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Why I Still Love Hunting With Pump Shotguns

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February 13, 2014

Why I Still Love Hunting With Pump Shotguns

By Phil Bourjaily

Earlier this week my wife told she was tired of getting me the usual (sweaters, dark chocolate bars, books, bottles of whiskey and Scottish ales) for my birthday. She told me to go buy myself a shotgun instead. Who was I to argue? I found a used walnut-stocked 12 gauge BPS in great shape, with just enough dings in the wood that I won’t mind putting in some more. I’m thrilled to have a pump for waterfowl and dove shooting again.

I wonder if I am the only one. By and large, Americans have voted with their wallets for semiautos over pumps. The sound of a pump shucking in the field seems to be going the way of the passenger pigeon. Pumps used to dominate trap and skeet but they are already pretty well extinct on the target range. The 870 was the classic Midwestern pheasant gun years ago. I can’t remember the last one I saw in the uplands. People treat pumps as entry-level guns, and they trade up to a semiauto as soon as they can. With the exception of the BPS, the Wingmaster and the Ithacas, most pumps these days are built as cheaply as possible with budget shoppers and first-time gun owners in mind.

Nevertheless, the lowly pump gun has many virtues.

It cycles everything. We make a big deal about semiautos that will reliably shoot anything from a ¾-ounce target load to a 3 ½-inch magnum. Guess what? So does every pump gun with a 3 ½-inch chamber.

There’s not much to clean on a pump. Most pumps come apart and go together easily and there is very little you have to do to keep them running. A little oil on the action bars and some attention to the magazine tube every once in a while and you’re set.

They work in almost any weather. I did once hunt snow geese in a field so full of blowing grit it choked my pump gun until it sounded like I was grinding coffee when I worked the slide and finally I did switch to another gun. That night I blasted the action with Gun Scrubber until all the black dirt running out came clear and it was back in the field the next day.

Pumps make the best turkey guns. You can shoot once and as long as you don’t cycle the action, the gun is totally safe as you jump up and run to the bird. If the turkey’s head pops back up, you’ve got another shot at hand. Even though I haven’t had a wingshooting pump for a while, I’ve always shot pumps at turkeys.

Shooting a pump is like riding a bicycle. Once you learn to work the slide you never forget and a practiced pump shooter can empty a gun as if it were a semiauto. It took me about a box of shells to learn to cycle a pump. I’d load two, shoot one target, leave the shell in the chamber, then call for another bird, pump and shoot. That’s all it took.

There are lots of used pumps for sale because, as I said, people trade up. That just means more used pumps for us that want them.

Comments (67)

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from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I've used my 12 gauge BPS for everything from forest grouse to waterfowl for 25 years now. It's a fine shotgun. Maybe I could spray more lead with an autoloader, but I doubt I would bag many more birds.

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from asrenstrom wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

With the exception of one O/U, every other shotgun in my gun case is a pump (including two 870's - one 12 ga. and one 20 ga.). They hit birds and clays just fine. And the 870 12 ga. has been my gun of choice since I was 12 and I haven't changed my mind on that 14 years later. I know the perks and the quality of a nice semi-auto, and have tried a couple of my friends' guns, but to me, it's not worth the extra cash to upgrade and I just flat out enjoy the pump for all it's worth.

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from vtbluegrass wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

This is American. I don't have time to pump a shotgun. ~That's a joke, nobody get offended

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from Harold wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Right on Phil! I still have my father's old 870. It fits me the best of all my shotguns. I do a lot of winter duck and goose hunting, usually by jump shooting. I carry the 870 because I know it will always function even at -25 below and covered in ice. After well over half a century and with half the bluing gone from the receiver and the buttstock looking like it's been chewed on by a griz, I know I can always count on it going bang when I pull the trigger.

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from The_UTP wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Yes sir! I've one single-shot shotgun and three pumps. The only reason I would ever consider a semi-auto is for lessening the recoil if I wanted to get into waterfowl hunting and needed to shoot a lot of hard-kicking 3 1/2 inch shells. But even then I would probably try out a recoil pad with a pump gun to see if I can get by.

My pumps are cheap, and that's OK because they get beat up anyway. I would like to own a nice used BPS or Wingmaster one day, just so I have something I can hand down to the kids with pride. I would also like to own a really fine over under, because I think they're works of art.

But otherwise a basic pump is perfect. And Phil, you forgot the best reason to have at least one pump gun: Home defense. The sound of a 12-gauge pump racking is a pretty dang good deterrent for a would-be home invader.

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from springerman3 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Phil, Gosh dang it now you made me want to take my old 870 out for my next rabbit hunt ( although I did just fine yesterday with my 28 gauge o/u )
Roderick K. Purcell: Last time I checked I could pump shells out faster than anyone I saw with an auto and know several others that can do the same. Now that is impressive :)
The_UTP: could not agree more on your home defense thought :)

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from springerman3 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Phil: Now what will you get for your lovely wife for Valentines Day since you can't get her a shotgun ?
vtbluegrass: Funny guy, gave you a yes vote for good comment !

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from habben97 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I picked up a used mossberg 500 20 gauge about a month back. it was a big step up from my ranger m30 and stoeger single barrel. I have already taken it on a squirrel hunt. Nice article.
Oh, Phil, it was a good idea to change the title of your article.

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from springerman3 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Phil: Answer to your last time you saw a pump in the uplands was on Nov. 19, 2009. My son was using his great grandfathers Model 12 for our celebratory birthday hunt for my dad that I take ever year using one of his guns !
OK there might have been another time since but I could not help to jog your memory :)

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from VicF wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I love my 870. I've used it for pheasant and quail, but I like my Citori better for carrying all day. It's great for turkey, like you said, and with a slug barrel it is the hammer on deer. Plus, like you noted, the distinctive sound of a round being racked into the chamber is a beautiful thing.

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from Repkoi85 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Absolutely I do.I have both an auto loader and a pump I went back to my 870 pump. I like how it feels and shoots, deadly on clays.

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from HammerGun wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I collect silver spoons, and when I shoot skeet every Sunday I'm known as "Mr. 870". I most always use .410. My trap gun is an 870TC with beautiful wood, my turkey gun is an 870 LW Magnum in 20 gauge, and my go to pheasant gun is a Wingmaster in 28.

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from Tim Platt wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Sounds like the Remington Wingmaster crowd is alive and well. I had to scroll back up and read the post again, I thought Phil was talking about a Browning.. oh he was. And not all 870's are Wingmaster's, they just wish they were.

I am an 1100 man myself, but if I could have one gun back that has disappeared from my arsenal it would be the Ithaca Featherweight Model 37 I got for my 16th birthday. It was stolen over 30 years ago and I still miss that gun. Ducks on one side, pheasant on the other, and it ejected straight down. That's how all shotguns should be made. And just like all pumps, it shot every single time.

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from Dougfir wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

The shotgun I use 90% of the time is a 35 year old Mossberg 500 20 gauge with a 24 inch barrel. I've had it since I was 13 and I love it. The only thing I've ever disliked about it is the length of pull, since I'm 6'4". A few years ago, my brother, who's hobby is restoring old Fox doubles, helped me put a new rear stock on it. I may be the only Mossberg 500 shootin' guy in the country with a custom fit walnut stock!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

My goose gun is an 870 "Wingmaster" bought used in 1968. It works. Most of the time. The 870 is a cheaply made gun and I don't care which variety. Maybe not as cheaply made as most of the other crappy pumps being produced today (especially that new junk rolling out of the Remington factory). They are expensive to repair and quite often require it.

I do agree wholeheartedly with the utility of a pump. They can be shot very quickly ... but they usually aren't. Automatics can be shot extremely fast ... and they usually are! The average guy will connect more often if he doesn't rush the shot, ergo pumps are better at producing game. Autos are better at killing air. As I said in an earlier Gun Nuts thread, I think in recent years the gun manufacturers have pushed the need for faster, more punishing shotgun ammo simply so their supposedly softer-shooting automatics will sell better. And, of course, autos use up more ammo. A win-win situation for the gun/ammo industries!

When I finish shooting geese here with the 870 I go to Montana for pheasants where I primarily use my Browning "Light 12" A-5. I have ALWAYS shot the 870 better (and I don't shoot that Browning badly by any means!) but it's fixed full choke is more than I need for pheasants. Also has a 30" barrel which is not very handy for jump shooting in heavy cover.

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from Safado wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Honker,
Tell me you're not complaining about a shotgun that you bought used in 1968 that you still use on a regular basis? I'm beginning to think WAM might be right about you complaining about getting strung up with a new rope:-D)

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from jmrcexplorer wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Love the simplicity of a pump. I really think if someone made a decent single shot, I would be up for it. That's pretty counter to what s popular now. Where I shoot trap, I think I am the only one out there.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I'm not the only one. WAM's brother-in-law also had a lot of "complaints" about 870's breaking down.

Phil's Browning pump was designed to last a lifetime of heavy use as was my Model 12. 870 is not. They were designed to be manufactured much more cheaply than their price tag. You get what you pay for. The 870 is a workhorse ... for a while. But the stamped metal riveted guts DO NOT hold up and they can only be repaired at great expense. One can spend twice as much for an Ithaca ... and get four times the gun. I got a steal on my 870 back in '68 when I was a poor kid in high school. It has killed a ton of birds. But now half the guts fall out every time I clean it and 3" shells don't eject at least a third of the time. I do shoot it very well. But it's still a cheap made gun. There's just no denying it. Open the bolt, look inside, and try to tell me it ain't so.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Safado,
Yeah, and we found a new piece of hemp.

OHH,
My bro-in-law does not own a shotgun. Anyone complaining about an 870 breaking down is either a liar or has no idea about how to care for a firearm of any type.

More and more I think someone just banters to hear his head roar...

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from BowieKnifeBob wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I inherited a Winchester Model 50 from my grandfather. Beautiful semi-auto goose gun, but nothing compares to racking that pump back and forth on my Remington 870.

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from treeoutpost wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

While I love a semiauto there is something nostalgic about the sound of a pump shucking. Like the sound of mama's dinner bell.

Check out my blog I am starting about hunting, fishing, and camping. I would love any tips or suggestions.
www.treeoutpost.com

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from BowieKnifeBob wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I inherited a Winchester Model 50 from my grandfather. Beautiful semi-auto goose gun, but nothing compares to racking that pump back and forth on my Remington 870.

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from CJ wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Honker,
Tell us. Is there anything you don't know, things you have't done or people you have not met? LMAO

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from Hassan Abdul-Wahid wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I changed the mag spring on my Browning BPS once. I've had that gun since 1987 or 88. Not a bad run.

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from Mark-1 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I shot Remington 870 at skeet for two seasons to improve my timing. Love the Model 12 and fond of the Winchester 97 although I don't believe its as smooth operating as the 870 and Model 12.

I tried a High Standard pump 15-years ago and thought it sleek and fast.

Honker: You're ranting about blowing through ammo with autos. Excuse me, but I think that old Browning A-5 cycles faster than a Benelli. I know it cycles faster than an 1100 or Beretta auto.

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from O Garcia wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

some of the demand for semiautos comes from people who may not even hunt, such as those who do mostly competition shooting, especially 3-Gun, where speed is a premium. Yes, a practiced user, or a Rudy Etchen, with a pump gun (Etchen used an 870 for everything) can shoot as fast (if not faster), but 3-Gun competitors choose the semi-auto road, perhaps their handguns and rifles (usually ARs) are also semi-auto, which makes transition from gun to gun easier. And of course, the recoil factor.

but for hunting, pest control, home defense, military, police, personal security, building security, etc. the pump still works. it is also cheaper, lighter and easier to maintain.

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from kodiak46733 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I love pumps and have a truck load of them, do not own a semi. The sound of a pump is so magical and intimidating, they make my heart sing. I learned to shoot a shotgun at a very early age, using a Winchester Mod 37, 410, which I still have, and it is darn near pristine. I also own and shoot single shots. I love the challenge and it will make you a better shot. I always wanted a double, so I broke down and bought a double coach gun with the exposed hammers...it is a literal blast to shoot. Personally, I dont think you can own too many shotguns!

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from TM wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I hunt ducks in a federal marsh without permanent blinds. I would be afraid to bring any gun but my old 870. It looks like hell, but takes the abuse (rain, ice, mud, briars, dings) and it had the digestive fortitude of a billy goat - steel, turkey loads, goose loads, skeet loads, slugs. Doesn't matter, it will shoot it.

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from BarkeyVA wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Dad taught me to wing shoot with a 20 ga. Ithaca model 37 with Weaver chokes using hand thrown clays. We shot a lot of trap together with our Model 12 trap guns. I now mostly hunt upland birds with a 16 ga. Marlin Model 90 O/U, but I still have an Ithaca 37 that I use for doves and I bought a used Benelli NOVA for water fowl.

In 1954 or 1955 I attended a shooting exhibition by Herb Parsons who worked for Winchester. He used a Winchester Model 12 pump to break 7 hand thrown clays before they hit the ground. I remember a guy in the audience asking him why he didn't shoot a semi-auto. Herb replied, "Because I have to wait for the semi- auto to cycle!"

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from BarkeyVA wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Dad taught me to wing shoot with a 20 ga. Ithaca model 37 with Weaver chokes using hand thrown clays. We shot a lot of trap together with our Model 12 trap guns. I now mostly hunt upland birds with a 16 ga. Marlin Model 90 O/U, but I still have an Ithaca 37 that I use for doves and I bought a used Benelli NOVA for water fowl.

In 1954 or 1955 I attended a shooting exhibition by Herb Parsons who worked for Winchester. He used a Winchester Model 12 pump to break 7 hand thrown clays before they hit the ground. I remember a guy in the audience asking him why he didn't shoot a semi-auto. Herb replied, "Because I have to wait for the semi- auto to cycle!"

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from kudukid wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

The sound of my model 12 shucking shells is sweet music...

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from DSMbirddog wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I use my Wingmaster more than any other shotgun for birds. It always gets used in any kind of bad weather or tough conditions. A friend and I were pheasant hunting in freezing rain and his auto finally would not function. My 870 was basically a single shot but I could still get a new round in the chamber with sufficient effort.

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from Treestand wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

My Ithaca M/37/PD 12Ga.19"Bbl,W/Poly-Choke is my Favorite Shotgun for Fast moving Grouse in Heavy Cover/Grape Vines and Such.I also have an Ithaca 37/12Ga Feather lite that kicks hard with Hi/Brass #7.1/2 But a Joy to carry.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Apologies WAM. I was certain a while back you said RES was your in-law. No connection? Another elder moment?

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from asrenstrom wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

UTP - it doesn't have to be pretty to be proud! handing down a gun that's been to hell and back and put food on the table, that should be more than enough to make any kid proud. now, just from the point of view of collecting guns because there is no such thing as enough... right on brother!

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from Dcast wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I agree wholeheartedly with OHH on the 870's and Remington in general. Many of you have read my critical reviews and complaints rivaling OHH's on Cabelas but Remington makes junk [key word]"TODAY". There are many of fine 870's and the such from decades ago but they are absolutely pieces of junk, prone to jamb and not eject. All you have to do is look at the reviews for them on the web to see there is a quality control problem of epic proportion at Remington. I don't even like their ammo (of all types) any more. I would buy a Stoeger Condor over any 870 and would rather a Taurus over any handgun they make. The only thing keeping their doors open is nostalgia and just enough young guns looking for their 1st gun taking the advice from guys who have guns from the 60's & 70's that still work. However after these 1st time buyers get these guns they then realize they just bought a very expensive boat oar. I sold my 870 for a loss so I could get something that functioned all the time. I just got my new Browning BPS that I won recently and am hoping to not be disappointed with it as I was with my 870.

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from davycrockettfv wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Have to agree with OH and Dcast about Remington. I bought an 870 several years ago that had a horrible time ejecting shells. Got better as I put some wear in it, but at its best 2 or 3 shells per box would get stuck after firing. "Upgraded" to a Mossy 500 last year and could not be happier.

I've only ever shot a pump in the field my whole life. I can't quite cycle as quickly as a semi, but the simplicity and certainty that it will work all the time (with the exception of the 870) makes it worth it.

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from labrador12 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I own 3 Model 12s. Mine, dad bought used in 1965 for $50. My Grandfather's, bought used in the 1920s and a 16 ga I bought about 20 years ago. I have a Ithaca that I used to use as my deer gun and now take to Ak with me. I've even got a Pump rifle as I didn't want to carry a gun that I wasn't totally ready to use in bear country, back in my Yukon days. All my pumps are still going strong and none of them were made after 1970. My grandfathers gun is pushing 100 years old and is still deadly. If I want a gun that goes bang, pumps are what I've bet my life on.

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from rcace44@gcmuni.net wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I still have the pump gun my father left me, or at least my son keeps it in his gun vault these days. It was my goto pheasant gun most of my life. it was designed by John Browning and was given to my dad by a rancher he worked for in the 1930's. It's barrel was sawed off to 18 1/4" before dad got it. It has the Browning "hump" like the A5 Auto's, but is a pump manufactured by Savage for Wards. It's action is like glass, and I can empty it in bowling pin shoots faster and as accurately as any auto owner. With six shells in it, and the 32" barrel I found used for it, it weighs 8 3/4 lbs. When my back started giving me trouble I had the long barrel fitted with extra full choke tube for turkey hunting. Later buying a full set of tubes for it, and giving it to my son.

I replaced it with a number of Citori O/U guns, the last of which is a Feather Light 16ga. with English stock. My choice of a 16 ga. over the 12 ga.'s that I've used all my life is old friend Larry Brown's fault. I also have it's twin in 20 ga. for grouse, quail, and now dove hunting here in Iowa.

At 70 years of age next hunting season, they will be my last shotguns.

R/C

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

If Remington would have de-beautified the ejection port on 870 and made it a square opening instead of semi-oval, that would have cured ejection issues. The tolerance is absurdly tight. I can fire 2.75" shells no problem but the 3" empties often catch on the barrel end of ejection port. This has been a problem since the gun was first produced. Should have been a simple fix. How many decades have gone by now and it still hasn't been addressed? Doesn't say much for either quality control or R&D at that outfit. One also has to wonder why they would have ever designed a waterfowl shooting 3" mag "Wingmaster" with a highly visible chrome shell feeder and bolt. But here it is sixty years after its introduction and Wingmaster bolts still shine like a searchlight. When hunting from the hedgerows I have gotten used to hiding the bright parts with my hands or leaving the gun on the ground. Not terribly convenient.

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from JamesD wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I grew up on the pump gun, with my 870 12ga or my mod. 12 16ga there's nothing I can't take down. I can always rely on them to work every time so I'll be a shell shucker till I die.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Mark-1: I don't shoot the A-5 fast because I have learned to shoot birds "carefully" using a pump. I now hunt pheasants with the Browning because it has modified choke, and a shorter barrel, not because it will cycle faster. I shot more than forty pheasants with it last season and I know I didn't reach into the tube for the third shot once. I usually carry the Browning fully loaded with five shells to bring it up to a nicer weight for swinging onto target. I don't shoot real light guns well, probably because I'm used to the heavy goose gun.

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from micko77 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

A Mossberg owner here. I have but one shotgun, not counting a "combo" package H&R 20 ga. with a 30-30 barrel; I never use the shotgun barrel. I bought the Mossberg in 1984. It's never seen a gunsmith; I replaced the plastic safety with a steel one, and periodically replace the magazine spring. I can't imagine how many thousands of rounds have gone through that gun; I have an 18" barrel for home defense, a 24" smoothbore slug barrel that puts 3 shots in 3 inches at 75 yards with Federal Forster slugs, and a 28" multi-choke barrel that has brought in everything from quail to geese, squirrels to coyotes. I have shot against autoloaders to hit a 12"x12" steel plate at 15 yards and routinely beat them-- they get the shots off, but miss the plate. "Autos? We don't need no stinkin' autos"...

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from jcmesq wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

My first field shotgun after learning with a single shot Stevens was/is a BPS, and I have it to this day. Even bought one of the 22" extra barrels with choke tubes, to make it even more useful, for whatever application. Even though I own and have owned many excellent semiautos, I will only rely on my Supernova when out in the field hunting snow geese, or in a very wet condition hunting ducks. No doubt, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Model 12's, Wingmasters, BPS's, Model 37's, and Novas/Supernovas will never go out of style, and if you truly know how to shoot, they are all as good, if not better, than a semiauto.

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from flyboy96 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

i shot my first buck with a mossberg 500 20ga. love that thing. ive shot many does with it as well and hope that dad will let me have it for my 18th as my own gun...

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from Bernie wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I still have the 16 gauge Model 870 my father bought new for me in 1962, and it works perfectly. Also own two 16s and one 12 gauge in Win. Model 12s--all built in 1959. I'd never part with any of them. Yes, pump guns are utterly reliable.

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from 35wailin wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I have two shotguns. One, an old beat up Cooeye single shot, break action 12g that I could care less about. It stays apart in three pieces in the toolbox of my ATV along with a box of birdshot, slugs and buckshot as a last ditch survival/defense weapon. My other one is a 1987 vintage Remington 870 Express in 12g, 3" that I bought new. The 870 has been by my side whenever I need a shotgun since then. It has fired in excess of 20 000 rounds, killed everything from rats, to nuisance blackbirds and pigeons to grouse, snowshoe hares, ducks, geese and woodcock. It goes bang every time. I've replaced the wood stock with synthetic, replaces the ejector spring, the feed rails and the magazine spring over the years. I added a fiber-optic bead and sling swivels and painted it camo. I thought about replacing it a few years ago with a 3 1/2" 870, but I heard some of them have problems with rough chambers and decided to keep the old girl by my side. I may end up handing it down to my daughter or maybe my nephew, but I can't bring myself to do it yet.

Long live the pump gun and long live the 870.

I think Remington jumped the gun trying to improve upon it with the 887. I would rather pay more for a Wingmaster, than have a polymer coated gun where you can't see corrosion eating away at the parts until it affects safety and it is too late to take corrective action...

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from 35wailin wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

@Ontariohonker... I have never had ejection issues with the oval port in my 870 Express. I have had feed issues due to shells not being released from the mag before getting the feed rails replaced.

As for the shiny bolt, I took mine out, sanded it down to bare steel and cold blued it. I have to touch it up from time to time, but it is a cheap simple fix.

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from Robert B. Justin wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I bought my first shotgun, a 20 ga 870, from a crusty old guy named Leroy almost 30 years ago. That gun has better balance and smoother action that most I have ever seen. My go-to hunting gun is a BPS, and I have cradled it in many duck and goose blinds, and carried it for miles out west for pheasant and sharptails. My only complaint is getting the trigger assembly of the BPS back into the receiver after a thorough cleaning. It is very tricky. My buddies tease me about that old pump, but it is superbly reliable.

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from azduane wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I love my pump shotguns. I got my first Winchester Model 12 when I was 14 back in 1963 and still hunt dove and quail with it. I use my Remington 870 for waterfowl whenever I can, which, unfortunately, is not too often because I don't have anyone to hunt waterfowl with and it's tough to know where to go in Arizona. I got the 870 specifically for waterfowl with a 3" chamber, didn't feel the need for 3 1/2". I also use my 870 for trap shooting because it just feels right.

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from Devil_Dog wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I bought my 870 Wingmaster last year and shortly there after my wife purchased a rifled barrel for it. I put exactly 399 rounds through it before it broke. It went through 10 rounds of skeet before dove season and almost two boxes of ammo in the dove fields before suffering a catastrophic failure in which a spent round jammed in the chamber, the extractor broke, and the bolt locked solidly to the rear.

Remington customer service readily paid for the gun to be shipped back to the factory. Their inspection showed multiple bent and broken pieces within the reciever as well as a chamber that was cut too tight and not properly finished. I had no problems with getting a new gun sent back to me and customer service was very polite the entire time. However, for the price of a new Wingmaster, these quality issues were unacceptable to me. If it weren't for the fact that my wife had already purchased a several hundred dollar additional barrel for the gun, I would have just asked for a refund. I'm skeptical of Remington's quality and will be looking elsewhere for my next firearm.

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from Danno wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Phil,
When you say Scottish ales, do you mean Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy (like Belhaven Wee Heavy) or the milder versions (like Belhaven Scottish Ale)?

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from Doug Leichliter wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

If I had to choose a shotgun to carry for a day in the rabbit thickets or grouse covers it would be my Dad's 16 gauge Model 12, the one I talked him into having a deluxe Poly-Choke put on back when I was in high school. That was become with the stock 30" full choke barrel, about the only thing it was good for was tree top shooting Dad's beloved gray squirrels. Cut down to 26" and with the Poly-Choke , it became a whole other gun that I could one hand thru the thick stuff and be reasonably confident I could bring down anything that flushed from 10 to 35 yards.

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from philbourjaily wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Danno --Belhaven Wee Heavy is my favorite. Got suggestions for others like it?

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I agree with you Phil. I used a pump shotgun for a number of years, sold it for some quick cash, and have been hunting with an O/U for over 15 years. Recently, a friend's father passed, no one in the family wanted his gun collection, so I purchased a few of them; One being a "Westernfield" pump 12ga. A beat up thing, with a knobby poly choke at the end of barrel. True vision of a 1950's sport show that's perfect for me! Guns bring us full circle sometimes don't they?

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from elmer f. wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I have had a number of pump guns. they are practilly jam proof. i used a 12 guage Mossberg 500 years ago to shoot everything from clay targets to deer. it never, ever let me down. but, when i inherited my fathers Browning auto 5, the pump guns left. for good. the Auto 5 has never failed to fire for me either, even with aincent paper hull shells. and it fits me better, so i am more accurate with it. i would never not recomend a pump gun to anyone who was interested in one. but for me, i am an Auto 5 type of gun nut.

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from Tigerbeetle wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

My favorite duck gun is my Win. Heavy Duck gun. I haven't used it for ducks for a number of years, but with the new softer, non-steel shot, I may get it back out of the safe. For doves I use either my Win.(Browning)Mdl. 12 in 20 ga or my Ithaca Mdl 37. I love to shot a pump gun. I made a fabulous double on doves a couple years back with 2 doves splitting to go around a tree. I took the left one first and turned on the right one and got it. Bang - bang, just that fast. My only problem, no one was close enough to me the witness the event. I have gotten numerous doubles with my 12 ga. on ducks in past years. My daughter shot my Ithaca this past fall and now calls it her shotgun. It probably is, but I am not telling her that just yet. LOVE those pump guns!! TB

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from Tigerbeetle wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

My favorite duck gun is my Win. Heavy Duck gun. I haven't used it for ducks for a number of years, but with the new softer, non-steel shot, I may get it back out of the safe. For doves I use either my Win.(Browning)Mdl. 12 in 20 ga or my Ithaca Mdl 37. I love to shoot a pump gun. I made a fabulous double on doves a couple years back with 2 doves splitting to go around a tree. I took the left one first and turned on the right one and got it. Bang - bang, just that fast. My only problem, no one was close enough to me the witness the event. I have gotten numerous doubles with my 12 ga. on ducks in past years. My daughter shot my Ithaca this past fall and now calls it her shotgun. It probably is, but I am not telling her that just yet. LOVE those pump guns!! TB

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from jcmesq wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Forgot to state Mossbergs in the line-up. Lord knows a lot of hunters/shooters have a 500 or an 835 pump. For the guy above who has the bolt freezing problem, try graphite or another dry lubricant, and keep the bolt dry, especially in cold, windy, wet weather. And, yeah, I'll have a Scottish Ale!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Tigerbeetle: It's a common misconception but Browning did not design the Model 12. It was perfected by one of Winchester's own men. I believe his name was Peterson. Let me check on that ... no, Thomas Crosley Johnson. The design was "based in part" on Browning's Model 1897 shotgun, previously produced by Winchester.

35wailin: When I take the guts out of my 870 to clean it one of the feed rails falls out! The trigger plate pins will hold it back in place but it about requires an ambidextrous midget with three hands to get that gun back together again. Have been doing it for years and it still can take me twenty minutes of trial and error. What brand of cold blue did you use? My 870 is getting awful shiny after nearly fifty years of HARD use. I'm looking around for someone who can hot blue it but the pickings are slim here for genuine gunsmiths. Besides peening that rail back in place, I'll need to have the ejector drilled out and a new one riveted in. It's getting very thin. I'll probably just open up the receiver's ejection port myself using a grinding wheel on Dremel tool. Yeah sure, that will wreck the "collectable" value of my 870 but I figure those guns aren't going to be collectable anyway until maybe the 25th century at the earliest. All in all, there's a lot of expensive work ahead to make this gun what it once was. Is it worth it? Of course not. But I'm fast heading to the final roundup. That gun is the one I have used the most in my life and, though it's by far not the finest in my meager and very humble collection, I hope when I'm gone someone dear to me will desire it for that reason. So, rather than replace it I'd like to get it ready for the next generation of hard hunters.

One thing that concerns me about reblueing this gun is that Remington, for whatever reason (it's cheaper, I'm sure!), chose to VERY lightly stamp the serial number on the side of the receiver. The numbers on my 870 are barely visible now and I'm concerned that they might disappear during reblueing. As we all know, it's a major no-no defacing the serial numbers of a gun! Anyone had to address this?

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from Jereme Conley wrote 8 weeks 4 days ago

I still hunt with an 870 Wingmaster that I inherited from my grandpa. It originally had a 26" full choke barrel, but he sent it in somewhere and had them weld on an original Poly Choke. That gun is 50 years old, and still performs like a champ! I've hunted with it for at least 15 years. It's still as smooth as the day it was purchased. It's my "lightweight" gun, as it's chambered for 2 3/4" shells, but I've taken every species of upland game imaginable with it, and even a few ducks and geese. I love that gun. I purchased a Benelli Super Nova to up my firepower for heavier duck/goose/turkey loads. I've hunted with semi-automatics before, but I still prefer a pump gun. It's like driving an manual transmission car...you get to feel it working, and get a much better experience.

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from srlarson wrote 8 weeks 4 days ago

Pumps and SxS for me.....870's, BPS, model 12, 1897, 42's...all pumps....in 12ga, 16ga,410...all great never have enough of the old pumps.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 8 weeks 2 days ago

I agree with the safety feature of a pump when Turkey Hunting.
While I prefer my SXS's, O/U and semis because of feel and balance.
There will always be one in the cabinet, because it is a rough and tumble tool that can paddle your canoe as well as stop just about any game animal.

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from Tim Platt wrote 8 weeks 2 days ago

I have three friends I hunt with that only own one gun. Squirrels, rabbits, dove, turkey, deer you name it. They all own 870's because they came to me and asked what gun I would buy if I could only own one. It is cheap, it kills everything, and for my friends they have lasted forever. Or 30 years and counting. One of my friends has never cleaned his 870 and he bought it in the 80's. I saw him drop it in the Cumberland River when we were duck hunting. It still goes bang.

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from Danno wrote 8 weeks 1 day ago

Phil,
I haven't had that many Scotch Ales but I liked Dark Horse Brewing's Scotty Karate. Very good and hides the alcohol extremely well (it's 9.75% abv). One of my beer books recommends the following: Traquair House Scottish Style Ale, Brasserie de Silly Scotch Silly, AleSmith Wee Heavy, and Founders Dirty Bastard. I am not sure if any of the mentioned beers would be available in your area though.

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from philbourjaily wrote 8 weeks 1 day ago

Danno -- Traquair is another one I like a lot. Founder's Dirty Bastard is good but hopped up more than I like my beer. I'll look for the others.

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from mauser78 wrote 4 weeks 5 days ago

I wholeheartedly agree, I have always loved pumps and they've never let me down. Both of mine are old and work flawlessly. The 1966 Westernfield 550AR and the 1979 Mossberg 500A, both are the same gun and can interchange parts with each other. But as previously stated, both work flawlessly and have never let me down. I personally have never been a fan of any semi-automatic, be it a shotgun, rifle or pistol with only one exception, which in the 1911 Colt. But that's about it.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Safado,
Yeah, and we found a new piece of hemp.

OHH,
My bro-in-law does not own a shotgun. Anyone complaining about an 870 breaking down is either a liar or has no idea about how to care for a firearm of any type.

More and more I think someone just banters to hear his head roar...

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from Safado wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Honker,
Tell me you're not complaining about a shotgun that you bought used in 1968 that you still use on a regular basis? I'm beginning to think WAM might be right about you complaining about getting strung up with a new rope:-D)

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from CJ wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Honker,
Tell us. Is there anything you don't know, things you have't done or people you have not met? LMAO

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from BarkeyVA wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Dad taught me to wing shoot with a 20 ga. Ithaca model 37 with Weaver chokes using hand thrown clays. We shot a lot of trap together with our Model 12 trap guns. I now mostly hunt upland birds with a 16 ga. Marlin Model 90 O/U, but I still have an Ithaca 37 that I use for doves and I bought a used Benelli NOVA for water fowl.

In 1954 or 1955 I attended a shooting exhibition by Herb Parsons who worked for Winchester. He used a Winchester Model 12 pump to break 7 hand thrown clays before they hit the ground. I remember a guy in the audience asking him why he didn't shoot a semi-auto. Herb replied, "Because I have to wait for the semi- auto to cycle!"

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from Jereme Conley wrote 8 weeks 4 days ago

I still hunt with an 870 Wingmaster that I inherited from my grandpa. It originally had a 26" full choke barrel, but he sent it in somewhere and had them weld on an original Poly Choke. That gun is 50 years old, and still performs like a champ! I've hunted with it for at least 15 years. It's still as smooth as the day it was purchased. It's my "lightweight" gun, as it's chambered for 2 3/4" shells, but I've taken every species of upland game imaginable with it, and even a few ducks and geese. I love that gun. I purchased a Benelli Super Nova to up my firepower for heavier duck/goose/turkey loads. I've hunted with semi-automatics before, but I still prefer a pump gun. It's like driving an manual transmission car...you get to feel it working, and get a much better experience.

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from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I've used my 12 gauge BPS for everything from forest grouse to waterfowl for 25 years now. It's a fine shotgun. Maybe I could spray more lead with an autoloader, but I doubt I would bag many more birds.

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from vtbluegrass wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

This is American. I don't have time to pump a shotgun. ~That's a joke, nobody get offended

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from The_UTP wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Yes sir! I've one single-shot shotgun and three pumps. The only reason I would ever consider a semi-auto is for lessening the recoil if I wanted to get into waterfowl hunting and needed to shoot a lot of hard-kicking 3 1/2 inch shells. But even then I would probably try out a recoil pad with a pump gun to see if I can get by.

My pumps are cheap, and that's OK because they get beat up anyway. I would like to own a nice used BPS or Wingmaster one day, just so I have something I can hand down to the kids with pride. I would also like to own a really fine over under, because I think they're works of art.

But otherwise a basic pump is perfect. And Phil, you forgot the best reason to have at least one pump gun: Home defense. The sound of a 12-gauge pump racking is a pretty dang good deterrent for a would-be home invader.

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from VicF wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I love my 870. I've used it for pheasant and quail, but I like my Citori better for carrying all day. It's great for turkey, like you said, and with a slug barrel it is the hammer on deer. Plus, like you noted, the distinctive sound of a round being racked into the chamber is a beautiful thing.

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from Tim Platt wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Sounds like the Remington Wingmaster crowd is alive and well. I had to scroll back up and read the post again, I thought Phil was talking about a Browning.. oh he was. And not all 870's are Wingmaster's, they just wish they were.

I am an 1100 man myself, but if I could have one gun back that has disappeared from my arsenal it would be the Ithaca Featherweight Model 37 I got for my 16th birthday. It was stolen over 30 years ago and I still miss that gun. Ducks on one side, pheasant on the other, and it ejected straight down. That's how all shotguns should be made. And just like all pumps, it shot every single time.

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from Dougfir wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

The shotgun I use 90% of the time is a 35 year old Mossberg 500 20 gauge with a 24 inch barrel. I've had it since I was 13 and I love it. The only thing I've ever disliked about it is the length of pull, since I'm 6'4". A few years ago, my brother, who's hobby is restoring old Fox doubles, helped me put a new rear stock on it. I may be the only Mossberg 500 shootin' guy in the country with a custom fit walnut stock!

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from Mark-1 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I shot Remington 870 at skeet for two seasons to improve my timing. Love the Model 12 and fond of the Winchester 97 although I don't believe its as smooth operating as the 870 and Model 12.

I tried a High Standard pump 15-years ago and thought it sleek and fast.

Honker: You're ranting about blowing through ammo with autos. Excuse me, but I think that old Browning A-5 cycles faster than a Benelli. I know it cycles faster than an 1100 or Beretta auto.

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from kodiak46733 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I love pumps and have a truck load of them, do not own a semi. The sound of a pump is so magical and intimidating, they make my heart sing. I learned to shoot a shotgun at a very early age, using a Winchester Mod 37, 410, which I still have, and it is darn near pristine. I also own and shoot single shots. I love the challenge and it will make you a better shot. I always wanted a double, so I broke down and bought a double coach gun with the exposed hammers...it is a literal blast to shoot. Personally, I dont think you can own too many shotguns!

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from TM wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I hunt ducks in a federal marsh without permanent blinds. I would be afraid to bring any gun but my old 870. It looks like hell, but takes the abuse (rain, ice, mud, briars, dings) and it had the digestive fortitude of a billy goat - steel, turkey loads, goose loads, skeet loads, slugs. Doesn't matter, it will shoot it.

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from asrenstrom wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

With the exception of one O/U, every other shotgun in my gun case is a pump (including two 870's - one 12 ga. and one 20 ga.). They hit birds and clays just fine. And the 870 12 ga. has been my gun of choice since I was 12 and I haven't changed my mind on that 14 years later. I know the perks and the quality of a nice semi-auto, and have tried a couple of my friends' guns, but to me, it's not worth the extra cash to upgrade and I just flat out enjoy the pump for all it's worth.

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from Harold wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Right on Phil! I still have my father's old 870. It fits me the best of all my shotguns. I do a lot of winter duck and goose hunting, usually by jump shooting. I carry the 870 because I know it will always function even at -25 below and covered in ice. After well over half a century and with half the bluing gone from the receiver and the buttstock looking like it's been chewed on by a griz, I know I can always count on it going bang when I pull the trigger.

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from springerman3 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Phil, Gosh dang it now you made me want to take my old 870 out for my next rabbit hunt ( although I did just fine yesterday with my 28 gauge o/u )
Roderick K. Purcell: Last time I checked I could pump shells out faster than anyone I saw with an auto and know several others that can do the same. Now that is impressive :)
The_UTP: could not agree more on your home defense thought :)

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from springerman3 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Phil: Now what will you get for your lovely wife for Valentines Day since you can't get her a shotgun ?
vtbluegrass: Funny guy, gave you a yes vote for good comment !

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from habben97 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I picked up a used mossberg 500 20 gauge about a month back. it was a big step up from my ranger m30 and stoeger single barrel. I have already taken it on a squirrel hunt. Nice article.
Oh, Phil, it was a good idea to change the title of your article.

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from springerman3 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Phil: Answer to your last time you saw a pump in the uplands was on Nov. 19, 2009. My son was using his great grandfathers Model 12 for our celebratory birthday hunt for my dad that I take ever year using one of his guns !
OK there might have been another time since but I could not help to jog your memory :)

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from Repkoi85 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Absolutely I do.I have both an auto loader and a pump I went back to my 870 pump. I like how it feels and shoots, deadly on clays.

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from jmrcexplorer wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Love the simplicity of a pump. I really think if someone made a decent single shot, I would be up for it. That's pretty counter to what s popular now. Where I shoot trap, I think I am the only one out there.

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from BowieKnifeBob wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I inherited a Winchester Model 50 from my grandfather. Beautiful semi-auto goose gun, but nothing compares to racking that pump back and forth on my Remington 870.

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from treeoutpost wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

While I love a semiauto there is something nostalgic about the sound of a pump shucking. Like the sound of mama's dinner bell.

Check out my blog I am starting about hunting, fishing, and camping. I would love any tips or suggestions.
www.treeoutpost.com

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from BowieKnifeBob wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I inherited a Winchester Model 50 from my grandfather. Beautiful semi-auto goose gun, but nothing compares to racking that pump back and forth on my Remington 870.

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from Hassan Abdul-Wahid wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I changed the mag spring on my Browning BPS once. I've had that gun since 1987 or 88. Not a bad run.

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from O Garcia wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

some of the demand for semiautos comes from people who may not even hunt, such as those who do mostly competition shooting, especially 3-Gun, where speed is a premium. Yes, a practiced user, or a Rudy Etchen, with a pump gun (Etchen used an 870 for everything) can shoot as fast (if not faster), but 3-Gun competitors choose the semi-auto road, perhaps their handguns and rifles (usually ARs) are also semi-auto, which makes transition from gun to gun easier. And of course, the recoil factor.

but for hunting, pest control, home defense, military, police, personal security, building security, etc. the pump still works. it is also cheaper, lighter and easier to maintain.

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from BarkeyVA wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Dad taught me to wing shoot with a 20 ga. Ithaca model 37 with Weaver chokes using hand thrown clays. We shot a lot of trap together with our Model 12 trap guns. I now mostly hunt upland birds with a 16 ga. Marlin Model 90 O/U, but I still have an Ithaca 37 that I use for doves and I bought a used Benelli NOVA for water fowl.

In 1954 or 1955 I attended a shooting exhibition by Herb Parsons who worked for Winchester. He used a Winchester Model 12 pump to break 7 hand thrown clays before they hit the ground. I remember a guy in the audience asking him why he didn't shoot a semi-auto. Herb replied, "Because I have to wait for the semi- auto to cycle!"

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from kudukid wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

The sound of my model 12 shucking shells is sweet music...

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from DSMbirddog wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I use my Wingmaster more than any other shotgun for birds. It always gets used in any kind of bad weather or tough conditions. A friend and I were pheasant hunting in freezing rain and his auto finally would not function. My 870 was basically a single shot but I could still get a new round in the chamber with sufficient effort.

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from Treestand wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

My Ithaca M/37/PD 12Ga.19"Bbl,W/Poly-Choke is my Favorite Shotgun for Fast moving Grouse in Heavy Cover/Grape Vines and Such.I also have an Ithaca 37/12Ga Feather lite that kicks hard with Hi/Brass #7.1/2 But a Joy to carry.

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from asrenstrom wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

UTP - it doesn't have to be pretty to be proud! handing down a gun that's been to hell and back and put food on the table, that should be more than enough to make any kid proud. now, just from the point of view of collecting guns because there is no such thing as enough... right on brother!

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from rcace44@gcmuni.net wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I still have the pump gun my father left me, or at least my son keeps it in his gun vault these days. It was my goto pheasant gun most of my life. it was designed by John Browning and was given to my dad by a rancher he worked for in the 1930's. It's barrel was sawed off to 18 1/4" before dad got it. It has the Browning "hump" like the A5 Auto's, but is a pump manufactured by Savage for Wards. It's action is like glass, and I can empty it in bowling pin shoots faster and as accurately as any auto owner. With six shells in it, and the 32" barrel I found used for it, it weighs 8 3/4 lbs. When my back started giving me trouble I had the long barrel fitted with extra full choke tube for turkey hunting. Later buying a full set of tubes for it, and giving it to my son.

I replaced it with a number of Citori O/U guns, the last of which is a Feather Light 16ga. with English stock. My choice of a 16 ga. over the 12 ga.'s that I've used all my life is old friend Larry Brown's fault. I also have it's twin in 20 ga. for grouse, quail, and now dove hunting here in Iowa.

At 70 years of age next hunting season, they will be my last shotguns.

R/C

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from jcmesq wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

My first field shotgun after learning with a single shot Stevens was/is a BPS, and I have it to this day. Even bought one of the 22" extra barrels with choke tubes, to make it even more useful, for whatever application. Even though I own and have owned many excellent semiautos, I will only rely on my Supernova when out in the field hunting snow geese, or in a very wet condition hunting ducks. No doubt, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Model 12's, Wingmasters, BPS's, Model 37's, and Novas/Supernovas will never go out of style, and if you truly know how to shoot, they are all as good, if not better, than a semiauto.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I agree with you Phil. I used a pump shotgun for a number of years, sold it for some quick cash, and have been hunting with an O/U for over 15 years. Recently, a friend's father passed, no one in the family wanted his gun collection, so I purchased a few of them; One being a "Westernfield" pump 12ga. A beat up thing, with a knobby poly choke at the end of barrel. True vision of a 1950's sport show that's perfect for me! Guns bring us full circle sometimes don't they?

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from jcmesq wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Forgot to state Mossbergs in the line-up. Lord knows a lot of hunters/shooters have a 500 or an 835 pump. For the guy above who has the bolt freezing problem, try graphite or another dry lubricant, and keep the bolt dry, especially in cold, windy, wet weather. And, yeah, I'll have a Scottish Ale!

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from HammerGun wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I collect silver spoons, and when I shoot skeet every Sunday I'm known as "Mr. 870". I most always use .410. My trap gun is an 870TC with beautiful wood, my turkey gun is an 870 LW Magnum in 20 gauge, and my go to pheasant gun is a Wingmaster in 28.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I'm not the only one. WAM's brother-in-law also had a lot of "complaints" about 870's breaking down.

Phil's Browning pump was designed to last a lifetime of heavy use as was my Model 12. 870 is not. They were designed to be manufactured much more cheaply than their price tag. You get what you pay for. The 870 is a workhorse ... for a while. But the stamped metal riveted guts DO NOT hold up and they can only be repaired at great expense. One can spend twice as much for an Ithaca ... and get four times the gun. I got a steal on my 870 back in '68 when I was a poor kid in high school. It has killed a ton of birds. But now half the guts fall out every time I clean it and 3" shells don't eject at least a third of the time. I do shoot it very well. But it's still a cheap made gun. There's just no denying it. Open the bolt, look inside, and try to tell me it ain't so.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Apologies WAM. I was certain a while back you said RES was your in-law. No connection? Another elder moment?

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from davycrockettfv wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Have to agree with OH and Dcast about Remington. I bought an 870 several years ago that had a horrible time ejecting shells. Got better as I put some wear in it, but at its best 2 or 3 shells per box would get stuck after firing. "Upgraded" to a Mossy 500 last year and could not be happier.

I've only ever shot a pump in the field my whole life. I can't quite cycle as quickly as a semi, but the simplicity and certainty that it will work all the time (with the exception of the 870) makes it worth it.

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from labrador12 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I own 3 Model 12s. Mine, dad bought used in 1965 for $50. My Grandfather's, bought used in the 1920s and a 16 ga I bought about 20 years ago. I have a Ithaca that I used to use as my deer gun and now take to Ak with me. I've even got a Pump rifle as I didn't want to carry a gun that I wasn't totally ready to use in bear country, back in my Yukon days. All my pumps are still going strong and none of them were made after 1970. My grandfathers gun is pushing 100 years old and is still deadly. If I want a gun that goes bang, pumps are what I've bet my life on.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

If Remington would have de-beautified the ejection port on 870 and made it a square opening instead of semi-oval, that would have cured ejection issues. The tolerance is absurdly tight. I can fire 2.75" shells no problem but the 3" empties often catch on the barrel end of ejection port. This has been a problem since the gun was first produced. Should have been a simple fix. How many decades have gone by now and it still hasn't been addressed? Doesn't say much for either quality control or R&D at that outfit. One also has to wonder why they would have ever designed a waterfowl shooting 3" mag "Wingmaster" with a highly visible chrome shell feeder and bolt. But here it is sixty years after its introduction and Wingmaster bolts still shine like a searchlight. When hunting from the hedgerows I have gotten used to hiding the bright parts with my hands or leaving the gun on the ground. Not terribly convenient.

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from JamesD wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I grew up on the pump gun, with my 870 12ga or my mod. 12 16ga there's nothing I can't take down. I can always rely on them to work every time so I'll be a shell shucker till I die.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

Mark-1: I don't shoot the A-5 fast because I have learned to shoot birds "carefully" using a pump. I now hunt pheasants with the Browning because it has modified choke, and a shorter barrel, not because it will cycle faster. I shot more than forty pheasants with it last season and I know I didn't reach into the tube for the third shot once. I usually carry the Browning fully loaded with five shells to bring it up to a nicer weight for swinging onto target. I don't shoot real light guns well, probably because I'm used to the heavy goose gun.

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from micko77 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

A Mossberg owner here. I have but one shotgun, not counting a "combo" package H&R 20 ga. with a 30-30 barrel; I never use the shotgun barrel. I bought the Mossberg in 1984. It's never seen a gunsmith; I replaced the plastic safety with a steel one, and periodically replace the magazine spring. I can't imagine how many thousands of rounds have gone through that gun; I have an 18" barrel for home defense, a 24" smoothbore slug barrel that puts 3 shots in 3 inches at 75 yards with Federal Forster slugs, and a 28" multi-choke barrel that has brought in everything from quail to geese, squirrels to coyotes. I have shot against autoloaders to hit a 12"x12" steel plate at 15 yards and routinely beat them-- they get the shots off, but miss the plate. "Autos? We don't need no stinkin' autos"...

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from flyboy96 wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

i shot my first buck with a mossberg 500 20ga. love that thing. ive shot many does with it as well and hope that dad will let me have it for my 18th as my own gun...

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from Bernie wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I still have the 16 gauge Model 870 my father bought new for me in 1962, and it works perfectly. Also own two 16s and one 12 gauge in Win. Model 12s--all built in 1959. I'd never part with any of them. Yes, pump guns are utterly reliable.

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from 35wailin wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I have two shotguns. One, an old beat up Cooeye single shot, break action 12g that I could care less about. It stays apart in three pieces in the toolbox of my ATV along with a box of birdshot, slugs and buckshot as a last ditch survival/defense weapon. My other one is a 1987 vintage Remington 870 Express in 12g, 3" that I bought new. The 870 has been by my side whenever I need a shotgun since then. It has fired in excess of 20 000 rounds, killed everything from rats, to nuisance blackbirds and pigeons to grouse, snowshoe hares, ducks, geese and woodcock. It goes bang every time. I've replaced the wood stock with synthetic, replaces the ejector spring, the feed rails and the magazine spring over the years. I added a fiber-optic bead and sling swivels and painted it camo. I thought about replacing it a few years ago with a 3 1/2" 870, but I heard some of them have problems with rough chambers and decided to keep the old girl by my side. I may end up handing it down to my daughter or maybe my nephew, but I can't bring myself to do it yet.

Long live the pump gun and long live the 870.

I think Remington jumped the gun trying to improve upon it with the 887. I would rather pay more for a Wingmaster, than have a polymer coated gun where you can't see corrosion eating away at the parts until it affects safety and it is too late to take corrective action...

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from 35wailin wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

@Ontariohonker... I have never had ejection issues with the oval port in my 870 Express. I have had feed issues due to shells not being released from the mag before getting the feed rails replaced.

As for the shiny bolt, I took mine out, sanded it down to bare steel and cold blued it. I have to touch it up from time to time, but it is a cheap simple fix.

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from Robert B. Justin wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I bought my first shotgun, a 20 ga 870, from a crusty old guy named Leroy almost 30 years ago. That gun has better balance and smoother action that most I have ever seen. My go-to hunting gun is a BPS, and I have cradled it in many duck and goose blinds, and carried it for miles out west for pheasant and sharptails. My only complaint is getting the trigger assembly of the BPS back into the receiver after a thorough cleaning. It is very tricky. My buddies tease me about that old pump, but it is superbly reliable.

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from azduane wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I love my pump shotguns. I got my first Winchester Model 12 when I was 14 back in 1963 and still hunt dove and quail with it. I use my Remington 870 for waterfowl whenever I can, which, unfortunately, is not too often because I don't have anyone to hunt waterfowl with and it's tough to know where to go in Arizona. I got the 870 specifically for waterfowl with a 3" chamber, didn't feel the need for 3 1/2". I also use my 870 for trap shooting because it just feels right.

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from Devil_Dog wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I bought my 870 Wingmaster last year and shortly there after my wife purchased a rifled barrel for it. I put exactly 399 rounds through it before it broke. It went through 10 rounds of skeet before dove season and almost two boxes of ammo in the dove fields before suffering a catastrophic failure in which a spent round jammed in the chamber, the extractor broke, and the bolt locked solidly to the rear.

Remington customer service readily paid for the gun to be shipped back to the factory. Their inspection showed multiple bent and broken pieces within the reciever as well as a chamber that was cut too tight and not properly finished. I had no problems with getting a new gun sent back to me and customer service was very polite the entire time. However, for the price of a new Wingmaster, these quality issues were unacceptable to me. If it weren't for the fact that my wife had already purchased a several hundred dollar additional barrel for the gun, I would have just asked for a refund. I'm skeptical of Remington's quality and will be looking elsewhere for my next firearm.

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from Danno wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Phil,
When you say Scottish ales, do you mean Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy (like Belhaven Wee Heavy) or the milder versions (like Belhaven Scottish Ale)?

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from Doug Leichliter wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

If I had to choose a shotgun to carry for a day in the rabbit thickets or grouse covers it would be my Dad's 16 gauge Model 12, the one I talked him into having a deluxe Poly-Choke put on back when I was in high school. That was become with the stock 30" full choke barrel, about the only thing it was good for was tree top shooting Dad's beloved gray squirrels. Cut down to 26" and with the Poly-Choke , it became a whole other gun that I could one hand thru the thick stuff and be reasonably confident I could bring down anything that flushed from 10 to 35 yards.

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from philbourjaily wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Danno --Belhaven Wee Heavy is my favorite. Got suggestions for others like it?

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from elmer f. wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I have had a number of pump guns. they are practilly jam proof. i used a 12 guage Mossberg 500 years ago to shoot everything from clay targets to deer. it never, ever let me down. but, when i inherited my fathers Browning auto 5, the pump guns left. for good. the Auto 5 has never failed to fire for me either, even with aincent paper hull shells. and it fits me better, so i am more accurate with it. i would never not recomend a pump gun to anyone who was interested in one. but for me, i am an Auto 5 type of gun nut.

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from Tigerbeetle wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

My favorite duck gun is my Win. Heavy Duck gun. I haven't used it for ducks for a number of years, but with the new softer, non-steel shot, I may get it back out of the safe. For doves I use either my Win.(Browning)Mdl. 12 in 20 ga or my Ithaca Mdl 37. I love to shot a pump gun. I made a fabulous double on doves a couple years back with 2 doves splitting to go around a tree. I took the left one first and turned on the right one and got it. Bang - bang, just that fast. My only problem, no one was close enough to me the witness the event. I have gotten numerous doubles with my 12 ga. on ducks in past years. My daughter shot my Ithaca this past fall and now calls it her shotgun. It probably is, but I am not telling her that just yet. LOVE those pump guns!! TB

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from Tigerbeetle wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

My favorite duck gun is my Win. Heavy Duck gun. I haven't used it for ducks for a number of years, but with the new softer, non-steel shot, I may get it back out of the safe. For doves I use either my Win.(Browning)Mdl. 12 in 20 ga or my Ithaca Mdl 37. I love to shoot a pump gun. I made a fabulous double on doves a couple years back with 2 doves splitting to go around a tree. I took the left one first and turned on the right one and got it. Bang - bang, just that fast. My only problem, no one was close enough to me the witness the event. I have gotten numerous doubles with my 12 ga. on ducks in past years. My daughter shot my Ithaca this past fall and now calls it her shotgun. It probably is, but I am not telling her that just yet. LOVE those pump guns!! TB

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

Tigerbeetle: It's a common misconception but Browning did not design the Model 12. It was perfected by one of Winchester's own men. I believe his name was Peterson. Let me check on that ... no, Thomas Crosley Johnson. The design was "based in part" on Browning's Model 1897 shotgun, previously produced by Winchester.

35wailin: When I take the guts out of my 870 to clean it one of the feed rails falls out! The trigger plate pins will hold it back in place but it about requires an ambidextrous midget with three hands to get that gun back together again. Have been doing it for years and it still can take me twenty minutes of trial and error. What brand of cold blue did you use? My 870 is getting awful shiny after nearly fifty years of HARD use. I'm looking around for someone who can hot blue it but the pickings are slim here for genuine gunsmiths. Besides peening that rail back in place, I'll need to have the ejector drilled out and a new one riveted in. It's getting very thin. I'll probably just open up the receiver's ejection port myself using a grinding wheel on Dremel tool. Yeah sure, that will wreck the "collectable" value of my 870 but I figure those guns aren't going to be collectable anyway until maybe the 25th century at the earliest. All in all, there's a lot of expensive work ahead to make this gun what it once was. Is it worth it? Of course not. But I'm fast heading to the final roundup. That gun is the one I have used the most in my life and, though it's by far not the finest in my meager and very humble collection, I hope when I'm gone someone dear to me will desire it for that reason. So, rather than replace it I'd like to get it ready for the next generation of hard hunters.

One thing that concerns me about reblueing this gun is that Remington, for whatever reason (it's cheaper, I'm sure!), chose to VERY lightly stamp the serial number on the side of the receiver. The numbers on my 870 are barely visible now and I'm concerned that they might disappear during reblueing. As we all know, it's a major no-no defacing the serial numbers of a gun! Anyone had to address this?

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from srlarson wrote 8 weeks 4 days ago

Pumps and SxS for me.....870's, BPS, model 12, 1897, 42's...all pumps....in 12ga, 16ga,410...all great never have enough of the old pumps.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 8 weeks 2 days ago

I agree with the safety feature of a pump when Turkey Hunting.
While I prefer my SXS's, O/U and semis because of feel and balance.
There will always be one in the cabinet, because it is a rough and tumble tool that can paddle your canoe as well as stop just about any game animal.

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from Tim Platt wrote 8 weeks 2 days ago

I have three friends I hunt with that only own one gun. Squirrels, rabbits, dove, turkey, deer you name it. They all own 870's because they came to me and asked what gun I would buy if I could only own one. It is cheap, it kills everything, and for my friends they have lasted forever. Or 30 years and counting. One of my friends has never cleaned his 870 and he bought it in the 80's. I saw him drop it in the Cumberland River when we were duck hunting. It still goes bang.

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from Danno wrote 8 weeks 1 day ago

Phil,
I haven't had that many Scotch Ales but I liked Dark Horse Brewing's Scotty Karate. Very good and hides the alcohol extremely well (it's 9.75% abv). One of my beer books recommends the following: Traquair House Scottish Style Ale, Brasserie de Silly Scotch Silly, AleSmith Wee Heavy, and Founders Dirty Bastard. I am not sure if any of the mentioned beers would be available in your area though.

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from philbourjaily wrote 8 weeks 1 day ago

Danno -- Traquair is another one I like a lot. Founder's Dirty Bastard is good but hopped up more than I like my beer. I'll look for the others.

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from mauser78 wrote 4 weeks 5 days ago

I wholeheartedly agree, I have always loved pumps and they've never let me down. Both of mine are old and work flawlessly. The 1966 Westernfield 550AR and the 1979 Mossberg 500A, both are the same gun and can interchange parts with each other. But as previously stated, both work flawlessly and have never let me down. I personally have never been a fan of any semi-automatic, be it a shotgun, rifle or pistol with only one exception, which in the 1911 Colt. But that's about it.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

My goose gun is an 870 "Wingmaster" bought used in 1968. It works. Most of the time. The 870 is a cheaply made gun and I don't care which variety. Maybe not as cheaply made as most of the other crappy pumps being produced today (especially that new junk rolling out of the Remington factory). They are expensive to repair and quite often require it.

I do agree wholeheartedly with the utility of a pump. They can be shot very quickly ... but they usually aren't. Automatics can be shot extremely fast ... and they usually are! The average guy will connect more often if he doesn't rush the shot, ergo pumps are better at producing game. Autos are better at killing air. As I said in an earlier Gun Nuts thread, I think in recent years the gun manufacturers have pushed the need for faster, more punishing shotgun ammo simply so their supposedly softer-shooting automatics will sell better. And, of course, autos use up more ammo. A win-win situation for the gun/ammo industries!

When I finish shooting geese here with the 870 I go to Montana for pheasants where I primarily use my Browning "Light 12" A-5. I have ALWAYS shot the 870 better (and I don't shoot that Browning badly by any means!) but it's fixed full choke is more than I need for pheasants. Also has a 30" barrel which is not very handy for jump shooting in heavy cover.

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from Dcast wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

I agree wholeheartedly with OHH on the 870's and Remington in general. Many of you have read my critical reviews and complaints rivaling OHH's on Cabelas but Remington makes junk [key word]"TODAY". There are many of fine 870's and the such from decades ago but they are absolutely pieces of junk, prone to jamb and not eject. All you have to do is look at the reviews for them on the web to see there is a quality control problem of epic proportion at Remington. I don't even like their ammo (of all types) any more. I would buy a Stoeger Condor over any 870 and would rather a Taurus over any handgun they make. The only thing keeping their doors open is nostalgia and just enough young guns looking for their 1st gun taking the advice from guys who have guns from the 60's & 70's that still work. However after these 1st time buyers get these guns they then realize they just bought a very expensive boat oar. I sold my 870 for a loss so I could get something that functioned all the time. I just got my new Browning BPS that I won recently and am hoping to not be disappointed with it as I was with my 870.

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