Best Pump-Action Shotgun Buyer’s Guide (2023)

Best Pump-Action Shotgun Buyer’s Guide (2023)
Update 6/09/2023


Undeniably reliable and versatile, the pump-action shotgun is a must-have for any shooter. Here are 11 affordable options worth adding to your gun safe.

What Are The Economical Pump-Action Options:


Home Defense/Tactical


Common as stars in the night sky, powerful as a runaway freight train, with usefulness only surpassed by duct tape, the pump-action shotgun is truly a mythical beast. The mere click-clack of its slide racking has been known to scare home-intruding dunderheads so severely as to pipeline them straight from crime into missionary work. Truly, this gun can turn water into wine.

Not quite.

As far as firearms go, few surpass the versatility of the iconic pump-action shotgun. From birds on the wing to deer in the field, perhaps no other gun boasts such wide-reaching hunting applications. As a defensive arm, well, racking it won’t guarantee squat when it comes to neutralizing a threat, but competently handling it is a whole other matter. Suffice to say, in practiced hands, few firearms are as devastating as a pump-action in close quarters.

Even if you’re a dedicated handgunner or an absolutely religious rifleman, it’s sound practice to have a scattergun at hand. And with its utility, reliability and relatively simple manual of arms, it’s natural to gravitate to the pump-action shotgun. If you’ve yet to arm yourself as such, we’re here to help.

We’ve put together 12 of the most affordable pump-action shotgun options out there for various applications. Luckily, given their general affordability, many of these are also considered among the best in class.

But before we get to that …

Why You Want A Pump-Action Shotgun


There is a host of reasons why this style of scattergun has remained among the most popular firearms of all time. When you home in on the pump-action shotgun’s virtues, there are four that really standout.

Reliability: The pump-action is renowned for its ruggedness. Even when dirty the gun will cycle as long as you can work the slide. The same cannot be said of many semi-auto shotguns.

Firepower: Depending on shell size, most base models hold 4+1 rounds and extended capacity options 8+1. Very generally speaking, this ballpark is big enough to cover most hunting to home defense applications.

Simplicity: As far as repeating arms go, the pump-action is fairly intuitive to operate and, outside of malfunctions, simple to troubleshoot. Yes, you need a little mechanical know-how to maintain it, but perhaps less so than a gas-operated semi-auto shotgun.

Versatility: As mentioned before, few guns boast both bird and deer-bagging capabilities. From a defensive standpoint, when it comes to load selection, you also have a wide spectrum of options at hand to match your circumstances.

That said, you should also consider …

Draw A Bead On Shotguns:

Why You Don’t Want A Pump-Action Shotgun


It’s a proven and reliable system, but not always a bed of roses. You should consider some of challenges that come with the pump-action shotgun.

Reloading: Defensively speaking, this is one of the main challenges of the gun and takes a good deal of time to master under stress. In most cases, there’s no box magazine to drop and keeping count of shots is a must. There’s no more stomach-hollowing sound than click after you work the slide.

Malfunctions: From failure to extract to double feed, you bet the pump-action shotgun can jam. To become fully proficient, expect to spend time learning how to address these stoppages.

12-Gauge: The fact that most pump-actions are 12-gauge should be a boon. Yet, the recoil sensitive find it troublesome. This is less of an issue now, given the 20-gauge options available. Still, some might find this alternative isn’t available in the particular model they set their heart on.

With that settled, let’s look at some of the best pump-action shotgun options for the money.

Our Choice For Hunting

Remington 870 Fieldmaster

870 FieldMaster pump action

If all you had was an 870 Fieldmaster, you could consider yourself well-armed for nearly any hunt. For the price, it’s nearly a sin if one isn’t part of your arsenal. Thankfully the iconic field pump survived Remington Arms' bankruptcy and is available for future generations.

Steady as a Swiss timepiece, the 870 Fieldmaster chews through any 3-inch ammo it’s fed. Much of this reliability comes from the twin-action bar design of the pump-action shotgun, a bit of engineering that has set the standard. Additionally, the Fieldmaster—in its present guise dubbed the “New Model”—continues to sport a milled receiver, endowing it with not only ruggedness but longevity.

The pump-action comes with the choice of a 21- 26- or 28-inch barrel in 12- and 20-gauge. At 6 to 7.5 pounds, it's very manageable in the field. And sticked in satin-finished walnut, it has the timeless look most want in their field gun. If you settle on the 870 Fieldmaster for your next hunt, it’s difficult to say you make a bad choice.

MSRP: $499 //

Other Choices For Hunting:

Pump-Action Shotgun Mossberg 500 All Purpose

Mossberg 500 All Purpose: Proven in the field and a solid investment, the much-beloved 500 All-Purpose will definitely put meat on the table. Pretty plain Jane on the outside, but it has it where it counts. MSRP: $504 //

winchester spx
Winchester SXP Field: Among the most affordable options out there, the SXP Field proves modern Winchester knows more than just semi-auto shotguns. MSRP: $409 //

Pump-Action Shotgun CZ 628 Field Select
CZ 620/628 Field Select: Looking for a lighter field gun or something for quail and the like? CZ has you covered with these nifty 20- (620) and 28-gauge (628) options. MSRP: $599 //

Our Choice For Home Defense/Tactical

Mossberg 590 Tactical (9-Shot)

Pump-Action Shotgun 590

While its cousin the Mossberg 500 is considered one of the princes of pump-action shotguns, from a defensive standpoint the 590 Tactical has a decisive edge. First and foremost, the pump-action shotgun is available with 8+1 capacity, which for most should prove more than enough firepower no matter how dire the situation.

Additionally, the 12-gauge comes decked out with a number of other excellent features: heavy-walled barrel, 3-inch chamber, steel trigger guard, heat shield, ghost-ring rear sight, corn-cob fore-end and sling swivels. If that’s not enough, the aftermarket is sky-high for Mossberg shotguns. Essentially, you can tailor the 590 to your particular needs.

The 590 Tactical 9-shot runs a bit larger than some other defensive models. It boasts a 20-inch barrel, keeping it and the full-length tubular magazine flush. In turn, it is a heftier pump-action shotgun—not necessarily a bad thing. The weight soaks up recoil, potentially making it faster shot to shot.

MSRP: $598 //

Other Top Tactical Options:

Pump-Action Shotgun Remington_Model 870 Express Tactical
Remington 870 Tactical: Plenty of enhancements make the 870 Tactical a deadly-serious self-defense option: ghost ring sight rail, 3-inch chamber, etc. The only area the stock model pales to the 590 tactical is the 7-round magazine. MSRP: $449 //

FN P-12: A military-grade, pump-action shotgun, the 5+1 capacity smoothbore means business. With an 18-inch barrel, it also tends to be nimble option. MSRP: $669 //

Pump-Action Shotgun SuperNova Tactical
Benelli SuperNova Tactical: Despite its odd space-aged stylings, the SuperNova Tactical is a competent fighter. The pistol grip is a nice touch in this area, making it easy to handle. The one drawback is the pump-action’s 4+1 capacity. MSRP: Starts at $569 //

Our Choice For Youth Model

Mossberg 500 Bantam/505/510 Mini

Pump-Action Shotgun Mossberg 510 Mini

Mossberg dedicated itself to the next generation of shooters with its youth shotgun line. Essentially the same shotgun (the 500), the 500 Bantam, 505 and 510 Mini offer three different fit. This is extremely important for the burgeoning shooter.

Not only does fit improve the overall performance, keeping the gun manageable and its controls within reach of smaller hands, the size also ensures the gun is properly mounted. This one factor goes a long way in cutting down on felt recoil—the dread of any new shooter.

As far as this goes, the 500 Bantam and 510 Mini are both available with adjustable lengths of pull; 12 to 13 inches in the former and 10.5 to 11.5 in the latter. The 505 is a fixed 12 inches. Also, the shotguns are chambered appropriately for those just cutting their teeth—by and large .410 and 20-gauge. Though, for a young hunter that’s ready, there is a 500 Bantam in 12-gauge. MSRP: Starting at $504 //

Other Top Youth Options:

Pump-Action Shotgun Stevens 390
Stevens 320 Field Grade Compact: Its Mama-bear 12.8 length-of-pull fits most youths, while a 22-inch barrel helps hone an effective swing. The 20-gauge even comes in “Muddy Girl” camo for daughters hitting the field for the first time. MSRP: Starting at $280 //

Pump-Action Shotgun tristar
TriStar Cobra III Youth: Admittedly, the 24-inch barrel is a bit long for some, but outside that the 20-gauge is sized right for learning the ropes. The Cobra III, like most TriStar guns, also boasts nice lines, which definitely goes down as a plus. MSRP: Starting at $365 //


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Elwood Shelton is the Digital Editor for Gun Digest. He lives in Colorado and has provided coverage on a vast spectrum of topics for GD for more than a decade. Before that, he was an award-winning sports and outdoors reporter for a number of newspapers across the Rocky Mountains. His experience has consisted of covering the spread of chronic wasting disease into the Western Slope of Colorado to the state’s ranching for wildlife programs. His passion for shooting began at a young age, fostered on pheasant hunts with his father. Since then, he has become an accomplished handloader, long-range shooter and avid hunter—particularly mule deer and any low-down, dirty varmint that comes into his crosshairs. He is a regular contributor to Gun Digest Magazine and has contributed to various books on guns and shooting, most recently Lever-Actions: A Tribute to the All-American Rifle.


  1. Great article – unless you’re left handed/left eye dominant. Gun magazines act as if such people don’t exist. In pump action hunting guns, there are a few good choices, especially Browning’s BPS models. For home defense, good luck. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a Browning BPS Hi Cap in 2009, when Browning gave up on the police market and dumped the 5,000 or so they’d made on the civilian market. Your only choices now in a pump are the KSG and KS7 from Kel Tec, or the bullpup models from Black Aces Tactical. Otherwise, you’ll have to have a BPS customized, or try to find an Ithaca 37.

  2. As somebody who served in the military, the term “military grade” probably has a different meaning to you than it does to me. Specifically, when I hear “military grade”, I hear “made by the lowest possible bidder, for the absolute lowest possible cost, in the largest quantity possible”. In short, cheaply made and unreliable. While I sincerely doubt that the products featured here are “cheaply made and unreliable”, perhaps a better phrase than “military grade” would be preferable.


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