Best All-Around Shotguns of 2020 – Ultimate Round-up

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Shotguns have been and still are the most versatile handheld firearm ever invented. From eradicating varmints to high-end sports, shotguns are used for everything. Shotguns are designed specifically for each purpose, but what if there was a shotgun that could serve multiple purposes. That’s what we’re going to discuss here, while also outlining such shotguns available today.

So keep your eyes pinned. 

Comparison Chart of the Best All- Around Shotguns

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Most trusted and reliable shotgun of all time
  • Synthetic stock, non-reflective finish & vent rib barrel
  • Works flawleslly with magnuam and light 12 ga loads
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  • Rugged and reliable inertia driven bolt mechansim for reliable cycling
  • Available in different lengths, capacities and finish
  • Quick handling and suitable for defense and competitions
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  • Inertia driven mechansim eliminates adjustment for different loads
  • Available in camouflaged finish for brush and upland hunting
  • Offers amazing value for money with great aesthetics
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  • World's first and still very reliable semi-auto shotgun
  • Fiber optic front sight and mossy oak camo finish
  • Textured grip panels, invector choke and inflex 2 recoil pad
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  • Low-profile, lightning-fast shotgun for quick follow up shots
  • Impeccably easy to maintain and reliable for hunting & competitions
  • Kick off recoil pad mitigates recoil perfectly to a minimal
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What is an All-Around Shotgun and What is it Used For? 

An all-around shotgun, as the name already suggests, is a jack of all trades. It is a multipurpose shotgun that can serve a variety of different purposes. These can include hunting, defense, fun shooting, range use. 

These shotguns are like a walking staff used during hiking. You can use it to support yourself, fend off animals, create a teepee, leverage,  a lot of other things. Such shotguns generally feature an average barrel length, average chamber, overall dimensions. In simple terms, an all-around shotgun is what you’ll find with a farmer living on a ranch. 

What Makes a Shotgun Great For All-Around Shooting? 

While the best bet is to hold and use a gun yourself and find out whether it is the best all-around shotgun for you. There still are certain factors that make a shotgun great for all-around use. These include:

Barrel Length

A barrel length of 26 inches is considered ideal for all-around use with shotguns. This the barrel length most common for turkey and deer shotguns. It is neither too short to scatter the shot too much nor too long to make handling clumsy. 

Gauge

Most people will prefer the 12 gauge to be the most versatile all-around gauge for shotguns. But in our opinion, the 20 gauge is a better choice for versatile usage. That’s because 20 gauge packs just the right amount of power to handle the small and medium game with controlled overpenetration. Not to mention that there are a lot of special loads available for the 20 gauge out there that can even handle the bigger games. Additionally, magnum chambering (3”) is a good choice no matter what the gauge is. 

Chokes and Bore

Having interchangeable chokes lets you modulate the pattern and range of pellets pertaining to different situations. Make sure your shotgun has interchangeable chokes. Another factor is to choose a smoothbore shotgun since it can handle both pellets and slugs very well. 

Quick Take - The Best All-Around Shotguns

These are our recommendations for the best all-around shotguns:

  1. Remington 870 Express
  2. Benelli M2 12 Gauge
  3. Stoeger M3500

Review of the Best All-Around Shotguns 

Let's take a look at this year's top picks!

Best Overall:
 Remington 870 Express

Pros

  • Best selling and reliable shotgun of all time
  • Can handle up to super magnum (3.5”) shells
  • Twin action bars for smooth non-binding action
  • Tough and durable. Made from high-grade steel
  • Great swing and a non-reflective matte black finish

Cons

  • None we could find

What Recent Buyers Report

Scouring Remington 870 reviews for finding a flaw is absolutely useless. The gun has been on the market for decades with more than 10 million units sold. The gun is tough as a rock and never fails to feed. The weight is close to 8 pounds, but that’s for mitigating recoil and protecting your teeth. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Remington 870 is not just ours, but the choice of almost every American as an all-around shotgun. It has been made using the best available steel for durability and has a very reliable action. The manual pump-action won’t fail unless you short stroke and the feeding mechanism is impeccable. This specific model has a matte-black finish which is a great all-around alternative to camo finish for hunting turkeys and deer. 

The gun is affordable, tough, and has a super-good swing. Another factor is that it has a ton of aftermarket parts available for customization. 

Bottom Line

The Remington 870 has been the most trusted shotgun for decades now. It can handle everything from 2-¾ inch shells to super magnum loads and will not fail to perform in the direst of conditions. 

Pros

  • Crio (cryo-treated) barrel and choke tubes 
  • Lightweight and fast handling shotgun
  • Reliable and clean inertia driven action
  • Very easy to disassemble and maintain
  • Can be found in matte black or camo finish
  • Great shotgun for waterfowl and clay sports

Cons

  • Price may seem too high
  • 4 rounds may feel too low for some situations

What Recent Buyers Report

The gun handles great and shoots even better. It was recommended by most buyers as a high-end semi-auto shotgun. The gun shoots a 60/40 pattern and flawlessly cycles everything you feed to it. The front sight is very easy to pick up and makes the gunpoint like a dream. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Benelli M2 is one of the most reliable, fast, effective semi-auto shotguns available on the market today. The shotgun has inertia operated action and a comfort tech recoil pad system that somewhat helps with recoil. The portability and swing are amazing due to the design of the barrel. The gun is ideal for waterfowl and sporting clays for the very same reason. 

The inertia action reliably cycles all loads you feed, and the capacity is optimal for almost every application except extreme tactical defense scenarios. The price may seem off to some people, but this is one of the best semi-automatic shotguns you can own. 

Bottom Line

The Benelli M2 is a reliable, easy to use, good swinging shotgun. This specific model is available in a variety of barrel lengths and has a durable synthetic stock. The raised front sight helps with acquisition and the trigger pull is nice and crisp.  

Best All-Around Semi-Auto Shotgun:
Stoeger M3500

Pros

  • Can handle up to 3.5-inch shells
  • Very easy to disassemble and clean
  • Available in a variety of camo finishes
  • Great for turkey, waterfowl and upland game
  • Drilled and tapped receiver for mounting optics
  • Inertia driven semi-auto shotgun is reliable and easy to clean

Cons

  • Breaking-in period of about 150-200 shells

What Recent Buyers Report

The M3500 is quite comfortable to carry and has a nice feel to it. The gun does have a breaking-in period and can sometimes be choosy about ammo. But it is still a very good buy against semi-auto’s costing above 1000 dollars. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The M3500 is one of the fastest cycling semi-auto shotguns available today. The gun has an inertia based action that is quite easy to disassemble and runs clean. This is a full-sized shotgun capable of handling super magnum loads. The M3500 is widely used for turkey, upland, waterfowl hunting as an affordable alternative to high-end shotguns. 

Stoeger is a subsidiary of Benelli so quality and customer support are not an issue here. The camo helps in blending with the scene, and the 28-inch barrel length is optimal for bird or deer. 

Bottom Line

This shotgun cannot be beaten in terms of quality at this price. The gun is very comfortable to carry while stalking and handles up to 3.5-inch shells for maximum power. A tough and durable gun to take on hunting trips. 

Best All-Around 12 Gauge Shotgun:
Browning A5 12 Gauge Semi-Auto

Pros

  • Back bored vent rib barrel
  • Inertia drove semi-auto action
  • Mossy Oak Bottomland camo finish
  • Flush fitting Invector DS choke tubes
  • Strong but lightweight aluminum alloy receiver
  • Synthetic stock is shim adjustable for LOP, drop and cast

Cons

  • Too pricey for budget buyers
  • Heavy recoil with 3.5-inch shells due to low weight

What Recent Buyers Report

The A5 has a lot of history associated with it which interests some users. Most users pointed out its lightweight, and perfect patterns, while others talk about the mule’s kick it has with 3.5-inch shells. The gun is well balanced and stands in-line with other expensive Beretta’s and Benelli’s on the market. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Browning A5 is the first successful semi-auto shotgun to be sold. But that doesn’t mean the model is obsolete since the A5’s manufactured today have spruced up their design to compete with the latest shotgun models. This shotgun has an even and durable camo finish to assist with your hunting efforts. The barrel profile and back bored design spew out one of the best patterns of pellets you can find with shotguns. 

The gun is lightweight and can be carried with ease. Additionally, the humpback receiver design has also been known to assist shooters with sighting targets with more ease. 

Bottom Line

The Browning A5 is a popular waterfowl hunting shotgun and that’s for good reasons. The balance and patterning of the gun are just perfect. This model has a 28-inch barrel with a slim stock and oversized parts for easy handling on every terrain. 

Best All-Around Hunting Shotgun:
Beretta A400 Xplor

Pros

  • Drop and cast adjustment shims
  • Two advanced recoil reduction systems
  • Highly textured checkering for a great grip
  • Steelium barrel with a chrome-plated bore
  • Superfast action with a self-cleaning piston
  • Optima-Bore chokes let you use lead and steel shot

Cons

  • A tad expensive

What Recent Buyers Report

The A400 shoots accurately and swings well. Most users have taken it up as a trap/skeet shooting shotgun, while others use it for birds. The gun is very easy to strip and clean and the recoil is the least you can wish for. The impeccable aesthetics are also an impressive factor. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Beretta A400 is a high-end shotgun in terms of quality and application. It’s a Beretta, known for its amazing craftsmanship with beauty and attention to detail. Both of which are clearly reflected in this shotgun. The self-cleaning pistol is a great feature for a semi-auto gas-operated shotgun. The barrel is the best you’ll find for a shotgun today and the KO recoil mechanism brings down the kickback to a minimum. 

The shotgun can be adjusted for drop and cast using shims to the metrics you desire. Plus, it is covered by a comprehensive warranty from Beretta to protect your purchase. 

Bottom Line

With all the features combined, the Beretta A400 doesn’t look that much expensive. The gun runs very clean and is ideal for beginners or pros alike. 

Pros

  • Super high 8+1 round capacity
  • Forend features 3 rail sections
  • Chambered for magnum loads
  • Ghost ring sights for quick acquisition
  • 20” heavy-walled barrel and drilled plus tapped receiver

Cons

  • Cleaning and oiling behind the heat shield are difficult

What Recent Buyers Report

A well made pump-action shotguns that shoot great. The high 8+1 capacity along with the tactical advantage of customization is the most impressive factor for buyers. The gun is perfectly balanced and easy to shoulder. Users couldn’t find a reason to give it negative feedback.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Mossberg 590 is used by the US Military and Special Forces as a tactical shotgun. This fact coupled with its price, and customizability were enough reasons for us to include this shotgun in our list. It can hold 9 rounds at max capacity, and the ghost ring sight is the perfect power-free optic for quick target acquisition. 

The gun has pre-installed swivel studs for adding slings, and even a bayonet lug if you’d please. The stock is fully synthetic and can take up a beating. The pump has three rails attached on each side to let you add extra accessories. It can handle up to 3” shells and all loads including slugs. 

Bottom Line

The Mossberg 590 is a trusted military shotgun that holds enough rounds to put up a good fight even against hostiles armed with assault rifles. The gun is durable and ready to be customized according to your needs. 

Best All-Around Pump Shotgun:
Winchester SXP Waterfowl

Pros

  • Fiber optic front sight
  • Chrome-plated chamber and bore
  • Camo finish and easy push-button safety
  • Fastest pump-action shotgun on the market
  • Lightweight and low recoiling with light loads

Cons

  • Kicks with super magnum shells

What Recent Buyers Report

This is a solid and great gun with a very fast pumping action, which requires you to get used to it The recoil is just amazing and the camo finish doesn’t chip off or degrade. The sights are nice and the setup is very simple but reliable. Absolutely nothing to complain at this price. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The SXP was designed for fast shooters who prefer to rely upon the good ‘ol pump rather than semi-auto actions. This shotgun shoots as fast as you can work the pump. To the extent that you have to learn and get used to its inertia-backed action. The inflex technology recoil pad uses directional deflection and brings down recoil to a minimum. 

The rugged rotary bolt engages the barrel action rather than the receiver top, for more stability. The gun comes coated with a camo finish and the 26 barrel is the ideal length for hunting and defense.

Bottom Line

The SXP is a fast and reliable shotgun with a great finish. It works well for shooters of all skill levels since everybody has to adhere to the action first. The price of the SX4 is just perfect and the gun itself is loaded with great features. 

Best All-Around 20 Gauge Shotgun:
Mossberg 500 Youth Super Bantam

Pros

  • Optimal 5+1 shell capacity
  • Adjustable stock to grow with the kid
  • Camo finish and fiber optic front sight
  • Anti-jam elevator and twin action bars
  • Best shotgun for youth/small shooters

Cons

  • Barrel too short for some applications (but can be replaced)

What Recent Buyers Report

This shotgun is perfect for young kids and small-stature shooters. The action is very smooth and the gun is widely used for hunting turkey, upland birds. This price is a complete no-brainer and the gun lasts for years to come. No complaints from any user whatsoever. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Mossberg 500 is a very old and reliable line of shotguns that are trusted by millions. This specific shotgun has dimensions suitable for kids or small shooters. The LOP can be adjusted using spacers which is a big plus for a good return on investment. Being a 20 gauge, the kick is not worth considering here. But the gun also has a recoil pad to help sensitive shooters.

The shotgun has a 22-inch barrel which is good for turkey, even home defense if the need arises. The camo finish is a good plus and the 5+1 capacity is perfect for every application you can think of.

Bottom Line

Mossberg 500 is a no-brainer shotgun and this very model is a great option for young shooters and women. The gun will stay useful for years to come due to the spacers. An affordable, and versatile shotgun to have. 

Types of All Around Shotguns 

Shotguns can be classified into several basic categories depending upon their design and applications. These variations include:

Action

A shotgun can have a break-action, pump-action, semi-auto or full-auto action. Each of them has its own speed, reliability, and effect. The kind of action you prefer is your personal choice

Gauge

The most common all around shotgun gauges used today is 12 gauge or 20 gauge. 16 gauge is also a great option but suffers limited availability of ammo and available models. The 12 gauge is more powerful and offers a decimating kill even with big targets. The 20 gauge is less recoiling and has lower penetration.

Customizability and Capacity

While some people prefer tactically sound shotguns that have ample space for adding accessories and making modifications. Others look for more simple and basic designs that are as tough as a rock and dependable as the A-10 Warthog. Additionally, some shotguns can have a low capacity of about 3-4 rounds, whereas others can have space for 5+ shells. 

Mossberg 500 vs. Remington 870 - All-Around Comparison 

Mossberg 500 and Remington 870, both are legendary shotguns and have sold millions of pieces across decades. These guns are quite similar in fame and reliability, but other factors do differ. Let’s check them out. 

Durability

The Remington 870 has a thicker barrel than a standard 500. It’s equivalent to a Mossberg 590. You can buy the upgraded Mossberg to get the thicker, stronger barrel. Additionally, both guns use twin steel action bars 

The US Army has a testing procedure called the MIL-SPEC 3443 test, which is a brutal 3K round test that pushes shotguns to the edge. In fact, the Mossberg series is the only shotgun to pass this test

Safety

The 870 uses the traditional push-button located behind the trigger guard, whereas the Mossberg 500 has a tang safety. 

Capacity

While both guns are similar in capacity, swapping mag tubes on a Mossberg is easier than the Remington. 

Trigger Pull

The 870 has a lighter trigger pull than the 500, but there are replacements to adjust it. 

Gauge

Both these guns are offered in 12, and 410 gauge. Both are pump-action shotguns, and both can be used for hunting, home, and sport. 

Weight

Remington 870  tends to be a heavier gun since it is made using steel. Mossberg’s are made of aluminum (the same material as ARs) and are lighter by a pound or so. 

Action

Both these shotguns use twin steel action bars for durability. The 870 has a more stable setup constructed of one consistent metal component. The Mossie's action bars are  comprised of two separate components pinned together, which rattle a little. On the upside, the Mossberg's action bars are still extremely reliable, and easier to replace than the 870's.

Extractors

Remington uses a single extractor whereas Mossberg shotguns use a double extractor for more reliability. 

Price

Remington 870 costs about 100 dollars more than the Mossberg 500. Generally when choosing between the two users rarely consider the savings/extra cost but rather choose based on other factors listed here.

Customizability

Both guns have a lot of aftermarket parts available for customization. Plus they both come drilled and tapped for optics. 

Advantages of Investing in a Quality All Around Shotgun 

From function to economics there are quite a few advantages of investing in quality all around shotgun. Let’s take a look at them:

Preparedness

Having an all-around shotgun keeps your ready and prepared for almost every situation that can be solved with a shotgun. Such a shotgun can be used for hunting, sports and kept under concealment furniture as an emergency home defense weapon. 

Economics

Since these shotguns serve many purposes, you don’t have to spend extra money on buying other models specific to different applications. This helps you save a considerable amount of money that’d be spent on those guns, their,  maintenance. Which you can use to buy more ammo for your shotgun. 

Skills

Having one gun for many purposes ensures that you are accustomed to using it and will probably handle it like it’s an extension of your body organs. As Bruce Lee once said: "It’s not those thousand moves you’ve practiced once that matters, but it’s that one move you’ve practiced a thousand times” (modified for relevance).

Reliability

If you only have one shotgun to use, you’ll ensure that it works reliably. All-around shotguns generally have a long lifespan since they are taken good care of. Which is why they are also reliable. 

Conclusion 

An all-around shotgun should be able to serve a lot of different applications intended for a shotgun. The desirable features for such a shotgun include a 26-inch barrel, adjustable LOP, good,  a suitable gauge/chamber. 

People Also Ask

Check out this fun FAQ section and quench your thirst for some common shotgun questions.

What Gauge Shotgun Has the Least Kick?

The .410 bore shotgun has the least kick. But it’s technically a bore and not a gauge. It is followed by 28 gauge, 20 gauge, 16 gauge, 12, and 10 gauge which has the most kick. However, every gauge has low-recoil ammo choices available, so there’s nothing to fret about. 

Do Shotguns Hold Their Value?

Yes. But it has to be a classic shotgun and not a common mass-produced model. Firearms rarely lose their value if they are in good condition and available in rarity. Some of the most expensive handheld weapons sold today include shotguns brands such as Purdey and Peter Hofer. 

Why Are Shotguns so Cheap?

Shotguns being cheap is a relative term, since some of the most expensive civilian weapons on the market are shotguns. But a cheap shotgun refers to something in the range of $300-$500. Which is fairly less than rifles. That’s because shotguns don’t have rifled barrels and operate on far lower pressures. That’s why they are easy to mass-produce.

Other Shotgun Buyer Guides

The links below will take you to some of our other buyer's guides on shotguns:

About Ankit

Ankit has been a writer for almost a decade now and has developed a diverse portfolio. His love for writing led him to turn down his lavish and lucrative career as a software engineer, twisting the reins of his life towards being a full-time writing. He only does what he loves. His hobbies include gardening, reading, shooting, and most of all - learning new things in every context (hence why he chose to be a writer). His whimsical nature and love for writing fosters creativity in all of his work

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