Wecompared four 12-gauge pumpguns in in the October 2013 issue. They were the Benelli Super Nova Tactical No. 29155 pump-action 12 Gauge, $559, and 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. Following are excerpts from that test.
At a reader’s request, we selected several new models of self-defense shotguns that carry low to moderate price tags and pitted them against one of the popular veteran self-defense shotguns to see how they would perform.
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. 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.
It should be noted that all of the ammunition fired in the short-barreled shotguns produced quite a punch on both ends. These are not the type of firearms designed for extensive time on the firing range unless the shooter is immune from recoil.
Benelli Super Nova Tactical No. 29155 Pump-Action 12 Gauge, $559
A stalwart of self-defense shotguns, this was the model selected as the measuring tape for the less expensive versions that have recently hit the market. The heft and balance of the shotgun that sports an 18.5-inch barrel topped with an adjustable Ghost Ring sight was solid and comfortable. The Benelli was the heaviest of the test shotguns, weighing 7 pounds unloaded, and we particularly liked the feel of the grooved polymer forearm and pistol grip. The shotgun was very easy to control during rapid-fire testing.
Our test shotgun featured the optional three-dot tritium inserts for the Ghost Ring sights, and we found we could easily align the three dots for accurate placement of slugs on the paper targets. A magazine cut-off button on the underside of the forearm — a feature unique to Benelli — allowed for the chamber to be emptied without feeding another round from the magazine. That was another nice touch in a quality self-defense tool.
We did have a little concern about the amount of trigger pressure required to touch off a shot. Although a little gunsmith work would correct the problem, the out-of-the-box trigger pull of 8.75 pounds was too hefty for our tastes.
Patterning performance on the paper targets was about the same as the other shotguns. The average number of buckshot hits on the Bad Guy target was 23 and the smaller target average was 19. Slugs fired from 20 feet downrange always struck the head of the target, and a solid pattern of No. 6 pellets in the chest of the target was the result of every round of bird shot. The shotgun is chambered for 2-3/4, 3, and 3-1/2 inch shells. When cycling the rounds through the Benelli, we found that the shotgun functioned without a flaw even when different types of shells were fed into the magazine. We considered this a big plus in the dependability ranking.
Our Team Said: The Benelli lived up to its reputation and set a standard that allowed us to properly evaluate the test shotguns that carry a lower price tag. Those who don’t mind paying a little more for their peace of mind would not be disappointed with the Super Nova.