a result. The internal components features selective chrome plating to increase internal smoothness and enhance durability on high-impact parts.
The Benelli is a special shotgun, and offers a lot of value for the money, despite being a significant purchase because of the price point. It is however delivering on all of the marketing promises, and has been proven in the hands of everyday soldiers and special operations units all over the world.
- Fit and finish is next level
- Lightweight but very durable considering the aluminum receiver
- Fast shooting; good overall handling
- Quick sight acquisition
- Expensive relative to some options
This is best for
The shooter who wants what the military is using. The shooter who wants the most reliable semi-auto shotgun without sacrificing the ability to shoot multiple loads in the same magazine.
Mossberg – 590A1 Tactical
Very similar to the Remington 870, the Mossberg 590A1 is a mil spec build that many fans of the platform tout over the Remington. While we aren’t here taking sides, it’s important to note that we recognize this shotgun’s durability is spectacular.
The shotgun passes the statue of MilSpec *3443E. It’s claimed to be the only shotgun to do so that functions as a pump gun.
The story with the 590 is that it’s a durable, feeds anything, moderately priced gun with ghost ring sights and a strong reputation for lasting a long time. 7 rounds of 12 gauge and weatherproof, with the parkerized finish.
It’s not a hard decision. If you want excellent functionality with supreme toughness and otherwise just need basic features, this is the option. Period.
- Meant to do work
- Easy to purchase and customize
- Simple; and feeds anything
- No real CONS
This is best for
Hunters who are also on the hunt for a duty or tactical shotgun.
It’s a simple equation: a stock helps with control. A shotgun helps with stopping power. Most shotgun loads are able to mitigate secondary hits, which means they are safer for most conditions. This is particularly true for home defense CQB type scenarios.
And let’s be honest, not matter who you are, the likelihood of you using a tactical shotgun setup outside of your home or outside of a defensive scenario is exceptionally low. This is even true for many law enforcement and duty professionals.
Plainly: the idea of a tactical shotgun is sound; it offers great options, good control, smart ballistic considerations on both sides of the equation, and it gives you a peace of mind.
This is particularly true of the guns on this list because they offer many more tactical advantages by virtue of their design and engineering. Which one you choose is up to you.
What is common between all of these guns is that they are all best in class examples that highlight their specific strengths. That means if you get one of these you can rest assured you are shooting one of the best tactical shotguns on the market.