February 13, 2014

Stevens Model 320 Home Defense No. 19495 Pump-Action 12 Gauge, $270

In the October 2013 issue, Gun Tests magazine tested three new models of self-defense shotguns that carry low to moderate price tags against one of the popular veteran self-defense shotguns, the Benelli Super Nova Tactical No. 29155 pump-action 12 Gauge, $559. The less expensive shotguns were the recently introduced Stevens Model 320 Home Defense No. 19495, $270; the CZ Model 612 Home Defense No. 06520, $290; and the CZ Model 612 HC-P No. 06510, $349.

All of the short-barreled pump-action shotguns are designed for a specific need and purpose — self defense — and do not easily lend themselves to other uses, such as hunting in the field or busting clay targets.

As one veteran gunsmith in our group noted: “Most of these shotguns will not have a box of shells fired through them in a year and a lot won’t have more than a half-dozen boxes shot in them during a lifetime.” With this truism in mind, we limited our field testing of the four shotguns to firing at paper targets on the range and did not attempt any evaluation of how the shotguns would handle clay targets or birds in the air. These self-defense firearms are designed to be fired more like a rifle than a scattergun, so it would be unfair to judge them on the qualities found in high-dollar, better-balanced firearms that have a place in the field and on clay-target ranges.

Sticking with the types of ammunition that would handle most self-defense situations, we put the four shotguns through patterning and performance tests with a variety of shotgun shells. The ammo selection in our shooting bag included Remington ShurShot Heavy Dove 2.75-inch loads packing 1.125 ounces of No. 6 shot with an average muzzle velocity of 1,255 fps; Federal Power-Shok 2.75-inch loads with 27 pellets of No. 4 buckshot and an average muzzle velocity of 1,325 fps; and Winchester Super-X 2.75-inch 1-ounce rifled hollowpoint slugs with an average muzzle velocity of 1,600 fps. Following is an excerpt from that test, used with permission:

October 2013

Courtesy, Gun Tests Magazine

This shotgun was the least expensive of the group, and we could find no fault in its ability to serve as an effective self-defense tool.

Stevens Model 320 Home Defense No. 19495 Pump-Action 12 Gauge, $270

The fact that this was the bottom dollar model in our test group was quickly reduced in significance when we took the shotgun out on the range. Sporting the same length barrel (18.5 inches) and Ghost Ring sights of both the Benelli and CZ 612 HC-P, we were pleased to find the visibility of the chartreuse light-bar front sight through the Ghost Ring was exceptional. Getting on target and staying on target was quicker and easier with the Stevens than with any of the other test firearms, our testers said.

This high visibility also transferred over to patterning performance, with the Stevens always placing 27 out of 27 buckshot pellets in the large target and producing an average of 25 hits in the smaller target. While this is not a huge variation — all of the shotguns produced very acceptable patterns in what would be considered kill zones — the Stevens did top the rankings of all four firearms.

Several slugs fired at the Bad Guy target from 20 feet hit right in the middle of the character’s forehead and the distribution of No. 6 pellets was quite solid in the target’s chest and head area. Although not as deeply etched into the synthetic material as the grooves in the Benelli, the forearm and full-length pistol grip of the Stevens were easy to hold and provided a steady shooting platform. Even in rapid-fire mode, the shotgun was easy and comfortable to put on target.

October 2013

Courtesy, Gun Tests Magazine

The much smaller action release lever on the back of the Stevens trigger guard, compared with the other test shotguns, caused us a little concern at first, but we encountered no problems when engaging the button during our firing tests.

Patterned after the discontinued Winchester Model 1300, the appearance of the Stevens is very plain Jane. We were concerned about the effectiveness of the hollow synthetic stock, but found the recoil of the shotgun was no more shoulder shocking than with the other test firearms.

Trigger pull for the Stevens, breaking at 7 pounds, was considered a little excessive but became a non-factor after sending a few loads down range. As with the Benelli, a little gunsmith work to reduce the touch off to about 5 to 6 pounds would be recommended.

The only minor problem we encountered with the Stevens involved the action release located on the left rear of the trigger guard. The release button seemed to be a little small, although it could be worked by all of our test members. Each of the other firearms in the test had larger action release buttons in the front of the trigger guards. Since a person using one of these self-defense firearms in the home would rarely be wearing gloves, this was not considered a big issue.

Our Team Said: Several excellent features of this shotgun, including the very nice and highly visible sights; its patterning performance with all three types of ammunition; and the comfortable, solid feel of the firearm, impressed us.

Comments (10)


Posted by: Cecil B | March 8, 2014 11:54 PM    Report this comment

I like the looks of the Stevens, wouldn't mind finding a 20 ga version for my wife. Until then she'll have to make do with the slightly tricked-out version of the 870P(as well as other wpns) the state gives me to play with. I think I could get used to the action release location!

Posted by: Tower gunner | March 8, 2014 3:05 PM    Report this comment

OK, old friend. Gotcha. Sometimes the desire to spout forth with information just overtakes my sense of figuring out who's saying what.....

Posted by: canovack | February 14, 2014 5:26 PM    Report this comment

I was just jerkin your gerkin about sighting a shotgun Colonel. BTW, J

Posted by: Cecil B | February 14, 2014 4:21 PM    Report this comment

While many are given to believe that a shotgun need not be carefully aimed, in my experience.....and that of many others, it is best to fire a shotgun as one would fire a rifle. Believe it or not, at in-the-house ranges, it IS possible to miss a shot, because the shot pattern at that distance is still about the size of a soft ball. Also the ghost ring rear sight and blade front sight are very fast in establishing sight alignment and sight picture. Of course, a shotgun laser goes a long way toward speeding up a quick shot.

Posted by: canovack | February 14, 2014 11:08 AM    Report this comment

Why does one need sights on a self defense shotgun?

Posted by: Cecil B | February 13, 2014 11:03 PM    Report this comment

Walmart sells a plain jane mossburg 500 for $209. We live in the country and our youth model 20 gauge has proven itself agianst a skunk and a coon. It came with a set of screw in chokes. I would prefer it to any of the above. An ounce of

Posted by: olafhardtB | February 13, 2014 9:29 PM    Report this comment

Walmart sells a plain jane mossburg 500 for $209. We live in the country and our youth model 20 gauge has proven itself agianst a skunk and a coon. It came with a set of screw in chokes. I would prefer it to any of the above. An ounce of

Posted by: olafhardtB | February 13, 2014 12:32 PM    Report this comment

I love 12 gauge pump shotguns. I think every home should have at least three of them!

Posted by: canovack | February 13, 2014 11:44 AM    Report this comment

I wanted a tactical shot gun that would function well enough to trust in a self defense situation but was inexpensive in case it disappeared into the "evidence locker" after being used in such a situation. The Stevens was the answer for me. It performs very reliably, is simple to use, and the ghost sights included close the deal. I have had a problem with coyotes right outside my door looking for our dog, and using a shotgun would be more appropriate in my neighborhood than using a high powered rifle.

Posted by: Steve F | February 13, 2014 8:51 AM    Report this comment

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