If history tells us anything about firearms, it is that the fundamentals of a great design, however they may be modified in the future, often remain the same. This truly defines the pump-action shotgun, which had its beginning in 1883 with a design by famed rifle maker Christopher M. Spencer. The design was refined by John M. Browning for Winchester in 1893, then improved by Winchester in 1897, and again by W.R.A. Co. in 1912 with what remains after 102 years to be the basis for virtually all pump shotguns made today, the Model 1912. Outside of the Colt Model 1911 semi-auto pistol, the pump shotgun is the most successful and enduring “modern” firearm design in history, having remained in production for over a century.
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In addition to ease of use, durability and greater affordability, the pump shotgun is also the most versatile since it is adaptable to multiple uses simply by changing the type of shotgun shell used. For hunting, whether wing shooting (#7 shot), deer hunting (slugs) or tactical defense use (00 buckshot and slugs), one gun can do it all. And many of the makes and models are offered with interchangeable barrel lengths for sporting and defensive purposes. Interchangeable or adjustable chokes for sport shooting and hunting (where specific shot patterns are desirable) can also make one barrel equally at home in the duck blind, afield or in defense of one’s home and family.
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Shotgun gauges go from modest but effective .410 shells, most commonly used for small game and varmint hunting, to mid-range 20-gauge loads and heavy-hitting 12-gauge shotshells, all of which are available in every variation from birdshot to buckshot. For home defense use, there are also tactical loads such as Winchester PDX1, which combines one rifled slug with three 00 buckshot, and special defensive rounds like Remington HD Ultimate Home Defense 00 buckshot in .410. Other types of defensive 12-gauge shotshells are designed for reduced recoil, making the gun more manageable and quicker to get back on target. Most of the shotguns listed average 39 to 40 inches in overall length. As a multi-purpose weapon, pump shotguns offer the greatest value and capability of any firearm available.
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