A Pump Shotgun For Home Defense; Is It The Right Choice For You?

A Pump Shotgun For Home Defense; Is It The Right Choice For You?

There is a constant debate as to which type of firearm would make the best choice for home defense. I have friends that believe their AR-15 is all that they need to effectively protect their homes. Others feel that their handgun is far superior to other firearm choices. Then there are those that feel that when it comes to home defense, nothing comes close to the 12 gauge pump shotgun. Then there's also the semi-automatic shotguns.

Pump Shotgun For Home Defense

-This post was originally published on Gun Carrier and has been shared with permission-

In all fairness, I am a fan of all models. As a matter of fact, I integrate all three categories into my home defense plan. But for the purpose of this article, I will be discussing the characteristics of the pump shotgun and its value for home defense.

I am often asked what I feel that the best firearm for home defense is. I have the same answer every time…

The one that you and your family train with the most!

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Keep in mind that as you put your home defensive plan together, you need to take into account the other people that share your home. Where and how you stage your firearms will play a big role in how effectively you can deploy those firearms when SHTF. If your primary firearm choice is your AR-15, but you are the only one in your household that can utilize that rifle in a self-defense situation, then you need to reevaluate your choice. You can also have a tactical shotgun stored in your house but if no one else in your family can use it, it's almost useless. Same holds true for any other weapon or firearm that makes up part of your home defense plan.

Effective home defense strategy needs to incorporate every member of your household. An emergency may occur while you are away and your family will need to fend for themselves. You need to ensure that your family is not only aware of your plan, but can also put it into action. This requires practice with your family and lots of it.

If things are not going well for you and your family while training, what do you think will happen when things go south during an actual emergency situation?

Teach your family the basics of self-defense using a gun or any other weapon. At the very least, orient them on the parts of a shotgun and the functions. Teach them about the stock, action, barrel, pistol grip, ejection port, pistol grip and all other essentials. Take them to a shooting range and train them how to point to a target and take a shot.

Regardless of your choice of a home defense firearm or weapon, you need to practice your marksmanship. Range time is imperative but you need to practice more than just killing paper. In a home defense scenario, there are countless uncertainties. You will be sweating, have trouble breathing, your heart will be beating through your chest… And those are just a few of the scenarios that are tough to replicate at a standard gun range.

Run through various real-world scenarios with your family and try and replicate as many foreseeable situations as you can conjure up. The more detail that you cover in training, the better you will bode when things get real.

I would like to share with you a few reasons why I feel that the shotgun is a valid choice for home defense.

Versatility Of Ammunition:

Versatility Of Ammunition | A Pump Shotgun For Home Defense; Is It The Right Choice For You?

You would be hard-pressed to find a firearm with as much versatility in ammunition as a shotgun. There are shotgun shells containing:

  • Bird Shot
  • Slugs
  • Signaling
  • 00 Buck
  • Bean Bags
  • Rock Salt
  • And many others…

It is simple to integrate a pump shotgun into a home defense plan because of the versatility in ammunition choices. There are ammo options available that produce less recoil than standard shells. This makes it much more manageable for the smaller and/or less experienced members of your household.

Before we delve further, we need to address an aspect that many overlook during these types of discussions; the use of lethal force. We often hear, “if someone were to walk into my home, I would light them up in a heartbeat with some OO Buck.” I can understand that reasoning because of the simple fact that we want to protect our family.

How DARE someone walk into our “castle” with the intention of harming our loved ones!

But what happens when it’s your family member that has to squeeze the trigger on someone that just broke into your home?

  • Is your family member prepared to deal with the fact that they just took someone’s life?
  • What if the person “breaking-in” was just the neighbor's kid doing stupid shit that kids do on a dare?
  • How will you fare during a trial with your local & State gun laws?

These scenarios need to be addressed as part of your home defense plan.

These are tough questions that I have trouble answering for myself. That is why we need to prepare for these concerns now. If we do… It will be much easier to account for our actions later. Luckily, with the versatility of ammunition choices for the shotgun, we can address some of these issues ahead of time. You need to make decisions as to what is best for you and your family members. From there… Just stick with your plan.


A pump shotgun is very forgiving when it comes to aiming. This is a valid attribute especially when we take family members into account. We mentioned earlier that practice is imperative when it comes to your home defense plan. However, if your family members are not as excited about going to the range as often as you deem necessary, chances are their marksmanship leaves much to be desired.

In an emergency, sight alignment and sight picture will be less than optimal. The fact that you can practically point the shotgun at the assailant and take them out of commission, without focussing too much on the sights, makes it ideal for a lesser seasoned shooter. This is where ammunition choices play a key role.

Once again, this is not a substitute for proper marksmanship training but it is a benefit that we need to take into account; especially when other family members are involved.

Can Affix A Blade:

I can already feel a few chuckles coming from this topic. Some may even say that I watch too many Walking Dead episodes. 😉 But I’m not addressing zombie’s here… I am adding much-needed options to a scenario where versatility is not a luxury. Being able to affix a blade or bayonet to your shotgun can be the difference between life and death.

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As a U.S. Marine, I have plenty of training in deploying a bayonet. The bayonet was part of my standard issue and we practiced with it and practiced often. The bayonet was utilized with my M16 but for all intents and purposes, the maneuvers are similar regardless of the long gun that it is affixed to. Once again, the takeaway point here is training. With my training, I gained confidence. I saw and felt the effectiveness of what an affixed bayonet can accomplish.

Once I left active duty, I bought myself an M9 bayonet to continue to practice and refine the skills that i had learned as a Marine. I train with a bayonet during my close quarter training sessions. But this time, my M9 bayonet is affixed my my shotgun instead of my rifle.
The 4 things that I gain from attaching a bayonet to my shotgun are:

  1. Able to utilize my firearm effectively even if I run out of ammo
  2. Can keep the would-be attacker at a distance, buying time
  3. I can take the attacker out of commission without firing a shot
  4. Can still provide defense even if my firearm jams.

Fits Into Most Budgets:

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Let’s face it… Quality firearms are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Many of us have far superseded our budgets by customizing our AR’s and buying that latest piece of art in the form of a handgun. But when it comes to pump shotguns, you can address your self-defense needs without emptying your bank account.


We can add a very good pump shotgun, made by the reputable companies such as Remington & Mossberg for much less than your average handgun. This will be a bare-bones shotgun but for the purposes of home defense, you really wouldn’t need more than that. The only other option that I would suggest that you invest in, for both you and your family, is training.

Laws & Regulation:

Keep in mind that I live in the “Republic of New Jersey.” The laws are so confusing in this State that even when I pose questions to NJ lawyers… They are, at times, at a loss for an accurate response. To be honest, I feel that these laws are convoluted by design. N.J. is not the only culprit, there are certainly others. If you reside in these States, you need to be on top of the liabilities that you incur just by possessing standard components of your firearm.

Magazine capacities seem to change with each passing Governor here in NJ. Having an adjustable stock on my AR-15 makes it illegal. Let’s not forget that it is legal to own hollow point bullets for my handgun but getting caught in possession of hollow-point ammo outside my home is a felony.

Hold on… WHAT?! How do I get the cartridges home?

So knowing that the powers that be are always going after us, law-abiding gun owners, makes this game a bit trickier than most. What may be fine today could become illegal tomorrow. But from my experience with shotguns, they pretty much get left alone by most legislation.

So all the time, effort and money devoted to your home defense will continue to serve you well. Whereas when it comes to “assault” rifles or handguns, we may be the ones arrested and brought to trial just for the mere fact that we were defending our homes with a firearm. I know, I know… I need to get the hell out of NJ!

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Bottom Line:

There are many more reasons why a pump shotgun may be a great choice for your home protection. Luckily, we still have our 2nd amendment rights that enable us to have a variety of choices when it comes to home defense.

What I wanted to do with this article is to offer some valid reasons for integrating a pump shotgun into your home defense plan. There is never one-size-fits-all when it comes to an ideal firearm choice regardless of it’s intended primary use. The debate will last a lifetime and rightfully so; it keeps us thinking and experimenting!

The right to protect our homes and loved ones can never be infringed upon. Stand up for you and even more importantly, do whatever it takes to keep your family safe.

After all, if not you… then who?

Pump Shotgun | A Pump Shotgun For Home Defense; Is It The Right Choice For You?

Up Next: 5 Tactical Tips To Maneuver Like An Elite Operator

What do you think of the Pump Shotgun for home defense? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Editor's Note: This post was first published in April 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

38 Responses to :
A Pump Shotgun For Home Defense; Is It The Right Choice For You?

  1. Coach Helder says:

    What is your preferred firearm for home defense?

    1. Bill Butler says:

      Ruger Security Six .357, loaded w/ Snake Shot (won’t go thru wall taking out kids or guests, also squeamish family members more likely to use it if needed while I might not be there), w/ a speed loader w/ 125 gr. hollow points. Practice w/ .38 wadcutters. Keep a small flashlight, cellphone, and whistle by the gun. Snake shot is also more forgiving to the user, and the used-on if fired by the ‘squeamish’. Heck, the roar & flash will scare pretty well and alert help also.

      1. Coach Helder says:

        Good Info! Thank you for sharing, Bill.

    2. Art Northrup, Jr. says:

      Mossberg 500 “Persuader” (a/k/a “Tactical”) 12-gauge shotgun. 18″ barrel, 8-round magazine. I replaced the pistol grip with an adjustable “tactical” shoulder stock to get back on target faster if a follow-up shot is necessary. I don’t care how strong you are — with the pistol grip the recoil WILL kick the gun up & back! And it will take a couple seconds for you to re-aim.

      Note that the 870 Remington pump shotgun has been used by the military because it’s so good, but the Marine Corps ordered a large number of Mossberg 500’s too. I bought 2 Mossberg 500’s because they are much less expensive & absolutely dependable.

      Years ago I had a Browning “Auto-5” recoil-operated auto shotgun I should have never sold. The Remington Model 11 is a copy of the original Belgian-made Browning, felt recoil is MUCH less than pump or gas-operated shotguns & if you have an older Browning Auto-5, keep it! A teenager or a smaller woman can learn to use it.

      Some say an auto shotgun is faster than a pump, but someone familiar with their pump shotgun can shoot almost as fast & the difference so little that it’s irrelevant. And as stated, what you’re familiar with is best. Even so, I have a very good pistol & two excellent military style rifles I’m quite familiar with, but the Mossberg 500 “Persuader” is my #1 choice for home defense.

      My other Mossberg is a “Mariner” with a 26″ rifled slug barrel — NOT designed for home / family protection. However, it would be just the ticket if an attacker is wearing body armor — a lead slug won’t go thru a bulletproof vest, but the impact of a slug to the center or upper torso of a man wearing a vest would break ribs & knock him out of action.

      And what I haven’t seen mentioned is the “deterrent factor” — a criminal staring down the barrel of a 12-gauge shotgun is very likely to run away. If you’re pointing a pistol or a rifle @ him in a small space like your kitchen he might think he can shoot or knife you & that you’ll miss — but everyone is afraid of a shotgun.

      1. DEFENDER says:

        “..but everyone is afraid of a shotgun.”
        Don’t “count on it”.
        Not everyone – some high on dope will not be affected by the sight of any gun.

        1. Anonymous says:

          That is exactly when you want a shot gun loaded w/ 00 buck.

          1. DEFENDER says:

            Agree, but you don’t want to rack it 1st, with no affect and be down 1 round.

    3. DEFENDER says:

      Strong believer in Tac lights – you don’t want to shoot
      the wife, neighbor, the dog, the old uncle who cant
      remember where he lives and is trying to get in, the
      dumb neighbor kid.

      I am 70 and my wife is 73 and she cannot rack a pistol
      nor shoot a shotgun.

      I bought her 2 S&W 38 snubs and a tac light to ID a threat.
      And taught her how to move/cover “tactically”.

      “I” shoot competition combat pistol and rifle every week so I can use
      most anything.
      My Bed gun is 9mm pistol with mounted light.

      House Back-up AR w/mounted light, tritium irons, red dot,
      hidden in Bath Room(Alamo)(Concrete walls).
      Trunk gun – AR w/Light, laser, combat scope.

    4. Ted St Amand says:

      I have 2 ,. 12ga. In my truck when towing the motor home and 20ga for in the Motor home. The first round in each is Double 0 buck follow up are slugs.

  2. Matt Rogers says:

    For me, the reason for having a pump 12-Guage for home defense is simple. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, says “You picked the wrong house, you should leave NOW” like the sound of racking a shotgun. There is no language barrier, and there is no mistaking that sound. If you’re still here after that, it’s on you what happens next.

    1. Coach Helder says:

      You have a good point there, Matt.
      Thank you for taking the time to share your opinion with us!

      1. Steve says:

        I completely agree with Matt. The sound of racking my Mossberg 500 is a definite deterrent. I have my tac light attached and when on strobe will stun and shock an intruder.

    2. DEFENDER says:

      I am now against having to rack a gun.
      1 – Racking a shotgun leaves you 1 round short.
      2 – Some high on dope may not even realize it.

  3. bjeanfreau7 says:

    Why not all 3?

    1. Coach Helder says:

      The more, the better! 😉

  4. Fox Fire says:

    Semper Fi Mr. Helder!

    Your article is well done, however, I believe I can add some good info. ie, A 12 Gauge shotgun loaded with #4 buckshot is my preferred load. It will definitely do damage to the intended target, but it will not shoot through walls and hit the neighbors.

    As for cheap; I have a Mossberg model 88 Maverick and it is just as good as my Remington 870 Wingmaster, but only cost $250 new. I have an older one as well, which I bought used for $150. The new one I bought for its extended tube holding 7 rounds plus one in the chamber. Either one I would recommend if your life depends on your choice. Fortunately, I bought the 870 back in 79 for $150

    As for a bayonet, you gave good reason(s) for utilizing one.

    I agree with having all three firearms for home defense too.

    I carry my 1911A1 around the house and in my yard.

    I go by the old rule; a sidearm is what you use to get to your shotgun.

    A shotgun is what you use until they get 100 yards away.

    Then for longer shots I use a M1917 Edystone in 30-06.

    With the exception of my shotguns, the pistol and rifle served the Corps for nearly a century with full reliability. As you may have figured out by now, I too am a Marine. I’m 74 now so they pay me to stay away.

    1. David Moberg says:

      I like that rule. Never heard until now. Makes a lot sense. I live in town, so I can’t picture myself needing to shoot at something outside of the range of my 870, but I do have my 700 BDL in .243 set-up for varmint hunting. Perhaps I should consider keeping that loaded and handy, just in case.

  5. David Moberg says:

    After studying statistics of occupied home burglaries (when, how, where) I found that most happen at night, when residents are sleeping.

    If I’m awaken by the sound of breaking glass or am opening door, I want a firearm I can operate in the dark and a bit groggy. Give me the 12 loaded with 3″ magnum #00! I also keep this weapon in its standard form, with its wood stock and forearm and 26″ barrel. 99.9% of the time I use this weapon is when I’m hunting birds, so all of the muscle memory is there as far as pull, swing, trigger feel, kick and pump-action. And as stated above, the sound of a racking shotgun will usually make even the dumbest d**khead rethink his choices that evening.

    I keep my .357 (180g semi-jacketed hollow point) handy during normal hours when I can see everything and know exactly where that round is going.

    I carry a .380. Light, small and fast.

    I’ve heard many arguments in favor of an AR, but I remain unconvinced that this type of firearm is the “best” for home defence.

    1. Coach Helder says:

      Thank for the contribution David; Good Stuff!

  6. samw says:

    I keep a 44 spl to get to my Mossberg it has a smooth deer barrell. At in home distances shot doesn’t spread point of aim is critical. Somehwere I purchased some lead BB shells plenty for short distance three of them three #4 buck. When that is empty I will switch to AK.
    Also important to grasp concept of what you know before shooting is admissible in court. So understand home invasions, looting etc.

  7. Timothy Toroian says:

    I like 12 gauge but would rather have semi-auto. Can be used with one hand and is to teach to others. I know some argue reliability of pump but Benelli and others make very reliable semi-auto. But, if I can have that, then hell yes, a pump!! Ammo argument is excellent. All three would be better. I live in an apartment. Current large hand gun is 44. Mag. Dan Wesson with ported barrel and large grip, and both light and heavy shrouds. Very little recoil with port and heavy shroud. I’m a poor man so my long arm is a Garand that I bought in ’95 for $369.00. bought an extra stock for online for $20.00 which I converted into a pistol grip stock so it can be used with that or regular stock. Fun to shoot with pistol grip. Can be used with one hand if necessary. En bloc simplifies one-handed reloads.

  8. Mike Marquis says:

    Even with a shotgun, there is a different training requirement. With a long gun, retention is complicated by leverage with the long barrel that is not available to someone grabbing a short pistol barrel. A quick countermeasure is to shove the buttstock away so the muzzle stays on target as the trigger is pulled. A response that needs to be trained in to overcome the natural response to wrestle for it. Same with releasing it and using the unprotected strike spots because their hands are full. Since responses are how we’ve trained, training is still a good idea with shotguns. And I prefer #4 buck as well.

    1. wildbronco26 says:

      I have a Pump Shotgun, a Century Arms AK 47, a .45 ACP as well as a Bolt Action Rifle. In my years of experience as a MP in the Army, nothing wakes a home invader up as the unmistakable sound of a 12 Gauge Pump being loaded with round in the chamber. I taught classes to Dependent Wives back in the day, and I would have them all sitting facing front when I would come in the back door and rack the slide on a 12 gauge pump, even as a class the reaction said it all.

  9. Steve says:

    My wife struggled with my 12 gauge. So I bought here a .410 pump. About two weeks ago she heard something on our front porch. She confidently racked her .410. A woman screamed and a man yelled”GO GO”. Threat eliminated.

  10. CaptTurbo says:

    The shotgun is definitely the home defense system for me but you better aim it because at the likely close quarter distances you encounter in home invasion will not allow for much pattern spread. I have a Mossberg Mariner with the large mag tube loaded with #4 to greet the unwelcome guests. I’m kinda torn about using a light with it since I have US mil-spec Gen lll night vision and don’t really care to give my position away until they can smile and wait for the big flash.
    Hyper velocity rifles don’t make sense to me in urban or suburban home defense use because of the obvious long reach and over penetration even if the round strikes the bad guy.

  11. markrb says:

    The best one is whichever one you can get to first.

  12. Bobby Billy Black says:

    About an inch spread per yard. And those saying they’ll rack their shotty to frighten the intruder(s)… You’ve already done screwed up by going into a situation not even ready. Be like conceal carrying an unloaded pistol… Too much can go wrong trying to ready yourself in the moment of need. —- The bayonet option I like. Very good.

  13. irish7_1sg says:

    Although I own Modern Sporting Rifles, shotguns and multiple handguns, I like the Smith & Wesson Governor for home defense. The versatility of shot shells and large bullets works for me.

  14. Dave Aune says:

    I too am from the fascist State of New Jersey, and can’t stand living here. I am working on plans to get out soon. In the mean time, I agree with your suggestion of a shotgun for primary home defense firearm. I also have other choices available to me.

  15. sam says:

    Wild horses could not drag me to new jersey. come to Texas or Arizona

  16. Lawrence Jan says:

    How do I get and how much is the shotgun

  17. R Perez says:

    I keep a Mossberg 88 fully loaded, and with an attached light next to the night table. Shotty is chambered and loaded with 00 buck. Also, I keep an electronic set of ears that I wear with the receiver facing forward to pick up sound and movement in front of me when clearing the house. Old trick from sniper school that I still employ. Semper Fi!!

  18. Dennis Wenger says:

    Mossberg 500 ATP, 8 round mag tube bought in 1982 for $200, #4 Buck (more holes to leak from) Shockwave grip ($29 Amazon) cheap green laser ($39 Amazon). Now looking for a Magpul foregrip, and where can I find that M9 for my Bayonet lug?

  19. Lawrence says:

    If Christie didn’t or couldn’t change the gun laws in New Jersey, how can we expect this new governor who already stated he wants NJ to be a “sanctuary state” to do what is right to protect our 2nd amendment. He is another liberal progressive statist that doesn’t care about our rights as conservative God fearing Americans who love our great country, have served in the military, who know and understand our constitution, know the difference between right/wrong and are ready willing and able to defend ourselves, family and friends. God bless America.

  20. 33Charlemagne says:

    Two of my tactical shotguns take bayonets. My IAC 1897 takes the Model 1917 and Pattern 1913 Enfield bayonets. My Mossberg 590A1 will take either an M-7 or an M9 without modification. Despite being an Army vet I prefer the Marine Corps’ OKC 3s bayonet, which requires a spacer.

    My IAC 982 Hawk doesn’t mount a bayonet but a properly executed thrust with just the muzzle would could still be effective.

  21. Wendell Harlow says:

    I use an H & R Pardner Tactical 12 gauge pump as my main home defense weapon. Inexpensive 870 clone, built like a tank, and very dependable. 6 plus 1 capacity. I’ve got a 12 round sling attached.That’s 19 rounds of 00 buckshot, plus a sleeve on the buttstock with 6 more rifled slugs for distance work. I’ve got a light attached as well. I also added a fiber optic red front sight to replace the factory bead. Somebody infiltrates my perimeter and things are going to get nasty.
    And yeah, I’m an old former active duty Devil Dog as well. Semper Fidelis.

  22. Norm Carrillo says:

    I have a DP-12 for home protection.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Mostly good info. So, you’re going through the house ’cause the sheriff’s dept. is sorta busy and there’s a corner. Corner is to the left, you’re goin’ to go at it ready to shoot right handed. (it will expose less of your body.) Gun in low position. (It makes it harder to be grabbed and if someone does make a grab, it will be a contest them reaching down and your gun coming up -to their legs or crotch. Don’t go around that corner yet, go wide, you will see more of the room quicker and when you figure they have little space to hide, sneak a peek, DON”T leave your head stuck out. It has become a contest whether they can pull the trigger from a ready position or you can get your head back. If you think you’re going to get your gun up -you have just lost your life! (Deciding to withdraw your head before you stick it out- your brain is already programed, the perp must see you recognize a threat and squeeze the trigger.) II the corner is to the right, please, go at it left handed and expose less of your body. This is why you practice right and left hand shooting. What happens if somehow someone grabs your barrel? Step into them, locking your forearm hand tight and push with the hand on your pistol grip just as hard and fast as you can- the butt stock aimed at the side of their head. Doing this the first time I hit a friend in the jaw, we both thought I had broken his jaw and it was the result of him asking, what would you do if – – -? He grabbed and pulled-between his pull and my push- Devine intervention is the only thing that save his jaw.

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