Shotgun, O/U -12 ga.

In Search of the Best 12 Gauge

February 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine

For those who are not in restricted states, magazine-fed shotguns can quickly switch from sporting uses to home defense and competition with some minor adjustments. In the November 2012 issue, we test-fired four high-capacity products with an eye mainly toward effective home defense, which is often done with shotguns that hold 5, 6, 7, and 8 rounds, usually in tubular magazines under the barrel. But there are bigger-capacity shotguns out there, so we examined the Akdal Arms MKA 1919 3-Inch 12 Gauge, a Red Jacket Saiga RTS-SBS-12 Short-Barrel 12 Gauge, the Kel-Tec KSG 3-Inch 12 Gauge, and the Saiga IZ-107 12 Gauge. 

The KSG (Kel-Tec Shot Gun) was a bullpup pump shotgun whose short overall length tallowed for greater maneuverability, making it suitable for close-quarters combat. The KSG weighed a shade over 7 pounds and measured only 26.1 inches in length. The internal dual tube magazines held an impressive 14 rounds of 12 gauge 2 3⁄4-inch shells (seven per tube) or 12 3-inch rounds (six per tube). Because different types of loads can be placed on either side, the shooter can switch between tubes depending on his needs. There are many good fighting shotguns on the market, but no others are quite as handy and possess as much firepower as the Kel-Tec KSG, we found.

Another recommended shotgun from that test, and our favorite, was an older Saiga 12, graded as in Very Good used shape. It was manufactured at the Izhmash Factory in Russia and imported through EAA Corp. What we believe is an identical gun, the IZ-107 12 Gauge, is available from K-Var Corp. of Las Vegas (K-Var.com). Designed as an all-purpose shotgun, the Saiga comes with a chrome-lined barrel, which allows the use of many different types of ammunition, including steel. This shotgun was manufactured utilizing the Kalashnikov gas system, which reduced felt recoil dramatically over the KSG pumpgun. The Saiga shotgun was capable of cycling both 2 3⁄4- and 3-inch magnum shells. As with all Saiga 12s, this shotgun is not designed to use low-pressure shells. Saiga 12 gauges now come standard with a bolt hold-open feature, which allows for quicker magazine changes.

Since our last test, market availability for the Saiga 12 has tightened, making these shotguns difficult to come by and rather expensive — Gunbroker.com prices average around $1300 for an Izhmash-branded Saiga. We wanted to see how a Saiga-style shotgun, but made in China at less than half the price, would hold up to the real thing, so we acquired Catamount Fury and Fury II shotguns and put them through similar tests as the Izhmash Saiga. Here’s what we found.

More Tactical Pump Shotguns: Tristar and Mossberg Compete

June 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

There are times when a potential owner of a reliable self-defense shotgun might want to spend a little more money on upgraded features for the sake of comfort or convenience, so we ventured into the world of extra bells and whistles in this test of two higher-end tactical self-defense shotguns. This is the second part of a four-pack of pumps our team put through their paces. For this test we picked a pair of self-defense firearms in the $700 to $775 MSRP range to see how they would stand up to a thorough examination on the shooting range. The 12-gauge shotguns selected for this review were a Mossberg Model 590 Magpul with an adjustable stock listing for $773, and a Tristar TEC-12 capable of either pump action or semiautomatic fire that retails for $689. Both retail for around $500.

While budget is a key factor in the minds of many shooters as they ponder the purchase of a self defense shotgun, there are times when added features are too good to pass up despite the added cost.

Firearm manufacturers are well known for tossing in a few bells and whistles to make their product a little more attractive. The hope is that buyers will be willing to shell out a few dollars more for a feature that will make their new firearm more accurate, more comfortable, more attractive, etc. Sometimes the added features prove to be worth the additional cost, and sometimes the bell or whistle is just eye candy.

As noted in last month’s review of two pump actions, self-defense shotguns fall into a category of rarely used but necessarily reliable firearms. When they are put into play, the shooter should be able to touch off consistently accurate, perfectly functioning rounds in what might be a life or death situation. There is a wide selection of these types of firearms carrying a price tag of $500 or less, most of which are so similar that distinctions in appearance and handling are minor at best.

In this match-up we selected a pair of what we would consider higher-priced shooting tools: The Mossberg Model 590 Magpul was outfitted with a fully adjustable stock and extended magazine retailing for $773. The Tristar TEC-12 was capable of either pump action or semiautomatic shooting, and it is available for $689.

Using the same type of shotgun ammunition that was fired through last month’s shotguns, our test rounds included Rio Royal Buck 2.75-inch loads moving nine pellets of No. 00 buckshot at an average muzzle velocity of 1345 fps, and Winchester Reduced Recoil Winlite 2.75-inch loads pushing 0.9-ounce 400-grain sabot slugs with an average muzzle velocity of 1450 fps. Our function-fire and cycling rounds were Remington ShurShot Heavy Dove 2.75-inch loads with 11⁄8 ounces of No. 6 shot moving at an average of 1255 fps.

For shots in close-defense simulations, we fired test loads at Birchwood Casey Eze-Scorer 23-inch by 35-inch Bad Guy targets and the identically sized Targets Online paper images of potential threats. For slug shots at 25 yards, we used Champion VisiColor Zombies 12-inch by 18-inch Slasher Tusks targets. Only head shots were counted as acceptable results with the slug ammo because that is what Hollywood tells everyone is the way to dispatch a zombie. Here are our findings: