February 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
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 # 7½ 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.
December 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine
Following the success of the 590 Shockwave 12-gauge pump-action firearm, Mossberg has released a 20-gauge version (50657) of the 590 Shockwave, priced at $455 MSRP. Featuring a 14-inch barrel, “birds head” pistol grip and an overall length of 26.4 inches, the 590 Shockwave does not fall under the purview of the National Firearms Act (NFA) and does not require additional paperwork or the payment of a tax stamp for transfers. Federal Law does require the purchaser of this firearm to be 21 years of age.
October 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine
Pistol-arm braces for AR and AK pistols have been one of the more controversial issues in the shooting industry and public for the past few years. The ATF flipped-flopped its stance on what an arm brace is and what is does when it is attached to a pistol, confusing not only manufacturers but shooters as well. Is a brace legal to attach to a pistol? Can they legally be placed against the shoulder to shoot the pistol or does that make the weapon an SBR (Short Barreled Rifle)? Also confusing was the recent introduction of short-barrel shotguns that look like a Class 3/NFA firearm.
We decided to take a closer look at the ATF’s definitions of these exotic firearms and chose the Century Arms RAS47 AK Pistol and Mossberg Shockwave shotgun to see what the current status of these hybrids is. We also know that exotic does not necessarily mean practical, so we tested these guns for home-defense use. We naturally acquired an arm brace for the RAS47 and decided to throw in a 75-round drum magazine. Why? Because we can and it is legal in the state we tested the guns. With the Shockwave, we wanted to better understand why it does not need a special stamp to purchase it. Doesn’t a shotgun need an 18-inch barrel to be legal?
Please note that we are looking at these firearms from the federal/national level. We cannot provide legal advice nor do we profess to have the last word on the legal status of these firearms. Our intent is to understand current ATF statues so we can follow the law to the letter. Where you live—the state, county or city—may have specific laws pertaining to these firearms. It would be wise to check with your state police on the status of the Shockwave and an AR/AK pistol in your local area. Where we tested the Shockwave and the RAS47 pistol in North Carolina, both were transferred over the counter without any additional paper work. As responsible shooters, we need to know our local laws and abide by them.
As an example of how state and local laws can affect ownership of the Mossberg 590 Shockwave even though it was being sold elsewhere in the country, it took passage of House Bill 1819 in the 2017 Texas legislative session to make ownership of the shotgun legal on September 1, 2017. From a company release:
“Thanks to efforts by members of the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate, House Bill (HB) 1819 passed in May 2017, the Mossberg 590 Shockwave will be legal in the state of Texas, beginning September 1, 2017. The legislation was advanced through the combined efforts of Senators Charles Perry and Craig Estes, Representatives Poncho Nevarez and Drew Springer, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) and clarified Texas state laws concerning the purchase of suppressors and certain firearms, including the 590 Shockwave pump-action. The change in the law hits close to home for Mossberg as the company proudly manufactures the 590 Shockwave at their facility in Eagle Pass, Texas, which is also the home district for Representative Nevarez.
“All of us at Mossberg recognize that this bill would not have passed without the efforts of many,” said Joe Bartozzi, Mossberg executive vice president and general counsel. “We were proud to add our small role in the effort and are pleased to recognize the tremendous efforts of Senators Perry and Estes and Representatives Nevarez and Springer, the NRA and TRSA.”
Mossberg introduced the 590 Shockwave firearm at the 2017 SHOT Show, accompanied by a determination letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), defining the pump-action as a “Non-NFA Firearm.” The 590 Shockwave comes from the factory with a 14-inch barrel, Shockwave Technologies Raptor grip and overall length of 26.5 inches. Because the 590 Shockwave is not capable of being shoulder-mounted and meets the overall length requirement of 26 inches, it is defined as “firearm” under the federal Gun Control Act (GCA).
Did we rest the arm brace on our shoulder when testing? How easy was it to shoot a shotgun with a 14-inch barrel loaded with 2.75-inch shells? All hype? Any substance? We’ll start by saying this match up caused a permanent grin on some testers because the guns were fun to shoot even if they might keep someone at ATF up at night.
September 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
The 12-gauge shotgun remains the most effective home-defense weapon available. While some prefer the handgun for convenience or the 223-chambered rifle for low recoil, all give a nod to the awesome power and simplicity of the pump-action shotgun. The shotgun is also the most common home-defense weapon for non-firearms-passionate individuals. Everyone should learn to use a tool well. But the home-defense shotgun is often treated with the same respect and purpose as the spare tire and jack in the vehicle. If we need it, it is needed badly, but otherwise we tend not to think about it. Non-gun folks, including far north aviators and sailors, keep a shotgun handy just in case they have to deal with angry animals or bad people. As long as the pump-action shotgun is in good repair and functions well, the exact choice may not be as important as the terminal ballistics. But there are differences in handling that are interesting, and every advantage should be taken.
We decided to look at the subject of a number of reader requests for reports on affordable pump-action shotguns. Some used guns are out of production, and others are earlier versions of popular shotguns. Some are just used and only a few months old.
We picked two popular shotguns, including one of the most popular ever made, the Remington 870. We counted this as a good deal. It’s very similar to a shotgun Remington still offers through its law enforcement side, the 870P Standard pump action.
We also found a used Norinco Wild Bunch shotgun for $299 at the same outlet. It was as new and also counted a good buy. But that isn’t the whole story—they were purchased months apart, one for a backup truck gun and the other as a Wild Bunch Cowboy gun. Naturally, they were thrown together by the raters from time to time, and the question came up about how suitable the Wild Bunch gun was for home defense. The owner answered by saying it was already his favorite home defender despite a safe that held more-modern guns.
When you are looking at older pump-action shotguns, the concerns include maintenance, supply of parts, and perhaps ergonomics. When you look at the handling of the shotguns and the sights, well, it is what it is. There are a few add-ons for the Remington, but we might as well purchase a more highly developed shotgun in the beginning if that is what is desired. So, we stuck with the shotguns as issued and took at hard look at each for personal defense. The results were interesting, and in the end we respect both shotguns, but have greater respect for just one.
November 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine
When we decided to test three tactical shotguns suitable for home defense, rather than test three pumps or three self-loaders, we tested one of each, and one that could be either. The Benelli Nova Tactical Pump was our first type, followed by a semi-auto Mossberg 930 Tactical and TriStar’s TEC-12, the latter of which can operate as a pump or semi-auto. If we were jumping into the sandbox at the moment, we think the Benelli M3 might be our choice, especially after firing the near clone of it, the TEC-12. However, the team thought the Benelli Nova pump had the simplest action to use well, and for us, its performance could not be faulted. The Mossberg 930 Tactical had its advantages as well, among them being it was the most comfortable shotgun to fire and use. We had our preference, as we describe below, but you may decide one of the others is better for you. To make that decision easier, our shooters went over the three guns with an eye toward finding flaws, and before we begin in earnest, we will say we found few problems, and that any of these three would do good duty for home defense.
We have had generally good luck with Benelli’s Nova variations over the years. Way back in July 2007, we tested the field-grade Benelli Nova Pump 12 Gauge and gave it an “A-” for its overall performance, the feel and function of the synthetic stock and forearm, and its selection of choke tubes, which was impressive for this bargain-priced firearm. Then in the October 2013 issue, we tested a Benelli Super Nova Tactical No. 29155 12 Gauge. That gun earned an “A-” grade, losing out to a less expensive Stevens 320 that was every bit as good as the Super Nova and hundreds of dollars cheaper. Also, that Tactical Super Nova was the heaviest of those shotguns, which can be good or bad depending on the shooter and the load. But in that test, our shooters particularly liked the feel of the grooved polymer forearm and pistol grip. Downside: The out-of-the-box trigger pull of 8.75 pounds was too hefty for our tastes. Functionally, however, the Super Nova was fine. Those same likes carry over to a Benelli Nova H2O, which features a nickel-plated barrel, that we have not worked into a head-to-head against other corrosion-resistant units. Functionally, it has felt and operated like the other Novas we’ve tested, but the unit we’ve been shooting off and on (No. 20090, $669 MSRP) for a couple of years has open rifle sights (blade front and rear notch), which we don’t like as well as the Ghost Ring sight on the Nova Tactical, and the price is a big step up from the plain black Benelli. At the time of this test, GanderMountain.com listed the H2O at $650, not including shipping and other charges such as FFL receiving fees. If you need the anti-corrosion features, you may be willing to pay the premium price for it, but for us, because of the price and the sights, we’d have to call the H2O a “B” in terms of value.
September 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
The shotgun is seen by many as the best choice for personal defense and especially home defense. The most powerful portable shoulder-fired weapon used for self preservation, the 12-gauge shotgun offers a multiple-projectile load that has been proven effective in close-quarters defense. With slug loads, it is even suitable for defense against large, dangerous animals. In rural defense, there are plenty of deadly predators in the country, feral dogs, mountain lions, and other dangerous animals that only an aggressive counterattack will stop. But without proper firearm and load selection, as well as training, the shotgun will be underutilized. More than one citizen has defended himself with the shotgun, and common sense tells us that we should have one in the home.
In this test, the shotguns we chose are among the best in their price range. The choices range from a pedestrian bead-sighted model to a tactical model with an AR-15 type stock. While self-loaders rule the day at 3 Gun competitions and are very reliable, a dirty pump will work when a dirty automatic will not. We have seen self-loaders malfunction during our test programs, and we know the pump-action shotgun is relatively easy to master, as long as you get quality training so you’re confident in your skills and sure in your manipulation.
With this in mind, we chose three likely shotguns for home defense. The top end of the budget was $450, but we would prefer to spend less to get a good pump-action gun, if we could. We fired them with practice loads, home defense loads, good loads suitable for pest and predators, and slugs suitable for defense against large animals. We used five different loads for testing these shotguns. We tried to find the most economical offerings in bulk. This included the Fiocchi 12HV75 birdshot ($97 for 250 shotshells from CheaperThanDirt.com) Fiocchi 1-ounce Aero slugs ($8.10/10 from VenturaMunitions.com), Hornady 86240 Critical Defense 00 buckshot loads ($11.08/10 from CheaperThanDirt.com), Hornady’s Varmint Express, a load using 24 pellets at 1350 fps ($16/10 from Gandermountain.com), and Winchester 3-inch 12-gauge 00 buckshot loads (No. XB12300VB, $17/15 from CheaperThanDirt.com) This selection covered the likely uses for personal defense, predators, and even large animals. Each shotgun was fired with 50 birdshot shells, 10 of each of the buckshot loads, and 10 Fiocchi slugs, for a total of at least 90 shells per gun. This is punishing work and was not accomplished in a single range session. We fired mainly the light-kicking birdshot to learn how to function the guns quickly and determine their smoothness and ergonomics.
Here are the results.