Pump Action Shotguns

Manual Operation

When people on social media say that iron sights are the manual transmission of the firearms world, it makes me wonder if these people actually know what a manual transmission is, let alone know how to drive one.

For my mileage, the pump action shotgun is much more in line with being the manual transmission of the firearms world every day of the week. (Maybe second to the single action revolver?)

My Pump Action

My first gun was a Mossberg 500 12 ga combo with a 3” chamber. It was $259 and came with an 18.5” security barrel and a 28” vent rib barrel. It’s lightweight, shoots great and it runs filthy. I’ve shot the piss out of this thing and it still works well.

Jawbone Mossberg 500

I ended up getting heavy into guns as a hobby and naturally gravitated towards Glocks and AR-15’s as my main staples but, there will always be a place in my heart for a good 12 ga.

Jawbone Mossberg 500 12 Guage

There’s something about that feeling when you rack in a load. It just feels positive and inspires confidence.

Mossberg vs Remington

For me, it has always been between Mossberg and Remington when it comes to pump action shotguns. I like the safety position, action release and lifter design better on the Mossberg in the traditional stock models.

However, the cross-bolt safety and action release located forward the trigger guard on the Remington becomes an advantage on the pistol grip models. Your mileage may vary.

Mossberg 500A Combo photo from

One thing that has very little to do with practicality that I’d like to note is that the Remington 870 action does audibly sound better than the Mossberg when you chamber a round. We’ve been trained by TV and movies that the sound of an 870 is the sound of a pump shotgun.

Remington 870 Hardwood Defense photo from

Home Defense

The 12 gauge security model is still my first recommendation for male shooters who are looking for home protection for their family.

These guys are likely to buy only one gun for the job and are usually on a tight family budget. The buy-in cost is much lower than most pistols/carbines and the learning curve is faster for most guys.

Jawbone Tactical Mossberg 590A1

Getting effective hits with a pump action on man sized targets, at defensive distances, can be learned much faster than mastering pistol shooting. The shooter can build proficiency in less range trips and with less rounds overall.

Pump actions also run great dirty. Let’s be real, most new shooters aren’t going to field strip their guns for cleaning when they get home.

Do you still need to train with shotguns?


It is easy to miss with any gun and fumble operation of the controls when stress is introduced. Shooters also need to know where their shotgun patterns, point of impact with slugs and where to hold at various distances.


Is there still a place for pump action shotguns in 2020?

IMHO yes.

The 12 ga shotgun is a timeless threat stopper that speaks all languages. This platform can make a non-shooter very effective in a few range trips with minimal amounts of ammunition.

Pump action shotguns are a great budget-friendly option for the man of the house who wants to spend more time with his family than on the range training.

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