5 Reasons to Run a Tactical 20 Gauge

The Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge, with furniture from ATI.

The Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge, with furniture from ATI.

Mossberg 500 20 Gauge: http://www.mossberg.com/product/500-tactical-8-shot-54300/

GunsAmerica’s review: https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/20-gauge-home-defense-mossberg-special-purpose-review/

Buy a Mossberg 500: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=mossberg%20500%2020%20gauge

ATI Gunstocks: http://www.atigunstocks.com/shotguns/mossberg?p=1

There's something appealing about the weight and size of the 20 gauge.

There’s something appealing about the weight and size of the 20 gauge.

For most new shooters, youth and smaller individuals, especially–12-gauge defensive loads are too much to handle. If I’m being 100% honest it’s even hard for me to handle a long day of high brass 12 gauge loads. So what does the smaller stature shooter do in a world dominated by bigger-is-better?

As I typically do, you suck it up. My go-to shotgun, for more years than I can remember, has been a Remington 870. I’ve cut it down, and tricked it out, and have it running exceptionally well. I’ve put in serious range time with the pumps, autos, the bullpups, and even some of the more esoteric “firearms” that shoot 12 gauge shells.

What happens after a day on the range? Your shoulder suffers, but you will get by. You can dumb-down your practice sessions with low-recoil shells. Birdshot is a popular option. While this cuts down on the felt recoil, it also gives you a false sense of your abilities. With less recoil and muzzle rise, you can get back on target more quickly. You can feel accomplished with fast split times and epic follow-ups. But then, when you load it back up with high-brass buckshot for the real world–you’ve changed an important variable. If you have to go to the gun in an emergency, it won’t run like gun you shot on the range.

Still, this is what almost everyone does. Is there another option? I would seriously recommend a shotgun in a gauge that you can run instead of a gauge that is going to run you ragged.

1. There are (a few) serious 20 gauge shotguns readily available

Looking at the limited options on the market, I went with the clear winner–the Mossberg 500 tactical 20 gauge. Compact, controllable, effective, and fairly inexpensive, the 500 is a great out-of-the-box option for people looking for a gun with optimal bite with out all that uncontrollable bark.


  • Gauge            20
  • Capacity         8
  • Chamber        3 inch
  • Barrel            20″
  • Choke             Cylinder Bore
  • LOP                13″
  • Weight           6lbs
  • Length            39″
Still, the stock configuration may be too small for many.

Still, the stock configuration may be too small for many.

We reviewed this gun more than a year ago, and as part of a long-term study on this exact topic, I’ve been working it out regularly. I’m pleased with what I’ve found, but I still think there are some changes I’d like to make. If you want to upgrade your 500 or 870 (in 12 gauge, at least) you can spend months researching your options. But the 20 gauge 500?

Good. Good enough?

Good. Good enough?

Traditional, but no options for adjusting length of pull.

Traditional, but no options for adjusting length of pull.

2. Available Upgrades

Though the Mossberg 500 tactical 20 gauge is a great gun, its furniture is a bit underwhelming. It is built with a youth-sized stock and forend and is more or less setup for younger or smaller framed shooters. This isn’t a bad thing, but as shooters grow (or in my case, buckle down to the 20 gauge) it helps to add a few more inches to the length of pull. I’ve studied up on all of the available 20 gauge Mossberg furniture options, and the clear choice and true focus of this review ended up being the TactLite furniture from ATI.

The ATI stock, compacted.

The ATI stock, compacted.

Extended, it offers more length.

Extended, it offers more length–3+ more inches.

Installing the furniture is simple, straight forward and can be done with simple hand tools. All in all, it took me right around 45 minuets to strip the Mossberg of its youth furniture, give it a quick cleaning and install the TactLite furniture.

Starting at the back, the TactLite furniture gives you a thick rubber recoil pad, an adjustable cheek riser, 6-position collapsible stock, sling mounting points and a rubberized pistol grip. When comparing the ATI stock system to the standard Mossberg there is no contest. The Factory stock is short, straight, and awkward to hold. The TactLite offers the shooter serious customization at a fair price of $119.00.

The pistol grip has a softer feel on the hand.

The pistol grip has a softer feel on the hand.

The railed forend.

The railed forend.

Moving forward the handguard is elongated giving ample space for your off hand. It is a serious improvement over the small forend that comes on the Mossberg. The bottom of the TactLite forend is wrapped in rubber making the shooting experience that much more comfortable. Lastly the ATI forend has two positions on the left and right to mount picatinny rails and ultimately any accessories. The forend is fairly inexpensive, coming in at $30. All in all, both the forend and the stock make for a much more ergonomic and efficient gun.

3. Increased Speed and Control

Shooting with the newly dressed Mossberg 500 tactical 20 gauge is an entirely different experience. I never really disliked the shooting experience with the youth furniture, but at the same time it always felt crowded. With the addition of the adjustable stock, pistol grip and elongated forend the gun feels spacious and much more comfortable.

The modest recoil previously present is removed thanks to the thick rubber butt pad. Looking at muzzle rise it’s hard not to be impressed. Most if not all muzzle climb is controlled by the pistol grip stock. The shotgun feels like a full size combat weapon yet it handles like a feather weight when compared to its 12-gauge brother.

With a rail on the top, you have options for optics.

With a rail on the top, you have options for optics.

A red dot will make target acquisition even faster.

A red dot will make target acquisition even faster.

After spending an afternoon on the range with the Mossberg 20 gauge I can’t imagine anyone who would rather shoot or use a 12 gauge. This gun just proves to be faster on target, quicker to cycle and regain the sights, and ultimately more efficient to shoot.

4. Accuracy

This section may be a bit more philosophical. The increase in speed and control means you will (all things being equal) also be more accurate. This is a big deal with shotguns designed for close quarters work. Consider the spread you get from birdshot at typical skeet-shooting ranges. It is vast. You throw up a cloud of lead or steel that spreads out several feet. But that’s not the case at contact distances. You still have to aim. That cloud we associate with birdshot is a tighter wad when it leaves the barrel.

And is that tighter ball of shot, or a similar ball of buckshot, or a slug… what’s the word I’m looking for? Effective? I think that’s it. Are the terminal ballistics offered by the 20 gauge sufficient for home defense, or tactical applications? I would argue that they are. There are many scenarios (like clearing a house, for example) where a 12 gauge may be overkill, or potentially dangerous (because of over-penetration of walls, etc.).


Birdshot from 15 meters.

 From 20 meters, the spread is much greater.

From 20 meters, the spread is much greater.

Looking at the patterns from the Mossberg’s 20-inch cylinder bore barrel, I was pleasantly surprised. At 15 meters the spread was just at 12 inches and at 20 meters the spread was right at 15 inches. For game loads and a cylinder bore barrel, this was good. Having previously shot Federal #4 PD through the gun, I know that it is capable of much tighter patterns at defensive distances.

But there’s one serious downside to the 20 gauge that we still have to overcome. Being that 20 gauge is under appreciated and underutilized, I had no such luck sourcing defensive ammunition locally for this review–and I live in a major metropolitan area of Virginia. I had to settle for hunting loads.

Every big box store has mountains of 12 gauge shells with varieties of loads. Even during the last ammo crisis, 12 gauge slugs, buckshot, game loads, and target loads were always available. Speaking from personal experience owning a 20 gauge is a completely different story. Ammo is hard to come by, unless it is ordered online and then still you generally take what you can get. So stock up when you can.

5. Practice and training

The Mossberg 500 20 gauge is a great gun. As the gun ships form the factory, it is a good-to-go option. Given the addition of the ATI TactLite furniture it’s a hard gun to beat. With or without the furniture, I’d recommend this gun to anyone new to shotguns, and with the ATI furniture and good ammo I’d say its up to par with the best tactical shotguns on the market.

Decent capacity, exceptional ergonmics, sufficient termial ballistics...

Decent capacity, exceptional ergonomics, sufficient terminal ballistics…

And the best part is that you can shoot it all day and never feel it. This is important. When you aren’t overly abused by the guns you shoot, you’ll shoot them more frequently. You won’t flinch when you anticipate that heavy recoil. You won’t get those nasty looking hickies on your shoulder. In short, you’ll develop your own skills and a confidence that will undoubtedly prove valuable, should you ever need it in an emergency.

Compacted, the LOP is XX.

Compacted, the LOP is 13.

XX extended.

16+ extended.

{ 55 comments… add one }
  • Cedric Holden April 19, 2018, 12:12 am

    You may have missed the biggest reason why I own a 20 over a 12 and that is its a lighter gun, so if your packing it in the woods or you just need to pick it up from the side of your bed in the middle of the night, it’s more handy.

  • Ron December 24, 2017, 12:15 pm

    Defensive ammo available at Cheaperthandirt
    Winchester buckshot for deer and predator 20 pellets of 3 buck. About $5 for 5.

  • Corey Dolan February 20, 2017, 10:34 pm

    So I would like to build one of theses but ati clams they don’t make anything for 20gauge. What did you buy and where did you buy it. Or is a 12gauge mossberg 500 the same as a 20 gauge when it comes to the stock modification? Any help would be greatly appreciated

    • Tom May 11, 2019, 6:43 am

      I asked Choate Machine and Tool that same question. They said their folding stock for the 12 gauge also fits the 20 gauge. I have the Mossy 500 20 gauge with the Choate folder, and a Ellzeta light mount with a Stream light Tac 2 mounted on it. It’s my go-to for everything from H.D. to woods use. Light weight, and compact!

  • Len February 12, 2017, 9:27 pm

    To commenter George Liu, two posts above:

    You’re mistaken, the C20 ammo you reference is actually #1 buck, not #3.

    In all other respects, your post is correct.

  • docent October 30, 2016, 2:21 pm

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I
    am impressed! Very helpful informatiopn particularly the
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  • Rem870 October 27, 2016, 3:48 pm

    20 gauge shotgun is a good choice for a woman, youth or smaller stature person. But ammunition choice is also important. Low recoil shotgun ammunition is available from many manufacturers.

  • Zach wilson October 24, 2016, 4:52 pm

    Is that stock for a 12 gauge? I’ve been looking to put a new stock on my 20 gauge and I can only find this one in 12. Will the forend fit a 20 gauge as well?

  • Magic Rooster May 14, 2016, 7:33 pm

    I made the switch from 12 to 20 a few years ago after snapping my right collarbone. The break was exactly where the recoil pad meets my shoulder. I enjoy sporting clays, and shoot quite often. Early on, my buddies gave me a fit about my “girlie gun”, but it got to where I could hit clays further out than they could. As all the shooters in my group have gotten closer and past the age of 60, most all have made the switch to 20. I have an inexpensive O/U that is light weight and with 1200 fps loads, and the right coke tube, it is deadly on quail, doves, and clays. I don’t think you give up much more than the beating when you switch from 12 to 20, but each to his own.
    If the big bad 12 makes you feel better about things, so be it. I will take the 20 anytime and leave the beating for someone else to enjoy.

  • texas.1832@yahoo.com May 10, 2016, 3:33 pm

    Hi. I’ve tried twice unsuccessfully to put comments on this site. Am I doing something wrong? Thanks.

  • Trey Kempf May 10, 2016, 3:24 pm

    Could I get you to simplify things for me? I’ve got a Mossberg 500 tactical 20 ga on order. What all do I need to get in the way of a TactLite stock, trigger guard, hand guard, etc. to bring it up to adult size? Thanks..

  • Lee Foley May 3, 2016, 1:33 pm

    Let me get this straight ! Your telling me that a 20 gauge is a better tactical and self defense weapon than a 12 gauge ? As a former law Enforcement office and a Vietnam Veteran, I can tell you that I would never go out without my 12 gauge as a Police Ofice or in combat. The shotgun of choice was always the 12 gauge Remington 870. Which by the way is the most popular shotgun in the world.
    I guess you are trying to sell Mossbergs, well good luck on that. You may fool some of this Kool-aid drinking kids,but you won’t convince anybody with any sense.
    I was very surprised when I saw this article. Get real with your articles or I won’t waste my time with reading them.
    PS> Is this coming from Obama ? Maybe the 12 gauge is too powerful /

    • jim May 3, 2016, 4:44 pm

      Take a look at the ballistic numbers for 12 gauge shotshells ( 00Buck) vs 20 gauge (#3Buck) and then, with a little education, you will know what you are talking about. A 20-gauge shotshell shoots fewer pellets but still has a muzzle velocity of 1,200 fps – just like a 12-gauge. Do some reading then come back and join us. and thank you for your service – truly.

      • Lee Foley May 4, 2016, 12:11 pm

        Well as for education in weapons, I believe I can match and most likely exceed your knowledge. That was my MOS (field) in the Military. As for the ballistics of 00 buck, it all depends on what you using.. Anyway this is like Coca-Cola and Pepsi or Ford vs Chevy., matter or like or dislike.
        One more thing, name me some Police agencies that use 20 gauge rather then 12 gauges. Now if you are talking bird hunting, I might agree with you, might !
        Oh and nest time you write and article like this,have enough sense not to specify a brand name. It is obvious you are pushing Mossberg, LOL ! ( if you are the writer of this article )

        • texas.1832@yahoo.com May 10, 2016, 2:46 pm

          Did you have an unhappy childhood? My guess is that you’re the “little boy in the big car” type. You drive an oversize “kick-up” truck and tailgate people passing cars in the slow lane. They’re going the speed limit, but you don’t think they’re going fast enough, You get 6-8 inches off their rear window while you listen to hillbilly music and try to stare them down in their side view mirror. You stay parked there and expect them to inconvenience themselves by getting over behind the 50 mph people so you can zip by and tailgate somebody else. If you don’t get your way, you angrily whip out into the slow lane, then get even by slicing back over a few inches off their front bumper because, aw shuckins, they’ve been MEAN to you. Wouldn’t you like it better if you just went home and put a pout on your childish face and sucked your thumb?

        • Trey Kempf May 10, 2016, 2:55 pm

          Did you have an unhappy childhood? My guess is that you’re the “little boy in the big car” type. You drive an oversize “kick-up” truck and tailgate people passing cars in the slow lane. They’re going the speed limit, but you don’t think they’re going fast enough, You get 6-8 inches off their rear window while you listen to hillbilly music and try to stare them down in their side view mirror. You stay parked there and expect them to inconvenience themselves by getting over behind the 50 mph people so you can zip by and tailgate somebody else. If you don’t get your way, you angrily whip out into the slow lane, then get even by slicing back over a few inches off their front bumper because, aw shuckins, they’ve been MEAN to you. Wouldn’t you like it better if you just went home and planted a pout on your childish face and sucked your thumb?

        • Big Al November 20, 2016, 2:38 pm

          Why were you so hated having as a child? Hundreds of thousands of people give service to this country and don’t come back as cocky as you! Grow up and don’t live by your gun or you will die by your gun. Let me shoot you with a 20 gauge shotgun and see how it feels versus a 12 gauge. You think you are Mr. cool but when it gets down to it your letter shows you’re in mature mentality. Were you known as Mr. super cop ?

    • Russ May 9, 2016, 3:36 pm

      I don’t think he is trying to sell a Mossberg. I have 3 and they are great guns- my first is an early version of the 500 in 20 ga, I have had it for 40 years and picked it up used, still works great. But I also picked up a 500 in 12 ga recently, and I will put it up against the 870 any day of the week. I thought about getting a shorter barrel for my 20ga for the reasons here, but it ran about a buck fifty and they had the Mossberg Maverick with a shorter barrel @ Dicks for $185, so I got that instead, (12 ga) and made that into my home defense. Put a red dot on it with a pistol grip folding stock like the one here and a single swivel sling, as well as light mount on the front. It has the safety on the trigger, but other wise is a 500, and uses the same barrels. My 500 came with a rifled barrel, scope and cantilever mount, so I have lots of options with my 12 ga.’s at any time. If the SHTF, I could pop the rifled barrel on either and use sabots

    • john January 28, 2017, 9:55 am

      …and comments like this is why we have problems in this country. Jesus man really?!

  • Mickey Rat May 3, 2016, 11:54 am

    I wanted a range toy shotgun. I bought a Mossberg 20ga with a pistol grip & oversized safety for 125.00. I took the adjustable choke outer sleve & ground it into a breaching profile, added a short rail to the forend, mounted front pistol grip with pushbutton LED light & pressure switch for the green laser. Last but not least; a single point sling. Awesome toy! I found some Spartan 2 3/4″ #1 buck on line for 7.00/25 @ CDNN. I prefer the heavier shot. I now use it for a house gun. It is very effective out to 20 yards& up close as well. I live outside of town, and the kit works well checking around the house at night with the light & laser. And yes, I would bet my life on it. My Glock 17 is my back up.

  • Charlie Gilliam May 2, 2016, 9:13 pm

    I have been looking for a ‘lighter’ shotgun. I liked the discussion of the 20-gauge. I understand ‘upgrading’ it from the youth furniture. My issue is that I have ‘monkey arms.’ I have a 30-30 Marlin that we had to add 6+ inches to so that I could shoot it decently. Even my AR gives me some trouble with its max length. is there a way of getting longer than normal stocks?

  • Matt May 2, 2016, 7:03 pm

    The problem with putting a pistol grip on a Mossy is it makes using the safety difficult. You can’t reach it with your index finger. You have to release your grip or use your weak hand, not ideal. If your going to use a pistol grip you need to go with a 870.

    • Smitty May 6, 2016, 2:01 pm

      That’s because the safety is manipulated with your THUMB on top of the receiver. You use your index finger to pick boogers with when shooting the Mossberg.

  • Alan Henderson May 2, 2016, 6:01 pm

    Bought my wife a youth model 870 years ago and liked it so much I got one for myself. Only thing I’ve done to both is installed Choate magazine extensions and Streamlight flashlights.. Pass up all that smarmy black crap you can hang off them, It’s just one more damned thing to get snagged on something at the worst possible time. . . it’s for wannabees. . . Load it up with #3 Buck and its a nasty little weapon!

  • Gary May 2, 2016, 5:21 pm

    I moved to Montana 15 years ago with the desire to rifle hunt…While I have killed deer with a rifle the 2 Mulies I had mounted were taken with a 20 ga 870 youth model with a slug barrel…I switched to 20 ga 25 years ago…

  • Ed Pilkington May 2, 2016, 3:56 pm

    Good article! I love my H&R 1871 20 Ga pump with a Choate Tactical folding stock, three chokes, extended tube and 00Buck. Super dependable and VERY accurate with slugs through the modified choke. 2 and 3/4 ” group at 75 yds. GO TWENTY!

  • alcycle May 2, 2016, 1:23 pm

    I have a nice ‘1967’ ish Ithaca 20 ga. featherweight! I use #3 buckshot …either Federal or Remington I buy from the local Field & Stream…. This is a ‘sweet package’ . Light weight & fast shooting! That #3 buck sends out 20 pellets….to me better that 9 pellets of 00 buck from a 12 ga.

  • bmaverick May 2, 2016, 1:01 pm

    The Mossberg 500 tactical 20 gauge is a reliable shotgun. Notice the author talked about the Remington 870 in 12ga. The Remington 870 also comes in 20ga as well. There is even a US Marine Remington 870 tactical 20ga version too.

    Both of the mentioned shotguns above would be a great asset.

  • Grant Stevens May 2, 2016, 1:01 pm

    Train with what you are going to use. No substitute for the real thing. If you are familiar with the manual of arms, how much “intensive” training do you really need when using 12-gauge OO buck?

  • Don May 2, 2016, 11:41 am

    One of the reasons that many guys today just cannot handle a shotgun, is not only due to lack of training and proper technique, but because of PISTOL GRIPS and AR STYLE STOCKS. One of the first things we were taught when the shotgun was the “go to” gun, was to hold the elbow high. About the level of the shoulder or higher. The standard stock basically forced you to do that if you wanted to keep a firm grip on the grip area of the stock. It firmed the shoulder muscles and moved the shoulder socket into a better position to take recoil. Then pulling the stock snuggly into the shoulder, firming and stiffening the arms and hands in a forward motion, as if you were going to push it away, yet still holding the gun into the shoulder. Then slightly leaning forward. I could double tap my Benelli M1 Super 90 or my 11-87 with High Brass Buckshot or slugs, faster than I could my Glock pistol. It worked in prone, behind cover, while moving, in any position. It was fast and comfortable and I could work my way through a tactical combat course without whining and crying. At the end of a course over several days that required 800 rounds, half of them Buckshot, 200 rounds of slugs and the rest high brass #4 or #6 shot, I was not hurting. The only guys that were crying were the guys who didn’t use the proper technique or those who used PISTOL GRIPS. (or an Ithaca Model 37) Even 2 Females who were smaller in stature and weight were real troopers and learned to shoot the shotgun fast, without being a whiner. In this age of Tacticool Doo-Dads, and trying to make every firearm look like an AR, just remember…… There were people before you who did the same thing you have to do today, yet they survived with less pain. Think about the gear and techniques being used today, as opposed to the add ons of the shotgun, back a couple of decades ago. Looking Tacticool doesn’t mean you are smarter or better with a shotgun. Sometimes less is more.

    • Don R. May 2, 2016, 12:25 pm

      Without question, this is the most sapient assessment you will see regarding this issue. Bravo! Perhaps some will now actually learn how to shoot a shotgun before they alter it beyond recognition as a shotgun. Thank you Don.

    • Alan Henderson May 2, 2016, 6:05 pm


    • Roscoe May 3, 2016, 12:39 am

      Thanks for the info and insight. You have given me something to really think about. Thanks.

  • Breck Knight May 2, 2016, 11:29 am

    You started with “high brass defensive loads”. When will people realize that the power of the load has nothing to do with how far the brass comes up the shell? Just nitpicking I guess.

    • Dewey May 2, 2016, 3:22 pm

      Clearly you’re not a tacticool mall-ninja. I really wish these idiotic terms like “high” and “low” brass would follow the old-timers who coined them into the grave. Try explaining the folly of high velocity and spherical projectiles to one of these fools one day, that’s fun. GA articles are always fun to read. The plentiful lack of wit displayed by these tacti-fool “defenders” of the second amendment is always entertaining.

  • JohnP May 2, 2016, 11:18 am

    I have a Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge that I like very much. Its only negative is the 5-round capacity, which I would like to increase, but I have been unable to find aftermarket 20 gauge magazine extension tubes. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

    • Dave Hicks October 27, 2016, 8:33 pm

      JohnP I think Mossberg makes a 500 20gauge 20 inch with full tube.or a kit to exchange.

  • alex May 2, 2016, 10:18 am

    i did the same thing with my mossberg 500 in 12 gauge,the only thing i don’t like is the safety on a mossberg is on the back of the receiver,when holding the gun by the pistol grip it’s hard to reach the safety switch,you have to remove your hand to do so.

  • Martin Wade May 2, 2016, 10:07 am

    I have fired a 20 gauge and still prefer the Remington 870 using Turkey shot which limits over-penetration and does the job for home defense.

  • john creveling May 2, 2016, 10:02 am

    I recently bought my step daughter an 870 20 ga for home defense.We tried a bunch of shotguns and the adjustable LOP and the 18″ barrel on the youth 870 made all the difference for her.She did not like a pistol grip which limited our options.I have put an extended mag light and side stock shell holder on it.She can run several boxes thru it training without getting tired.I would recommend the 870 youth for smaller shooters.Question for Jacob why do you use meters for shooting distance and inches for shot pattern? Stick with inches,otherwise a great article.

  • Mal May 2, 2016, 10:00 am

    I agree about the 20ga, have 11 shotguns and not one of them is 12ga. the one I have in a easy place to get to is a Ithaca 37 with the deerslayer 18in barrel. it is loaded with three #6 bird shot and two slugs. I think this should make anyone think twice

  • Alan May 2, 2016, 9:15 am

    I agree with most of it, however, one has only to look at the variety of shotshells available for the 12 to realize that it has come of age, and with the Aguila mini shell line, makes perfect sense as an all around gun.
    The 16 was NEVER really viable, it simply didn’t make sense as a go between of the 20 and 12.
    If Aguila and others expand on the mini concept, that will really make the 12 King of the smoothbores.

  • R.E. May 2, 2016, 9:10 am

    I shoot a Moss. 410
    interchangeable barrels,22.
    sweet shooting and inexpensive.

    • Dave Hicks October 27, 2016, 8:27 pm

      R.E. I also use a Mossberg 500 in .410 gauge. Best about a .410 is it works and my wife and daughter can use it. As far as a a combat weapon I’d want a sub machine gun or an a AR 15/M16

  • Justin May 2, 2016, 8:57 am

    I had a H&R 12 gauge pardner pump protector setup
    for home defense but sold it because it wasn’t enjoyable to practice with. When I started looking for another shotgun to serve as an all around gun I went with a H&R pardner compact in 20 gauhe. 21 inch barrel threaded for chokes, 13 inch LOP and a lot more controllable than the 12. I have put shell holders on the butt stock that holds 2 rounds on each side and also mounted an Elzetta Bravo light on it. Still want to add a set of williams slugger sights and a Magpul SGA stock but it’s a nice gun as is. It’s based on the 870 20ga platform so there are plenty of options available for it.

    • Bud Hall May 2, 2016, 2:00 pm

      You’ve stumbled onto one of the best, most practical, and economical choices I’ve seen anyone suggest for a home defense shotgun. I’ve owned & shot both the 12ga. & 20ga. H&R Pardner Pumps. The “20ga Youth Model”, which is what you described, is much better in all aspects. Excellent choice for a home SG!!

      • Michael Norris August 28, 2016, 10:21 pm

        I have owned a 20ga. Pardner Pump Youth model for 5 years now. It is my ‘house cannon’ for HD. I found it likes the Federal #2 magnum shells a lot. However, I do have both #1 and #3 standard shells, also.

        I am 62, male, 5’3″ and too many pounds. The shotgun fits me perfectly, the recoil pad is efficient, and the weight is solid.

        Would I trust this weapon with my life? I have for over 1,800 days.

        TM3 SSN652

  • Luc May 2, 2016, 8:16 am

    A couple years ago I asked the clerk at my LGS why no one made a 20 ga tactical sg. He went and took down from the wall a tactical 870. 18″ bbl, extended 6 round magazine, sling swivels and a plastic stock. Not as tricked out as the 500, but has everything I need. Its light as a feather and trim compared to a 12 ga. Try a 20 before you buy an oversized cannon.

  • Frankl Bowman May 2, 2016, 7:51 am

    Shot size for #3 buck in the Rio loading is .25 for lead shot, with #1 buck lead shot being .30 . Rio produces a loading of 9 pellets of #1 buck in 20 gauge and is very cost effective.

  • Mike May 2, 2016, 7:36 am

    Try the Blackhawk Knoxx recoil reducing stock for the 12 ga. They actually work very well. They are adjustable for length of pull and look cool too.

  • Hammer May 2, 2016, 7:24 am

    Why has the 16 gauge died out???
    Talk about a perfect gun!!!
    Size, power, handling….
    Why has it died out, someone tell me?!?!
    12 gauge is way too much for anything.
    It’s meant for distance!
    Try spending a box of shells got training and then using that shoulder.
    They call them “sweet 16’s” for a reason!
    Come on manufacturers get back into the game!!!!!

  • Greg May 2, 2016, 5:23 am

    Amen Brother!!! Thank you for being honest, and promoting the good ole 20!!! I have a saiga 20 and love it. Ammo is almost always available somewhere, easy to shoot and if you want special defensive loads, just buy online. I bullpupped my Saiga .410 and plan to do the same to the 20, watch out bad guys and zombies!!! I can shoot for fun, shoot for ages and not hurt in the morning the day after!

  • JONY May 2, 2016, 4:04 am

    i’ve got my 12 GA 500 tricked out as he says, just about like he did that 20 GA. AR style stock, hand grip and it works very well. i also bought an old shot out shot barrel and sawed it off about 1/8″ this side of legal so the feds wouldn’t get at me. talk about cylinder choke, how about no choke at all. i can bust 3 gallon milk jugs in 2 seconds at about 10 yards. my friends all think it’s magic but it’s all about that pistol grip and better control while pumping the reload. while i do like the 20 GA, it’s not necessary. you can do the same thing with a 12 GA if properly equipped.

  • George Liu May 2, 2016, 3:46 am

    I use a Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge as my home defense firearm. My defense load is the Rio C20 which consists of 9 #3 buckshot pellets which are loaded as three rows of 3. The #3 has a diameter of 0.30 inches while the 00 gauge pellet is 0.33 inches. The velocity is the same so you have a load that is nearly that of a 00 shell. I bought a case of 250 shells for about $110 at a local gun show.

  • Joey Nichols May 2, 2016, 2:52 am

    I’m in complete agreement with your conclusions and have recommended the 20 gauge often to others. Especially, to new or infrequent shooters.
    The 20 is also my preferred trap/bird gun. Why beat yourself up, if you don’t have to? It doesn’t get the love of the 12 and ammo selection can be limited, but it does the job.

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