The first shotgun I ever owned was a Harrington & Richardson single shot shotgun in 16 gauge, and I’m here to tell you that thing really kicked because it was such a lightweight gun. I was a pretty skinny 16-year-old kid, too. I took it pheasant hunting a number of times, and it never let me down. I don’t recall whatever happened to that shotgun, whether I traded it, sold it, or what.
There is a lot of controversy over what type of firearm a person should buy first for survival purposes. Of course, we have to define in our own minds what type of survival you are talking about. Many experts claim that the first firearm you purchase should be a shotgun of some type, because they are versatile. Some are, but some aren’t. I used to tell folks many years ago that they should purchase a “riot” shotgun first for their survival firearms battery. I’ve long ago stopped recommending that. Not to get off the subject, but I believe a good, semiauto .22 LR long gun should be your first purchase. You can take care of a lot of chores and even self defense with a .22 rifle. However, that’s for another article at another time.
I still recommend that folks purchase some kind of pump-action 12 gauge shotgun for their survival battery, because it is also extremely useful for a number of chores. You can certainly take small game as well as big game with a shotgun loaded with the correct ammo. Of course, there are light game loads for bird hunting and small game and double 00 buckshot for self defense, and then we have slugs for the biggest game. I recommend that folks purchase a shotgun on which you can swap out the barrels, maybe one that can be had with an 18.5-inch “riot” barrel and a longer 26-28 inch barrel for taking water fowl or turkey. They are quite a bargain if you shop around. On the other hand, a shotgun with an 18.5-inch barrel can also be used for taking water fowl. Your range is limited, as is the choke. Most “riot” shotguns have a cylinder bore barrel, which can’t be changed. Still, it is a useful gun for a lot of chores.
The gun shop I haunt on a regular basis usually has quite a few used and new shotguns on the racks, and they know that I’m a bargain hunter. If the deal isn’t “good” I have no interest. I don’t care if the shotgun is new or used; it has to be priced right for me to even look closely at it. I ran across a like-new, probably 98% as-new, H&R Pardner http://www.hr1871.com/Firearms/Shotguns/pardnerPump.asp 12 gauge “riot” shotgun with an 18.5-inch barrel with black synthetic furniture. I appreciate synthetic furniture in my neck of the woods, where we get a lot of rain, which can warp wood stocks.
This particular H&R is called the Pardner Pump Protector, and it is a pump-action shotgun. It has the cylinder bore barrel that allows the 00 buckshot to spread out quite a bit, and with the 18.5-inch barrel it is fast maneuvering. The chamber holds both 2 ¾” and 3” shotgun shells. I’ve never found a lot of need for magnum loads for my purposes. The forearm is black synthetic, and the end cap is ready to accept a sling swivel along with the sling stud on the butt stock. The butt stock is also black synthetic and has a nice ventilated recoil pad to help absorb the shock of full-powered 12 gauge loads.
The barrel has a gold-colored brass bead front sight, and the receiver is drilled and tapped for a scope base. I don’t know that I’d put a scope on a “riot” shotgun, but some might do so. Many shotguns today have an aluminum receiver, and the Pardner Protector is different in this respect. It has a carbon steel receiver, which does add a bit more weight to the gun, but the weight is welcome when shooting heavy loads. The magazine tube hold 5-rds of 2 ¾ inch sized shells and one more in the chamber; though that’s one less in the tube when using 3-inch shells. The gun weighs in at 7.5-lbs unloaded. The gun is made in China, which bothers some folks but not me. It is a high-quality shotgun that will last you a lifetime. We live in an global economy, and it is difficult to not buy “made in China” products these days.
The pump action operates with two slide bars. Some shotguns only use one slide bar. I’ve seen it happen, many times under stress or when “pumping” the slide hard and fast, that the single slide bar will bend on you, tying up your gun. So, dual slide bars are an added feature, if you ask me.
I added a couple shotgun shell holders to my Pardner Protector so I can have some extra ammo on-board at all times. I used a stick-on shell holder that could hold either four or six shells, depending on the size of the receiver and the butt stock. I’ve never had one of these stick-up shell holders come loose from any shotgun. This gives me six rounds on the butt stock, four on the left side of the receiver, five rounds in the tube, and one in the chamber, which should be more than enough ammo on-hand to take care of a threat. I also added a sling to the gun.
The reason I tell most folks to go with a pump-action shotgun is because they are simple to operate, and there isn’t a lot of things to go wrong. I’ve seen more than my share of semiauto shotguns have a lot of problems, especially when it comes to different loads. Some will only operate with certain types of loads. You need a gun that will function with everything, and a pump-action shotgun allows this without fail.
The Pardner has the cross-hatch safety behind the trigger guard, which is great for right-handed use, but it’s a little slow for those of you who are left-handed. The slide release is in front of the trigger guard where it should be. If you need to empty the chamber and magazine tube, you simply press in on the slide release, and the shells will be ejected through the chamber. Ejection is on the right side of the gun and very positive. Some shotguns eject from under the receiver.
There is some contention, when it comes to the useful range of 00 buckshot loads. Some say that they are only effective out to 25 yards; some say 40 yards. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m with the majority and think 25-30 yards is about maximum killing range for 00 buckshot loads. Then we have those with rifled slugs firing out to 100 yards. I don’t see that happening. Rather, I think maybe 75 yards is about max, unless you do have a scope on your shotgun. Using the itty-bitty bead front sight doesn’t really give you a great sight picture. And, let’s keep in mind that this is a shotgun and not a long-range high-powered precision rifle. Experiment with your own shotgun and different loads, and see where it hits at different distances and what kind of penetration you can get in plywood and/or plastic milk containers filled with water. Then you’ll have an idea of your limitations and the limitations of the shotgun shells you are using.
Many people think that the “riot” shotgun is the ultimate home defense weapon. I have to disagree with that. Have you ever tried working your way through your own home with a shotgun in hand? It is harder than you think. Then again, if you are simply taking up a defensive position in your bedroom, the shotgun is a great tool to taking care of bad guys. To be sure, there is no perfect firearm for all your needs!
I ran several hundred rounds of slugs, 00 buckshot, and various target and light game loads though my Pardner, and it never missed a beat so long as I didn’t short-stroke the pump-action. and I never did. The gun ran 100% of the time. I don’t like to talk “accuracy” when talking about a shotgun. Remember, they “pattern”, not group! But everything I aimed it I nailed, and I could shoot the gun fast, too.
My used but as-new H&R Parnder Protector was only $150 out the door at my local gun shop, and it was deal. I keep the receiver and barrel coated with Barricade to help prevent rust since we get a lot of rain eight months out of the year in my area of Oregon. I swear by Barricade! If you’re in the market for an all-steel “riot” shotgun, take a close look at this import from China. You could do a lot worse, in my humble opinion.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio