OutdoorReviewsShooting

Choosing the Right Shotgun: A Versatile Breakdown of Uses

Each tool has a specific role to play in any man’s repertoire. The knife for close quarter combat. The sword and mace for medieval enthusiasts. The handgun for personal protection. The rifle for long distance and high paced combat. And the shotgun, a jack of all trades.

I consider the shotgun to be the most versatile weapon, and general utility, in any man’s arsenal. It can be used for home defense, hunting, or sport. In this article, I will list 4 shotguns I have come to love and adore – each with a specific role to play.

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Fowl Hunting Shotgun

Benelli Performance Shop M2 Turkey Edition – 20 Gauge

benelli m2, turkey hunting, semi-auto shotgun
Benelli M2 Turkey Edition (Photo Credit: Benelli)

Starting Price: $2,599

Benelli is the Ferrari of shotguns – although these bad boys are made in the good ol’ US of A. Typically semi-automatic shotguns powered by their proprietary Inertia Driven™ system, Benelli is a go to for any bird hunter. The Performance Shop M2 Turkey Edition is an amazing tool for bringing home the birds.

The 20 gauge only weighs 6.2 pounds, so your arms won’t get tired lugging or holding in place. Not to mention their comfort stocks which greatly reduce recoil. Trust me your pectoral muscles will thank you for that feature. The downsides? As with any semi-auto shotgun, all the working parts can cause issues in grimy situations. Check out the video below that explains the Inertia Driven™ system.

Big Game Hunting Shotgun

Ithaca Deerslayer III

ithaca firearms, deerslayer 3, beautiful shotgun
The DeerSlayer III. Absolutely beautiful. (Photo Credit: Ithaca Firearms)

Starting Price: $1,350

Are you wondering why I’m mentioning a shotgun when it comes to hunting big game? Then I can’t help you. Honestly, the pump action Ithaca Deerslayer III is a beauty to behold. With proven accuracy ranging at 200 yards (see video below), you should have no problem stalking a huge buck and taking home a freezer full of meat. With a deer slug, it only takes one shot and the job’s done.

The Deerslayer III comes in both 12 and 20 gauge, although I would suggest going with the 12 gauge for deer hunting. It has a 4+1 shot capacity and a 26” fluted heavy-walled rifled barrel, which greatly increases accuracy with slugs. The Deerslayer III (with sights and add-ons) weighs only 9.5 lbs. To top it off, the Deerslayer III is made from American steel. If that doesn’t scream patriotic, then I don’t know what does. Downsides? It’s not a bolt action rifle…I guess.

Skeet/Trap Shooting Shotgun

Mossberg 930 Pro-Series

mossberg 930, skeet shotgun, clay pigeons, competitive shooting
Mossberg 930 Pro Series (Photo Credit: Mossberg)

Starting Price: $1,062

If you’re in it for the sport/competition, then look nor further. The Mossberg 930 Pro-Series semi-automatic shotgun is essential for any clay shooter. Designed by the best of the best in the sport-shooting world, the 12 gauge 930 Pro-Series only weighs 7.75 pounds. With a 5 round capacity and clay shooting specific stock, this baby will be sure to impress your friends at the skeet range.

Also included are three Briley™ Chokes to choose from. This allows you to easily interchange from Skeet to Improved Cylinder to Modified, depending on your preference. Finally, the TriComp sites allow you to interchange colors depending on what suits you best. Basically, this gun is customizable right out the box. Downsides? This is strictly a competition shotgun.

General Purpose Shotgun

Remington 870 Express – 12 Gauge

remington 870, shotgun accessories
My Remington 870. Her name: Bertha.

Starting Price: $417

No list would be complete without the Remington 870. This was the baby I carried on patrol. A no-nonsense pump action with limited features to malfunction. A solid choice for home defense, as well as customization. With a single bead sight and 4 round stock mag capacity, the 870 is an industry standard, albeit a bit pedestrian (in a good way). Don’t be fooled by the low price, the 870 Express doesn’t need all the frills.

The 870 Express fires both 2 ¾” and 3” shells, making ammo decisions that much more flexible. It weighs an industry average of 7 pounds, so just be sure to buy a comfortable sling. Downsides? It’s not flashy (if that really is a downside, I don’t know).

Final Thoughts

When I worked patrol, I preferred the shotgun to rifle for two reasons. One: de-escalation. The racking of slide has gained compliance from most aggravated criminals.   Two: the combinability of buckshot and slug. I would carry my first round as buckshot, the rest as slugs in the magazine. Even if the bad guy is wearing body armor, a slug will blow his heart out the back of his chest. The real application comes down to ammo choice, sling style and gauge.

Hopefully this list provided you with some thoughts on your next shotgun-specific purchase. Happy hunting ‘Merica!

Do you have a favorite choice? Feel free to mention it in the comments section below.

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The Author

Travis Mandell

Travis Mandell

Former South Florida Police Officer and Detective. Certified in criminal investigations, narcotics, tactical response and firearms. Now that he is in the private sector, he enjoys his constitutional freedom of speech once more. He's always down for some fishing, motorcycle adventures, or camping in the great outdoors.