The modern straight-pull shotgun is by far the best choice if you need a quick-shooting repeater that’ll handle anything from birds and rabbits to pigs and even deer at shorter ranges.
Australia’s shotgun market is now dominated by straight-pull bolt-action models. They’ve all but killed off lever-action shotties and have pushed double-barrel break-action guns into the background for field shooting.
While they’re a long way short of the speed and simplicity of a semi-automatic shotgun, the straight-pulls are a useful option that’s available on a Category A licence, making them accessible to the majority of Australian hunters.
Unlike a turn-bolt design, a straight-pull action only requires the shooter to pull back on the cocking handle, and in most cases a return spring pushes the bolt forward again. A rotating head then locks the bolt into the receiver, ready for the shot to be fired.
It is a lighter action than the once-popular lever action, and it has fewer moving parts to wear out.
They don’t have the ultra-quick second shot that a double-barrel gun offers, and so they’re not nearly as well suited to competition, but they do give you a few more shots before you need to reload.
Most have four- to seven-round magazines, and they are available in a huge range of configurations: barrels from 18.5 inches up to 28 inches; synthetic or walnut stocks; with or without pistol grips; with tube or box magazines; and more.
Here are five straight-pull shotguns that stand out.
Adler’s A110 kicked off the lever-action shotgun revival a decade or so ago but was overwhelmed when the avalanche of straight-pulls arrived. Adler hit back with the B-series range of straight-pulls, and did it with the lowest prices in the market.
The B230 is the tactical version, supplied with a pair of five-round detachable box magazines. It has a pistol grip, ambidextrous cocking handle, 20-inch barrel, aperture (aka ghost ring) sights, and three chokes. You can get it in all black or, for a few dollars more, in flat dark earth (FDE). That’s a lot of gun for the money. And it has a five-year warranty.
Alternatively: The B220 is the tube-fed magazine version. One B220 model comes with a rifled barrel to more accurately shoot slugs. That’s a hell of a pig gun!
Also consider: Tactical straight-pulls are very popular. Among heaps of options are the Dickinson T1000 Tactical with its six-shot tube mag; SHS Marine Hellcat with silver receiver; and Stoeger M3000 TAC with seven-shot tube mag.
BERIKA BLACK OPS
Banned or not? We’re still waiting to know the final outcome nationally, but the Berika Black Ops (plus the Desert Storm and Navy Seal models, which are tan and silver respectively) looks too much like a military firearm for some states to approve it. The top of the Berika straight-pull line-up, they’re certainly purposeful in their appearance.
Put the controversy aside and you have a fully featured shotgun with synthetic chassis-type stock, full-length picatinny rail, flip-up iron sights, two five-round box magazines, five different chokes, and a ferocious-looking muzzle brake on the end of the 20-inch barrel. The adjustable cheek piece is a nice touch.
With all this, it’s not surprising this is one of the dearer straight-pull shotties out there.
DICKINSON ARMS T1000
The T1000 stands out as being of slightly higher quality than the majority of the straight-pulls, an observation backed up by the fact that when a couple of minor weaknesses were identified early in the piece (breaking cocking handles was one), Dickinson jumped on them immediately and ensured they wouldn’t happen again. I believe warranty issues are very rare.
Also available in tactical guise, the one we’ll highlight here is the standard model with six-shot tube mag. Take your pick of 20- or 28-inch barrel, but I suggest going for the combo version which comes with both! This makes it a very versatile firearm because changing the barrels is a simple task that takes only a few moments. The one-barrel option costs around the $1000 mark, and the extra barrel only adds about $300-$400.
The synthetic stock models come in black or camo, or you can opt for one with a very attractive Turkish walnut stock that doesn’t cost any more.
Also consider: There are lots of single-barrel competitors to the T1000. As a combo, check out the Impala Plus.
There is nothing subtle about the double-barrel MH12 shotgun, the only twin-tube bolt-action gun on the market. It is effectively two straight-pull shotties conjoined with one trigger, one butt and one cocking handle. It’s big and heavy — you’ll know you’re carrying it! There’s no return spring for the bolts, and there’s a lot more friction in the doubled-up system than with a regular shotgun, so cycling the action substitutes for time at the gym.
But look at the upsides! This beast has a five-round tube magazine under each barrel, making it a 10-shot weapon … or 12 if you start with two in the chambers. It has flip-up iron sights, top and bottom rails, adjustable butt, a choke kit and comes in a solid case.
The MH12 will cost about twice what a single-barrel straight-pull does, but you’re getting twice the gun. It’s the only one of its kind on the market.
SHS RED DEVIL TACTICAL
If any one gun established the straight-pull market here, it’s the SHS STP12, and it has been refined and improved ever since. The original STP12 is now sold alongside several variants, including the attractive Red Devil.
The Red Devil’s red finish stands out, and it can be had with a black synthetic stock or Turkish walnut. This was the first straight-pull to up the magazine capacity to six rounds in a longer tube, and it has a 22-inch barrel that keeps the dimensions balanced. It has a fibre-optic front bead sight and a pair of screw-in chokes. You can have left- or right-handed cocking.
A solid and attractive design, it’s been a popular shotgun.
Also consider: If it’s colour you like, Berika does an orange gun, and several brands have a bright nickel/silver shotgun.
STOEGER M3000 M3K
The M3K’s claim to fame is that it’s the only 10-shot straight-pull on the market (if you ignore the mighty MH12). Even with its 24-inch barrel, the Stoeger’s magazine tube extends beyond the muzzle! Another thing about the Stoeger is its five-year warranty. They point out that they’re a subsidiary of Beretta, which demands the quality to justify the long warranty. Its design origins are in Benelli’s semi-autos.
For all that, the M3K 10-shot is a pretty standard straight-pull. If its length isn’t your preference, the M3000 is also available as seven-shot versions, with 18.5- or 28-inch barrels, in standard or tactical formats.