Best Pump Action Shotguns of 2021 – Ultimate Review

| Last Updated: September 21, 2021

From the sound of the pump action to the instantly recognizable design, the pump-action shotgun is one of the most popular guns of all time.

Offering versatility and durability, a pump-action shotgun is a useful and important part of any arsenal. Despite the longevity of the pump-action shotgun design, it continues to evolve in some ways.

Keep reading to get up to date on the best pump action shotguns of 2021!

Comparison of the Best Pump Action Shotguns

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • World's most sold and reliable shotgun to be ever built
  • Twin bars for reliable action, synthetic stock and non-reflective receiver finish
  • Best all-purpose pump action shotgun for hunting, sports and defense
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  • Compact design with 21 inch barrel and adjustable magazine capacity
  • Ventilated recoil pad, chrome plated bolt and grooved forend
  • Drilled and tapped receiver for adding rail and scope mounts
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  • Unique bottom ejection port plus top tang safety for ambidextrous use
  • Vent rib for natural pointing and smooth swing
  • Back bored barrel and 3 invector-plus choke tubes
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  • Reliable, popular and tested all purpose shotgun
  • Twin action bars with dual extractors for convenient operation
  • Anti-jam elevator, recoil pad and ambidextrous top mounted safety
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  • Amazing 22 inch barrel pump action shotgun for turkey hunting
  • Camo stock and forend plus a black stainless steel receiver looks cool
  • Cycles 2-3/4" and 3" shells smoothly without any jamming isues
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  • Lightweight aluminum alloy receiver and full realtree timber camo finish
  • Vent rib barrel with a front fiber optic sight. Plus inflex recoil pad
  • Inertia assisted fast and smooth pump action for quick follow up
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  • Mossy Oak break-up camouflage all over the shotgun for easy blending
  • All-purpose compact shotgun with adjustable LOP and good recoil pad
  • Smallest full stock pump action design good for youngsters and women
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What to Watch For When Buying a Pump Action Shotgun

As with any gun, there are a few important things to keep an eye out for when choosing a pump-action shotgun. There are a lot of different manufacturers, styles, gauges, and designs to choose from and it can be easy to feel a little lost. The tips and info below will help to provide some clarity during your shopping process.

This Section Written By: Brian Belko

Expert Author

Brian Belko: Gunmann Author

Brian is an experienced freelance writer and technical writer who has previously written for publications such as Wide Open Spaces, Bigfoot Gun Belts, Alien Gear Holsters, and Kampgrounds of America. He brings both a passion for writing and a love of the outdoors to his published content.

Aside from writing and the outdoors, Brian enjoys gardening, being a co-host on The Nostalgia Blast Podcast, and learning to code.

Clarity of Needs

Pump-action shotguns are incredibly versatile weapons. This means that manufacturers create a lot of different shotgun models for specific uses. That is why it is important to have a solid grasp on what you want to be able to do with your pump-action shotgun. Are you planning on wingshooting? Are you looking for a home defense setup? Do you want to use it in shooting competitions?

Take some time to give this some thought before setting out to find a new shotgun. Jot down or type out a few goals you have for your pump-action shotgun. It will help you to begin to narrow down your options without getting distracted by features you don’t need or that won’t be useful to you.

Remington 870 Express Super Magnum

Gauging Interest

Deciding on a gauge is another important part when shopping for a new pump-action shotgun. A 12 gauge shotgun is often the best answer to this question due to its power, versatility, and availability of ammo. For everything from home defense to hunting, a pump shotgun chambered in 12 gauge will be sure to get the job done.

However, that isn’t the only option. A 20 gauge is preferred by some young shooters and some female shooters (or just anyone who doesn’t like the sometimes punishing recoil of a 12 gauge) thanks to the decreased recoil when compared to a 12 gauge.

Other available gauges, such as 16 or 28, tend to be more specialized. They exist but aren’t as common as 12 or 20 gauge, and ammo for them can be harder to find.

Fit and Finish

Due to the increasing popularity of tactical-style firearms, there are a lot of black, polymer pump-action shotguns out there these days. They look great and perform well, but don’t feel obligated to go in that direction. There is a lot to be liked about a classic wood stock and blued barrel design. You may also want to consider a camouflage version if you plan to use your pump-action shotgun for turkey or deer hunting. The most important thing is to choose the finish you like the most.

Review of the Best Pump Action Shotguns

Let’s take a look at this year’s top picks.

Best Overall

Remington 870 Express Super Magnum

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What Recent Buyers Report

Users report this shotgun to be an amazing turkey and waterfowl hunting weapon. The gun is very reliable and justifies its cost really well. The gun seldom jams or misfired and is an exceptionally reliable weapon. Some users did report some ejection issues, but that seemed to be a minor manufacturing flaw with some pieces and was easily resolved. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Remington 870’s reputation precedes itself. This is an exceptionally reliable weapon suitable for all purposes a shotgun can serve. The shotgun stock doesn’t require care as a wooden stock. Plus the gun is built to handle magnum shells, automatically making it compatible with shorter sizes. 

Who Will Use This Most

The Remington 870 is a versatile shotgun. However, this specific super magnum variant is perfect for hunting turkey and waterfowl. Along with shooting sports. The gun delivers amazing pointability and accuracy. Plus the vent rib barrel adds to the overall handling. 

Bottom Line

This is a reliable all-purpose shotgun with an appropriate price tag. The gun handles magnum 12 gauge loads so you’d better be prepared for the recoil. This gun is dead-on accurate and requires little care on the field due to its synthetic stock and durable construction. Overall, it’s an affordable shotgun that will last a lifetime. 

Pros

Ideal for all purposes a shotgun can serve

Remington choke modified long barrel with vent rib

The best selling and renowned pump action of all time

Durable synthetic stock with non-reflective matte finish

Amazing pointability and accuracy. Solid & lasting steel receiver

Cons

Limited capacity of 3+1 rounds

Needs careful pumping with shorter shells(since it handles 3.5” shells)

Runner-up

H&R Pardner Compact

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What Recent Buyers Report

The H&R Pardner seems to be lacking negative reviews from users for the most part. Especially because the gun is the best you can get for its price. This is a reliable, maneuverable shotgun and people like the interchangeability of parts with the 870. The recoil is very manageable and it fires smoothly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Pardner compact is a good mix of affordability, reliability, and accuracy. The shotgun mimics the Remington 870 and functions exceptionally well for a shotgun of such a price tag. The gun is ready to accept optics and is a solid firearm to stand the test of time.

Who Will Use This Most

The shotgun is perfect for range use and home defense. Although it can be carried to the woods for hunting small game and birds suitable to be shot with the 20 gauge. The size and caliber of this shotgun also make it suitable for young shooters, women, and people with a short physique. 

Bottom Line

The H&R Pardner is a close clone of the 870. To the extent that some parts between these are interchangeable with slight modifications. The gun is half the price of an 870 and is a reliable defense weapon. The gun accepts 3” shells and the 20-gauge caliber makes the recoil very manageable. 

Pros

5+1 round capacity with 3 shot limiter plug

Amazingly inexpensive for a good shotgun

Compact design with checkered synthetic stock

Blued, drilled and tapped receiver for accepting optics

Vent rib barrel and vented recoil pad for optimal handling

Lightweight design with 3” chamber and screw-in modified choke

Cons

Not made in the USA

Not an all-purpose shotgun due to the short barrel

Best for the Money

Browning BPS Field

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What Recent Buyers Report

Users appreciate the smooth recoil of the BPS as well as the design and smooth function. The tang safety is a very appreciated feature and the gun points very well. The gun is much better than semi-auto shotguns and requires far less maintenance. Although some customers did seem concerned with the customer service provided. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Browning BPS is a very smooth cycling pump action with a classy design. The bottom ejector and top tang safety make the weapon completely ambidextrous and suitable for left-handed shooters. The aesthetics are impressive and the gun presents good accuracy at 100 yards. 

Who Will Use This Most

The BPS is perfect for upland bird hunting and shotgun shooting sports. It is also quite suitable for hunting medium-sized game and is quite able in handling slugs. The bottom ejector is good for left-handed shooters. However, the long 28” barrel somewhat limits its use as a home defense weapon. But the 12 ga caliber somehow limits that. 

Bottom Line

The Browning BPS Field is an ergonomic, classy and smooth-cycling weapon that is great for shooting sports and hunting. The shotgun has a unique design and is preferred over an 870 by many users. It is a very natural pointing shotgun and showcases exceptional accuracy.

Pros

Ergonomic design with very smooth pump

Vent rib barrel and silver bead front for quick acquisition

Unique bottom ejection throws shells out of the line of sight

Comes with three interchangeable invector plus choke tubes

Powerful 12 gauge gun suitable for both right- and left-handed shooters

Cons

Trigger pull may feel a bit heavy

A tad bit heavy and complicated to disassemble

Best Pump Action Shotgun for Home Defence

Mossberg Model 500 Classic

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What Recent Buyers Report

The Mossberg 500 has been a reliable weapon for decades and it still holds the same reputation. The users of this shotgun seemed extremely impressed by the ergonomics, action, and performance. The shotgun is easy to aim and is widely used by users for hunting and defense. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Mossberg 500 is an amazing shotgun with absolutely no disadvantages. This pick has a wooden stock & forend, a good rubber recoil pad, anti-jam mechanism and twin bead sights for perfect aiming. The receiver is sturdy and drilled to accept scope mounts. The six-round capacity is just perfect for self-defense. 

Who Will Use This Most

The shotgun is ideal for home defense. The Mossberg 500 has been used for tactical and defense applications by both civilians and the military for decades now. The barrel length is optimal for the shotgun to be used for both defense and hunting purposes. 

Bottom Line

The Mossberg 500 is a shotgun suitable for both beginners and pros. The recoil of this gun is quite manageable and the capacity is optimal to be used for home defense purposes. The shotgun is ready to accept scope mounts and is a viable all-purpose weapon. 

Pros

Six-round capacity with 2-3/4” shells

All-purpose shotgun with comfortable handling

Tapped and drilled receiver for mounting optics

Dual extractors and anti-jam elevator for reliable cycling

Twin bead sights and ambidextrous top-mounted safety

Cons

None to be exact

Best 12 Gauge Pump Action Shotgun

Weatherby PA-08

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What Recent Buyers Report

Most users regard it as one of the nicest shotguns for the money on the market. Especially when budget shotguns are concerned. The shotguns cycle flawlessly and feature an exceptional finish. It offers impeccable weight balance and comfort while shooting and is no less than its more popular counterparts.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Weatherby 12 gauge shotgun features an amazing finish, durable design and smooth cycling action. The gun has a camo finish to it which helps extensively for the purpose it was designed for. The gun has an optimal ammo capacity and includes a limiter as well. 

Who Will Use This Most

As the gun visually declares, it is an amazing shotgun for bird hunting and clay shooting sports. The gun is ergonomic and has a very balanced feel to it. The barrel is quite compact, making it suitable for home defense as well. 

Bottom Line

The Weatherby PA-08 is a very viable and useful shotgun for hunters. It has a smooth cycling action and a good weight balance. The gun shoots the powerful 12 gauge shells and has suitable ergonomics and design to counter the recoil. An amazing weapon for hunting as well as home defense. 

Pros

Very easy to disassemble and clean

Comes with 3 chokes and a magazine limiter

One of the best budget shotguns on the market

Camo stock and forend for better concealment in the brush

Cycles 2 3/4″ and 3″ shells smoothly with no binding or jamming

Cons

Limited aftermarket upgrades for this gun

Best 20 Gauge Pump Action Shotgun

Winchester SXP Waterfowl Hunter 26″

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What Recent Buyers Report

Users testify to the claims of the company about the SXP being the fastest pump action on the market. The inertia backed pump is quite appreciated but requires adherence. The gun cycles reliably and the fiber optic helps with quick acquisition. The gun was reported to have an amazing feel and fit the budget very well. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The SXP features an impressive follow-up shot speed for a pump action. Plus the fiber-optic sight and lightweight but durable design are very admirable features. The gun has a full camo finish and an amazing recoil pad to make shooting comfortable even with the thinnest clothing.

Who Will Use This Most

As the design itself suggests, this shotgun is perfect for waterfowl hunting. The camo finish keeps the hunter prepared for brush and woods. While the optic sight offers reliable acquisition in both dawn and dusk. The shotgun is also suitable for competitions to some extent. However, home defense is an instinctive use. 

Bottom Line

The Winchester SXP waterfowl is a great bird hunting shotgun. It has a super clean and soft pump action. Plus it has been designed to be utterly comfortable and reliable on the field. The gun shoots 3” shells and the recoil is very manageable. 

Pros

Durable composite stock with full camo finish

Reliable rotary bolt design engages barrel extension 

Sophisticated inflex tech recoil pad for maximum comfort

Invector-plus interchangeable choke system with 3 chokes

Super X pump makes it the fastest pump action on the market

Cons

Pumping takes some time getting used to

Best 410 Pump Action Shotgun

Mossberg 510 Youth Mini Super Bantam

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What Recent Buyers Report

The shotgun was reported to have a very light and controllable recoil. Especially when young shooters were concerned. It makes an ultimate survival gun due to its size and weight. The gun was reported to cycle perfectly, and the overall design to be very fine and comfortable. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Mossberg 510 is the best you can expect from a 410 shotgun. It has good pointability, adjustable stock, camo finish, and is compact enough to be maneuvered with ease. Being from the Mossberg 500 product line, this shotgun needs no formal introductions any further. 

Who Will Use This Most

This is a perfect starter shotgun for kids and teenagers. Or for hunters who intend to hunt vermin and small game. It is also a great gun to teach newbies the basics of shotgun hunting and let them get accustomed to the use of pump action shotguns. It is also a suitable gun for survivalists. 

Bottom Line

The 510 mini super bantam was designed for young shooters who have just started to learn the basics of shotgun hunting. Although it has a very limited capacity, it is quite suitable. Since games suitable for a .410 won’t need multiple shots very often. 

Pros

Stock is adjustable using spacers

Ambidextrous top-mounted safety

Vent rib barrel for better pointability

Durable synthetic stock and dual bead sight

Very compact and lightweight design for easy handling

Mossy Oak break-up country camouflage over the entire surface

Cons

Very low capacity (2+1 rounds)

410 bore shells deliver very little power

What is a Pump Action Shotgun and What is it Used For?

A pump action shotgun is a slide-action firearm in which the forend is moved to and fro to operate the action. The forward motion of the forend chambers a new shotshell in the chamber, whereas the rearward motion of the forend ejects the spent shell case. The action is exactly the same as in a semi-auto or automatic firearm but is performed manually by the shooter. 

These shotguns are extensively used for hunting and home defense. They have been successfully used in many wars and are still used for tactical operations by special forces. 

Photo credit: giphy.com

Can You Really Find a Quality Pump Action Shotgun That’s Affordable?

Yes. Pump actions are popular because they are powerful, reliable and affordable. In fact most very good pump action shotguns can be had for a price of less than $500. Pump actions have been the common man’s gun from their very invention. Plus their ubiquitous ownership and huge demand keep the supply and demand curve stable and hence their affordability. 

While pump actions with a basic and simple design tend to be quite affordable. More tactical and advanced designs may be priced close to a thousand bucks and rarely more than that. So overall, you’ll always find a pump action affordable compared to other long guns. 

Why Did These Pump Action Shotguns Make Our List?

Popularity

Almost every shotgun included on our list is extensively popular among civilians(and some with the military). These shotguns are renowned for their reliable operation and prompt customer support from their manufacturers. Plus a plethora of positive customer feedback to back up our claim. 

Affordability

While affordability is generally not a matter of concern with these shotguns, all the models included in our list are aptly priced and make sure not to burn a hole through your wallet and deliver the best value for money. Some guns on our list will even let you get some favorable discounts and expedited shipping times. 

Masters of Their Trade

All the shotguns included in our list are the epitome of performance in their respective sub-categories.

For example, the best pump action for defense offers maneuverability, whereas the youth model offers compactness, and so on.

Photo credit: fearlesstactician.com

Additionally, all these shotguns are the most trusted, appreciated and widely owned models. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pump Action Shotgun

Let’s cover the basic ups and downs of pump action shotguns here so we’re all on the same page and you don’t forget to consider something in your purchase.

Advantages

The following are some pros of this kind of pump action shotgun:

Reliability

Pump action shotguns are utterly reliable since the action is manually operated and jamming issues are negligent. Since you don’t have to rely upon the cartridge’s gas pressure to cycle the action. Plus, these guns work with all kinds of shotgun ammunition including non-lethal rounds.

Ammo Conservation 

The pump action of these shotguns allows you to conserve ammunition defying those ‘’quick trigger pounding’ instincts of some people. That’s because you have to rack the forend after every shot, giving you ample gap to position, acquire and aim accurately on your target. 

Powerful, inexpensive and common parts

These shotguns are very powerful and effective at close range, compared to any other firearm. Which makes them a devastating weapon. Additionally, these guns are appropriately inexpensive and easy to find parts and customize due to their common ownership. 

Easy to Maintain

Pump action shotguns are extremely easy to service and maintain.

There are people who have been shooting their pump actions for years without any proper cleaning or maintenance (however, that’s not recommended) and the gun works just fine.

Photo credit: wildernessmastery.com

Disadvantages

However, it comes with some drawbacks, including:

Noisy Operation

While that chik-chik sound of these guns may seem exciting. It can be a giveaway in home defense situations where you desire to remain silent and discreet. Although on the contrary, this sound has been known to scare-off prospective intruders. So this one is a 50-50.

Handling Limitations and Recoil

A pump action cannot be used properly in a prone position (or anywhere you cannot rack the forend) and it has to be operated using both hands. Additionally, the recoil of a pump action is notorious and requires practice to get accustomed. 

Reloading Rimes, Limited Range and Capacity

Reloading a pump action can be clumsy business in some situations (unless you have a shotgun speed loader). Plus, these shotguns have limited capacity and a short effective range, making them suitable for close encounters only.  

How to Assemble and Reassemble Pump Action Shotgun

While assembly and disassembly of the shotgun is not very difficult. You need to be careful at several stages since there are a few loose parts inside the action. Let’s lay it out in a step by step process.

Disassembly

  1. Get the gun clear of all ammo and conduct a safety check. Now screw-off the magazine tube plug while keeping the shotgun upside down. Slide the mag spring out, flip the gun over and pull out the barrel. 

  2. Cock and lock the gun back into the safety position and push out the retaining screw under the trigger assembly. Make sure not to set the trigger off.

  3. The cartridge interrupt and stop will fall out so be careful here. Now pull the action three quarters back and pull out the slide plate followed by the action.

  4. Slide the bolt a bit forward and pinch out the elevator. After that, slide the bolt out of the front. Don’t try removing the ejector since it won’t be worthwhile. That’s the complete disassembly.
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Assembly

  1. For assembly, flip the gun upside down, take the bolt with the firing pin facing forwards and play it into the grooves behind the ejector. Now push the elevator back and it will position the bolt properly into place.

  2. Slide the action back over the mag tube, matching it with the grooves. Put the slide plate back.

  3. Now put the cartridge stop and interrupter back. This is the hardest part so do it very carefully. 

  4. Put the trigger assembly back and it shall snap into place. Put back the retaining screw.

  5. Slide the barrel back on, insert the spring and put on the mag tube cap.

Some steps in this procedure may seem a bit hard to perform. In that case, you can take the help of these detailed video instructions.

Conclusion

Pump action shotguns are here to stay. Even more than a century after their invention, they still hold a special and important place in the firearms industry. They are reliable, inexpensive, low-maintenance and powerful weapons that have been bringing food on the table and keeping hostiles off for a long time now. 

People Also Ask

These shotguns are fairly common, and there’s no sign of them going out of trends anytime soon. So it’s obvious that such a weapon will attract a ton of queries from prospective owners and curious nabbers. Let’s take a look at some of them:

How Many Rounds Are in a Pump Action Shotgun?

A pump action shotgun can hold anywhere from three to eight rounds. It depends upon the capacity of the magazine tube. This tube can also be extended to hold more shells at a time. There are a few more tactical shotguns that feature a higher capacity using box or specially designed magazines. 

How Does a Pump Action Shotgun Work?

The principle of operation of a pump action shotgun is similar to other weapons. Except that the cycling and ejection are done manually. Racking the forend slide forward chambers a fresh round into the action. Whereas racking it backwards ejects the spent shell and extracts a new round from the mag tube. The to and fro motion of the forend slide completes the action cycle. 

Are Pump Action Shotguns Legal?

Yes, these shotguns are legal in every US state. However, it is better to check with your local states laws before acquiring one. On the safer size, pump actions having 5+1 rounds capacity shouldn’t attract a legal problem in any state. 

Are Pump Shotguns Obsolete?

Each individual can have their own opinion. But pump shotguns are still far from being obsolete. They are widely used for hunting and home defense across the states and many countries in the world. Leading police forces and militaries use them for their operations, and there isn’t even a dent in their popularity in the civilian firearms community. 

What is the Pump on a Shotgun Called?

A pump on a shotgun is, well… called a pump in common terms. However, a more technical term for it is a ‘fore-end’. Since it looks and also acts like one. The forend is used to cycle the action and get a better grip on the gun. 

What Happens When You Pump a Shotgun?

Pumping a shotgun means pulling the slide/forend backward and then pushing it forward. When pulled back, the spent shell in the chamber is extracted and ejected through the port and a new shell comes out of the mag tube. Upon racking the forend forward, the new shell is loaded into the chamber.

Who Made the First Pump Action Shotgun?

The first pump action shotgun was made by Christopher Spencer in 1882, known as the Spencer Model 1882. It was the first commercially successful repeating shotgun design. Later, John Moses Browning came up with the Winchester Model 1893 and then the more refined Model 1897. Which became more successful and widely recognized around the world. P.S: The first slide-action patent was issued to Alexander Bain of Britain in 1854.



Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!