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A blast from a 12-gauge shotgun can stop a violent felon in his tracks or unhinge a door in a hostage-recue operation. In fact, few things can match both the power and flexibility of the classic scattergun. As the times have changed, so have the possible uses of these smoothbore guns.

With the widespread adoption of less-lethal munitions, these powerful guns—combined with good tactics—can actually save the lives of suspects in cases where deadly force is authorized. However, the shotgun’s main purpose—stopping bad guys—remains its primary mission.

Just like the lawmen of years past, modern law enforcement officers continue to use shotguns with good effect. Here is a look at some of the tactical shotguns available to modern law enforcement officers.

Benelli M4 Tactical

Currently used by both the U.S. military and many law enforcement agencies, the Benelli M4 is a semi-automatic shotgun with a track record of performance in harsh conditions. Many consider this shotgun to be the gold standard of combat shotguns. It is a semi-automatic, gas-operated scattergun with many desirable features, including ghost-ring sights, a Picatinny top rail and a pistol grip. Matte black is standard, but Cerakote finishes are available. (benelliusa.com; 301-283-6981)

Beretta 1301 Tactical

Impressive. That’s the first word that pops into my mind when describing the 1301 Tactical shotgun from Beretta. The gun has proven to be reliable with all kinds of loads, and the semi-automatic system kept on humming no matter how fast I pulled the trigger. These guns are fitted with peep sights and oversized controls for ease of use under stress. The synthetic stock is durable and has texturing in all the right places. (beretta.com)

CZ 612 HC-P

Value is a term that is sometimes used to describe things that are cheaply built. But this is not the case with the CZ 612 HC-P. Although affordable, CZ built this pump shotgun to handle everything a street cop can dish out. It has a pistol-grip stock for increased control and fiber-optic ghost-ring sights for fast aiming. A Picatinny rail allows for the addition of an optic if desired. For those who say gun companies don’t have a sense of humor, the HC-P in the gun’s name stands for “Horde Control-Pump.” (cz-usa.com; 800-955-4486)

EAA MKA 1919 Match

Clearly styled after the M16 and its derivatives, the MKA 1919 Match from European American Armory (EAA) Corporation is fed by a detachable magazine and has controls similar to many patrol rifles. It has an ambidextrous safety to accommodate shooting from either shoulder. The gun was originally designed for the rigors of 3-Gun competition, and it should perform well in a defensive role as well. (eaacorp.com; 321-639-4842)

Kalashnikov USA US109T

Drawing from the design success of the AK platform, the US109T is a 12-gauge shotgun from Kalashnikov USA that offers many advantages over traditional scatterguns. The US109T uses detachable box magazines that allow an officer to quickly reload or even change ammunition types to meet their mission requirements. The semi-automatic action combines with the muzzle brake to reduce felt recoil, while the adjustable stock allows the gun to fit a wide range of officers. (kalashnikov-usa.com; 866-611-9576)

FN P-12

FN is known for making no-nonsense guns that reliably serve cops and soldiers alike. The P-12 shotgun upholds that tradition with a rugged pump-action design. This gun mates a chrome-lined barrel to an aluminum receiver topped with a Weaver rail for the addition of a red dot. A folding rear sight and fiber-optic front sight allow for immediate patrol use. The hardcoat anodized finish helps to prevent corrosion and wear during patrol duties. (fnhusa.com; 703-288-3500)

Remington 870 Express

A fixture in the law enforcement community for many decades, the venerable Remington 870 shotgun has served officers well. A popular choice for the budget-conscious agency, the current 870 Express with a synthetic stock offers a very good balance of reliability and price. It has a simple bead sight and fixed-length stock but can handle the rigors of daily use with ease. The pump action ensures light loads and less-lethal rounds will function correctly. (remington.com; 800-243-9700)

Mossberg 930 SPX

Considered by some to be one of the best semi-automatic shotguns on the market, the Mossberg 930 SPX is a true fighting scattergun with an eight-round capacity and ghost-ring sights. Rugged and dependable, this shotgun can stand up to the daily abuse law enforcement officers require from their equipment. The ambidextrous safety is left-hand friendly, and the Picatinny rail makes adding a reflex sight simple. (mossberg.com; 203-230-5300)

SRM Arms Model 1216

Due to its unique look, the SRM Arms Model 1216 is bound to garner attention any time it is deployed. But how the gun performs is far more important than how it looks. With a semi-auto action fed by a revolving, quad-tube magazine, an officer has plenty of firepower on tap. SRM Arms tuned the 1216 to handle slugs, 00 buckshot, light loads and specialty rounds, including less than lethal rounds, to meet your department’s needs. (srmarms.com; 888-269-1885)

Rock Island Armory S605 TAC SA

One of the newest offerings in this list, the S605 TAC SA shotgun from Rock Island Armory offers a lot to like. The semi-automatic shotgun has a pistol-grip stock for easy shooting. Additionally, it has an adjustable rear sight with a fiber-optic front sight that is protected by a metal flange. A weapon light and/or laser can be attached to the integral accessory rail on the handguard. (us.armscor.com; 775-537-1444)

Stoeger P-350 Defense

With the P-350 Defense, Stoeger offers a rugged, duty-ready shotgun without breaking the department budget. Starting at less than $350, the P-350 Defense is a no-nonsense shotgun that uses a traditional pump action. A stock with a pistol grip is an option from Stoeger, though many will prefer the standard synthetic stock. A front blade sight offers an uncomplicated sight picture. (stoegerindustries.com; 301-283-6981)

UTAS UTS 15

Configured in a very compact platform, the UTAS UTS-15 shotgun gives an officer up to 15 rounds between reloads thanks to a pair of seven-round magazines. Since UTAS uses a bullpup configuration, the shotgun is easy for an officer to maneuver in tight confines. A full-length Picatinny rail allows for the easy addition of a red dot or optic. Sights, a laser and a flashlight are all optional upgrades on these guns. (utas-usa.com; 847-768-1011)

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