Even though new models of shotguns continue to be released, several factors have put the tactical shotgun in a less favorable status. The AR-15 still reigns supreme as the king of the long gun counter. AR sales have spiked after the horrifying school shooting in Broward County, Florida, brought about talks of bans at the state and federal levels. Everyone wants the defensive long gun, which is extremely popular for hunting and competitive shooting. However, any home-defense system, especially one in a rural environment, is incomplete without a tactical shotgun in my opinion. And Benelli has a great tactical shotgun in the Nova.
So what exactly is a tactical shotgun? It’s basically any repeating shotgun modified beyond the traditional long-barreled hunting configuration. It has specialized features to make it more useful in defending oneself against human or animal threats, such as an 18-inch barrel, a magazine with more than four rounds and 2¾-inch shells. Tactical shotguns also likely feature ghost ring or rifle sights, a durable hard-use finish, and a choice of synthetic, traditional, pistol-grip or pistol-grip-only stock.
The Benelli Nova Pump H20 is a fine example of a tactical pump shotgun that utilizes some of the best tactical features available.
The Benelli Nova Pump Shotgun
I worked with the Benelli Nova Pump back in 2011 for my book Gun Digest: Tactical Shotgun. It turned out to be a fine pump gun then. I wanted to revisit one of the latest versions for 2018: the Benelli Nova H20. One of the finest attributes of a 12-gauge shotgun is the monstrous hole at the end of the barrel — of which an attacker wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end. This is why law enforcement throughout the 20th century favored the 12-gauge pump so highly.
Unlike a standard Nova, the H20’s barrel, magazine tube, action bars and all other steel components are coated with a brushed nickel finish for high corrosion resistance. Benelli designed the H20 for defensive use on boats and ships, particularly in saltwater environments. The receiver and stock are formed from one continuous piece of polymer. This eliminates the possibility of rust.
The contrast between the black receiver and the barrel is striking. For home defense, the appearance of the H20 is hard to beat. After all, a home defender is not on a nighttime SWAT entry mission, sneaking up on a criminal suspect. The criminal is already in your house, and you need to get him or her away from your family immediately. The nickel finish enhances the fearsome appearance of the shotgun, even in dim light.
Other features of the Nova H20 pump include a four-shot magazine and the ability to fire 2¾-inch, 3-inch or 3½-inch magnum shells. For defensive use, 3- or 3½-inch shells are really overkill. And in a shotgun this light (7.2 pounds), they’re quite punishing. Inside a house, some of the best and safest defensive loads you can use are 2¾-inch field, trap and skeet loads. At close range, the shot remains tightly packed and effective without excessively penetrating interior walls.
If you are using your shotgun for outside defense on rural property, the eight-pellet Remington Reduced-Recoil 2¾-inch shells are the way to go. The pellets stay close together at extended ranges (25 yards) without straying off target. No other shotgun round I’ve tested over the years stays as tight or shoots as easily. The recoil is like a trap or skeet load.
The Nova’s safety is mounted on the trigger guard in the style of a Remington 870. The positioning of the slide release is also the same, making transitioning from an 870 to a Nova very simple. The forend protects the twin action bars from dirt and grime and makes for a smooth operation of the slide. Unlike a Remington 870 pump, the Benelli Nova features a magazine cutoff button on the underside of the forend. This feature allows you to safely clear a loaded chamber without having to feed a round from the magazine tube. It makes things safer and simpler for the average user.
Final Thoughts on Tactical Shotgun
The only thing that could be improved on the H20 is the rifle-type sights. They don’t contrast well as they are also nickel-coated. Sights nitride-coated in black would be better. In fact, I would have preferred the same ghost-ring sights that are found on the standard Nova. But the H20 sights are low-profile and snag-resistant. They feel more like bead sights rather than true rifle sights, which are fine for any shot load at ranges inside 25 yards.
I was also impressed Benelli included directions with the Nova. Benelli puts out one of the finest owner’s manuals in the industry. It is easy to understand and loaded with detailed color diagrams that cover safety, operation, and complete disassembly and reassembly. If you follow the manual (even if you’re a novice) you should have zero problems operating this gun in every aspect.
The Nova H20 isn’t just for boats. If you store your firearm in a truck, Jeep, ATV, cabin or someplace where the temperature and humidity are not well-controlled, this is the gun for you. With its durability and reliability, you simply can’t go wrong with a Benelli. MSRP of the Nova H20 is $669.