Firearms

Why You Should Buy a Shotgun—Today!

Why should you buy shotgun today, you ask? Well, I am gonna tell ya.

Reliability

It is widely held that the 12-gauge shotgun is the most versatile firearm that you can buy. Whether your prey is a delicious Texas dove or a whitetail Ohio dear—the 12 gauge has an app for that. The versatile 12 gauge also does a great job of protecting the homestead as well; the bone chilling sound of a Remington 870 cycling is instantly recognizable and conveys authority. The pump-action shotgun has also done a valiant job at serving alongside our protectors and will continue to do so for many years to come, making it the natural choice for you to rely on.

Hunting

Circling back to the hunting aspect of a 12-gauge shotgun, I want to talk about why hunters turn to the powerful 12 gauge when taking such a wide variety of game. It comes down to the wide variety of shells available for the 12 gauge. All the way from tiny-as-heck #8 shot used for small birds and squirrel to the mighty 1-ounce foster slug for large game such as deer, there is a load that is exactly the right amount of firepower to take your game.

Self Defense

Man stopping rounds are something I could write a whole post on. The ever-popular 00 buck sits in more shotgun tubes across the country ready to be called on in a time of need. Some folks even pepper a few slugs in there in case the unwanted guest is on Angel Dust or whatever voodoo the kids are doing these days in order to stop the most determined of intruders. When it comes to law enforcement use, many duty shotguns are loaded with 00 buck as well, but many also have less-lethal rounds or some other super specialty round for a very specific use.

Versatility

If that wasn’t convincing enough, how about being able to swap barrels? Want to go shoot some skeet? Take your 26- or 28-inch barrel on your gun and head to the range. How about take a deer? Easy, just throw a 22- or 24-inch fully rifled barrel onto the gun and load up some sabot slugs. Home defense is an easy one, an 18-inch to 20-inch barrel is your friend there. Couple that flexibility with an interchangeable choke system and you have one gun that can do just about do it all.

Affordability

So, what shotgun should you buy? That really comes down to what you want to spend and what you think you might plan on doing with it, but a good bet is to pick up one of the combo kits that speak to you. I myself would go for an 18-inch barrel for around the house and a 28-inch barrel for birds because I enjoy shooting skeet and hunting some delicious Texas dove. As far as what brand and model is concerned, you can’t go wrong with the Mossberg 500 field and security combo. The 500 series of shotguns have proven reliable in the hands of hunters and professionals since 1961 and will surely serve you well for many, many years.

There are several other options as to what shotgun you should choose to buy, like my personal favorite, the Remington 870. I like them so much that I have four tucked away everywhere from my truck to under my bed. Sadly, Remington has changed the magazine tube on the 870 Express and has made it harder to swap barrels. No matter, just buy more guns!

All of the major manufactures have some sort of field and defense combo that will fill your needs. It is up to you to spend some time deciding what model is right for you. While the 870 might work great for my needs, you may gravitate to CZ USA‘s 612 combo or even the bargain-priced Stevens 320 field and security set.

I think I have laid out a convincing argument as to why you might need to buy a shotgun today, now you get to decide what new scatter-gun you want to add to your collection. Given the fact that the 870 is not offered in a field and security combo, I’m going to take a hard look at that reasonably priced Mossberg 500 setup. It really offers a lot without putting too big a hole into your wallet.

What other reasons can you think of why someone would need to buy a shotgun? List them in the comment section.

About the Author:

Patrick Roberts

Since founding Firearm Rack in 2014 which evolved into Primer Peak in 2020, Patrick has been published by RECOIL, Ammoland, Gun Digest, The Firearm Blog, The Truth About Guns, Breach Bang Clear, Brownells, The Shooter's Log, and All Outdoor. When he isn't writing you can find him instructing handgun and AR-15 courses, training his dog Bear, or spending time with his son Liam. See what he is up to on his YouTube Channel, on Facebook, or on Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (18)

  1. This was a most comprehensive rehash of “Shotguns, a good choice” and the information that the majority of us already know but do seem to enjoy reading over an over again and I don’t care who wrote it or were it was published!
    Yup, good write, good read, the basics never seem to get old.
    Maybe something in addition, on the fringe perhaps yet within the scope of the subject of Shotguns!
    Have an interest in a bullpup but don’t have the cash they want for a production platform? You own an 870 or 500 already? Then you might want to give Bullpups Unlimited stocks a hard look. This is a field, CQC aftermarket shotgun stock that turns the shotgun into a greater force multiplier than it already is.
    If your just going for TacCool, BU Stocks will get you there too.
    On the munitions side…. Yes, 00 is the tried an true CQC standard. Even a Slug is a useful deterrent and hunting rounds.
    Amoung the many offerings of shotgun food consider these when your looking for versital munitions.
    Several manufactures make a hunting / defensive/ offensive round commonly called “Buck an Ball” a modified “00” shot round composing of one large ball mated with several (often #1 Buck)smaller buck shot. A very effective round indeed which will be effective over a broader spectrum of targets.
    My other suggestion is a company called DDuplek who make a remarkable line of shotgun munitions. Chech them out and the UTube videos. You think slugs and “00”buck are the best …. Think again.
    So, thanks for the artical but I think it’s time to expand our horizons and discussions on the subject of Shotguns.

  2. In our home, we have the following:

    Mossberg 500 (12) to hunt with if needed.

    Hawk Tactical 12

    Saiga 12 Auto loader

    .410 single break action (it was my father’s)

    Classic 12 G side-by-side

    .410 5 shot Pepper Pot pistol

    If you don’t include shotguns in your home arsenal, you are missing a major component of a balanced home collection.

  3. My main squeeze for home defense is a shotgun. Hand gun next. I’m not confident or practiced enough with other platforms to use in the most likely scenario where the use of firearms in my life would be my choice. Outside of the home, in Texas, the only practical weapon is a concealed handgun. While I CAN carry a long gun openly in Texas, unless I am pretty far out in the country away from urban areas, the sight of a rifle or other shotgun being toted around will cause multiple calls to 911, and a ton of problems with police officers checking me out, even though it’s legal.

  4. Has that 320 Stevens improved any since all the Terribly Negative reviews of several months ago ? Thinking maybe the factory ( China ? ) has upped the quality on this bargain pistol grip 12 gauge shotgun and this X-Mas the sales will be lush in the newspapers. Anybody have RECENT real-time experience with this 320 Stevens ? Honest opinions/appraisals will be most appreciated ! ! !

  5. Another reason to own a shotgun: Critters-cougars, coyotes, dogs and now wolves, They love to munch on my calves. Don’t want to kill them so much as deter them-so loaded with no.8 shot. Just big enough and loud enough to get their attention with a large enough pattern to make sure a few pellets leave their impression.

    1. @Richard:

      Where do you live or what do you do to come in contact with all these animals? Also, I thought cougars, or mountain lions as we call them in Arizona and California, like to go for your NECK, not your calves.

    2. I live in S. Oregon Along the Klamath River near Calif. border. Never had a cougar attack yet, but they are showing up on my place.They usually kill deer, but will take to beef if handy. Wolves were introduced a few years ago and are doing quite well. Just this week a few miles north of me a rancher lost some calves to a wolf.

  6. While 12’s are without a doubt game getters and man-stoppers and come in many configurations, people of smaller stature sometimes have difficulty with the recoil. Though not recoil sensitive, myself, I have effectively used a 20 gauge in hunting and home defense. The difference in ballistics of the 2 gauges is marginal. Too there is a variety of ammo available for any purpose, though different configurations are not plentiful. Manufactures should take note and offer a greater variety of configurations for those that cannot deal with the recoil of a 12 ga..

    1. @Roy Holbert:

      My energetic/hyper personality needs the biggest, baddest, and strongest, so I would never think of a 20 gauge.

      Yet I did wonder about your 20 gauge assertions, so I found a comparison done with lots of photos on theboxotruth website, and I’ll paste the conclusions of the test here for people to refer to. It looks like 20 gauge can stop a person OK, but 12 gauge still is much stronger. It is not a “marginal” difference, unless you’re using bird shot.

      TheBoxOTruth Lessons Learned:

      1. As we have shown time and time again, birdshot is for little birds, not for bad guys. It makes a nasty, shallow wound, but is not a good “Stopper”.

      2. I was surprised by the penetration of the #3 Buckshot in the 20 gauge. It performed much better than I would have expected. I would not be too quick to discount Buckshot in a 20 Gauge for home defense.

      3. 00 Buck in the 12 Gauge was excellent.

      4. The Slug in the 20 did not perform very well. For some reason, it broke up into small pieces.

      5. Once again, the 12 Gauge Slug amazes us. It was devastating! Penetration was 5 jugs or almost 30 inches. That is equivalent to almost 15 inches of penetration of flesh.

  7. I recently sent an e-mail relating exactly to this topic. Here is the part that matters:

    Have you ever noticed, if you run it right, the tubular magazine is never really empty? If you top off your magazine as you go, you are perpetually at about half capacity all the time. That works for both pump and lever actuation, albeit the larger shotgun shells are much easier to manipulate while charged with adrenaline, or exposed to inclement weather, and freezing temps., or with gloved hands, or etc., etc.
    I have always been interested in the Colt Lightning style guns. I find the concept pretty intriguing, though I have yet to handle one or buy one.
    The versatility of a twelve gauge is rarely questioned – bird shot for birds, varying grades of shot for varying sizes and speeds of prey/varmint, and slugs for anything big and hairy. They work best for airborne pests/prey/drone applications and they work well enough on ground-based critters too.
    Some experts profess it is still king for home defense situations and the few that argue otherwise should probably do more research.
    I feel foolish for under-appreciating the humble and inexpensive pump-shotgun. I would take a simple 590 or 870 over a drum-fed Saiga any day ever.. unless I had to fight my way out of an exotic fish aquarium store – that would just be way too cool to pass up.

  8. Strange how law enforcement got away from the shotgun and went to the ARs. I am assuming they felt the need for additional fire power. When I was in uniform back in 70’s, we were introduced and had full auto 12 gauge combat riot guns. We nicked name them Little Willie. It would fire 20 rounds of double buck or rifled slugs in under a second, as long as your would take it. Actually the firearm was the pronto type for the military’s new combat 12 gauge. Yet it was made available to law enforcement. .

    1. Oh yeah, I loved those shotguns. My department got the special upgrade package since we bought so many of them. I had to turn in the jet pack after I retired, but I still have the secret decoder ring.

    2. Hmmm. Really? I am not the most informed of gun students and users, but I have never heard of this weapon.

    3. Strange, when I was in the U.S. Army, in the 60’s, only shot guns we had were the old pump ‘hammer’ guns from past years. Latter in the 70’s or 80’s heard they had a ‘full auto’ shotgun, but it was a 10 gauge, belt fed and vehicle mount only. Only hand-held ‘full auto’, I ever heard about, was the South African Stryker. 20 rounds, I think, but was drum fed. Never heard or any U.S. Forces or U.S. LEO’s having this weapon. In the 70’s was in Law Enforcement in a small-town P.D. , all of our shotguns were pump. Did have INTERPOL ride with us for about a month, looking for a terrorist that was supposed to be in our area. They carried semi-auto shotguns.

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