Top 5 Best Shotguns For SHTF

If you could only have one gun in your SHTF arsenal, what would it be? A pistol? A hunting rifle? An automatic rifle? A muzzleloader?

Many would say that the most important gun to have in your arsenal is a shotgun, 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.  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 at 15 yards or less, which is devastating for home intruders.  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.

Another great reason to own a shotgun is because of their capability to breach doors. If somebody in your prepping crew has a shotgun when you must bug out for long periods of time, (think collapse) and you have to breach a barricaded door, a 12 gauge to the hinges do the trick perfectly.

So, we’ve established that owning a shotgun is important because of the high number of tasks it can do for you.

The best shotgun to get for SHTF is a chambered in 12 or 20 gauge (simply because they are the most available calibers) with an adjustable choke on the end of the barrel. Let’s get down to business now with the shotguns that made the list.

CZ 612

If you’re familiar with the company CZ, it is likely because of the world famous CZ 75 pistol, right?  Little did you know, 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.

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.

Benelli M4

While on the more expensive side of this shotgun list, I couldn’t resist adding it for one simple reason, effectiveness. There’s a reason the United States Marine Corps added this beast to their arsenal in the late 1990’s. The Benelli M4 is different than most readily-available shotguns on the market because it’s semi-automatic.

Having a semi-auto shotgun has great advantages, the top advantage being the ability to put multiple rounds downrange very quickly. Fire superiority is key for winning every firefight, so why not throw five 12-gauge rounds toward the enemy in two seconds (yes, it’s possible).

This Italian-invented shotgun has dominated the waterfowl hunting world over the years, even though it was invented for combat use. This proves the incredible versatility that it has.

The M4 comes with a standard matted finish to the black paint to reduce visibility at night (less light reflection), making it a great combat shotgun for preppers looking for a short-range solution to a violent problem.

The M4 also comes standard with a synthetic buttstock and a pistol grip, making it agile while clearing rooms, this way if you’re a terrible shot with your rifle, you can rely on buckshot to solve the problem if you don’t mind a terrible sight upon sending the round into the aggressor.


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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updated by Reaper 11/29/2017

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Best Shotguns For SHTF”

  1. bob robertson

    “reliant entirely on inertia and reward momentum”

    I assume you meant “rearward momentum ”

    None of these things makes it any easier to chamber a new shell since it relies on FORWARD momentum to accomplish.

  2. In the hands of a trained shooter the pump shotgun can deliver 5 shots in about the same time frame or less, than most auto loaders can. Hold the trigger down continuously and pump and the pump shotgun empties very fast so no real great advantage in speed to either platform. In fact, shooters will tell you that they can manually pump and cycle the gun faster than an auto-loader will cycle. Both can also be topped-off quickly. However, the pump is generally more reliable than the auto-loader is. It’s a toss-up……

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