By the Numbers: America’s Top 5 Shotguns

Kel-Tec KSG shotgun, gray, profile right

Semi-auto handguns topped the list, which was not much of a surprise. Likewise, semi-auto rifle topped it category, but when it comes to shotguns, that sweet sound of a pump being racked tops the list. Then again, with some of the awesome sales over the past couple of years, who hasn’t picked up a couple extras for when a SHTF scenario becomes reality?

Mossberg 590A1 right profile
Mossberg 590A1

Mossberg 590A1

The Mossberg 590A1 is one of the best home defense shotguns available on the market today. The Parkerized 590A1 is an outstanding representation of excellence in performance and function. The Mossberg 590A1 comes with an 8 round capacity giving you plenty of ammunition to keep 2 legged miscreants at bay. This is truly a defense purpose specific shotgun giving users the same outstanding shotgun that passed the Mil-Spec 3443 protocols. The Mossberg 590A1 is the only true Mil-Spec Shotgun available. When you buy a shotgun to defend yourself and your loved ones go with the best go with the Mossberg 590A1!

Specifications and Features:
Mossberg 590A1
Pump Action Shotgun
12 Gauge
3″ Chamber
8 Round Magazine Tube
20″ Barrel
Bead Sights
Cylinder Bore
Parkerized Finish
41″ Overall Length
13.875″ Length of Pull
7.25 lbs Empty
Heavy-Walled Barrels, Metal Trigger Guard and Safety Buttons Built to Mil-Spec Demands
Tri-Rail Forend and Tactical Light Forend Models
Free Gun Lock/10-Year Limited Warranty Included

Remington 870 Police shotgun right profile
Remington 870 Police

Remington 870 Police

The ultimate choice for virtually any close-range scenario The Model 870 Police Breacher System is designed to meet the needs of todays modern law enforcement community. Based on the durable Model 870, it is designed to fire any 12 gauge 2 ¾” and 3″ load, including standard shotshell, buckshot and breaching rounds. This complete system includes a parkerized finish, retention holster and a button sling and attachment. To complete the package, a soft storage case is provided with dual back pack capabilities.

Specifications and Features:
Remington 870 Police
Pump Action Shotgun
Stock: Black
Barrel Length: 11 ½”
Gauge: 12
Finish: Parkerized

870 Police complete Door Breacher System, with parkerized finish
11.5″ barrel with stand-off that comes with rebar grooves
Velcro side saddle for easy transition between loads
Retention Holster for duty belt (Accessary or Standard)
Button Sling and attachment
MCS style receiver with Picatinny rail mount on top for optics
Soft case for storage with dual backpack capabilities
4-shot magazine capacity (3 + 1)
Sort-fore-end with handstop
low light illuminator on fore-end (Optional)

Mossberg 500 Tactical shotgun right profile
Mossberg 500 Tactical

Mossberg 500 Tactical

The Mossberg 500 Tactical is a great choice for home defense, patrol duty or competition. It features a 20″ barrel with heat shield, fixed cylinder bore and ghost ring sights. The extended magazine tube holds 7 rounds. The Mossberg 500 has been a favorite of sportsmen, law enforcement and the military for decades, with good reason. Simple to operate, totally reliability, combat rugged and outstanding performance are all hallmarks of the Mossberg 500.

Specifications and Features:
Mossberg 50567
12 gauge
Pump action
20″ barrel with heat shield
3″ chamber
7 rounds capacity
Fixed cylinder bore
Ghost ring sights
Synthetic stock
Sling swivel studs
Overall length 41″
Weight 7 lbs
Matte blued

Mossberg 500 shotgun with wood furniture, right profile
Mossberg 500

Mossberg 500

No other shotgun even comes close to the Mossberg 500 pump action’s remarkable combination of modern design, custom type features and affordability. All come in an array of stocks, barrels, finishes and combo options that make it the perfect, versatile choice from first time hunters to seasoned veterans alike.

Specifications and Features:
Mossberg 500 pump action all purpose field shotgun
12 gauge
28″ vent rib, ported barrel
6 round capacity
Ambidextrous thumb safety
3″ chamber
Quiet carry dual action bars
Twin bead sights
Accu-Set choke tube system
Black synthetic stock
Matte blue finish
48.5″ overall length
14.5″ length of pull
1.5″ drop at comb
2.13″ drop at heel
Drilled and tapped
7.5 lbs

Kel-Tec KSG shotgun, gray, profile right
Kel-Tec KSG

Kel-Tec KSG

The KSG is the innovative 12 gauge pump action shotgun from Kel-Tec! Designed primarily as a defensive shotgun, it features a single 18.5″ barrel fed by two separate magazine tubes. A manual selector lever behind the trigger guard allows you to select which tube is feeding the hardened steel receiver. The KSG ejects downward to clear the chamber to give you more reliable operation when you need it most! The dual tube magazines hold an impressive 12 rounds of 3″ shells (6 rounds each) giving you some serious firepower. It will hold 14 rounds of 2-3/4″ shells and its simple reliable action can cycle shells as small as 1-3/4″ if you want to hold even more shots! A familiar cross bolt style safety, a pump release lever located in front of the trigger guard and the ability to clear the chamber without feeding a round are important safety features in any home defense shotgun. The Zytel synthetic forend and pump have top and bottom picatinny rails for mounting lights, optics and accessories. The synthetic stock has a nice thick soft rubber recoil pad to tame the recoil of this powerful shotgun! Take it to the range for shooting fun during the day and sleep peacefully at night with the KSG by your side!

Specifications and Features:
Kel-Tec KSG Pump Action Shotgun
12 Gauge
18.5″ Cylinder Bore Barrel
3″ Chamber (Accepts 2.75″ or 3″ Shot shells)
12 Rounds
Hardened Steel Receiver
Dual Tube Magazine
Feed Selector Lever
Cross bolt safety
Upper and Lower Picatinny Rails
Synthetic Stock
Sling Loops
Overall Length 26.1″
Height 7″
Weight 6.9 Pounds
Black Finish

Pump or semi-automatic, which shotgun do you prefer? Give us your top five shotgun picks in the comment section.

Check out the other articles in this series:


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 decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (22)

  1. I am surprised you used three Mossbergs and one 870 police with a short barrel, which most will never own. I like the Mossberg 590 and the Remington police. I own 5 870 police models in different configurations. I am disappointed an Ithica or Winchester did not make the list.

  2. I love my DP-12. I can’t cycle it fast enough to get just a tiny hang up out of it. I now have standards SKO semi auto 12 ga. It’s built on the AR platform. I plan to run it through some tough testing next weekend

  3. PLEASE be careful with the KSG! especially if performing a speed fire. Feel free to look up the fellow in Arkansas whose left hand was reduced to a “claw” when his VFG broke in the breech closing stroke, and finger in trigger well on trigger. WARNING, its ugly to look at. I was about to buy a KSG when I came across this. I opted on the awesome DP-12. From a Tool & Die background and looking at both choice was easy.

    1. DP12 is an engineering masterpiece, as well as no jams. Sold my Saiga soon as I tested DP12. Only AA 12 is above this but we talking pump.

  4. For a less technical review:
    I own a Mossberg cruiser, a rem 870 tactical and a KSG.
    Of those three, I’d go to the 870 to defend my home.
    It’s unfair to judge the Mossberg due to the cruiser configuration – because it IS reliable – but it’s also an obnoxious little shotgun. I considered it almost unusable until I fitted it with an aftermarket vertical foregrip, which improved accuracy & recoil a great deal.
    The KSG, while fun, suffers from very unreliable feeding. The allegedly soft, cooshy buttpad was also not enough to prevent a two-week green ‘n’ yellow bruise from 10 rounds! There IS an extended buttpad made by Kel-Tec, and it was a worthwhile investment. Now, if the thing would just chamber reliably.
    The 870, though, is just shootable, practical and it works. A Mossberg equivalent would do the same thing; the point here really is don’t go for a fad or niche gun to protect your home. Go for one that’s proven.

    1. Gordon, Thank-you for bringing-up the issues that you have had with the KSG! Due to the unreliable feeding failures, will be sure to take it off of my Christmas list.

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