Two of the most successful shotguns, the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870, are American designed and American built. The phrase riding shotgun comes from Stage Coach drivers armed with double barreled shotguns protected cargo and passengers across the American west. Shotguns serve en mass with our police forces and still have a place in the military.
Across the country the shotgun is one of the most popular firearms for everything from home defense to hunting. The shotgun has carved its own path in American culture and that is why the shotgun is distinctly American.
Two of the most popular styles of shotgun are semi-automatic and pump action. There is also double and single barrel shotguns, lever actions, bolt actions, and even the rare full automatic shotgun. Primarily though, the semi-auto and pump action dominate the shotgun industry. Each offers it’s pros and cons, and each fills its own niche.
Pump action shotguns like the Winchester 1300, Mossberg 500, Remington 870, and Ithaca 37 have filled the role of the shotgun for the police, military, and hunters and home defense enthusiasts. Pump action shotguns are manually operated weapons that use a sliding pump to eject and load another round.
Pump action shotguns are incredibly reliable due to their manual operation and rarely malfunction outside of user error. Pump actions do require a bit more training simply due to the fact the user must remember to full work the action to avoid a short stroke of their weapon. Pump action shotguns are capable of putting out a lot of firepower in a short period of time, but are nowhere near as fast as a semi-automatic shotgun.
Pump actions are also remarkably affordable. Foreign made clones of popular shotguns like Remington 870 can be had for less than 200 dollars. These shotguns may not be as durable or as wel built as a name brand but they often work enough for the user to get by.
Hunting with Pump Action Shotgun
Pump shotguns offer certain versatility when it comes to hunting. Capable of reliably cycling the lightest of loads birdshot or the heaviest loads of buckshot or slugs. A pump shotgun offers an excellent affordable option for hunters whose shotgun can change from a deer hunter to a squirrel hunter in seconds. Pump shotguns’ manual operation makes it utterly and completely reliable for taking that second shot.
In the close range environment of a home a shotgun is a fight stopping weapon. The pump shotgun’s reliability comes into effect here, as no one wants to clear a failure to feed or failure to eject in the middle of the night with a predator near. The biggest disadvantage is user error; if a user fails to properly pump the weapon they may be put at a disadvantage.
The pump shotgun has been the mainstay of the police and military for decades. Only recently has the military moved to a semi-auto shotgun, but they still issue pump shotguns. The pump shotgun has the advantage of being reliable with less than lethal loads which often do not cycle in a semi-automatic shotgun reliably. The reliability of the pump action with any load gives a distinct advantage in tactical situations.
Semi-automatic shotguns have been around for decades, the Browning A5 was one of the most popular shotguns in the early days of semi-autos. Some were even converted for military use in South Africa, especially Rhodesia. Semi-automatic shotguns take the firepower of a normal shotgun and multiply it by 2. A semi-automatic shotgun also greatly cuts down on the felt recoil of heavy and powerful buckshot loads since it requires some of the recoil or the gas to operate it.
Even though semi-automatic shotguns have been around for decades only within the last 10 to 12 years have they been applied to tactical situations in great numbers. The Marine Corps adopted q semi-automatic shotgun to fill the role of breacher and combat shotgun called the M1014 also known as the Benelli M4. SWAT teams across the country have also followed suit and adopted a variety of Benellis and more domestic semi-auto Remingtons and Mossbergs for entry teams.
Hunting with Semi Automatic Shotgun
The semi-auto shotgun has always been a niche hunting weapon. It’s added bulk and often more complicated mechanism has kept it out of the hands of deer and hog hunters, but it’s perfect for it’s niche. The semi-auto is no doubt the most capable bird and duck hunting weapon out there. The issue is the shotgun will often require heavier, more expensive, game loads to cycle properly.
Loaded with buckshot, most semi-auto shotguns will be 99% reliable. The heavier loads cycle more reliably than any buckshot. The Semi-auto is also an advantage for older or smaller people, or disabled persons. This is due to the less felt recoil of a semi-automatic, and the lack of any manual operation that may be difficult for elderly, disabled, or petite people.
The semi-automatic shotgun does sacrifice the use of less than lethal loads, as they do not cycle reliably. The advantage of more rounds on target in a shorter time period is always valued in a firefight. A semi-auto shotgun’s reduced recoil is another force multiplier.
Also, when met with the adrenaline of a close range firefight, fine motor skills tend to be reduced, meaning there exists a greater chance for user error with a manually operated shotgun. Of course you do lose versatility with a semi-automatic, but when it’s time to put warheads on foreheads, a semi-auto maybe the best choice.
Each shotgun action offers its own advantages and disadvantages in a variety of different functions. The main take away with weapon is too chose a platform and train with it, and train hard with it.
Being able to commit fully pumping a shotgun to muscle memory, or learning the malfunction drills for a semi-auto will be the key to success. Judge the advantages and disadvantages and decide what’s best for you, and train for it.