For the past several years, I have studied the world of shotguns very closely. Maybe I should say I have studied shotgun buyers and their preferences. At Nashville Gun & Knife, we take pride in our broad inventory of quality shotguns. I might add that quality and price don’t always track. In fact, some of the more modest priced guns may be among the most reliable and functional.
Well, that brings us to the pump shotgun. Maybe it is the fact that I began shooting my Dad’s Model 12 Winchester 20 gauge pump at the young age of 10. Yes, by today’s standards, that is too young to allow a kid to shoot a shotgun but we grew up fast in the 50’s. After all these years, however, I still appreciate the pump shotgun and, on occasion, treat myself to a fun afternoon remembering my childhood and shooting a round of clays with Dad’s old gun. That model 12 is now 93 years old according to Winchester’s serial number registry. It still looks good and performs perfectly.
They don’t make the Model 12 any more but the woods are full of good pump shotguns. The names have changed and a variety of manufacturers have cloned the old model 12. At Nashville Gun & Knife, we inventory a variety of great pump shotguns. They range in price from around $350 to a high of $850. What a deal!
Today, semi-automatics and the over-and-under shotguns are much more expensive starting around $1,000 and can go as high as $10,000 and higher (much higher). That makes a five hundred dollar (top of the line) pump seem like a real bargain.
But, the performance? Need I say “what a bargain” again? The pump shotgun when broken in and when operated by someone that is accustomed to shooting the pump will perform nearly as fast as a semi-automatic or an O/U and it will eat almost anything you feed it. Some of the modern semi-automatics can be a bit picky in their eating habits especially when you feed them light field loads. To meet the demands of the heavier shells produced today, many of the modern pumps can chamber 3” and 3 ½” shells. Winchester has actually taken the perfect design of the old Model 12 (in my opinion the perfect shotgun) and improved it by adding an inertia-inspired action. This increases the operating speed by assisting the shooter in cycling the shell. According to Winchester, a trained shooter can fire three times in ½ second. How is that for performance out of 100-year old technology?
Reliability? What can I say? I have been shooting Dad’s old Model 12 for almost 60 years and have never had to take it to a gunsmith. I have always kept it clean, oiled and stored it in a dry place, but functionally, it has performed perfectly with zero maintenance. Another vote for the reliable pump, just ask any cop about the performance of the 870 Remington. The 870 is the standard in law enforcement, in reliability and maneuverability.
The often ignored and forgotten left-handed shooter can take great comfort in knowing that the Browning BPS (pump shotgun) is truly an ambidextrous gun. With its bottom ejection port, the left-handed shooter does not have to deal with ejected shells flying in front of his face. Although the Browning is priced toward the higher end of the pump price range (around $700) you get Browning quality and a shotgun for the ages.
From the trenches of the World War I battlefield to the sands of Iran and Iraq, the pump has been a go-to combat weapon. It is equally at home in the woods and fields as the hunter’s companion and in the city streets as the policeman’s equalizer. The pump shotgun is the standard by which today’s performance guns should be measured. You only have to rack one and hear that unique sound and you will be hooked.
If you are looking for a great value in shotguns, don’t overlook the pump. You can buy top of the line performance for under $750.