The Top 5 Modern Trench Guns

The phrase “trench gun” invokes the image of a very particular weapon, specifically the always-cool Winchester 1897 Trench Gun. The Winchester was a weapon so fearsome, so brutal, that the Germans protested its use! Well, to be fair, they protested the use of basically everything. Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story, though. 

We haven’t fought in trenches in a long, long time, so the trench gun got replaced with the modern fighting shotgun. Wood furniture got replaced with polymer, stocks became collapsible, and actions became semi-auto. However, the coolness of the old-school trench-busting shotguns can’t be beaten. The shotgun market has recently been hit with a wave of old-school cool, and here we’ve gathered the best modern trench guns. 

What is a trench gun?

Any shotgun used in a trench meets the parameters, but let’s be a little more specific. A trench gun isn’t your typical configuration. It’s more about style these days than practicality. To me, a good trench shotgun is a pump-action repeating shotgun. Can semi-autos fit the bill? Maybe, but to me, the pump gun rules for this role. 

M1897 trench gun
The OG is the M1897.

Wood furniture is also a must-have. Polymer’s great, it’s light, durable, weather-resistant, and modern, but it’s not cool. Wood furniture is cool. We also need the gun to feature a short, not-so sporting barrel. Between 18 to 20 inches or so is just right. Oh, and it needs to be a 12 gauge. Sorry, anything less wouldn’t frighten the kaiser as much. 

To me, the best modern trench guns also need a heat shield and a means to mount a bayonet. Although those two are not requirements, they do make a trench gun a little more complete and match the aesthetic of the time. 

With all of that in mind, here are what I think are the best modern trench guns. 

5. Remington Hardwood Home Defense 

With Remington making a comeback, it makes sense for them to jump on this wave of retro shotguns and modern trench guns. The Remington 870 Hardwood Home Defense tosses on a set of American-made wood furniture with the option for a 4 or 6 shot model. As far as our standards go, the 870 just barely makes its mark. 

Remington Hardwood Home Defense Shotgun
The Hardwood is the least trendiest, but worth mentioning.

It doesn’t have a factory-included heat shield or bayonet mount. However, the 870 is one of the two kings of American-made shotguns, and the aftermarket is massive. This massive aftermarket provides tons of options, including heat shields and even bayonet mounts. With a little work, this is an easy fix. 

The 870 already offers a tight action and smooth design. Remington’s 870 is a flagship shotgun that’s served in the hands of police officers, soldiers, and home defenders longer than I’ve been alive. 

4. Winchester SXP Trench Gun 

It’s no surprise Winchester jumped onto the trench gun train. The Winchester M1897 started this whole thing, and they’ve seemingly always been a proponent of wood on their shotguns. The SXP models represent the new Winchester and provide a budget-friendly pump shotgun with a good foundation and solid bones. 

Winchester SXP trench gun
This model is the grandson of the M1897.

The  SXP Trench obviously eschews modern polymer furniture for the nice Grade 1 wood we see here. The pump, in particular, gives off M1897 vibes via the circular, ribbed design commonly called a corncob pump. Above the pump sits a short 18-inch barrel. Most companies go 18.5, but it seems like Winchester took it down as far as they legally could. 

The SXP Trench holds five rounds and uses a simple brass bead front sight. It’s simple but classy. Sadly there isn’t a means to attach a bayonet and no aftermarket option to do so. Still, it’s good to see Winchester embrace the trench gun since they practically created it. 

3. Tokarev USA TX3 12HD 

One of my favorite hidden gems of SHOT Show 2022 came from a little company I had never heard of, Tokarev USA — an importer bringing in guns from the Tokarev factory in Turkey. The TX3 12HD is their first, and it also has the moniker of retro riot gun, but I think most will agree it’s more trench gun. 

Tokarev USA TX3 12HD trench gun
The TX3 12HD goes with a restomod layout and design.

We get the heat shield across the top and a really beautiful set of walnut furniture. For such a budget-based gun, I expected a lower quality look, but it really is fantastic. Tokarev has a bayonet kit for the gun as well that makes it easy to charge with a sword hanging off your gun. 

While there is plenty old-school goodness, we also get solid ghost ring sights, an optics mount, and a rather short and comfy length of pull. Be on the lookout for these guns. They are very well made and rock-solid for the low price point. 

2. Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde 

Mossberg wasn’t the first company to embrace the Retro look, but they were the first to get widespread attention for it. Why? Well, because they did it right with the Retrograde series of guns. The 590A1 is without a doubt the most modern fighting shotgun of the trench guns on this list.

Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde trench gun
Wood furniture, bayo ready, and a heatshield makes this a factory ready trench gun.

It’s the choice of pump gun for the United State’s military, but the Retrograde series took a step back without losing the tenacity that made the 590A1 the beast of a gun it is. The Retrograde model features the wood furniture that’s a must-have on these guns. Plus, across the top, we get an installed heat shield that’s all metal. 

Attached to the gun is a built-in bayonet mount that gives the trench gun its final check in the box. The 590A1 Retrograde is a trend-starting shotgun that doesn’t give up its strengths to accommodate a retro appearance. 

1. Inland M37 Trench 

The best modern trench gun comes from Inland Manufacturing and is a replica of the famed Ithaca 37 but built for the trenches. This American-made design gives you the Ithaca action and bottom ejecting compatibility with all-wood furniture that faithfully replicates the classic design with its corncob pump. 

Inland M37 trench gun
It’s a real Trench gun, but not an antique.

Across the top sits a mighty ugly but very efficient heat shield that mounts directly to the barrel, as well as the very ugly bayonet mount that also attaches a sling swivel. It’s an ugly gun made for ugly work, but boy, is it cool. Sadly, it does have the disconnect, so put your slam fire dreams away.

The M37 Trench isn’t modern, but it’s the most faithful Trench on this list. It’s also the most expensive. At over 1,200 dollars, that’ll be a tough price to pay for a pump-action shotgun. However, the cool factor is absolutely undeniable. 

Into the Trenches 

The Winchester M1897 will always be a different kind of cool—something seemingly impossible to replicate with modern firearms. That doesn’t mean we can’t try. Wood furniture, bayonets, heat shields, and the brutal nature of a 12 gauge make them mighty awesome weapons. These are the top 5 trench guns currently in production. Which would you choose? Let us know below. 

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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4 thoughts on “The Top 5 Modern Trench Guns

  1. Years ago, I took an armorer’s course with a fellow who said he knew an old WWI vet that carried a trench gun in the Great War. He said when in the enemies’ trench, he’d stick the muzzle around the corner and empty the magazine. He said anything that wasn’t dead would be headed the other way.

  2. So which really came first – the trench gun or the riot gun??
    A side by side comparison – with either links and/or prices would have been nice and made for a more comprehensive article.

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