Shotguns are making quite the comeback in recent years. Somehow the gospel of the gauge has reached the ears of shooters, and more and more are adopting the tactical shotgun for home defense needs. It helps that shotguns have gotten considerably better in the last few years, and semi-auto shotguns have reached a point of reliability where they can be trusted for the task of home and self-defense.
In 2023 you have plenty of shotgun options. I wouldn’t say too many, but enough that it would be difficult to combine pumps and semi-autos without producing a multi-thousand-word attack on tactical shotguns. Let’s focus on those modern semi-auto shotguns today, and we’ll tackle pump actions another day.
Beretta 1301 Shotgun
The Beretta 1301 series have really helped revive the world of semi-auto tactical shotguns. The 1301 series are gas-operated guns that use Beretta’s innovative gas system they refer to as the BLINK system. This gas system is not only incredibly reliable but roughly 35% faster cycling than most semi-auto shotguns.
The 1301 has been made modular by the aftermarket, with companies like Aridus Industries mating Magpul stocks and friends to the gun, as well as building bigger and better controls. Like most Italian shotguns, it’s a modern gun with ghost right sights and an optic rail. One of my favorite characteristics is how light the gun is. At 6.4 pounds in its standard configuration, it’s one of the lightest gas guns on the market.
Benelli M4 Shotgun
When talking about reliable semi-auto shotguns, the Benelli M4 takes the cake. The M4, also known as the M1014 Joint Service Shotgun, was built specifically for the request of a semi-auto combat shotgun by the United States military. The Benelli M4 series uses the Benelli ARGO system that uses two gas piston rods to drive the gun’s operation.
This results in a gun reliable in rugged and nonpermissive environments. This includes deserts, jungles, and swamps. The gun features ghost ring sights and an optic rail. It’s not the lightest shotgun, but the Benelli M4 has the best reputation in the worst parts of the world. The gun is slightly showing its age these days, but with a reputation of success, it’s tough not to include it on the list.
Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical Shotgun
The Mossberg 930 was a fine shotgun, but Mossberg knew they could do better. They teamed up with legendary shooter Jerry Miculek to produce the Mossberg 940 JM Pro series, with the 940 Tactical model being their latest release. Mossberg increased the gun’s reliability, lightened it, and modernized it.
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They ditched micro-sized controls for great big things. They integrated an optic mount into the gun’s receiver, allowing you to mount modern red dots easily. You can adjust the stock via spacers for a proper length of pull. Mossberg produced a lightweight, light recoiling shotgun with all the modern features you could ever want. Oh, and they did it for less than one thousand dollars.
Beretta A300 Ultima Patrol
In an effort to provide a high-quality tactical shotgun at a lower price, Beretta took their American-made A300 and turned it into the A300 Ultima Patrol. This gun featured a tactical-length barrel, a seven-round magazine tube, an extended handguard, and enlarged controls. The gun is gas operated and built to Beretta’s high standards.
The gun is optic-ready and features ghost ring sights, as well as numerous M-LOK slots to accommodate lights, lasers, and slings. The overall design is solid, and the lower price point makes it much more accessible than the 1301 for most shooters. You might not get the BLINK system, but you do get a rock-solid and reliable gas-operated gun. The Ultima Patrol is bound to be quite successful in the next few years.
Savage Renegauge Security
A dark horse of the shotgun world comes in the form of the Savage Renegauge Security. The Renegauge came in sporting configuration years ago, but only now have we gotten the Security model. This gun packs its own new gas system known as the DRIV system or dual regulating inline valve system. This system vents excess gas to ensure reliable cycling and less total recoil.
The Renegauge Security is ultra-reliable, and in my shooting, it eats everything but micro shells, including reduced recoil loads. The gun features big, oversized controls and a huge loading port for fast reloads. The gun is decked out with ghost ring sights and a magazine clamp with an M-LOK slot for accessories. It’s not getting a fair share in the current discussion and certainly deserves a good turn.
Asgard Defense Systems M127 Krieger Shotgun
One of the more underrated shotguns on the market comes from a very small company. The M127 Krieger Shotgun is a semi-auto gas gun that uses a dual short-stroke gas piston. It’s incredibly reliable and one of the most innovative shotguns on the market. First, you can put the charging handle on the left side, which shouldn’t be as rare as it is in 2023. Second, the platform capitalizes on modularity.
Not only can it use AR stocks and pistol grips, but accessory rails make it easy to add gadgets and gizmos too. The M127 Krieger uses an inline stock design to help reduce recoil and improve follow-up shots. The gun holds seven 2.75-inch shells and comes ready with an adjustable stock and large controls. It’s expensive and hefty at nine pounds but delivers innovation like none other.
Genesis 12 Shotgun
I’m not a major fan of box-fed shotguns, but I make an exception for the Genesis 12. It’s a semi-auto, twelve-gauge shotgun that is built on the AR-10 platform. This design provides the familiar and successful ergonomics of the Stoner design with twelve-gauge firepower. It also uses short recoil operation making it fairly unique in its design.
The Genesis 12 Shotgun comes in numerous NFA configurations, standard, and even other firearms designs. Magazine capacities range from five to ten, with an option for a +2 extension. These guns have been proven to be super reliable, easy to shoot, and of course, quicker to reload than other options.
The Gauge Gospel
It’s been a good year for shotguns, actually a good few years. As a designated shotgun nerd, this pleases me greatly. The rise of semi-auto shotguns into acceptable and reliable defensive weapons has been great to see. I have my own favorites and bias, but I want to reach out to the audience and ask you, what’s your favorite semi-auto shotgun?
Let us know below!