Home Defense Shotgun on A Budget

Being the “gun guy” in your family and group of friends has it privileges. One of the many great things is that you can directly affect the safety and well being of the people you care about. However what I hate most is constantly dispelling gun myths and legends. I think one of the most popular questions is “what is the best gun for ….”. To be honest the best gun for anything is A. the one that you can afford to shoot a lot and train with  and B. the gun that you shoot the best with. Since there’s no shortage of expensive guns that would take me a whole year to save up for, I thought I could bring to light one of the most effective and affordable guns money can buy.

Home Defense on A Budget

Home Defense Shotgun on A Budget

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that this isn’t a post about a Hi-Point and quite frankly that gun is nothing more than a paper weight. The gun that I’d like you folks to take a look at is the IAC Hawk 981R 12 gauge pump shotgun. Yes it’s a clone of the Remington 870 and yes it’s made in China. If you put that aside what you have is a 12 gauge that is half the price of an 870 and accepts all of the same parts used to trick out an 870. This cheapskate comes with an 18.5 inch barrel and a capacity of 5+1 when using 2-3/4 shells. Based on all of the rave reviews of this shotgun, the $189 price tag was a no brainer.

Home Defense on A Budget

Home Defense Shotgun on A Budget

I don’t think I was ever so excited to get a Chinese knock-off  anything, but for some reason I was as giddy as a school girl when picking this gun up at my local FFL (Federal Firearms License). What you get is a bare bones, no frills pump shotgun with a Picatinny rail atop for mounting optics. The pictures you see above are NOT how the shotgun comes out of the box. Since it was literally half the price of a Remington 870, I knew I had some room in my budget for “improvements”.

Magpul SGA Stock

Magpul SGA Stock

If you’re serious about shooting this shotgun a lot, then the first two things that need to be swapped out are the stock and forend. I’ll be honest with you guys, the stock and forend that came with it are “OK” at best. I wanted something that felt good in the hand and allowed me to operate the gun more effectively. The Magpul SGA stock and MOE forend for the Remington 870 fit this knock-off perfectly. The Magpul SGA stock is strange looking compared to the stocks that we’re used to, it’s like a hybrid of a pistol grip and traditional shoulder stock. With a super comfortable rubber recoil pad, adjustable length of pull and cheek riser, standard sling attachment points, and the option for quick-detach mounts, what more could you ask for?

Magpul MOE Forend

Magpul MOE Forend

The number one way to have a malfunction with a pump action shotgun is “short-stroking” or when the shooter doesn’t bring the forend all the way back before racking it back into battery, which results in a shell not being loaded. What this means when your life is on the line and you fire off that first nervous shot , rack the pump back to load another round into the chamber, slide the forend forward, pull the trigger and nothing happens. This will not only leave you looking like a fool but will also allow the bad guy to get a shot in. The best way to fix the probability of that happening are to make sure you ram that pump all the way back every time. The Magpul MOE forend allows you too get an extremely positive grip and rack the hell out of the pump without worrying about your hand slipping off or short-stroking.

Home Defense on A Budget Light

Home Defense Shotgun on A Budget Light

Since a majority of home invasions happen at night, a weapon mounted light is a necessity. I had to have a lot of different features out of a light for this shotgun: it needed to be lightweight, had to be able to withstand the violent recoil of a 12 gauge,  needed to work in a wide range of temperatures, had to run for at least 2 hours on high, and  most of all had to be high value. The Surefire G2X Pro not only does all of those things but leaves me only $60 poorer. I am by no means stuck on brand names, if I could have found a better light for cheaper I would’ve been all over it but let’s face the facts, this is the best flashlight for the money period. Mounted up using Magpul’s light mount kit, the light is right where I need it during any number of weapon manipulations.

Bushnell TRS-25

Bushnell TRS-25

If you’re using this shotgun only for home defense, you can stop right here and you’ll have yourself an $384 weapon system that’ll stop everything from a hoard of zombies to the thief that picked the wrong house to break into. But if you want to add a little more capability to the shotgun for activities such as shooting slugs, then you’ve got to throw a red dot sight on there. I decided to slap a Bushnell TRS-25 onto this gun’s standard Picatinny rail and after dialing it in, lets just say Daniel Boone has some competition. While only setting you back just shy of a Benjamin, this red dot is bombproof and allows you to shoot with both eyes open, accurately.

Like I said earlier, the best gun is the one that you can afford to shoot a lot and the one that you can actually shoot well. As a grown male and flirting with the 6 foot mark, I am able to comfortably shoot a 12 gauge shotgun. Depending on your size and preferences, there might be a different home defense setup that works for you. Regardless, the most important thing to remember is that you need to train, train, and train some more. What’s great about the IAC Hawk is that it’s so cheap that  you can use the additional $500 you would’ve spent on an AR-15 for ammo.

What do you think about the IAC Hawk 981R 12 gauge and the accessories I’ve added to it? Let me know in the comment box below. As always guys, shoot em straight and be safe!



If it goes bang or has to deal with the outdoors then I am most likely passionate about it. If I'm not at the gun range then I'm either hiking, mountain biking or kayaking. Follow along as I dive into outdoor gear related products and topics.

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27 Responses to Home Defense Shotgun on A Budget

  1. Ken says:

    $384 will buy a lot of ammo even after you buy a hi-point. I’ve had experience with two different models and both ran perfect. And if they didn’t, I could send it back under warranty to the company. Nothing better than supporting a US company with an ORIGINAL product. I have no respect for imports with stolen designs and will not support them. I liked your points about taking pride in teaching others and the best gun is the one you can afford to practice with. Nice article. Thanks.

    • BoLo says:

      I guess you could call it ORIGINAL since no one else WANTED to make a simple blowback firearm in something over a .380. But yeah, I’ll take 1 Hi-point over 5 of anything Chinese.

    • Scott says:

      Remington patented the 870 in 1950 so it lost its patent protection a long time ago. Anyone can make it legally now so its not a stolen design. That said, China is notorious for patent violations.

  2. christian says:

    The article was about a shotgun not a highpoint. I love the IAC even if it is an imported clone. Remington makes enough money off of everything else they build. If they lowered the price pint they could compete instead of trying to gauge us with a 100+ year old design. I own the 982 which is similar but has the ghost sights. I slapped on a Hogue forend and an ATI pistolgrip/shoulder stock and a side saddle and have it as my go to home defense gun. I don’t really think you can beat it as it’s actually better made then the Remington imho.

    • Gregory Lesniewski says:

      I will pay the extra money for an American made weapon! We don’t need any more business from the Chinese!

  3. John says:

    Horrible light choice. Surefire lights are great but dual level lights have no place on a weapon light. It can and will change brightness modes on you.

    • Jeremy L says:

      After shooting the gun extensively with the light on, the light has performed flawlessly and has not changed modes while shooting. If you were worried about that happening, the Surefire G2X Tactical would be great. Thank you for the feedback.

  4. Nick says:

    Since you have no problem with patent infringement, I’m going to copy your article and publish it under my name. Seems only fair if you’re going to reward someone for stealing a design.

    • Jeremy L says:

      I ask that you refrain from plagiarizing my content. I was only pointing out a shotgun that I believe deserved some attention. Not everyone can afford the cost of some of the guns on the market today and I believe this is a good firearm for the price conscious individual. Thank you for reading my post and I hope I did not offend anyone.

    • Gene P says:

      Jeremy your a Idiot, Rewarding China for stealing encourages more stealing. Communist China is our Enemy, buying their stuff builds Aircraft carriers, airplanes and Submarines that your kids will one day have to fight. Buy their junk, kill your grandkids.

    • Jeremy L says:

      Gene, I am sorry you feel that way. I was simply showing people a shotgun that they can easily afford. This was meant to help people that don’t have a lot of money to spend. I would rather them have this shotgun, then no gun at all.

  5. Jim in Texas says:

    I’m not sure about a sight on a self-defense shotgun — the better option is probably to load it as full as you can, and keep it as close at hand as you can. The sound and the muzzle flash are sufficient to tame most situations. My 12ga pump is in the hall closet a few steps from the front door, but I’ve frequently had a “scatter-cannon” right next to or right behind the front door. It’s simply amazing how peaceful things become when your good friends “accidentally” see that there’s a loaded shotgun behind the front door — especially when you “accidentally” knock it over and have to catch it before it hits the floor.

    Wouldn’t want THAT to happen … ;)

    This is something I learned from my mother, by the way. She was a shotgun-toting Texas woman ever since I was big enough to touch her apron strings. And a shotgun behind the door works even better on people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or so she always said.

    “Mommy, what was that?”
    “Just a rattlesnake, honey.”

    I guess the jury is still out on whether you want a short-barrel or a long-barrel pump shotgun. My sister has a long-barrel 12 ga pump, and it is a lot more pleasant to shoot than my short-barrel 12 ga pump. With either one, even loaded with birdshot, I would venture to say that as far as shooting one goes … “it is better to give than to receive.”

    Jim in Texas

    • Jeremy L says:

      Thanks for the feedback Jim. I mentioned in the post that the red dot sight was only if you wanted to shoot slugs out at distance. Normally in a home defense role, the bead sight is all you need.

  6. CZfan says:

    I would like to point out that the design stealing knockoff producing crap making chineese are not actually doing that (for once) Since this is a 100 year old design the patents no longer protect it from other companies copying its design, if it were a new design made within the last 10 years it would be patent theft, and that wouldnt stop those ******* from doing it anyway but in this case they are clean…. obviosuly only in the legal sense.
    I would absoluetely prefer to get a Remington 870, but like those of you who mentioned high point and liking them you bought a High Point simply because you couldnt spend the money on something better. be honest. you would never go into a gun store after being handed a $1,000 dollar gift card to that store and buy a High Point because you just liked it better than a SIG.

    A High Point is a budget gun and its better than nothing but nowhere near as good as the other more expensive designs. just like this shotgun is better than nothing but put side by side with an 870 in a quality examination or torture test the 870 would be on top every time.

    good article

    • Jeremy L says:

      Thank you CZfan, I didn’t want to bring up the legal aspect of it. The 870 was patented in the 50’s, therefore the patent would have run out in the 70’s. I’ve owned an 870 and have honestly had more extractor issues with it compared to this cheaper IAC Hawk. Glad you enjoyed the article!

    • Tom says:

      Agree good article. Chinese and high points suck. No patent infringement. But disagree a family member was a big wig at rem and they ain’t what they used to be quality is lacking on anything made in the last 7-10 years

  7. Peter Marcus says:

    “This cheapskate comes with an 18.5 inch barrel and a capacity of 5+1 when using 2-3/4 shells”

    Do you have any information regarding whether or not this clone will accept extended tubes for an 870 to bring the capacity up to say, 8+1 etc?

    • Jeremy L says:

      Yes with a dremel tool you can remove a small bit of metal in the magazine tube that inhibits the follower from moving freely. After that you can throw on any Remington 870 extension. My personal favorite is a Nordic Components extension. Hope this helps!

  8. Motown Marty says:

    Nice review of your purchase. I picked up a barely used Mossberg 500 for $150 @ an estate sale. Put a Brownell’s conversion kit on it so now it holds 8+1 with a 18.5″ barrel. Added a tri-rail with light/laser and I’ve got a reliable American weapon for about the same price as your conversion. Low-recoil loads make it great for practice too.

  9. JP says:

    An excellent sight for a nome defense shotgun is the Eotech Holographic Weapon Sight (HWS) or the Bushnell branded version (Bushnell Holosight- an Eotech 500). I favor these “full-sized” HWS over the mini versions such as the Leupold DeltaPoint or Eotech MDRS because of their large viewing area. They do, however, use battery power.
    The Bushnell Holosight II I use was reasonably priced (in 2008) and has stood up to recoil (12 Ga buck slugs in a Rem M870 “riot” gun). On newer M870 with built-in Picatinny rails or Weaver rails you can co-witness the iron sights in case of battery failure or forgetting to switch on when under stress. On my older version with the saddle-back add-on rail you cannot co-witness, but for close-in targets looking through the HWS should put you on target regardless of holographic reticle or not (practice won’t hurt!).

    • Augustine Reyes says:

      Great article! I don’t care who makes guns just as long as there reliable. I’m sure Mr. Cz has no problems with communists made firearms, and most of these guys like ak’s or knock offs like rock island 1911s. And I’m sure these guys shop at places that sale the firearms like academy here in Texas, whose inventory is mostly from CHINA. Thanks for the info Jeremy.

  10. Rick S. says:

    Not sure why some of you are giving the author (Jeremy L) grief about his selection for a “Budget Shotgun.” The article wasn’t about which country made the said weapon. It was simply about if on a budget, that this particular shotgun was a good choice. Since, it’s always better to have than to have not in this sort of situation. Since, the shotgun can accept any part(s) or accessories for the Rem 870 and due to its price point. This Chinese clone is an excellent choice. And though I would prefer my money goes back into the American economy over another nation. If you’re on a serious budget and in need of a self/home defense weapon…then there’s nothing wrong with getting this shotgun. Besides, no matter you do, you’ll be purchasing something from China or over seas. Unfortunately, our government finds that the rest of the world needs to be on equal footing with America and our standards. And instead of attempting to life these nations up to us. Our president feels America should lower ourselves to their standards per se. America has the highest tax rates for companies in the World. As well as, with all the regulations and BS policies. American companies are essentially forced to go over seas. Remember companies are suppose to profit. And due to America’s policy on companies, it’s practically impossible for a company to remain viable and profitable if they continue to manufacture here. Stop these super high taxes and stupid regulations. And I bet you would see most American companies make their products on our soil again. In which we would get excellent craftsmanship using the finest materials all at a price point a person could afford.

    Jeremy L, I enjoyed your article and thought it was insightful and was dead on. I’m sure your comment will help a lot people if or when they make a purchase. Being reassure, they’re getting a decent shotgun that’s reliable, affordable and will serve their needs on a budget. Well done my friend,

    • Jeremy L says:

      Thank you Rick! I feel some of the readers did not get the point of the article. I am all for buying American made products but sometimes people cannot afford the American made price tag. Glad you enjoyed the article, check back at the end of every week for my new articles!

  11. Richard says:

    The hawk wasn’t available when I got my Stevens 350. Like the Stevens, but based on a Winchester. Accessories are not as readily available. Should have gotten the Hawk.

  12. Al says:

    If it’s just a price issue, you can always find a nice 870 on the used rack at your local gun shop for around that price. Plus it might have some upgrades added by the previous owner. You might find also during your search find something else that you couldn’t pass up. Also if you’re stuck with a budget priced gun I would look at a Mossberg. I know the quality of Remington and Mossberg and would pick those first over a Chinese import. The quality issue of stuff coming out of China would make me hesitate about using it in a life or death situation. You can always gamble with your own life but not with your family’s.

  13. chuck says:

    I’ve had both the high point and Remington clone. I don’t understand why you gun snobs knock hi-points, I am 76 years old and I own the .45 and the 9mm. I,ve owned a lot of different guns I’ll keep my U.S. made Hi-points and you can keep your chinese clones.

    • Mike B says:

      I have owned both hi point and the hawk 981. Let me start with hipoint and what I have noticed. … the hipoint 9mm with the FULL Metal slide seems to work ok. The mass of that metal slinging back and forth seems to help a ton with eliminating jams. The new ones are composite. I had a composite slide and it’d fire and jam every time. I sent it back to them and they sent it back to me and it jammed after the first time. No difference and since shipping it back and forth costs more than the gun back then, I sold it for almost nothing. So much for that lifetime warranty. Took the money and bought a gun I’m very happy with. A Ruger P95. Now the hawk 981. … I had jamming issues with it originally , and they fixed it, and then on, it seemed fine most of the time. Issues seem to rarely occur after 6 shots or so. I gave it away as a 18th birthday present and bought a mossberg 930 and I love it.

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