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Tactical Shotgun Build: Where to Start

I started the Uncle Fudd blog to share my totally ridiculous gun builds. You know, things like space cowboy revolvers and other ideal EDC setups..... Along the way, I've written a couple guides to give people who are interested in Tactical Lever Actions, or Red Dots on Revolvers a head start. To my surprise, these guide post have been by far the most popular I've written.

People are more interested in what they need to know for their own builds than they are in seeing mine. Although my pride is slightly hurt by this, I am more than happy to give people a leg up on their projects. The whole point of the Uncle Fudd blog is to inspire others to have some fun and think outside the box when it comes to their firearms hobby - not everything needs to be extra tactical.

So, here's another guide for those interested in building a tactical shotgun. I have plans to do a tactical/cyber shotgun in the future and I'll share more about that when I start the build. For now, here are some of what I've learned in researching that build. Hopefully, you'll find this is helpful as you dream up your own build.

The Place to Start: Shotgun Type & Gauge

When people think tactical shotgun, they usually think it needs to have the maximum shell capacity and be semi-automatic or at least, pump action. This is not always the case though. I encourage you to think about the intended use of your build and what type of shotgun will best serve that purpose.

It may be that an over-under, a side-by-side, or even a single shot crack open is a better base gun for your build. Although they have lower shell capacities and rates of fire, these types of shotguns are usually much simpler to operate, more affordable, lighter, and legal in some of the more restrictive parts of the world.

Similarly, people often assume that a 12-gauge is the only option for a tactical shotgun. While that's certainly the most common choice, there any many great 20 gauge options out there and for those looking to build a truck gun or ATV ranch gun for small things like snakes, a 410 is a great option.

Below are some options of base shotguns by type and gauge.


Beretta Tactical Shotgun
Beretta 1301

Pump Action

  1. Mossberg 500 410 Tactical

  2. DP-12 (the grand daddy of tacticool shotguns)

  3. Escort Slugger (budget option)

  4. Remington 870

Tactical Shotgun Build

Double Barrel (both over-under and side-by-side)

Tactical Side By Side Shotgun
Stoeger's Double Defense with some attachments.

Single Shot

  1. ATI Nomad 12 Gauge (foldable which is pretty cool)

  2. Savage 301 12 Gauge

  3. Henry Single Shot (available 410, 20 ga and 12 ga)

Foldable tactical Shotgun
ATI Nomad folded

Next Up: The Optic

Once you've selected a base gun, the next best piece to lock down on is what kind of optic you're going to use. Most builds will be just fine with the iron sights that your base gun come with, or a simple night sight upgrade (like these from XS Sights) to make them a bit more visible in the wee hours of the morning.

However, if you're wanting to use a red dot or other mounted optic, then you're going to need a place to mount it. Not all shotguns come with rails ready to mount an optic. If this is the case with the base shotgun you've selected, then you'll need to select a handguard, rail, or action-top scope mount that'll allow you to mount your desired optic.

You can pretty much mount any non-magnified optic you want on a shotgun and it'll work. Your tactical shotgun is not precision tool, so as long as it's a quality optic that can handle the recoil of the gun you'll probably be OK. Some ideas to get you started are below.

Micro Red Dots - generally those designed for pistols

Tactical Shotgun Red Dot

Here's a good example of what these micro red dots look like on a shotgun with minimal tactical updates. Shoutout to Armory Blog for this build.

Tactical shotgun with red dot

Large Red Dots - generally those designed for rifles

  1. Eotech EXPS3

  2. Aimpoint Micro H-2 (not a budget option)

  3. Sig Romeo MSR

  4. Sig Romeo 8T (for those with unlimited money)

  5. Vortex SPARC

  6. Bushnell TRS-25 (budget option)

  7. Leupold Delta Point Pro

Eotech for tactical shotgun build

Ghost Rings - similar to the stock iron sights with faster pick up and no need to worry about batteries

Back Up Iron Sights - AR-style flip up irons that'll work on any shotgun with a full length picatinny rail

Iron Sights for Tactical Shotgun
Ozark's Back Up Irons

Tactical Shotgun Handguard's, Rails, and Other Mounts

"Alright Mr. Fudd, you've said the mount is super important, but haven't given any example!"

Easy child, here we go...

The best advice I can give on this front, is to start doing some Googling. There are many options for many different shotguns, so once you've picked your gun and your optic get to Googling and find out what you options are.

One note of caution is that some of the wilder options may be built for airsoft or other non-firearms and are of questionable durability. As usual, you get what you pay for and Alibaba may not be the best place to find the mount for your zombie-slayer.... just saying.....

Some mount & handguard options for the most popular shotguns:

Tactical Shotgun Build - Scope Mount
Barrel clamp style mount.

Tactical shotgun Red Dot Mount
Jawbone mount on a Mossberg shotgun

Then: Go Hog Wild

You've now got a shotgun, an optic and mount (as needed), and likely some extra mounting surface. This is where the customization really begins, and the mall-ninja tacticool-ness can get our of hand.

Below are some options to give you a head start on this madness...

Shell Holders

Tactical Shotgun Shell Holder
Mossberg Side Saddle 6 Round Holder

Fore Ends


Tactical Shotgun Stock
TactaLoad's stock is extra tacticool

Lights & Lasers

Tactical Shotgun Crimson Trace Laser Saddle
Crimson Trace Laser Saddle

Hopefully, that's enough to get you started. The options are nearly endless. Don't let other's view of the "best" tactical shotgun influence you. Build what you want and enjoy the process.

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Feb 07

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