How do you rate reliability in semi-auto shotguns?


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pastprime
March 5, 2012, 11:06 PM
I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a 20 gauge semi-auto for home use. I have read a lot of reviews and opinions that say a semi-auto shotgun is not as reliable as a pump. So what does "not as reliable" mean? Do the semi-auto's jam one time out of 25 shots, 50 shots, 100 shots, or what ??

I know that proper maintenance is a huge part of keeping any firearm working but the "not as reliable" statement makes me wonder about buying a semi-auto.

Can anyone put some numbers on how many times out of say 1,000 shells a semi-auto would jam..???

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guyfromohio
March 5, 2012, 11:19 PM
Hard to put a number on it. I know that some nice autos will have trouble cycling the lighter loads.

pastprime
March 5, 2012, 11:25 PM
I would probably be using #3 or #4 buckshot in the 2 3/4 shells.

oneounceload
March 5, 2012, 11:25 PM
Internet BS is what it is, a semi is just as reliable, and in many cases even more reliable, than a pup - why more? because under stress, it won't short shuck itself - it will function thew same whether out at the club busting clays, or in the dark in the middle of a break in

Gordon
March 5, 2012, 11:32 PM
How about 500 rounds of heavy field loads and 200 buck and 100 slugs? I never did it in a day but did in five dusty AZ days . That was with a Benelli Super 90 about 15 years ago. The enertia system is pretty dang reliable. A5's well set up really keep on cranking also. The Remington 1100 can run real well for along time too just needing AR type maintainece IMHO. Some people used to laud the Winchester X series or the Brown Gold and Max as going all winter with heavy duck blind use.

drsfmd
March 5, 2012, 11:34 PM
I did testing with a Beretta Xtrema 2... it consistently began to jam around 600 rounds-- that's with no cleaning, no wipedown of the tube, no wide of the piston, etc...

NOLAEMT
March 6, 2012, 12:04 AM
It depends on the make and model of the gun.

for example:
I would trust a benelli M2 more than a remington 11-87 or mossberg. That is not to say that the remington or mossberg is unreliable, but that I like the benelli's inertia system more, it seems to run well when dirty.

But like any gun, you need to test it to see what its limits are.

kbbailey
March 6, 2012, 12:09 AM
Internet BS is what it is, a semi is just as reliable, and in many cases even more reliable, than a pup - why more? because under stress, it won't short shuck itself - it will function thew same whether out at the club busting clays, or in the dark in the middle of a break in

I completely agree...as usual.

armoredman
March 6, 2012, 12:35 AM
Well, you could look at this, http://www.cz-usa.com/tomknapp/ scroll down to the second video, Dove Hunting in Argentina, and they will talk about a few THOUSAND rounds through the CZ-712 shotgun in one day. I will be getting a CZ 712 some time in the next month or so, and I'll see what makes it choke.

Hunterdad
March 6, 2012, 07:23 AM
^^^I picked up a used 712 a couple weeks ago. I've got 350rds through it without cleaning so far.

orphanedcowboy
March 6, 2012, 08:35 AM
When properly maintained they are as reliable as any other. I went well over 1000 rds in a SX2 without a hiccup or a cleaning. I only cleaned it when it started getting sluggish.

rbernie
March 6, 2012, 09:07 AM
I think that gun reliability in general is often more than just 'X number of rounds without a failure' - it is 'X number of rounds without failure for all of the SD/HD ammo that I'm likely to run'.

Some semiauto's will run certain ammo well and other ammo poorly. That's why you often see the SD/HD emphasis on pumps (which are ammo insensitive but shooter sensitive) or on actually wringing out the semiauto (which are ammo sensitive and shooter insensitive) using the buck-n-slug loads that you're likely to want to use....

Ranger30-06
March 6, 2012, 09:32 AM
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that 99% of shotguns are completely reliable with only light loads, or only heavy loads. Out of my direct observation, it usually seems that wingshooting semi's like the light loads, but guns like the Saiga 12, Mossberg 930, and Remington 11-87 like the heavier loads like buckshot and slugs.

Usually though, gas operated shotguns are 100% reliable with one type of ammo or the other because the gas port is only so big for it's intended loads. Therefore, it's easy to over or under gas these guns causing reliability problems.

I know that the best way to break in a Mossberg 930 is to throw 200 slugs downrange, then it's supposed to be completely reliable with everything. It just needs a bit of breaking in.

Another gun that's supposed to work with all loads is (I'm pretty sure) the Benneli inertia operated shotguns, because supposedly the recoil adjusts to work the action or something. If they weren't so darn expensive I'd be telling you for sure! :D

pastprime
March 6, 2012, 12:54 PM
I sincerely appreciate all the replies to my question. Thanks for sharing your experiences and opinions. I feel a lot more comfortable looking for a semi-auto that fits me (stature and wallet) than I did a week ago.

I'll let you know what I choose and how it performs for me.

Hank

oneounceload
March 6, 2012, 01:07 PM
I think that gun reliability in general is often more than just 'X number of rounds without a failure' - it is 'X number of rounds without failure for all of the SD/HD ammo that I'm likely to run'.

This is only true if that is the intended mission of the gun, in MY personal case, my shotguns are targets and bird guns, and longevity is the name of the game without a breakdown

Certaindeaf
March 6, 2012, 02:50 PM
M1 super 90 go bang long time.

eastbank
March 6, 2012, 03:34 PM
i clean my 1100,s and 11-87,s at 400-500 rounds,(no FTF or FTE in that amount) and that takes all of 15-20 minutes, why 400-500 rounds? thats about what shoot in a month. i reload with a mec 9000G. eastbank

Certaindeaf
March 6, 2012, 04:00 PM
Check out the super 90 manual.. "clean when clogged."
They go bang long time.

Odd Job
March 6, 2012, 04:17 PM
Many years ago I did a two day "tactical" shotgun course in South Africa with a member of the police services. We were using 12 gauge pumps.
Day one was static shooting, we tried birdshot, buckshot, slugs and even the baton rounds. All was good.
Day two in the morning we did stoppage drills (the instructor would load a drill round in the shotgun, we would not know where it was in the tube and how many good rouds there were). This was still okay, took some practice but we got that technique learned and we thought we were so frikkin ubah.

Well, in the afternoon we were taken to a "house" made of tires and in that house there were five rooms and a long passage with an unknown number of stationary targets. One at a time we went in and were told to shoot what we can and observe/retrieve any useful items. He followed behind us, shouting all the time...

That was when I short cycled it bad. That was as stressful as he could make it and it showed. I missed targets, completely didn't notice artefacts that had been placed in plain view and generally fumbled when clearing the inevitable drill round. How bad it would have been in a real situation, I don't know.

What I do know is that (for me) the preference for any kind of defensive use of a shotgun would be to have a semi-auto. If I have to abandon light loads that is fine, but I can tell you I did NOT enjoy the feeling of pulling the trigger and hearing the click, all because I tried to pump it too fast and short cycled it.

rbernie
March 6, 2012, 04:24 PM
I think that gun reliability in general is often more than just 'X number of rounds without a failure' - it is 'X number of rounds without failure for all of the SD/HD ammo that I'm likely to run'. This is only true if that is the intended mission of the gun, in MY personal case, my shotguns are targets and bird guns, and longevity is the name of the game without a breakdown
I guess that I phrased it wrong - my point is that reliability with one or two types of ammo isn't an adequate measure. Reliability must be measured across all types of ammo expected to be used, with some minimal (say, 600rd) sample size for each type.

jmr40
March 6, 2012, 05:38 PM
Pumps are more likley to shoot a broader range of ammo. If even half way decent ammo is used they have the potential to be equal. The wild card is the operator. After all is said and done a quality auto, with decent ammo will actually be more relible since it is not affected as much by operator error.

atomd
March 6, 2012, 06:59 PM
I'm in the "depends on the gun and the load" camp. SA guns have become pretty darn reliable although they may require a load that's in the ballpark of what type of shooting the gun was designed for. For instance, I think you're more likely to run into problems say....shooting 12ga target loads under 1oz in an inertia gun with a 3.5" chamber because that isn't what the manufacturer had in mind when they built that gun.

I trust a semi auto the same as a pump as long as that particular gun has proven itself to work reliably for me. Guns break....you could get a defective shell, you could have a semi that doesn't feed everything reliably and you could short stroke a pump gun. Crap happens. I like both though.

zhyla
March 6, 2012, 09:04 PM
Another way to look at it is what are you gaining by buying a semi-auto? I don't view them as necessarily superior to a pump for indoor use. They're far more expensive, heavier, in some cases a lot more parts that can break.

rcmodel
March 6, 2012, 09:24 PM
How reliable are semi-autos?
I don't know.

I started out with my first new shotgun, a Remington 878 gas operated semi-auto when I was 15 years old in 1959.
It was the first Remington gas-operated economy model shotgun with O-rings.
It was 100% reliable with any shell you could buy, until I foolishly traded it for a worn out Model 12 Winchester pump.
The pump didn't work right, and was not reliable.
So I traded it for a Belgium Browning A5 auto in 1960 something.

To this day, it has never failed to function perfectly with trap loads, heavy hunting loads, Magnums, slugs, and buck-shot.
Including being under the ice with me in a lake and frozen shut.
I shot it empty to blow the ice out of the action so I could get in the truck to keep from freezing to death.

That was followed by a Benelli M1, that only failed once when a leaking shell crimp on a reload put a #6 shot in the trigger group and locked up the hammer from cocking.

Besides that, it kicked too hard, and I sold it.

I still have the Browning A5.
And I wish I still had The Remington 878 I had when I was 16.

Neither one ever failed me, not even once.

rc

pezo
March 7, 2012, 09:33 AM
a semi auto 20 guage with buck shot is a great choice. That said, in regards to short stroking, my 590-a1's action does not feel at all prone to it due to its initial stiffer action on the pull it tends to "slam" back as opposed to a smoother consistant "draw" back that I can see happening on smoother actions. That said I never had a short stroke on the skeet feild either with the 870 wing master. Train to pump, shoot then repump and back on target and your fine. You get the reliability in the pump mostly in regards to them eating all varieties of ammo without a hiccup compared to a auto. If you stick with reliable ammo in your auto for defense you are good to go.

drew2500
March 7, 2012, 11:17 AM
My Extrema2 has been completely reliable. I've put a few thousand rounds thru it from light 1 oz competition loads to 3.5in turkey and goose loads. I don't ever worry about it malfunctioning.

oneounceload
March 7, 2012, 08:56 PM
Pumps are more likley to shoot a broader range of ammo.

Based on what, exactly?

Going on what I suppose you mean, that would make your basic O/U or SxS even MORE reliable as there is no feeding issues or short-shucking to contend with

bubba in ca
March 7, 2012, 11:04 PM
The military standard for shotguns is no more than 1 failure in 200 rounds. Any name brand gun, semi or pump, will do that easily.

Check the posts for trap and skeet shooters--many of then shoot 10,000 rounds with semis with no failures. They will tell you by brand and model how often they clean them.

Some of the mythology abouts semi autos dates all the way back to the days of paper shells, others to hunting guns out in the mud and snow, etc.

None of this applies to a pampered HD gun with modern ammo. Learn how to clean it and lube it properly (less is generally better on the lub). Pick a buckshot that cycles the gun everytime and don`t worry about it.

My 20 ga. 1187 shoots regular and magnum buckshot with no problems. The only slight problem is that it will not work well with birdshot for practice, so I use buck for practice. It`s not my main HD gun because I haven`t pysched myself out yet to cut that expensive barrel down or to slurge for a new one. As far as I can see, 21 inch is the smallest they sell in 20 gauge, and it`s a pricey fellow. 1100s and Saigas come in 20 gauge, so you might want to consider them, too.

rbernie
March 8, 2012, 07:29 AM
Going on what I suppose you mean, that would make your basic O/U or SxS even MORE reliable as there is no feeding issues or short-shucking to contend withYes, but at the obvious expense of capacity.

Sav .250
March 8, 2012, 08:09 AM
" not as reliable".............very subjective. Just keep it clean and they are reliable. J s/n.

SHR970
March 8, 2012, 08:30 PM
Strictly mechanically speaking:

Not all semiautos are completely reliable with the full range of shells available to them. Great strides have been made over the last 10 or so years in correcting that. This issue became more pronounced with the introduction of the 3 1/2" shell. For many of the early guns to function properly with the stout loads, they wouldn't work properly with the light loads. If they worked with the light loads, they would be battered to breakage with the magnum loads. Various gas bleed schemes have been used to bleed excess pressure off of the magnum shells so the action wouldn't get battered. Also one or more makes / models used a two sided port so you could switch from one type to the other depending on what you intended to feed them.

Inertial O/U's can malfunction and not allow the second shot off if the first round does not recoil enough to set the internal mechinism. I have seen this numerous times and have had it happen to me with light loads.

To blanket say that because YOUR semi has been reliable with everything you have fed it so far makes EVERY brand / make / model totally reliable is sheer nonsense. Just as some semi auto pistols and rifles don't play well with some loads, so it goes with shotguns.

There is a reason the Franchi SPAS 12 has a pump back up option...... and even low recoil and trap level rounds benifit from that option.

buckhorn_cortez
March 8, 2012, 09:12 PM
If you're counting on the gun to provide self defense, then you need to spend whatever it costs for a reliable gun. I own a semi-automatic shotgun - an FN SLP. I also have a pump. If cost is a factor, buy the pump as you can get a fine pump for about 1/2 the cost of a good semi-automatic.

That being said, I would not trade the SLP for any pump on the market for self defense. HOWEVER, because I truly believe that for self defense you owe it to yourself to ensure the gun runs as well as possible - I took the gun to SRM Performance in Meridian, ID and had them: install a SureCyle recoil system, modify the gas pistons, install a new magazine spring and follower, lap the bolt, and perform a reliability tuneup.

With the heavy gas piston in the gun, it will cycle ANY load 1 oz and heavier. You can mix loads like birdshot, buckshot, slugs, 2-3/4 and 3-inch - and the gun runs every magazine load.

I don't remember the last time I cleaned it, and it has been out on loan to a tactical gun instructor who had asked to use it because he was interested in comparing it to his Benelli.

Semi-automatics can be as reliable as any other type of repeating shotgun - if you choose the gun carefully and do everything in your control to ensure the gun always runs. If that involves purchase cost, cleaning, tuneups, etc. - that's your part of the responsibility that comes with the gun IF you believe personal defense requires confidence of 100% reliability.

oneounceload
March 8, 2012, 09:20 PM
Going on what I suppose you mean, that would make your basic O/U or SxS even MORE reliable as there is no feeding issues or short-shucking to contend with
Yes, but at the obvious expense of capacity

Sorry, there are you tube videos that might dispute even that, but the OP was about reliability, and the SxS and O/U trump both the semi and pump

Hocka Louis
March 8, 2012, 11:54 PM
Benelli Armi System, NOT GAS OPERATED!!!

Browning Guy
March 9, 2012, 12:29 PM
Years ago I had a Remington 1100 in 12 ga. I ran heavy bird shot,slugs, and target loads through it without any hiccups. The only malfunction ever was when my reloaded target shell got a loose crimp and dumped some shot into the mechanism. I would generally give it a good cleaning in late summer or early fall before hunting season, and a good cleaning after season in Jan. with an exterior wipedown as needed depending on weather.

CoRoMo
March 9, 2012, 12:38 PM
I am unfamiliar with an UNreliable semi-auto shotgun.

My semi-auto shotguns have never had a single solitary failure to date. Someday maybe.

Buckyt
March 9, 2012, 12:43 PM
I own several Rem 1100's in 12 and 20 ga, also a number of Win 12's in both ga + 2 m42 (410) Wins. I have never used any of these in a defensive situation, but if I needed to, I wouldn't hesitate to use either the auto's or the pumps. I have fired 1,000's of rounds thru both with no reliability issues. My only malfunction in the 1100 was after several thousand rounds I had the O-ring in the gas system fail and I had to replace this very inexpensive part.
I love both types, but really like the M-12's for the collector aspect.

Justin
March 9, 2012, 02:24 PM
My first semi-auto shotgun was a Franchi 612 that I picked up for shooting 3 gun. In general, it had serious issues cycling reduced-recoil slugs and buckshot as well as cheaper brands of birdshot like Estate.

I later traded up to a Benelli M2, and the improvement in reliability was a significant boost to my performance at matches. The M2 cycles birdshot as well as the reduced recoil slugs I like to use. That said, in the several thousand rounds I've put through the gun, it has had a handful of failures, but not so many that I would hesitate to grab it in a dire situation.

I recently had a chance to test one of Beretta's new Extrema shotguns, and though the total round count was quite low, probably arond 150 rounds, the gun never failed to cycle with everything from birdshot to 3 in magnum slugs.

Sent from my myTouch_4G_Slide using Tapatalk

oneounceload
March 9, 2012, 04:08 PM
Justin -

You might want to investigate the A400 from Beretta then, the 3.5" Xplor will digest not only 7/8oz target loads, but even my 3/4oz target loads

SHR970
March 9, 2012, 07:46 PM
Hocka Louis wrote: Benelli Armi System, NOT GAS OPERATED!!!

And your point is???????

Co Ro Mo wrote: I am unfamiliar with an UNreliable semi-auto shotgun. Never used a SPAS 12, Remington 58 that's been fed a diet of heavy loads, or any of the Turkish offerings have you?

So let's try this again:

Let's look at the Benelli Vinci; one of the newest of the breed and made to work with a wide range of available ammo.

Page 38 of the owners manual (available on line) says:" In-depth ballistic laboratory experiments, and specific practical tests confirm that for correct firearm function, the kinetic energy value developed by a 12 gauge cartridge is 230 kgm - value measured on manometric barrel with speed V1 at 1 m from the muzzle.

That energy level translates to approximately 1665 lb. ft.

If we look at Remington 8 pellet reduced recoil buckshot which has a MV of 1200 fps. you will find that it develops approximately 1400 ft. lb. That falls short of the minimum energy floor for reliable operation as stated by the manufacturer.

If you look on line at the Benelli M2 they state that it will function with all 1 1/8 oz. loads. That statement is found right on their website. That leaves 8 pellet 00 Buck, 28 gr., and 24 gr. loads in question. They may or may not cycle the actions.....YMMV.

Once again: Semi automatic designs have operating parameters based on their designs. Whether Inertial or Gas operated, you need to work within those parameters. If you fail to work within the window for which they are designed you will have malfunctions. They will either not cycle properly or you will beat the hell out of them. Just because one make / model works within a particular window does not mean that another make / model will do the same.

To imply or state that because item A works outside of the specified window means that item B will do the same is pure nonsense. All you have to do is a little research of the different manufacturers websites to see the folly in those types of gross oversimplifications.

If you operate a semiauto with ammo that it is rated for, they generally work and work well. If you use ammo outside of the operating parameters for which they are designed, you risk either damage or making it a one shot repeater.

buckhorn_cortez
March 9, 2012, 11:54 PM
Let's look at the Benelli Vinci; one of the newest of the breed and made to work with a wide range of available ammo.

Page 38 of the owners manual (available on line) says:" In-depth ballistic laboratory experiments, and specific practical tests confirm that for correct firearm function, the kinetic energy value developed by a 12 gauge cartridge is 230 kgm - value measured on manometric barrel with speed V1 at 1 m from the muzzle.

That energy level translates to approximately 1665 lb. ft.

If we look at Remington 8 pellet reduced recoil buckshot which has a MV of 1200 fps. you will find that it develops approximately 1400 ft. lb. That falls short of the minimum energy floor for reliable operation as stated by the manufacturer.

If you look on line at the Benelli M2 they state that it will function with all 1 1/8 oz. loads. That statement is found right on their website. That leaves 8 pellet 00 Buck, 28 gr., and 24 gr. loads in question. They may or may not cycle the actions.....YMMV.

Once again: Semi automatic designs have operating parameters based on their designs. Whether Inertial or Gas operated, you need to work within those parameters. If you fail to work within the window for which they are designed you will have malfunctions. They will either not cycle properly or you will beat the hell out of them. Just because one make / model works within a particular window does not mean that another make / model will do the same.

To imply or state that because item A works outside of the specified window means that item B will do the same is pure nonsense. All you have to do is a little research of the different manufacturers websites to see the folly in those types of gross oversimplifications.

If you operate a semiauto with ammo that it is rated for, they generally work and work well. If you use ammo outside of the operating parameters for which they are designed, you risk either damage or making it a one shot repeater.

I guess I'm not sure of the point of your post. If it's read the owner's manual and it will tell you the operating parameters - that's much easier and shorter than the opus you feel is needed to explain the function of a semi-automatic.

If your point is - every semi-auto operates within different working parameters because of individual design differences - again, read the owner's manual.

In my case, with my semi-auto, I have had the gas pistons modified so that I no longer need to change gas pistons for light (less than 1-1/2 oz loads) and heavy (1-1/2 oz loads and heavier).

I can now use the heavy gas piston for loads down to 1-oz. It will not cycle 7/8-oz loads with the heavy gas piston. To use 7/8-oz loads I would have to change to the light gas piston.

I know I am not going to "batter the gun" shooting heavy loads as I am using the heavy gas piston, and the gun is rated for 2-3/4-inch to 3-inch magnum shells as stated in the owner's manual with no limits given on maximum shot weight. Meaning, it's rated to function with commercially loaded ammunition in those two shell sizes. You cannot use 3-1/2 inch shells in the gun as stated in the owner's manual.

There is also a caveat in the owner's manual stating that some ammunition with shot weights less than 1-1/4-oz may cause the gun to not cycle. So far, having shot nearly 2,000 rounds through it including at least 20 trap sessions with 1-oz loads, the gun has never malfunctioned.

For personal defense use, given the manufacturer's function statement, I would never shoot any ammunition that has not been tested in the gun. In my case, that includes testing three brands of 00 buck, two brands of 000 buck, three brands of slugs, and Winchester PDX.

I really don't think this is as complicated as you seem to want to make it - and I don't think that anyone posting in the thread has stated that you can ubiquitously apply any statement to all semi-automatics as you want to imply.

I think this is about as simple as stating, "you need to read the owner's manual to find the funtional requirements and operational parameters of each individual shotgun, as each manufacturer's semi-automatic shotgun design is different."

SHR970
March 10, 2012, 12:38 AM
Buckhorn_Cortez

Several posters have implied/stated that their guns have worked with "every load that they have used including light loads". The implication is that other guns / all semi autos will also work with all ammo that you can feed them. My answer to that may come across as a short opus but there is sufficient info presented to back up the short version that the info presented by some has been grossly over simplified.

Becaue some (yourself included) have done their due dilligence does not mean that others have as well. You have went the extra mile to have your weapon worked over to ensure reliability with a wider range of loads. Not all have and have also proffered advice that can /is detrimental to the OP and others in regards to reliability and safety. Not everyone is able to drop one and a half to two grand on a gun and smith work; let's be realistic and explain what they can expect for their hard earned dollars.

Justin
March 10, 2012, 01:36 PM
Justin -

You might want to investigate the A400 from Beretta then, the 3.5" Xplor will digest not only 7/8oz target loads, but even my 3/4oz target loads

Ack, sorry, should have been more clear, the A400 is what I'm testing, though I wasn't able to lay hands on any 3.5" shells.

ball3006
March 10, 2012, 08:20 PM
My Remington Model 11 has been 100 percent reliable since 1957 when my Grandpa gave it to me. No telling how many shells have gone through it.....chris3

Owen Sparks
March 11, 2012, 12:10 AM
I have shot in a number of combat shotgun matches and I have seen more malfunctions with pumps than with semi-autos. This is NOT because pumps are not reliable but because people under stress tend to short stroke them.

Most malfunctions with semi-autos seem to be caused by light loads or people not properly shouldering the gun.

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