Best New Shorty Shotguns (Firearms) From SHOT Show 2019 – No Tax Stamp Required!

These new Non-NFA firearms that fire shotshells can make great home defense guns.

Let’s clear something up right off the bat. We’re not talking about shotguns in the purest, legal sense. We’re talking about firearms. That’s because firearms that ignite shot shells that aren’t designed to be shouldered aren’t considered “shotguns” by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). That’s why these firearms can have barrels shorter than 18 inches and not fall into the restricted NFA category. With that said, if we slip up now and then and use the word shotgun, it’s only intended to be descriptive of the ammo it consumes.

When Mossberg launched the original Shockwave and Remington came out with the 870 TAC-14 line, people clearly liked these portable smoothbores. Short, compact, light, and handy, they still pack a veritable punch. With plenty of new models from a variety of manufacturers, shorty shotties are here to say. Let's look at some new entrants in the market from SHOT Show 2019.

Mossberg Nightstick
The new Mossberg Nightstick (top) seen with other variants of the company's popular 590 Shockwave non-NFA "firearms."David Maccar

Remember the Winchester 1897 “Trench Gun” used in WWI and WWII? I wonder if users might have preferred a shorty version of that classic...

The new Mossberg 590 Nightstick is a variant of the popular 590 Shockwave that carries wood furniture consistent with its classic law enforcement tool name.

Mossberg Nightstick
The wood corncob forend on the Mossberg Nightstick features a leather strap to keep your support hand in safe and in place, as well as helping to mitigate muzzle flip when shooting harder kicking shells.Joseph Albanese

The Raptor (bird’s head) rounded grip is wood as is the corncob fore-end. The fore-end also carries a leather strap loop instead of a nylon one, which keeps your hand in place during vigorous operation and out of the way of the short muzzle. With a 14.3-inch barrel, you don’t want fingers to slip forward. The strap serves another purpose. It helps the user control muzzle flip when firing powerful 12-gauge loads from such a compact firearm.

This 12-gauge sports a 5+1 shell capacity (with 2.75" shells), a thick-walled cylinder bore barrel, and 26.37-inch overall length. It's handy not to mention easy on the eyes. MSRP: $539

And despite its old school looks, the Nightstick will also work with the Lasersaddle laser sight from Crimson Trace, which is invaluable on a gun that is best fired from the hip.

V3 TAC-13
The VersaPort gas bleeds energy from the system to cycle the action, ejecting a spent shell and adding a new one. That diversion of energy also helps to tame recoil.Mossberg

Remington offers a twist with their V3 TAC-13 introduced a couple of months before SHOT Show. Unlike most other similar offerings, the V3 TAC-13 is a semi-automatic. What? Yes, semi-automatics might be the biggest shorty shotty innovation this year, not just from Remington, but Charles Daly Defense, Black Aces Tactical, and Standard Manufacturing too. That feature alone is a big deal. The VersaPort gas bleeds energy from the system to cycle the action, ejecting a spent shell and adding a new one. That diversion of energy also helps to tame recoil. With a 26.5-inch overall length and weight of just 5.94 pounds, that’s a big deal.

V3 TAC-13
The V3 TAC-13 accommodates both 2 ¾ and 3-inch shells and holds 5+1.Jeff Rife

The V3 TAC-13 accommodates both 2 ¾ and 3-inch shells and holds 5+1. Just like a traditional shotgun, this one includes a sighting rail that extends along the length of the 13-inch barrel and a sighing bead on top of the muzzle. As with the other short shell-shooting firearms, the V3 TAC-13 includes a fore-end strap to help control recoil and muzzle flip. MSRP: $915

Full Remington Shorty Lineup

Remington short shotguns
From the top, the Remington TAC-14 Hardwood, the V3 TAC-13, 870 TAC-14 Arm Brace; the 870DM TAC-14, the 870 TAC-14 with Magpul furniture; and the 870 TAC-14 Marine Magnum.T. Logan Metesh

The Remington booth embodied the phrase, “variety is the spice of life.” On one rack alone were six different varieties of the TAC-13 semiautos and TAC-14 pump models. Wooden and synthetic furniture, black and brushed nickel finishes, Magpul forend options, bird’s head grips, an arm brace, pump-action, semi-automatic, tube magazines, and even box magazines.

If you can't find something that catches your eye at the Remington booth, then perhaps you need to get your eyes checked! —T. Logan Metesh

The Charles Daly Defense / Chiappa Honcho Semi-Auto
The Charles Daly Defense / Chiappa Honcho Semi-Auto line is versatile and affordable.mfg photo

Charles Daly Defense is giving the folks at Mossberg a run for their money in terms of investment in a family of shorty shotties. Several models are new for 2019, one of which is a semi-automatic version of their Honcho Tactical.

This entry in the list features a bird’s head grip with a twist. You’ll note three finger grooves for improved purchase on the limited stock space. Up front is a textured polymer hand guard. Like many other traditional semi-automatics, the magazine tube end cap features a sling swivel should you want to rig up a carry method.

Honcho Semi-Auto
The bird's head grip on the Honcho Semi-Auto has finger grooves for better handling.David Maccar

Under the fore-end is a short rail segment, perfect for a tactical light or laser. We suppose you could mount a bayonet up there too if expect to use this firearm to ward off Zombie hordes.

The 12-gauge Honcho Tactical Semi-Automatic handles 3-inch shells and packs a 5+1 capacity. The 14-inch barrel is topped with a traditional sighting rail and bead front sight.

The Honcho is also available as a pump gun in 12 and 20 gauge and .410 bore. A detachable-box-magazine-fed version of the Honcho Tactical with a spring-assisted pump action will also soon be available.

All Charles Daly Defense models are distributed exclusively by Chiappa Firearms. MSRP: Honcho Tactical Semi - $499; Honcho Tactical Pump .410 - $369; Honcho Tactical Pump - $309; Honcho Tactical Mag Fed - $339 —TM

The Charles Daly Defense Honcho Tactical Mag Fed Pump w/ Spring Assist.
The Charles Daly Defense Honcho Tactical Mag Fed Pump w/ Spring Assist.David Maccar

The name Charles Daly isn’t one you’d initially associate with this new breed of firearm. The original company was founded in 1875 and ceased operations in 1919. It has been sold and rebranded multiple times, most recently by Chiappa.

Nonetheless, they have put forth a non-NFA "firearm" line that competes with the big boys in terms of variety and price.

Honcho Tactical Triple

The Honcho shorty (bottom) comes in several variants, including pump and semi-auto. The Honcho Tactical Triple (top) is a three-barrel break-action non-NFA firearm. The bores are arranged in a triangular pattern.T. Logan Metesh

You can choose from 12 or 20 gauge or .410 bore Honcho models in pump-action or semi-auto formats with or without a box mag that Tom outlines above (the mag-fed version won't be available for a little while, as it's ATF certification was delayed by the government shutdown).

One of their other offerings—the Honcho Tactical Triple—is unlike any other on this list.

It's got a black finish, synthetic furniture, a pistol grip, but it's a break-action design, and it has … three barrels! Available only in 12 gauge, the Tactical Triple features a triangular barrel arrangement that is quite intimidating when viewed head-on! The platform has proved itself as Chiappa has been making its Triple Threat and Triple Crown shotguns for a number of years now. Without the weight of three full sized barrels, the action on the short version is a little difficult to open and close, as you are cocking three hammers in the process, but would likely loosen up in time.

Regardless, with its all black finish and furniture, the Honcho Tactical Triple is definitely intimidating and feels like it means business. MSRP: $1,299 —T. Logan Metesh

Charles Daly N4S Bullpup Semi-Auto Shotgun

Charles Daly N4S
This bullpup semi-auto packs a lot of power in a small package, and for a nice price as well.David Maccar

Like a few of the other guns on this list, the N4S from Charles Daly actually IS a shotgun, but it's design makes it just as short as the other guns on this list, without crossing into NFA territory.

This 12 gauge bullpup, magazine-fed semi-auto and has a 20-inch barrel with an overall length of just 29.25 inches. It also includes flip-up sights, a five-round magazine, and a 3-inch chamber. With an aluminum receiver, the whole package weighs in at 9.3 lbs. The N4S also features a Beretta/Benelli Mobil Choke and comes with a modified choke installed. MSRP: $649.00 —Dave Maccar

Charles Daly
The line of non-NFA firearms that fire shotshells from Charles Daly Defense is expansive.Dave Maccar
Kel-Tec KS7
The Kel-Tec KS7 is a lightweight bullpup shotgun has an overall length of 26.1 inches.Kel-Tec

This new entry in the “Shorty Shottie” list technically IS a shotgun as it has a shoulder stock and 18.5-inch barrel. We’re including it because its bullpup design keeps the overall length in the same neighborhood as the others at 26.1 inches.

The original Kel-Tec KSG turned the world of defensive shotguns on its ear. Love it or hate it, the KSG was a concept that broke new ground. With its barrel and dual magazine tube, it held a ton of 12-gauge shells and allowed the user to stock different loads and switch ammo types with a simple lever flip. On the other hand, the KSG was a bit of a beast – wide and heavy for its size, especially when fully loaded. The ratio of capacity per cubic inch to size was great, although it didn’t win any Academy Awards for easiest-to-handle firearm.

Kel-Tec KS7
The new KS7 is a lighter version of the KSG with the same arrangement of components but only one magazine tube instead of the KSGs dual tubes, which reduces capacity to seven shells, but makes for an incredibly light and nimble shotgun.Joseph Albanese

The new KS7 keeps the compact form factor and short overall length. Its bullpup design keeps the overall length to just 26.1 inches. The KS7 makes a departure from the dual tube concept to a more traditional arrangement of one magazine tube and one barrel for a total capacity of 6+1 with 3" shells (so you might be able to fit an eighth in there with 2.75" shells, and since the KSG works pretty well with 1.75" shells, there's no reason to think the KS7 won't).

The tradeoff is weight, width reduction, and improved handling. The super light weight of 5.9 lbs. (unloaded) is the first think you notice about the KS7 when you pick it up. The second is its excellent ergonomics, which help reduce felt recoil in such a small shotgun. With downward ejecting shells, it's good to go for righties or lefties, a rarity for bullpups.

You'll also notice that the KS7 sports a new removable carry handle that serves double duty as a sight rail, complete with fiber optic tube. It also provides a couple M-LOK slots on each side for a gun light or a laser sight or both. There are two more M-LOK slots on the forend as well. MSRP: $495

Mossberg 590 Shock ‘n Saw
The new Mossberg 590 Shock ‘n Saw.Mossberg

The Mossberg 500 Tactical Chainsaw was another innovative introduction that made waves at SHOT a couple years ago. Featuring a pistol grip and distinctive operating grip above the barrel, this firearm was well-suited for specialized duty like breaching doors. Rather than hold the shotgun from underneath, the user “hangs it” from the support hand.

New this year, that same operating grip has been ported to the Shockwave platform to create the 590 Shock 'n Saw. Given its short 14.375-inch barrel, there's also a strap to help keep the support hand in place when operating the pump action. Like the other Shockwave models, capacity is 5+1. This one also uses a cylinder bore but adds a breaching texture on the muzzle. Jam it into a wood door frame and it's less likely to slip. MSRP: $560

The Black Aces Shockwave Semi is built on a Remington 1100 action.
The Black Aces Shockwave Semi has a very attractive price point.Black Aces Tactical

Black Aces Tactical gets the nod for value on a semi-automatic shorty shotty. With an MSRP of just $449, it is the least expensive semi of the new crop. Shockwave name aside, this model is made from the ground up by Black Aces, it’s just the rear flange and sight rail that are Mossberg-inspired. The “Shockwave” name simply references the grip itself, which is made by Shockwave Technologies.

The Black Aces Shockwave Semi packs one less shell with a 4+1 capacity, but gives you a slightly shorter overall length at just 26.5 inches, and that's with a 14-inch barrel like other non-NFA models. The receiver is 6061 T6 Aluminum but the bolt, charging handle, and bolt release button are nickel plated. MSRP: $449 —TM

Black Aces Tactical
At the show, Black Aces Tactical had a number of their shorty shotguns on display, including a variety of wood and metal finishes, and one model fitted with a pistol brace (so it's still not a "shotgun").T. Logan Metesh

BAT started off by offering custom Mossberg Shockwave pump-action firearms, equipping them with picatinny rail sections, side shell holders, and magazine spikes. Then they began offering their own complete firearms, many of which were on display at the show. Their semi-automatic variations were on full display at the show.

Black Aces Tactical
Black Aces also offers other additions like mag tube spikes, shell holders, and rail sections for the non-NFA firearms on the market.T. Logan Metesh

Want stock options? Black Aces has you covered. Choose from walnut, bird's eye maple, or synthetic. How about metal finishes? Say no more. They've got a tactical matte black or a more classy brushed nickel to choose from. —T. Logan Metesh

Mossberg Shockwave SPX
The Mossberg Shockwave SPX features a breaching muzzle, heat shield, top optics rail, and a sidesaddle shell carrier.Mossberg

If a Mossberg Shockwave can get even more tactical, then the SPX variant is it. Like the Shock 'n Saw, it features a breaching muzzle. Like the Nightstick, it features a corncob fore-end, only one made from polymer and a canvas strap. The SPX adds a heat shield in a nod to the original trench gun, a top rail for red dot optics, and a sidesaddle shell carrier. It'll also handle 5+1 capacity of three-inch 12-gauge shells. MSRP: $560

The Charles Daly Defense Tactical Triple is based on the Chiappa Triple Threat.
The Charles Daly Defense Honcho Tactical Triple is based on the Chiappa Triple Threat.Chiappa

The creativity with simplicity award goes to… Charles Daly Defense. The Honcho Tactical Triple as the name implies is a double barrel plus one. Yes, this model welds three smooth cylinder bore barrels together is a triangular shape – two side by side with one stacked on top in the center. It’s a pyramid of shot shell delivery.

The barrels are longer than pump and semi-automatic alternatives and here’s why. The break-action means no lengthy receiver is required. Pump and semi-automatic designs require horizontal space to move shells back and forth into the chamber. With this model, the shells are already in the chamber, so there’s no overall length penalty with the Tactical Triple’s 18.5-inch barrels.

Honcho Tactical Triple
The Honcho Tactical Triple has the same overall length as other shorty shotguns but because it's a break action, it has longer barrels.David Maccar

The whole package measures just 27 inches – one-quarter of an inch shorter than the company’s Honcho Tactical Magazine-Fed Pump Action and exactly the same length as the Honcho Tactical Semi-Automatic.

As you've guessed, capacity is… three. When you want more shots, break the barrel open and drop in new shells. If you want less beast to tame than the 12-gauge model offers, you can also order this one in .410 bore. MSRP: $1,299

Behold the mag-fed Charles Daly Defense Honcho Tactical Pump.
Behold the mag-fed Charles Daly Defense Honcho Tactical Pump.Chiappa

In the traditional shotgun world, box magazine-fed models are making big inroads for tactical and defensive use. Tube magazines offer “ok” capacity given that shotgun shells are huge, but reloads are time consuming and sensitive to finger fumbling. Taking a hint from the pistol and AR worlds, box magazines for shotguns offer instant and reliable reloads.

Honcho Tactical Pump
The new Honcho Tactical Pump feeds from a 5-round detachable box magazine and features a spring assisted pump action.David Maccar

The new Honcho Tactical Pump feeds its 12-gauge shells from a five-round box magazine. Like the other Charles Daly offerings, it handles three-inch shells and you can carry one in the chamber for a total capacity of six. It includes a 14-inch barrel and synthetic bird's head grip and stock. The folks at the Chiappa booth say that this firearm may be delayed a bit because of ATF approvals being hung up by the ongoing federal government shutdown. MSRP: $339

Standard Mfg. Co. SKO Mini Semi-Automatic "firearm."
Standard Mfg. Co. SKO Mini Semi-Automatic "firearm."Standard Mfg. Co.

And now for something completely different…

The Standard Manufacturing SKO Mini is a semi-automatic with a non-traditional (at least in the shotgun world) operating design. As a “firearm” and not a shotgun or pistol, the SKO Mini offers a compact package with two vertical grips – fore and aft. The grip itself is AR compatible, so many aftermarket grips will fit if you have a preferred model. Up front is a rail-mounted vertical grip, so you can use it as is or remove it for a more traditional fore-end. You’ll also note that the controls are “AR-like” in nature.

The 27-inch overall length is right in line with all the other models we’ve discussed even though the barrel is a tad longer than most at 14 ¾ inches. The SKO Mini is also a bit heavier at 7.14 pounds, but hey, that’s what the forward vertical grip is for.

The SKO Mini uses a detachable box magazine and the included mag holds two rounds, but you can order five- and 10-round magazines if you prefer. There's one more big difference – the barrel is threaded with the Tru-Choke pattern, so you can adjust shot pattern to preference or even use a door breacher if that's your intended use. MSRP: $699

Must-have Shorty Accessories

The Crimson Trace LaserSaddle is built just for the Mossberg 590 Shockwave and fits over the receiver like a glove.
The Crimson Trace LaserSaddle is built just for the Mossberg 590 Shockwave and fits over the receiver like a glove.David Maccar

Shotgun or not, you still have to aim it. While shorty "pistol" shotguns are handy and portable, they're not exactly easy to aim at eye level, at least while providing a stable and solid firing platform. That's where the Crimson Trace LaserSaddle shines. Support the shotgun wherever you like, waist, center torso, shoulder area, up free-floated at eye level, and you'll have a positive aiming solution. At a pre-release event I tested this out on clay targets at 25 yards and… it works like a champ. Getting on target and getting consistent hits was easy, even from a waist-high hold. MSRP: $169 (red laser) and $219 (green laser)

Federal Premium’s new Shorty Shotshells are 12-gauge loads, but measure just 1 ¾ inches long and currently come in three varieties.
Federal Premium’s new Shorty Shotshells are 12-gauge loads, but measure just 1 ¾ inches long and currently come in three varieties.David Maccar

While one might assume you have to match shorty shotties with shorty ammo that’s not necessarily the case. However, there’s a good reason to do so. Decreased recoil and increased capacity.

Federal Premium's new Shorty Shotshells are 12-gauge loads, but measure just 1 ¾ inches long. They're produced in three varieties: a 15/16th ounce #8 shot, 15-pellet #4 buck shot, and one-ounce rifled slug loads. The #8 shot carries a muzzle velocity of 1175 feet per second while the buck shot and slugs cruise at 1,200 feet per second. If you choose to use these in short smoothbore firearms, you'll likely get less velocity. Since guns chambers and feeding mechanisms vary, be sure to test these in your chosen firearm first to make sure they feed reliably. While they'll always work in a break action, they may or may not feed with all semi and pump guns. MSRP: #8 Shot (10): $5.95, #4 Buck Shot (10): $11.95, Slugs (10): $11.95