It’s tough to measure the “best” in any category. But we’re going to try and give you the best shotgun options that have more recently become available. Shotguns are always hot items in this market. There are more imported and domestically produced models available now than at any other time in the 20 years I have attended the SHOT Show. Many of the new models technically aren’t “shotguns” at all, however, because they aren’t shoulder fired.
Instead, they use pistol grips like the Shockwave Raptor, which allows them to utilize shorter barrels. But we’ll also cover several standard shotguns as well as less traditional AR-style, AK-style and bullpup designs.
The Best Shotgun Options
So, if you’re in the market for a home-defense or truck gun, you’ve come to the right place. We put together a list of the best shotgun options available to make life easier for you. Our list ranges from standard pump to way more modern takes you might not be used to seeing.
Charles Daly Honcho Tactical Mag-Fed Pump
This new 12-gauge from Charles Daly uses a detachable five-round magazine. It runs via a spring-assisted pump action for faster cycling. The Honcho Tactical Mag-Fed Pump has a 3-inch chamber, a 14-inch barrel, a synthetic bird’s-head-style grip with subtle finger grooves, a ribbed synthetic forend, and a 14-inch barrel. The gun weighs in at 5.7 pounds unloaded and is only 27.25 inches long. (charlesdaly.com)
Charles Daly Honcho Tactical Triple
For those who favor the intimidation factor of a 12-gauge shotgun’s gaping muzzle, or those who just thrive on the unique, Charles Daly is now offering the Honcho Tactical Triple, a break-action design with three barrels. With this pistol-gripped shotgun, each trigger pull fires the right, left and top barrels, in that order. The grip and forend both feature rubber-coated walnut. Additionally, the whole package weighs in at 6 pounds while being 27 inches long. Charles Daly wisely included eyelets for sling swivels as well. (charlesdaly.com)
Available from Legacy Sports International, the new Citadel RSS1 is sure to appeal to shooters who want an AK-platform 12 gauge, but would rather lock the magazines straight in instead of rocking them backward. To that end, the RSS1 uses VEPR-style mags that insert straight in rather than Saiga-style mags, which require rocking backward. This Turkish import comes with a five-round mag, and 10-round aftermarket mags are available. It also has a 3-inch chamber and uses screw-in chokes, allowing you to change the pattern density if needed. The Citadel includes AK-style iron sights. You can also mount an optic on the rail attached to the dust cover if more precise shots are desirable. (legacysports.com)
After being introduced last year, the TS12 bullpup — designed by Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) and intended to be made in America — is finally a reality. This unique gas-operated semi-auto feeds from one of three tubes of a detachable magazine mounted below the barrel. All told, the magazine will hold fifteen 2¾-inch shells. As ammo from one tube is expended, or a different load is desired, the operator simply rotates the tube. The bolt locks rearward upon an empty magazine. But rotating a loaded magazine into place automatically closes the bolt and chambers a round. The TS12 can feed and eject from either side, and features a reversible charging handle. It also uses a two-position gas system for reliably cycling light or heavy loads, has M-LOK slots for accessories, and accepts Beretta- and Benelli-style chokes. (iwi.us)
KelTec specializes in bullpups. One its newest shotguns is the KS7, which is a more compact version of the company’s original flagship KSG, a twin-magazine, 12-shot tactical shotgun. The KS7 is a pump-action 12-gauge that holds either seven total 3-inch shells or eight 2¾-inch shells. A version with an extended mag and barrel that ups the capacity by three rounds is due out later this year. The KS7 has an integral carry handle, M-LOK slots for accessories and weighs only 5.9 pounds unloaded. The shotgun also has ambidextrous controls and feeds and ejects from the bottom; this makes it ideal for left-handed shooters or switch-shoulder shooting techniques. (keltecweapons.com)
Mossberg’s Shockwave series started the “pistol-gripped firearm” trend a few years ago, and it’s only getting hotter. The Nightstick’s styling is distinctive in a market deluged with the same boring black plastic stocks and nylon slings. Its retro look is straight from the 1960s, with a hardwood Raptor grip and a ribbed forend with a leather strap to keep your support hand where it belongs and away from the muzzle. The blued, heavy-walled barrel is 14.38 inches long, and a bead sight is installed up front. Finally, the Nightstick holds 5+1 rounds. (mossberg.com)
Mossberg now has a lot of 590 Shockwave variants in its lineup, including one with a special chainsaw-style grip. However, the most tactically oriented is probably the 590 Shockwave SPX. This 12 gauge features a heavy-walled, 14.38-inch barrel fitted with a heat shield and breacher as well as a corncob-style forend with a hand strap. The receiver features a top rail as well as a small rail section for mounting an additional two-shot sidesaddle. (mossberg.com)
2019 marks Mossberg’s 100th anniversary. To celebrate, the company has begun offering “Retrograde” shotguns that evoke early 20th century blasters. The 590A1 Retrograde has a 20-inch, heavy-walled barrel with a heat shield installed as well as a 7+1 magazine tube. The receiver and barrel are Parkerized while the buttstock and ribbed forend are made of walnut. Ghost ring sights also come standard, and for the less tactically minded, the 500 Retrograde is sleek and ready to defend. (mossberg.com)
Remington’s pump-action, mag-fed firearms have proven popular among shooters. The company recently expanded the line to include this model, which is inspired by classic shotguns with hardwood furniture. Like the Tac-14 DM, the 870 DM Hardwood feeds from either three- or six-round magazines. It comes fitted with an 18.5-inch barrel, a bead front sight, a corncob-style forend and a hardwood buttstock with a SuperCell recoil pad. It’s a nice mix of old and new. (remington.com)
For those who want the aiming stability of a shotgun equipped with a shoulder stock yet need a compact footprint, Remington now offers the 870 Side Folder in 12- and 20-gauge versions with 3-inch chambers. The right-side-folding stock is Remington’s own design. It has an enhanced recoil pad and a rubberized adjustable cheekpiece for comfort. Meanwhile the forend offers M-LOK slots for mounting accessories. The grip is a SAW-style design from TAPCO. The barrel is 18.5 inches long, and the magazine holds six rounds. (remington.com)
Remington based the semi-auto V3 Tac-13 on its proven Versa Max action; it uses a porting system to help regulate the amount of gas cycled depending on the length of shell. Gas-operated semi-autos also noticeably smooth the recoil impulse, making the Tac-13 a very controllable weapon, even when shooting heavy loads. The Shockwave Raptor grip allows the Tac-13 to boast a 13-inch barrel without the need for any BATFE paperwork. The chamber can hold shells up to 3 inches long, but it’s capacity lists at 5+1 for 2¾-inch shells. The ventilated rib on top helps disperse mirage, and a Picatinny-style rail at the muzzle allows the mounting of lights or lasers. Finally, the forend has a hand strap to help control this little blaster. (remington.com)
Remington expanded its Raptor-gripped Tac-14 line this year to include a few different variants; one variant is the Tac-14 DM, which feeds from either three- or six-round magazines. These magazines have steel bodies and rugged polymer wrappers to protect the exposed portions from dents and abuse. They also insert straight into the magazine well without the less intuitive rocking motion required with other designs. The receiver and action are based on the Model 870’s, but the forend has Magpul M-LOK slots for accessories. (remington.com)
The new 12-gauge, semi-auto VR80 imported by Rock Island Armory has controls and styling similar to those of an AR-15 rifle, but with a bolt-mounted, right-side charging handle. The gas-operated VR80 uses upper and lower receivers made from 7075-T6 aluminum. It also takes 2.75- or 3-inch shells, and comes with adjustable flip-up sights. The VR80’s 20-inch barrel has a protective shroud to keep it from becoming dented. Meanwhile, the lower receiver is compatible with most commercial AR-15 buffer tubes, stocks and pistol grips. The VR80 comes with a supplied five-round detachable mag but accepts nine-and 19-round aftermarket magazines. (armscor.com)
Standard Manufacturing SKO Mini
Standard Manufacturing’s SKO line now includes the SKO, the SKO Shorty and the new SKO Mini. All are gas operated, feed from detachable magazines, and have ambidextrous safeties and Trulock screw-in chokes, allowing you to adjust your patterns downrange. The SKO is a full-sized shotgun. Meanwhile the Shorty, at 28.75 inches, is the same model but without the shoulder stock. The SKO Mini, with its 14.75-inch, 4140 steel barrel and 27-inch overall length, is simply considered a “firearm” and sidesteps NFA classification. The Mini comes with a two-shot magazine, though five- and 10-rounders are also available. Finally, the gun comes with a vertical foregrip. For even more info: stdgun.com.
The new TriStar Compact is a 12-gauge bullpup that is only 30 inches long while still sporting a 20-inch barrel. This gas-operated, semi-auto shotgun allows you to shoot shells up to 3 inches long, from standard field loads to 1.38-ounce slugs, interchangeably. The Compact also uses a removable choke system with Beretta/Benelli threads. It includes one extended, ported cylinder-bore choke along with a rubber recoil pad, sling mounts, a detachable carry handle, flip-up front and rear sights, and two 5-round mags. For even more info: tristararms.com.
This article is from the April/May 2019 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.