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Old October 25th, 2007 #1
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Default Top Five Combat Shotguns

TOP FIVE COMBAT SHOTGUNS
by Kevin E. Steele

(Guns & Ammo / December 1994)


A Close Look at the Fighting Scattergun Quintet That Has Battled Its
Way Through This Century and Into the Next!! Normally, selecting a top five or top ten of anything requires a great deal of deliberation and often compromise. One must judiciously weigh pros and cons to develop a cogent selection that will generate as little controversy as possible among those in the know. However, such was not the case when I made my selection of the top five combat shotguns. My decision was almost simultaneous with the question. In my opinion then, the top five combat shotguns from the origination of the genre to the present are, in order of appearance, the Winchester M97, Winchester M12, Remington M870, Beneli Super 90 M1/3 and the Mossberg M590 Series. Let's examine each a little more closely.

WINCHESTER M97 Designed by John M. Browning as a product-improved variant of the pre-existing Model 93, the Model 97 Winchester was a classic design that almost single handedly led American shotgunners from the era of the double guns into the modern age of mechanical repeaters. In fact, more than one million of these guns were produced by Winchester over a nearly 60-year production period. Officially adopted in World War I, the Winchester "Trench Gun, Model 1917" utilized the pre-existing Model 97 Winchester shotgun with a number of "improvements" specifically designed for warfare. These included a ventilated steel overbarrel handguard and a Springfield Armory W-type bayonet adapter, designed to accept the then-numerous Model 1917 Enfield bayonet. The Model 1917 trench gun featured a 20-inch cylinder bore barrel and a five-shot magazine. The action was bottom-loading and side-ejecting. As the gun used an exposed hammer, no secondary safety was necessary. The inertia-locking slide was retracted by first pressing the trigger, then sliding the fore-end forward and then to the rear. Government-purchased Model 97s were of the earlier, solid-frame variety. Unfortunately, the trench gun order also included Model 12s and the numbers were never separated. It is believed that of the 19,196 trench guns delivered to themilitary during WWI, two-thirds were Model 97s. The Model 97 trench gun was capable of tremendous firepower. Issued to AEF soldiers with paper-hulled 00 buckshot loads holding nine pellets, the 97 could lay down 54 .33-caliber projectiles in a matter of seconds simply by holding back the trigger and rapidly working the slide, as the gun did not have a trigger disconnector. Today's owner of a Model 97 trench gun is armed with a fighting arm that has stood the test of time. Apart from their short 2 3/4-inch chambers, these guns are as versatile and deadly today as they were almost a century ago.

WINCHESTER MODEL 12 This streamlined, internal-hammer shotgun is quite simply an American classic. Original Model 12s of all variations continue to command high prices, and the popularity of the gun is such that Browning Arms recently reintroduced it in smallbore configuration. First appearing in 20 gauge in 1912, the Model 12 helped fill the Army's order for nearly 20,000 Winchester trench guns in 1918. However, at the onset of WWII, Model 12 trench and riot guns were again called to service. During this conflict, more than 80,000 guns were ordered by the U.S. Government, and best estimates show that 6,000-plus were outfitted as full blown trench guns. The Model 12 remained the preferred standard-issue military shotgun well into the 1960s. The guns served with distinction in Vietnam and were eventually replaced by Remington M870s and Winchester Model 1200s. Like the Model 97, the Model 12 combat shotgun has a 20-inch cylinder bore barrel and a five-shot magazine tube. While the slide lock is of the inertia type, the Model 12, like the Model 97, has a specific slide-lock release button mounted at the rear of the trigger-guard on the left side. The action is operated by first pressing the release button, working the slide forward to unlock and then to the rear, exposing the chamber. The action is bottom-feeding and side-ejecting. Model 12 trench guns featured the steel handguard and bayonet adapter just like the M97's. Also like the M97, the Model 12 does not have a trigger disconnector, so shells can be fired as fast as you can work the fore-end, while keeping the trigger depressed.

REMINGTON M870 Introduced in 1950, Remingon's reasonably priced Model 870 slide-action repeater quickly became America's darling, supplanting the popular but increasingly expensive Model 12. Almost as fast, the Remington also became the favorite of American law enforcement and military, being the shotgun of choice for the armed professional. For decades now, the Model 870 has been the combat shotgun against which all others are judged. The basic 970 or 870P is a true-to-form riot or combat gun, available in a number of barrel lengths from 14 to 20 inches, with three to seven-round magazines. A bottom-feeding, side-ejecting design, the Model 870 also features a choice of fixed hardwood or synthetic stocks and, until recently, a folding steel buttstock was available to civilians as well. A choice of sights is also available for this pump gun, these being a simple brass bead or rifle sights for the slug shooter. Aftermarket "ghost ring" sights can be found from a number of suppliers. The Remington Model 870 has acquired a very well-deserved reputation for rugged durability and considerable dependability. Also, the guns have been taken to an even higher form by Scattergun Technologies, which transforms a basic 870 barreled action into the ne-plus-ultra of slide action combat shotguns. Scattergun Technologies' Model 870s can be fitted with a host of practical, tactical accessories, to include Parkerized metal finish, adjustable ghost-ring rear sight teamed to a highly visible ramp front sight with luminous insert, an extended magazine tube holding seven rounds, a Sidesaddle shell holder mounted to the left side of the receiver that holds six extra shells, a synthetic buttstock and fore-end, a high- visibility non-binding magazine follower, a jumbo-head safety button, a three-way adjustable sling and swivels and various flashlight and laser sight options. In total, Scattergun Tech offers 10 variants of the Model 870, many of which are sold to U.S. law enforcement, including the Border Patrol.

BENELLI M1/M3
In my opinion, this series of autoloaders exemplifies the most highly evolved combat shotgun from a technological standpoint. Beginning with the M121M1 guns of more than a decade ago, this original design gave way to the improved Super 90 guns, to which the M1 and M3 guns belong. Using a highly reliable inertia-recoil method of operation in tandem with a multi-lug rotating bolt, the Benelli M1/M3 guns are not subject to the reliability shortcomings inherent in many gas-operated autoloading designs. In addition, the cyclic rate of the Benellis is extremely fast. The basic M1 Super 90 is available in a number of variations involving barrel lengths (all with three-inch chambers) including a 14-inch-barreled Entry model. Sights include standard bead, rifle sights, ghost-ring sights, laser and flashlight models. Magazine capacity is five or seven rounds, depending upon barrel length. Fixed, pistolgrip and folding synthetic stocks are also available. The M3 is a special variant designed to be used as either a semi-auto or slide action. The slide action is intended to fire and eject specialty munitions that will not cycle through a semi-auto action. The Benelli guns are very user friendly, and their autoloading operation gives them a number of tactical advantages over the older slide-action designs. The Benellis are truly state-of-the-art combat shotguns.

MOSSBERG M500 SERIES
The Mossberg M590 is the latest military-adopted design, beginning with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in 1987. The Model 590 uses the reliable Model 500 slide action, featuring dual action bars. A ventilated overbarrel steel handguard is standard, as are Mossberg's own ghost-ring sights. The primary feature of the Model 590 is its nine-round (2 3/4-inch shells) magazine capacity, linked to a 20-inch, cylinder bore barrel. Yet another modernization is the 590's synthetic buttstock and fore-end. Both blued and Parkerized variants of the M590 are currently available, as are other M500 combat-shotgun variants with differing barrel lengths and other features. The M500 series of combat guns features an easily accessible tang-mounted sliding safety, which I personally prefer to the traditional crossbolt/ triggerguard setup. The slide lock is to the rear of the triggerguard, on the left side. A bottom-loading side-ejecting design, the M500 series guns use modern lightweight aluminum receivers. The bolt then mates to a steel barrel extension to create rugged steel-to-steel lockup.

THE BOTTOM LINE
In choosing a combat shotgun today, the reader could not go far wrong with any of my "Top 5" choices. The Winchester gns are truly timeless, offering the same degree of reliability and strength that forged their combat reputation in the early days of this century. While not inexpensive, these guns, even if purchased today, will deliver both reliable service and a wise investment. Remington's Model 870 and Scattergun Tech variants are excellent guns, particularly the later guns as they provide tactical features that have been well thought out by professionals. Mossberg's M500 series of guns will give you great performance at a veryaffordable price, built as they are to current, stringent military specifications. And finally, no one would argue the fact that the Benelli M1/M3 guns areconsidered by many -- myself included -- to be the Rolls-Royces of the combat shotgun genre, but you'll pay for what you get, and $800-plus is alot for most folks to pay for a home-security shotgun. But, if you've gotit, spend it on a Benelli and I seriously doubt you'll be dissatisfied. No matter what you select finally, my top five combat shotguns are winners over all!
 
Old October 25th, 2007 #2
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Notice how Smith and Wesson didn’t make the list. I shot one once expecting some spectacular shotgun because after all it was an S&W. I was wrong, it had so many flaws there is no way I would trust my life to one. It wasn’t just the gun I was shooting either, the entire design had several flaws.

I was shooting a pump and where the Mossberg has 2 rails to work the action the S&W had only 1. It also had some serious design flaws that gave problems to feeding and locked up the action.

I later found out that S&W contracted the gun through New England Arms, CVA or one of those cheap gun companies.

If you ever want to buy a S&W shotgun, don’t. Go to Wal-mart and get a Mossberg for $189 and do some upgrades on it. Around here used Mossberg shotguns with plastic furniture go for about $99-120.

From my experience for the money Mossberg is the only way to go. There are slightly better shotguns out there but not worth 3 times what one would pay for a Mossberg.

I shot the Mossberg pump 9 shot defender series gun and it was smooth right out of the box. Most guns need broken in but this one shot flawlessly as fast as I could work the action without a single problem of any kind. I think I poured 300 rounds through the Mossberg in a single day and didn’t have a single jam, feeding problem or anything. Really I can't ask a gun to do any more than that.

As far as the Benelli goes why pay $800 for a gun when you can buy a Mossberg Defender for around $200 that will give you the same service and reliability? Take the left over $600 and buy and AK-47 and a 38 special pistol. It just seems ridiculous to dump that kind of money in a gun that isn’t going to serve any better than the cheaper guns. A few upgrades and we are looking at $1,200 for a shotgun, who would want to go into combat with a $1,200 shotgun. Combat guns are rugged, reliable and cheap and you don’t care to scratch them. I can get a nice 4-wheel drive pickup and a Mossberg for what a tricked out Benelli would cost.

One a side note the S&W shotgun felt and maneuvered great, as far as weight and just overall feel it had the Mossberg beat hands down. But the internal quality is what will save your life. It doesn’t matter how a gun looks and feels if you have to take 2 minutes to clear a jam or a part breaks when you need it the most.
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Last edited by Sean Martin; October 25th, 2007 at 02:42 AM.
 
Old October 25th, 2007 #3
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Notice how the Streetsweeper Dao 12, Spas 12, Usas 12, Spas 15, Striker 12, Saiga, Pancor Jackhammer did not make the list. It seems that the simpler shotguns are better.
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Old October 25th, 2007 #4
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A reproduction of the Model 97 Trench shotgun made by Norinco was available in the ZOGland inexpensively until ZOG banned their sale, however they are still available in occupied Kanuckistan from Marstar for $349 Kanadian ZOGBux. But like Doc has pointed out one could build a hell of a Mossberg 500 for less money.
 
Old October 25th, 2007 #5
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I'm certainly no expert, but the Ithaca 37 I bought at a gun show at the Houston Astro Dome about 35 years ago seems to be a great gun. It won't shoot magnum 3 inch shells, but it will hold 7 "2 3/4" inch shells in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. If for some reason you wanted to, you can hold the trigger down and every time you pump the slide it goes boom. A waste of ammo, but I had to try it a few times.

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Old October 25th, 2007 #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enkidu View Post
I'm certainly no expert, but the Ithaca 37 I bought at a gun show at the Houston Astro Dome about 35 years ago seems to be a great gun. It won't shoot magnum 3 inch shells, but it will hold 7 "2 3/4" inch shells in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. If for some reason you wanted to, you can hold the trigger down and every time you pump the slide it goes boom. A waste of ammo, but I had to try it a few times.

Enkidu
Nothing wrong with the Model 37 Ithaca riot shotgun, except perhaps availability. Occasionally one can still obtain one in good condition at a reasonable price. I purchased one about 8 years ago for $75. Norinco makes a knockoff that is still available from Marstar in Kanada.
 
Old October 25th, 2007 #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6KILLER View Post
Nothing wrong with the Model 37 Ithaca riot shotgun, except perhaps availability. Occasionally one can still obtain one in good condition at a reasonable price. I purchased one about 8 years ago for $75. Norinco makes a knockoff that is still available from Marstar in Kanada.
I must be a little sentimental. I just pulled the Ithaca out of the closet and found my gun cleaning stuff. Tomorrow, I think Iíll clean it, and maybe call a friend who has 150 acres out in the boonies. I havenít shot the gun in years and that is a shame.

It is the gun I have had the longest. When I got out of the Navy in 1972 I had been out of the US for about 2 Ĺ years. I went home to find that my dad had sold all my guns, my Gibson guitar, and my 43 lb Bear Cub recurve bow. I had to start over from scratch.

Enkidu

Damn, I just handled the little Ithaca. Iíd forgotten how light it is. Feels great.
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Old October 25th, 2007 #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enkidu View Post
Damn, I just handled the little Ithaca. Iíd forgotten how light it is. Feels great.
They are light weight and well balanced with a nice feel to them.
 
Old October 26th, 2007 #9
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My feeling: The more people get into the minutia of guns the farther they get from the purpose of guns and therefore are more likely not to use them.
 
Old October 26th, 2007 #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NS Cat View Post
Notice how the Streetsweeper Dao 12, Spas 12, Usas 12, Spas 15, Striker 12, Saiga, Pancor Jackhammer did not make the list. It seems that the simpler shotguns are better.
First off the street sweeper is not a legal gun to own anymore. The Spas 12 is not completely reliable and easy to operate. With itís double action it is not reliable in all different terrains and weather. The Saiga is an extreme letdown. The most common magazine is a 5-shot and can only be easily loaded with the action back. The 10 shot magazine is bulky and difficult to maneuver. Also an automatic tube fed shot gun can be loaded faster and easier with speed loaders. The tube speed loaders are easier carried than 12-guage magazines as well.
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Old October 28th, 2007 #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG3000 View Post
My feeling: The more people get into the minutia of guns the farther they get from the purpose of guns and therefore are more likely not to use them.
Perhaps if you Dune Coons payed a little more attention to the minutia of your weapons, you would be more effective @ countering ZOG and the Joops. This philosophy along with the only Allah is perfect BS is why you Dune Coons have made Dismal military aviators. I can remember you arrogant asses picking your big yid noses in my class in Ishfahan while I was trying to teach you Dune Coons about pitch cone coupling and low G in the Bell AH-1 Cobra.

Last edited by 6KILLER; October 28th, 2007 at 12:49 PM.
 
Old October 28th, 2007 #12
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Dune coon!@? Dude I thought you were kidding before lol. I'm not a jew, or an arab for that matter. I'm Irish-German American.

Although, I did buy an AK variant because it is easy to maintain and has the biggest bullets.
 
Old November 17th, 2007 #13
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This is good information. As a woman, I have gone into a gun shop asking to buy a shotgun and am always deterred, because I'm a woman. Don't get me wrong, I am well armed, but I think a shotgun would make a nice addition to my "toys" on hand. With some basic facts as you have listed, I will be able to make a good choice from the stock available at the local gun shops.
 
Old November 17th, 2007 #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG3000 View Post
My feeling: The more people get into the minutia of guns the farther they get from the purpose of guns and therefore are more likely not to use them.
How does someone come up with this sort of shit?
 
Old November 17th, 2007 #15
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I do, apparently
 
Old November 17th, 2007 #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cate View Post
This is good information. As a woman, I have gone into a gun shop asking to buy a shotgun and am always deterred, because I'm a woman. Don't get me wrong, I am well armed, but I think a shotgun would make a nice addition to my "toys" on hand. With some basic facts as you have listed, I will be able to make a good choice from the stock available at the local gun shops.
Have you ever thought of buying a Charles Daily youth model20 gauge with a screw in choke? You can get an Undertaker extra full turkey choke and shot 71/2 shells in it and still do some damage. The gun will hold about a 6-inch pattern at 30 feet. Even with birdshot it will do some serious damage to the head or whatever without the recoil or going through walls. Also since it is a youth model it is small and it is camouflaged. They hold 6 rounds and go for under $200 out the door at Wal-mart.

Unless you are invaded by aliens or indestructible zombies I donít know of anyone that will keep coming after being sprayed in the face with 40 pellets of 20 gauge shot.

Also you can get a 12 gauge, cut the barrel down to 1 inch above the maximum legal limit and have an open bore. Light shot or even buck shot wonít have much of a kick with an open bore gun.

If you are worried about recoil just remember the less choke the lighter the recoil.
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