Saturday, August 9, 2008

That nasty ol' shotgun

It occurred to me that I'd made reference to my new shotgun, the FN SLP, on a couple of occasions on this blog, but hadn't posted any actual information about it. I had written a complete test report from my initial range time with it to an email list for Gunsite alums to which I belong, but hadn't posted anything here. Ooops. Not good, especially since I'm using it for the ammo tests that I'm writing about.
Okay. So for years, my primary shotgun has been a Mossberg M500 with the 18.5 inch barrel and factory ghost ring sights, with a sidesaddle and carry sling added to it. It looked pretty much like this when it left the factory.
I don't camouflage paint my shotguns. If I have to use it I WANT the goblin to see that wicked black beast I'm holding so that maybe he'll change his mind about his intentions, or will just plain die of fright.
I've taken a Randy Cain shotgun class with it, along with my daughter, Julia, and it performed just fine. Some years back I shot a three-round, five inch group at 100 yards with it, so it'll do what needs to be done.
(Side note - if you don't know who Randy Cain is, find out! See his web page here. Randy got his start after taking a gaggle of classes with Louie Awerbuck, and he knows his stuff. He's taught at Gunsite and he has a traveling road show. If you want to bring in an instructor who can take you from rank novice to semi-pro, or show you what you're doing wrong if you have bad habits, get in touch with Randy and attend one of his classes. He's GOOD, and he's especially good at teaching women because he doesn't do any silly macho posturing. He just concentrates on teaching and working hard to meet the needs of his clients)
But I wanted a semi-auto and couldn't find what I needed. I took a shotgun class using my brother's Benelli Tactical with ghost rings and 18 inch barrel and liked it, but wanted something with even less recoil IF and only IF I could find one that would hold up to hard use. That ruled out most of the Remington semi-autos, unless they'd been extensively customized or jazzed up (translation - EXPENSIVE!) and even then I wasn't sure how they'd do. The Mossberg never stuttered, so until something better came along I wasn't making the leap.
Then I read on their web page about the Winchester SX2, which was being used in USPSA events and according to that writer was holding up well, as well as being faster than a greased pig on meth. They have a video on their web page that shows their exhibition shooter emptying 12 rounds from an SX3 (later, improved model of this gun) in only 1.44 seconds! Ye gods! That's a cyclic rate of about 457 rounds a minute, kids!
So when I found out that Fabrique Nationale was marketing the SX2 as their Self-Loading Police shotgun with all the right parts and in that wicked black color, I went right out and bought the first one I could find.
Subsequent experience with it has proven that this was a good thing. The gas operation makes it shoot softer while still being able to handle all kinds of loads, from puffball promotion Walmart bulk-pack light field load stuff to those nifty Brenneke magnum slugs without having to change a thing. So far it's been completely reliable, even mixing all those loads in one magazine. I have several times filled it up with #8 light field loads and hammered them out as fast as I could snatch the trigger, which delighted the other folks on the range and, I'm sure, made those living nearby wonder who was running a rattle gun over there.
It has a six-round magazine which doesn't protrude beyond the end of the barrel, which I like. The gun comes apart for cleaning in a very simple basic manner, and swapping the gas collars that regulate it is easy. It has the Invector choke system so that you can change those out as it suits you, which would even allow you to shoot skeet or rabbits with it as you chose.
The ghost ring sights are made by LPA of Italy and are the same as those used on Benelllis and other fine shotguns, as far as I can tell. The front sight has a unique elevation adjustment and the rear is adjustable for both windage AND elevation.
In shooting this gun I've found nothing to criticize. The trigger would be good on a rifle. It's crisp and light enough for good precision, as you'll note from the group that I shot with it in the accompanying post. The gun mounts perfectly to my shoulder, presenting the sights to my eye as if it was made for me and it was this last note that sold me on it when I picked it up. It's balanced well and feels lively in my hands.
Since I bought it I've added a Tacstar side saddle to it so that I have seven rounds of buckshot in the gun with six slugs in reserve. A simple Butler Creek sling provides a means of carrying it when on the range, and from the African carry position, muzzle down on the left shoulder, it swings into action smoothly.
So to summarize its attributes - it's as handy and light as a Benelli with less recoil, has excellent sights for quick and/or precise shooting, perfect ergonomics for my build, excellent reliability to date and fast as all get out!
It'll take a long time to see if it stays as rock-solid reliable as that Benelli I was shooting or my own Mossberg M500, but to date the indications are positive and the gun just FEELS good!

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