The Hatsan Escort Pump

In the United States pump-action shotguns are commonplace, but here in the UK they have  struggled to find the same following.

We Brits are a traditional bunch. Only in recent years have we finally accepted the presence of over-and-under shotguns on driven shoots. If you turned up to a shoot with a semi-auto or pump-action you would probably be asked to leave because it is considered uncouth and rather unsporting to use three shots on game birds. A lot of clay grounds don’t like the pump-action because it spits cartridges all over the place and, like a semi-auto, it’s difficult to tell if the gun is unloaded.

However, the pump action does have its place in the UK. Limited to three rounds (on a UK shotgun certificate) the pump, like the semi-auto, has the advantage of that extra shot up the barrel, which double-barrel shotguns don’t have.

Why choose pump-action shotguns?

  1. Semi-autos can be cartridge fussy. If the cartridge is too light to cycle the action on inertia operated guns, then the gun won’t fire the second or third shot. A pump-action is cycled manually and so it doesn’t matter what load cartridge is used.
  2. A pump-action is arguably easier to clean than a semi-auto with its intricate gas parts. If you neglect to clean a semi-auto properly then you will soon run into reliability issues.

A pump-action is often more robust and reliable than a semi, but there are downsides to using a pump-action. It is slower to cycle the action than a semi-auto or a double-barrelled gun. Also to reload you need to “pump” the fore-end, which can cause you to come off aim if you require a follow –up shot. Not only that, some people don’t pull the fore-end back far enough (known as a short stroke) and the gun doesn’t load or cock. Finally, a semi-auto’s action will soak up the recoil on heavy load and magnum cartridges, which a pump-action won’t.

Reliable alternative to a semi-auto

A three-shot pump-action is a good and reliable alternative to a semi-auto and you would use it in the same circumstances such as pigeon shooting, wildfowling or general pest control. Like a semi-auto it is lightweight and you have a third shot. However, pump-action shotguns are more robust and reliable and allows you to use a wider variety of cartridges.

Mossberg and Benelli are well-known for their pump-actions as is Winchester with its SXP, said to be one of the fastest cycling pumps on the market

Pump-actions are great value for money. Prices start from around £350 new with calibers ranging from .410 to 12 and 20-bore. With guns that cheap you don’t have to worry too much about dropping them on the salty marshlands or in a dusty crop field. As long as you look after it, a pump-action will give years of service.

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