Last summer, I bought my first shotgun. Having never even used a shotgun (sounds funny saying that now), I had to make some choices. I was primarily looking for something for home defense. I ended up with a Mossberg 500 set up for home defense. Now, that might have ended up a great gun. I never shot it. It didn't cycle well (the extractors on the bolt kept hitting the edge of the receiver). So, I took it back. After wrangling for 8 weeks (no estimate on warranty replacement time), I talked the gun shop into giving me a credit for another shotgun.
What I got then was a nice Benelli Nova Pump Tactical. I liked the feel of the gun, and it cycled well. I liked the look of the shotgun -- the shorter barrel and the ghost ring sites just look like the weapon means business. I headed to a public range up in the Rockies the very next day.
Wow! What a treat! I loved it, and my family loved it. I lasted 38 shots of fun playing with different rounds. Next morning, I had a nice butt shaped bruise proving that I held the gun too low. But, I was hooked.
First things first -- I needed to tame that recoil from the monolithic stock. I installed Benelli's mercury tube recoil reducer and a ComfotTech Gel recoil pad. I got the shallow pad to improve the pull length for my wife. We went back to the range. I could shoot all day long, now! The gun was much heavier, but did just fine. My wife did better, and so did my son. We tried some clays, too. I think I hit four or five out of 30 or so -- but then, I was throwing them by hand myself. But, figured it was time for lessons.
That went well, too. Our instructor was skeptical about using the tactical shotgun for clays. His concern was about the ghost ring site and not the length. As it turned out, the sites were fine for me. But the chokeless short barrel had limits -- I just couldn't hit anything over 30 yards away, even on shots that I knew should have been fine. And the pattern proved to be pretty sparse, even with #7 shot.
But, I figured 30 yards was good enough for hunting, so I took my little tactical 12 gauge waterfowling. I hit my first teal on the first shot; and the second. I couldn't believe I doubled on my first waterfowl shots. I took it on a few more hunts, including a fantastic guided hunt for geese with Stillwater outfitters. It did fine, but the range limit was, well... limiting. My wife got me a Benelli Super Nova field gun for Christmas. That's another story.
Great lessons learned. I think the Benelli Nova Pump Tactical 12 gauge is an excellent choice for a basic home defense and general purpose shotgun. It may not be as customizable as the Remington 670 or Mossberg 500, but then, it has the features you need. It isn't perfect for shooting clay targets or birds, but it will work in a pinch. I'm looking forward to taking a tactical shotgun class this summer where I'll learn dynamic load management and transitions to my sidearm. I'll probably use my vintage Sig P226 for that. And, that'll be another story.