10 Things I’d Look For In A SHTF Shotgun

This Winchester SXP would make a fine last resort shotgun.

This Winchester SXP would make a fine last resort shotgun.

Recently I received a Winchester SXP Marine Defender shotgun for testing and evaluation, and this got me thinking. Yeah, I know. Me thinking is a big stretch of the imagination, but just go with it, OK?

You hear a lot of scary scenarios from the prepper community. Some of them are realistic, others – not so much. Nuclear war, contagion or maybe just the threat of Joe Biden becoming President – there are an infinite number of possible tragedies that might drop kick us right back to the age of foraging, scavenging and no more Taco Bell runs at 3am. Whether or not you believe that the world will revert to Cro-Magnon times, it’s still a good idea to think about preparedness.

Depending on where you live, there are everyday threats that might cause you to be on your own for a while. Live on the east coast? Hurricanes knock on the door each and every year. West coast? How about those earthquakes? Flyover country? Tornados can come at any time. Washington DC? The congressional 401k plan might decrease in value, and that would be tragic indeed. No matter where you live, there are very real threats to all of us. Rosie O’Donnell could get her own TV show. Piers Morgan could become White House Press Secretary. Barack Obama could be elected President. Who knows what kind of epic disasters we might face?

With this in mind, I started thinking about my ideal qualities of an SHTF shotgun. You know, when the masses become all cranky and protesty because the Kardashians stopped doing reality TV.

While pondering all the ways civilization could end, I came up with a list of ten things I really care about in a save-my-bacon and shoot-my-bacon shotgun.

The matte chrome finish helps reduce glare and protect from the elements. Note the sling swivel on the front of the magazine tube.

The matte chrome finish helps reduce glare and protect from the elements. Note the sling swivel on the front of the magazine tube.

Sludge-Proof Finish

While the bluing on a Beretta DT-11 will make me stop and gawk, that doesn’t help much when we’re all eating 12-year-old canned pudding and squirrels.

I want a shotgun that requires no maintenance except for loading. No more oily t-shirts to wipe it down before retiring it to the gun safe. Hey, in the end of civilization scenario, none of us will be lugging around a humidity-controlled gun safe anyway, right?

Our example Winchester SXP has a matte chrome finish. It’s silverish, but lower glare due to the rough finish. You can also get them in black chrome, which offers the same corrosion resistance with reduced visibility.

Read the rest a GunsAmerica!

Be sure to check out our latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

FNH Makes A Competition Shotgun? The FNH SC-1 Competition Over/Under

As you can see by its appearance, the FNH SC-1 is built for competition.

As you can see by its appearance, the FNH SC-1 is built for competition.

FN. It’s a little confusing if you’ve been around a while. Is FN the same as Browning? What’s Herstal? What’s FNH? Is that different than Fabrique Nationale? Should John Browning win a Nobel Prize? Are Belgian waffles all they’re cracked up to be?

Let’s answer these questions with a simple history review. In 1889 Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (FN) was formed for the sole purpose of building 150,000 Mauser rifles for the Belgian Government. A few years later, in 1897, FN’s sales manager traveled to the United States to learn more about bicycle manufacture. We don’t know exactly why, or whether or not he wore those tight biking shorts, but on that trip, biker-student Hart Berg met John Moses Browning, may he rest in peace. That chance encounter kicked off a long and prosperous partnership where FN manufactured many of Browning’s designs including the Browning Auto-5 shotgun, Browning Automatic Rifle and the Hi-Power, which was partly designed by John Browning. John Browning did FN such a solid that when he died of a heart attack in 1926, they stuck his body in the FN board room for visitation. Ewww. I know corporate boardroom meetings are boring, but at least they don’t (usually) include dead people.

Yes, FNH does make a competition shotgun.

Yes, FNH does make a competition shotgun.

Consistent with its military heritage, FN made military rifles, refurbished millions more after the big WWII kerfluffle and then went on to make the FN FAL starting in 1947.

In 1970, Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre officially changed its name to FN Herstal. Just because. Later in the 1970’s, FN acquired controlling interest in Browning, hence some of that confusion between the companies. Now having an insatiable appetite for American gun companies, FN next bought the U.S. Repeating Arms Company, including the license to manufacture Winchester-brand firearms.

Since that time, FN has manufactured gajillions of military rifles including the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M-16, M4/M4A1, MK46, MK48 and M240L machine guns, and the MK19 grenade launcher.

As to the name stuff, FN Herstal begat it’s own parent, The Herstal Group. FN Herstal then begat FN America, who begat FN Manufacturing and FNH USA. And so on and so forth. Got it?

Anyway, it all nets out to this. You might think of FN as a tactical arms company and not one to beget a competition clays shotgun. But remember the brief history lesson: one of FN’s first products was the Browning A5 autoloader shotgun, right? Since that time, FN has produced the FN SLP Standard auto-loading shotgun and the FN P-12 pump action shotgun.

But we’re here to talk about the FN SC-1 Competition shotgun, so let’s get to it.

What is it?

This SC-1 came with five Invector Plus choke tubes.

This SC-1 came with five Invector Plus choke tubes.

The FNH SC-1 Over/Under is, you guessed it, a double-barrel shotgun. It’s designed expressly for clays competition, although there is nothing about it that would discourage other uses. Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to hunt ducks or close geese with it. Why close geese? As a competition gun, it’s got a 2 ¾ inch chamber. Besides, using 3 or 3 ½-inch shells in a competition gun is kind of silly, and you’d only put yourself at a disadvantage. You certainly don’t need the extra power to break clays and the extra recoil would hurt your second shots, not to mention giving you a tremendous flinch as the competition wears on. Remember, unlike hunting, almost any clay target sport will involve hundreds of shots per day. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really into shooting a hundred or so 3 ½ inch turkey loads in one sitting – I have enough pain in my life.

Also giving a nod to its competition design goals, you’ll find ported barrels and easy to configure chokes. One of the two models also features an adjustable comb.

That’s the quick introduction, now let’s talk about the details.

Specifications of the FN SC-1

  • Overall Length: 46.38 inches with extended chokes
  • 30-inch ported and back-bored barrels
  • Invector-Plus choke threads
  • 12-gauge
  • 2 ¾-inch chambers
  • 10mm ventilated top rib
  • Fiber optic front sight with white mid-bead
  • Laminated wood stock
  • Adjustable or fixed comb models
  • Adjustable, recoil activated single-stage trigger
  • Tang safety and barrel selector switch
  • Weight: 8.2 pounds (empty)
  • 5.5 to 7.7 lb. trigger weight

MSRP (Adjustable comb models): $2,449.00
MSRP (Fixed comb models): $2,149.00

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Pic of the Day: A Competition Shotgun from FNH?

 

This FNH SC-1 Competition Shotgun has been busy!

This FNH SC-1 Competition Shotgun has been busy!

You probably know FN from their massive military contracts. Or perhaps their pistols. Or maybe their tactical shotguns. But they also make an excellent competition clays shotgun – the SC-1.

We’re finishing up a full review on this one for GunsAmerica and it’s a beauty. Stay tuned…

Photo Gallery: Beretta’s 692 Sporting Shotgun with B-Fast Comb

Here are some photos of the first Beretta 692 Sporting model with B-Fast comb and 32″ barrels to make its way to the US. Look for a full review soon!

Shooting the Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun in the Dark

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

The business end of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun, shown here with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro light and laser and two-round magazine tube extension.

Recently I wrote about my first experiences with the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. I love the “shotgun carbine” idea of a short, light and handy defensive shotgun. What I didn’t get into before was the idea that if you ever had to use a defensive shotgun, it would probably be in the middle of the night, meaning in the dark.

I decided to take a shot at gearing up the Beretta 1301 for night time use and testing it in dark conditions. The perfect opportunity was the recent Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition. If you’re not familiar, it’s a three gun event with one important twist of the rules. The competition takes places in the middle of the desert outside of Bend, Oregon, but the shooting doesn’t start until after 9pm. If you haven’t been in the middle of the high desert in the middle of the night recently, I can tell you, it’s dark. Really dark. No residual light from nearby towns. No street lights. Heck, the range doesn’t even have electricity or running water. When the International Space Station passes overhead, they have to pause the match because of the glare.

Anyway, in preparation for my midnight rendezvous, I added some goodies to the Beretta 1301. 

First, I called the nice folks at Crimson Trace and politely explained to them that since I was risking life and limb to compete in this match, they should loan me a light or laser for the shotgun. They sent a Rail Master Pro, which offers both 100 lumen light and a red laser that activates with a simple paddle switch. You can configure the light and laser to operate in different modes – a strobe light, for example, but set mine up so that movement of the paddle would turn on both light and laser until i hit the paddle again to turn them off. I mounted this on the barrel with a Nordic Components magazine tube extension and barrel clamp with rail so that I could reach it with my support hand. As I’m right-handed, I put it on the right side of the barrel, so it’s out of the way of my support hand grip, but easily accessible with my support hand fingers when I want to flip it on.

Next, I called Kristi at Aimpoint. Like my Aimpoint PRO, Kristi has never let me down when it comes to good advice about optics. She loaned me an Aimpoint Micro H-1 optic. I guessed that it would line up perfectly with the iron sights on the. Beretta 1301 and it did. I could see the iron sights through the bottom half of the Aimpoint Micro. If my optic ever failed, then I would have a backup option of using the iron sights. This seemed like a good idea until Kristi reminded me that the whole deal about Aimpoint optics is that the batteries run 75% of forever. In this case, you can leave the Micro on for about 5 years non-stop. I figured I could remember to change batteries every couple of years or so to avoid any risk of downtime. 

Aimpoint_Micro_H1_Beretta_1301_Tactical-1

The Aimpoint Micro H1 mounted on the Beretta 1301 Tactical’s rail.

Now, when I turn out the lights, I have a compact shotgun with a forward-looking tactical light and I see two red dots out yonder – one from the laser and the other from the Aimpoint. 

For ammo, the choice was easy. I needed something reliable with shot size with a dense enough pattern to break stationary and flying clays at high speed, but with enough “oomph” to knock down steel targets with one shot. I chose Federal Premium Gold Medal Target loads with 7 1/2 shot

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

Be sure to check out Tom’s latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

A Look At The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun

The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is all business.

The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is all business.

I recently got my hot little hands on a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. After checking out the floor model at the 2014 NRA Annual Meeting, I decided I had to have one. Why? Because it handles like a shotgun carbine. If you’ve shot short, light weight and compact rifles, then you know exactly what I mean. Now envision those attributes in a shotgun and you’ve got the Beretta 1301 Tactical.

The Aimpoint Micro H1 optic fit perfectly and allowed for co-witness of the ghost ring sights.

The Aimpoint Micro H1 optic fit perfectly and allowed for co-witness of the ghost ring sights.

Right out of the box, it’s just under 38 inches long, which is right in line with other famous carbines like the Ruger 10/22 and World War II era M1 Carbine. Beretta ships this gun in its shortest configuration. The butt stock has removable spacers included in the box that allow you to add ½, 1” or 1 ½ inches to the stock length to arrive at the length of pull that you want. Me? I loved the short and handy configuration, so I left the spacers in the box for future use in the event my arms grow longer.

The 1301 Tactical is offered in 12 gauge only at this point and features a 3 inch chamber. In a small, lightweight shotgun like this one, you really don’t want to shoot 3 ½ inch shells anyway – it’s not intended to be a turkey hunting gun.

Differing from it’s 1301 competition sibling, the 1301 Tactical model sports some differences. First, it has an 18-inch barrel as compared to the Competition choices of 21 or 24 inches. It’s also got adjustable ghost ring sights. Both the ghost ring in the rear and sturdy post up front are protected with metal “wings” to save your sights from getting knocked around in the back of the SWAT wagon. More importantly, the 1301 Tactical model has a receiver-mounted rail just in front of the rear sight so you can mount optics. For me, this just screamed for an Aimpoint Micro H1. With a 2-MOA red dot and compact size, it turned out to be the perfect solution. The quick-release mount on the Aimpoint positioned the optic at a perfect height so the iron sights are just visible in the bottom section of the glass. If your battery croaks, you’ve got iron sights ready to go without need to remove your optic.

Beretta_1301_Tactical-15

Magazine capacity on the 1301 Tactical is a bit less than that of the 1301 Competition due to its shorter length. In mine, I can stuff 4, and sometimes 5, shells into the tube depending on the shell. Be aware that Beretta ships this model with a magazine plug in place, temporarily limiting tube capacity to two shells. No worries, just pop out the plug and you’re good to go.

Beretta_1301_Tactical-26Speaking of magazine capacity, I felt compelled to add a Nordic Components extension tube to my test model. While I could have chosen a longer tube, I opted for a 2 shell extension. This makes the overall length of the magazine tube just a hair longer than the barrel. I get two extra shells with no sacrifice of the compact handling qualities. Now, my total capacity, at least using Federal 12 gauge Gold Metal Target loads, is 7 in the tube plus one in the chamber. If you’re a 3 gun competitor, you might notice this sets this shotgun up nicely for…

The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event!

While I was itching to try this shotgun anyway after seeing at the NRA Annual Meeting, I really wanted to test it in such a way as to give it a total workout. The idea was to configure this gun as a useful home defense model and the midnight 3 gun competition is a great way to test gear to see how it performs in the dark. In addition to the Aimpoint Micro H1 optic, I added a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro up front on the right side. A Nordic Components tube / barrel clamp with rail segment gave me the perfect spot to do that.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

Be sure to check out Tom’s latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun Review: A “Carbine” Shotgun

The Beretta 1301 Tactical is all business with ghost ring sights and a rail for optics.

The Beretta 1301 Tactical is all business with ghost ring sights and a rail for optics.

Have you ever shot an M1 Garand, followed by an M1 Carbine? Or perhaps a FAL, followed by a Ruger 10/22? Or maybe a full size over and under 12 gauge, followed by a compact coach gun?

If so, then you already have an idea of the relative feel of the Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun.

What attracted me to this gun for testing and evaluation is its compact size, light weight and super quick handling. You can think of it as a shotgun carbine. With an 18.5 inch barrel and short stock, the entire length is just under 38 inches long. As a comparison, the M1 Carbine of WWII fame is 35.6 inches end to end, while a Ruger Carbine measures 37 inches.

Just the specs…

In standard configuration, you'll be able to fit four 2 ¾ inch shells in the tube, but you'll have to remove the plug first.

In standard configuration, you’ll be able to fit four 2 ¾ inch shells in the tube, but you’ll have to remove the plug first.

The factory configured stock is really, really compact, offering a length of pull of just about 13 inches. As I wanted a compact shotgun, I left it just as is – almost. More on that a bit later. If you prefer a longer stock and length of pull, Beretta includes two spacers that work together or separately. One is ½ inch while the other is 1 inch, so choose the length you want and mix and match accordingly. As with most other Beretta guns, you can also tweak drop and cast, although I had no need – this one fit me out of the box and offered a natural sight line right down the sights.

Offered in 12 gauge only, the 1301 Tactical features a 3-inch chamber, not that you need it. If you want to get thumped, feel free, you can load the big boy shells.

Magazine capacity is a bit of a mystery. Some retailers quote the 1301 Tactical as 4+1 while other say 5+1. Beretta doesn’t exactly say in their website specs, but the owners manual indicates 4+1, so I just tried it. Mine fit four 2 ¾ inch shells plus one in the chamber. Just a heads up, Beretta ships the gun with the magazine plug installed, which limits you to two shells in the tube. Just remove the end cap and pop that out to take advantage of full magazine capacity.

The controls

The controls, bolt handle, bolt release and safety are all oversized and easy to manipulate with or without gloves.

The controls, bolt handle, bolt release and safety are all oversized and easy to manipulate with or without gloves.

The primary controls are all oversized and easy to operate, presumably to enable operation with gloved hands. This also makes it a solid combination home defense and competition shotgun.

The bolt release button is oblong with textured ridges, so operation is easy and positive. The bolt handle is also oversized, and shaped somewhat like a snow cone cup, with the pointy end in the receiver. The shape encourages your fingers to stay on the handle when operating it quickly. The push through safety bar is also oversized and reversible.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition 2nd Edition 2014. It’s ON SALE now for a limited time!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Gun Review: Browning Citori 725 Feather Over & Under Shotgun

The Browning Citori 725 Feather is a beautiful gun, both in handling and appearance.

The Browning Citori 725 Feather is a beautiful gun, both in handling and appearance.

There are times when a heavier shotgun is nice to have—the trap or clays course, for example, where you’ll be popping off a hundred or so 12-gauge shells and have ample opportunity to set your (heavy) gun down. And there are other times when lugging around a gun that weighs the same as a gallon of house paint really, really hurts.

Much of the weight savings comes from use of an alloy receiver. However, key components like the breech face are constructed of steel for durability. You can see the steel inset here.

Much of the weight savings comes from use of an alloy receiver. However, key components like the breech face are constructed of steel for durability. You can see the steel inset here.

The primary design idea behind the Browning Citori 725 Feather is, you guessed it, light weight. My evaluation sample was a 12-gauge Feather model with 28-inch barrels. It weighs in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces. If you compare to the equivalent Field (non-Feather) model, the 28-inch barrel model weighs just about a full pound more at 7 pounds, 8 ounces. That adds up over a day in the field. Imagine taping a can of lima beans to the Citori 725 Feather, and now you’re carrying a standard weight over-and-under.

Where did the weight go? Unlike the Field model, with its all-steel receiver, the Feather uses an alloy receiver. The breech face and hinge pin are still constructed from steel for durability.

A Quick and Dirty Tour

OK, so we’ve established that the Citori 725 Feather is light. Now let’s take a look at what else it offers.

pistol grip checkering-1

The pistol grip area features cut 20-line-per-inch checkering.

Chambers are cut for 3-inch shells if you want to shoot the big-boy stuff. And you can do this thanks to a variety of felt-recoil-reducing features that we’ll talk about later. First on that list is that the Citori 725 has a lower-profile receiver. If you look at it compared to a “standard” over-and-under receiver, you’ll see that the top of the receiver is somewhere between ⅛ and ¼ inch lower than normal. This lowers the recoil force just a tad, which helps prevent muzzle jump. The more inline the bore, the more natural, and less painful, a gun feels.

In terms of dimensions, the overall length is 45 ¾ inches with a 14 ¼ inch length of pull. Drop at the comb is 1 ⅝ inches and drop at the heel is 2 ¼ inches. You can order the Feather with either 26-or 28-inch barrels.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Meet the Shotgun!

Double barrel shotgunLet’s take a look at what makes a shotgun a shotgun.

If you rely on Hollywood for your information, a shotgun can never miss and is capable of knocking a 1970 Pontiac GTO clear across Hazzard County.

In reality, they’re not quite that impressive, but a shotgun is one very versatile gun. Competition, recreation, hunting and home defense—a shotgun can do it all.

Before we get into types of shotguns and their various uses, let’s talk about what a shotgun is. A shotgun used to be a gun with a smooth (non-rifled) bore that fired multiple pellet projectiles. As with everything, the lines got blurry because gun people like to invent new stuff. Now some shotguns can fire single projectiles, have rifled barrels and are available as handguns.

For purposes of this discussion, let’s consider a shotgun as a shoulder-fired gun that has a smooth bore and is intended to fire ammunition loaded with multiple pellet projectiles. Even with this basic definition, the versatility of a shotgun is evident.

The versatility comes from shotgun ammunition, commonly called shot. Shot type is identified by number. The higher the number, the smaller the pellet size. For example, 000 buck shot shells have pellets that measure .36 inches in diameter. That’s the same diameter as a .357 Magnum bullet! Number 9 shot shells have a gazillion tiny pellets that measure .080 inches in diameter. There are about a dozen options in between. If you require longer range and more power, you can use a shell with fewer, but larger and heavier pellets. If you’re shooting at clay targets or bird hunting, you can use a shell with many smaller and lighter pellets. Using the same gun, you can customize your ammo choice for the job.

We need to talk about one more thing before we get into types of shotguns—choke. Think of a choke tube as a nozzle you put on a garden hose. If you put a small nozzle on the end, the water stream gets narrower and shoots farther. It’s the same thing with a shotgun choke tube. For example, a “full choke” tube constricts the diameter of the muzzle, causing the pellets to compress into a tighter cloud.

Types of Shotguns

There are three common types of shotguns: break action, pump and semi-automatic. We’ll lump the more unusual designs into the “other” category. Let’s take a look at each.

Read the rest at the National Shooting Sports Foundation!

Mossberg FLEX System: When One Gun Is Enough

I’ve seen magazine ads for the Mossberg FLEX system for sometime now, but have not had the opportunity to kick the tires, so to speak, until now.

The Mossberg FLEX system allows you to swap stocks, grips and butt pads quickly and easily.

The Mossberg FLEX system allows you to swap stocks, grips and butt pads quickly and easily.

If you’re not familiar with the Mossberg FLEX, the idea is a system of interchangeable parts, like stocks, grips, buttpads and forends, that allow you to quickly and easily reconfigure a rifle or shotgun. There are plenty of good reasons you might want to do this.

  • Seasonal clothing changes. If your shotgun or rifle fits you perfectly in the cold months when you wear heavy clothing, it might be a bit long in the stock during the summer t-shirt months.
  • You may want to share the same rifle or shotgun with another person who requires a different length of pull than you – a child for instance?
  • Maybe you want to use one gun for hunting and home defense. Why not mount a solid stock for hunting outings and a collapsible for home defense use?
Butt pads are a piece of cake to swap. A button on the bottom of the stock releases one, so you can add a different size.

Butt pads are a piece of cake to swap. A button on the bottom of the stock releases one, so you can add a different size.

Before I saw the system I had hesitations about the about how solid this the mounts would be. After all, the stock is the focal point for heavy recoil forces in shotguns and rifles. At the recent Professional Outdoor Media Conference (POMA) I had the opportunity to swap some stocks and shoot.

I found the locking system to be rock solid and here’s why. Mossberg uses zinc fixtures on both male and female sides of the locking mechanism between the stock and receiver. The locking mechanism is similar and appearance and function to AR style barrel extension and bolt carrier the way the two pieces locked together. A semicircular lever lifts out of the stock itself and twists 90° to release the mechanism. A quick bump with your hand and the two halves come apart. It’s a tight fit and I could detect no “play” at all between the receiver and stock.

You can also swap the butt pad for different sizes with a simple button release on the bottom of the stock. The butt pads are designed to snap in place and are available in small, medium and large sizes. Mossberg also offers different sizes of stocks blanks so you actually have two ways to customize. First you choose the stock you want, then select the desired butt pad. Couldn’t be easier.

Mossberg makes the FLEX system for 12 gauge 500 series shotguns, 7.62mm and 5.56mm MVP bolt action magazine fed rifles, 20 gauge shotguns and now FLEX-22 rifles.

Cool stuff.

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture