If you find you’re leaning more toward an autoloading tactical shotgun, you’ll have a much wider variety of top performing options to choose from (compared to pump action tactical shotguns).
As it’s a much newer technology, semi-automatic shotguns have enjoyed some cult status, which many manufacturers have taken advantage of by catering to this segment of the market.
To keep things on a more or less even keel, we’ve narrowed it down to the 4 autoloaders we find to be the best of the best.
Before we introduce these models, however, it’s worth repeating an earlier warning.
As a result of their semi-automatic function, autoloaders are great at firing rapidly, but this is their only true advantage over their pump action counterparts.
In the hands of a skilled shotgun user (which all shotgun owners should strive to be), this advantage becomes increasingly smaller, even negligible.
Still, as mentioned before, any slight advantage is great to have in a home defense situation.
However, you should also remember this same advantage brings with it a host of disadvantages. Autoloaders have a far more complex operating system than pump actions, which makes them more prone to jamming.
As mentioned in an earlier chapter, if your shotgun jams in a home defense situation, it can be fatal, as you’ll need to manually eject the offending shell.
Autoloaders also tend to cost at least twice as much as their most comparable pump action counterparts and generally won’t hold more shells.
You’ll also be more limited when looking for additional accessories (some of which we’ll discuss in the next chapter).
Ultimately, when choosing an autoloader over a pump action, you’re paying a lot extra just for the ability to fire successive rounds more quickly and (potentially) more of a maintenance headache.
However, if that semi-automatic loading feature is one you desire, here are our top 4 recommendations for you:
Remington Model 1100 TAC 4
Another quality product from Remington, the Model 1100 TAC 4 has pretty much all the same bells and whistles you get with their pump action shotguns – with the added benefit of faster firing rate.
Unfortunately, it’s only available with a 22-inch barrel, which can be a bit much for a home defense shotgun.
That said, the Remington Model 1100 TAC does have an 8-shot capacity and a positive track record spanning over 40 years of service.
Remington Versa Max® Tactical
The Remington Versa Max® Tactical is a newer model than the Model 1100 TAC 4 and has a unique design, but has already earned a good reputation.
However, it has the same potential negative in that it’s only available with a 22” barrel.
Even so, it holds 8 rounds in the magazine plus 1 in the chamber, which accepts 3” shells. It also comes with a picatinny rail (one of the accessories we’ll cover in the next chapter), forward barrel-clamp rails, and an extended magazine.
Mossberg 930 Tactical
As can be expected, Mossberg also makes the best of top recommended autoloaders.
Their 930 Tactical is a great choice at a great price and has the distinct advantage (for home defense use) over the Remington models in that it comes with an 18.5” barrel.
While the capacity is a little lower than the Remington Versa Max Tactical, it matches that of the Model 1100 TAC 4: 7 rounds in the magazine and 1 in the chamber.
Added to that is the fact it’s cheaper than both Remingtons, comes with excellent sights, a pistol grip, and is well regarded as a light, fast firing weapon you can rely on.
The Saiga 12 is a Russian semi-automatic shotgun that comes at a great price and has an entirely unique look for a shotgun.
Its operating system is derived from the other famous Russian firearm, the AK rifle, which is a dependable and virtually trouble-free pattern.
As a result, the Saiga 12 looks more like a rifle than your traditional shotgun, in part thanks to its box type magazine.
This magazine design is also quicker and easier to load and unload than the tubular magazine type usually used with shotguns.
Looking like a rifle has a startling visual effect, which can be another great benefit to using the Saiga 12 over almost any other shotgun.
After all, you would appear to be much more heavily armed (i.e. with an automatic rifle) than you actually are, especially in the tight quarters common to home defense situations.
Another major advantage worth mentioning is the box type magazine has a 10 rounds capacity and there are also magazine drums available, which can hold 20 rounds.
This far surpasses the holding capacity of any other shotgun on the market and makes the Saiga 12 a tactical weapon of note.