This is meant to be a handy reference to answer questions about the setup of defensive shotguns since we run into them so frequently. It is by no means a comprehensive treatise on the subject, but it should serve as a good guide for those looking to set up a shotgun optimally for defensive use.
Most shotguns ship from the manufacturer with a stock length that is entirely too long. For our purposes, the "length of pull" is simply the measurement of the distance between the face of the trigger and the rear of the stock. Most manufacturers ship guns with a 14" LOP. That LOP is designed for larger than average sized males. If you are over 6 feet tall and have typical length arms for your height, a factory stock will probably be just fine. For the 75-85% of males and 99% of females who are not 6 feet tall, your first order of business is to get a shorter stock on the gun.
You can do this by having a competent gunsmith cut down a wooden stock, by replacing the stock on the gun with a "youth" model stock from the manufacturer, or by buying an aftermarket stock.
Often buying an aftermarket stock is the easiest solution. There are a number of options on the market for popular shotguns. Two of the most popular are from Magpul and Hogue. The Hogue 12" LOP stock is one of the shortest options on the aftermarket. It is short enough to help out even very small shooters without being too short for larger shooters to use well.
Another important dimension of the stock is the comb of the stock. The comb is the top edge of the stock that actually makes contact with your face. The comb of the stock is important because it assists in positioning the sights in the center of the focal plane of the eye.
Just as it is important for us to have a consistent cheek weld on a rifle for accuracy, it is important that we have a consistent cheek weld when we mount a shotgun if we want to use the weapon with speed and accuracy. Some aftermarket stocks have an adjustable comb by the use of cheek pieces that can be put into the stock. Other stocks can have the drop-at-comb adjusted with plates that fit between the stock and receiver.
The Magpul stock offers an adjustable length of pull and an adjustable cheek piece to allow better fitment to the user. It may not be the prettiest option on the market, but it is highly effective.
Altering these two dimensions of the stock to fit you better increases your speed and accuracy with the defensive shotgun. More crucially, it helps reduce felt recoil so that you don’t get beat up when training with the gun. Many are afraid to train with the shotgun because they have the negative experience of the gauge kicking them like a mule…but it doesn’t have to be that way. We teach a very effective technique for recoil mitigation that takes the thunder out of the user experience with the shotgun. Even so, the recoil mitigation technique is much easier to apply with a better fitting stock on the gun.