4 Must-Have Tactical Shotgun Upgrades

4 Must-Have Tactical Shotgun Upgrades

Get the most out of your tactical shotgun with these easily installed and affordable upgrades that are certain to make your smoothbore even more effective.

What are some great tactical shotgun upgrades to increase performance in your scattergun?

  • To truly harness the potential of your tactical shotgun, an improved sighting system is required.
  • A shell carrier is a must to manage your tactical shotgun’s spare ammo and keep it at hand.
  • Adding a flashlight to your tactical shotgun can be tricky, but there are a slew of mounting options that make it easy.
  • A stock buttstock just won’t cut it with a tactical shotgun; get something that will give you supreme control over your smoothbore.

When it comes to defending your hearth and home, few firearms beat the tried-and-true shotgun. The age-old weapon is as versatile as it is devastating, and in a close-quarters defensive situation, there isn't much that can outgun it. Typically, shotguns are ready to protect you and yours right out of the box. But like all defensive arms, there are a few tweaks here and there that can make the deadly scattergun even more effective. So, without further ado, here are 4 Must-Have Tactical Shotgun Upgrades.

To truly harness the potential of your tactical shotgun an improved sighting system is required.

First and foremost, you have to get on target — accurately. And for the most part, that good old factory-installed brass bead can be used with good effect, as proven by so many police shotguns that are so equipped, but there are even better choices

Ghost ring sights are generally the preferred sighting system for shotguns, giving users extremely fast target acquisition and transition capabilities, not to mention enhanced accuracy. They also elevate a smoothbore's medium-range effectiveness quite nicely.

Luckily, many modern tactical models already come outfitted with them. If your particular shotgun does not, or you’re looking to upgrade, there are many solid options on the market. Manufacturers such as Vang Comp Systems and XS Sight Systems, for instance, offer models with much more functionality, including fully adjustable rear aperture and tritium inserts for the front sight. On top of that, they're winged, protecting the sights themselves and preventing them from getting snagged on gear.

Like all the shooting world, red-dot optics have infiltrated the realm of shotguns — for good reason. They plain work in ensuring payload meets target. Of course, opting for something such as an AimPoint Micro T-1 or a Meprolight Mepro-21 will run a considerable amount more than iron sights. But they can be well worth the money. Peace of mind that you’ll send a slug or buckshot exactly where the dot lands is priceless.

Shell Carrier

A shell carrier is a must to manage your tactical shotgun’s spare ammo and keep it at hand.

The typical, unaltered shotgun holds five to six rounds in its magazine, so spare shells are a must. But managing this extra ammunition can be among the greatest challenges for smoothbore operators. Shotshells, after all, might be some of the most unwieldy of all modern ammo. Side carriers are the most logical and efficient solution to this problem. Mounted directly on the receiver, the rigs can, in some cases, put as many as eight shells in sight and within reach. Mesa Tactical and TacStar provide some of the most popular models available today, at relatively affordable prices.

While practical, side carriers might not suit every shooter. For those who frown upon the ideal of toting ammo on their receiver, buttstock carriers are the way to go. The fabric sleeves are easy to install, are typically inexpensive and abound. BLACKHAWK!Uncle Mike’s and many other manufacturers offer excellent options and can dang near be found at any gun or outdoor retailer.


Adding a flashlight to your tactical shotgun can be tricky, but there are a slew of mounting options that make it easy.

Being able to see what you’re shooting at is an obvious must for a defensive weapon. And given the likelihood of having to confront an intruder or protect your family in the dark, a light source would be a pretty dang good idea. Tactical shotguns can be a bit trickier than tactical rifles to outfit with a flashlight, given they usually don't come with M-Lok or KeyMod real estate. But there have been a number of innovative solutions over time allowing shotgunners to light up their guns.

For those who run pump actions, SureFire has one of the most intriguing lighting upgrades — the DSF Series Forend Weaponlight. The forend replacement comes with a built in SureFire flashlight and easily accessible controls, completely integrating into the existing platform. The drawback is the DSF is a hefty investment.

Those who are a bit thriftier when it comes to upgrades might look at a plain-old flashlight mount or rail addition. GG&G offers a handy rail mount that installs directly to the forend that also includes sling mount. It is simple and nicely designed to offer plenty of functionality, especially because it allows you to run a pressure switch. CDM Gear also has a nifty system that attaches between the barrel and magazine. This allows the user to move his light much more forward on his weapon, but does somewhat limit remote-control possibilities.

A stock buttstock just won’t cut it with a tactical shotgun; get something that will give you supreme control over your smoothbore.

Shotgun stock systems have come a long way in recent years, and upgrades are typically a vast improvement from the factory installs. They are more adjustable to the user’s frame, thus making scatterguns more intuitive to use. They offer better grip designs, in turn improving control. And they’re engineered to mitigate recoil, just plain making the smootbores more accurate on follow-up shots.

There is a whole array of options out there to fit your personal preferences. Magpul’s SGA Buttstock offers a bit of a more traditional style, but with the advantage of an enhanced grip and the option of a cheek riser. And while more set in size (there are two lengths to choose from), Hogue Overmolded Stocks are a sturdy conventional option and come with an ample buttpad to tame the thump.

For those searching for a true tactical feel to their shotgun, it’s hard to beat Fab Defense’s M4 Buttstocks. As the name suggests, they are modeled after the M4 carbine’s adjustable buttstock, and so can be tailored to any frame. On top of that, they feature a pistol-style grip that is just the ticket in gaining supreme control over a scattergun.


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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. My dad is a gun enthusiast and he uses his shotgun to go hobby hunting in the spring. Thanks for mentioning here some upgrades he can have such as installing a stock system making the firearm have lesser recoil as well as easier to use. I also wonder if there are do-it-yourself kits I can gift him. https://shoot-on.com/gun-diy-upgrades


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