Top 5 Pump-Action Shotguns

Many gun owners see pump-action shotguns as classics that take a backseat to newer semi-auto models. In reality, they continue to be useful tools even today. The right pump-action shotgun can be a fantastic addition to your gun collection. They’re great for everything from home defense to hunting to shooting clays. You can run a pump just as fast as a semi-auto, too, with enough practice. They’re great guns and we’ve put together a list of our top 5 pump-action shotguns we think you should consider adding to your collection.

remington model 870 fieldmaster
The Model 870 has been around for three-quarters of a century and a wide variety are available. [Photo: Remington]

Remington 870

The Remington 870 was designed in 1950 and has remained in production since. In three-quarters of a century, there have been more than 11 million Remington 870s made. This includes the many variants, such as the 870 Fieldmaster and 870 DM. This is a true classic and a model all gun owners can enjoy shooting. Some of the best-made models are the older guns you’re likely to find used in gun stores and pawn shops, but the newer models are good as well.

Shown above is the 12-gauge Model 870 Fieldmaster configuration, which features a 4-round capacity when loaded with 2 .75-inch shotshells. The gun has a 3.0-inch chamber, but there’s also a 3.5-inch magnum receiver available for certain models.

The shotgun is offered with various barrel lengths, including 18.75 inches, 21 inches, 26 inches, and 28 inches. It has a vented rib and front bead sight and is also drilled and tapped for easy addition of optics. Sling attachment points are also included. Wood furniture and synthetic models are offered, along with thumbhole stocks and camo finishes. Basically, you can find just about any configuration for the Remington Model 870. It’s a great shotgun that’s more than earned its popularity.

winchester defender
The Defender is designed for self-defense use. [Photo: Winchester]

Winchester SPX Defender

If you’re looking for an entry-level shotgun for home defense, the Winchester SPX Defender is a solid shotgun worth considering. It’s a basic 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun designed for easier maneuvering and portability. The price point also makes it reasonable for most gun owners. Winchester describes it as the ideal shotgun for carrying wherever it’s needed, such as off-roading, camping, and other outdoor adventures. Of course, its compact size also makes it beneficial for defending your home because it’s small enough to maneuver more easily around your house.

The Winchester SPX Defender has an 18-inch barrel and a 3-inch chamber, so you can use 2.75-inch or 3-inch shotshells. Further, it features a five-round capacity with 2.75-inch shotshells. The gun’s overall length is 38.5 inches, a 13.75-inch length of pull, and an empty weight of 6.4 pounds. The factory front sight is fiber optic to draw the eye and improve target acquisition, which is good for defensive purposes. This particular model has a TrueTimber Midnight finish, Gray Perma-Cote barrel finish, and composite stock. It’s made to be durable and to withstand serious use. And if you’d prefer a somewhat softer-shooting shotgun, there is a 20-gauge model as well.

benelli supernova shotgun
The Benelli SuperNova is a well-made pump-action that’s versatile and reliable. [Photo: Benelli]

Benelli SuperNova Pump Shotgun

Benelli is well-known for designing and manufacturing quality shotguns, and their SuperNova Pump Shotgun is a great example of their dedication to producing well-made firearms. This is a 12-gauge shotgun made for durability and lighter weight. It has a 3.5-inch chamber, which gives you a lot of choices for ammunition, and it has a 4+1 capacity. The black synthetic model has a ComforTech recoil reduction system for a more comfortable shooting experience, which translates to greater accuracy on target. The gun also has steel skeletal framework that’s overmolded with polymer, creating a strong, durable platform. Benelli enlarged the trigger guard on the SuperNova so it’s a better fit with gloved hands and the forend is ribbed for easier manipulation of the pump-action.

Features of the Benelli SuperNova include barrel lengths varying from 24 inches to 26 inches, depending on the specific variant, and black and camo finishes. Overall length varies between 47.5 inches and 49.5 inches, depending on barrel length. Empty weight varies by length but stays around 8 pounds. The drop at the heel is 2.25 inches, and the drop at the comb is 1.375 inches. The SuperNova has a 14.375-inch length of pull, and it does come with a shim kit, so the length of pull can be adjusted to fit the shooter more precisely. It ships with a standard red bar front sight, which works fine out of the box and is not drilled and tapped. This is a nicely made pump-action shotgun that’s versatile enough for whatever you need to do with it.

mossberg 590s
An optic-ready 590? Yes, please! [Photo: Mossberg]

Mossberg 590S Optic Ready

You’re probably familiar with the Mossberg family of shotguns and with the 590 line in particular. The 590S Optic Ready is the most recent addition to their successful line of shotguns and one that promises to become a classic in its own right, thanks to the ease with which optics can be added. If you’d like to be able to easily add a red dot sight or any optic to your pump-action shotgun, the 590S Optic Ready is the way to go. This 12-gauge shotgun has a 3-inch chamber and is made to reliably cycle 1.75-inch, 2.75-inch, and 3-inch shotshells. That means this is definitely the gun for you if you want one capable of running mini shells. Capacity is 7 +1, 8 +1, or 13 +1, depending on shotshell length.

The Mossberg 590S Optic Ready is specifically designed for defensive applications, and its features speak to that. It has a synthetic stock for durability and an M-LOK compatible forend, making adding a weapon-mounted light easier. Features include a redesigned elevator, bolt slide, and an entirely new design for the energy-absorbing bumper. It has dual extractors for reliable cycling, twin action bars, steel-to-steel lockup, and an ambidextrous safety (as is Mossberg’s habit, the gun has a tang safety, which is readily accessible with either hand). The length of pull is fixed at 13.87 inches, which is a good fit for the average shooter. The 590S Optic Ready is based on a proven, reliable shotgun and offers all the benefits of advancing technology.

cz usa 620 field
The CZ USA 620 Field has a classic look with modern features. [Photo: CZ USA]

CZ USA 620 Field

The CZ USA 620 Field is a beautifully made pump-action shotgun with a classic aesthetic. It’s made using a 7075 aluminum action and given a blued finish Turkish walnut furniture. This isn’t a 12-gauge, it’s a 20-gauge shotgun. If you’d like a 28-gauge, there is a Model 628 as well. The 620 Field has a 3-inch chamber and a 4 +1 capacity, which can vary with shotshell length. It ships with five chokes, including skeet, improved cylinder, modified, light modified, and full. As its Field moniker suggests, this shotgun is meant for bird hunting.

Features of the CZ USA 620 Field include an 8mm flat vented rib, a 28-inch barrel, and a cross-bolt safety behind the trigger. Its longer barrel is a plus for bird hunting. The drop at the comb is 1.56 inches, and the drop at the heel is 2.5 inches. The length of the pull is 14.5 inches. The shotgun weighs in just under six pounds when it’s empty and has an overall length of 49 inches. This is a solidly designed and well-made shotgun and although it was made for hunting, it can certainly be used for other applications. If you want a 20-gauge pump-action shotgun at a reasonable price point, the CZ USA 62- Field is well worth a closer look.

Classics to be Ignored?

Can anyone really look at each of these beautiful pump-action shotguns and still not think they belong in a modern gun safe? We’d love to hear your thoughts on pump-action shotguns in the comment section below.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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