Stoeger Double Defense Review: Budget-Friendly Home Defense

by Vern Evans

Stoeger Industries offers the Double Defense double-barreled shotguns available in both over/under and side-by-side configurations. Both models are available in 12- or 20-gauge at manufacturer-suggested retail of $449 for the over/unders and $489 for the side-by-sides. That’s a great value, especially for a firearm that probably won’t be restricted any time soon.

The Stoeger Industries Double Defense 12-Gauge Over/Under

I still prefer my ARs for home defense, but Stoeger’s Double Defense gives a viable defensive option to folks who live in states that like to restrict their civil rights. As a bonus, I added a light and red dot, and it kept the whole defensive package just under $600!

Scattergun Details

The Double Defense is a dressed-up Stoeger Condor for defensive use. The shotgun itself is made by E.R. Amantino in Veranopolis, Brazil. The company has been making shotguns for Brazilian military and law enforcement since 1962.

What does that mean? It means that they know how to make a fighting shotgun. The Double Defense is purely utilitarian; there’s nothing pretty about it, nor should there be. It’s meant to throw ball, lead, and slug loads at people looking to do you harm.

The 12 gauge is chambered for shells up to 3 inches and features 20-inch barrels. Additionally, the stock on the 12 gauge comes in black synthetic, while the 20 gauge is black-finished walnut. The Double Defense has a single trigger—not too light and not too heavy with very minimal take-up.

Push the throw lever on the receiver to the right to break open the action. The Double Defense does not have ejectors but extractors, which should be expected, especially at this price point. Correspondingly, the extractors push the shells out about a quarter-of-an-inch, and you have to pull them out with your fingers.

The thing I hate about the Double Defense is that after closing the action, the tang safety automatically goes to safe. I understand it is a safety feature. However, under the heat of the moment and trying to reload, you might forget that the shotgun has “safed” itself. The tang safety is “up” for off-safe and “down” for safe.

The Stoeger 12 gauge has a standard box-lock, over/under action, and the block is, surprisingly, jeweled. Opening and closing the action the first couple of times took some effort. But once it started to break in, it became much easier.

Getting the Most Out of the Double Defense

Both barrels have fixed Improved Cylinder chokes, and the barrels and receiver sport a blued finish. On either side of the barrels, there are Picatinny rails, along with one more rail on top of the receiver. At the front of the shotgun, you’ll find a green fiber-optic sight that picks up light really well.    

The weight of the 12-gauge defensive package is a tad bit over 7 pounds. It feels solid and firm in the hands. Hell, if you needed to, after firing your two shots, you could possibly use the Double Defense as a solid impact weapon.

The shotgun has an overall length of 36.5 inches, a length of pull of 14.5 inches, a 2.5-inch drop at the heel, and a 1.5-inch drop at the comb. The Stoeger fit me well, so I was interested to see how it would shoot.  

One-Two Punch

I was surprised by how much fun I had with the Double Defense. I kind of got into a groove. Shoot, shoot, push lever, break action, extract shells, put two more in, close action, off the safety, shoot and shoot. It probably took you longer to read that sentence than for me to do it all.

When shooting double barrels, please realize that the barrels will probably have a different point of impact. I found the top barrel to be to the right slightly, but not by much if you’re shooting buckshot.

Keeping up with the Stoeger shotgun’s name, I would definitely feed it Fiocchi’s Defense Buckshot. The shells were not unpleasant to shoot from the over/under. The Defense Buckshot shells are 2.75 inches, feature nine pellets, and have a velocity of 1,250 feet per second (fps).

The shell is engineered from the ground up to stop the threat. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, you should do so.

If you’re worried about over-penetration because you live in an apartment or someplace crowded, Federal has a one-two solution for you. The first one is Federal’s Force X2 Shorty Shotshell. It measures 1.75 inches and features six pellets that are specially designed to split into two pieces upon impact.

The other one from Federal is their Shorty Shotshell, which has 15 pellets. This, too, is a 1.75-inch shell. Both of the Federal shells were a hoot to shoot and would be devastating at close range without the worry of over-penetration. Keep in mind that the Shorties are best for close-quarter/bad breath distances.   

Final Notes

At a manufacturer-suggested retail price of just $449, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a home defense boomstick that speaks either in 12 or 20 gauge. It’s a helluva lot better than having a whistle or informing the offending parties that they’re invading your “safe space.”

The Stoeger Double Defense gets the job done. It ain’t pretty, but it doesn’t need to be.

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Stoeger Double Defense (31089) Specs

Gauge 12 (3-inch chambers)
Barrels 20 inches
Overall Length 36.5 inches
Weight 7.1 pounds (empty)
Stock Black synthetic
Sights Front fiber optic
Action Break-open
Finish Blued
Capacity 2
MSRP $449

Vantage Red Dot 1×25

Hawke’s motto of “Easy to Use. Hard to Beat” rings very true with their Vantage Red Dot series. The one I used on the Double Defense was their 1×25, and it handled the 12-gauge recoil with aplomb. It features a 3-MOA red dot with 11 stages of brightness control.

The body is constructed of high-quality aluminum and features an integrated mount. The 25-layered, multi-coat optics provide maximum clarity. It has also been nitrogen-purged and is shockproof, waterproof, and fog-proof.

The Vantage has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $119, but I have found it out in the wild for under $100. It is a solid, budget-friendly red dot, whether for your home-defense shotgun or AR.

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Axeon Light

The Axeon MPL1 (Micro Pistol Light) was designed for handguns (duh), but I found it to fit perfectly with the Double Defense on the left side of the barrels. It features a master on/off switch just below the rail that is used to prevent accidentally turning the light on. With that switch engaged, you can activate the instant on/off button located on the rear of the light.

The MPL1 is powered by a single AAA battery and produces 120 lumens for a run-time of 30 minutes. It is water resistant and one tough little light. The Axeon MPL1 has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of about $33, but you can find one for under $30, and it’s more than worth that price.

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