Buying an shotgun

I’m thinking about buying an shotgun. Which is better 12 gauge or 20 gauge? I’m mainly using it for home defense


Hello and welcome @Jeff286
You may want to look in this thread.


The simple answer is the better tool for most people for home defense is likely a semi auto rifle capable of taking standard capacity magazines chambered in .223/5.56:)

But more than a few will likely disagree and a shotgun certainly can be an effective home defense tool. There have been a lot of discussions here on the topic as @Karacal pointed out.

Have you shot a shotgun before? If you are recoil sensitive a 20 gauge might be better though they are often lighter than 12 gauges and can still kick a fair amount.


Continuing here because the forum is still broken on my phone @moderators and limits how much I can type before the words disappear off the bottom of the screen.

12 gauge is more common and has a lot of quality self defense ammo options. Based on what I have seen quality ammo designed specifically for self defense can be hard to come by in 20 gauge.

So all things considered it really depends. Best to try each out if you can though I think 12 gauge offers more options if you can handle the recoil. But it is very hard to go wrong with a semi auto magazine fed rifle in .223/5.56 for home defense;)


Neither is better.

12 gauge has a significantly greater selection of ammo. And of guns themselves.

But it’s a matter of which one is best for you

Shamrock, as usual, is right. For most people, an AR15 style rifle in 5.56/.223 makes a better home defense firearm. It’s shorter, lighter, higher capacity, significantly less recoil, similar stopping ability, similar danger through walls, much easier to shoot quickly (which does matter), much easier to fit to the shooter, and has much better ergonomics and is just plain easier to shoot and hit with. It’s also a lot easier to practice/train with.

  1. What firearms experience do you have?
  2. Be honest: How much money in training and how many days on the range are you willing and able to put into training with this specific firearm in, say, the next 6 months?
  3. How much $ are you willing and able to spend?
  4. Who else may use this firearm?

I would rather most people who ask a question like your initial question get a handgun, than get a shotgun. Sure, a shotgun run well with the right ammo is a far more effective fight stopper than a pistol…but running shotguns, let alone quickly and smoothly under stress, is not easy. They are by far the most difficult user interface/physically difficult to control of the three (shotgun, rifle/carbine, pistol)

If you want a “here get this” shotgun option…get one of these

Sticker shock? Good news, a solid AR type rifle can cost even less. :slight_smile: (so can a solid shotgun, but if you want to buy once cry once, it’s Beretta or Benelli)


Just got me CZ 712 12Ga. So far I love it.


@Jeff286 Welcome to our community. :slightly_smiling_face: To answer your simple question, (some seem to have trouble with that) I would choose a 12ga. :+1:


Remington 870




20 ga. Easier for nearly anyone to operate safely. It may not be you who needs to pull the trigger.


Welcome Jeff286.

I think there are many others in this forum more experienced than I with shotguns. I’ve used a 20 g in the range, and tried hunting with it once. For me, it was manageable. However, mine is a basic single shot, wood stock, with one front sight. A budget buy.

I imagine other factors come in to play:

If you have more than one round, then being able to sight in a follow up shot sooner, might be easier with the 20 g, than the 12.

Shorter barrels might be easier to use in an indoor situation.

Being not as loud (could be easier on you as a defender) with 20g compared 12g, if that is the case/if accurately correct.

Is it semi auto vs, pump, or break open action (some of which do not self eject, but require manual removable of spent shell).

Not sure how much you know about shotguns; I was surprised to learn of the importance of chokes.

Since then, I learned the hard way - try to find models which allow one to change to different choke sizes - therefore allowing either bird shot, buck, or slug, making it much more versatile - like having 3 or more guns in one, more bang for the buck.

Good luck.


I agree that a lot depends on personal preference when it comes to HD as well as where and how you might be required to use it. All have pros and cons. Whatever long gun (how I dislike the term long gun!) You choose, it is important to have confidence.
Range time will help you build that confidence.

Consumer preference has embodied the first world conundrum of the supposed need to match the weapon to the task, which requires the mastery of multiple platforms (how I dislike her term platform!)
If you have the resources to do that, fine, but in the rest of the solar system folks have to work with what they have and can afford—not only for hardware, but also the time and ammo it takes to gain mastery of it.
Having confidence in your firearm and your ability to hit means a lot.


Get you a double barrel shotgun and if you have intruders blast both barrels out the window into the air like the firearms expert of a president we have suggested. Don’t get a 9mm, those will blow people’s lungs out.


HI Jeff! Welcome!! I really like my Mossberg 31014. I use it for home protection and skeet shooting with a barrel swap. Maverick 88 - Security/Field Combo O.F. Mossberg & Sons


Mossberg 590S.

Mini shotshell ready out of the box for less kick and over-penetration.


You know if that’s bird or buck shot. Appreciate any specs or link to that ammo — I can read up on it. It’s new to me. :nerd_face:


Neat. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of those mini’s. Reading about it now.

Make note that Lucky Gunner, correctly, says:

The other #4 pellets settled between 8.5 and 11.5 inches. That’s not too surprising for #4 buck – it’s often considered right on the edge of being acceptable for self-defense

Like I said before, #4 is kinda iffy. Depending on who you ask, it’s either unacceptable for self-defense or barely acceptable. And that’s when it’s in a full size load with 30 or more pellets.

Now, for the mini shells

the current options all have borderline terminal performance and shot patterns that leave a lot to be desired.

Since we know that conflicts with shotguns rarely involve more than one or two shells fired, why would I want to give up some of that effectiveness for more ammo capacity?

The reduced recoil is nice. The mini shells are definitely a lot of fun to shoot. They could be a useful teaching tool for a shotgun novice. But recoil aside, pump action shotguns are still difficult to master. They lead to more user-induced malfunctions than any other modern firearm. For someone who is recoil sensitive, something like a pistol caliber carbine would be much easier to learn and use under stress.

So overall, I think the mini shotgun shells are not quite ripe for serious use yet. The slugs have potential if you just really want that extra capacity and you’re not after the super light recoil

Lucky Gunner captured my thoughts perfectly.

But, hey, the mini shells are cute so they get, well, cuteness points


Either one is still loud enough that all you’ll hear after the first shot is a high pitched tone. Same with 9mm, 5.56, or any other unsuppressed round. That’s the reality of shooting a gun without hearing protection.