Semi-Autmomatic Shotguns: Meet the 10 Best on the Planet Today

October 8, 2019 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: GunsGunShotgunMilitaryHunting

Semi-Autmomatic Shotguns: Meet the 10 Best on the Planet Today

Let the debate begin. 


We discussed personal defense shotguns before and recommended a few powerful shotgun scopes, but in today’s piece we’re going to dive into some of our favorite semi auto shotguns.

If you’re in a big rush to see our top picks, here they are:

  1. Benelli M4 (Most Expensive but nicest, ~$1800)

  2. Browning A5 (~$1500)

  3. Beretta 1301 Tactical (~$1,000)

  4. FNH SLP Mark 1 (~$1,300)

  5. Benelli M4 Tactical (~$1,200)

  6. Mossberg 930 SPX (~$750)

  7. Remington Versa Max (~$1,100)

  8. Stoeger 3500 (Best Discount Option ~$650)


Before I share my top picks with you, we need to discuss the Browning Auto 5. We need to start with this epic boomstick to know how the modern semi-auto shotgun industry started.

The Browning Auto 5 was originally created in the 1800s with a patent finally put on it in the 1900s after about 100 years of use. From 1903 onward it was mass produced in the US. Despite its popularity, the original Browning Auto 5 was notoriously unreliable.

It would jam, break and explode. After about ten years of production the Auto 5 was revamped by the legendary Browning company. The newer “fixed” model solved all the issues that plagued the older Browning Auto 5 version.

A new shotgun was born.

It was so reliable and powerful that military forces all over the world started purchasing it in bulk.

The Browning Auto 5’s history is almost as old as the 1911 pistol.

It was a favored weapon of tactical units throughout the world and paratroopers dropped into close proximity fighting.  The Auto 5 packed some serious firepower utilizing a 12 gauge buckshot to obliterate anyone unluckily enough to get hit.

During both of the World Wars, especially in World War II, the Browning Auto 5 became a standard issue weapon. The unit itself is a recoil operated gun.

The idea is that the energy produced from the recoil is used to seamlessly shoot out the shell and pull a new one into the chamber.


Semi-auto shotguns have enjoyed a huge upswing in popularity over the last few years. We suspect that this is largely due to Hollywood where they’ve been featured in more and more action movies.

The increased demand has allowed smaller companies and larger companies like Browning and Mossberg to rethink their designs. Competition breeds innovation and that’s exactly what we’ve seen in the last few years.

A lot of new models coming out with tons of features and some really impressive designs.


A pump-action shotgun requires the user to pull its fore-end to eject the spent cartridge, the push the fore-end to load a new shell from the magazine to the chamber. The push-and-pull movement to cycle shells makes it look like the user is “pumping” the shotgun, hence the label “pump-action”.

With a semi-auto, whenever you shoot the shotgun, the internal spring loaded mechanism shoots out the old cartridge and brings in a new one.

A semi-auto shotgun does the work for you. Instead of hearing the “chuck chuck” when you pull the fore-end to eject a spent cartridge then push it to load a new one in, it does the work for you. Using either the recoil or the high-pressure gases from the shells fired, the used cartridge is ejected and a new one is loaded in.

Auto-loading shotguns do it in two ways:

  1. Recoil-based reloading

  2. Gas System, like the AR-15

The end result of both the systems is the same. This quick reloading and ejecting allows for the rapid-fire ability of semi automatic shotguns.

Gas powered units use gas under high pressure while the traditional pump action uses good ol’ human muscle.

The first Auto 5’s were recoil-based and it wasn’t under later tactical shotguns emerged on the market that manufacturers started to favor the more robust gas-powered design.


Well, that’s up to you really. I like both.

If you want the fast powerful feeling of shooting multiple slugs quickly, then the semi-auto shotgun is for you.

If you want to be a bit more methodical and take your time feeling the mechanism of the gun in your hands, then a traditional pump-action shotgun is what you want.

There are still some other differences though:


  • Relatively lower-priced

  • Great for beginners

  • Okay if you’re a bigger person

  • Super simple to clean, disassemble and maintain

  • Takes any type of ammo

  • Relatively more durable because of its more simple utilitarian design

Things to Consider:

  • Won’t fire as quickly as a semi-auto shotgun (unless the user is highly trained)

  • Has more “kick” to it (depending on the particular shotgun’s weight and the loads you use)

  • If you have a shoulder or hand injury, shooting a pump-action shotgun will hurt


  • Great for tactical situations or competitive shooting

  • Great for beginners

  • Relatively better for smaller people

  • In general, has less felt recoil (i.e. compared to a pump-action with similar weight and using the same loads)

  • Less recoil leads to significantly faster target acquisition and slightly better accuracy

  • Feels great to shoot

Things to Consider:

  • A lot more parts can lead to potentially more problems

  • Harder to clean

  • May have issues with certain ammo loads


The shotgun isn’t a complicated weapon to begin with. Using an auto shotgun is even easier than a traditional shotgun.

One of the advantage of using a semi-automatic version is that once all the cartridges are cleared the gun will lock to the rear.  This gives newer shooters a very clear visible and auditory cue that the gun is indeed empty and safe.

Not to mention traditional pump-action shotguns have a hell of a lot of kick.

Contrast this with the pump-action shotgun which doesn’t give any sort of cue that it’s empty. The only reliable method is count the amount of shots you made and make sure they are all done.

If you have the money and want something that is easier to operate I’d recommend semi-auto shotgun. The only issue that might come up is cleaning but if you aren’t sure about that you can always take it to your gunsmith to get it cleaned.


As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, these are my top picks. That is also because these are the shotguns I’m familiar with and I even own a few of these.

I’ve tried to blend price with quality here to give you a best of both worlds.

If anyone has another shotgun they’d like to add to the list, drop it in a comment below. Thanks!


These are a great choice for bird hunting or pig hunting. Anything that is fast moving, big or requires lots of shots is easier to hunt with an automatic shotgun.

For elk hunting I still recommend a hunting rifle.


The SA-08 Deluxe is originally manufactured by a Turkish company and is a gas-operated model. Available gauge sizes are 12, 20 and 28.

This is great weapon to shoot and provides some great power for bird hunting or pig hunting.  I would say it’s a good combination of value and price. It’s a little bit pricier than some of the super discount options.

The SA-08 is super lightweight and looks great. The base model weighs 5 ½ to 6 ¼ pounds.  Also a great choice for clay shooting or any kind of waterfowl.

If you have a gun lover in your family, this is a really good choice and probably the best price you’ll get at the mid-range level. Walnut stock, engraved logo and polished steel – it looks and feels great.


Don’t get fooled by the price. The Stoeger is a great choice for a reliable shotgun with great power minus all the bells and whistles of some of the more fancy tactical choices.

The Stoeger runs via inertia meaning that cartridges are pulled into the shell and old ones ejected via recoil.

Comes with interchangeable chokes a couple of different lengths of barrels. Shells range from 2 ¾ to 3 ½ for the bigger slugs. You can easily fit a shotgun sight onto this.

You can shop around and find the Stoeger for pretty cheap.


For anyone who has shot this, they’ll know why we picked it as our top choice.

If you’re thinking isn’t this the A5 from World War 2? Don’t worry, I’m not recommending you to use some antique weapon for your hunting trips.

The A5 is a new and improved version of the old vintage model. It comes with all the old functionality plus a very expanded design. The new A5 is lighter and utilizes a patented recoil system known as “Kinematic Drive”, this feature lets you pick between lighter or heavier loads.