This review of the Standard Mfg. Co. DP-12 shotgun was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Shooting Illustrated.
Firearm enthusiasts share a common affliction when viewing popular culture. We’re infamous for nitpicking poor gun handling and incongruous sound effects in TV shows and movies. One of the more common, egregious mistakes is hearing the distinctive "shik-shik!" of a 12-gauge pump being actuated when the shotgun in question is a double-barrel. Well, with the Standard Manufacturing Co. DP-12, we can't pick that particular nit.
You see, they’ve built what we’ve come to call the “Syzslak Special,” a pump-action shotgun that employs not one but two barrels (so-named in honor of a certain animated bartender infamous for racking the non-existent slide on his double-barreled shotgun). While the Kel-Tec KSG might have been the first to employ dual-magazine tubes and bullpup operation, Standard was the first to pair the surety of double-barrel operation with the reliability of a pump-action.
The Standard Mfg. Co. DP-12 operates uniquely. When charged, one pull of the trigger fires the right barrel, and a second pull fires the left. Work the slide to eject the two spent hulls and insert two fresh rounds—you’re guaranteed two shots with each slide rather than the one you have in a standard pump-action. It’s a ballistic ballet of seemingly complicated engineering, but it works quite well. Speaking of ejection, the DP-12 takes a page out of the Ithaca Model 37 manual and ejects from the bottom—quite handy for left-handed shooters.
This brings up another strong point for the DP-12, the high level of ambidextrous operation. Not only is the ejection set up to avoid the pitfalls of right-side ejection for left-handed shooters, but the slide release wraps around the trigger guard to be operated by either hand. Even sling-attachment points are provided on both sides of the gun at the muzzle, and the swivel can be swapped in seconds to accommodate righties or lefties.
Having 16 rounds of 3-inch, 12-gauge goodness at the ready is impressive, even more so when realizing that it’s eight sets of two shots each. The twin seven-round tubes are loaded through the bottom of the gun, with the loading gate located behind the pistol grip. It makes for rapid recharging on the fly, by letting the shotgun point at the ground while holding the pistol grip in the strong hand. The support hand can, with practice, load shells into the gate two-at-a-time, dramatically cutting down the time needed to reload. Getting two more rounds back into the gun can be accomplished quite rapidly, although if you haven’t stopped a threat after 16 rounds of 00 buck, you need air support, not a reload.
Running the Standard Mfg. Co. DP-12 fast on the range, I was able to put all 16 rounds on target within 6 seconds, an awful lot of 00 buckshot hitting in a short period of time. While not a grueling 1,000-round torture test, I ran slightly less than 200 rounds of birdshot, buckshot and rifled slugs through it, and only experienced one failure that was entirely operator error: In a speed drill, the pump was not fully engaged about halfway through the magazine—the classic short-stroke dilemma faced by all pump-action shotguns—but aside from that one glitch, the DP-12 performed flawlessly. It’s hardly fair to ding the shotgun for the user’s inelegance, though.
Two notes on the operation: If you’re conversant with the standard pump-action shotgun, you’ll need to re-learn one thing with the Standard Mfg. Co. DP-12. If you attempt to run the pump after firing only one shot, you will fail—because, by design, you need to fire both barrels before unlocking the action. For a shooter used to a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500, it’ll take a few tries to remember to pull the trigger again. Practice with the DP-12 a lot before employing it for defense, as you’ll likely need a few tries at the double-barrel operation to overcome the instinct to cycle the action after individual trigger pulls. Also, take care when running the pump-action that you don’t come off the foregrip and get your hand too close to the muzzle. The compactness of the bullpup design makes it shorter, which could lead to unpleasantness should you slip.
During testing, the heft of the Standard Mfg. Co. DP-12 was evident. It’s a weighty shotgun—slightly less than 10 pounds empty—but 16 rounds of 12-gauge ammunition adds close to another 2 pounds. Attach an optic and backup sights and the total weight can easily exceed 12 pounds. That’s great for soaking up recoil, not so great when carrying it around. Another downside to the DP-12 is the heavy trigger, but there’s no getting around that with the complicated bullpup linkage. It is a self-defense shotgun, after all, not a precision rifle.
The twin magazine tubes help mitigate the biggest drawback to the shotgun as a defensive longarm: limited capacity. Operation is dirt-simple thanks to the intuitive pump-action, and the bullpup design gives the DP-12 excellent balance despite considerable weight—and cuts down on felt recoil, too. Righties and lefties alike will find it simple to run and keep fed, and the bottom ejection keeps spent hulls from flying across your face. The Standard Mfg. Co. DP-12 works reliably, provides a considerable amount of firepower and (in the words of a co-worker) looks like it means business.