When it comes to combat and tactical shotguns, it seems like there’s just an infinite number of choices out there. But do you really know which ones are the best for your needs?

At Gun University, we understand that the differences and similarities can sometimes get confusing.  That’s why we’ve put to the test a number of different shotguns and have determined our favorites.

Here are Gun University’s top picks for combat and tactical shotguns:

Best Combat and Tactical Shotguns

  • Remington 870 Magpul
  • Mossberg 500
  • Remington VersaMax
  • Beretta 1301 Comp
  • Remington V3 Tac-13
  • Mosberg Shockwave
  • Benelli M4
  • Remington Tac-14
GunCategoryOverall GradeSee Latest Price
Remington 870 MagpulEditor's ChoiceA+
Mossberg 500 REVIEWMossberg 500Best Pump Action ShotgunA-
Remington VersaMaxBest Semi-Auto ShotgunA-
Beretta 1301 CompBest 3-Gun Competition ShotgunB+
Remington V3 Tac-13Best Semi-Auto Short ShottyC+
Mossberg ShockwaveBest Pump Action Short ShottyA
Benelli M4Best Designer Semi-Auto ShotgunB
Remington Tac-14Honorable MentionB-

#1. Remington 870 Magpul: Best Overall Shotgun

Remington 870 Magpul

MSRP~$565.00

Honestly, when it comes to shotguns of any variety, it’s damn near impossible to beat a good ole Remington 870.

Unless you’re a Remington 870 decked out in upgraded Magpul furniture.

 If you love the Remington 870 and modern features, this is absolutely the firearm for you. Mossberg 500 and wooden furniture fans need not apply.  The 870 Magpul brings everything you’ve grown to love about the original model to the next level.

It’s really hard to find anything negative to say about this except that the forend does tend to get a bit slick through sweaty firing.

Check out our full review:  Remington 870 Magpul Full Review

Remington 870 Magpul Specs

Operating System Pump Action
Guage/Bore 12
Weight 7.5 lbs
Overall Length 38.5″
Barrel Length 18.5″

Remington 870 Magpul Pros and Cons

Remington 870 reliability, Magpul furniture

Magpul Forend can get a little slick.

#2. Mossberg 500: Best Pump Action Shotgun

Mossberg 500

MSRP~$500.00

If you’re a Mossberg fan, you can go ahead and forgo our top pick.  Because this would be the best bet for you. 

This is by and far one of the best pump-action shotguns available on the market today. 

It’s super beefy, super reliable, and super affordable.  And… it can shoot mini-shells! If you’re unaware, mini-shells are smaller shells that are great for vermin or even blowing through a box out at the range.

There is limited availability for aftermarket accessories though.  You do have the capability to install a pistol grip, but I find the safety controls to become awkward in that case.  Also, you don’t have the ability to increase your magazine capacity.  But other than that…great gun.

Check out our full review: Mossberg 500 Full Review

 

Mossberg 500 Specs

Operating System Pump Action
Guage/Bore 12 and 20
Overall Length 41″ 
Sights Rear + Ghost Ring
Barrel Length 14-30″

Mossberg 500 Pros and Cons

Super reliable, affordable, convenient action release and safety, can shoot mini-shells

Bit clunky, cannot extend magazine

#3. Remington VersaMax: Best Semi-Auto Shotgun

Remington VersaMax

MSRP~$1456.00

 

Remington hit another home run with its VersaMax platform.  The VersaMax utilizes Remington’s patented Versaport gas operating system.  It allows you to fire shells or slugs of any size through a series of gas vent manipulations. 

This makes it a great choice for those who like to send a variety of shells down their barrels.

Not only does the VersaMax give you optimum flexibilty, it gives you a lower recoil while doing so. They advertise that it only kicks like a 20 gauge.  While I think that may be a bit overboard, the effects are actually noticable. 

So, if you’re looking for a reliable and soft-shooting semi-auto, the VersaMax would be an amazing choice for you.

Check out our full review: Remington VersaMax Full Review

Remington VersaMax Specs

Operating System Versaport Gas System
Guage/Bore 12 
Overall Length 43 15/16″
Weight 7 3/4 lbs
Barrel Type Vent Rib

Remington VersaMax Pros and Cons

Revolutionary Gas System, high capacity, soft shooting, and reliable

Heavy

#4. Beretta 1301 Comp: Best 3-Gun Shotgun

Beretta 1301 Comp

MSRP~$1275.00

Let me start by saying that there was a huge toss-up between the Beretta 1301 Comp and the Remington VersaMa for title of best semi-auto shotgun.  And looking back at the decision, I’m still not sure it was the right one. Because this thing rocks.

I like to compare the VersaMax to an old dependable work truck, while the 1301 is like the Ferrari of shotguns.  The Remington is strong and reliable, but the Beretta makes everything smoother and sexier.

The new Blink-action on 1301 Comp is stupid fast for optimal trigger cycling and allows for use of different shell types just like the VersaMax. 

Honestly, my major gripe about this shotgun has nothing to do with the operation and handling.  It’s that the Beretta has to follow 922r Compliance.  If you’re not entirely sure what that means, check out our article on 922r Compliance.

Check out our full review: Beretta 1301 Full Review 

 

Beretta 1301 Comp Specs

Operating System Blink Gas System
Guage/Bore 12
Overall Length 26.5
Carrying Capacity 5
Barrel Length 21 or 24″

Beretta 1301 Comp Pros and Cons

High Capacity, Short Length, Ability to Switch Magazines

Some reliabilty issues, Awkward ergonomics

#5. Remington V3 TAC-13: Best Semi Auto Shorty

Remington V3 TAC-13

MSRP~$915.00

The Remington V3 TAC-13 is our first “shorty” on this list, and the only semi-auto one at that. 

These particular firearms are not technically allows to be called shotguns.  They fall into a group known as “Non-NFA” firearms.  To keep it short and sweet, they just aren’t long enough to be considered a shotgun. 

But they sure are fun to shoot.  And the Bird’s Head grip and short barrel do provide for some heavy recoil.  You definitely know when this one’s firing.  This particular model utilizes the Versaport system same as the Remington Versamax above, and this does help a bit with the recoil.

These can also make for great truck guns.  So, if you’re looking for a semi-auto version, this is the gun for you.  If you’d rather go with a pump action of this style, check out the next selection on our list.

Check out our full review: Remington V3 TAC-13 Full Review

Remington V3 TAC-13 Specs

Operating System Versaport Gas System
Guage/Bore 12
Weight 5.94 lbs
Overall Length 26.5″
Barrel Length 13″

Remington V3 TAC-13 Pros and Cons

Softer recoil, easier to operate than pump, novel action and gas system

Poor exhaust gas design, expensive, poor control location, can’t shoot mini-shells

#6. Mossberg Shock Wave: Best Pump Action Shorty

Mossberg Shockwave

MSRP~$399.99

When it comes to these “shorty shotties”, there’s only two ways to go in my eyes. It’s either semi-auto with V3 TAC-13 or pump-action with the Mossberg Shockwave.

And while the semi-auto might make a better truck gun, I prefer the feel of the pump-action.  Especially that of the Mossberg Shockwave.

But it’s not just the feel of the gun I really like. The Shockwave bird’s head grip does something more for the gun than just making it more fun to shoot. It provides a more fluid and natural command of the gun’s controls. Let’s say you wanted to fire a Mossberg 500 with a pistol grip.  You’ll immediately notice just how awkward the safety is going to get.  But with the Shockwave… It just feels right.  Not only that, it also shoots mini-shells!

So, if you looking for a new pump action shortie for your collection, this is definitely the way to go.

Check out our full review: Mossberg Shockwave Full Review

Mossberg Shockwave Specs

Operating System Pump Action
Guage/Bore 12
Sights Front
Overall Length 26.37″
Barrel Length 14.375″

Mossberg Shockwave Pros and Cons

Shoots mini-shells, all the controls in all the right places

Clunky, difficult to aim

#7. Benelli M4: Best Designer Shotgun

Benelli M4

MSRP~$1999.00

The Benelli M4 makes our list as our favorite “Designer” shotgun.  Now, there’s going to be some of you out there who disagree with my “Designer” statement. And that’s just fine.  But I believe when you buy Benelli, you’re really just paying extra for the name. 

Not that doing so is a bad thing. It’s your money. Spend it as you like. 

And you could do much worse than the Benelli M4.  It’s not a terrible shotgun.  There’s a reason why law enforcement and militaries around the world use it.  They’re fun and fast to shoot with little-to-no reliability issues. 

It does have some great features and if you’re a Benelli fan, this won’t disappoint. 

Check out our full review: Benelli M4 Full Review

Benelli M4 Specs

Operating System Auto Regulating Gas System
Guage/Bore 12
Weight 7.8 lbs
Overall Length 40″
Barrel Length 18.5″

Benelli M4 Pros and Cons

Fast and Fun, Reliable, Made by Legendary Manufacturer 

Expensive, low capacity

#8. Remington TAC-14: Honorable Mention

Remington TAC-14

MSRP~$443.05

 

As an honorable mention, I wanted to throw in another one of these trendy new “shortie shotties”, the Remington TAC-14. 

It’s Remington’s version of the pump-action shortie.  And while, I really believe that Mossberg does it better with its Shockwave, this gun is still fun as hell to shoot.  And I’m always a fan of Magpul furniture.

I just wish it had the ability to shoot minishells.  And while Remington’s operation controls are very intuitive on a full-size shotgun, they tend to fall a little short here. 

Check out our full review: Remington TAC-14 Full Review

Remington TAC-14 Specs

Operating System Auto Regulating Gas System
Guage/Bore 12
Weight 7.8 lbs
Overall Length 40″
Barrel Length 18.5″

Remington TAC-14 Pros and Cons

Smooth action, upgraded Magpul furniture

Less than ideal control locations, can’t shoot mini-shells, lower capacity than Mossberg Shockwave

What is considered a shotgun?

If the thing shoots shells, it’s a shotgun. Right?

And while that mostly holds true, the US Government doesn’t necessarily think so.  The law breaks firearms up into two main categories.

Hand guns and Long guns.

And yep, you guessed it shotguns typically fall under the long gun category–meaning they are intended to be fired from your shoulder and are at least 26″ in length.  And long guns can be further broken down into two other subcategories.

Rifles and Shotguns.  Shotguns of course having smooth barrels, and rifles having rifled barrels–ergo the name.  But what happens when a shotgun doesn’t mean the criteria to be well… a shotgun?

This applies to a few on our list such as the Remington V3 TAC-13 and the Mossberg Shockwave.  And while we believe they have the heart of a shotgun, they can’t be officially labeled as one.

These particular types of firearms fall under a specific category known as AOWs or “Any Other Weapon”–how original, I know.  This is a catch-all category of the NFA that covers all sorts of neat guns alienated from the standard classifications of the NFA.

Here’s the thing though. AOWs are typically “easily concealable”.  With the Remington TAC-14 having an overall length of 40″ and no buttstock, it seems that these shortie shotties aren’t AOWs either.

So what the heck are they?

Thankfully, the ATF has created a unique placement for firearms such as these.  Pistol-Grip Firearms.

This covers guns that are not fired from the shoulder, are not easily concealable, and are longer than 26″.  They’re not shotguns or AOWs.  But a breed all of their own.

For more info, check out this article Ryan wrote for Mossberg.

Advantages and Benefits of the Non-NFA Shotguns

If you’re on the fence about owning one of these PGFs, here’s a few reasons you may want to look into one.

  • They make excellent truck guns. 

Their short stature make these among the best truck guns.  With the stopping power of a full sized scattergun and tactical portability, you can’t get much better than this.  And if you opt for a semi-auto option — such as the Remington V3 TAC-13– you don’t even have to fuss with a pump action.

  • They’re great in tactical situations.

If you ever find yourself needing an easily carried breaching weapon or something with a little more punch, these guns can definitely provide the support you need.  Coupled with an appropriate scabbard, you’re always ready for whatever arises. 

  • They’re super fun to shoot.

While I wouldn’t give them the time of day for competition shooting, these are just so much fun to go and sling metal downrange.