Shotgun heat shield for a mossberg

Do you need a Shotgun Heat Shield?


Mathew R Reed
March 26, 2022

You may have noticed some shotguns with an additional shroud around the barrel that other firearms do not have. These are called heat shields and serve a few different purposes. Now you may be wondering, are shotgun heat shields really useful? Do you actually need a heat shield on a shotgun? 

Let’s dive deeper into shotgun heat shields, what they are, and if they are actually useful on your favorite shotgun! 

What Does a Heat Shield Do On A Shotgun?

So what is the actual purpose of a heat shield on a shotgun? Heat shields do what their name implies, and shield the user from the heat of the firearm. After shooting multiple rounds in a short amount of time, a shotgun will get extremely hot to the touch. If you accidentally bump your hand or arm against it, you can be severely burned. A heat shield works as a ventilated handguard that will help to protect you if your firearm heats up to high temperatures and works to dissipate the heat generated around the barrel and keep it as cool as possible. 

Shotgun heat shields can also serve a few other purposes as well. First, they can be used as an attachment base for other shotgun accessories like sights, lights, or sling swivels. The heat shield acts as a bigger and steadier base from which you can mount anything you want. 

Shotgun heat shields can also give you a lot more real estate to grab onto when you need to do a rushed reload or move quickly. For this reason (as well as the previous ones mentioned) shotgun heat shields are most widely used on tactical shotguns that are most commonly used by military and police forces. 

Do I Really Need a Heat Shield On My Shotgun?

You do not need a heat shield on your shotgun if you do not intend to shoot it multiple times in a row in quick succession. This is why you will rarely see shotgun heat shields on shotguns that are designed to be used for hunting or trap shooting. You will, however, see heat shields on tactical shotguns or those that are going to be used many times in a short amount of time. While shotgun heat shields are a nice addition to any shotgun, they are not absolutely necessary on a shotgun. 

Pros and Cons of Heat Shields

Shotgun heat shields come with their own unique set of both pros and cons. Before you consider using a shotgun shield, you will want to carefully review both the pros and cons and see if a shotgun heat shield is right for you! Here are a few potential pros and cons to think about:


  • Shotgun heat shields will protect your hands, arms, or any other body part from contacting a hot barrel and getting burned. After many rounds of shooting, the shotgun barrel and action can become extremely hot and can burn you if you are not careful. 
  • Shotgun heat shields can be used to mount additional accessories such as lights, sights, extra shells, or sling swivels. In fact, many heat shields are specifically designed to be able to easily accept these accessories and give you plenty of space and mounting options to do so. 
  • Shotgun heat shields can make a shotgun sturdier and give you more real estate to hold onto when using or carrying it. This can be especially useful when you need to quickly reload or pump the shotgun without worrying about potentially burning your hand as you can grab onto whatever you need to. 
  • Shotgun heat shields look amazing and give the shotgun a very cool, tactical look. If you want to simply upgrade the appearance of your shotgun, installing a new heat shield can very quickly take it to the next level. 


  • Shotgun heat shields are not absolutely necessary, especially if you do not intend to shoot many rounds in quick succession. A great example of this is a hunting shotgun. These shotguns rarely get shot that much and do not need a heat shield because of it. 
  • Shotgun heat shields can add additional weight and mass to a firearm, making it much heavier and awkward. If you do not want to carry around additional weight, you may want to opt to not install a shotgun heat shield as they can sometimes make the gun extremely heavy. 

Final Thoughts

Shotgun heat shields can make a fine addition to any shotgun, especially if you are concerned about potentially burning yourself from a heated barrel or action. While they are not absolutely necessary to properly and safely shoot a shotgun, they can not only make the gun look better and allow you to mount accessories but also stay much safer from a heated barrel!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Shotgun Heat Shields Universal? 

There are some shotgun heat shields that are designed to be universal and fit just about any shotgun that you want to attach it to. Other shotgun heat shields, however, are designed for a specific brand or model of shotgun and will not fit others. Many popular shotgun models, such as the Mossberg 500, have multiple different options when it comes to shotgun heat shields. Many different companies make heat shields and other accessories to accommodate some of the most popular shotgun models, making it even easier to find a quality heat shield for your weapon of choice. 

Do I need a Heat Shield for my Home Defense Shotgun?

Short answer, not really. Admittedly, it does look cool but it’s quite necessary if your purpose if just for home protection. The heat shield matters more if you’ll be using your shotgun a lot of times consecutively.

I would say though, one home defense scenario that you might want to get a heat shield for is if you have a family member who is not comfortable with handling guns. When push comes to shove and your family member needs to use that shotgun, that heatshield will help protect him from burns while in the moment.

Where Can I Buy a Heat Shield for my Shotgun?

For most shotguns, you can get a ATI Outdoors Classic Heat Shield with a Ghost Ring Sights. This can fit most 12, 16, 20 gauge shotguns. It can easily be installed.

Do note however that if your shotgun is a Mossberg 590A, Mossberg Mariner, or a Remington Marine coat, you CANNOT use this! If your Mossberg has no vent rib, you can use the Mossberg Marinecote Heat Shield instead.

Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.