Many of us will agree $500 is not a bad price in exchange for protecting ourselves and our families, particularly when compared to the cost of a carbine. But just as many will consider it too steep a price to pay for a tool that (hopefully) won't see much use outside of the occasional trip to the range.
Thankfully, just as a home-defense shotgun need not be fancy, it need not cost $500 either. American Tactical Imports (ATI) of Rochester, NY, proves that with the Sultan P1, a basic semi-automatic with a very reasonable suggested retail price of about $300. (For detailed photos of the Sultan P1, click here.)
A pump gun for $300 would be a pretty good value, but a semi-auto in that price range is a real bargain. How does ATI do it? For one, the Sultan P1 is made in Turkey, where the cost of labor is a real bargain, too. The savings at the manufacturing end are reflected at the retail end. Second, the Sultan is a bare-bones shotgun, with no frills that add to the bottom line.
Neither of these are indictments against the Sultan. Several big-name shotgun companies outsource manufacturing to the Turks because they do quality work at a low price. Just as sensible, a simple home-defense shotgun is better than none at all.
A sturdy set of action bars drive the bolt in the Sultan’s conventional gas-piston operating system.
Built with a CNC-machined aluminum receiver, the Sultan uses a traditional gas-piston operating system. The bolt rides on two sturdy action bars, and the recoil spring is located beneath the barrel. There are no high-tech coatings on the internals, and the gun comes with just one piston that works perfectly fine with suitable defensive loads. It's a straightforward, utterly reliable setup.
The 18.25-inch barrel is chambered for 2 3⁄4- and 3-inch shotshells and, like the receiver, has a matte-black finish. Sticking with value-priced simplicity, the barrel does not have a choke. I doubt anyone would argue that a fixed, straight cylinder bore won't suffice for delivering payloads at across-the-room distances. Who changes choke tubes on a home-defense shotgun anyway?
A robust post sits atop a ramp near the muzzle and serves as the Sultan's front, and only, sight. It's plain, black and hard to miss—as long as there is enough light to see the end of the barrel. In dark conditions you're going to need to hold a flashlight in your support hand to get a sight picture, which is a good idea to properly identify a threat in the first place.
A rubber-overmolded pistol grip is the only thing fancy about the Sultan, adding a degree of comfort when firing buckshot and slug loads.
Although there is no rear sight, serrations on the top of the receiver reduce glare that may shift your focus from the front post. Instead of being drilled and tapped for a base to allow mounting an optic, the receiver is milled to accept a claw-type mount. It will work, but a drilled and tapped receiver would make things easier.
Shoving four, 2 3⁄4-inch shotshells into the magazine tube will fill it to capacity. While two or three more rounds in a gun are never a bad thing, an extended tube would likely add to the cost of the Sultan. Besides, by the time you've exhausted five rounds, hopefully either the threat is no more or you've made it to cover where you can reload. Adding a sleeve-type shotshell carrier to the buttstock would keep a handful of rounds at the ready, just in case.
The polymer buttstock ends in a well designed, rubber recoil pad that is radiused at the heel and scalloped along the edges to prevent it from hanging up during the mount. Finger grooves and ridges on the rubber-overmolded pistol grip almost look out of place on the spartan Sultan, but they make for a comfortable and secure hold. If you prefer a high grip, you'll appreciate the rubber that extends into the wrist area of the buttstock, as it pads the web of your hand against recoil. The fore-end has a panel of molded checkering on each side, as well as a finger groove along the top. There are no sling-swivel studs, but it would be a simple project to add them.
Controls on the Sultan are conventional and include a crossbolt safety located at the rear of the polymer trigger guard, a bolt-release button on the right side of the receiver beneath the ejection port and a carrier latch on the left side of the receiver near the top of the trigger guard. The safety and carrier latch are small but adequate; practice will go a long way in learning to access them instinctively. On the other hand, the enlarged bolt handle is made for quick manipulation. Like the bolt, it is left in the white and polished.
The extended bolt handle protrudes from the receiver by about 1 inch for quick manipulation under stress.
At 5 and 7 yards, pattern centers from birdshot and buckshot loads impacted at point of aim. Stepping back to 10 and 15 yards with buckshot and slugs, I found point of impact was about 3 inches low—no doubt because of the high front sight and nothing at the rear to use as a reference. I could keep slugs in 6- to 10-inch groups at 25 yards; with no rear sight, the Sultan isn't meant for surgical precision at distances beyond those encountered in home-defense situations.
Our budgets shouldn't get in the way of protecting ourselves and our loved ones, but the bank account often has the final say. With a street price likely to be closer to $250 than $300, the Sultan P1 from ATI gives you a way to keep your household safe and in the black. That's the best kind of bargain.