With such a proliferation of affordable and high-end ARs in the market it’s easy to overlook other options as your go to firearm. Although they are excellent for home defense, recreational and competitive sport, and hunting, most shotguns are relegated to either hunting birds on the wing or home defense.
The issue with shotguns, in general, is that many new owners are inclined to purchase a factory build and keep it in the gun case until the next hunting trip comes along or purchase something very expensive that they may not require.
If you’re searching for a suitable shotgun that offers versatility and the most customizing options, here are the three top customizable shotguns you’ll want to consider before making that initial shotgun purchase.
This 12-guage has many features that people would normally want to add onto their shotgun to customize it. It’s shorter bullpup design make it easy to transport it and to sweep those corners within your domicile.
Many people choose the Kel-Tec bullpup shotgun as their home defense weapon because of the weapon’s inherent advantages right out of the box and the ability to erecter set it with aftermarket parts.
If you want to lessen that recoil, Hi-Tech Howitzer70 Muzzle Break will reduce it by 70%. It’s incredibly easy to install and once it’s on, you’ll be able to make those follow up shots even quicker.
Where recoil is concerned, that is a negative in the shotgun column, but Kel-Tec and other aftermarket manufacturers make a wide array of cushioned butt-pads to save your shoulder, perhaps allowing you to hit that higher round count.
Probably the most sought-after quality in a customizable shotgun, is the ability to run optics and lights. The KSG 7’s flat top picatinny rail not only let’s you run back up iron sights, but also has space for a red dot sight.
There are an infinite number of upgrades and set ups for the KSG7.
Muzzle devices, fore grips, stocks with sling mounts, plenty of rail space for optics and weapon lights, as well as the ability to move and add more rails for more accessory space. If you’re looking for AR-15 style of customization, then Kel-Tec’s bullpup shotgun is the obvious choice.
Suppose you want to ditch your shotgun’s long stock for tactical or home defense reasons. In that case, the first custom upgrade to consider is changing the stock grip to a Generation III Knoxx Breachersgrip designed by Blackhawk Industries for the Mossberg 500 and Shockwave series twelve-gauge shotgun.
Once installed, the Knoxx Breachersgrip handles the Mossberg’s recoil far better and can turn your Mossberg 590A1 powerhouse shotgun into something closely resembling a handgun firing forty-five caliber ACP rounds.
The primary goal of this upgrade is to keep your hands and wrists free from pain caused by repeated harsh recoil. The Breachers grip allows you to aim and fire more efficiently than the standard JIC Mossberg 590A1 grip at an affordable price of fewer than eighty dollars.
When it comes to adding accessories and optical solutions to your Mossberg twelve-gauge, Magpul offers a complete line of modular SGA furniture, such as a Magpul MOE shotgun pump specifically for the Mossberg 500 series shotguns.
With the Magpul MOE pump, you can add M-LOK accessories directly to the pump or even attach a Picatinny rail for lights, sights, and lasers or a chainsaw grip for firing your shotgun from the hip.
It logically follows that if you’ve installed a Magpul pump on your Mossberg 590A1, you’ll want to add a vertical grip for added stability. With a vertical grip on the forend of your Mossberg, you’ll also reduce or possibly eliminate the number of short pump strokes that can happen during a rapid-fire session.
Although the aftermarket upgrades for the Mossberg 500 series shotguns are growing by the day, they probably won’t catch up to the modularity options of the AR15 rifle.
With your Mossberg 590A1 and a simple stock adapter from Ergo for less than forty dollars, you can open the upgrades of your shotgun to a multitude of AR15 type grips, stocks, buffer tubes, and if you decide on purchasing a Shockwave, even a brace.
With the ability to improve the factory-installed front bead sight with night and day optic sighting solutions, Vickers slings, and saddle clips to carry additional ammunition, the Mossberg 500 series shotgun is arguably a top customizable shotgun.
Like the Mossberg 590A1, the Remington 870 twelve-gauge shotgun offers customizing options to improve an already excellent performing shotgun. Although the Remington 870 shell extractor from the factory promises exceptional functionality over time, a machined extractor can break or become unreliable.
Replacing the factory-installed machined extractor with a non-machined extractor is a fifteen-dollar upgrade, easy to perform, and will provide you flawless and consistent shell ejection.
Another simple, customizable option for your Remington 870 shotgun for either tactical situations or hunting purposes is a TLR H-1 Weaponlight. With the TLR H-1 Weaponlight on your Remington 870 shotgun, you will have a powerful illumination source to see what you’re shooting at.
When it comes to stocks and forends on the Remington 870, you can again turn to Magpul for a customized solution that costs a little over a hundred dollars but provides unlimited benefits. Many Remington 870 owners eventually experience the limits of the factory-installed forend and stock on the shotgun and opt for the Magpul MOE M-LOK forend and Magpul SGA buttstock.
Magpul makes both with durable, lightweight polymer, which makes carrying your Remington 870 in the field all day a tireless experience. With a Magpul stock, you can customize your factory-installed Remington 870 shotgun into a tactical shotgun with a full line of integrated accessory options.
Along with the integrated accessories, Magpul also offers variations of the buttstock for the Remington 870 that feature cheek risers and sling slots.
Another customization you’ll want to consider is a Timney Remington 870 trigger fix. When consistent accuracy is the focus, this trigger solution from Timney costs a little over ninety dollars and features three different pull weight springs.
Timney offers this solution with a blue spring for a lighter pull, a red spring for heavy, and a white spring for a medium pull weight. This single improvement on your 870 Remington shotgun allows you to maintain better control and accuracy and adjust your shotgun to varying conditions and scenarios on the fly.
While the Remington 870 can hold from seven to eight shells depending on the version you pick, you may want to consider a better method for carrying additional ammunition without stuffing your pockets full and fumbling for them when a reload is necessary.
Mesa Tactical offers a simple custom option known as the Sidesaddle that holds up to eight additional rounds. Unlike many nylon webbing shell carriers, the Mesa Tactical Sidesaddle is formed from aluminum, making it virtually indestructible.
The low profile of the Sidesaddle won’t get in the way and is the perfect must-have addition to your Remington 870 shotgun.
Cost versus Function
You might decide to go with the Kel-Tec set up if you’re looking to customize your shotgun into a true self-defense platform. But you’re sort of pigeonholed into that category with the KSG7. Many shotgun owners want something they can bring to the range, keep loaded for home security, and just as easily go hunting with it. The Mossberg 500s and Remington 870s stand out for their ability to do just that.
It’s very easy to change the stocks out to instantly change your shotgun from a long gun that’s perfect for hunting and then change the stock back for something you can use for self-defense. There is no way to go wrong with either of these shotguns.
In terms of customization, these models are the two most popular pump-action shotguns in the United States. You’ll never have trouble finding parts to upgrade or repair them and the aftermarket offers a nearly infinite number of options for easily switching the functional purpose of your gun.
Also, if you ask experienced firearms owners and shooting enthusiasts, they either own a Mossberg or Remington, or both, and will attest to the reliability of these ubiquitous pump-action shotgun choices throughout the country.
You’re sure to find an 870 or 500 pump-action shotgun, customized or not, in gun safes, hunting lodges, and police stations throughout America.
Sure, you can purchase all kinds of expensive shotguns that feature all the unique custom items you need in a single package, such as the Benelli M2 competition shotgun or the Berretta 1301, but the price tag for these types of shotguns often becomes prohibitive for the budget-conscious shotgun shopper.
What you’ll quickly realize is that choosing a top customizable shotgun that already performs well at around five hundred dollars and then performing custom options that suit your shooting style and preferences is a better fit for both your unique style and your pocketbook.
Also, like many ideal firearm purchases, the shotgun options above are in that mid-range area: they’re reliable, they offer affordable aftermarket upgrades, and they’re not too expensive.
Once you’ve gotten used to the platform and spent some time with the pump-action platform, you may decide to buy something more expensive.
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