Pump shotguns are heavy, slow, and many claim not an “optimal” option for 3 Gun. It’s because of this, that the typical first piece of advise you’ll get as a new 3 Gun shooter trying to prioritize investments is to buy a new shotgun and replace that clumsy old pump that you already have laying around.
I’m here to argue different, and it’s on the assumption that you’ve already got a pump sitting in the safe.
A pump shotgun is a great starter tool, for the simple fact that it just works. It’s all mechanical, all you. You don’t have to worry about a bolt cycling properly 100% of the time because your support hand is always in control of that aspect of the weapon.
Are they slower than an auto loader? You bet. Never mind your cousin Charlie when he makes the claim that he can shoot a pump just as fast as any auto, because it’s not physically possible. I don’t care who you are or how strong and fast, you simply can’t compete with the kinetic energy of a 1200fps round cycling a bolt for you – with the exception of Pat Kelley, of course.
But, that’s not to say you can’t accurately neutralize targets just as fast as the guy with an M3000 or JM930. Possibly even faster due to the manipulation of the pump action requiring you to consciously re-acquire that sight picture before taking the next shot. I’ve seen it from myself and others to where the rhythm and speed of an auto loader lets me get ahead of the next target and completely missing my shot.
An often over-looked aspect of getting into 3 gun is not how fast you can dispense rounds, but how fast you can load them. The former is inherently faster for good reason, yet it gets all of the attention when it comes time to spending money.
Don’t get me wrong here, a quality shotgun is absolutely essential for 3 Gun, but not until you get to the point where a few seconds will make the difference of a top finish. Instead of splurging $1,400+ right away, invest in a magazine tube and do some work to the loading port. Shoot a half dozen matches and at that point re-evaluate which gear or skill deficiency is actually holding you back. Chances are, it’s not the shotgun.
This is, again, all with the assumption that you already own a pump. If you’re truly starting from ground zero in this area, it’s not advisable to start shopping for a pump shotgun for 3 Gun unless you had other purposes for it (like shoot He-man or heavy metal division). Instead, I’d be looking at a nice mid-range $500-700 setup that would last me a few years and wont depreciate much when it’s time to upgrade.
The gear best suited for you in 3 gun is going to be the gear you are already most comfortable with. If you’re just starting out, and only have a pump to work with, don’t let that hold you back. Run it until you get to the point where you truly believe it is a set back to your match performance