Top 10 tactical toys for your 12 gauge

Story and photo by John N. Raguso

12-Gauge Shotgun

The 12-gauge shotgun in its many forms is arguably the most universal home defense and short-range tactical weapon in the American arsenal for the simple reason that it totally dominates the space in its confined, 25-yard world. And it does this better than anything else short of the Terminator’s famed “phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.”

With an entry price of $300 or less for a reliable weapon and no special license required for purchase—other than your state driver’s ID and typically, a national instant criminal background check system check (NICS)—the tactical 12 gauge is eminently affordable for all socio-economic levels of our society.


This fact has not gone unnoticed by a growing cadre of shotgun accessory manufacturers, which make a wide range of tactical toys that will customize your 12 gauge to fit your personal needs and truly make it “bad to the bone” (like that relentless cyborg’s model 1887 Winchester lever-action shotgun in the opening biker bar scene of Terminator 2).

Some of these aftermarket add-ons might be as simple as swapping out your brass bead front sight for a tritium dot or fiber-optic pipe to enable a quicker sight picture, adding a recoil-reducing stock to tame the 12 gauge’s formidable back-blast, or maybe snapping on a tac light or laser aiming device to a Picatinny rail.

The combinations are endless, so without further introduction, let’s take a look at the top 10 accessories for your home-D or tactical 12 gauge.


 It’s simple logic that you can’t hit what you can’t see. Going with a relatively hi-viz, inexpensive front sight (red fiber-optic factory front sights for my Mossbergs cost me only $5 each on sale last year) in lieu of the low-pro/low-viz standard front brass bead sight is the first change I usually make to /all/ my shotguns, no matter what their intended purpose. Although practically invisible in total darkness, if there’s any ambient light, these red fiber optics will do the job better than the brass beads, and the more light there is, the more they amplify it.

Mossberg also makes a large white dot sight on its new Thunder Ranch Model 500 that will interchange with most other Mossy weapons systems. But if you want to truly “see in the dark,” the Big Dot (.161-inch/4mm) tritium front sight manufactured by XS Sight Systems might be just what you’re looking for. It has a street price of $60 from Brownell’s.

NOTE: The full story is in the May issue.

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