December 2006

Best Tested Firearms: Shotguns

Best In Class: SHOTGUNS

FN Police Shotgun
No. 17674 12-Gauge Pump, $270 retail
Reviewed: March 2006

The FN Police Tactical shotgun came with two stocks. This shotgun was made by U.S. Repeating Arms in New Haven, Connecticut, for FN Herstal. (Unfortunately, the New Haven plant has closed, as we’ve previously reported in "Short Shots.") FNUSA lists two versions of the gun on its website, the 7+1 gun we tested (No. 17674) and a 4+1 gun (No. 17675). Two other "police"-marked pump shotguns FNUSA lists are the FN Tactical Police Shotgun and the FN Tactical Police Shotgun Fixed Stock. For our test gun, a 14-inch-barrel is sold to law enforcement on special order.

Elsewhere on our FN Police, we noticed it came with a post front sight and elevation adjustable tangent rear sight. Both sights were dovetailed in. The receiver was also drilled and tapped for mounting a scope or other sight. We liked the matte manganese phosphate finish. It did not reflect light like the blued Armscor did.

The crossbolt safety was located in the same place as the Armscor (in front of the trigger), but we thought the FN’s was larger and better made. There was no doubt when it clicked On or Off. It locked in and out of place like a safety should. When the safety was On and the gun wouldn’t fire, the shooter could not see red on the safety bolt, and the button sat nearly flush with the trigger guard, so he could easily tell by feeling it that it was on or off, unlike the Armscor’s safety.

At the butt end of the gun, the FN Police used an actual recoil pad that is effective. Out front, the ridges on the forearm were pronounced, so the shooter’s hand is less likely to slip off when racking the slide. Also, the trigger group came out and went in with ease, a boon to maintenance.

At the muzzle, this shotgun came with two screw-in choke tubes (IC and Modified). We used the IC choke for our testing, and we were happy with the patterns it produced at 20 feet. The gun shot to point of aim with birdshot and buckshot loads, and its adjustable sights allowed us to fine-tune where the slugs hit.

The FN functioned well with all of the 2.75-inch loads we tested, but it, too, had problems with some of the 3-inch shells. As a result, we would steer clear of 3-inch magnum ammunition in both guns, partly because it caused feeding problems, but also because 3-inch shells are overkill, in our view. The 3-inchers’ recoil is moderately to substantially greater, and the shells have a greater tendency to hang up on extraction. A high-brass 2.75-inch shell is plenty for any self-defense use, and in most cases standard or even reduced-velocity shotshells are fine, too.

This shotgun had sling swivels. The barrel was 18 inches long, and the tubular magazine had a sizable capacity of seven shotshells, instead of 6+1 found on many other self-defense shotguns. The trigger had some take up, but it broke cleanly.

The additional Speed Feed SF 1 Tactical stock comes with a nice recoil pad and will hold four shotgun shells (two on each side) in the butt. We didn’t see a need to switch stocks.


SHOTGUNS RUNNER-UP

Remington 11-87 Premier
12 gauge No. 25289, $907
Reviewed: October 2006

Smooth to the target and easy to handle were among the first comments as we put the Remington through its paces on a sporting clays course.

Featuring similar handling abilities of the veteran Remington 1100, this semiautomatic is on the heavy side, tipping the scales at 7.75 pounds. However, most of the weight of the shotgun is between the shooter’s hands, providing a very comfortable gun movement.

Combined with a short 14-inch length of pull, a drop at comb of 1.5 inches and a drop at heel of 2.25 inches, the Remington was particularly favored by the height-challenged members of our test team. Aftermarket stock adjustments are simple with the Remington’s standard wood stock.

Utilizing a time-tested gas-operated system, the Remington lived up to its reputation as a firearm that helps reduce recoil. Our test shotgun with its 28-inch barrel and overall length of 48 inches was a pleasure to shoot. There were no malfunctions of any kind.

The Remington bolt closed very quickly with a resounding snap. The carrier release under the receiver is a Remington trademark and worked every time.

At the test range, the Remington’s modified choke produced consistent and favorable 50-50 patterns (half the hits above the target center and half below) at 30 yards with the light loads. The pattern was 40-60 with the steel shot and the shotgun produced low patterns with 3-inch shells. However, recoil from heavy loads was noticeably less than with competing shotguns. In shooting instruction terms, this shotgun works well and shoots where you look a plus in any shooter’s book.

FN POLICE SHOTGUN NO. 17674