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Top 5 Best Pump Action Shotguns For SHTF

If you could only have one gun in your SHTF arsenal, what would it be? A pistol? Hunting rifle? Automatic rifle? Muzzleloader?

Many would say that the most important gun to have in your arsenal is a shotgun; specifically a pump action model, either in 12 gauge or 20 gauge.  You never know what kind of disaster could come your way (natural disaster, EMP attack, economic collapse, etc.), which is why it’s important to have weapons in your possession that are versatile and fulfill a wide variety of roles, while also being rugged and dependable.  A pump action shotgun fulfills these criteria perfectly.

Let’s go over some more critical reasons to own a shotgun, and then talk about specific examples of makes and models you can buy.

Reasons to Own a Shotgun

The reason why a shotgun may be the most important SHTF gun of all is because it’s so versatile: it can be used for practically anything except concealed carry or long distance shooting.

When loaded with buckshot, you can deliver the equivalent of 8 rounds of 9mm with one shot, which is devastating for home defense.  When loaded with birdshot, your shotgun will be a very efficient bird or small-game hunting weapon.  When loaded with slugs, you can use it for bringing down larger game, such as deer, at medium distances.

So, we’ve established that owning a shotgun is important because of the high number of tasks it can do for you.  But why should you choose a pump action over a semi-automatic?  After all, you can get more rounds off with a semi-auto, right?

The answer is because pump shotguns are more dependable and less likely to break.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t high quality semi-automatic shotguns that are sold on the market, but there’s a reason that the pump action remains just as popular today as it was decades ago.  All you have to do is rack the pump to chamber a new round, and then you pull the trigger.  There aren’t a whole lot of parts that are prone to malfunctioning, or breaking, as there are with a semi-auto.

The best shotgun to get for SHTF is a pump action chambered in 12 or 20 gauge (simply because they are the most available calibers), with two barrels: a short barrel, for home defense, and a longer barrel, for hunting.

Now that you know why you should own a pump action shotgun, here are five specific makes and models from which to choose.

CZ 612

If you’re familiar with the company CZ, it is likely because of the world famous CZ 75 pistol, right?  Little that you might have known, CZ also manufacturers and/or imports rifles and shotguns in addition to their high quality pistols.  The CZ 612 pump action shotgun is just one such example.

You automatically should know you’re buying quality from CZ, because the CZ 75 pistol is widely considered one of the greatest pistols ever made.  The same level of quality is infused into their long guns as well, and the 612 is no exception.

The receiver of the 612 is constructed out of aluminum, which is the perfect blend between lightness and strength.  The shotgun utilizes a dual action bar design, which is slick with very little resistance when you actually pump the shotgun.  The safety is a button located on the rear side of the trigger guard, much like the Remington 870.

The 612 is a high quality pump shotgun from a company that’s renowned across the globe and will serve you well as a home defense or a field shotgun.

Mossberg 500/590/590A1

The second most popular pump action shotgun of all time, the Mossberg 500 earns an automatic entry in this list – without question.  Since its introduction in the 1960s, over 10 million Mossberg 500s have been sold to civilians, police departments and militaries – around the world.

The Model 500 is a basic and durable pump shotgun that is offered at a very reasonable price.  The safety is ambidextrous and located on top of the receiver, while the slide lock release is located behind the trigger guard (similar to the position of the safety on an 870).  It is available in a very wide variety of barrel lengths, stock types, finishes, sizes and gauges.

Multiple variants of the 500 have also been produced, with the two most successful being the 590 and the 590A1.  The 590 utilizes a redesigned magazine tube for easier cleaning, while the 590A1 replaces the polymer trigger guards and safeties of the 500/590 with steel ones.  The 590A1 also has a heavier receiver, bayonet lug, and a more corrosion-resistant, parkerized finish in place of a blued finish.  However, Mariner (stainless steel) versions are made for all three variants.

The Mossberg 500/590/590A1, as a whole, is a solid series of pmp shotguns that are reliable, durable, affordable and customizable, which is why they have made it onto this list.

Remington 870

Notice how, above, we said that the Mossberg 500 is the second most popular shotgun of all time.  What’s the number one most popular?  As you may have guessed, it’s the Remington 870.

Does this mean that the 870 is a higher quality shotgun over the 500?  Not necessarily, since both have solid track records.  Most would agree that the quality between the two is equal, and the one you choose comes down to personal preference.  So then, the question becomes, what are the differences between the 500 and the 870?

The most notable differences, in terms of controls, is that the safety of the 870 is a button located behind the trigger guard, whereas the 500 has a switch on the receiver.  The slide lock release is also located in front of the trigger guard, rather than behind it.

As with the Mossberg 500, there are countless variations of the 870 that are produced, and the number of aftermarket accessory options comes close to the options for the Ruger 10/22 or 1911.  The dual bar design of the 870 is also worth note, as it not only permits a smooth operation when racking the pump, but it’s also what makes the 870 so surged and reliable.

Overall, you won’t go wrong with a Remington 870 in your hands.  By all accounts, it is the AR-15 of the shotgun world.

Stevens Model 350

While lesser known than the Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, the Stevens Model 350 is a tough as nails shotgun that has not gained nearly the attention it deserves. If you would like to expand the options on the table, you would be making a mistake not looking at it.

The reason the 350 is so durable is because it utilizes a steel receiver, rather than an aluminum one, like other shotguns.  The overall design of the shotgun is very similar to the Ithaca 37, another proven weapon that has ridden in many police vehicles.  Granted, all of this makes the 350 a heavy shotgun; but, on the flip side, this will tame recoil.

The 350 is corrosion resistant, thanks to its parkerized finish, which is a stark contrast to the less tough, blued finish that is sported on many other shotguns.  You also have your choice between wood or synthetic polymer for your stock and pump.

While aftermarket customization options may not be so impressive for the Stevens Model 350 as they are for the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870, it’s still a no-nonsense shotgun that will do whatever you ask it to, and will do it well.

Winchester SXP

The Winchester SXP is the successor to the Winchester 1300, which, for many years, competed well with the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 until being discontinued in 2006.  Before that, the Winchester Model 12 shotgun was used as an effective combat weapon in World War I and World War II.  Safe to say, Winchester has some experience in building quality shotguns.

Now, we have the SXP, Winchester’s current offering in the shotgun market.  But still, is it really worth considering the SXP over other firmly established models such as the 500 or the 870?  There’s one advantage that the SXP has over these shotguns, and that is the speed and slickness of the pump action.

Winchester has installed the SXP with a pump action that is reliant entirely on inertia and reward momentum, which means there is less resistance when chambering a new round.  In a defensive situation, this translates to more lead being sent out of the barrel.

The SXP is fairly affordable and available in a number of different models; the stainless steel variant will likely offer you the best protection against moisture and corrosion.


Any one of these five options represents a solid choice for a pump action shotgun.  Be comforted in knowing that you won’t go wrong with any of them, and each will be a worthy addition to your SHTF arsenal.

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About Nick Oetken

Nick Oetken

Nick Oetken is a prepper, outdoor enthusiast but, most of all, he is our in-house firearms expert. Look out for his articles on guns to find out which ones you need for your survival.

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