The action in a 3-Gun match is non-stop, and to compete you need a shotgun that performs consistently, is fast to reload and that produces manageable recoil. Talk to any 3-Gun pro and they will say reliability is the most important factor. If your shotgun is not reliable, it is of no use in 3-Gun matches.
The first thing you should do prior to purchasing a 3-Gun shotgun is determine which division you want to compete in. Competitors are divided into divisions based on the types of firearms and optics they use.
Typically you will see tube-magazine-fed, semi-automatic shotguns exclusively in 3-Gun matches. You can use a pump in any division, but if you want to keep up with everyone else, opt for an automatic. Pump shotguns, however, are the only action type allowed in the Heavy Sport division.
If you want to try out the sport, you can get away with your bird gun or tactical shotgun, but the issue with the shotguns you have at home is the magazine capacity, which is limited to five rounds after the magazine plug is removed.
Dedicated 3-Gun shotguns feature extended magazines with eight-, nine-, 10-round and higher capacities. It all depends on the division in which you compete.
Other considerations for 3-Gun shotguns include the availability of after-market accessories like magazine tube extensions, shell carriers, fiber-optic sights, oversized controls, compensators and muzzle brakes. Again, your choices depend on the division in which you choose to compete.
- RELATED STORY: 3-Gun Speed Demons: 21 Firearms Ready For Competition
Scroll through the gallery of shotguns above and check out more information below for 15 shotguns designed with a need for speed on steel.
Benelli Performance Shop M2 3-Gun Edition
The M2 has dominated 3-Gun competition thanks to its extremely reliable inertia-driven operating mechanism. The tradeoff between an M2 and a gas-driven gun is the inertia gun will produce slightly more recoil. For the 3-Gun Edition, Benelli’s Performance Shop sets up an M2 with an oversized bolt release, an extended tactical-style bolt handle and a HiViz fiber-optic sight. It also modifies the carrier and enlarges the loading port for faster reloads. (benelliusa.com; 800-264-4962)
Benelli M2 Field
The M2 Field shotgun is light and fast handling. It is the backbone of the Benelli semi-auto line that cycles everything from target loads to the heaviest 3-inch magnums. Featuring the company’s innovative Inertia Driven system as well as the ComforTech recoil reduction system, this 12 gauge is well balanced and ready to compete whether you’re an amateur on the 3-Gun circuit or a seasoned pro. (benelliusa.com; 800-264-4962)
Beretta 1301 Comp
Beretta built a fast-cycling gas operating system it calls Blink into the 1301 Comp, which allows the shotgun to shoot four shots in less than one second. Beretta says the 1301 Comp is 36 percent faster than any other shotgun. I’ve personally tried this gun, and it proved fast and soft shooting due to the gas-operated system. The shotgun’s controls and triggerguard are enlarged for faster manipulation. Beretta has also enlarged the ejection and loading ports. A fiber-optic front sight makes for fast target acquisition. (beretta.com)
Century Arms Catamount Fury II
The Catamount Fury II from Century Arms features an AK-style box magazine and ships with two 5-round mags and one 10-round mag. The operating system is a gas-operated, piston-driven action that is adjustable to accommodate low- and high-pressure loads. The Catamount Fury II also features a skeletonized buttstock and a pistol grip for enhanced operator control. (centuryarms.com; 800-527-1252)
CZ 712 3-Gun G2
CZ designed the 712 as an entry-level 3-Gun shotgun with all the competition-ready features you would expect. This includes an extended bolt handle and oversized bolt release for easier manipulation. An ATI fluted magazine extension increases capacity up to 9+1 and extends just past the 22-inch barrel to help protect the muzzle. Additionally, the 712 ships with three extended choke tubes as well. (cz-usa.com; 800-955-4486)
FN SLP MK 1 Competition
The FN SLP Competition is touted as the fastest-cycling autoloading shotgun. The 24-inch barrel is back bored to reduce felt recoil, and at 7.5 pounds, the weight of the gun also helps tame recoil from 12-gauge loads. The Competition model also features a fiber-optic front sight and a flip-up rear sight. Standard features include an enlarged loading port and an extended eight-round magazine tube. (fnamerica.com; 703-288-3500)
FN SLP MK 1
The FN SLP MK 1 offers a lot of out-the-box features at a low price point. You get FN’s renowned, fast-cycling autoloading system, an extended eight-round magazine tube and a 22-inch, back-bored barrel. Leveraging more than 100 years of autoloading shotgun engineering, the shotgun features ultra-reliable gas operation, an aircraft-grade alloy receiver, a synthetic stock and fully adjustable rifle sights. (fnamerica.com; 703-288-3500)
Mossberg 930 JM Pro Series
The Mossberg Model 930 has proven itself for decades through its dual gas system, which offers lighter felt recoil and easier cycling. The JM Pro Series is built to champion competitive shooter Jerry Miculek’s specifications. It’s available in 9-shot or 10-shot configurations, with 22” (9 shot) or 24” (10 shot) barrel, beveled loading gate, a shorter forend and an oversized bolt release and bolt handle. (mossberg.com; 203-230-5300)
Mossberg 590A1 U.S. Service Model
The U.S. military chose the 590A1 for its reliability. Based on the Model 590 pump shotgun, the 590A1 features a heavier-walled barrel and a steel triggerguard for added durability and a bit more heft. It also sports a nine-shot extended magazine, a 20-inch barrel with a bead front sight and a ribbed synthetic forearm and stock. (mossberg.com; 203-230-5300)
Mossberg 500 Tactical 8-Shot
Simple, straightforward and with a decades of experience in the field, the Mossberg Model 500 is a legendary shotgun design. The 500 Tactical-8 Shot is streamlined for 3-Gun competition with its 20-inch barrel with brass bead front sight and an eight-shot extended magazine. Rugged and reliable pump after pump, this proven design is built for big results without a big price tag. (mossberg.com; 203-230-5300)
Remington Model 870 Express Tactical
The Model 870 offers legendary performance from an established pump-action platform. The Express Tactical features a six-round magazine as well as an 18.5-inch barrel with a fixed cylinder bore choke and porting for reduced muzzle rise. Milled from a solid billet of steel and offering twin-action-bar operation, you can expect a silky smooth pump-action shot every time with the Express Tactical. (remington.com; 800-243-9700)
Remington Versa Max Tactical
The Versa Max has become one of the most reliable shotguns in competition. And according to Remington, its design reduces felt recoil in 12-gauge loads to 20-gauge levels. The Versa Max Tactical features an eight-round magazine, a 22-inch barrel with ProBore choke system as well as an oversized bolt release and bolt release button. Versa Max shotguns also have a huge loading port for quick reloads. (remington.com; 800-243-9700)
Remington Versa Max Competition Tactical
The Versa Max Competition Tactical starts out with Remington’s excellent Tactical model and tricks it out specifically for
3-Gun competition. It features an eight-shot magazine with a two-shot carbon-fiber extension, oversized controls for handling with gloves, a green Cerakote receiver finish, an enlarged loading port for quick reloads and express dovetailed sights. (remington.com; 800-243-9700)
Stoeger M3K 3-Gun
This entry-level 3-Gun shotgun from Stoeger is an inertia-driven design outfitted with competition-ready features like a fiber-optic front sight, an oversized bolt release button and charging handle, an extended and ported choke tube as well as a 24-inch barrel. At $699, this shotgun can deliver the goods in competition without breaking the bank. (stoegerindustries.com; 800-264-4962)
Winchester Model SXP Defender
The pump-action SXP shotguns are some of the fastest pump guns on the market thanks to their inertia-assisted slide actions. The Defender offers an 18-inch barrel with a fixed cylinder bore choke that handles slugs and shot with ease. The Inflex Technology recoil pad directs felt recoil down and away from the shooter’s cheek for more comfort during extended shooting sessions. (winchesterguns.com; 800-333-3288)
This article was published in the 2016 Gun Buyer’s Guide. To purchase a copy of this magazine or subscribe to any other Harris Tactical magazine, please visit HarrisTacticalStore.com.