5 Best Shotguns in the World (Winchester, Remington and Beretta Make the Lower)

A shotgun is a firearm, typically a long arm fired from the shoulder that fires a series of smaller bullets instead of a single bullet. Shotguns are primarily sporting weapons useful for hunting birds or other small, fast moving game, but also for military and civil self-defense purposes. The ability to project a devastating pattern of lead or steel shot over short distances is also valuable in urban or jungle environments. This makes a properly equipped shotgun an excellent weapon for home defense or close combat.

Winchester model 1897

Developed by the successful American gun designer John Moses Browning, the Winchester Model 1897 pump-action shotgun was better known as the “Trench Gun” during World War I. Originally designed as a civilian sporting weapon, the Trench Gun version had a 20-inch version of the barrel that made it easier to handle in the narrow trenches of the western front, a bayonet mount for close combat and a heat shield. Trench cannons were used not only to clear narrow trenches when attacked, but interestingly also to fire hand grenades that were thrown into American lines. The six-round tubular magazine made it a formidable enemy when fired lengthwise through an enemy trench; a single shotgun from 1897 could drop .33-caliber 50-hour bullets in three seconds or less.

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Remington 870

One of the most common shotguns in circulation is the venerable Remington 870. A manual pump-action shotgun, the “870”, first hit the civilian market in 1950. The 870 is sold in a variety of configurations, with barrel lengths from 11 inches to thirty, magazine capacity from four to ten shells, and sold in grenade calibers from .410 to 12 gauge. The shotgun was quickly picked up for police and prison guards in the United States and had limited use with foreign forces. Highly modifiable, a Stock 870 can be converted into an excellent home defense weapon by the user.

Beretta 1301 tactics

Self-loading shotguns have been slow to gain acceptance in the United States for reasons unknown, especially among military units. The Beretta 1301 belongs to a new generation of semi-automatic combat shotguns. Beretta claims its blink-gas operating system makes the 1301 36 percent faster than competing shotguns, allowing it to empty its four-round magazine in just a second. The shotgun has an 18.5-inch barrel length, which makes it handy indoors, and an enlarged rechargeable handle that is hard to miss in stressful shooting situations. A combination of ghost ring and blade sight is complemented by a Picatinny rail that allows the 1301 to use prismatic, red dot or any number of compact optics.

Benelli M2 tactics

Manufactured by Benelli Armi SpA, a subsidiary of Beretta, the M2 Tactical is a slightly larger semi-automatic shotgun than the 1301. The M2 has an 18.5-inch barrel but can hold five rounds in the internal magazine. The Benelli shotgun also features a pistol grip, and the manufacturer claims it has up to 48 percent less recoil than comparable rifles. The shotgun comes with a variety of iron sights, including ghost ring and tritium sights, and the receiver is drilled and threaded for a MIL-STD1913 Picatinny rail so that the user can install specialized optics. The pull length is unusually long to accommodate the user’s bulletproof vest. The US Marine Corps uses a similar version, the M4, called the M1014.

Mossberg 500 series

The shotgun with the latest US military pedigree is the Mossberg 500 series pump-action shotguns, including the Mossberg 590. The 590 is the only shotgun that meets US military specification MIL-S-3443G, which sets the standards for insurrection of the U.S. Forces outlines shotguns in terms of accuracy, endurance, resistance to rough handling, and the effectiveness of the supplied heat shield. A typical military-grade 500 series shotgun has an all-metal construction, an internal eight-round magazine, manual safety and pearl sights. As with other shotguns, barrel length varies quite a bit, but the U.S. military’s shotguns are likely 18.5 inches long. The 500 is used by the US Army, US Navy and US Marine Corps.

Kyle Mizokami is a San Francisco-based defense and national security writer who has appeared in Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring, and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he co-founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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