Shotguns are powerful at close range and short enough to use in tight spaces, which makes them perfect for self defense at home. The best pump shotgun should be easy to use properly, reliable in emergencies, powerful enough to drop an enemy, and reasonably affordable. Every gun offers a different balance, so it’s important to try a variety to find the right one. We decided to make the search a little easier by producing a list of ten great pump guns that embody those traits.
10. Mossberg Maverick 88
The Maverick 88 is a workhorse for people who want a self defense gun that also works for hunting or target shooting. The design includes dual extractors and an anti-jam elevator, so it’s reliable enough for defense. It also uses the same barrels as the popular Mossberg 500, which makes it easy to customize at a low price. This is a great first gun for novices and a decent backup for experienced shooters who already own a 500.
9. Cimarron 1897
The Cimarron 1897 is the best pump shotgun for history fans because it is a replica of the famous Winchester 1897. The original saw brutal use in the first world war, and it still performs adequately. This gun lacks a loading gate, which makes it easy to load quickly but risks dirt getting into the system. The sight is a simple bead and groove system, which is quick and easy at close ranges but bad for longer distances. These features make the 1897 a great choice for history buffs and those who value simplicity, but somewhat suboptimal for novices.
8. Weatherby PA-08 SYNTHETIC
The PA-08 is the best pump shotgun for people who want to use a 20 gauge weapon, but it’s also available for 12 gauge shooters. The stock has a recoil pad, which combines with the 20 gauge model’s low inherent recoil to make the kick negligible. It’s also easy to keep the gun clean and functional because the trigger system drops out for maintenance. This gun is a little longer than most others, but it is still maneuverable in all but the tightest homes. Use it if you want to avoid recoil, but try other guns if you want something with more power.
7. Chiappa C6
The C6 is a decent, balanced choice for newer shooters. The gun is made from a mixture of steel and aluminum, which helps to cut down on its weight without sacrificing durability. All of the parts are manufactured to a precise standard, which combines with the materials to make a highly reliable weapon. The C6 can accept a pistol grip, so it’s fairly easy to maneuver in tight spaces, and shooters can thread Remington chokes into the barrel to adjust it for other uses. Consider this if you want a versatile gun that you can use for defense and for target shooting.
6. Hatsan Escort AimGuard
The AimGuard is the best pump shotgun for small shooters because the pump is unusually close to the gun’s rear. That makes it easy on shooters with short arms. The gun’s construction is fairly solid in spite of the low price. The receiver is made from aircraft alloy and the barrel is plated with chrome, so it’s hard to damage this gun. The stock’s shape is even slightly adjustable for increased comfort. This is a great choice for new shooters or anyone on a budget, but more experienced people should consider more expensive options.
5. Remington 870 Express Tactical
The Model 870 is the best pump shotgun for shooters who want to adjust and customize their weapon. The gun is drilled for scope mounts, and it comes with a Picatinny rail with a Ghost Ring sight on it. The sight is fully adjustable and can take a variety of optics, but it’s great for rapid target acquisition as it is. The barrel comes with a tactical choke to make sure that every shot has enough power to keep the shooter safe. This gun is best for shooters with some experience since they can take advantage of its customization options.
4. FN P-12
The P-12 is a dedicated tactical weapon. It comes with flip-up iron sights and a fiber-optic front sight, but it also has a weaver rail that can host other sights. The receiver is made from anodized aluminum, while the barrel is made of chrome-lined steel. Both materials resist corrosion, which makes this gun easy to maintain. It’s also quick to cycle because it uses FN’s speed pump system and uses recoil to assist the cycling. Most shooters can put this to good use, but novices and shooters who lack muscle mass will get the most use out of the speed pump system. If interested in this type of weapon you can check out our best 12 gauge shotgun list also.
3. Benelli M3 Convertible
The M3 is unique because it can function with a pump action or as a semi-automatic weapon. Switching between the two is fairly quick, and the gun remains reliable in spite of using two distinct mechanisms. Maintenance is just as easy, since the trigger assembly pops out after removing a single pin. The gun does have one big downside which is its high price, which is many times that of most other options. Shooters should only consider this gun if they value versatility and know when to switch between modes, while everyone else should get something cheaper.
2. Mossberg 590A1 Mariner
The 590A1 is a military design, which marks it as one of the most reliable options out there. It comes in a variety of configurations, but the Marine variant is usually the best bet. It has a Marinecote finish that resists most corrosion and makes it the best pump shotgun for use in harsh environments. The gun can hold seven shots, but the stock has room to carry four more, so it offers more ammo than most alternatives. The 590A1 is otherwise a simple weapon, which keeps it easy to use and maintain, so it’s perfect for new or intermediate shooters.
1. Winchester SXP Defender
The Defender offers a mix of everything that a defensive gun needs. It exposes very little metal, so shooters don’t need to worry about the glare in bright light. A pad cuts down on recoil to boost accuracy while texturing on the synthetic stock ensures a good grip. The forearm grip is also ribbed to offer even more control. The barrel’s open choke can handle slugs or put out buckshot with a wide spread that makes it easy to hit a target. Most shooters of every skill level, even those on a tight budget, can get great results with this gun.
Making The Right Choice
Reliability is vital in an emergency, so you need a gun that will always perform to a high standard, and that often means a shotgun. The best pump shotgun will offer the right mixture of reliability and power to keep you safe. If you have experience with any of the pump shotguns listed above, be sure to leave a comment about it to help other shooters pick their weapons.