Photo Courtesy Michelle Cerino

People tend to hold their opinions on firearms dear, so it was good to find a wide variety of views regarding the most versatile handgun on the market right now. I’m occasionally asked for a recommendation regarding other 3-gun gear, so let’s throw shotguns into the mix, eh?

For 3-gun and other “tactical” applications, if you want a semi-auto shotgun that’s ready to go right out of the box, some say there’s only one choice right now, and that’s the FNH SLP Mk1. It’s not without its drawbacks; it’s a pretty substantial chunk of metal and doesn’t point as well as some of its competitors. Being a gas-operated gun, maintenance is a consideration as the piston spring should be replaced every few thousand rounds, and once you’ve ripped off a chunk of skin from your thumb, you’re going to want to do something about the spear-like prongs on the shell lifter.

I happen to love Benelli shotguns, but in order to make them competitive, you’ll probably wind up chopping down the barrel, re-threading for chokes and adding a mag extension before even thinking about taking it out to play.

There’s slightly less work to do on the 18.5-inch pistol gripped version, but there’s a reason most of the top shooters prefer a vent rib barrel and conventional stock. Either way, after a while, you’re going to want to upgrade the bolt handle and bolt release. I’ve been holding my breath for the Jerry Miculek-designed Mossberg 930 ever since it was rumored at SHOT show last year, but I guess the guys in CT have been swamped by demand for the chainsaw. Go figure.

FNH SLP Mk1 Courtesy of Michelle Cerino

Photo courtesy of Michelle Cerino

For pump guns, the choice is less clear. The Mossberg’s shell lifter stays in the up position when the bolt is closed, leaving the mag tube wide open for a weak hand reload, but it’s always been eclipsed by Remington’s products. The venerable 870 has a ton of aftermarket goodies, so you can customize it to your heart’s desire — the one I saw this week had a bolt that looked like it had been chewed into its final form by a herd of angry beavers.

My personal preference is for the Browning BPS, though as anyone who’s seen my carry gun will tell you, I’ve got a thing for the underdog, also-ran contenders, so you should probably take that with a grain of salt.

What’s your pick for best competition shotgun?

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