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Gun Tests Ammunition Comparisons

Here's a compilation of head-to-head ammunition testing conducted by Gun Tests magazine.

Armscor’s New Self-Defense Shotgun

Hey Gun Tests readers, this is Todd Woodard, editor of Gun Tests magazine. I'm here with Jon McClain, product training manager for Armscor. He's going to tell us about a brand new shotgun that the company just rolled out this year. It looks like something special.

Sub-Gauge Shockwaves Go Up Against Remingtons TAC-14

According to the ATF, the Mossberg Shockwave and Remington TAC-14 are classified as "other" firearms, meaning they are not handguns nor are they shotguns. It is not our intent to ignore ATF definitions, but it can be confusing to use the term "other" when describing these firearms. So, for less confusion, we will refer to them as firearms even though they shoot shotshells and slugs and have chambering descriptions in gauge and bore terminology.

Back in 2017, we tested the Mossberg Shockwave in 12 gauge, giving it an A grade. We expected as much — and less — from these sub-gauge models. "Less" meaning less recoil. The 12-gauge variants offer heavy recoil depending on the loads used. We also had some specialty 410 defense loads that we have used in 45 LC/410 revolvers and wanted to try them in one of these weapons.

We tested at 10 yards on plain cardboard sheets that measured 18 inches wide, the average width of a male torso. We fired slugs, birdshot and buckshot out of the 20-gauge weapons using Aguila 2.75-inch shells loaded with #2 buckshot, Federal Premium 0.75-ounce rifled slugs, and handloaded #8 birdshot shells, which one of our testers uses for skeet and sporting clays. For the 410, we used the same distance and target and loaded up with 3-inch Winchester Super X quarter-ounce slugs, 2.5-inch Federal Premium #8.5 birdshot shells, and Hornady Critical Defense loads with one 41-caliber FTX projectile and two 35-caliber round ball projectiles. We fired to determine pattern size and found that with specialty and buckshot loads, these tiny blasters were surgical, allowing us to easily keep patterns on the 18-inch wide target. Birdshot destiny patterns were pretty close to covering 18 inches, but we did note some shot flew at a wider pattern — something one should consider if you were to use these weapons for home defense. Note that using birdshot will more than likely cause a large shot pattern with not all projectiles hitting the target. We would stick with buckshot and specialty loads for home defense and leave the birdshot for dispatching large rodents and snakes.

Our initial process was to accurately fire on the cardboard with birdshot, then buckshot/specialty loads, followed by slugs. Since the projectiles are of different sizes, it was easy to discern the different hole sizes. We also followed this process to quickly compare load types on our 18-inch-wide target.

These three pump-action weapons feature a 14-inch barrel with a Cylinder-bore choke and use a Raptor pistol grip. All weapons functioned flawlessly, though we did find the 410 slower to reload. There was also a distinct preference for the Mossberg versus the Remington, or vice-versa, depending on what type of pump shotgun our testers had experience with. In our opinion, the Mossberg with the action lock lever behind the trigger guard allowed for fast manipulation without changing your grip. The ambidextrous safety on the Mossberg also gave it a slight edge over the Remington's safety in the trigger guard behind the trigger. We'd feel empowered to protect our castle with any of these weapons, but we would lean toward the Mossberg. Here's why.

VALUE GUIDE: March 2019 Self-Defense Shotgun Ratings

Log on to Gun-Tests.com to read complete reviews of these products in the designated months. Highly-ranked products from older reviews are often available used at substantial discounts.

Budget 20-Gauge Pumpguns: H&R, Mossberg, Remington

Every day there is a headline of some deadly incident that could have been stopped with a shotgun. Home invasions and animal attacks are common in this dangerous world. The shotgun is formidable protection for prepared individuals who might be short statured, aging, or have a physical impediment. The 20 gauge offers a strong choice for most shooters. A string of twenty #3 buckshot pellets makes for a formidable way to stop a home-defense attack. Our calculations and best formulas show that the 20-gauge shotgun generates about three quarters the recoil of the 12 gauge versus the often quoted half the recoil but the 20 gauge delivers about three-quarters the payload at the same time.

We collected and tested three 20-gauge pump-action shotguns that happened to be marketed to younger shooters, but which the home defender can use as fast-handling hallway and interior-room guns right out of the box because of their shorter barrels and overall lengths and lighter weights. These included:

the Remington 870 Youth Model 25561 20 Gauge, $340;

the Harrington & Richardson Pardner Youth Model NP1-2S1 20 Gauge, $165; and

the Mossberg Maverick 88 Youth Model 32202 20 Gauge, $198.

For this use, we would purchase any of the three and feel well armed. Also, we ended up with a Best Buy, and we were not being easy on either of the less expensive shotguns. They simply had different characteristics folks should consider for themselves.

To evaluate the shotguns, we used three loads, including the Hornady 3-inch #6 nickel Magnum load ($12.72 per 10 shells at Brownells.com). Then, we shot Federal's 3-inch #3 buckshot rounds ($6.45 for five shells from SportsmansGuide.com) and Winchester's AA 2.75-inch 7⁄8-ounce # 7 shot ($9.49 per 25 shells from BassPro.com). This gave a good mix of light loads, buckshot, and a heavy field load. We also used Winchester's 20-gauge slug ($3.48 per five slugs from BudsGunShop.com). All of these shells fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. We loaded each shotgun with Winchester birdshot first then progressed to the heavy Hornady field loads, firing 25 Winchester birdshot shells followed by ten Hornady heavy field loads and five Federal buckshot loads. Recoil was simply not a factor, although we did notice the Hornady was the most powerful load tested. This is a highly developed 20-gauge choice, in our opinion. Here's how the rounds performed in each firearm.

2018 Guns & Gear Top Picks: Firearms

Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, and Ralph Winingham have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine's testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year's worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I've compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.

2018 Guns & Gear Top Picks: Firearms

Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, and Ralph Winingham have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine's testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year's worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I've compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.

2018 Guns & Gear Top Picks: Firearms

Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, and Ralph Winingham have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine's testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year's worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I've compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.

2018 Guns & Gear Top Picks: Firearms

Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, and Ralph Winingham have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine's testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year's worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I've compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.

What About the Ithaca Pump?

I received my copy and enjoyed the article. I was curious as to why you did not include the Ithaca Model 37 Defender? I have seen your past report for this gun. Your people evaluating the shotgun gave the Ithaca the very top choice. Yes, I know it's more expensive - but the walnut stock, walnut corncob forend, the best trigger, and old-fashioned high quality build, when added to the home defense purpose, made it my choice.

VALUE GUIDE: Recent Self-Defense Shotgun Ratings

Log on to Gun-Tests.com to read complete reviews of these products in the designated months. Highly-ranked products from older reviews are often available used at substantial discounts.

Home-Defense Shotguns: Are Magazine-Feds the New Thing?

The recent introduction of magazine-fed versions of the Remington 870 and Mossberg 590 pump-action shotguns have led to immense interest in the new designs, but we have not jumped onto the mag-pump bandwagon because, in our view, these shotguns are not without some trade-offs. Some of our shooters see nothing wrong with the tubular-magazine-fed shotgun, which can be topped off on the fly by a trained shooter. Others on our team question the balance of the converted shotguns and the loss of the natural pointing characteristics of the tube-fed pumps. (We use the term "converted" as a means of describing the modifications made to existing pumpgun designs). Despite our misgivings, the magazine-fed pump-action shotguns have been at the top of our test list, so we acquired a Remington Model 870 DM and the Mossberg 590M. To make for a broader field of reference, we added two proven tube-fed pump shotguns. The Remington 870 Tactical features Magpul furniture and XS sights, and the Mossberg 590 Tactical has a heat shield and a SpeedFeed Synthetic Stock. Then, to cap it off, we added a Saiga-style JTS M12AK shotgun, a magazine-fed semi-auto. This allowed us to compare two familiar shotguns against the magazine-fed versions of the same shotguns, as well as a previously tested magazine-fed semi-auto style that ranked well. The test was very involved and very interesting.

A Blueprint To Take Your Guns

A document produced jointly by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the Giffords gun-control group, and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence is raising...