Autoloader vs Pump for HD


February 27, 2006, 05:10 PM
I see both in different gun stores, and everyone has started advocating the auto over the pump. I'd like to know what advantages does a pump still offer when a new auto (as pointed out by a fellow shooter who owns a Benelli) can cycle anything without adjustment. I am debating between a like-new Beretta shotgun (unsure of the model, but its a six-shot capacity) and a Mossberg 590A1.

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February 27, 2006, 05:17 PM
Cleaning. Pumps don't need much cleaning. A little oil and it will always work if you need it. And when you do want to clean it, it's quick and easy, since there's no gas mechanism.

Simplicity. Pumps have few parts. This means they can be made both reliable and cheap, a difficult combination to achieve with a semiauto. There are no O-rings to replace, gas systems to adjust, etc.

Price. The semiauto costs a good deal more. For example, an 11-87 Sportsman costs almost double the price of an 870 Express. Guns are of similar quality and construction.

Ease of use/training. If you want your SO to learn to use the thing quickly for HD, a pump is about as simple as it gets. There are few controls, the action is visible to the shooter, and if you take a few minutes to show someone how it works, a pump makes sense to just about anyone.

Safer unloading. It's pretty simple for someone, even without much experience, to unchamber and eject the round in a pump without chambering another one, without fumbling with controls.

Proven design. The two pumps you are likely to buy, the Remington and the Mossberg, are both designs that have been made and sold by the millions. The Mossberg 500 is the more recent design, dating from the early '60s :) . The 870 was first sold in 1950. Both have been used by countless cops and hunters, and keep selling as other guns come and go. You won't be getting a questionable POS with either brand of pump, though many will extoll the virtues of one variant over another. The 590A1 is arguably the best, or an equal 1st place, for defensive use.

Parts availability. You can convert your American pump into just about anything with a barrel from Cabela's, Cheaper Than Dirt, or your favorite other retailer. This can theoretically be done with a Beretta semiauto, but not as easily or cheaply.

February 27, 2006, 05:21 PM
If there is a burgalar in your house and you rack (pump) your makes an unmistakable sound. If he/she is smart they will get out while they can...but then again, if they were smart, they would not be robbing someones house :p

February 27, 2006, 05:22 PM
Shamless Plug for another one of our own - whom I respect his works, his experiencesand contributions to us all.

Scroll down to House Guns

There are still the risks of civil charges, however. In consideration of the risk of an attorney exploiting the appearance of my shotgun in front of a jury, I made the decision to retain the wood on my subsequent home defense shotguns



February 27, 2006, 08:59 PM
I agree that autoloaders have gotten a lot more reliable, but I remain suspicious of them for HD use - I've seen too many of them malfunction! Don't forget that one is dealing with a very low gas pressure to cycle the action, and a "soft" load can result in a misfeed on either gas- or recoil-operated shotguns.

On the other hand, the only "failures" I've seen with a pump-action shotgun have been due to operator error (i.e. "short-stroking" the action). Given appropriate operation, the pump is just about the most foolproof gun out there - which is why my HD shotguns are pumps (Remington 870 Wingmasters, to be precise).

February 27, 2006, 09:06 PM
No love for the SxS, eh?...


Dave McCracken
February 27, 2006, 09:16 PM
Anyone using an auto that passes the 200 rounds glitchfree test will not hear sniveling from Yr Humble Scrivener. However....

Pumps, especially 870s, are as reliable as anything manmade.

I can teach darn near anyone to operate one in 30 minutes. Simple MOA.

Pumps can shoot a much wider power band of ammo, including superlites, less lethal, and specialty stuff.

870s have triggers that most auto owners covet. Allan Timney has made a living making 1100 triggers feel like 870s triggers do.

And I can field 2-4 870s for the price of a tricked 1100.

February 27, 2006, 10:18 PM
More than one police trainer has opined semi-auto's malfunction less often in training, than trainee's short stroke a pump. Yes, pumps are highly, highly reliable if operated properly. As often is the case, "if" can become a big deal. Almost to a man, longtime pump owners say they know their gun and won't short stroke it. But if simple training brings out enough stress to cause such things, more serious situations can only make that worse.

Side by side might be a good alternate suggestion. Two sure shots in most HD situations is enough. If you need more, I fear the results under high stress of trying to reload shots #3 and #4.

February 27, 2006, 10:40 PM
the 870 works very well for me, although the mossy 590 is excellent as well. they are robust, easy to use, and easy to maintain ;)

Fred Fuller
February 28, 2006, 08:10 AM
I'd be pretty careful about listening to things that are advocated in gun stores. Not always necessarily the most reliable source of information, unfortunately... .

A suitable semiauto with a load proven to operate it reliably (over at least a 200 round run with zero problems) is likely to serve well in most any role, to include critical ones. As to cycling anything without adjustment- well, MY mileage varies on that one, yours might not.

Pumps do offer advantages, even in the face of modern semiautos. Number one is expense. A good pumpgun will cost less than half what a good semiauto does.

Number two is less limitations for the pumpgun. You want an 18" barrel so your HD pumpgun can be as handy as possible, not a problem. Find an 18" barrel for that semiauto that will "cycle anything without adjustment" though- different deal for most designs out there these days, even the FN Self-Loading Police (one of which I covet, by the way) comes with an 18" barrel but with TWO interchangeable gas pistons, one for light loads and the other for heavy loads. Some semiauto designs do not like to have stuff hung on them- Benelli M1S90s are notorious for choking when decked out with a full combat load of Sidesaddle and Surefire light. The venerable Browning long recoil design will accept magazine extensions, sure. But you can't use a barrel clamp on them since the barrel reciprocates, and it is demonstrably silly to screw a nice long lever onto the thin metal tubing of the typical tubular magazine without using a clamp to support it. And almost all semiauto designs use some sort of bolt return spring in the buttstock, which imposes certain limits on what can be done with changing to different stock designs or fitting the gun to the shooter.

Pumpguns WILL cycle anything that fits them properly with no adjustment. No questions asked, from 'popcorn loads' for training new shooters to the biggest baddest magnum loads out there, if the action is fitted to handle it, pumpguns will cycle it.

A lot of us here are old fuddyduddies, and we think that people should learn to be versatile when given the opportunity to do so. Well rounded people should know how to drive a straight shift vehicle, for example. A friend's daughter not long ago took on her first full-time job after getting out of college in another state, and soon thereafter bought herself her first new vehicle- a pickup truck. She bought one with a standard transmission, which is what she had learned to drive. First time she came to her parent's house in it, her dad remonstrated with her for not getting an automatic transmission. She told him she had learned that no one wanted to borrow the truck she went off to school in for moving etc. when they found out it was a standard transmission, and she _sure_ didn't want to have anyone asking to borrow her new truck- so she got it with a manual shift too.

Well- rounded people should know how to run a pumpgun capably as well, in case that's all that is available. The best way to learn one is to shoot one, a lot. It won't take too long before you stop trying to pump the forearm of your new semiauto after you get one, don't worry 8^).


February 28, 2006, 08:26 AM
For HD, I'd go with the pump.

Why? You know it's going to work when you need it.

February 28, 2006, 08:51 AM
I already had an old 1100 trap gun lying around not earning its keep (like it ever did :)) so I put a 21" slug barrel on it. It reliably feeds 1 1/8 oz trap loads on up.

I can keep it runnin' reliably. All those years of shooting doubles with it taught me how to keep an 1100 chuggin' along.

Dave McCracken
February 28, 2006, 09:20 AM
esldude, I trained hundreds of Correctional Officers to shoot. The only ones that had troubleshort stroking were marginal candidates that were only doing it because they had to.

My guess is the average member here shoots better, is way more motivated to do the job right and is much less likely to screw up royally either in training or life/death crises.

Depending on hardware to solve software probs can be suicidal. Regardless of platform, one needs to KNOW the weapon before things get hinky.

That's why BA/UU/R is my mantra.

February 28, 2006, 02:59 PM
ok, I'm starting to go back to my original idea, the Mossberg 590A1. Does anyone know if it has a 3" chamber?

February 28, 2006, 03:18 PM
The only thing more simple and reliable than a good pump shotgun is a good double-barreled shotgun - which is what I prefer for home defense. Big, nasty, double-barreled, fire-breathing pokestalk with one of those elastic shellholders on the stock with an extra 8 shells.

Sure, I've only got two shots in the first round, but it reloads quickly and easily. Plus, I live out in the country so I don't really have to worry about my home being attacked by a group. One or two thieves or one raving nutcase would (realistically) be my biggest concern, and if two barrels of 12-gauge and my dog's teeth aren't enough to put them down for the count, they will certainly be incapacitated long enough for me to either reload or go for my pistol. (The XD-45 in the dresser drawer has 14 rounds of .45ACP - I call that my "group contingency") :)

...and I understand that racking a pump shotgun creates a sound that has a powerful psychological effect. I can appreciate that, but there's also a unique psychological condition commonly referred to as "Doe in the headlights" that tends to overcome people when they look down twin 12-gauge chasms pointed in their direction.

February 28, 2006, 03:23 PM
i vote pump or sxs, for the same reason i vote for revolvers.


anytime, anywhere.

February 28, 2006, 03:47 PM
I've got the 590A1. It's got the 3-inch chamber. I like it. It's been reliable and I like that Mossberg sets them up with "extras" like ghost rings from the factory (yes, I agree ghost rings don't offer anything over a bead for home defense. I just like them).

However it's also HEAVY and I've heard conflicting reports on what a pain it is to mount a light with the bayonet lug on there. Field stripping it makes my 1911s seem easy to clean. I don't regret my choice and I'm confident in it but every now and then I consider something a little handier, even if it means reduced capacity.

February 28, 2006, 04:08 PM

The only problem that confronts me is where I get a truly good and reliable coach gun.

I've put so many rounds through my 870 that I trust it implicitly, and if anything feels funky, I'll notice.

I'm not sure I'd trust a SPR or Stoeger with my life. But CAS competitors probably have a different perspective, since they know their guns.

What kind of SxS do you have?

Oh, and I agree, a double barrel pointing at you probably has a REALLY profound psychological effect.

Sound of pump = "Homeowner will shoot. Better go now."
Sight of SxS muzzle = "Crazy redneck's gonna kill me! Better get on the ground and beg!"

February 28, 2006, 04:20 PM
If I was going to go with a SXS, I would want a 10Gauge double in coach gun configuration, if possible. That would be even scarrier, as the barrels are a little bit bigger than a 12. Do they make those? :rolleyes:

February 28, 2006, 04:26 PM
A 10 Gauge coach gun is a scary proposition if you're wearing a t-shirt.

Seriously, I wouldn't worry about the 3" chambers, either. I'd rather have a low-recoil load and the chance at realistic followup shots, unless of course you're at the range and just want to screw with your friends.

After what MK11 said, I'd take a look at an 870, as well. At the shop, see what it takes to fieldstrip the gun. An 870 is REALLY easy and quick to strip, clean, change barrels, etc. I didn't know a 590 was much different, but it sounds like it is.

February 28, 2006, 07:07 PM
Beretta. Don't waste your time with that crappy Mossberg. Get the high quality Beretta. You will be glad you did. Italian shotguns are notoriously well-made.

February 28, 2006, 08:48 PM
My old 28" SxS does defensive duty now, out in my shop. I keep it out there so I'll have something handy when I'm not in the house. One thing I like about the good ol' twice pipe is the compactness, hardly any action to it. A "coach gun" is REALLY compact when turning corners indoors. The double is my number one choice in self defense shotguns. I just like 'em, no BS and you know it staring down those tubes. :what: I have an uncle mikes sleeve with five spares on the stock. I don't really like that on a field gun, but for self defense, balance isn't as important. And, hey, I've loaded that thing under fire many times before. Well, okay, ducks ain't shootin' back. :D But, you do learn a gun when you hunt with it for two decades.

February 28, 2006, 09:12 PM
It's hard to beat an 870 with an extension and a Surefire grip for HD.

March 1, 2006, 12:16 AM
The only problem that confronts me is where I get a truly good and reliable coach gun.
Honestly? The entire mechanism is so simple I can't imagine a double-barrel not being reliable, to tell you the truth. Hell, most of the older ones don't even have a safety. Hammers back. Pull a trigger or two. Bad things happen downrange. It ain't rocket science. :)

What kind of SxS do you have?
Believe it or not, I use an old over/under double-barrel 12-gauge that was made by a Brazilian company called 'Boito'. I think they sold them in K-Mart or something at one point. Cheap as dirt, I'd imagine. An uncle gave it to me years ago, and I used it for shooting sporting clays for 5 or 6 years. Eventually I got a Remington and didn't use the Boito for clays anymore, so I had a buddy who works in a machine shop cut the barrels down to 18 inches and weld me a new bead out on the end.

The big factors for me choosing it as a home defense weapon was just that I was comfortable with it and knew it well, it's reliable and simple, and I wasn't using it for anything else anymore - so I know it will always be in its secure and safe position where I can snag it in an instant, God forbid that I need it. It was also important to me that it was simple enough that my wife felt confident enough to use it in the event that I'm not here and she needs to make somebody be dead.

March 1, 2006, 12:18 AM
Glad to see there is some love for the SxS.


March 1, 2006, 03:56 AM
the 10 gauge was kind of a fun-gun idea, not anything serious. I don't care for doubles, really. Its not out of ignorance, either. I used to own one, and it was an EAA IZH-43. 12 Gauge coach gun, hammerless, with a single, selectable trigger, and choke tubes. It was very compact. However, it kicked very badly when, and only when, fired from the shoulder. That's with light field loads (remington 1 1/8 oz. #6). If you shoot from the hip or hold the gun outstreched with one hand, it didn't kick nearly as bad. Dissatisfied, I sold it. I prefer pumps, because its what I learned to shoot. I love the sound of a mossberg's slide being racked back in forth. I do have a Remington 870 Express 12 Gauge w/ 18.5" barrel, and do not want another one. Good gun, but one is enough for me. I want something more specialized. Why do some people have such low opinions about the Mossberg? I own a 500 Pursuader, and it has never failed me. I just want a little more options, that's why I started this thread, with the potential choices.

March 1, 2006, 08:41 AM
I've been hunting ducks with Mossbergs for 20 years now, they replaced my double when steel was mandated. I have no gripes, very effective, reliable shotgun IMHO. I didn't pay an arm and a leg for it, either, which is a good thing when you're hunting salt marshes with it. The poor thing takes a beating in the salt environment, but shows little wear after about 15 years I've had this one. It's a camo finish and takes the wear well. It's not as smooth pumping as an Ithaca or Browning, but i like the fact it doesn't have a loading gate on the bottom. If I'd been hunting with an expensive gun all those years, it'd be beat up and look like dung by now. The ol' Mossy does the job and I really don't care all that much what it looks like, LOL.

My old Wingmaster 870 had a loading gate and when your thumb was numb from the cold, that thing hurt! I'd occasionally not get the shell in the magazine until it clicked before yanking my cold thumb out of the way and the round would pop up under the loading gate on the bottom of the mag and jam the works. I'd carry a screw driver afield to get that shell back in the magazine when that happened. It was a PITA that I don't have with the Mossy. Ithaca 37s don't have that stupid gate, either.

A coach gun with screw in chokes? I like that idea. A 20" barrel removed from the action would stash in my Gold Wing's saddle bags for a hunting trip. :D 28" is too long to fit. I don't think that a gun that short would swing too smoothly, probably whippy as heck, but I might could get used to it. Be fun to have the option. Just what I NEED, though, another friggin' shotgun. ROFL!

But, too the topic, on the question of auto vs pump, put me down for pump, too. It's just as fast and less problem prone. I have a Winchester 1400 for bird hunting and with game loads I get a FTE now and then. Probably could do better with more powerful loads that'd work the action harder, but I'm hunting dove with it. It only happens maybe once in a box of ammo and it's not that big a deal bird hunting, but it would be unacceptable for SD. I wouldn't trust auto chunking shotguns.

March 1, 2006, 08:57 AM
Aren't Benelli autoloaders inertia-driven reloading system?
The M2 and Super Black Eagle II.
Pricey but sweeeeet.

March 4, 2006, 10:40 PM
The biggest advantage for a pump is that you have the ability to get off a second shot even if the first shot doesn't go bang. It is the same argument that people have with the revolver vs. semi handguns. The revolver also doesn't depend on the first shot going bang to get off another shot. Also the pump should cycle more reliably since it is being done manually.

March 9, 2006, 08:30 PM
Benelli M3 Super 90. go ahead and break the bank, it is worth it and when people try to argue about whether pump or auto is better you can just say "ok I agree with you" and swith its firing mode. I first shot an m3 super 90 when i was young and was able to handle it (not too hefty around the waist either). Never once had a problem, always looked cool shooting skeet. actually was laughed at till I scored better than those around me.

March 9, 2006, 09:52 PM
If I was going to go with a SXS, I would want a 10Gauge double in coach gun configuration, if possible. That would be even scarrier, as the barrels are a little bit bigger than a 12. Do they make those?

Why yes, there are a few around. It even looks scary when I have to clean the damn thing.:D


March 10, 2006, 12:30 PM
IMO, for HD, a pump is the way to go, 100%

(for semis, had and sold M1s90, 1201pf. Currently have FN SLP and 11-87P) but would gladly reach for my simple remmy 870 for any business that needs taking care of-

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