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Shotgun buying descicions: Pumps vs Autoloaders

Just an informative post on shotguns for someone who may be interested in a new purchase. I have a lot of experience with both pumps and autoloaders.

I will compare the pro's and cons of each, but I will not state which platform is best because that is semi-subjective.

Pump Pro's:
+ Mechanical Reliability: In general, pump shotguns are more reliable than their gas operated counterparts. (This is not saying autoloaders are not reliable)
+ Can cycle all types of shells including less-than-lethal rounds.
+ Cheaper: You can get quality pumps for less than $200 almost everywhere.
+ Faster clearing of a stoppage: Most stoppages in a pump can be easily resolved by cycling the action.

Pump Con's:
- Operator Reliability: The chance of the operator short stroking in a stressful situation is FAR more likely to happen than a stoppage in an autoloader. (In the Remmington 870's case, short stroking can cause a catastrophic stoppage requiring tools to resolve)
- Higher Recoil: Autoloaders have less recoil, explained more later.
- Slower Follow up shots: Due to the manual operation of the action and the higher recoil, follow up shots are inevitably slower.
- Slower combat reloading: Will explain more in the autoloader section.
- No 1-handed operation: If an arm/hand is injured it is VERY hard to operate the weapon.

Autoloader Pro's:
+ Operator Reliability: Due to no manual cycling of the action, it is impossible for the user to short stroke the weapon. Operator error is FAR more likely to happen in a pump shotgun than a stoppage in an autoloader.
+ Lower recoil: The action of the autoloader reduces recoil.
+ Faster action: The autoloader can eject and cycle a new round faster than humanly possible with a pump.
+ Faster follow up shots: Due to a Faster action and Lower recoil, follow up shots can be performed quicker.
+ Faster combat reloading: In most autoloaders, the bolt will lock back to the rear after the last round is fired, the operator can immediately sense this and load another round. On a pump shotgun, there is no way for the operator to tell when the last round is fired except to pull the trigger or manually check the chamber.
+ Ability to operate with 1-hand: You can effectively operate the weapon with a single hand/arm.

Autoloader Con's:
- Mechanical Reliability: Autoloaders have more moving parts and rely on the gasses of the round to cycle the action. With more moving parts inherently comes less reliability as does relying on the gases of a round to cycle the action. A low powered/defective round will not supply enough gas pressure to fully cycle the action resulting in operator intervention. This is not to say autoloaders are not reliable, they just are not AS reliable as a pump.
- Will not auto-cycle less-than-lethal rounds: You can still manually cycle the action, so they can still be shot, just not automatically.\
- Slower clearing of stoppage: Clearing a stoppage on an autoloader is simple, but still takes longer than a pump.
- Longer break in period: With most autoloaders, you need to thoroughly clean and lube them before they will reliably cycle birdshot. Sometimes you will also need to shoot some full powered slug's or buckshot before the action is "broken in" enough to shoot birdshot.
- More expensive: Its a fact that autoloaders are more expensive, expect to spend at least $450 minimum for one.

I have Highlighted what I feel are the most important parts of the comparison and what I feel should make up most of your decision. I feel the bolded parts are the most important because they will come into play in defensive life and death situations. In the heat of the moment when someone is firing at you it is very likely for a shortstroke to occur (or not stroking the action at all) with a pump shotgun. Yes operator training can help a lot but the still the chances of this happening are higher than a malfunction with an autoloader.

In regards to the combat reloading, this is the act of just loading 1 round in the chamber to fire 1 more shot when there is not enough time for a full reload. With a pump shotgun, after the last round has been fired there is nothing to tell the user except for the fall of the hammer. This is very important because it means that you need to attempt to fire another round before you can tell that there was no round to be fired. Generally when you fire a round you are aiming at the enemy and exposing at least a portion of your body. So, with a pump shotgun you essentially need to expose yourself before you can tell you have fired your last round. (Unless you count rounds, which nobody can do reliably in a tense situation, or manually check the chamber) Then, once you finally do notice you are empty, you must rack the action to the rear, deposit a round into the chamber and rack the action back forward.

With an autoloader, it is quite different. After the last round is fired, the bolt will lock to the rear. The user can sense this (it feels/sounds different than a normal round being fired) as well as visually see the bolt being locked back and an open sight to the chamber. Essentially it is the same as an AR-15 for anyone that has experience with them. Once this is noticed, the user then deposits a round into the ejection port and releases the bolt back forward. Not only is this much faster to sense and perform than with a pump, but you do not need to expose yourself.

With these points in mind I hope it will make your decision easier. Both weapons systems are great and I would not be opposed to either but I honestly prefer an autoloader, especially for a defensive situation.

Also, I did not bring up the "pro" of the pump shotgun: Racking the action causes fear. This is not a pro and I will explain why:
#1 Quit believing everything you see on TV.
#2 Quit believing everything you see on TV.
#3 The audible sound not only lets the enemy know you are armed but can also exposes your covered and concealed position.
#4 Needing to rack the action to put a round in the chamber means you did not have a round in the chamber to begin with, and you are a moron. A shotgun stored for defensive purposes should always be hot loaded (round in the chamber), not only is it one less thing you need to do but it also give you 1 more round ready to go before needing to reload. This is the reason why shotgun round capacities are always listed as 4+1, 5+1, 8+1, etc.
Old 12-16-2012, 06:08 PM Syk0tiK is offline  
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