View Full Version : Best for self defense? Pump or auto?

March 4, 2001, 02:59 AM
I am about to lay some cash down for a shotgun, but I am still debating, pump versus auto? When it comes to autos I am also debating inertia versus gas operated? Its going to be used for HD. Is any auto reliable enough for self defense? I've read a few articles debating this. I've looked at the Mossbergs, Benellis, Berettas, and Franchis. Is there such a thing like a Remington 11-87 for under $700.00? Are all the above able to use a Sidesaddle? I have heard the M1 S90 has problems with reliability when using them. What about the M3 S90, is it a different story when using a Sidesaddle?

What do you guys think about the M3 S90 being the best of both worlds?

I was reading about the recommended shotguns from Tactical Firearms Training Institute in California. They did not recommend the Mossberg 9200 A1 Jungle Gun because they said it could not be operated with one hand. Does anyone know why this is? They recommended the 590 A1, 500, 870, 11-87, M1 S90, M3 S90, and Winchester 1300.

Thank you for any input you guys may have.

March 4, 2001, 03:14 AM
I would say, go for the pump. The one big advantage
of the auto is that you can operate it one-handed.
I'm not sure how much of an advantage that is in
real life, and I'm willing to give it up for the
other advantages of a pump. The main reason to use
a shotgun one-handed is to use it with a light.
Just get the integrated forend from Surefire,
or learn how to work a pump with a light (it's
difficult, but possible).

One thing to keep in mind: an auto is really not
faster than a pump. With a 870, you can keep
some rearward pressure on the pump, and as soon
as the shot fires, the pump starts to fly back,
and by doing this, you can cycle _very_ quickly.

I also think that pumps are easier to manipulate, like
if you have to get a slug in, or something like that.

Dave McC
March 4, 2001, 08:48 AM
While some autos approach pumps in reliability, the key word is approach. A good pump is as reliable an arm as there exists in this imperfect and sometimes dangerous world.

I have over 40 years experience with 870s. I seriously doubt I could gain anything in speed, effectiveness, or reliability by going to an auto, of any sort/brand.

However, a cool trained hand with one of the better autos is far from defenseless.

A few minor points....

One, I could get 2 870s, and some ammo and addons, for what most new autos would cost me.

Two,while some autos produce less felt recoil than pumps do,good form, stock fit and the newer reduced recoil loads
(or light field/target loads) cut that advantage considerably, even for those sensitive to kick.

Doc Hudson
March 4, 2001, 10:37 AM
Go with a pump and use both hands.

Otherwise you will probably end up with the shotgun on the ground.

Pumps are far less ammo sensitive than automatics. But beware of short shucking the slide, i.e. not working the slide far enough to both eject the spent hull and pick up a fresh shell. That is the only fault I am aware of in pump shotguns, and that is actually an operator fault

Doc Hudson

P.S. A Mossberg M-500 with an 18.5" barrel lives next to my bed for things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. LMH

Red Label
March 4, 2001, 12:19 PM
I also suggest a pump. As far as I know, most LE agencies use pumps. I have a Winchester 1300 Defender with 18" barrel. 8 shot capacity. After a shot is fired, the interia just about opens the slide for you. With practice, the fluidity is almost like a semi-auto. My vote is for either the 1300 or the 870. I agree that you can buy 2 0r three of those for the price of many semi-autos, and other pumps... Just my $.02...

March 4, 2001, 12:49 PM
Take an auto!

The gun might be reliable but how "reliable" are you? Do you think that in a stress situation you're going to be as cool as in training? Forget it, unless you are a professional that has been in such a situation at least once.
Do you think cycling the action with a pump is easy and you would never do it wrong? Try it when adrenaline is pumping through your body making your hands sweat and trembling. Most people are not able to think clear and act properly in a life threatening situation. Do you think you'd be cold blooded enough? Maybe, but I wouldn' bet my life on it. Therefore take a gun where you only have to pull the trigger and don't have to pump - take an auto! The less you have to do the fewer mistakes you're going to make.

However, mechanical reliabilety is a concern with autos if you wan't to use them under extreme conditions like in a military scenario.
But if you keep your auto clean malfunctions are no problem at all.
I suggest you take a recoil operated gun like the benelli since gas autos are usually harder to clean and less reliable.
Don't buy the M3 instead go for the M1. Switching from auto to pump might be an option in a shooting competition but not in a HD scenario - it just takes away these seconds that you won't have anyway.

Christopher II
March 4, 2001, 01:08 PM
I'd rather have an auto.

Pump guns are very difficult to shoot from unusual positions. Try shooting a pump gun from a strong-side barricade position. Or from prone. The one-hand operation issue has already been brought up, as has the very real possibility of short-stroking the action or just forgetting to work the action altogether. Autos don't have any of these problems.

Personally, I like the Remmington 11-87 or 1100. Very reliable and soft-shooting.

Whatever you choose, train with it. Otherwise, it's all moot.


March 4, 2001, 01:47 PM
The auto might be faster and require less work, but the pump will be more reliable when the poop hits the fan.Auto's must be kept clean to keep functioning flawlessly.I have heard recently of some malfunctions that a police agency had beacuse they were using some low powered buckshot rounds. They pulled the trigger and some of the rounds failed to function the action.This was a situation where the BG was about to get them.Imagine standing there trying to protect yourself and your auto malfunctions after the first shot. Matter of fact some people are so good using a pump they can almost shoot it as fast as an auto.I own both types (including a 11-87) and tend to like an auto for hunting, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty i would want to rely on the pump. Yes you can buy 11-87's under 700.00. I would think that you could find one probably around 500.00 or so.

Tom B
March 4, 2001, 01:51 PM
The Mossberg Jungle Gun has a button on the side of the receiver that must be pressed to allow mag to be loaded. This forbids a one hand operation unless your are an octopus. I have the 9200A1,a Rem 870PM and a Winchester 1300. My vote would go to the 870 or 1300 however the more I shoot my 870 the more I like it. It is now my favorite. Next for me will be the Benelli Nova Tact.

March 4, 2001, 01:52 PM
Pump! Mossberg 500 or 590 with ghost ring sights.

Oleg Volk
March 4, 2001, 01:56 PM
1187 Police can be fired with 3" slugs w/o discomfort. 870 would hurt. Why use a weapon that beats up the user?

Also, at least with my Winchester 1300, the follower design is such that short-stroking the pump completely ties up the gun. I have not done that often but the probability of mis-handing a gun under stress or when in a struggle is, IMO, greater than the likelyhood of mechanical failure with an autoloader.

Lonnie Jaycox
March 5, 2001, 12:15 PM
The man who taught me to shoot skeet used a pump and was faster than the guys using the O/U's. I have shot both auto and pump for a long time and find my AIMED rate of fire about the same (come to think of it, I shoot the O/U at about the same speed). I tried an auto for HD(1201FP) and found my left handedness to be a big problem with a righthanded auto. It is back to the 870.

Dave McC
March 5, 2001, 01:41 PM
A small observation....

I had a hunting bud for years, decades in fact, who was absolutely deadly with his venerable A-5. We were shooting together once(plinking with buck and bird shot), we both noted that our second shot times were nigh identical. IOW, I could pump and get off another effective shot as fast as he could.

The gas autos may be a little faster than JMB's old masterpiece, but I doubt there's any practical difference between an experienced pump gunner's rate of fire and an auto shooter's.

Christopher II
March 5, 2001, 02:04 PM
Let me clarify something. I know first-hand just how fast a skilled pump-gun operator can be. I shot skeet for years using a bone-stock Remington 870 Express 20ga. I never had any problems breaking doubles with a pump action shotgun.

Autoloaders have no practical speed advantage over pump guns. My objection to using pump shotguns for defense is a matter of shootability and ease of use, not of speed.

I'll repeat: Pump-action shotguns are more difficult, sometimes much more difficult, to shoot from prone and from behind cover. They are also much more prone to operator-induced malfunction, which I think is a far more likely occurrence than a mechanical failure.

My opinion only. Try both types out on the range, from different positions, and see which one you like best. And whatever you go with, pump or semi, train with it!


March 5, 2001, 06:54 PM
To criticize the auto (ie. Benelli M1) for it's ammo sensitivity is a mistake. Would you honestly not try the ammo in the gun before stashing for HD? Personally, I wouldn’t trust a gun/ammo combination until I had run at the very least 100 rounds of that particular ammo through the gun, even more if the gun is new. Even with a pump gun: My friend’s 870 became a single shot when one of the shell stop’s spring failed on the magazine tube, causing failure to feed with less than 200 rounds through the gun. To assume a gun is reliable just because some one else says so puts your life in their hands.

If your auto doesn’t like a particular brand of shells, switch to something that it does like. Ammo manufactures give you more than enough choices. Unless you are stuck on buying nothing but ultra cheap ammo like the stuff Walmart sells for $30 for 250 rounds during hunting season, you should be able to find something that works well in your gun

March 5, 2001, 07:55 PM
The 9200A1 is not impossible to load one-handed, but certainly the 870 is easier. In any case, do you actually forsee the need for such? IMHO, such discourse is rather academic, particularly in a HD scenario. The rounds in your gun at the start 'should' suffice.

I do know that the Jungle is easier on my shoulder than both the 870, or the Benelli. I suspect the same would hold true for the 11-87, being a gas-operated design. As to reliability, the 9200 has been great, whereas the 870 is now in for repairs. Go figure, they're both mechanical devices, bottom line.

You can get an 870 for about 1/2 the price of a new 9200, and less than 1/3 that of a Benelli. The former is also abundantly available on the used gun market. The latter two are not. You can always find a ready buyer for the Rem. if you do not care for it, and buy the auto of your choice.

Dave McC
March 5, 2001, 08:52 PM
Chris, it is a matter of personal choice, but...

If I ever had a malf with an 870, it was back before the Nixon Administration. Training's the key. Use has run up to a few thousand rounds a year, both personal and professional.Since New Year's, used up 4 cases of trap loads, maybe 40 rounds of buck and 20 slugs, most through various 870s, and glitchless.

And everything is a series of tradeoffs. Pumps may be harder to shoot prone, and less likely to malf in the positions used for most, if not quite all, problem resolutions. Prone is not a position I'm going to use much, if there's a realistic alternative. Too hard to check your rear area, too slow to leave as needed.

What works for me, however, is not a universal constant. People should check out the options and make informed choices.

Christopher II
March 5, 2001, 09:52 PM
Dave McC -

Don't get me wrong, I love 870s. My father and I have three of them, and I can't remember having any malfunctions, with any one of them. If you were to force me at gunpoint to pick a pump-action HD shotgun, I'd grab my 20ga. 870 YM and be very, very happy with it. Please, please do not construe anything I've posted as talking smack about 870s.

But I still think that autos have the edge for HD guns. YMMV, JMHO, all that...

What you say about checking the options and making an informed choice, I agree with 110%


March 6, 2001, 11:59 AM
I own the following 12 gauge shotguns:
Benelli Super 90
Remington 870
Remington 1100
Winchester 1300 Defender

Only the Benelli stays loaded for home defense. My reasons are as follows:

* one handed operation in case I am wounded
* magazine is easily topped off like a pump action
* semiautomatic design adapts to low and cover positions better
* recoil operated Benelli action is faster than any other type of shotgun
* awesome reliability
* lightweight and very fast handling characteristics for extended shootout situations
* easier to clean than any competing semiautomatic format.

My advice to you would be to fire any pump or gas operated semiautomatic against the Benelli with its recoil operated action. Recoil will be greater than the gas operated semi, but you can get used to that. From a reliability standpoint, I bought mine from a small shop that had it sitting on the shelf for several years unfired and was completely free of lube. I fired it AS IS at the range with about 150 rounds of disgustingly dirty trap ammunition and it never missed a beat.

FYI....the Benelli M3 combo action shotgun is much heavier and not as well balanced as the Benelli.

The Benelli is the IDEAL self defense shotgun. If it is too expensive or you cannot bring yourself to trust the semiautomatic action, then buy the Remington 870 pump. It is the best of the pumps designs out there.

I'd go into combat with either with confidence.

- Anthony

P.S. If you go with a Remington 870, 1100, or 11-87 and want some custom work done, give John Tank a call at 402-727-1317. He's done several guns for me and is very good at making great shotguns awesome.