Like probably most of you, I carry a handgun daily. Its rests at my bedside at night. This isn’t the worse plan in the event of a home invasion, but a better option is to have a shotgun on hand.

Why So?

It isn’t just because the shotgun is far more powerful; a long gun — with its three points of contact with the body — is more stable and possesses greater hit probability. Getting the job done with a minimum number of shots is desired in a home-defense incident.

The shotgun handles quickly — as a shotgun should.

There are plenty of shotguns to fit any budget for your home-defense needs. There is far less difference in performance between an inexpensive shotgun and a high-end shotgun than between a low-end pistol and a high-end pistol. A reliable pump shotgun can be purchased for less than $400 dollars (sometimes a lot less). There really hasn’t been a lot of change in pump-action shotguns’ operating mechanisms since about 1897. Modern shotguns have added features that make them superior fighting shotguns to those of a generation ago — without breaking the bank.

Good Find

I took a trip to the gun shop in late August. There wasn’t much on the rack in the way of shotguns. Glocks and AR-15s are flying off the shelves, and so are quality home-defense shotguns. I stumbled across a Dickinson Arms XX3D-M-2 Marine Tactical Shotgun for the modest price of $339 and thought I would give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed in my choice.


The 12-gauge shotgun is plated with nickel. The finish is a big plus for outdoors and campsite use or if the owner lives in a humid environment. It comes with a lifetime warranty.

There is nothing internally that would embarrass a Remington Model 870 or Mossberg 500 as far as operation. The firearm works like other pump shotguns. But there are some notable differences in detail.

This is a pattern from the Federal Force X2 buckshot load. Nine of the holes are from buckshot and the rest from wadding.

A loading port in the lower receiver is used to stuff five  2.75-inch 12-gauge shells into the magazine. The enlarged loading port makes for good tactical efficiency. You may never need a speedload, but if you do, your life will depend on it.

The forend of the shotgun is long and generously serrated for both adhesion and abrasion. The bolt release is an oversized lever and a good improvement over the smaller levers typically found on most shotguns. The buttstock features a rubber recoil pad with more width than other shotguns offer. The shotgun can be disassembled by removing a retaining cap at the end of the magazine tube and by pulling the barrel forward. Most retaining caps are not very wide. The Dickinson Arms design is large and offers an excellent gripping surface. 

The shotgun’s barrel is 18.5 inches long and has a post front sight. It features an open choke or cylinder bore choke without choke tubes. The simple post front sight is all that is needed for personal-defense and home-defense use. There are versions available with a pistol grip and aperture sights. However, I don’t think shotguns with these additions are as well-suited to personal defense. I like the feel of a conventional shotgun stock in fast work.

One consideration is its weight. Most pump-action 12-gauge shotguns weigh 7 to 8 pounds. The Dickinson weighs 6 pounds. Therefore, the recoil is greater than with some other shotguns. On the other hand, the shotgun handles quickly. I’ll take the greater recoil in exchange for quick handling any day.

Final Approval

There were no failures to feed, chamber or eject. I fired 65 shells at the range — mostly birdshot and some buckshot — with good results. The final verdict: The shotgun is worth its price.

It’s not a bad find with gun stores’ shelves pretty much stripped of quality home-defense weapons. I can sleep soundly at night knowing the Dickinson Arms XX3D-M-2 Marine Tactical Shotgun is resting nearby.


Dickinson Arms:

About Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell is a writer for Concealed Carry Magazine with a degree in criminal justice. Bob has been a firearms writer for decades, writing for Concealed Carry Handguns, Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, SWAT Magazine, Law and Order and Black Belt, among others. He has written 15 books primarily focused on handguns and training, including The Accurate Handgun from Gun Digest. In addition to serving as a peace officer and firearms instructor, he has also written curriculum at the university level.