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The 6 Best Shotguns for Beginners

Shotguns can be used for home defense, hunting, and home security. Of course, not just any shotgun will do. For a beginner who wants to purchase a gun for home security or hunting, choosing a simple yet effective option should be the utmost priority because shotguns can get very pricey due to their design and materials.

Father teaching son to use a shotgun

What Makes a Shotgun Good for Beginners?

Several factors make one shotgun look good over the other, but before you start considering those factors, you should know what makes a beginner-friendly shotgun.

The features that make a shotgun good for beginners include:

  • The gun’s weight
  • The recoil of the gun
  • Handling Ability
  • Price

Features of an Easy-To-Use Shotgun

In the following sections, I’ll go through each of these components that make a shotgun easy to use and ideal for beginners.

The Gun’s Weight

The weight of the gun is important to consider when buying a shotgun because if you’re just starting out, you’ll need all the help you can get to build your endurance. If the gun is too heavy for you, then that could hamper your performance and accuracy. 

Heavier guns are also harder to handle while walking around with them or transitioning from target to target. Ideally, shotguns should weigh between 6-8 pounds (2.72-3.62 kg) which would be more than enough for beginners to handle while building their skills.

The Recoil of the Gun

Recoil in shotguns isn’t as bad as other firearms like handguns, but there are still some things you need to think about before buying one. If you are a beginner, it’s always better to go for lighter guns with less recoil. 

The lighter gun’s weight, the more it will reduce the amount of felt recoil, which is why shotguns with vent ribs are great because they reduce felt recoil and improve accuracy.


The whole point behind buying a shotgun for beginners is to focus on learning and building their skills without having to deal with cheap or faulty equipment that could hamper their performance and motivation. 

If something goes wrong, then finding parts isn’t easy, especially if you don’t know where to look and what places carry them. It is important to buy from reputable brands that offer warranties and spare parts to order replacements if anything goes wrong.


Price is a significant factor in purchasing the best shotguns for beginners because they don’t have much experience or prior knowledge about shotguns and their uses. Thus they don’t know how to match the price with the features of the shotgun, which makes them buy from cheaper brands that offer lower-quality equipment. 

Although prices vary in different regions around the world, a good ideal value for a decent beginner’s gun can be around 300-400 dollars which gives you a wide variety of options to choose from. 

The Six Best Shotguns for Beginners

Each of these shotguns meets the above criteria, making them excellent for beginners and worth the money.

1. Remington 870 Express


The Remington 870 Express is probably the most versatile, general-purpose shotgun. It is used for sporting purposes like hunting and clay shooting but can do double duty as a home defense gun. 

The Remington 870 Express has an extended magazine, which holds 8 rounds of twelve gauge ammunition, making it particularly useful in home defense situations where more than one intruder must be subdued. You’ll always have the option to take a second shot because of the twin action bars’ smooth operation and resistance to binding and twisting.

Some specs of the Remington 870 express include: 

  • 26″ or 28″ (66.04 or 71.12 cm) barrel
  • Standard Express finish
  • Shoots 2 3/4″ and 3″ (6.98 and 7.62 cm) shells
  • The receiver is cut from a solid-billed steel block for better strength and 
  • .410, and 12-/20-gauge

Related 2 3/4 vs 3 Inch Shells | Which Should You Choose?

2. Mossberg Model 500


The Mossberg 500 Flex is an excellent choice for home defense and sports alike. Besides the standard 5-shot, which holds five rounds of twelve gauge, you can purchase three different sized magazines: a 10-round extended magazine, 8 round extended magazine, and even an 18-round drum magazine to give you more control over your shots.

Some specs of the Mossberg 500 Flex include: 

  • Recoil pad assemblies in .75″, 1.25″ and 1.5″ (1.90, 3.17, and 3.81 cm)
  • Adjustable Stock/Grip
  • 12 and 20 Gauge pump-action shotguns
  • Compatible with various barrels

Related Mossberg Maverick 88 vs. 500 | Detailed Comparison.

3. Winchester SXP Field Pump Action Shotgun


The Winchester SXP Field Pump-Action Shotgun is a good choice for beginners. It features a 28-inch (71.12 cm) Vent Rib barrel with a Modified Choke and comes with a shim kit to customize the length of pull for short or tall users.

Winchester is a renowned brand name in the gun manufacturing industry with various products, including rifles, shotguns, handguns, ammunition, and accessories. The company has manufactured quality guns since 1866 and is one of the most trusted names in the gun industry.

The Winchester SXP Field Pump-Action Shotgun has: 

  • 3-inch (7.62 cm) chamber and two 2.75-inch (6.98 cm) chambers
  • Steel receiver
  • Satin Black Finish on all exposed metal surfaces
  • Crossbolt safety button behind the trigger guard, which can be engaged without removing your finger from the firing position (Will fire if safety is disengaged)
  • Barrel Length – 28″ (71.12 cm)
  • Gun Weight – 6 lbs. (2.72 kg) 14 oz. (396.89 grams)

4. Benelli Nova


The Benelli Nova is designed to be reliable and straightforward. Benelli Nova is a pump-action shotgun with dual tube magazines (one on each side of the barrel). Designed for reliability, this gun allows you to shoot 3-1/2″ (6.35 cm) magnum shells without any problems.

Benelli is a brand of shotguns made in Italy by Benelli Armi SpA, formerly owned by Beretta. Having won numerous competitions with the Nova model, Benelli designed this gun for home defense and hunting. Its short barrel makes it easy to maneuver around corners, through hallways, etc., making it an ideal weapon for home defense.

Some specs of the Benelli Nova include:

  • The barrel is either 18.5 or 21 inches (46.99 or 53.34 cm) long, depending on the model.
  • Chambered for 2.75 inches, 3 inches, and 3.5 inches (6.98, 7.62, and 8.89 cm). 
  • 4+1 Magazine Capacity.
  • The overall length is 49.5 inches (125.73 cm).  
  • The overall weight of 8 pounds (3.62 kg).
  • Matte finish on the barrel and magazine tube. 
  • Improved cylinder choke and longer forcing cone – reduces felt recoil by up to 36% compared to its predecessors, with no loss in pattern density at normal hunting ranges.

Related Pump Action vs. Semi-Auto Shotgun for Hunting | Pros and Cons.

5. Stoeger Model P3000


The Stoeger Model P3000 has won the 2016 Outdoor Life “Great Buy” award, establishing a new bar for dependability at a reasonable price. This Stoeger shotgun will handle any 12-gauge shell from field rounds to magnum 3″ (7.62 cm) shells with absolute confidence.

The pump-action configuration of the defense pump gun is straightforward. It includes a conventional stock or a pistol grip stock, allowing for one-handed operation. The Stoeger Model P3000 is fast to point, and quick to acquire. Also included is an 18.5-inch (46.99 cm) barrel for ease of maneuverability in tight spaces.

The Stoeger Model P3000 was built to fire 12-gauge shells loaded with 2.75 inches (6.98 cm) standard and 3-inch (7.62 cm) magnum. It can handle up to three-inch shells without any issues at all. 

Some additional specs include:

  • Barrel Length 28″ (71.12 cm)
  • Finish/Stock Black Synthetic
  • Overall Length 49.5″ (125.73 cm)
  • Average Weight 6.9 lbs (3.12 kg)

6. Remington 887 Nitro Mag

The Remington 887 Nitro Mag Shotgun was one of the most durable shotguns ever made. It was a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun with an armored exterior that no other shotgun had. The polymer finish, known as ArmorLokt, on the outside of the gun protected its barrel and receiver from harsh weather conditions and other forms of accidental damage.

Unfortunately, the company has discontinued the Remington 887 Nitro Mag Shotgun. Some claim that the Remington 887’s discontinuation was due to its resemblance to the Benelli Supernova, which was more popular. 

Plus, there were a lot of disgruntled consumers posting complaints on the internet regarding the Remington 887. This is most likely why the firm discontinued it in the first place. The best way you can get your hands on one now is if someone else owns one and decides to sell it to you.

You can check if one is currently available used on or here at Palmetto State Armory.

Some additional specs of the Remington 887 Nitro Mag include:

  • Super Cell recoil pad reduces the felt recoil up to 54%
  •  2 3/4″, 3″, 3 1/2″ loads (6.98, 7.62, 8.89 cm)
  • 18 1/2″ barrel length (46.99 cm)

What About Shotgun Recoil? 

Shotgun recoil is a factor affecting many shooters. Shotguns are one of the most powerful weapons in the world. It is so powerful that it can knock a shooter down if not handled properly. To ensure safety, practice handling a shotgun before going to the range for target practice.

To combat shotgun recoil, most of these beginner shotguns are equipped with a recoil pad to reduce the felt shock. These pads help minimize the pain felt by beginners.

Shotguns are available in different gauges, which hold a varying number of pellets. For example, 12 gauge shotguns can hold up to 8-9 pellets, while 20 gauge guns can hold up to 11-12 pellets.

These beginner shotguns are equipped with either:

  • 3″ or 3 1/2″ load capacity (7.62 or 8.89 cm).
  • 2 3/4″ and 3″ (6.98 and 7.62 cm) shells to ensure there is no mismatch between ammo and chamber size. 

When you’re at the range, you have to take note of your surroundings and other people around you and their proximity to your firing position. If there’s a bench or a chair that can support your weight, then go ahead and use it to rest from time to time from recoil fatigue.

Related Typical Shooting Range Costs | Pistols, Rifles, and Skeet.

What Type of Shells Should I Buy? (Birdshot, Buckshot, Slugs)

Boxes of Slug Shotgun Shells and Buckshot Shotgun Shells

Shotguns also shoot rounds that come in different lengths, gauges, and types, such as shells, slugs, or buckshot. 

The type of shell you should buy varies depending on the size of the round used. Slugs are usually single projectiles, while buckshot is a cluster of small pellets that are bigger than birdshot, which are tiny pellets that are also included in shotgun rounds. 

Shotguns can be categorized based on their chamber size and action type. Chamber size refers to the size of the barrel that holds the shell, while action type means how many rounds are required to fire (single-barrel, double-barrel, or semi-automatic).

Because shotguns can shoot a wide variety of pellets with varying payloads, it is important to get training before using one for self-defense or any other purpose. These weapons are not exempt from legal restrictions like firearms, so make sure you know your local laws before purchasing one.

Chamber length impacts the weight of your gun. A longer chamber provides you more room to store shells or cartridges, increasing your capacity for ammunition. You can fit more rounds into a long-chambered shotgun because they come in inches rather than millimeters.

Related Birdshot vs. Buckshot | What’s the Difference?

Why Shotguns Are Great for Home Defense

Shotguns are stable and can control your firing more effectively than other guns. They are more accurate at short range compared to handguns because their longer length naturally helps them aim better. This is a big reason why shotgun manufacturers make barrels with notches sighted in for 25, 35, 45, and 50 yards (22.86, 32.00, 41.14, and 45.72 meters).

Shotguns are ideal for home defense because they can be used as a deterrent to scare off intruders without having to pull the trigger. This is due to the “spread” created by pellet ammunition, which can spread into a wide area at a close range. 

As a result, an intruder may become hesitant and think twice before continuing with his intentions of breaking into your home. You can also potentially strike multiple targets with one shot if it’s done correctly (this will more than likely not be necessary).

Finally, shotguns are some of the most affordable options for those looking for an effective defense weapon, particularly when compared to rifles or handguns. They tend to sell on average for anywhere between $300-$500 depending on what you plan on buying (semi-auto, pump-action, or brake action), the type of gun (pump vs. break), and where you buy it (firearm retailers, etc.)

For more, check out The 9 Best Shotguns for SHTF.