Why We Should All Have Pumpguns (101)....


Dave McCracken
October 14, 2004, 07:07 PM
Someone recently expressed surprise that pumps were still so popular. It seems to them that the plethora of good autos would have chased the trombone action into museums and off the range and out of the field. It hasn't happened and will not in the near future.

Here's why.

First, a little History. Semi Auto shotguns showed up in the field almost a century ago. Winchester's Model 1911 and the venerable Browning A-5 and its American made siblings from Savage and Remington were all in the fields before 1920.

Early autos were called "Jamamatics" by exasperated owners. They were ammo sensitive, dirt sensitive, lube sensitive, and tempermental as a Pop Diva. They had a tendency to lose their charging handles over deep mud and water. And, they were expensive.

Gradually, the makers came up with better autos, better ammo for them, and owners learned to make their cantankerous shotguns behave.

New autos are almost as reliable as pumpguns. The difference may be more philosophical than realistic, most can pass the 200 rounds of duty ammo sans glitches test once they are shot in a bit.

But even with reliability and the gas autos offering recoil reduction, there's still 3 or 4 pumps sold for every auto. Partly that's price, most 870s run less than $500 and many less than $300,new. New autos leave little change from a grand,and some run more.

Remington's 870 is the most made civilian firearm with over 8 million units sold. That's more than the 98K Mauser, the Garand, the M-14, and some less than the AK.

Working life of an 870 seems to be roughly 250,000 rounds. That's no misprint.

Given one can purchase many 870s for around $250, cost per round before the receiver cracks runs $0.001.That's Cost Effective, one can buy a shotgun capable of generations of use for less than a week's pay.

It's durable and economical, you concede. But how about versatility?

One 870 here is a parts gun. Its receiver and some other parts first worked at the MD Pen, 954 Forrest Ave, Baltimore Md. With two barrels, a handful of choke tubes,it's capable of doing well on sporting clays, gone 50 straight at trap, taken birds from quail to grouse to geese, shoots slugs into 3" at 50 yards and can serve well for HD. That enough?

How about ergonomics?

Many 870 triggers compare favorably with centerfire rifles. Three here are at 4 lbs or less, better than many Savage 110s and newer Winchesters. Heck, the heaviest 870 pull here is about that on my Post 64 Model 94, and it's had a trigger job.

Few autos have good triggers. Seminole and Angle Port will tweak your 391 trigger to 3 1/2 lbs, but tis costly. Allen Timney has made a good living getting 1100 triggers as good as 870s are from the factory.

As for fit, no auto is easier to fine tune fit on than an 870. The shim kits that come with Beretta and Benelli autos duplicate the homemade jobs done by trap shooting pump gunners since the 30s. More stocks are available for the 870 in aftermarket goodies than any auto, and one can buy anything from a top folder to marblecake walnut made to your dimensions. Wenig will sell you a roughed out blank to whittle into shape and Boyd's has a Nutmeg grain laminate thumbhole set if you really want one.

Weight is a mixed blessing in shotguns, as anyone who had touched off a turkey load in a 7 lb shotgun can testify to. Gas autos carry more weight forward due to the gas system under the barrel and run heavier overall for the most part. That extra will not be welcome some eve 3 ridges away from the truck. And the extra weight forward handicaps smaller folks.

Pumps have a simple MOA, both to learn and to teach. They're easy to make safe after firing, easy to load and unload without chambering live ammo, and do not require 3 hands to do so. And use after a few hundred or thousand rounds verges on being instinctive. 870s are good pointers.

While I've focussed on the 870 here, all this applies to the other good pumps.

Questions, comments, donations?....

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October 14, 2004, 08:08 PM
I have 5 pumps and 2 auto's. Pumps are more cost effective and more reliable. Your post is very well written.:)

Headless Thompson Gunner
October 14, 2004, 08:14 PM
You make a compelling argument for pump shotguns over automatics. But why should I own any shotgun at all? My rifles and pistol seem to serve all of my needs adequately.

(I'm not trying to be argumentative here. I'm genuinely curious. Think of it as providing a good excuse for me to buy another gun)

October 14, 2004, 08:39 PM
You make a compelling argument for pump shotguns over automatics. But why should I own any shotgun at all? My rifles and pistol seem to serve all of my needs adequately.

If your rifles and pistols serve all your needs you dont need a shotgun.

But if you want to shoot skeet, trap, or hunt birds please get a shotgun!!! Do not fire your rifles and pistols in the air at birds :D If you have friends that like guns you should all go shoot trap. Its fun and another cool thing to do with guns and friends.

October 14, 2004, 09:12 PM
You make a compelling argument for pump shotguns over automatics. But why should I own any shotgun at all? My rifles and pistol seem to serve all of my needs adequately.

Look at it this way. Most shotguns will do everything your rifles and pistol will do, plus shoot skeet, trap, sporting clays and bird hunt. They are not a superb long range machine that a rifle can be, but many places don't allow rifles for deer hunting. Some shotguns are capable of 2.5" groups at 150yards.

Ultimately this will give you another excuse to buy another gun. :D

I have put tens of thousands of rounds through rifles and pistols, but I have put hundreds of thousands of rounds through shotguns. I think shooting little clay disks or birds on the wing much funner than punching holes in paper with a rifle or pistol. There are many action shooting sports that I have never had the opportunity to try that may be funner, but they may end up being more expensive. :)

October 14, 2004, 09:14 PM
Good post Dave! My collection is split pretty well between pumps and autos, and I shoot both with regularity. For games, I typically choose an auto, but for hunting I tend to prefer a pump.

Here's why...

I hit game with them better. If the gun fit is good, the first shot is a toss-up. First round hits are probably the same. However, I find that I often throw the second shot away with the auto. This is especially true when I've just chased an energetic lab a couple hundred yards after a leggy rooster. With a pump-gun, there is a more noticable break between the shots, and that extra time forces me to make a totally different (and better) shot. The auto allows me to throw one bad shot immediately after another. IIRC some guy named Brister had a similar observation.

I also like the visual certainty of seeing a pump's action open. It's not as readily apparent as an opened O/U or SxS, but it's close. An auto will require a closer look.

There's also a certain intangible to it, akin to driving a manual transmission over an auto. I feel more a part of the process.

Also, at the end of the hunt, or while taking a break, it's generally a little easier to unload (assuming you're not shooting Correia's Saiga ;) ).

Last, but most certainly not least...

Dad shot a Model 12. :D :D

October 14, 2004, 09:25 PM
Yeah Yeah!!!


October 14, 2004, 10:23 PM
That's why I just bought an 870 an hour ago! My first shotgun, and the first long gun in my collection that wasn't inheirited but purchased. Now, tomorrow my neighbor's taking me to the range to help me figure out what kind of rifle to get...


(And, oh yeah. None of the boys at the gun counter batted an eye at this city girl shopping for her own personal shotty).

October 14, 2004, 11:37 PM
But somehow we have managed to let 4 pumps (but not a single 870) sneak in the house. I blame it on the wife since 3 of them belong to her. But even tho' I don't care for them, I always recomend the 870 for new shooters. I doubt very seriously if there is a more suited weapon for all around use. Eventually I'll have to break down and buy an 870, just so I can say I have one. As far as autos go, the only one I can see myself buying is a nice Sweet 16, but I sure want one of those bad.

October 14, 2004, 11:47 PM
I've only shot a few semi-auto's and I don't have anything disparaging to say about them. My experience overall is far to limited.

In terms of track record, aftermarket support, and options available I think the 870 is in a league of it's own. It may not always be the best answer for all occasions, but it will fit into more categories and score well in them then any other shotgun.

That being said, I have 3 shotguns (all riot guns) and not one 870. I'm looking at a long barrel to shoot skeet with and while a 870 would do nicely, I've been eyeing some Ithaca 37's and a few '97's I've seen at the local shop....:)

Dave, thanks for another great post.

October 14, 2004, 11:59 PM
Another tour de force Dave!

I was overall .. re trap and skeet ... O/U oriented. My Hunter was the tops ... and even now I am very fond of my Baikal.

However ... the pump somehow has a superior place in the shottie scheme of things .... my old Rem 1100 when I had it was nice but .. somehow never something I trusted fully.

Now, having Mossy, Ted Williams and 870 ... I am way more pump oriented .. as much as anything ... shere reliability.

Good post Sir! :)

October 15, 2004, 12:27 AM
Dave - Great Post!

October 15, 2004, 12:32 AM
(And, oh yeah. None of the boys at the gun counter batted an eye at this city girl shopping for her own personal shotty).

Congrats! You don't know how happy that makes me feel. :D

Zak Smith
October 15, 2004, 12:32 AM

My background is shooting a lot of 3Gun. The most popular shotgun is the Benelli M1S90 with a 20" bbl, capacity 9, autoloader, inertia operated. Unlike gas guns, these run as clean as a pump and are super-reliable as long as you're shooting 1 1/8oz or heavier. I shoot AA127's exclusively and it runs 100%.

Getting to my point: I see more people with pumps have operator-induced malfunctions due to short-stroking or double-stroking than I see mechanical malfunctions in the M1S90's.


October 15, 2004, 12:49 AM
Well, my first shotgun was a Winchester 1200 pump that I got used at a gun show. People on the internet told me after I bought it that the series has a problem of breaking or something, but thousands of rounds later, it still gets it done, and smoothly too. Last year I started shooting trap using an 1100 and I really like it. It was made in 1957 and I was the first to shoot it last year (borrowing it from my grandfather).

So I can't tell you which one I like better. I can tell you which one I'd throw in the mud and then use, or the one that has nice engraving and the better trigger. I've been thinking about getting a skeet barrel for the 1100, but my pump will work for now. I've got a rule that I have to break 25 a few times in either trap or skeet before I go looking for a new shotgun! Happened once a few weeks ago in trap, gonna be a long time in skeet.

October 15, 2004, 12:59 AM
I think, maybe, if I could only own one firearm for the rest of my life, it would probably be an 870. Not ideal for CCW or long-range zombies, but it reliably covers a whole lot of the middle part of the spectrum of potential uses.

October 15, 2004, 01:06 AM
I contend a lot of errors are more of a training problem. Training in use , maintanence for starters. Add the gun fit and really basic - what ammo?

Kids do not learn how to drive a standard transmisson, they often are not trained to , or trianed / taught change a flat, check the oil...They have "idiot" lights that come on to advise the air pressure is low on a tire, the oil needs changing...

Back in the day the Skeet shooters used Pump guns in all 4 gauges. Fred Misseldine used the Win 1300 in all 4 gauges. The load was 1 1/8 oz at 3 drs or more.

When I competed , I used the Pump even for stuff besides the "pump gun fun shoots".

I still think the Win SX1 is the finest gas gun / semi auto made. The SX2 is close, still not a SX1 tho'

I saw the transitions ,and the Folks that NEW HOW TO SHOOT - TRAINED TO SHOOT could run a gun, and keep it running. The boys with toys...still had problems.

The fella that challenged me not long ago , his "brand name gun" would not run the ammo. MY SX1 did, and for damn sure my Pump did.

For me - I have always had a certain attitude and perpective about shooting. Be it for clay games ,or the Serious Situations I have survived. Just the way I was raised.

At 49 I have entered another dimension . CRSam and some others and I have discussed it, and understand. I have "fired a few" shot shells downrange....just gimmee some kind of shotgun and if I can see it - it's down.

I have used and can use a black "T" gun all tricked out that cost too much....But for Gawds sake - if stuff is that serious , someone toss me Blue and Wood 12 ga Pump Please ! Model 97, Model 12 , 870 , Ithaca 37, 1300...I have my druthers...

That or my SX1 or one like mine.

I like surviving, I know from training and experince that I "earned" ...not because I plunked down money or some magazine,or some agencey said so and so ...

Yeah I know my attitude sucks and I'm wrong. I am hard- headed, onery and a PITA. Getting older and this dimension dealie - I don't care. I "earned " the right to be wrong. I have survived tho' when the elephant came calling.

October 15, 2004, 03:59 AM

What do you estimate the service life of a Mossy 500/590?

Dave McCracken
October 15, 2004, 06:47 AM
Thanks for the responses, folks, Obviously, lots of us have opinions on this.

A couple things...

Lupine,congrats on your purchase. Take care of it and your descendants will thnak you for it. Now go BA/UU/R.

TR, Brister echoed Rudy Etchen about the pump action being more effective because of that pause. I know I can get off an effective second shot faster than many auto owners.

Zak," Super reliable as long as you're shooting 1 1/8 oz or heavier"...

My point exactly. 870s eat the marvelously effective 1 oz and 7/8 oz loads also. Benellis are nice shotguns, but they're limited to a smaller part of the ammo spectrum. That 50 straight, BTW, was with 7/8 oz loads.

Headless, you really need a reason? Get an 870, learn to shoot it and note all the fun you're having...

CZ, my misgivings about the 1200 are limited to neglected and abused agency weapons. Given a modicum of care, they hold up well.

sm, Misseldine could have shot anything, including Perazzis. He shot 1300s and beat lots of folks with "Better" shotguns."It ain't the gun"...

Loudernhel,my SEG would be 50-100K. Of course, that depends on ammo. Light loads would be more towards 6 figures. While Mossies are not my forte, I think a 590 will hold up longer than a 500.

And finally, this is not to dump on other shotguns. Shoot what you want to, just be aware of the options.....

October 15, 2004, 07:48 AM
Very well put Dave.

Al Thompson
October 15, 2004, 07:54 AM
One aspect touched on but not explored is the famous "Dave McC "chops"". I've found that getting used to one or the other (pump v. auto) is pretty important for me. Having drug Dad's old 1100 out for some skeet after a long period of not shooting it, I like to attempt to pump it after the first shot. Looks pretty funny... :D

The versatility in ammo is important to me as well. I really like the ability to use bird, buck or slug in the same platform with no adjustments or operating concerns. In my home, that's pretty critical as one 870 is stoked with #2 bird shot and my M37 is stoked with #4 buck - different loads for different engagement zones.

October 15, 2004, 07:57 AM
Good post Dave. I give you a 3 pump gun salute. While I don't own an 870 (2 1300s, and a 590) I concede that the Remington is a better gun with better availability of accessories.

October 15, 2004, 07:58 AM
Dave, you forgot one very important thing.

Auto shotguns do not make that great, wonderful CLACK-CLACK sound.


October 15, 2004, 08:08 AM
With a 3" magnum receiver, my 870 takes on everything from woodcock to deer, with pheasant, turkey, and clays in between. All it takes is a barrel change-out. No concerns with gas ports or metering and light vs. heavy loads. Cheaper on the wallet than specialized guns for each pursuit.

Whole Hog
October 15, 2004, 10:00 AM
Excellent post Dave.

Although I own several shotguns, most of my shooting has been with just two - an 870 Wingmaster I bought in 1980 and a Citori Lightning I bought about 10 years ago. I've been using the Citori almost exclusively since I got it, for dove, quail, and sporting clays and I'm completely satisfied with it. But a few months ago, at our monthly Quail Unlimited SC shoot, I was talking with another guy who'd started out with an 870 and we both decided that we'd bring ours out the next month and see how we could do. Long story short, I shot one of my best scores, 40/50, and had a ball. That 870 fits me perfectly (or vice versa), works like a champ, and it's fun hearing someone behind me say "He works that thing pretty fast, don't he?".

I think maybe I'll be shooting it a little more in the future.


October 15, 2004, 03:41 PM
I'll second Zaks posts. In the 5 shotgun classes I have taken, I have seen numerous short shuck malfunctions by student and instructor alike under pressure.

Under pressure is the key word. Under pressure, good trained people screw up. None of us are perfect. The Benelli M1S90 is more reliable under stress in the real world in my experience.

Oh, in every shoot off I have participated in, I am almost twice as fast as every 870. Not even close.

October 15, 2004, 04:11 PM
I think a pump is more cost effective than an auto and that is enough to sway a lot of people. I have a Model 97 Win pump and a Beretta auto as welll as a O/U Browning so I can multitask. :D

Duke of Lawnchair
October 15, 2004, 04:29 PM
Sounds like an 870 Infomercial


October 15, 2004, 04:47 PM
I have my druthers....

I still contend training is a BIG Factor. NO matter the platform. Jerry M shoots a revolver better and faster than folks with semi's.

BA/ UU/ R is a big reason why.

Same applies to pressures on various uses for the shotgun. Folks get buck fever , and flat forget to take off safety - on any SG platform , even on the single shot, they forget to cock the hammer.

I have shot pumps and semis with the safeties removed on purpose. Don't fuss, perfectly safe and allowed on the ranges. We advised the Ref, RO and SO just as one would using release triggers...

Like Al trying to pump a 1100, or folks trying to pump my SX1, I have by habit tried to "snick" a non- existent safety on one of these guns without a safety when I have bird hunted with one of these guns.

If you ever see me shoot a Revolver, you will see I "snick" off the non- existent safety as well ....1911s and training causes that.

I have done the "sand test" and other stuff with handguns. I have also performed the sand test with my SX1...yep it ran. I have run that gun in the mud, snow, sand, dirt....against other shooters when I partcipated in some events.

I have done the same with pump guns. I take this stuff very serious - I want to know what will work in the real world.

Some folks get all a flutter when I "dunk and swish" the mud out of a model 97, model 12, Ithaca 37, 1300, 870....even a SX1.

"Not gonna stick my [ enter brand name here] in the creek, lake, resevior ..."

Fine - that is their choice...

For ME as the song says I play for keeps or I might not make it back

I like a variety of platforms, I have my reasons , I have my druthers.

For defense I prefer to load slugs only . I have been know to load 11/16 oz for upland hunting , been know to load up a mild 3/4 oz load in 12 ga for a new shooter, especially a petite lady or tyro .

I ruined one 870 bbl once upon a time in a training deal. The name of the game was to survive, I used the muzzle against the steel plate to "defend myself".

Not a game, but training for real life . The trainer wanted to see what I would do, how I would adapt....he never thought , with no other choices allowed, I would actually " attack the steel that hard". Well ...you do what you gotta do - so I did.

I busted a set of wood stocks on a 1911 in similar fashion as well.

Maybe you trap fellows are correct . Us Skeet shooters are plum loco....I mean we do stand out in the middle with targets coming at us.


Any tool or piece of equipment is only as good as the Operator.

October 15, 2004, 04:54 PM
If you ever see me shoot a Revolver, you will see I "snick" off the non- existent safety as well :uhoh: I would get untrained if I started going that wrong. :uhoh:

October 15, 2004, 05:12 PM

Do tell us more of your training episodes. That was quite interesting

October 15, 2004, 05:23 PM
Do tell us more of your training episodes. That was quite interesting

Now you did it, :D you'll get him started. :uhoh:


October 15, 2004, 05:38 PM

and what is this sand test?

Dave McCracken
October 15, 2004, 07:40 PM
Thanks, folks. Another coupla things....

I wonder just how different my life would have been if Pop had gifted me with an 11-48 autoloader in 1959 instead of that field grade 870 goose whacker.

Re autos for games rather than pumps, possibly Zak and Dave are correct.It's not my experience, but I'm out of that loop now. I do note that when it's for real and things may get dangerous, pumps are the weapons of choice for dang near everyone. And while I make no claim of knowing all the professionals in the field, those that I do know have well worn and effective pumpguns.

And, in dusty, sandy conditions(Like say, Baghdad) I opine that pumps would keep working well after autos stop. I bet our troops there will have some input when they get back.

And, I didn't start this thread just to dump on anyone's choice. If it's your butt on the line, you have the right to pick your equipment. I'm just explaining why I choose as I do.

Larry Ashcraft
October 15, 2004, 08:46 PM
One thing not mentioned is transitioning between autos and pumps. It didn't work for me, but I only hunt with a shotgun so I don't shoot nearly as much as some of you do.

I grew up with pumps, J.C. Higgins, Rem. Model 10, Ithaca 37. Then I bought a Mohawk 48 with a modified choke and hunted with it for a few years. It worked well on upland game but left a little to be desired for waterfowl. Instead of spending $60 for a new barrel, I bought an Ithaca 37 in full choke for $100.

It didn't work. I was either trying to yank the forend off of the Remington, or simply keep pulling the trigger on the Ithaca. Couldn't remember which gun I had.

I finally sold the Ithaca, let my son use the Remington, and bought a Citori.

October 15, 2004, 08:57 PM
But for serious social work, the 870 sits next to my nightstand. ;)

October 15, 2004, 09:21 PM

If Dave and other mods will allow – I will address the questions if I may.

I was born you might say in a environment that BGs wanted what we had access to. When I born in ’55; awaiting my arrival home was a loaded .22 revolver, I learned to shoot with that revolver. I remember “helping” my grandmother shoot that High Standard Sentinel at age 3 . At age 6 I shot my first center-fire handgun , a Gov’t 1911 in .45 ACP. "Gunny" at the NG taught me.

Shotguns and Rifles came very very soon afterwards.

My mentors had served in Conflicts, in various branches of the Military. Firearms and Firearm safety were part of what a family and circle of friends taught, and practiced. Firearms could be purchased by filing out a postcard, and paying COD when the postman delivered it to one’s door.

No pieces of paper giving permission to carry a handgun, we all did it, personal responsibility for one’s self and family. Men, women and kids, made no nevermind, no big deal to see a gun in purse, on a man’s hip, a kid walking down the street or riding a bike. Vehicles, be it the back seat or gun rack…and yes , the guns were always loaded.

In the home...damn skippy the guns were loaded and handy, even with us all kids.

To paraphrase Mark Twain: Nothing more dangerous than an unloaded gun.

Now I had Folks that served in Korea, Vietnam and some could not tell me where they had served or what they had done, teach me. Teach me to SURVIVE at all costs.

Repetition becomes faith – faith becomes habit.

I made a decision at a very very young age to stay with a few platforms, as taught and suggested. I made MY decision based on gun fit to me, what I could manipulate under stress and get quick accurate hits. I have stayed with these, these being the 1911, the BHP and S&W revolver – especially the K frames.

My choices on Shotguns and Rifles are based on the same thought and training process.

I refuse to own a DA/ SA, I refuse to own a slide mounted safety on a handgun. I " finally " accepted the DAO...it is a revolver with a magazine , and yeah, I 'snick" off the non- existent safety on it too. Simple Green and Windex bottles have a staight finger off trigger ...and before getting horizontal with target ....I snick them off too...

When my elders and mentors whom had survived, taught me , from real life experiences – I paid real close attention.

For instance , when I draw a handgun , by habit I come to horizontal to target – the safety is snicked off a 1911 or BHP. This same repetitive motion on a K frame revolver has NO ill effect on the K frame and the ability for me to hit target. I shoot Semi’s and Revolvers the same way, it is called “high thumbs” today.

When a Helicopter pilot and crew is downed in SE Asia and Charlie is coming to get ‘em, hurt , bloody and praying for the Calvary ( literally ) to save their bacon….A Government Model, a Model 66 and a Model 19 all “operate the same” . The man with the injured right hand , from training with his weak hand , did not miss a beat snicking off that safety with an index finger….they didn’t issue ambi-safeties.

The Ithaca 37 and Model 12 kept tossing slugs , even with the mud and debris from the Rice Paddy. A Leather Handled K-Bar will stop Charlie at contact distance…and still open the C rations later….damn P 38’s …never around when you need one.

I took up skeet to be a better bird hunter. I enjoyed the competition, I have a competitive nature. I had fun at that GAME but I took it very serious, sometimes too much. 16 practice rounds in one day, 25K rds of 12ga alone in one year- for many years , for example.

My elders, mentors, said that it most likely won’t be sunshine and 70* when the elephant comes. So that means me and the firearms most likely will be subjected to elements. One has to KNOW the person and the firearm will work.

You pour sand down a 1911 and shoot it. Same with a long gun , in this case a shotgun. You toss your sidearm and shotgun in mud puddle and have it stepped on, you have to wade or swim a body of water and shoot.

My mentors didn’t play games with me. “ Train for the worst and hope for the best, and more important train to NOT get in the situation in the first place".

Only rules – the 4 rules of safety. I may have my gun ( s) taken away and loaded for me. That target was trying to kill me, I had to survive. My gun may not have been loaded, the mags may have dummy rounds….

They may “tether” me to make me fall and stumble by pulling on the rope( s) They may throw sticks and tennis balls at me, they may shoot blanks all around me, they may bind my arm, or leg to simulate a injury…. It sucks to have tether tied to a sling and have it yanked out of one's hands to simulate getting caught on something...., gun ( a 1300) survived that fall okay. 1300s being used as a club will break the stock at the wrist tho'....oh well , I "survived"....gun stocks can be replaces and finishes - refinished better than my body .....

Whatcha gonna do to survive Steve?

Dave mentioned “ being out of the loop”

I have participated in 2 and 3 gun events I have partcipated in IDPA an IPSC – I choose to not continue to participate in IDPA, IPSC, 3 gun for a reason. I have played games, skeet, 5 stand sporting clays and live pigeon. I made friends, I had fun, I was good enough to win.

Back to training-

We will start not knowing what the stage is. I have been led to the starting area blindfolded, my guns loaded for me. At the sound of a blank pistol, I turn strong side with shotgun in hand and scan…and have a target coming at me, like a Tueller Drill…I cannot make it to cover, I have to shoot. Yes you can engage a target from low ready with a shotgun and get 3 hits in the time it takes that target to reach you from 21 steps. I've done it many times with a pump. I have done it with a Semi , SX1, 1100, Beretta 303 for example as well.

I can do it with a model 94 in 30 -30 as well.

We do this with single shots, O/U and SxS as well...I can get a single shot off from a single, two for sure from a double gun ...and not too shabby on getting two more stuffed in the chambers like on a Safari as I haul butt for cover...the SxS is far more easier for me btw to reload like this.

Another “stage” ( if you will) I have been handed a “baby” and in the processes of trying to unlock the vehicle, I am fired at….Well unlike the groceries , I can’t very well drop the baby now can I ? You better have a weak side BUG, because most likely that baby is gonna be placed in your strong side arm.

I don’t expect folks to understand , or agree. It might perhaps explain the reason why I choose the platforms I do. Why I have punched a steel target with my shotgun muzzle and ruined it, why I broke stocks on a 1911, not allowed to have a BUG, or a knife and only 1 rd loaded in the mag for me, why I busted the stocks on a K frame the same way…

Explains why the “old farm” truck had banged up ( moreso) bumpers from “moving” the vehicles fore and aft to get away at a "stoplight"….or the deep gash on a door from the vehicle trying to box me in “ a parking spot”. I got out of there - fast!

Yep – I shot the windows out of a “vehicle” …I saw no need to expose myself anymore than needed to get a shot(s) off….shortest distance is a straight line…it is said. Do you know what vehicle glass does when slugs are fired through them at contact distance? I do. Ever fired your shotgun under a "vehicle" ....how about your handguns for CCW?

Someday I will perhaps have the money to attend a Awerbuck Class. Heck- I’d like to have the money to afford some of his books.

Until I can be taught – Correctly – I guess I’ll continue to be wrong.

kudu - warned you folks.


October 16, 2004, 12:40 AM


October 16, 2004, 07:38 AM

See, I warned you all about sm. :neener:


Seriously though, good post sm. ;)

October 16, 2004, 10:48 AM
It seems to me that sometimes the point in these threads gets lost. It's not about which gun is better -- pump or semi -- but about understanding the pluses and minuses of a certain type.

There's no free lunch. If you own a pump gun you get simplicity, reliability in extreme conditions or when neglected, affordability and ability to use the full spectrum of ammunition. The price you pay is a requirement to put the time in to learn the system until it is at least second nature if not instinctive.

With a semi-auto you give up some of the pump gun's benefits in return for a system that is less dependent on the ability of the operator. If you are not going to shoot a pump gun often but can keep a gun clean and properly lubricated and don't need to have the ability to shoot less-lethal ammunition then a semi-auto is a better choice.

Both systems have their place and each has advantages and drawbacks. Although I shoot mostly o/u, my 870 gets to the range at least once a month for clays, paper targets and steel. I love my target shotguns but when something growls near the horse barn in the dead of night, it's my synthetic 870 that gets the nod.

I use the 870 because I am confident in the gun and my ability to use it. Were I not a regular shooter or a hunter who went out for ducks maybe once or twice a year my choice would be a semi-auto. If the approach is clean it, load it and leave it then I'd want a Benelli with full power ammunition.

Whether to choose a pump or semi depends who is asking the question and how the question is being answered.


Little Loudmouth
October 16, 2004, 11:44 AM
I hear ya Dave! I love my J.C. pump. I like the reliability and design. Plus, who can resist that "cha-chik" sound of the action?

Dave McCracken
October 16, 2004, 01:55 PM
"There's no free lunch, If you own a pump gun you get simplicity,reliability in extreme conditions or when neglected,affordability and the ability to use the full spectrum of ammunition"...

Amen, Paul.

"The price you pay.....". Expertise is a given for success with any weapon system.

I'm no bigot. I like all shotguns, more or less. I just happen to think that pumpguns cover a lot of territory, providing fun, food and protection for a pittance of money and a moderate investment in time. Once any shotgunner has a few pumpguns, he/she can diversify and I'll not cavil.

White Knight,esthetics are totally subjective. I happen to think your shotgun's pretty. So are most of mine, though Frankenstein's beauty takes time to appreciate. Others may disagree.

LLM, thanks. Try to wear that JC out, I dare ya....

October 16, 2004, 03:05 PM
Steve ..... Kudu was right!! - but .... from me too - thanks. Enjoyed that.:)

October 17, 2004, 08:39 PM
With a semi-auto you give up some of the pump gun's benefits in return for a system that is less dependent on the ability of the operator.

Let's be frank, here. If the pump action were the be-all and end-all of action types, wouldn't there be a heckuva lot more pump action rifles? :D

A semi is faster for the average shooter. I shoot skeet and trap all the time, and even with the fastest shucking I can manage, Bob's Stoeger 2000 still brings up that second round faster than I can. Ditto for O/U and SxS shotguns.

Some people may be able to pull off Ed McGivern-type speed with their pump actions, but we aren't all Ed McGivern, and thus just as many of us don't cary SA revolvers for defense, many people prefer the speed of a semi, O/U, or SxS.

Having to work the action forcefully for reliable operation can also be a liability if one of your hands/arms is hurt. While this scenario may be a bit unlikely, so is the scenario where you don't have access to appropriate loads for cycling a semi (the loads Zak mentioned can be found in practically any Wally World, skeet clubhouse, or gun shop).

I'm a proud owner of an 870 Express 20 gauge, and proud, soon-to-be owner of an 870 Express Turkey 12 gauge. MY personal choice is a pump action for all the fine reasons listed in the thread - but I concur with Zak Smith in that the pump ain't a perfect fit for everyone.

October 18, 2004, 01:59 AM
I like sm's term of "few platforms", and i think I've less consciously done the same. I'm in the process of purchasing my first shotgun-a Mossberg 500A-for $99 used. A pump is simply more affordable, especially used, and more likely to be in good shape, too. I've got a couple Mosin/Nagant rifles-Russian-tough bolt actions. And a revolver. And a lever action. Simple stuff.

I'd like to know how to fix and maintain my own weapons, and since I'll NEVER be a gunsmith, then KISS is the the plan. I'd hate to have to repair a gas gun on my own, but a pump I could maybe learn.

Dave McCracken
October 18, 2004, 06:19 AM
Mulliga, head for the woods in PA on opening day and see how many pump rifles you run across. Actually, the pump design doesn't do that well with high pressure ammo.A pump rifle in 300 Mag overbuilt to the same degree as an 870 would weight 10 lbs sans scope and ammo.

Ed McGivern did much of his work with S&W double actions.

Appropriate loads for cycling a semi may be more than we need at times. I busted plenty of clays yesterday with 7/8 and 1 oz loads. I even got to touch one off in a fairly new Benelli Super Sport. Didn't eject, though the clay busted hard. BTW, I like the Benelli.

I don't think pumps are perfect for everyone and everything. I do think they have a lot to offer.

For the obtuse, the title of the thread was written with my tongue firmly inserted in my cheek.

AntiB, since few things ever go wrong with pumps, you may not get much chance to learn.

I like the few platform approach myself.

October 18, 2004, 06:25 AM
Now I had Folks that served in Korea, Vietnam and some could not tell me where they had served or what they had done, teach me. If that's the case, question anything else they told you. Because no one in the military who had a real-world clandestine job didn't also have a cover story -which is always true and easily verified. So if they can't tell you what they did - implying it was classified - it's usually the sign of a poser or wannabe.

October 18, 2004, 09:15 AM
I think we got Chuck Taylor incognito on the board.

October 18, 2004, 10:29 AM
That comment was not appreciated.

Perhaps they chose to not re-live the hell they had been exposed to, Perhaps with the attitude of being spit on and called baby killers when they returned from 'Nam. Who Knows, some stuff is personal and not my business.

I know I learned some years laters some worked what they did, at the time they did not reveal what they did.

Just like some friends whom kids served in Desert Storm, did not know where their kids were at times. My Cousin, does not know where exactly his two boys are in the Conflicts now. One does work Intelligence , he has no idea 'where' right ths minute.

We have folks that work[ed] Intelligence, as UC in LEO, or Exceutive Protection and they don't go around advertising.

NO disrespect to our own Sean Smith,Pat Rogers, and others on this board- but I don't recall them sharing what all they did, what all they do either.

October 18, 2004, 10:52 AM

Agreed. I too know people who are most definitely special ops/intel people who cannot talk about what they do or where they do it. They do have the bullet holes and scars though, tend to be so fit it makes me sick and frequently come back with the most wonderful exotic gifts for their wives. Recently Persian rugs as an example. Mmmmmm.

I have met lots of gunshop commando's but I have met people who are most definitely the real deal and as far as I am concerend they are usually pretty easy to differentiate.


Ohh yeah. I "heart" my Marine Magnum. Just to keep things on topic. What a spectacular gun.


October 18, 2004, 11:06 AM

What's the wood stock one , at the very top, ? :)

Yes those MM are great guns. They don't seem to get the recognition they deserve it seems. Granted - I live in AR, folks do use on / around the rivers, lakes and such. Don't get used for Doves, Duck Hunting much tho':p

I know from experience the MM won't float - don't matter if the word "Marine" is in the name. :uhoh: "ker-plunk" :p

Seems to me Ala Dan " kinda" likes his too. :p

October 18, 2004, 11:13 AM
The wood stocked shotty above them is an old Winchester Ranger, 140 I believe, that I got for a song at a flee market. It is a 20 gauge, pretty nice semi-auto. Would make a decent bird gun I would think.

The picture was only the evil shotguns. I have a thing for evil shotguns. Although a Beretta AL391 is on my list. Love those things.

The sad thing is, some idiot, somewhere, probably thought their Marine Magnum or Mossberg Marine could actually float. You know those people are out there. :D

October 18, 2004, 11:24 AM
Well , there was a beaver dam, some stuff that blows stuff up, a johnboat that would not cooperate, hip boots , snakes and a buddy that was "not helping".

I have to admit the MM cleaned up quicker than I did .

Hip boots tend to get stuck in muddy bottoms...yeah like I was really gonna be able to swim with 'em on.

If there is a bar ditch, I will find it. If there is deeper "spot" I'll find it....won't me take long either...and sometimes , I have to "re-check" ....just to make sure and all.


October 18, 2004, 11:28 AM
Sounds like me and potholes.

October 18, 2004, 03:30 PM
although the pump may not be the "be all/end all" of action types, as far as rifles are concerned, bolts and levers are still manually cycled actions.
a pump just happens to be the manual action of choice on a repeater for shotguns. there are alot of guys out there who would prefer a bolt or lever for an all around rifle due to simplicity. myself included.

as for speed of follow up shots, i'll leave that argument to the guys that may be able to produce the results. i can see a semi's advantage in this area, especially in a rifle. although i really like levers.

i think i'd rather have to rack the slide one-handed if injured than try and clear a jam.

and for the dreaded SHTF situation, i want a 12 gauge that can fire any ammo i can get my hands on.

just my thoughts


October 18, 2004, 08:14 PM

Once you own Browning semi auto's, the argument for pumps can easily fall on deaf ears. About the only attractive part of the argument besides using a pump for HD and specialized hunting applications, is price. :)

Fred Fuller
October 18, 2004, 11:04 PM
Thanks, Dave and all. Good thread.

Been thinking about history lately, due to a couple of questions from other places, and it strikes me that a whole lot of modern folk don't realize just how good we got it these days by comparison. One of the questions prompted me to dig out my 1996 copy of the 1994 West Point tape series on the history of small arms by then- MAJ Art Alphin (later of A-Squared) and watch most of the 6 hours again for review. (Gotta get that on DVD, the VHS ain't gonna last...)

One of the interesting phrases that has survived into modern abuse is "heavily armed." Think about that a bit. Not too many dozens of years ago, that meant pretty much exactly what it said. A man who might need to fire several shots in quick succession pretty much had to have a separate (single shot) firearm for each of those shots. I remember reading descriptions of early Western travelers being laden with hardware, to include substantial knives as well. Those were the days of muzzle loading flintlocks, complicated and often unreliable.

But progress was made.

Through a long series of inventions and improvements to inventions we came to have self contained reliable cartridges. We came to have reliable repeating firearms designs to use them in. We should all be so deeply grateful to the long line of inventors who brought us to where we are.

A singularly American preference developed around the pump shotgun. That could not have happened without standardized, reliable ammunition to feed the guns and without dependable designs to utilize the ammunition. When those two factors came together the results were absolutely revolutionary and changed the firearms world forever. These new shooting machines could thunder repeatedly at game animals, interloping predators, or various forms of bandits before reloading was called for. Very quickly enterprising law dogs and market hunters were fitting extended magazines, some holding up to ten or eleven rounds.

The American slide action tubular magazine fed repeating shotgun was birthed in 1882 with the design introduced by Sylvester Roper and Christopher Spencer (of repeating rifle fame). John Browning's 1890 patent for a slide action shotgun appeared as the Model 1893 and soon evolved into the legendary Winchester Model 1897. Widespread adoption by police, security companies and the military fed the M97's growing popularity. Winchester's Model 12 carried on and built on that line for the New Haven company. The later Model 1200/1300 saw military and police use as well as considerable civilian popularity.

Meanwhile Remington's Model 10 (a John D. Pederson design much like the Ithaca Model 37) and the later Browning- designed Model 17 (even more closely related to the later M37) founded the lineage that would lead on through the Model 31 until 1950 saw the introduction of the now- famous Model 870.

Ithaca Gun Co. had concentrated on their well known SXS guns from their inception in 1880 until 1937. The fast- growing popularity of repeaters cut heavily into the double gun market, however, and Ithaca began to cast about for a reliable repeater design. By the mid-1930s Browning's patent for a closed sided, bottom ejecting repeater was a front runner, and Remington had stopped manufacturing their Model 17- and more importantly, the patents had expired. Thus no one objected when Ithaca picked up the basic design and firther refined it to make a lighter gun, first marketed in 1937 as the Featherlight. It was an immediate commercial success and later a military and law enforcement favorite as well.

Numerous others ventured into the slide action market- Stevens, Savage, High Standard, Smith and Wesson and others. The best known of the later arrivals was Mossberg, introducing their Model 500 in 1961.

Pump guns pretty much domnated the 20th Century in the United States. They were quite effective, reasonably inexpensive, and few Americans cared about or could afford the panache of a best grade double gun. Americans were a nation of working people who had leisure time to pursue their choice of sports, and many of them liked to go shooting. For shotguns, the working man's choice was most often the pump.

It still is...


Dave McCracken
October 19, 2004, 05:59 AM
Marshall, at one point in time I was bequeathed a Remington 11 autoloader, the domestic sibling of the A-5. It failed to pick up a shell every 10 times or so. My smith advised me it's endemic to the design.

Pumps are super reliable. Autos are not, though new ones are much better than those of old.

Pumps eat anything, autos have a narrower band of ammo power.

Lee, thanks for the overview. As far as equipment goes, these are The Good Old Days...

October 19, 2004, 12:03 PM
Dave, so was that the last auto-loader you've owned?

October 19, 2004, 12:15 PM
Dave, I've been shooting semi-auto shotguns since I was 11yrs old, 34 yrs ago. From multiple A-5's to Golds, from 1100's to 11-87's to Mowhawk 48's and a couple of others in between. To this very day I have had exactly one (1) shell jam on me and that was my fault for changing the guns set up to the ammo I was shooting. That's a pretty good record of reliability to me. Maybe you just had a bum gun and a smith that was making you feel good. Or, I just have all good guns while all others are problems, which I tend to doubt.

Don't get me wrong, I am not arguing the benefits of a pump gun, I am pointing out that quality semi-auto's are not near the problem that some make them out to be. Matter of fact, I bet my life on mine every night and have no reason to believe I am taking unnecessary chances with mine based on their history of use. That's all. :D

PS I will admit that you have to keep them clean and oiled, they're not as reliable as pumps when extremely dirty and neglected.

Duke of Lawnchair
October 19, 2004, 12:26 PM

How reliable do your pumps run with the Aguila Mini-Shells?


October 19, 2004, 01:00 PM
Aren't they mainly Winchester 1300 shells?

October 19, 2004, 01:08 PM
For a gun out of the box Aguila Mini-Shells work in Winchester 1300 only. They are really fun!

Duke of Lawnchair
October 19, 2004, 01:09 PM
Aren't they mainly Winchester 1300 shells?

Whatcha mean?

October 19, 2004, 01:31 PM
Early in our development work it was clear that this new round would hardly cycle semi-automatics while also having difficulties in feeding some pump action shotguns flawlessly. This lead us to consider the development of a weapons system which would include a new shotgun (more about this later) especially designed for the MINISHELL. In the meantime, after some testing we realized that the WINCHESTER™ 1300 series cycle MINISHELLS flawlessly (12 rds in an 18" bbl "Defender"); MOSSBERGS™ and REMINGTONS™ needed a minor modification in their elevators to produce similar results.

Aguilla (http://www.aguilaammo.com/minishells.htm)

October 19, 2004, 01:37 PM
WOW- lots of pumpgun stuff.

I never liked carrying a pump as a field gun it never felt right, I would carry my firearm in 1 hand around the action ahead of the trigger guard .This was done going in or out of the woods going to and from a duck blind or though the coverts and up to the point.

the first gun I used was an auto and this type of carry felt good, and latter I switched to a SXS it still worked fine. But when I first tried my sweet little 16ga wingmaster on a woodcock hunt, I had to try something else to carry it. I found that a pump with a sling over the shoulder was fine for a deer gun but I never could get used to field carring a pump.

October 19, 2004, 05:17 PM
To this very day I have had exactly one (1) shell jam on me and that was my fault for changing the guns set up to the ammo I was shooting.

A pump will shoot different shells interchangably, where an auto has to have a certain flavor to be reliable in most cases. I started out with autos and still love to shoot them, more so than a pump gun, but if the gun is not set up for what you have it is not reliable.

Dave McCracken
October 19, 2004, 05:37 PM
Nippy, to this date it's the only auto I've owned and shot. Have taken into custody an 1100 belonging to a friend, shot it some before he got it back.

With all these 870s, I'm not needing much more in the way of repeaters.

Marshall, I wish you well. I'll stay with my 870s, which take more ammo variations and work well dirty, though they hardly ever are. To each his/her own...

Again lest I be misread, the title was written with tongue in cheek. A pump is a valuable member of a shotgun battery or the start of one, but not the only way to get there.

In fact, there's been a number of non pumps in my past, and I liked most of them.

October 19, 2004, 09:29 PM
Mmmmm........ I just picked up a used Ithaca Featherweight 16 with the corncob fore end...........and I'm an auto shotgun guy! Yow, does it feel sweet!

October 19, 2004, 10:44 PM
Explain the "elevator modification" needed for the Mossberg. Actually, tell me what the elevator is, first. :o

October 20, 2004, 12:55 AM
How reliable do your pumps run with the Aguila Mini-Shells?

I can answer that for you.

Pumps are not reliable (other than win1300) when it comes to Minishells. You may have to restrict yourself and stay with the flavors that work in your 870.

The Winchester 1300.. one gun to rule them alllll muwahahahaa:evil:

Duke of Lawnchair
October 20, 2004, 12:59 AM
You may have to restrict yourself and stay with the flavors that work in your 870.

Well, I guess it'll just HAVE to be common sense to use ammunition that works in your shotgun, wouldn't it? Designers do have design constraints.

BTW, rock on with the win1300!!! Excellent pump gun and the build quality of everyone of them that I've seen is leaps and bounds above it's competition.

October 23, 2004, 08:43 AM
Agreed. I too know people who are most definitely special ops/intel people who cannot talk about what they do or where they do it. They do have the bullet holes and scars though, tend to be so fit it makes me sick and frequently come back with the most wonderful exotic gifts for their wives. Recently Persian rugs as an example. Mmmmmm. An SF soldier can't tell you where they've been or what they were doing. But last time I checked even being in a Special Forces Group was not classified and the fact that they wear distinctive berets, unit patches and beret flashes reflects this.

Anybody should be able to tell you what exactly what unit they were in, and when. There are now websites specifically to determine if the claimed Paratrooper, Ranger, SEAL or Special Forces soldier is the real McCoy or a poser. My observation is that the posers outnumber the real guys easily 10:1. One sure sign of a poser is that when you start asking them details about what unit they were in, and when, they cite operational security or secrecy laws.

More in line with this thread, I never saw a shotgun anywhere but in the hands of an MP when I was in the army. But they have become more common again for use in door breaching, and many infantry platoons are now issued one for that purpose. The new ones seem to be Benellis but there are plenty of older weapons as well, Mossberg pumps and others.
You never can tell what a unit arms room will have lying around.

October 27, 2004, 04:41 PM
Explain the "elevator modification" needed for the Mossberg. Actually, tell me what the elevator is, first.

Call Aguilla and ask for the mod.

Phone: (210) 695-4602
FAX: (210) 695-4603
E-Mail: info@aguilaammo.com

October 27, 2004, 08:09 PM
Now that I'm home and not at the office, maybe this will help.

The elevator is the little metal bar that catches the round to be subsequently fed to the ramp and chambered. It needs to be lengthened and widened. This modification will not prevent you from firing regular size shot shells.

Any competent gunsmith should be able to perform the modification to the elevator.

October 27, 2004, 10:43 PM
I love the 870 and think it makes a fine hunting or clay gun.

I have seen the light recently with the Saiga12 shotguns built on AK type receivers. For any type of combat, the Saiga12 is the way to go. 8 round magazines, fast mag changes, high quality folding stocks that actually fold and are comfortable when extended.


October 28, 2004, 06:18 AM
I think we should all own 870 Pump Guns because they look neat....:) ....There, I've said it. ........... Zebulon

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