Not all shotguns are created equal. Some are meant for sport hunting, and some are designed for self defense. Today we’re checking out the Stevens Model 320 Security shotgun.
A lot of people find most shotguns pretty boring, and I might just be in that crowd these days. There are so many different models and makes of shotguns out there, and many look the same as the next one or the one before it. Most folks who purchase a shotgun do so with the thought of upland bird hunting or water fowl hunting. I have no problem with that at all. It’s a great sport to get involved in.
Then there are preppers and just plain ol’ home owners who want something a bit “more” for home protection than what a handgun affords them. They chose to go with what we used to commonly call a “riot shotgun”. I’m not quite sure how the short(er) barrel shotgun earned that title, other than I know more than a hundred years ago police were using the short barrel shotgun to quell some labor involved riots that turned into street warfare. Still, many police departments issue a short barrel shotgun, usually with an 18-inch barrel for officers to carry in their patrol cars. It is a force multiplier when you are in a solo patrol car. And it is comforting to have this “partner” close at hand.
Made By Savage Arms
The Stevens Model 320 Security Shotgun under review today is made by Savage Arms. In case you didn’t know, Savage manufactures long guns– rifles– for hunting and long range shooting competition, and their off-shoot– Stevens– is the main maker of their shotguns.
If On a Budget and For Home Defense
Many law enforcement agencies tend to go with the Remington Model 870 shotgun or a Mossberg Model 500 shotgun for their patrol cars, and I don’t have a problem with that. To each his own; however, the Stevens line-up of shotguns shouldn’t be overlooked, especially if you are on a budget and are looking at a shotgun for home defense, or whatever your needs might be.
Overview of the Stevens Model 320 Security Shotgun
The Stevens Model 320 Security Shotgun comes in 12 GA, which is pretty much the standard chambering in a shotgun designed for security/law enforcement work. Additionally, there is a wide selection of 12 GA ammo out there that will fill your needs, from birdshot for target practice to 00 Buckshot for serious self defense, to a rifle slug for taking some of the biggest game around.
Barrel, Dual Slide Bars
The 320 comes with an 18.5-inch barrel, and it can chamber either 2¾-inch or 3-inch magnum shells. I’ve never seen the advantage to going to the heavier recoiling and much more expensive magnum shells, and most law enforcement stick with the 2¾-inch shells. However, it’s good to know that the 320 can take the bigger shells. However, be advised your magazine tube will be downloaded by one round, because the magnum shells are longer and the magazine only holds 5-rds plus one in the chamber of 2¾-inch shells.
I like the dual slide bars on the Stevens Model 320 for fast action. Some pump shotguns only have a single slide bar. If you find yourself “pumping” the slide bar too fast you can literally bend the single slide bar, putting your shotgun out of service, which is not a good thing to have happen. The 320 also has a proven rotary bolt that operates smoothly. That’s a very nice touch. Their magazine tube is bottom loading, and ejection is from the right side of the receiver. The barrel material is carbon blue, and the receiver is aluminum with the stock manufactured out of black synthetic material for the roughest weather.
The pump forearm itself is also black synthetic, and, this is my one complaint– it is too long. You can’t mount a side shell carrier with five or six rounds on the left side of the shotgun. Otherwise, when you pump the action to chamber another round, it won’t allow you to do so. The rear portion of the pump forearm will hit a side saddle carrier. I was able to place a side saddle carrier with two rounds on the rear of the receiver and another shell carrier than holds 6-rds of spare ammo on the right side of the butt stock, plus a sling on the shotgun as well.
With a little bit of gunsmithing, you can easily trim part of the length off the pump action synthetic forearm, and that will allow mounting of 5 or 6 spare shotgun shells on the left side of the receiver. I’m not quite sure why Stevens made the forearm so long; however it is an easy task to shorten it, if you so desire.
Rubber Butt Pad
A nice rubber butt pad is on the butt, and it is welcome when shooting 00 Buck shot or heavy slugs. Additionally, the “pistol grip” area has a nice molded-in design on it that allows a really great hold when the weather is bad. That’s a nice touch, if you ask me. Also, we have the traditional front bead sight on the front top of the barrel. The safety is in front of the trigger guard, which works great for right-hand users but is a bit slower for left hand users. A tang mounted safety would be fast into action. However, the safety is really quick to push to the “on” position for right-handed users.
Never Failed To Perform
I fired a variety of 12 GA shells through the Stevens 320, everything from skeet loads, to the heaviest 00 Buck shot and heavy slug loads, and the gun never failed to perform, no matter how fast I pumped the action. I don’t really do “accuracy” testing with a shotgun, not even with slugs. Instead, we see how the gun will “pattern” for us, how many BBs or pellets can group on a target at different distances.
A Close-in Use Weapon
I like to think of the “riot shotgun” as a close-in use weapon. With that said, I believe that, when loaded with 00 Buck shot, the maximum range you can reasonably hit a man-sized target in the vitral areas is 25-30 yards. Anything beyond that, and the pellets start to really open up and miss the torso on the target. Also, the pellets that miss go down range, and they might hit an innocent person. So, we have to always be aware of what is behind and beyond our intended target. Some will say they can hit a deer sized target at 100-yards with a front bead sight. Good on them. I can’t do it. That is pushing the limits of the round and my abilities. If something is that far down range, I’ll reach for a rifle.
Have a Good Pump-Action Shotgun in Your Battery
I used to recommend a good “riot shotgun” as your first purchase, if you are getting into prepping or survival. However, while I believe you should still have a good pump-action shotgun in your battery, it shouldn’t be your first purchase based on the range limitations it offers you. If you are on a serious budget, I recommend a good little .22 LR rifle of some sort, because you can really reach out there with it, and ammo is still inexpensive, all things considered. Also, you can carry thousands of rounds of .22 LR ammo on your person, if forced to. However, with a shotgun, you can only carry so much weight at any given time, and that’s not a good thing. This article isn’t about selecting which guns for prepping but a test of the Stevens Model 320.
A Lot of Shotgun for the Money
In my neck of the woods, you can often find a Stevens Model 320 “riot shotgun” on sale for $169, and that’s one heck of a bargain for a really decent shotgun that will take care of a lot of your needs. Other similar shotguns can easily set you back double or triple that amount of money, and none of us are rich. So we make our choices based on our income, and we want the best our dollars can buy. The Stevens Model 320 is a lot of shotgun for the money and will serve your needs for years to come.