The Ultimate

posted on April 19, 2011

It doesn't even exist—it's more a collection of parts and concepts that won't quite screw, bolt or otherwise fit together. Yet, I think there is value in looking at specific characteristics from some of the most successful and popular pump guns ever made. If we understand which features have merit and why they are sound, then we become better acquainted with the finest firearm choice possible for home defense—the pump shotgun.

Remington 870
My ultimate home-defense gun begins with the ubiquitous Remington 870. In so many ways, it can end there as well. From the 870, we take its sleekness of profile, the near-standard cross-bolt safety, its ease of disassembly and even its thread pattern for Rem Chokes.

But more than anything else, I want its numbers—10 million 870s manufactured and counting—because in those numbers lies an accessory aftermarket that rivals the AR-15. Practically anything of any worth manufactured today is made for the Remington 870.

Mossberg 500/590
Like the 870, the Mossberg 500 has proven itself over time. But for the ultimate, we go a step higher, and add the testing protocol that defines the Mossberg 590. According to the company, the 590 is the only shotgun to successfully pass the stringent U.S. Military Mil-Spec 3443 standard.

Within that standard come the following features: heavy-walled barrels, metal trigger guards, metal safety buttons and a Parkerized finish. If it's tough enough to stand up to the abuse of Uncle Sam, it's tough enough to be in our ultimate home-defense gun.

And of course, like the Remington 870, the Mossberg 500/590 delivers the production numbers required to make practically any imaginable accessory readily available.

Benelli Innovation—Ruggedness
From Benelli, we take its remarkable approach to making shotguns nearly indestructible, the innovative processes with which it builds them and its merciful enhancements that take away the punishment of 12-gauge recoil.For our dream gun, we'll incorporate the Crio System, where Benelli freezes its barrels to -300 degrees Fahrenheit to relieve stresses normally induced during hammer forging. Benelli also claims bore surfaces become more even-grained, exhibit greater lubricity and deliver better shot patterns. The second part of the Crio System is the Crio Chokes, which are longer than standard chokes, providing a more gradual constriction. Benelli cites as much as 13.2 percent more pellets on target delivered by the Crio System.

Less critical, but nevertheless equally welcome, is Benelli's renowned approach to perceived-recoil reduction. First developed for the company's Inertia Driven semi-automatics to take the bite out of recoil-operated platforms and enhanced for the new Vinci, the ComforTech Plus system reduces felt recoil and muzzle climb through a unique system of cushions and pads.

The gel recoil pad directs the force to the shoulder over a larger area and over a greater expanse of time. The comb pad cushions the cheek, where we are often most sensitive to bite. And, the stock has those 12 signature chevrons that simply eat up energy traveling to the shoulder.

Reducing muzzle rise can help shooters get back on target quickly for follow-up shots. The ComforTech system isn't just about taking the big bang out of the shotgun; it's a system that can enable us to be better shotgunners.

From the Model 97, the famed Winchester trench gun of World War I, we incorporate a feature that wasn't there: the trigger disconnect now standard on virtually all shotguns. The lack of the trigger disconnect on the Model 97 enabled users to keep the trigger held down to slam-fire the next round immediately upon chambering and closing the action. Is this a necessary component for a self-defense gun? No, but it certainly has a cool factor that can't be understood until you've slammed a few rounds downrange.

Of more practical use is the lightning-quick cycling action of the Winchester Model 1300. Innovative in this design is the use of a four-lug rotary bolt similar to that found on an AR-15.

The recent explosion in all things tactical, led by AR-style rifles, has infused the shotgun with new legions of products available.

However, the ultimate home-defense shotgun, in my opinion, needs one attachment more than any other—a flashlight. Bumps in the night are just that, an unknown presence in a low- or no-light scenario. Morally, ethically and most important, legally, we are bound to positively identify a potential threat before taking action.

My choice is SureFire's Shotgun Forend WeaponLight. It replaces the factory fore-end with a polymer unit that has an integrated 100-lumen SureFire light and all switching, so there are no external wires to get hung up.Take the 870's receiver, the 590's battle-proven barrel and metal parts, Benelli's innovation and manufacturing and Winchester's speed, then add in the decisive advantage of a SureFire weaponlight, and you have the ultimate home-defense gun. Well, one version anyway. Take the time to determine what you like in the world of pump guns, and see how your ultimate scattergun matches up.


Mossberg 500 and 590 shotguns
Mossberg 500 and 590 shotguns

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