There is something about a stately old shotgun that lures us in and tempts us to pick it up, shoulder it and dream of where it’s been. Worn bluing and scarred walnut gives a hint of the days in a duck blind, grouse woods or a trap and skeet field.
Most of those venerable shotguns started out in factories and on gun shop racks, and hunters and shooters across America chose the ones they thought were best. Eventually, the greatest guns stood out. Here are 10 shotguns that I believe must be considered among the classics.
Things did not work out at Winchester or Remington at the time, and Browning next landed at Fabrique National. Soon after, the Automatic Five shotgun was first made in Belgium in 1902 (hence the moniker “Belgium Browning”).
Browning later secured an agreement with Remington in 1905, and the newly rebranded Remington Model 11 became the first autoloading shotgun made in America. Many will tell you that the A5 is known for kicking like the proverbial mule. To some fans of the A5, it will always be known as the “Humpback” due to its trademark squared receiver. Most who shoot the A5 say that the gun shoulders very nicely and is quick to get on target.
The big, broad receiver gives shooters an instant sighting plane, leading to the ease of aiming.
John Browning reportedly said the A5 shotgun was his greatest achievement. Coming from a man with dozens of firearms to his name, including that little number called the Colt 1911, that says something.
Remington aimed at pushing Winchester out of the pump shotgun market, and the company called upon a couple of in house gun designers, C.C. Loomis and John Pederson, to do it. Both men had learned from John Moses Browning. From the start, the Model 31 pump gun was known for a slick action achieved by hand-fit parts.
This system was neither fast nor cheap. In the end, the wonderful, clock like workings of the Model 31 may have been its downfall. By 1949, the Model 31 was off the market as gun makers sought out a faster and less expensive system.
This elegant but moderately priced shotgun hit the market in 1931 with a retail price of $107.50. That was a lot of money back then, but a working man could afford one if he scrimped a little. Val Browning perfected his father’s design, and a few years later, the Superposed was equipped with a single selective trigger.
While Superposed shotguns are not known for being light, the benefits of the revolutionary and durable design far outweighed any extra weight.
Story and Photos by Larry Case
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Mag-Fed, Pump-Action 12-Gauge
The new non-NFA pump-action 12 gauge includes a 15-inch barrel and 10-shell detachable box magazine as standard options.
Announced recently, Mossberg has added a detachable double-stack magazine to its 590M Shockwave.
Showcasing its raptor-style pistol grip on a pump-action is not only do-able but fun to shoot. Combine this with the new series of detachable double-stack magazine of 10, 15 or 20-round capacity mags. Which has an ambidextrous magazine release button for easy unload and reloading.
You now have plenty of slugs for shooting paper targets or for home defense.
The 590M features a safety strap on the corn cob fore-end along with sling swivel studs.
Designed for use with 2.75-inch shells only, the mags are polymer with a self-lubricating body, hardened steel feed lips, and integral stabilizing ribs.
MSRP at $721, it should be a hit.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY DAVE WORKMAN
[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]R[/su_dropcap]ecent tragic events have forced a growing number of armed citizens to the realization that while it is still a remote possibility, the potential for ﬁnding one’s self in the middle of a terrorist action or a riot has gone up, as has the need for a defensive weapon.
After San Bernardino and Orlando, our comfort zones have shrunk, and for the ﬁrst time many of us can remember, some in law enforcement have changed their tune from “call 911 and wait” to “run, hide or ﬁght.”
Unfortunately, San Bernardino taught us that we may not be able to run fast enough, and Orlando showed us that hiding and waiting to be saved might not be a survivable option. That leaves the third alternative.
According to a recent report by the Crime Prevention Research Center, the notion of carrying a handgun for personal protection has inspired somewhere north of 14 million citizens to arm up, and the number is rising steadily.
I PREFER A DEFENSIVE HANDGUN because it can always be with me. But it’s just one tool in the box. If it should ever come to pass that something major happens, I’ll use that sidearm to get me to something with a little more horsepower: my Mossberg 500 pump shotgun.
Many of us have good pump guns in the closet for bird hunting or maybe home defense. Mine was purchased some 25 years ago, as a package deal. It has a 20-inch upland bird barrel with a vent rib, and a second 18-inch barrel with an open choke. I ordered it with a “Speed Feed” synthetic stock designed to hold four extra shells, two on each side, in spring-loaded slots. With the plug out, that gave me ﬁve shells in the tubular magazine and one in the chamber, plus four spares.
Recently I added something new, thanks to Tac Star’s latest entry in the Side Saddle lineup, the “Slimline” version. Made from a tough rubber compound with a metal backing plate, this worthwhile add-on allows the user to have six extra shells at hand on the left side of the receiver in the event one has to grab and run. What previously gave me 10 rounds now oﬀers as many as 16 shots, provided I start oﬀ fully loaded.
INSTALLING THIS ACCESSORY is a snap. First, make sure your shotgun is completely unloaded. Then, using the proper diameter punch, push out the pin on the lower rear of the receiver that holds the trigger assembly in place, being careful to keep the trigger housing where it belongs.
Tac Star provides a two-piece screw that inserts from both ends. One end features a beveled head that ﬁts into the corresponding slot on the Side Saddle Slimline. Two small hex wrenches are also included to tighten this screw from both sides simultaneously.
However, don’t tighten the ﬁrst screw all the way. Leave enough slack for the mount to rotate so that it can be fastened up front. Remove the interior slide screw with a screwdriver inserted in the open ejection port. Insert the replacement screw that goes through a corresponding hole up front on the Side Saddle and tighten it down. Then ﬁnish tightening the rear screw.
It’s also a good idea to use a drop of blue Loctite to keep both screws in place.
You can pray to all the Gods in the heavens to keep you safe and out of harm’s way, or you can follow the age-old advice of the Boy Scouts and “always be prepared.” Personally, I’d rather prepare than simply pray, except to pray that all of my preparations never have to be used. ASJ
Story and photos by Larry Case
My brothers in camo, maybe you know by now, that I always try to be honest with you. I say this, because I was just a little nervous to start this month’s offering. One reason being, I think I have probably talked to you before about the importance of being prepared, knowing where your shotgun hits and having it sighted in (yes, I said “sighted in” for a shotgun).
The second reason is we have a new editor at Western Shooting Journal and after hearing about her background and experience I thought if I didn’t get this right, well, she might just whip my butt. Oh well, it has been whipped before, so here it goes.
As we are speeding into the month of March, many of us “shot-gunners” are thinking about (or should be) preparing for the spring turkey season. I want to caution you about merely grabbing the shotgun off the wall, and heading off to the woods. Success comes from having confidence in your weapon, and we achieve this by doing some shooting and knowing what the gun will do.
First, remember that this turkey shooting deal, in the spring, has evolved into something more like rifle shooting than “shot-gunning.” Ideally we are aiming, not pointing the gun, at a small, stationary target (the turkeys head and neck). Almost any kind of sights we put on the shotgun, more than just a standard bead, will help us.
The first level of improvement is installing an additional bead, about halfway down the rib. This gives you a “rear sight.” The shooter puts the rear bead on the front bead, front bead on the target and squeezes the trigger. A bead or rear sight, is meant to keep us from making the big mistake, the blunder, that saves more turkeys lives, than any other factor in our shooting. Ready? Here it is.
When we do not put our head on the gun and look squarely down a level rib, we shoot high and miss. I know, I’ve done it more than once. The front bead, is in fact, on the target, but your cheek is not fully down on the stock. The gun is tilted up and you sit there with your teeth in your mouth watching your turkey fly away. No amount of cursing and/or praying will bring him back.
Next level of improvement is rifle sights (check out what HizViz or Dead Ringer have to offer). An open, rear sight gives you a more precise way to aim the shotgun. Red Dot style scopes and other optics are an even more sophisticated way to aim. Even an inexpensive Red Dot scope can make a shotgun very deadly and the reason is simple. If the Red Dot style optic is properly sighted in, and the dot is on the target when the shooter pulls the trigger, you will hit the target. This takes the cardinal sin, of not keeping our head down, out of the picture. Now remember, we are talking about aiming the shotgun at a mostly stationary target. Any wing or clay shooting instructor will have a stroke, if you ask him about putting these sights on your gun.
Alright, now that we have an accurate way to aim, let’s talk about point of impact. One of the hardest things for some people to learn, is that all shotguns, do not shoot-where-they-look. If we fire the shotgun from a bench rest, the target may tell us the gun is shooting right, left, high, low, or whatever. Let me make it even clearer. Many shotguns will shoot differently with different loads or chokes. You have to put them on paper, folks!
Basically, what we are talking about here, is sighting in your shotgun, and you knew I would have some pointers on this. First, do this on a day when you are not in a hurry. If you are pressed for time, go home, and watch “swamp folks” or something else on television. To do this right, you need a large target holder (30 inches or better), a bench rest, sandbags or comparable, ammo, targets, and a stapler.
Have the loads, you are going to hunt with, on hand, but we are not going to start with them. To begin, let’s shoot any low brass, target loads that you have. Your first shot will be from 10 yard line (that’s right, 10 yards). You don’t need a turkey head target for this. A large piece of blank paper is better. Darken in a 4 inch circle, in the middle, to give you an aiming point and mark a straight line, vertical and horizontal, through your aiming point. All we are doing, is seeing where the pattern is going. Is the pattern evenly placed on either side of the lines? Is there about 50 percent of the pattern above the horizontal line and 50 percent below? Now, do this at the 20, 30 and 40 yard lines. Use a new piece of paper every time and if it looks like you are Ok and the gun is shooting-where-it-looks, you should then try your hunting loads at the same intervals. Now, you know where your gun is shooting, no question.
If the pattern is significantly off and you cannot adjust it with your sights, you are getting into an area where you need to speak to a qualified gunsmith. We are talking about straightening or bending a barrel here. Don’t let that scare you; a good gunsmith can do this in his sleep.
Well that’s about it till next time folks. Hope this is OK with the new editor. Man! That woman scares me!
Mossberg 535 Shotgun
You know my theory, about how many shotguns one needs? My answer is all you can get! So, I wanted to give you a peek, at a shotgun, that you can lust after.
Mossberg came out with something new, for 2015, on their 835 Ulti Mag and 535 ATS pump shotguns. The Marble Arms Bullseye sight system. If you don’t know about these sights, they have been around since Davy Crockett tracked his first bear.
I looked at these guns at SHOT Show; the shotgunis the same, functional, dependable, Mossberg pump gun with dual extractors, twin action bars, an anti-jam elevator, and that great ambidextrous top mounted safety. The Marble Bullseye, is a double ring design on the rear sight, and a light gathering fiber optic on the front. It allows the shooter to get on target quickly, and stay on target. The instant the front sight drifts out of the center ring, the shooter can see they are not on target. This sight is ideal for a turkey hunter.
The minute I picked this shotgun up and looked through the Marble sight, I liked it, and you will too. I have always thought that Mossberg shotguns are tough as a pine knot, and from what I can see the Marble Bullseye sight is as well. – Larry Case
(Photo: Linda Powell – Mossberg Director of Media Relations, with a Mossberg 535 at SHOT 2015)