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UTAS-15 Pump: Wed Wait On It

You may not have heard of this company, UTAS (pronounced YOO-tash), a Turkish firm that specializes in firearms design, engineering and OEM manufacturing. UTAS has had its designs voted Gun of the Year by the NRAs American Rifleman magazine in 2006 and in 2007. One product from UTAS is the UTS-15 tactical shotgun, a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun with two 7-round alternately feeding or selectable magazine tubes.We recently tested a UTS-15 as a follow-up to our November 2012 test of high-capacity shotguns, the Akdal Arms MKA 1919 3-inch 12 Gauge, $799; the Kel-Tec KSG 3-inch 12 Gauge, $1075; the Saiga IZ-107 12 Gauge, $640; and a Red Jacket Saiga RTS-SBS-12 Short-Barrel 12 Gauge, $1939. Of that quartet, we preferred the Saiga and the KSG.While we were standing in the shop at Tactical Firearms in Katy, Texas (TacticalFirearms.us) waiting to pick up our UTS-15 for testing, the range staff was going on and on about how the gun looked like a weapon from a sci-fi movie. They werent kidding; if you have seen the movie Starship Troopers, this gun resembles the Morita battlerifle that the Mobile Infantry used to kill Bugs. But according to UTAS, the shotgun doesnt hail from outer space. The UTS-15 is just a bullpup pumpgun created from the ground up using fiber-reinforced polymers for 85 percent of the parts. In particular, the receiver is completely molded from polymer.Numerous gun celebrities on the internet have reviewed this shotgun and had no luck with it. FPSRussia went through three UTS guns while shooting his video because he actually broke three different parts. Would our unit be plagued with the same problems as some of the other early-model bullpup shotguns reviewed back in November? Or would it be Gun Tests approved right out of the box? Heres what happened:

UTAS-15 Pump: Wed Wait On It

You may not have heard of this company, UTAS (pronounced YOO-tash), a Turkish firm that specializes in firearms design, engineering and OEM manufacturing. UTAS has had its designs voted Gun of the Year by the NRAs American Rifleman magazine in 2006 and in 2007. One product from UTAS is the UTS-15 tactical shotgun, a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun with two 7-round alternately feeding or selectable magazine tubes.We recently tested a UTS-15 as a follow-up to our November 2012 test of high-capacity shotguns, the Akdal Arms MKA 1919 3-inch 12 Gauge, $799; the Kel-Tec KSG 3-inch 12 Gauge, $1075; the Saiga IZ-107 12 Gauge, $640; and a Red Jacket Saiga RTS-SBS-12 Short-Barrel 12 Gauge, $1939. Of that quartet, we preferred the Saiga and the KSG.While we were standing in the shop at Tactical Firearms in Katy, Texas (TacticalFirearms.us) waiting to pick up our UTS-15 for testing, the range staff was going on and on about how the gun looked like a weapon from a sci-fi movie. They werent kidding; if you have seen the movie Starship Troopers, this gun resembles the Morita battlerifle that the Mobile Infantry used to kill Bugs. But according to UTAS, the shotgun doesnt hail from outer space. The UTS-15 is just a bullpup pumpgun created from the ground up using fiber-reinforced polymers for 85 percent of the parts. In particular, the receiver is completely molded from polymer.Numerous gun celebrities on the internet have reviewed this shotgun and had no luck with it. FPSRussia went through three UTS guns while shooting his video because he actually broke three different parts. Would our unit be plagued with the same problems as some of the other early-model bullpup shotguns reviewed back in November? Or would it be Gun Tests approved right out of the box? Heres what happened:

12-Gauge Semi-Automatics: Benelli Ultralight Wins Again

Benelli's super-lightweight shotguns, the Ultralight line, are touted as being the lightest semi-automatic shotguns in production. Because a lighter gun does not always leave a shooter happy after a long day in the field or an afternoon shooting sporting clays, there are good reasons why shooters would prefer a heavier classic model, such as a favorite of many shooters, the Remington Model 1100. The Model 1100 was first manufactured in 1963, and with more than 50 years of production under its belt, it has earned seniority over newcomers like the Ultralight. But, because age is just a number and the new challenges the old every day, our shooters wanted to see for themselves which gun they would buy. Toward that end, we got a Benelli Ultralight Model No. 10802 12 Gauge, $1649; and Remington Model 1100 Sporting No. 25315, $1211, for this showdown.

Two Visions of the Citori O/U: The New 725 Vs. the Older XS

One of the most popular over-and-under shotguns offered by Browning, the Citori line, has undergone numerous updates and upgrades over the years as thousands of target and field shooters look for something to improve their clay-busting and game bag-filling skills. A tweak here, a new twist there, and each new model is promoted as the key to shooting success. The practice must work pretty well, as very few of the major firearm manufacturers refrain from cranking out new and upgraded models on a regular basis.One of the most recent entries to the new-and-improved market is the Browning Citori Model 725, released to the public last year as the latest in a long line of innovative over-and-under shotguns produced by the company founded by legendary firearms inventor John M. Browning. The Model 725 is an update of the models such as the 625, 525, 425 and XS over-and-unders that are considered among of the most popular stack-barrel shotguns in the country.Lighter and trimmer than its predecessors, the 725 is billed as allowing the shooter to become one with the gun, with a new mechanical FireLite trigger for quicker second shots and new Invector-DS extended choke system for improved patterning and easier removal during choke changes. Several other minor changes are advertised as helping reduce recoil and provide better shooter comfort when touching off a round or two in the field or on the range.To fulfill the requirements of the Bargain Hunter story angle, we revisited a Citori Model XS Sporting that was part of a Gun Tests review in 2007. The XS fell between the Models 425 and 525 in the Citori line and as noted in the earlier review, it is among the solid, dependable over and under shotguns made in Japan for Browning. In Bargain Hunter reviews, we not only will flyspeck the performance of the guns involved, but we will delve deeply into questions of value, perhaps saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in tightly-matched comparisons.In this case, both the 725 and its XS predecessor feature the same rugged full-width hinge pin and tapered locking bolt design with locking lugs in the bottom of the receiver that have become a Browning trademark. In addition, both models come with three-stage triggers allowing for an adjustable length of pull, palm swells (for right-handed shooters), ported barrels, and screw-in chokes. Rather than use the internal Invector Plus chokes that came as a standard feature with Model XS, we upgraded to Diana Grade extended chokes for this match-up. Our reasoning was to pit extended chokes versus extended chokes as a fair test of performance.Although the Model XS featured 32-inch barrels while the Model 725 sported 30-inch barrels, we did not think the slight difference in handling ability hindered a proper match-up of the two shotguns.Our ammunition selection for this test included Winchester AA Xtra-Lite Target 2.75-inch loads that were 2.75-dram equivalent shells with one ounce of No. 71/2 and No. 8 shot traveling at 1180 fps for the sporting clays testing; and Federal Game Load 2.75-inch loads that were 3.25-dram equivalent shells with one ounce of No. 71/2 shot travelling at 1290 fps for field tests.Since only the Model 725 would handle 3-inch shells, we limited our comparison to 2.75-inch loads. Anyone who has fired many 3-inch loads and suffered from the resulting shoulder shock can appreciate our decision.Both shotguns handled the two types of shells with exceptional performance both in the field and on the sporting clays range with no malfunctions of any kind. Our team was particularly pleased with the solid hits using Modified chokes with both shotguns on high-flying mourning doves as far as 50 yards away. Heres our test report:

Turkey-Hunting Dilemma: Does A Thumbhole Give You an Edge?

For many turkey hunters, getting their hands on the right gear is almost as important as getting into the game of gotcha with a big tom. If the hunters think a new camouflage pattern, a different style of call, or an updated version of their favorite smoke pole will give them the edge over a wary tom turkey, they are all for adding the new piece of gear to their hunting ensemble.

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One of the recent innovations catching the eye of more than a few hunters are shotguns featuring thumbhole stocks. This stock design lets the shooter place his or her thumb through the stock rather than wrap it over the grip, as rifle shooters have found. For scattergun enthusiasts, the concept is fairly recent and has received a relatively modest reaction.

We decided to check out two models of O.F. Mossberg and Sons Inc. turkey shotguns, one with a standard stock and one with a thumbhole stock, to see if there was a difference in performance and handling between the two popular turkey tools.

The two shotguns in our test were the Mossberg Model 500 No. 55216 Turkey THUG 12 Gauge with a suggested retail price of $409 and the Mossberg Model 500 Mossy Oak Break Up Synthetic Thumbhole Turkey pump-action 12 gauge with a suggested retail price of $493. According to Linda Powell, director of media relations for Mossberg, the thumbhole stocks are popular with steady sales, but make up a relatively small percentage of the many thousands of shotguns the company sells each year.

The various versions of standard, black synthetic, camouflage and other models of Mossberg pump-action shotguns are among the most popular firearms found in the hands of hunters across the country. It came as no surprise that the two models we put to the test lived up to the pump's reputation as a dependable and easily handling shooting tool.

As part of our handling and performance examination of the standard versus thumbhole stock, we selected several different types of popular shotgun ammunition. On the patterning board range, we used three different sizes of shot — Nos. 4, 5, and 6 — in 3-inch 1.75-ounce Winchester High Velocity Turkey Loads, all with an average muzzle velocity of 1300 fps. For overall handling and to test second- and third-shot capabilities, we switched to 2.75-inch Federal Game and Target shells loaded with 1 ounce of No. 7 1/2 shot, averaging 1290 fps at the muzzle. As noted in the comments below, recoil from the 3-inch shells in both shotguns was not particularly pleasing during the patterning tests. To reduce shoulder shock, lighter loads were brought into play for the multiple-shot review. Anyone who has spent much time touching off 3-inch shells at a patterning board can appreciate our decision. Here is our report:

Shotgun Defense Choices: We Pick Two Fiocchi Loads

In this installment of our continuing tests of personal-defense loadings, we had to don our thinking caps. Shotgun shells are far different in performance than a handgun cartridge or rifle round. The standards are different as there is no X ring or group to measure. The density of the pattern is the primary consideration. Measuring the effectiveness of buckshot is simple as regards measuring a pattern, but a buck-and-ball load would be another matter. Slugs are another area of concern.Recoil is an important consideration as well. In the past, the primary problem with shotguns for personal defense was recoil. Even big burly police officers reached their limit quickly with full-power buckshot loads. The solution for many was to engage in tactical training with birdshot loads and deploy buckshot for duty after a modest familiarization. This was not the ideal program. Then came the reduced-recoil buckshot loads. By reducing the payload from nine to eight buckshot balls (in some cases) and reducing velocity by several hundred feet per second, a buckshot load that was both effective and controllable was invented. These loads are controllable, and as a bonus, usually produce a dense and effective pattern at close range. They are intended for use at ranges inside 15 yards. The full-power or even stronger Magnum shotgun shell loads are intended for tackling deer-size game out to 50 yards or so - a very different scenario than home defense. The homeowner in search of an effective shotgun load for his personal-defense shotgun does not need this type of power. They need a load that is about as powerful at 7 yards as the Magnum loads are at 50 yards. Citizens are better served with a dense pattern and moderate velocity at close range. Public safety is served with less penetration.A relatively dense pattern is desirable for effect on the target. However, there are trainers who tell us that the greatest advantage of the shotgun is seen at about 15 yards. At this range the pattern has spread to the point that you are more likely to get a hit without a perfect sight picture. If five or six of the pellets strike the target, you will probably have a stopping shot. Experienced trainers commonly refer to the different viable shotgun ranges as A, B, and C range. A range is the distance at which the shotgun must be aimed as carefully as a rifle. B range is the range at which the shotguns spread is most profitable. C range is the range at which the pattern is so broad it is no longer useful. C range is usually 20 yards with an open choke shotgun. C range is slug range.There was some discussion concerning the selection of the loads to be tested. We left much of the testing to the primary rater by dint of his extensive law enforcement experience. We noted that while these loads are reduced-recoil and lower velocity than full-power buckshot loads, they are no lightweights. These loads produce respectable power. We tested one full-power buckshot load, as an example, and the total package gave an energy count lower than some of the personal defense loads tested. Even the least powerful 12-gauge load tested exhibited about 1200 pounds of energy. This is about three times the energy of the standard handgun loads we have tested. No wonder the shotgun has such a reputation for effect! The raters agree that the 12 gauge is by far the superior option. No other gauge offers the versatility and effect of the 12 gauge.The test team leader remarked that buckshot is misunderstood. The pattern has advantages in more than one dimension. Few shooters realize that buckshot travels in a string. We see only one dimension in the target. As an example, if the target is moving, part of the string may miss, but the target may run right into the latter part of the string. It takes a lot of shooting to get a good handle on buckshot performance. Once you do, you will have a great respect for the performance of buckshot. You will also understand the limitations of range.We included one "Law Enforcement Only" load for comparison and really had only a few shells on hand. As far as the LE-only loads, most are available through one distributor or the other or at gun shows. When comparing LEO loads to standard fare, our conclusion was that there is no need to haunt the gun shows and pay through the nose for LEO shotgun shells. The readily available personal defense loads do at least as good a job, as you will see in the comparison tables. Some may even be the same load under a different label. The test shotguns were three Remington 870 shotguns and one H & R Pardner-type defensive shotgun, basically a copy of the 870 with a humpback. The barrels were 18 inches long with rifle sights and open choke. While shotguns are often individualistic with patterning, there wasnt a nickels worth of difference between these, as our raters noted. We fired the shells and rated the apparent recoil of each. We noted whether they struck to the point of aim and noted if the pattern was centered on the front post or front bead.Recoil was treated subjectively. Since these loads are designed to be used by anyone interested in personal defense, we enlisted two interested shooters. These fine young women were invaluable raters. One is a Criminal Justice Major and the other is a young soldier. Their perspective on the differences in recoil was keener than those of battered old cops that have fired a few thousand 12 gauge shells in their day. We fired the shotguns at 7 yards, the generally-agreed upon range that personal-defense engagement most often occurs. The old rule that a pattern spreads 1 inch per yard is probably applicable to these loads. Just the same, a 21-foot gun battle inside the home would be rare. Most battles would be closer. The 7-yard distance was chosen to give a good impression of the pattern to be expected.Heres how our load selections performed.

Shotgun Defense Choices: We Pick Two Fiocchi Loads

In this installment of our continuing tests of personal-defense loadings, we had to don our thinking caps. Shotgun shells are far different in performance than a handgun cartridge or rifle round. The standards are different as there is no X ring or group to measure. The density of the pattern is the primary consideration. Measuring the effectiveness of buckshot is simple as regards measuring a pattern, but a buck-and-ball load would be another matter. Slugs are another area of concern.Recoil is an important consideration as well. In the past, the primary problem with shotguns for personal defense was recoil. Even big burly police officers reached their limit quickly with full-power buckshot loads. The solution for many was to engage in tactical training with birdshot loads and deploy buckshot for duty after a modest familiarization. This was not the ideal program. Then came the reduced-recoil buckshot loads. By reducing the payload from nine to eight buckshot balls (in some cases) and reducing velocity by several hundred feet per second, a buckshot load that was both effective and controllable was invented. These loads are controllable, and as a bonus, usually produce a dense and effective pattern at close range. They are intended for use at ranges inside 15 yards. The full-power or even stronger Magnum shotgun shell loads are intended for tackling deer-size game out to 50 yards or so - a very different scenario than home defense. The homeowner in search of an effective shotgun load for his personal-defense shotgun does not need this type of power. They need a load that is about as powerful at 7 yards as the Magnum loads are at 50 yards. Citizens are better served with a dense pattern and moderate velocity at close range. Public safety is served with less penetration.A relatively dense pattern is desirable for effect on the target. However, there are trainers who tell us that the greatest advantage of the shotgun is seen at about 15 yards. At this range the pattern has spread to the point that you are more likely to get a hit without a perfect sight picture. If five or six of the pellets strike the target, you will probably have a stopping shot. Experienced trainers commonly refer to the different viable shotgun ranges as A, B, and C range. A range is the distance at which the shotgun must be aimed as carefully as a rifle. B range is the range at which the shotguns spread is most profitable. C range is the range at which the pattern is so broad it is no longer useful. C range is usually 20 yards with an open choke shotgun. C range is slug range.There was some discussion concerning the selection of the loads to be tested. We left much of the testing to the primary rater by dint of his extensive law enforcement experience. We noted that while these loads are reduced-recoil and lower velocity than full-power buckshot loads, they are no lightweights. These loads produce respectable power. We tested one full-power buckshot load, as an example, and the total package gave an energy count lower than some of the personal defense loads tested. Even the least powerful 12-gauge load tested exhibited about 1200 pounds of energy. This is about three times the energy of the standard handgun loads we have tested. No wonder the shotgun has such a reputation for effect! The raters agree that the 12 gauge is by far the superior option. No other gauge offers the versatility and effect of the 12 gauge.The test team leader remarked that buckshot is misunderstood. The pattern has advantages in more than one dimension. Few shooters realize that buckshot travels in a string. We see only one dimension in the target. As an example, if the target is moving, part of the string may miss, but the target may run right into the latter part of the string. It takes a lot of shooting to get a good handle on buckshot performance. Once you do, you will have a great respect for the performance of buckshot. You will also understand the limitations of range.We included one "Law Enforcement Only" load for comparison and really had only a few shells on hand. As far as the LE-only loads, most are available through one distributor or the other or at gun shows. When comparing LEO loads to standard fare, our conclusion was that there is no need to haunt the gun shows and pay through the nose for LEO shotgun shells. The readily available personal defense loads do at least as good a job, as you will see in the comparison tables. Some may even be the same load under a different label. The test shotguns were three Remington 870 shotguns and one H & R Pardner-type defensive shotgun, basically a copy of the 870 with a humpback. The barrels were 18 inches long with rifle sights and open choke. While shotguns are often individualistic with patterning, there wasnt a nickels worth of difference between these, as our raters noted. We fired the shells and rated the apparent recoil of each. We noted whether they struck to the point of aim and noted if the pattern was centered on the front post or front bead.Recoil was treated subjectively. Since these loads are designed to be used by anyone interested in personal defense, we enlisted two interested shooters. These fine young women were invaluable raters. One is a Criminal Justice Major and the other is a young soldier. Their perspective on the differences in recoil was keener than those of battered old cops that have fired a few thousand 12 gauge shells in their day. We fired the shotguns at 7 yards, the generally-agreed upon range that personal-defense engagement most often occurs. The old rule that a pattern spreads 1 inch per yard is probably applicable to these loads. Just the same, a 21-foot gun battle inside the home would be rare. Most battles would be closer. The 7-yard distance was chosen to give a good impression of the pattern to be expected.Heres how our load selections performed.

Corrosion-Resistant Shotguns: Mossberg Duels Remington

Most self-defense shotguns have a few traits in common—short and maneuverable, high capacity, and simple to operate. In the dead of the night, or, increasingly, in the middle of the afternoon, you need to be able to pick up your shotgun, make it hot, and get to the spot in your house or property where you and several of your friends named Buck will treat intruders pretty ugly.

At Gun Tests, we have reviewed dozens of guns made for such unpleasantness, and our staff shooters have liked many of them, as a poke through the online archives at www.Gun-Tests.com or www.GunReports.com will show. One of the assumptions that we made in those reviews is that the guns are well maintained, which for blued steel means enough attention and love to keep them from corroding closed. But for tens of millions of Americans who live on or near coastal areas with salt air or inland on rivers or lakes with attendant high humidity, blued steel might not be the right choice. Something more inert might be better.

Toward that end, we recently acquired two shotguns made of stainless steel, nickel, polymer, and aluminum that promised, and delivered, much of what we want in a self-defense shotgun plus low, low maintenance. One was Mossberg's Special Purpose Model 500 Mariner 50273 3-Inch 12 Gauge, $571, a six-shot Marinecote-finished pumpgun with stainless barrel and aluminum receiver. We paired it against the Remington Model 870 Special Purpose Express Marine Magnum No. 25012 3-inch 12 Gauge, $772, a handsome shotgun crafted from a steel billet and all its metal parts are nickel coated, including the inside of the barrel and the receiver. There is no toehold for corrosion on this shotgun.

We gave our testers the charge of deciding which gun we'd stow in the cabin of a Hunter 50CC for an extended trip asea, or along for the ride in a bateau headed out to a fishing cabin, or tucked in the corner of the bedroom as a life insurance policy.

SuperMag Follow Up: We Retest Remingtons M887 Nitro Mag

Gun Tests reader Cecil Elmore emailed us in December 2010 with this in the subject line: 'Remington 887.' In his note, he said, 'I am a subscriber, and I saw your 2009 evaluation of the Remington 887 shotgun, which was not pretty. I am considering buying an 887, but look to you folks for expert guidance. Can you give me an update on where that 887 stands? Thanks!' Why, yes we can. The September 2009 comparison that included the new-for-2009 Remington M887 Nitro Mag No. 82500 12 Gauge, $399, pitted it against a Benelli SuperNova No. 20115 MAX-4 HD Camo 12 Gauge Pump, $599. The Benelli was the hands-down winner, with our recommendation being, 'It's built right, shoots right, and does everything we could hope for from a shotgun of this type. We don't think the 8-pound weight is excessive for a heavy-duty duck gun; the extra weight pays dividends in its smoother swing and softer shooting.' Accordingly, we awarded it an A grade.

Field-Gun Showdown: Semiautos From Weatherby and Escort

One of the ongoing arguments between wingshooters is the 12 vs. 20 discussion. The short version of that issue can be summed up in two questions: Can I get away with the smaller gauge for the shooting I do?, or, Do I need the deeper and wider shotshell selection that the 12 gauge offers? One of the major reasons hunters choose a 20 over a 12 is the formers smaller frame, weight, and recoil. Though they may already own a 12, many field sportsmen wind up reaching for their 20s because the smaller gun is easier to handle, and there are just a few situations-layback goose hunting and spring turkey hunting, to name two-in which the bigger 12-gauge payload might make a difference.Based solely on ballistics, its tough to make a case that the 20 gauge cant do most or all of the jobs the 12 gauge does. But thats not the whole story. There are certainly restrictions based on the 3-inch guns available for the two gauges. Looking at the major shotgun lines, Remington puts 3-inch chambers for both gauges its 11-87 Sportsman, Sportsman Camo, and Sportsman Synthetic lines, but it also doesnt chamber 20 gauges at all in its specialty guns for turkey, deer, and waterfowl, and some of the other 11-87s. Mossberg shunts its three 20-gauge models into the SA-20 line, offering no 20s in the 935 or 930 lines. In its vast selection of semiautos, Beretta offers just the AL391 Teknys Gold Sporting, AL391 Urika 2 Youth X-Tra Grain, and the 3901 Citizen Synthetic in 20 gauge. Available shotshell loads, too, show an overwhelming preference for the 12 gauge. Picking just one company to sample, Federal offers 65 12-gauge loads in its inventory, but only 21 20-gauge shot loads, a 3-to-1 edge.So, even before we get rolling, the discussion of picking a 20 over a 12 for all-round use doesnt get much traction; there are just not enough 20-gauge shotguns and 20-gauge loads to make a 20 practical for use from woodcocks and snipe to Canadas and Merriams. But if we recast the argument to make it an upland comparison, then suddenly the playing field evens out.Toward that end, we found two lightweight low-cost polymer-stocked shotguns from Weatherby and Escort we wouldnt mind schlepping around North Dakota to shoot pheasants. Our test guns were the SA-08 Synthetic from Paso Robles, Calif.-based Weatherby and the LSI/Hatsan Escort PS-20 HAT00115 3-inch 20 Gauge, $399 (price from Gallery of Guns online store).The Escort Magnum 20-bore we tested was made by the Hatsan Arms Company in Izmir, Turkey and imported by Legacy Sports International of Reno, Nevada. LSI supplies a five-year warranty for the Escorts it imports, while Weatherby does not offer a written warranty on the SA-08.Roy Weatherby introduced his first autoloading shotgun, the Centurion, in 1972 and it stayed in the lineup through 1975, when it was replaced by the Centurion II (1976-1981), which itself was supplanted by the Model 82 (1982-1989). Weatherby made a return to the semi-automatic market in 1999 with the SAS shotgun made by Valtro in Italy. The SAS was discontinued in 2007. The current lineup offers many choices, including the budget-priced SA-08, which is described as "a reliable workhorse that handles everything from early-season dove to late falls heaviest waterfowl loads. Injection-molded synthetic stock is tough enough to turn back the worst of conditions." Just what we wanted.Its also imported from Turkey, and Weatherby lists it at $469, but one of the companys online retailers, Gallery of Guns, lists the SA-08 No. SA08S1228PGM at $565, not including shipping or sales tax. Heres what our scattergunners thought of the pair:

Economy Pump 12 Gauges: Maverick 88 Vs. H&R Pardner

The pump action is a very popular shotgun type, mainly for its ease of operation and its ruggedness. While a self-loader may be a bit faster in trained hands, the point is debatable. Expensive autoloaders are reliable, but in the end a dirty or well-used pump is always more reliable than a dirty autoloader. We recently tested two affordable pumps-the Mossberg Maverick is a cut-down version of the Mossberg 500, and the H&R Pardner is a basic copy of the Remington 870 design beneath the humpback receiver. Our raters are familiar with the Mossberg 500 shotgun and the Remington 870, but we had to cast aside any preconceived notions of the base platforms because the Maverick and Pardner we were testing were completely different from their stablemates. They were made to sell and to offer reasonable performance. The shotguns tested had similar features, and there was little to recommend one over the other as far as the specification sheet went-even the length of pull and drop are similar. But once the shooting began, we began to form opinions on each shotgun. We took turns quickly mounting each shotgun and firing. When firing a shotgun, your eye is the rear sight and handling is everything. A rough action or problems with the hardware detract from smoothness of motion and ergonomics.We bought the guns at Academy Sports, a giant sporting chain that offers rifles, pistols, and shotguns as well as other sporting goods. We were surprised to see these two pump-action shotguns listed for less than $200 in an Academy Sports sales paper.When we saw the sale sheet in the Sunday paper, the Maverick was listed at $170 and the Pardner at $180-not much difference. However, we waited two weeks to purchase the shotguns and found that the Mavericks every day price is $170, while the Pardner was off sale and commanding $200-an 18% difference. The helpful clerk assured us that the Pardner would go back on sale within a few weeks, but we went ahead and purchased the Pardner at full price. Watch the sale sheets, but the Maverick, it seems, is always at the lower price, even when both are on sale.Our team gathered and shot the guns using 2.75-inch Winchester Super Target loads (1-ounce charge of No. 8 shot, 2.75-dram equivalent, 1180 fps muzzle velocity) and also a new steel trap load, the Winchester Xpert Game/Target load WE12GT7, a 2.75-inch 12 gauge with 11/8 ounces of No. 7s, Max dram, developing 1280 fps, according to Winchester.The trap load was heavier, but neither generated uncomfortable recoil. Both burned clean, with comparable performance in both shotguns. Heres what our testers learned about the guns:

Economy Pump 12 Gauges: Maverick 88 Vs. H&R Pardner

The pump action is a very popular shotgun type, mainly for its ease of operation and its ruggedness. While a self-loader may be a bit faster in trained hands, the point is debatable. Expensive autoloaders are reliable, but in the end a dirty or well-used pump is always more reliable than a dirty autoloader. We recently tested two affordable pumps-the Mossberg Maverick is a cut-down version of the Mossberg 500, and the H&R Pardner is a basic copy of the Remington 870 design beneath the humpback receiver. Our raters are familiar with the Mossberg 500 shotgun and the Remington 870, but we had to cast aside any preconceived notions of the base platforms because the Maverick and Pardner we were testing were completely different from their stablemates. They were made to sell and to offer reasonable performance. The shotguns tested had similar features, and there was little to recommend one over the other as far as the specification sheet went-even the length of pull and drop are similar. But once the shooting began, we began to form opinions on each shotgun. We took turns quickly mounting each shotgun and firing. When firing a shotgun, your eye is the rear sight and handling is everything. A rough action or problems with the hardware detract from smoothness of motion and ergonomics.We bought the guns at Academy Sports, a giant sporting chain that offers rifles, pistols, and shotguns as well as other sporting goods. We were surprised to see these two pump-action shotguns listed for less than $200 in an Academy Sports sales paper.When we saw the sale sheet in the Sunday paper, the Maverick was listed at $170 and the Pardner at $180-not much difference. However, we waited two weeks to purchase the shotguns and found that the Mavericks every day price is $170, while the Pardner was off sale and commanding $200-an 18% difference. The helpful clerk assured us that the Pardner would go back on sale within a few weeks, but we went ahead and purchased the Pardner at full price. Watch the sale sheets, but the Maverick, it seems, is always at the lower price, even when both are on sale.Our team gathered and shot the guns using 2.75-inch Winchester Super Target loads (1-ounce charge of No. 8 shot, 2.75-dram equivalent, 1180 fps muzzle velocity) and also a new steel trap load, the Winchester Xpert Game/Target load WE12GT7, a 2.75-inch 12 gauge with 11/8 ounces of No. 7s, Max dram, developing 1280 fps, according to Winchester.The trap load was heavier, but neither generated uncomfortable recoil. Both burned clean, with comparable performance in both shotguns. Heres what our testers learned about the guns:

Cut The Fat, Not The Meat

At this magazine, we do something that a lot of other magazines and websites do — recommend firearms that our readers might like to...