8 Best Short Barrel Shotguns – 2024

Remington Shockwave Raptor TAC

Last Updated May 19th 2024

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The best short barrel shotguns are awesome.

Little weapons of war that are built to outsmart and teeter on the edge of the National Firearms Act NFA regulations and give you one of the best home defense guns and truck guns on the market.

But what is the best short barreled shotgun on the market? We think it’s the Mossberg 590M Shockwave, but there are lots of options here and a few different approaches.

Read the scientific process of how we review and compare guns here.


mossberg shockwave 590M shotgun

1. Mossberg 590M Shockwave

  • Price: $498.99
  • Barrel length: 15
  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Action: Pump Action
  • Overall Length: 26.37
  • Capacity: 10+1/20+1
  • Weight: 6.5lb

Best Overall

Price: 4/5 Capacity: 5/5 Length: 5/5 Reliability: 5/5 Prestige: 3/5

Pros

  • Massive capacity
  • Mossberg reliability
  • Bargain price

Cons

  • Mags are expensive
  • Pump action is stiff with the 20 round mag
  • Only takes 2 3/4 inch shells

The best-selling Mossberg 590 Shockwave was already the gold standard compact 12 gauge pump action shotgun but the addition of a detachable box magazine has turned it into a masterpiece.

With a bird’s head grip and shorter barrel length, this 12 gauge pump action tactical shotgun is an absolute weapon of war that fits comfortably under a car seat. I mean it’s almost a concealed carry shotgun. Almost…

As well as the legendary Mossberg reliability, you get durable short barreled shotguns with steel on steel lockup, twin action bars.

This 12 gauge pump action is also fully BATFE compliant, thanks to its overall length of 26.37 inches, so there’s no need for a tax stamp for this SBS Short Barreled shotgun.

Some States have their own legislation in place. But if you’re allowed to have a Mossberg 590M Shockwave then you absolutely should. If you’re not a really experienced shooter, this might be the best home defense shotgun here.


Remington V3 TAC-13 Shotgun on sale now. Get yours here.

2. Remington V3 TAC-13

  • Price: $1,113.99
  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Barrel length: 13
  • Overall Length:
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Weight: 5.94lb

Runner Up

Price: 2/5 Capacity: 2/5 Length: 5/5 Reliability: 4/5 Prestige: 3/5

Pros

  • Beautiful fit and finish
  • Fun to shoot
  • Semi auto rapid fire could save you

Cons

  • Price tag is batshit nuts
  • Low capacity in this company
  • Extreme recoil

The Remington 870 TAC-13 is a stunning semi auto shotgun that can take up to 3 inch shells, so magnum loads, if you can take the recoil.

You get an elongated bird’s head grip to deal with the recoil and ensure it’s more than 26 inches long, to avoid the NFA classification.

It’s a semi auto and the rapid follow up shots make this a hell of a defensive shotgun or home defense weapon, as 5 or 6 shells are generally more than enough to fix any home invasion.

And this Remington 870 Tac-13 is super easy to move through doorways and stairwells with this gun in your hand, which makes it a potent ally when something goes bump in the night. This semi auto shotgun is seriously good for home defense.


Rock Island Armory VRF14, a great semi auto short barrel shotgun.

3. Rock Island Armory VRF14

  • Price: $279.99
  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Barrel length: 14
  • Overall Length: 26 inches
  • Capacity: 19+1
  • Weight: 6.6lb

Best AR Style Shotgun

Price: 4/5 Capacity: 5/5 Length: 5/5 Reliability: 4/5 Prestige: 2/5

Pros

  • Big capacity up to 19+1
  • Pistol grip
  • Picatinny rail for red dot sights & optics

Cons

  • Plastic handguard without M-Lok
  • Semi auto with rapid follow up shots

The Rock Island Armory are modeled on an AR pistol, and that makes a lot of sense.

Now the pistol grip is a rare treat in this world of birdshead grips, and the picatinny rail up top for red dot sights is a nice touch.

The supplied mag is a 5 round magazine, but this 12 gauge shotgun is compatible with VR Series mags that offer 9 or 19 rounds. Now that is high capacity…

That turns this cheap matte black polymer semi-automatic shotgun into a very serious weapon for home defense with best-selling potential. Check out the best AR12 Shotguns here if you want the full length versions and think about ghost ring sights up there or more conventional rifle sights.


Genesis Arms Gen-12 SBM. An epic short barrel weapon that you saw in the hands of John Wick.

4. Genesis Arms Gen-12 SBM

  • Price: $2,859.99
  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Barrel length: 7
  • Overall Length: 23 inches
  • Capacity: 10+1
  • Weight: 6.6lb

Best Custom Shortie

Pros

  • Fastest cycling shotgun on the market
  • John Wick’s new shotgun
  • Upper fits on standard DPMS Gen 1 AR-10 lower

Cons

  • Yeah that price
  • Full NFA registration and required tax stamp

Now this is a serious NFA 12 gauge that needs a tax stamp and is officially an SBS Short Barrel Shotgun in the eyes of the ATF, especially with that contentious pistol brace attached.

So check the latest gun laws before ordering one of these semi-automatic shotguns.

But look what you get in return for the paperwork…

This is the semi-automatic shotgun that John Wick loaded up with Dragon’s Breath shells to breathe fire in John Wick 4. It’s the fastest cycling semi-automatic shotgun in the world, according to Genesis, and it needs to be at this price.

You can save a little money by using a standard DPMS Gen 1 AR-10 lower and buy the upper from Brownells for around $1,500, although it does work better with the Genesis Beef Up kit.

You can get a 10.5 inch upper, too, which provides a little less fiery and more controllable fun. And if they’re good enough for John Wick, these gas operated semi auto shotguns will work for home defense.


Kalashnikov Khaos shotgun. Get your CQB here

5. Kalashnikov Khaos

  • Price: $1,275.99
  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Barrel: 12.68
  • Overall Length:
  • Capacity: 5+1/10+1
  • Weight: 5.94lb

Best AK-47 Pistol Shotgun

Pros

  • Saiga mags work, even drum mags
  • Durable as an AK-47
  • M-LOK rail for attachments

Cons

  • Price hurts to read
  • Fit and finish is basic

Kaslashnikov USA makes a great AK-47 based magazine fed shotgun, and this is the cut down version of that best-selling superstar.

It is semi automatic, rapid firing and chopped down with a makeshift overmolded birdshead grip. It isn’t as pretty as the Remington, or perhaps even the Mossberg, but this short barrel shotgun is functional as all Hell.

The M-LOK handguard is ready for lights, lasers and just about anything else you care to hang off it.

You get a bead front sight, V notch rear sights and you can switch those out for ghost ring sights & optics that are more advanced.

Also, you can load a new magazine with the bolt closed. Technically that allows for one handed operation.

But honestly we’d want a steadying hand on the handguard, or even a vertical grip if possible with this short barrel shotgun.

Kalshnikov USA produces great AR12, full length AK-47 rifles and semi automatic short barrel rifles if you like home defense options.


6. Henry Axe

  • Price: $952.99
  • Barrel: 15.14
  • Overall Length: 26.1
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Weight: 5.75lb

Best Lever Action Shotgun

Pros

  • Cowboy action style shotgun
  • Side gate for rapid loading
  • It’s fun to shoot.

Cons

  • Price
  • .410 gauge shells limit usefulness

The Henry Axe lever action shotgun is a world of fun, even though it is just a 410 gauge.

Live out your cowboy fantasy or pretend you’re Woody Harrelson in Zombieland. Nobody is watching, it’s all fine, and these small shotguns are actually ideal as snake guns, or as pest control in your yard.

Upgrade to 410 slugs and you could use this as a defensive shotgun, too.

These look like cut down lever action rifles, but the versatility of the shotgun shells mean it’s a great addition to any gun safe and a quirky alternative to a pump action tactical shotgun.

Put it next to your lever action rifles & shotguns and smile every time you pick it up knowing that you’re going to have lots of fun without the 12 gauge recoil.


Compact Shotguns With a Full Length Barrel

A short barrel shotgun is great, but you might just want a compact shotgun for home defense, without giving up the full length barrel.

These are safe from the NFA rules and tax stamps, too, and always should be. It’s important.

And there are plenty of options there, too, from bullpup shotguns through to conventiona pump shotguns andl tactical shotguns with a collapsible stock that will save valuable inches.

These guns can be awesome for home defense and here are our top picks for you.


KelTec KSG, a great compact shotgun with the same overall length as the shorter barrel contenders.

7. Kel-Tec KSG

  • Price: $599.99
  • Barrel: 18.5
  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Overall Length: 26.1
  • Capacity: 12+1
  • Weight: 6.9lb

Best Compact Shotgun

Pros

  • Compact shotgun
  • Twin tube magazines and high capacity
  • It’s fun to shoot.

Cons

  • You need to flick a switch to change tubes
  • Polished internals improve reliability

The Kel-Tec KSG is a perennial star in our lists of pump shotguns, defensive shotguns and more. Put simply, we love it.

And despite having a full length 18.5 inch barrel, the KSG is super compact and is actually shorter than a lot of these short barrel shotgun offerings.

So consider getting the Kel-Tec KSG if you want a short shotgun. There’s a lot to love about the compact bullpup pump shotguns with twin tubular magazines and the black synthetic stock.


Benelli M4 Tactical, shoot with the stock collapsed and you've got yourself a short shotgun.

8. Benelli M4 Entry/Tactical (M1014)

  • Price: $1,992.99
  • Barrel: 18.5
  • Gauge: 12 Gauge
  • Overall Length: 35 with stock retracted
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Weight: 8lb

Best Military Grade Shotgun

Pros

  • Law enforcement and military favorite
  • As reliable as the sun rising
  • Accurate and simple

Cons

  • It’s a standard length barrel
  • Price

The Benelli M4 Entry CQB was a 14 inch version of this shotgun with a breaching barrel deisgned for law enforcement and military to blow out door locks. But, well, we can’t sell thse anymore and we’re not sure Benelli does either.

So, in the absence of that, how’s about the standard M1014 Tactical with the 18.5 inch barrel?

It is a great shotgun that is safe from the National Firearms Act & NFA rules. It’s also one of the best military and law enforcement semi-automatic shotguns in the world.

You can also keep the shoulder stock contracted and this becomes a 35 inch shotgun. It’s not the shortest in the world, but it is an absolutely top tier 12 gauge semi automatic shotgun with a pistol grip.

And when that black synthetic stock with the cheek riser is compacted, it kinda works like a bullpup with a trigger action up front and potentially ghost ring sights up top.

Of course the Auto Regulating Gas Operated Benelli M4 Entry CQB isn’t conventional thinking in this context. But these are some of the top semi-auto shotguns on the market….


What are the NFA Rules on Shorties?

The NFA rules say a shotgun is a firearm subject to the National Firearms Act if the shotgun has a barrel, or barrels, which are less than 18 inches in length.

Now the NFA rules also say that a weapon made from a shotgun is also a firearm subject to the same registration and tax stamp requirements if the total length is less than 26 inches.

Now plenty of these firearms like the Shockwave get round these rules, because they have a smooth bore barrel and don’t quite fit into the definition of a firearm and the total length is more than 26 inches.

But State regulations and local laws vary. So make sure your gun is legal in your State before you place your order. The Shockwave Raptor, for instance, is not legal in Iowa, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey and more.

Simply being classified by the rules as Any Other Weapon (AOW) is enough for some States and the net is closing in on loopholes. So while the likes of North Carolina, New York and Iowa are already there, others may follow in good time. get legal advice if you’re unsure. An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure, after all…

Author

  • Nick Hall

    Nick is a lifelong gun enthusiast who has a simple mission. He wants to find the best deals for guns online and help you make the best choices with weapons your life may depend on one day.Nick won a minor league shooting competition at the age of 11 and it all went from there. Now he runs one of the biggest firearms websites on the net and his work has featured in Playboy US, Tatler Asia, Forbes and a whole host of national magazines and websites.

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