Selection of a Tactical Shotgun
There are many different choices when it comes to selecting a tactical shotgun, and sometimes making sense amidst the myriad of different options can be a daunting task. So what should you be thinking about when it comes to choosing your tools? Will that old over-under your granddad left you in his will have any tactical value whatsoever? What type of accessories should you spend your hard-earned cash on? In this section of our website we are going to explore some of these types of questions and try to put it all in perspective.
Pump Action Shotguns
Pump action shotguns are likely the most popular choice when it comes to selecting a tactical shotgun. The advantages can be numerous. A manually operated shotgun that utilizes the shotgun operator to cycle the action of the gun, they are often exempt from many of the ever-increasingly stiff regulations levied against semi automatic firearms. More importantly, they are also typically more reliable. As compared to most semi autos, pump action guns are much more capable of cycling a broader range of ammunition and, given a properly trained operator, will eat everything from powder-puff-loaded-specialty-less-than-lethal rounds to ultra hard recoiling magnum loads and everything inbetween.
There are some sacrifices associated with pump action shotguns worth considering though...a pump requires both hands for operation. So if you find yourself in a sitution where you will have to open latched doors or have a hand free to manipulate other equipment, a semi automatic shotgun might be a better choice given that a pump action shotgun temporarily becomes a single shot weapon under these circumstances.
The Remington Model 870 is perhaps the most popular pump action shotgun in North America. Pictured above are an 870 Marine Magnum and an 870 Police, both in 12 gauge
The pump action shotgun we have the most experience with is the Remington Model 870. Originally introduced in January of 1950, the design has remained unchanged for a long time and for good reason...it is a reliable powerhouse with, in our opinion, little to be improved. While it has seen military use in every armed conflict since vietnam, it is the private and law enforcement sectors where the bulk of more than 6 million 870s manufactured to date are found. The 870's primary competition in the pump action world is the mossberg 500 series of shotguns and the mossberg has had, up until it's replacement with the Benelli M4 semi auto, a large following in the world of the american military.
- Remington 870 vs Mossberg 590 - A comparison between the two.
But what about Winchester you might ask? Winchester has a long legacy in the development of the fighting shotgun starting way back with their model 1897 pump action shotgun. Aimiably known as the "trench broom" or "trench sweeper", the 1897 was a John Moses Browning design pressed into service at the beginning of the United States' participation in WWI by General John J. Pershing ("Black Jack"). Simultaneously deployed was the Winchester Model 12 pump action shotgun. These shotguns were intended as a means to break free of the costly and static trench warfare plauging both sides of the conflict and they were was so successful in this role that in 1918 the Germans lodged a formal complaint charging that the use of the shotgun was in contravention to the Hauge Convention and as such any american soldiers captured in possession of a shotgun would be summarily executed. While slightly off topic, the story of the protest and the legality of the 12 gauge as a weapon of war is extremely interesting in addition to telling of the role and effectiveness of the shotgun in infantry warfare. For those interested the US Army document DA-PAM-27-50-299 tells the story and is detailed here at tacticalworks.ca.
All this brings us to the current pump action offering from Winchester Repeating Arms: the Winchester Model 1300 Defender. With such a strong and successful military lineage, it's dissapointing to report that the design of 1300 is inherently unreliable. Across many different guns and many different cources of fire, we've seen many more 1300 defenders jam up ultra tight as compared to just about every other shotgun out there. Most of these problems were related to feeding issues caused by failure of either the the pump transfer mechanism or the magazine shell release mechanism. We've also witnessed numerous trigger/safety mechanical problems. We feel strongly enough about these issues that, in our opinion, the winchester 1300 is an inferior design and that frankly a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 590 would be a better choice.
Semi-suto shotguns, while they tend to be a little more finiky with respect to the types of ammunition they can reliably digest and require more preventative maintenance than their pump action cousins, they are usually faster on follow up shots and not subject to high-stress-operator-error in the form of a short stroke. They also have the advantage of being able to be operated as a repeating firearm with one hand.
A Remington Model 11-87
Break Action Shotguns
Bound to be a controvertial topic, however Jeff Cooper (a retired US Marine Lt. Colonel and widely recognized authority on gunfighting), likely puts it best when he states "the first rule of gunfighting: have a gun!".
A 26 inch barreled Synthetic Stocked Stainless Red Label
To be continued and expanded...