February 2019

Budget 20-Gauge Pumpguns: H&R, Mossberg, Remington

We pit the Harrington & Richardson Pardner, Remington Express, and Mossberg Maverick Youth Models. Home defenders would be well armed with any of these pumps.

Budget 20-Gauge Pumpguns: H&R, Mossberg, Remington

We tested three 20-gauge shotguns. All have merit, but if we are flush with funds, we will take the Remington, top, over the H&R, middle, and the Mossberg, bottom. Shotguns are an important part of the home-defense battery. The shotgun handles naturally and points well for a range of shooter types, but there’s always an issue with recoil. Many shooters like and want the full-power ooomph of the 12 gauge, but the 20 gauge is almost always enough to do the job.

Every day there is a headline of some deadly incident that could have been stopped with a shotgun. Home invasions and animal attacks are common in this dangerous world. The shotgun is formidable protection for prepared individuals who might be short statured, aging, or have a physical impediment. The 20 gauge offers a strong choice for most shooters. A string of twenty #3 buckshot pellets makes for a formidable way to stop a home-defense attack. Our calculations and best formulas show that the 20-gauge shotgun generates about three quarters the recoil of the 12 gauge versus the often quoted half the recoil but the 20 gauge delivers about three-quarters the payload at the same time.

We collected and tested three 20-gauge pump-action shotguns that happened to be marketed to younger shooters, but which the home defender can use as fast-handling hallway and interior-room guns right out of the box because of their shorter barrels and overall lengths and lighter weights. These included:

the Remington 870 Youth Model 25561 20 Gauge, $340;

the Harrington & Richardson Pardner Youth Model NP1-2S1 20 Gauge, $165; and

the Mossberg Maverick 88 Youth Model 32202 20 Gauge, $198.

For this use, we would purchase any of the three and feel well armed. Also, we ended up with a Best Buy, and we were not being easy on either of the less expensive shotguns. They simply had different characteristics folks should consider for themselves.

To evaluate the shotguns, we used three loads, including the Hornady 3-inch #6 nickel Magnum load ($12.72 per 10 shells at Brownells.com). Then, we shot Federal’s 3-inch #3 buckshot rounds ($6.45 for five shells from SportsmansGuide.com) and Winchester’s AA 2.75-inch 7⁄8-ounce # 7˝ shot ($9.49 per 25 shells from BassPro.com). This gave a good mix of light loads, buckshot, and a heavy field load. We also used Winchester’s 20-gauge slug ($3.48 per five slugs from BudsGunShop.com). All of these shells fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. We loaded each shotgun with Winchester birdshot first then progressed to the heavy Hornady field loads, firing 25 Winchester birdshot shells followed by ten Hornady heavy field loads and five Federal buckshot loads. Recoil was simply not a factor, although we did notice the Hornady was the most powerful load tested. This is a highly developed 20-gauge choice, in our opinion. Here’s how the rounds performed in each firearm.

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