Pump shotguns are a great way to protect your home. While an AR-15 is arguably the most outstanding home defense firearm, the shotgun fills the role nicely at a small fraction of the cost. Not everyone can afford to spend a grand on a new M&P these days. Many gun buyers get a pump shotgun as their first gun; unfortunately, some of these well-meaning people buy their shiny new gun, and leave it in the closet. They never take it out to practice with, or bother to remind themselves how to reload it under pressure. When they finally get around to wiping the dust off their shotgun and taking for a spin, they find out an obvious fact. Small, lightweight 12-gauge shotguns kick like mules.
Unlike most hunting shotguns, a short barrel Mossberg 500, 590, or Remington 870 with a pistol grip or an AR type stock will remind you every time you pull the trigger, that you are firing a full size 12-guage shell. I’ve seen people bruise their jaw from a loose cheek weld, and I’m sure plenty of people had to put their arm back into its socket. Over an extended period of time, the darn things are just plain uncomfortable to shoot. Going through just half a box of shells can wear some shooters out. Therefore, should I ever have to use my shotgun to fight my way to a stack of ARs, what can I do to make the gun function more comfortably? A few simple modifications will help ensure you can shoot all day long, and not have to replace your shoulder.
Whether you port the barrel or install a compensator, the result is the same. You will have less recoil. This is a good thing if you plan on shooting for an extended period of time. Another advantage to porting is the reduction in muzzle rise, so your follow-up shots will be better, since you are not having to regain your composure after each shot. There are however, disadvantages to porting a shotgun barrel. The gas escaping from all the holes in the barrel creates a great deal more noise. If you plan on shooting without hearing protection, a ported barrel is not a good idea. In addition to noise, your visibility is greater. A ported barrel can light up the night sky, and give away your position much quicker. If you choose to go with a brake or a compensator, know that they are often quite bulky, adding length, diameter, and mass to the muzzle end of the firearm, where it will most influence its handling.
A padded buttstock is cheap, and effective. For about 20 bucks, you tame your beastly shotgun by installing a simple pad on the butt of the gun. Like with most things however, you get what you pay for. There are some pads made of higher quality materials, and will last longer and perform better. Some products have springs inside the buttstock designed to reduce recoil. While they do indeed reduce it, they tend to mess with your cheek weld, and follow up shots are more difficult.
While I would not recommend using low recoil ammunition for home defense, it works great for a long day of combat shotgunning at the range. Winchester and Fiocchi both make low recoil buckshot, just be careful, since they can cost as much as regular buckshot.
I think more people would be interested in combat shotguns if they were more comfortable to shoot. Putting 500 rounds downrange with a small 12-gauge could ruin your week, as well as your shoulder.