The Death of the Pump Shotgun

The future of the slide-action shotgun, an American favorite since 1897, is bleak. For over a century, they were considered a more reliable and economical alternative to autoloaders, but those days are largely gone. The fundamental issue with steel receiver repeaters is cost of manufacture. Five or six alloy receivers can be made in the same amount of machine time as one steel receiver.

It was cost of manufacture that ended the Model 97 Winchester, the Model 12 Winchester, the Model 31 Remington, the M37 Ithaca, and has dramatically slowed the sales of the Browning BPS and Remington 870 in recent years. Benelli Nova sales, with alloy receivers, have diminished. Features such as shims for drop and cast are largely unobtainable for 870's, BPS's, and so forth. The Made in Japan Browning BPS models get discontinued every year, and they get uglier as well. The current crate-wood / rough matte finish BPS Field is no looker, but it has about an $800 MSRP. The 16 gauge BPS has been discontinued.

Today, those looking for economical but sturdy hunting shotguns can find several models, with adjustment shims for cast and drop, five choke tubes, and included hard cases for the same price, or even less. Reliability is no longer much of a factor, thanks to improved ammunition with plastic hulls, and the adjustability and effortless second and third shots are of far more value to hunters than nostalgia. For work with younger and newer shooters, a piece of dowel rod turns autos into single-shots quickly, so there is no training consideration. Gas-operated self-loaders reduce felt recoil by one-third or more, and that is something no pump can compete with.

Sure, I own and use several pump-guns, but I'd be kidding myself if I told anyone they are far more functional or enjoyable than semi-autos. It isn't even close. There will always be pump guns out there. The MSRP of Mossberg Maverick 88 All-Purpose is $249. That isn't my personal vision of an extremely high-quality shotgun, but they usually go bang. In 2018, Mossberg made 249,183 shotguns in the United States, and the majority of those were pump-guns. There will always be a place for slide-actions, but the sun is setting quickly on the appeal of the high-quality pump shotgun just as it already has on the steel receiver repeater. They are largely no longer manufacture-able or desirable.


Copyright 2021 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.