January 2017

Budget 20-Gauge Shoot Off: H&R, Century, and Mossberg

In our head-to-head shooting, we found the single-shot Pardner and the double-barrel Coach Gun were formidable defensive arms despite low capacity. The Mossberg Youth pumpgun had it all.

Budget 20-Gauge Shoot Off: H&R, Century, and Mossberg

We pitted the Century International JW-2000 Coach Gun side-by-side break action, a Mossberg Youth shotgun, and an H&R Pardner single-shot break action, and found that the home defender would be well armed with any of these lifesavers. That said, capacity does make a difference in the final analysis, and we preferred the scaled down Mossberg over the others. One advantage for many defense situations is the lighter-kicking 20-gauge chambering.

The shotgun can be an important part of the home-defense firearms collection. The scattergun offers excellent hit probability and provides a formidable option for those concerned with home invasions. The wisdom of such preparedness is reflected in the headlines every day. We live in a dangerous world. The problem is, many of us are on a budget and cannot afford a thousand-dollar tactical shotgun. Others are recoil shy or have a physical impairment that makes firing the mighty 12 gauge difficult. Even some who may be able to handle the 12 well will find the light and fast-handling 20 gauge has appeal.

In this installment, we test three affordable 20-gauge shotguns. The 20 gauge was chosen because, while generating about half the recoil of the 12 gauge, it has a little more than half the payload, which considering the ample power of the shotgun, seems to be a reasonable trade off. Even better for the tests, as it turns out the shotguns were choked Open, Modified and Full, giving us a unique opportunity to compare chokes and how they affect shot spread at home-defense ranges. After weeks of searching, we found three shotguns at or under $300. These included the Century International Arms JW-2000 double-barrel coach gun, a Mossberg 20-gauge pump, and an H&R Pardner single shot. Some may scoff at the idea of even considering the single shot or double barrel for home defense, but we found that while they might not be ribeye, they aren’t chopped liver if used properly.

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