So, what do you look for in a shotgun?

For the sake of discussion, let’s consider the major attribute of shotguns as being multi-purpose firearms—not soley for HD, Trap, or water fowling, but a multi-purpose tool as traditionally & historically employed.
Consider durability, materials, reliability, actions, stock designs and gauges.


While I don’t shoot skeet or hunt birds, it is nice to know that I could. Ages ago, I asked my police friends their opinions on a great home defense shotgun. They all three said “the Remington 870” at the same time. They carried it on duty and owned one personally.

Now, my 870 has on it the same 18" barrel it came with. My friends made me aware of the numerous barrels available for the gun. That was another clincher for me. If I wanted to shoot skeet or hunt birds, no problem. Just buy another barrel.


I just got a CZ 712 12Ga. with 20" barrel.
My thought process was:

  1. 12Ga because smaller Ga’s seemed a bit under powered
  2. Semi Auto helps with both home defense and feeding the family if SHTF
  3. Shorter barrel, good for close quarter combat, not real good for birds and varmints but it’ll do.
  4. Adjustable choke, it came with 5. I doubt I’ll be changing it every time I change situations but it’s nice to have the option.
  5. reasonably light so R can handle it if need be.

I’ve got an 870 Tactical,a Mossberg 590 tactical and a very short barreled Winchester 1200.All twelve gauge and all loaded with Winchester super x 00 buck.Round capacity and reliability are why I made my choices.


Wording that way is rather like asking what attributes would you look for if you planned to own only one screwdriver. Given the many options in shotguns, each there for different purposes, trying to define a Swiss Army Knife-shotgun is not really valuable.


So you don’t have/like a shotgun?


What made you ask that? Of course i have a shotgun, and I like it. However, I selected a beginner model pump action with sighting bead and 24" barrel for shooting trap as my first (and currently only) shotgun. Were I to start bird hunting I’d get a quality double-barrel barrel-break bird gun. If I decide to maintain a home defense shotgun I’d get a semi-auto shotgun with 18" barrel for ease of movement around the house, a comfortable sling for wearing when using it to free my hands if needed, a light mounted on it, and optics for sighting, probably a red dot.

Moving to my screwdriver analogy, my tool box includes flat-blade drivers in three common carpentry sizes and three lengths of each, a similar set of lengths and sizes of Phillips head drivers, two star-head drivers, a ratcheting driver with a set of flat blade and Phillips and star heads, two off-set drivers, one ratcheting and one simple one piece, with flat head and Phillips on each, as well as a separate set of tiny jewelers’ screw drivers, again with two sizes and two types of heads in that set.

The point of my comment was that selecting the right tool for the job in many instances requires defining the job first; trying to have one tool for all jobs often results in a tool that is not really very good for the majority of jobs you may face.


Very interesting questions come to mind. I’m such a newbie on the topic of shotguns. I only started reading up on them last year and now have two calibers myself, for my recent taking up of hunting. Like with most firearms, if a hobby, it’s not cheap.

But I can think of lots of other hobbies which can become costly.

Hunting, SD, ranch, homesteading. Even handing them down to family as heirloom gifts, they wouldn’t have to then spend too much money on.

The look, wood stock Vs. plastic.

Didn’t realize how very careful one needs to be in using the correct type of shell ammo and correct corresponding choke.

I guess it depends on one’s needs or activities/use. Newbies might wanna first test fire different gauges/calibers at a range.

There’s so much variety, guess one needs to do their homework. I found a new one I got for $118, and like it.

Ideally, I look for more versatility.


I have not, yet, had a chance to take a course in shotgun use, but I found the NRA Basics of Shotgun Shooting Guide a very helpful and, at only $12.00, cost effective introduction to they types and uses of shotguns. You can order directly from NRA at the linked page.


Shotguns were expensive, and they still are----and it seems that quality guns are getting even more expensive.
For most, if a shotgun is acquired for a specific roll, then putting down the cash for specialized gun may be well worth the expense, otherwise I agree, it is a Swiss Army Knife situation—for success, IMHO, a lot more depends on the types of shells you feed it than the price tag of the gun, but still there is your individual assessment of what works for you.
BTW many gunsmiths keep screwdrivers with interchangeable bits! :wink:


I am fairly new to shotguns but think it would be difficult to find one shotgun that would be very well suited for everything you can do with them. Maybe the Remington 870 that you can swap barrels between an 18” for self defense and a 26” or 28” for trap, skeet or bird hunting? Though then you still have the concerns for self defense use of a limited capacity tube and possibly short stroking the pump anction under stress if you don’t practice enough with some stress thrown in.

I bought my first shotgun a few years back mostly so I could start shooting sporting clays as practice for engaging moving targets but also with the possibility of using it to hunt some day and maybe in a pinch for self defense. It was a Girsan MC312 semi auto with a 28” barrel which is a Turkish knockoff of a Benelli. I bought it because it was cheap but had a good reputation for reliability. Reliabillity is probably my most important consideration for any firearm.

It is nothing fancy but has been very reliable and works pretty well for knocking clays out of the sky. But it is really long for use as a self defense firearm. I recently acquired a Beretta A300 Patrol. With its 19” barrel and extended capacity tube it is a much better self defense tool. It has also been perfectly reliable so far and is very fast and easy to operate being a semi auto.


I don’t look for a multi purpose shotgun. I just look for home defense.

I would get different ones tailored for the different uses


I have never fired a shotgun. Just handled a Mossberg that an uncle was trying to get rid of.

Saving up for a RIA VR80 that has AR-like features for familiarity.


I inherited my grandfather’s bird gun. So I have something to hunt with if I ever choose to go that route.

I suck at hitting clays though, and never had much interest in hunting waterfowl,….

So this is what I’m looking for in a shotgun!


Oh, I’m a BIG fan of shotguns for hunting and fun sports like clays and trap. I hate skeet :rofl:

Right now leaning agains one of my safes I have a .410 and 28ga SxSs of current manufacture. There’s also an Ithaca Lewis 12ga SxS made in 1905 and a Winchester 1987 pump in outstanding condition still configured as it left the factory I think in 1914 with that beautiful long barrel in Full choke. And finally a Belgian made Browning Auto 5 in 12ga that left the factory in the 40s. And that’s just what needed to get cleaned this week.

But I don’t love them as much for HD. They do just fine BUT, I have better tools for that.


They are a lot of fun sir. Let us know what you think when you get to shoot it.


I have an old mid 70’s Western Field (Mossberg 500) field gun that I used in days of old for hunting. 30" vent rib with 3" chamber. Having not hunted for decades and after living through some next door neighbors from hell, it became our home defense shotgun. I cut the barrel down to 18 1/2" to make it more manageable for momma and put a weapon mounted light on it. She is quite deadly with it when practicing on water jug “threats”.


I prefer 12 gauge, as it is, IMO, the most versatile caliber for shotgun. 20 gauge is good if your shooter is a smaller build and needs something more manageable.

I prefer an 18” barrel. Longer is better for certain things, but 18” will get the job done for most everything. Plus, it’s the easiest for home defense.

Different chokes are nice. They can add even more variety to the uses of your shotgun.

I prefer a semi-auto over the pump action. Yes, you lose the iconic sound of racking the action, but follow up shots are exponentially faster than if you have to manually pump it. That’s very useful, and not just in home defense. It will give you an advantage in competitive shooting, even just trying to shoot some clays.

The type of stock you prefer is up to you. There are a bunch of different ones that are all good options. My biggest concern here has always been with the recoil pad. Some recoil pads just aren’t as effective as they should be. I have a good one on mine, but I still had to buy an aftermarket pad to put on over it.

The nice thing about shotguns is that they can either be incredibly expensive or very reasonably priced. At the time I got mine, it cost $230 + taxes and fees. That same gun is now $300. Even though it falls in the “cheap” end of the price range, I’ve never had any problems with it. It’s proven to be very reliable, and just a little maintenance should keep it that way for many years to come.


If I could only get one shotgun adequate as an everyday tool; Remington 870, Mossberg 500 series, just about any other pump action will do. Simple to use, easy to maintain and can shoot a variety of ammunition depending on what you’re using it on.


I bought a dickinson xx3 tatical and i love it

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