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October 16, 2008

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In Praise Of Pump Guns

Nefpump Every time I pick up a pump-action shotgun (or as I call it when I’m in a snooty mood a slide-action) it feels like a return to my roots. I suspect I’m not alone in this. My first shotgun was a pump action, a very affordable Remington 870 Express.  I bought it for two reasons. One, I had $200 in my pocket and, two, if I were to lose it over the side of a boat in a duck marsh somewhere I would not be reduced to tears.

I still have that gun, though now it is rather modified and serves as my primary meet-and-greet gun for unwanted nocturnal visitors, but I don’t shoot it much anymore.

Yesterday, I shot a New England Firearms pump gun, which is a pretty faithful copy of the 870, though being made in China is even cheaper to buy. Like the 870, it works really damn well and was surprisingly smooth to use.

Remington was thinking about suing NEF over the blatant design infringements, but instead purchased the company (NEF is part of the Marlin family) and is now trumpeting the product.

On the sample I shot, I happened to like the tight fit of all the components on the gun and even liked the way the checker-free stock felt in my hand. The grooves in the fore-end provided plenty of gripping surface, at least in the warm and dry conditions we were shooting it in.

The receiver of the gun has a couple of—to my eye anyway—pleasing angles machined into it. In some ways I like it better than the basic 870 it is modeled after. And you can’t beat the price, which I think will be less than $200.

—John Snow


Dan D.

Pump guns work every time, thats part of the appeal. Couldn't think of a better duck and goose gun for rolling around in the mud than a Rem 870 or Moss 500. Never have had a problem with either of mine.

Last year I even bought a Rem 7600 pump rifle as my thick woods gun. Love it.....Hmmmm.....maybe I just love racking a pump action.


jersey pig

first gun a i saved up and bought was a moss 500. fantastic gun, still have it, never changed a thing. saved up and bought a rem 870 next. can't say anything bad about that either and its been very well abused. just bought a never fired rem. 76 from a friend and am looking forward to trying it in the field this year. got lots of guns, semi-autos and break actions, but the most reliable is the pump hands down. always take one as my back up gun on trips cause it always works.


Lot to say for having three plus shots instead of two. Haven't dropped a triple (quail) since I was a teenager but still haven't given up hope - actually, would be really nice to "just" get a double on grouse. My dad's old Model 12 is still serving me well. Longer than a double but I don't notice in the field. And it is just second nature racking the action. My primary rifle is a Remington 760. Had an old Remington 572 and am going to get another. Yes, I like pumps. Would be the first shotgun I'd get for a kid, too.

John Snow

I agree that a pump action would make a fine first shotgun for a kid. That's why I'm taking a hard look at this for my daughter.


Jim in Mo.

I love pump guns there's something about them that I can't put into words. I don't know if its the sound of racking the slide or the universal durability. They just keep on going and going and going.
Since I'm dreaming right now I'd like to own an Ithaca 37.
John Snow: Don't worry about the spacers to make the lop longer, those dog-gon 870 youths fit like a pro no matter your age. I like to carry my sons 20ga.youth rabbit hunting better than my full size 12.


I remember the old Ham/Turky shoots, shooting the Mod.12 with progressive choke. Always unbeatable. The model 97, deemed "unhumane" by the Germans in France. The Stevens pumps and the bird dogs at point. The 870's in the turky blinds today. Brings back a lot of memories....