Best 12 Gauge Shotgun: 2019 Guide & Reviews

Because it is one of the most popular guns in America, wewon’t bore you with background details on the 12 gauge shotgun. Instead we havecompiled a list of the best 12 gauge shotguns on the market. Below you willfind the shotguns categorized by the following characteristics:

  • Home Defense and Tactical Shotguns
  • Range Shotguns
  • Hunting Shotguns
  • Specialty Shotguns

Best home defense and tactical 12 gauge shotguns

Benelli M3

Best 12 Gauge Shotgun: 2019 Guide & Reviews 1

One of the most innovative guns when it was released, andstill to this day for shooters who may want to use a shotgun for more than asingle use purpose. The big benefit to this gun and why it serves well topresent the Benelli M3 as the first gun in a list of the best 12 gaugeshotguns, is that it can serve as a pump shotgun AND as a semi auto shotgun.

It makes it a perfect shotgun for hunting of all types; homedefense and tactical use and for range work.

It is included in the tactical and home defense section ofthis article because it has a distinct slant towards the tactical. It includessome of the best ghost ring sights on the market; a short barrel length(19.25”) and a good overall size with a pistol-grip-integrated and low boreaxis shoulder stock.

The most important part of this gun is its ability to shootany load, no matter what it is, in 12 gauge. This includes low recoil specialtyrounds or door breeching rounds; this is a perfect fit because it can function immediatelyas a pump action shotgun, with the flip of a switch and the rack of the foreend.

In the field for ease of use and a bit faster cyclic rate,the semi-auto position allows the shooter to reduce mechanical input andincrease follow up shot times. There aren’t a ton, but the aftermarketaccessorizing options do allow for some customizations.

Pros

  • As innovative today as it was when it wasreleased; well over a decade ago
  • Superior smoothness in the action
  • Can handle any load on the market, even in mixedmag-tube loadouts

Cons

  • No real cons

This is best for

A shooter that can legitimately utilize the versatility thatthe Benelli M3 can offer.

FN SLP

Best 12 Gauge Shotgun: 2019 Guide & Reviews 2

Compact and well thought out, not to mention, made by afamous tactical maker (FN), this is a stellar tactical and home defense shotgunthat ticks all the boxes on a list of best features, and still lives somewhatin the shadows of a market full of very big brand name offerings.

It is a sleek, smooth and subdued gun, and yet it is obviousthat you are getting a tactical shotgun at the same time. Ghost ring sights andan optic mount gives you a lot of quick sight acquisition options. The simplefurniture makes it easy to use in tight areas which handling is improved againby the short OAL of 38.75” and the 18 inch barrel length.

It is this chrome lined barrel with an invector chokeinstallation that allows good load tuning and great durability. It is capableof shooting the full magazine tube capacity in less than a second. That kind ofspeed is a game changer in the defensive world.

Pros

  • Super-fast shotgun
  • Compact design allows for easy use in smallareas like a home
  • Good price point considering the additionalfeatures

Cons

  • No cons

This is best for

Apartment dwellers that need a home defense shotgun.

Kalashnikov – KS-12T

KALASHNIKOV USA - KS-12T

The AK design is timeless when it comes to reliability anddurability; this is a design that is closely tied to that original design, andfor all intents and purposes, it delivers on AK promises of reliability anddurability, while offering familiar control positioning and feel of the overallweapon.

Quick reloads and a large capacity for 12 gauge rounds, thisis an easy choice for those who need the ultimate in firepower for whateverreason. There is availability to 50 round drum magazines which can makesporting purposes easier and more interesting.

This shotgun functions and feels more like a rifle, makingit very easy to wield in close quarters combat like you might encounter in ahome defense scenario. The 38 inch overall length is impressive, as is the furnitureand ability to mount all types of accessories. In all, the Kalashnikov KS12T isa high capacity, high accuracy and easy to use shotgun that is perfectly suitedto a top position on this list.

Pros

  • Considering the price point and the significant additionaltactical features, this represents a very nice value
  • Good reliability
  • Very good durability
  • High potential capacity, including theopportunity for a market available drum magazine

Cons

  • No cons

This is best for

Shooters who value sporting uses as highly as they value thetactical/defensive properties of such a firearm.

Mossberg 590M

Mossberg 590M

A magazine fed version of the venerable Mossberg 590 is abeast when it comes to capability and durability. The tactical feature set andthe history of performance by this variant proves the prowess of these setup.

10 rounds in each magazine offers significant firepower, butmore importantly, the easy changing of magazines allows for significant backupconsiderations. In the heat of the moment, having 20+ rounds of 12 gauge isquite interesting.

The Mossberg is among the more durable shotguns ever madeand has been used by law enforcement and military to great effect. The size andcyclic reliability with any load makes the Mossberg 590 with the magazine feedoption a very good choice for home defense or other close quarters combat.

The receiver sheds some weight compared to certaincompetitors because it’s made from anodized aluminum. It is also drilled andtapped for optical or other sight mounts or accessories. The lifting componentsfor the shells are very robust compared to most shotguns.

Pros

  • Proven history of durability and reliabilityespecially for hard hitting loads
  • Higher capacity pump shotgun for extendedengagement
  • Well harmonized feature set

Cons

  • Fit and finish is not as good as some other gunson this list

This is best for

Home defense users that need a no-nonsense, low maintenanceshotgun.

Remington Versa Max Tactical

Remington Versa Max Tactical

The Remington Versa Max Tactical is perhaps the mostdeliberate shotgun design on this list from a tactical perspective that stillespouses traditional shotgun design. It is an obvious winner with regards tothe customized features and integration.

The vent rib is a nice inclusion which helps to divert heatsignature from the barrel and keeps the eye moving to the front sight or theoptic, which can be mounted on the frame attached mount.

The 9 shot (8+1) capacity gives more than enough for a homedefense scenario; the extended trigger guard allows for gloved hand use if usedin a tactical scenario; and gives more flexibility in combat situations andduring fast reloads.

A 22 inch barrel is more than enough for any use, includinghunting or range work, but it also offers good opportunity for mixing shotgunloads in defensive situations. The added velocity and spread control of a 22inch barrel can be helpful in certain domiciles.

This is a great focal point for a Remington line that hasgone from very tactical to not so much in the recent years. As a cornerstonevariant in the product mix, this gun shows Remington’s commitment to tacticaloptions, despite a marked movement towards hunting centric lines of late in theshotgun portfolio.

Pros

  • High capacity with traditional design
  • Overtly tactical, in the best possible way
  • Super reliable, and a proven option forsemi-automatic shotguns

Cons

  • It‘s not a long shotgun, but it’s longer thansome of the dedicated scatterguns on this list, which for home defensepurposes, may make this slightly less desirable

This is best for

Traditionalists with a penchant for dedicated tactical accessories.Shooters who want every advantage without additional weight or frivolity.

Kel-Tec KSG

KEL-TEC - KSG

Innovative and interesting for any shooter who wants maximumcapacity and the ability to cycle any type of load. The KSG by Kel-Tec offerstwo magazine tubes and a total capacity of 12 rounds. Integrated slingattachment points and the ability to cycle many different loads from supershort or low recoil rounds to magnum plus loads, are obvious importantfeatures.

Interestingly, these are among the most mundane designcharacteristics and least interesting marketing points. The polymer frame shellover a steel inner body and the ambidextrous design, including a bottomejection port are innovative features for a shotgun that threatens to shake up theindustry. Since its introduction, this design has been copied and replicated bymany other manufacturers.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In this case,Kel-Tec has brought the most innovation to the sector in decades through theKSG.

Many points available for optics or other accessory mountingand a tiny overall length (26.1”) makes this bullpup design an easy choice fortactical shooters.

The strength of the ambidextrous feature set improves theshooter compatibility.

Pros

  • Innovative design that prioritizes compact size,easy cycling of tough-to-shoot rounds and bottom ejection of spent casings
  • Built well, even if it does suffer some basic fitand finish detailing concerns
  • Reliable and proven on the market
  • High capacity

Cons

  • Fit and finish isn’t perfect on the details

This is best for

Shooters who want something different or who truly need themost compact pump shotgun that can legally be shouldered.

Remington 870 DM

Remington 870 DM

We didn’t include a traditional Remington 870, because the870DM is so interesting from a usability perspective. But the review and listaddition of the DM extends to the traditional variants of the 870 pump shotgun,which has been one of the most beloved and proven shotguns in history since itsdebut. It remains one of the most popular by volume and easily the mostlegendary gun on this list.

The DM version offers a magazine fed attachment that changesthe fundamental capabilities of the shotgun. While this particular variant ofthe gun hasn’t been in existence for very long, and therefore, it cannot proveits reliability, it is built upon perhaps the most reliable shotgun model inthe modern era.

Capable of shooting back to back to back (and more) magazinesfull of 6 rounds of magnum shotshells, the Remington 870 DM has become a lowpriced leader, with a tactical component that few other guns can come closeto.  In the case of the shown variant, itis a simple and adds no non-essential components.

The underlying materials are steel and wood for the mostpart and the reliability and durability are significantly robust compared tosome industry peers who rely on aluminum in some cases.

A nice size overall, this is a gun that’s simply made for tactical and defensive use. The 18.5 inch barrel and the 38.5 inch overall length and slim features means it’s mobile and easy to shoulder quickly.

The famous pump action will cycle any round commerciallyavailable.

Pros

  • All the benefits of the classic 870 shotgun, butthe innovative magazines feed too
  • Clean easy to understand interface with a provensafety mechanism
  • Sustained magazine fed capacity

Cons

  • No cons

This is best for

Anyone who has ever used an 870 shotgun. This gun will doeverything you need it to do. Any shooter who has NEVER owned any shotgun andneeds to know their first choice is the right one.

Best 12 gauge shotguns for the range

Browning BT-99 Golden Clays with Adjustable Comb

Browning BT-99 Golden Clays with Adjustable Comb

As close to a custom trap and clays gun as you can find fromthe factory without paying for a custom shotgun. The BT-99 is a brilliant displayof what is possible when you take a single shot shotgun seriously. The gorgeousgrade V and VI walnut stock from the Browning Factory is highly figured andpolished to a spectacular gloss finish.

The adjustable comb and recoil pad are integrated into thegun very well and the recoil reduction technology is amazing. The 32” barrelcombines with a precision designed forcing cone and a tight choke integrationto give maximum shot patterning.

A massive vent-rib gives no heat deflection and keeps theeye aligned properly in conjunction with the LOP (13.375”) and the drop thataligns bore axis lower and directly below the eye.

Judicious use of chrome plating in the bore and thespecificity of the design of the chamber and forcing cone delivers manythousands of rounds and years of accurate use on the range.

Integrated porting gives additional recoil reduction andminimizes the discomfort of long days on the range. Combined with a 2 3/4” chamber,the overall recoil mitigation system on the BT-99 is impeccable.

This is not a lightweight shotgun, but it is exceptionallybalanced even at nearly 9 lbs. It is also not a small shotgun; at 49 inchesoverall, it swings long, but smoothly. It is a range gun through and through.

Pros

  • Easily the best single shot on the market thatisn’t a true custom for all day single target range work
  • Beautifully detailed and innovative yettraditional in design
  • The gold standard of the range shotguns from thebig makers

Cons

  • Expensive for casual shooters

This is best for

Dedicated range warriors who shoot at competitive events andcan afford the best of the best.

Mossberg – Jerry Miculek Pro Series 930

Mossberg - Jerry Miculek Pro Series 930

A bargain, if you look at all the options that come asstandard features on the 930 with a 24 inch barrel. It is also able to be usedin the field, and as a self-defense shotgun; but it is dramatically styled as acompetition shotgun. From the high capacity and the fast cycling features, thisis bred to be a very good shotgun for range purposes.

Built in conjunction with the worlds fastest shooter JerryMiculek, this is a shotgun that is made for speed. The feature set and controlsare made for speed as well, including a nicely oversized bolt actuation handle.Faster loading is facilitated through a well-beveled loading gate and recessedfurniture to help make tactical competitive reloads a realistic option.

Two gas integrations allow for a faster result shot aftershot and the milliseconds this system shaves from the overall operation timingallows for less failure by shooters in competition.

Top quality build for a value that simply cannot be matchedgiven the following features: semi-auto operation; extended mag tube and toptier furniture. A fiber optic front sight; a legitimate vent rib and provenwins on the competition circuit; these make this gun a top choice and a greatvalue for the money.

Pros

  • Significant value given how many features arecompiled as an integrated offering
  • Very fast and easy to learn on
  • Significant speed improvements over many otherguns in the price range
  • Legitimate performance accolades and wins underits belt

Cons

  • Slightly less attention to detail in the finishwork compared to some other guns on this list

This is best for

New competition shooters. Shooters who may want asemi-automatic shotgun that can do more than just slay orange targets.

Beretta A400 Xcel Multi-Target

Beretta A400 Xcel Multi-Target

The Beretta A400 Xcel is a very good choice for the hunteror range lover that wants a top end, multi-use gun, even if the shotgun isbuilt specifically for trap, skeet and clays.

Not as adjustable as the above listed BT-99 by Browning,this shotgun is still quite adjustable and allows for a lot of customization.It is also not nearly as expensive as the BT-99, though it is a closecompetitor to the Browning.

Furthermore, the aggressive styling and thoughtful featuresof the Beretta makes it a first choice for some shooters. These features andstyling include a massive vent rib; a tapered fore end and a straight, highlift comb. The bore plane is different than most other guns of this type relativeto the frame and fore end and therefore allows for a lower face position and afaster upward swing for some shooters.

It is because of this interesting styling that a gun with a50” overall length and a 7.7 lb. weight and a 30 inch barrel can be sobalanced. It is also fast in cycling, accurate and good looking. The additionalcapacity compared to other top contenders in this market segment makes it muchmore interesting to a multi-use shooter.

Small concessions like a 2.5 grade walnut compared to someother competitors’ higher grades; and different finish techniques makes theprice point difference extreme. Ultimately, for those who want top tierperformance and a reasonable price point in a gun that is capable of more thanjust days at the range, this is the one.

Pros

  • Very well balanced considering how long the gunis
  • Beautiful finishes for an anodized aluminum andwooden shotgun
  • Fast cyclic rate

Cons

  • Pricey

This is best for

Shooters leveling up their equipment with a certain tastefor range work.

Best 12 gauge shotguns for hunting

CZ Upland Ultralight

CZ Upland Ultralight

A sleeper option for the hunter and range user, the CZover/under shotgun is an obvious value. Not just because it has a nice pricepoint relative to the market. It is because in harmony with this price point,the relevant feature set is spectacular, and the build quality is unmatched.

CZ has a long history of delivering significantly well-builtoptions, with extreme tolerances and timeless qualities. It has always been atrademark of the CZ manufactory to offer firearms of better quality than theirprice point. The Upland Ultralight is no exception.

The name Upland Ultralight is a perfect moniker for thisshotgun, because it is both specifically applicable for upland bird use andalso it is an extremely lightweight, very comfortable to carry shotgun that canbe used all day without difficulty.

The trigger is not perfect, but it is very smooth; and theoverall balance and quick engagement of the platform allows for a very good experience.It is 43.75” long overall, but the 6 lb. weight is significantly lighter thanmost guns; and the smaller LOP (length of pull makes the eyeline easier toacquire a target with, while the 26 inch barrel provides good patterning fordense brush work and fast low flyers.

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Good accuracy and simple operation
  • Excellent price point
  • Excellent for fast ground gamebirds

Cons

  • Too spartan in design for some shooters

This is best for

Dense brush game shooters that can justify a longer shotgunbecause the weight is so minimal comparatively.

Browning A5 Stalker

Browning A5 Stalker

In its heyday the A5 from Browning was the preeminent fieldsemi-automatic shotgun. It still reserves a place in the hearts of pragmaticshotgun hunters everywhere. Perhaps not as popular by sales volume as it once,was, it remains as good as ever, if not better with the matte black colorscheme.

A combination of aluminum, steel and composite furniturematerials, the A5 Stalker boasts an industry standalone 100,000 roundguarantee.  The quality of build is veryhigh and the legend has endured, because the striking lines and the capabilityof the gun to stalk any number of animals.

The second shot speed and the feed reliability are hard tobeat, with the sight acquisition particularly enhanced by a multi-beadapproach. The obvious items that every hunter needs are usually not included insuch a svelte package. With the A5 Stalker, the things like sling swivels and amagazine plug and a strong vent rib are included, and yet, they seem so wellintegrated, and not as add-ons like they frequently do with other competitors.

Pros

  • Proven reliable; weather resistant and durable
  • Superior feature set that cannot be seen asadditive, but rather well integrated
  • Specifically designed for 12 gauge hunting

Cons

  • May seem expensive on the surface, and may seemto be not specialized enough for some hunters

This is best for

Purist one-gun hunters that want a shotgun that can do morethan just hunt ducks or deer. This is an -all-in-one with legitimate servicehistory.

Best specialty shotguns in 12 gauge

Savage Arms Model 220 and 212 Bolt-Action Slug Shotguns

Savage Arms Model 220 and 212 Bolt-Action Slug Shotguns

Deer have had better days than the day the Savage Boltaction slug gun was announced. This is a very accurate slug-specific shotgunthat doesn’t need to be anything else. It is meant to be paired with a scopeand meant to be used at intermediate ranges for large game. Forget thespecificity – if you want the most accuracy for shooting with a shotgun on biggame, this is the gun.

The detachable magazine allows a hunter in most states tocarry multiple loads; without sacrificing legality in the pocket (they are 2round magazines). The rifled barrels are 22” long and allow for accuracy past125 yards with certain loads. The forcing cone and rifling gives premiumaccuracy results in the gun’s sweet spot of 75-125 yards.

The AccuTrigger is proven to be both spectacular and highlyundervalued. In the case where a hunting shotgun’s accuracy needs to be sub2MOA, this trigger is a lifesaver. With premium loads this is easily a 1.5MOAshotgun and capable of taking large game to elk size.

It is extremely specific in its qualities and scope ofoperations, but it is spectacular in that spectrum.

Pros

  • Superior accuracy
  • The best shotgun trigger in a gun under $1,000
  • Free-floated barrel

Cons

  • Very specific in its scope of capabilities

This is best for

Deer hunters that want the value that the Savage brand canbring. Deer hunters that are looking for something other than expensive toshoot high powered rifles.

Stoeger Coach Gun

Stoeger Coach Gun

A perfect solution to dispatching snakes on a large ranch,birds in the field; squirrels in the forest and home defense for those in thecountryside, this is a great fit for a lot of different shooters but doesn’tsufficiently fit into a particular niche. It is this reason that such a goodgun has been marginalized. Sometimes it’s not about capacity or practicality,sometimes it’s about delivery.

This gun delivers solidly on a promise: ease, simplicity andreliability, in a short, easy to wield size that makes this a very good choicefor a lot of situations.

Some purists would note that the lack of exposed hammersmakes this a bit less historically accurate, but the Coach gun is Stoeger’sentry into the Cowboy Action game. It fulfills the task well for many shootersand despite being a specialty item, this is a popular gun on the CASS circuit.

It can shoot both magnum and regular shells, with accuracyto the short and moderate ranges and is easy to understand and fast to secondshot. The trigger is good, and the safety is legitimate and both add to the speed.

Pros

  • Short, fast, quick to second shot and easy toimplement
  • Proven reliable and durable on the CASS shootingcircuit
  • Able to shoot both magnum and regular shells

Cons

  • Not as historically accurate as it could be

This is best for

Cowboy action shooters who want a coach gun. For carrying ina truck window where legally applicable for impromptu needs.

Conclusion

The 12 gauge shotgun is one of the most popular guns in theworld, specifically, it has a revered status in the United States. The above firearmsrepresent the best 12 gauge shotguns on the mainstream market anywhere in theworld.

Other Best Shotguns

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