In recent years, much has been made of modern sporting rifles and tactical handguns that are aimed at the home-defense segment of the market. However, a longtime mainstay in the realm of home-defense guns is the general-purpose shotgun, and this particular firearm has remained king in this category, at least in the realm of public perception.
One reason in particular for the prominence of the 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun as the home-defense tool of choice for many is the eminent affordability of the platform. Sure, there are AR-15s that would work great as home-defense platforms, but as we’ve covered previously on Shooting Illustrated, an affordable AR will run roughly $400-500 in today’s market.
As a companion piece to our affordable ARs story, we decided to take a glimpse at the less-glamorous but still popular market for tactical-style shotguns set up right for home-defense use. To qualify as a solid defensive option, we set some requirements. First, the gun must have a pump-action operating system fed from some kind of magazine. Second, the barrel length must be no more than 20 inches long, so as not to impede movement. Third, the gun must be chambered in 12-gauge, as it’s certainly the most-ubiquitous and popular choice for a personal-defense chambering.
Pricing-wise, we took the listed sale price from three separate retailers and averaged them to produce a general market rate by which to rank the guns. Some guns on the market will sell for more than the listed price, and some will sell for less. So, without further ado, here are eight pump-action, 12-gauge tactical shotguns that are absolutely affordable for home-defense use:
Mossberg Maverick 88
Average Price: $196.94
While Mossberg is certainly known for its line of 500 series shotguns, many models of which are reasonably affordable in their own right, the company’s Maverick series of shotguns offer budget-minded consumers an alternative that’s still built with many solid components that made Mossberg shotguns famous for their reliability, such as the twin action bars and dual extractors.
The gun is compatible with many aftermarket accessories designed to fit the Mossberg 500 series of shotguns, but the trigger groups are not interchangeable, and the Maverick 88 does not ship with a drilled-and-tapped receiver or the top-tang safety seen on other Mossberg shotgun models. However, the Maverick 88 Security ships with an extended magazine tube installed, which provides seven rounds ready to reload with its reliable, pump-action operation. Though some of the gun’s components are made out of the country, primarily in Mexico, each gun is assembled in Texas.
Iver Johnson PAS12 Pump
Average Price: $189.25
With the Iver Johnson PAS12 Pump, we come to our first Turkish-made shotgun, produced by Armed Guns in Izmir, Turkey. In recent years, the Turkish firearm industry has stepped up in production of well-built guns for import to the U.S. under familiar brand names. Iver Johnson is one of these classic firearm brands taking advantage of the long tradition of Turkish gun-making, and the result is this affordable, no-frills shotgun designed for defensive duty.
The PAS12 Pump is equipped with a 3-inch chamber and features a magazine tube capable of stashing four rounds, plus one in the chamber for a solid stack of defensive shells. The entire gun is decked out with matte-black polymer furniture, and for a minimal added price, the shotguns ship with a ventilated muzzle brake that works to minimize the harsh felt recoil often associated with 12-gauge defensive shotshells.
Savage-Stevens 320 Security Pump
Average Price: $188.30
Based on the proven design of the popular Winchester Model 1300, the Stevens 320 Security Pump is built as an affordable, no-frills home-defense gun that can be had in a number of different configurations, depending on your preferences, all with minimal added cost. The basic model is equipped with a standard brass-bead front sight, pistol-grip stock and a five-round magazine tube.
To save on costs for the consumer, the shotgun is equipped with a hollow, polymer buttstock and a thin, rubber recoil pad. It also features a standard cross-bolt safety located just in front of the trigger guard. A 3-inch chamber provides flexibility with different shotshell loads, and Savage Arms offers field barrels for hunting as well.
Stoeger P3000 Freedom Series Defense
Average Price: $329.00
The Stoeger P3000 Freedom Series Defense pump action shotgun sits towards the threshold of this article’s pricing limit. In spite of that, and in fairness to the P3000 Series Defense shotgun, it is one of the more feature-rich shotguns on our list. The two most important items of this particular shotgun is that it not only ships with an extended magazine tube that holds seven shells, but the barrel also comes with a tall front sight.
The cheapest shotguns generally include a simple bead to keep costs down, but the issue with that is that oftentimes the bead does not always align with the payload’s point of impact. Generally, having a tall front sight or a bead that sits on a pedestal fixes these issues, and Stoeger smartly did something about this with the P3000 Freedom Series pump shotgun.
Blue Line Solutions Pump
Average Price: $249.00
The Blue Line Solutions pump action shotgun is manufactured by Hawk Industries in China and is based on the venerable Remington 870 design pattern. In short, the Blue Line Solutions pump action shotgun is a clone of your basic 18.5 inch synthetic stocked Remington 870 Tactical shotgun, so the controls and layout of the parts are virtually the same. Of note, the trigger guards are shaped differently. All in, this affordable shotgun provides the shooter with a 3-inch chamber, a tubular magazine that holds six shells and an 18.5-inch fixed cylinder bore barrel topped with a basic brass bead.
Tri Star Cobra III Tactical Pump
Average Price: $249.00
The Tri Star Cobra III Tactical shotgun is another feature rich entry into our list. Not only does this shotgun include a section of Picatinny rail underneath the fore-end, but it also includes a taller front sight. To make things even more interesting, its 18.5-inch barrel is cut for Mobil chokes which are popular on Italian made Beretta or Benelli shotguns. In fact that’s the same choke pattern that Beretta’s new 2023 A300 Ultima Patrol uses. The Cobra III ships with a cylinder bore choke, which is par for the course for most security oriented shotguns.
JTS X12 PT Pump
Average Price: $199.00
This inexpensive pump shotgun has one of the lowest prices on our list, but even with that it still comes with a section of Picatinny rail on top of the receiver to make it easier to mount a red dot optic. Unlike most of the other entries, this shotgun only has a 2.75 inch chamber and not a 3-inch Magnum chamber, but for personal and home defense reasons it isn’t a deal breaker. The 18.5 inch barrel is fixed and includes a bead.
Rossi ST12 Pump
Average Price: $269.00
By this point you are probably noticing a pattern in the basic layouts and configurations of some of the cheapest shotguns in the market. Truthfully, this is what the formula for the bare essentials looks like. The Brazilian-made Rossi ST-12 pump action shotgun is no different. For an affordable price, it offers the shooter a no-frills simple bead sight barreled shotgun with a 4+1 tubular capacity magazine. The matte black finish and black synthetic stock set also helps to keep costs down, however both the stock wrist and pump handle do include some texturing for improved grippiness.
Together, these eight budget-priced shotguns prove that having a handy home-defense option isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the fiscally challenged among us. It doesn’t take much investment to take control of your personal security in today’s firearm world, so whether you’re looking for an inexpensive truck gun or your very first home-defense gun, these options can help start your search.