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5 Practical Tips for Upgrading Your Shotgun

Posted by Alice Jones Webb on Apr 17th 2020

5 Practical Tips for Upgrading Your Shotgun

Five Practical Upgrades for your Shotgun

The shotgun may be the most versatile weapon ever designed. Hunters use shotguns to shoot everything from tiny upland birds to monster whitetail bucks. LEOs rely on shotguns for tactical applications. Shotguns are also popular weapons for home defense.

The shotgun is such a flexible weapon that many shooting experts insist that if they had to pick just one gun, they would choose a shotgun.

The basic factory shotgun is a great weapon, even straight out of the box. However, if you want to optimize your scattergun, there is a ton of aftermarket support (especially if you’re running one of the classics, like a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500).

Here are 5 of the most practical upgrades for your shotgun. While these upgrades are all practical and functional, some of them are also kind of cool.

Optics

In the not so distant past, optics were considered something you only needed for long-distance rifle shooting. Since shotguns are short-range weapons, an optic may seem counter-intuitive. However, there are plenty of ways a quality optic can augment your shotgun’s capabilities.

Here is a rundown of the basic types of optics you can mount on your favorite scattergun and why you might want to.

Scope

Although traditional scopes were developed for long-range rifle shooting, they can be used effectively on modern shotguns in some circumstances. The development of sabot slugs and fully rifled barrels has stretched the accuracy and effective range of the standard shotgun, so a scope is no longer overkill.

Many big game hunters, especially those hunting in rifle-restricted areas, rely on a slug gun and a good optic. Quality slugs and good marksmanship can achieve quick, humane kills on deer-sized game at some surprising distances.

However, even the best slug gun is still limited to a range that rarely extends far beyond 100 yards. For this reason, your shotgun doesn’t need a scope with excessive magnification. Choose something in the 1.5x to 6x range. You also want to make sure your shotgun scope offers plenty of eye relief and is capable of withstanding some fairly excessive recoil.

Red Dot Sights

A red dot sight is a type of reflex sight that uses a dot-shaped reticle (usually red) that serves as an aiming point. Designed to facilitate rapid target acquisition, red dot sights are perfect for close-range and fast-moving targets. For these reasons, red dots are a popular choice for 3-gun competitors.

Red dot optics are also a valuable tool for self-defense shooting. In stressful shooting situations (like a home invasion), shooting fundamentals sometimes go right out the window, especially for infrequent shooters. Since red dot sights work even if you don’t have a proper cheek weld, they can make a great addition to your home defense shotgun, allowing you to aim even with less-than-perfect shooting form.

Holographic Sights

Holographic sights use a laser and mirrors to produce a projected reticle. When viewed by the shooter, the reticle looks like it is superimposed on the target.

Like red dots, holo sights facilitate easier and faster target acquisition. They are smaller and lighter than red dot sights and offer a wider selection of reticle designs. While holo sights are highly precise, they are also highly expensive.

Laser Sights

Laser sights project a laser light toward your target. Designed as an aiming aid, a laser sight shows you exactly where your muzzle is pointing. A laser sight that is properly set up and secured on your home defense shotgun makes it much easier to aim. You simply point the laser at the target and pull the trigger.

Fore-Grip Rail Mounts

If you ever need to use your shotgun in a self-defense situation, chances are good that it will happen in the dark. A foregrip with a rail mount system allows you to attach accessories like lights, lasers, and hand-stops to your shotgun, making your weapon much better suited to after-dark shooting.

Flashlights

If you want to optimize your shotgun for low-light shooting, a rail-mounted flashlight is a great option. Beyond helping you to see in the dark, a mounted flashlight can help immobilize an attacker by temporarily blinding them.

Some flashlight models offer a strobe function that can instantly disorient an attacker and give you the upper hand in a tactical or self-defense situation.

Hunters may opt for a red or green colored flashlight. These handy lights let you easily see what is lurking in the dark. However, their red or green color make them invisible to game animals. Red and green rail-mounted flashlights work particularly well for hunting hogs, coyotes, and other nocturnal predators.

Stocks

With so many options on the market, there’s no reason to settle for a shotgun with an uncomfortable stock. You can swap out your factory stock for something that better suits your length of pull and personal shooting style.

A collapsible stock is a good option for a shotgun, especially one you may have to share with others, since collapsible stocks can be adjusted to fit the frame of any-sized shooter.

Collapsible stocks are also a handy upgrade for tactical shotguns, especially if you may need to use it for room clearing. Clearing a room and maneuvering in close quarters is much easier when you are carrying a shorter, lighter weapon.

Side Saddle

A sidesaddle is a great way to keep extra ammo readily accessible. Most shotguns have a relatively limited magazine capacity, so a sidesaddle shell carrier ensures you always have another set of rounds right at your fingertips. This lets you quickly grab some rounds, easily reload your weapon, and get back in the fight.

Summing It Up

There are tons of options for upgrading your favorite shotgun. We’ve covered just a few of the most practical upgrades available, but there are plenty more to choose from, including trigger upgrades, magazine extensions, and specialized choke tubes, just to name a few. Pick a place to start, and you’ll be well on your way to a highly effective and truly customized scattergun. 

We also have a collection of shotgun accessories that you can find here.

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