February 2014

12-Gauge Defense Shotguns: Used 1300 Vs. New RIA M5

The Winchester 1300 Slug Gun is a great field gun, but the Rock Island Armory nickel-plated M5 is a decent combat gun ó and thatís a big difference when the chips are down.

If you are in a situation in which the firearm need not be concealed, such as on a big boat, in a home, or if the piece is carried behind the truck seat, you should use a long gun instead of a handgun. For home defense, a single-barrel shotgun, a double barrel, or a self-loader are all viable, providing the user is familiar with each. But for most of us, the humble slide-action shotgun is the best choice. Simple to use and reliable with a variety of shells, the pump-action shotgun has a long history of efficiency. A sporting shotgun is useful and has been used many times in home defense. But for dedicated personal-defense duty, the 28-inch-barrel bird gun is a bit long. An 18- to 22-inch barrel is faster handling in close quarters. And though the single-shot design is a viable home defender against one burglar or intruder, the pump action, when properly designed and used, may move up a niche to the combat shotgun designation. No, the humble pump isnít a SPAS 12, but it is a very good defensive weapon, with some qualifications.

You could fertilize a pasture with half-truths concerning the shotgun. Although the shotgun is a great defensive firearm and is effective in trained hands, it is not a problem solver that will work in untrained hands ó far from it. But for self defense, we are willing to admit that a cheap shotgun usually works better than a cheap rifle or cheap handgun. But weíve got to agree the shotgun cannot cover a house with shot ó there isnít enough payload, so you must aim the shotgun just as carefully as a rifle at personal-defense ranges. And not having the power of a crane, they cannot knock a felon off his feet. You can miss, and you will miss, if you have not practiced enough to become used to the recoil of a shotgun.

The difference in sporting performance and personal defense is profound. A sporting shotgun must deliver a few pellets to drop a bird, rabbit, or squirrel, or even a large goose. In personal defense, we wish to hit with the whole payload. Though an argument may be made for the smaller gauges and the larger 10 gauge as well, we feel that the 12 gauge chambering is an ideal choice, in part because more readily available loads in 12 gauge. And because we want to save Gun Tests readers money wherever possible, we wanted to focus on scatterguns that we could buy for less than $300. Guns in this price range do not incorporate a light rail or a means of mounting a red dot scope.

So with a tight budget in mind, we put on our Bargain Hunter hats and chose two shotguns to test due to their similarity in price, location of the safety, and other features. The question was, for the money, should you choose a name-brand used shotgun or a modern economy shotgun? To answer that question, we bought a used 12-gauge Winchester 1300 Slug Gun for $250 and pitted it against a Rock Island Armory M5 Matte Nickel Shotgun #51329, $242.

To continue reading this article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to Gun Tests

Get the next year of Gun Tests for just $24. Don’t wait another minute to get the knowledge you need to make the best possible firearms investment. Our offer is guaranteed. You can cancel at any time and we'll send a full refund for any unmailed copies. No strings, no hassle.

Or get 12 months of Gun Tests Digital. You get unlimited access to everything on the site including all current and past monthly issues in PDF format.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.