Once again, I’ve managed to stumble on a great deal on a great weapon for zombie defense. My endless hours of reading all things gun related on the internet yielded another interesting firearm I needed to check out. I love finding good guns for great prices to add to the collection. The latest find covers that important niche of home defense. We’re all familiar with the benefits of shotguns in home defense, and how potent they can be if hoards of the undead show up at your door. I’m a firm believer in the power and versatility of shotguns, and I’ve been a fan of pump guns for their reliability. I’ve shot dozens of different shotguns over the years from the cheapest pumps up to the legendary “B” guns like Benelli, Browning, and Beretta. Each has their place, but I always come back to the pump guns. In my opinion, they are the most durable action available. This can be evidenced by the fact that they are widely used in police and military applications. I’m not going to criticize anyone that owns a semi-auto or double barrel by any means, but I personally favor the pump shotguns for most applications. Now that I’ve got my ramblings about preference out of the way, we can get to the point of the gun in question…
H&R has been in the gun business for over a century. They’ve long been known for offering reliable guns for a cheap price. They’ve gone through more than a few ownership changes over the years, but still offer great guns and wonderful customer service. I own several of their guns and have yet to have a problem. Their mainstay is the single shot platform in both shotguns and rifles. I’m a firm believer that you can’t go wrong doing business with them. Recently they started to branch out and expand their line. Part of that expansion is into the pump shotgun market. I was hesitant to jump on board at first since they weren’t manufacturing the guns themselves. I was unsure about quality and simply put, I prefer to buy guns made in America. With that said, I did my research about their pump guns and couldn’t find any negative reviews. I’ve been wanting a short barrel 12 gauge pump for a while and looked at all the offerings. Remington and Mossberg are the go to in this market, but I was turned off by the price of new pump guns. That’s where H&R comes in. They offer their Pardner line of pump guns that are imported copies of the famous Remington 870. The model that caught my eye is the Pardner Protector. It seemed to fit the bill on what I was wanting with a much less expensive price. I hit the road in search of one to put my hands on. After visiting the local gun show and a couple of local stores with no success, I went to the Cabela’s store here in north Texas. Luck was with me on that trip. Not only was one available to handle, it was on sale for Christmas. The salesman hands me the gun to check out and I begin my overly thorough examination at the gun counter. I’m sure I irritate sales staff with these examinations, but I like to do my due diligence before forking over my hard earned cash.
The Initial Examination
As I was handed the gun my first impression was “This thing is built like a tank!” It’s a little on the heavy side, but the proper balance is there. Now I start looking for this little flaws in machining and finish that tell me if the gun is manufactured as cheaply and quickly as possible. I’m sure it is, but I want to see if attention to detail is there. Looking over the crown of the barrel and fit of the receiver to the stock, I’m pleasantly surprised. Everything looks good. Opening the action reveals the same satisfaction. All the guts look smooth and they fit together like they should. The only flaw I could really see is that the oil from the gun interacted with the styrofoam in the box to create this sticky white residue on the top of the receiver. I can deal with that later.
Now onto the workings… Pumping the action reveals a solid feel with the forearm. That’s always a big selling point for me. If the forearm feels wobbly, it’s a big turn off. I grab this one, shake it a little, then rack the action. Solid feel for sure. Sliding the forearm forward feels solid too. The receiver locks in good and of course it makes that incredible sound known the world over. I’m pretty sure I was grinning at this point. A few more racks of the action and I’m convinced. I grab the barrel to make sure it fits the receiver well with no play. Another solid fit. Now it’s time to look at that price tag hanging from the trigger guard. $159.99 for a limited time only! SOLD! Now it’s time for all that fun stuff like Form 4473 and waiting for the background check.
Now to cover the basics of the gun. The H&R Pardner Protector sports a black synthetic stock and forearm. It comes with an 18.5 inch barrel chambered for 3 inch shells. It doesn’t come tapped for chokes, but I’m not interested in that for a gun with a short barrel. It does, however, come drilled and tapped for mounting optics, sights, or a rail on the receiver. The receiver is almost identical to the Remington 870. Since it is made of steel rather than an alloy, it’s more a copy of the 870 Police model rather than the 870 Express. This was a big selling point for me since the Police model 870 is pretty freaking expensive. Overall length is a little over 37.5 inches and it weighs in at 7.5 pounds empty. That’s a touch heavy for a short barrel shotgun, but it feels balanced in the hands. Capacity is 5+1 using 2 3/4 inch shells. Most of the Remington 870 accessories will work on this gun without modification. The big exception is replacement barrels. I’ve read that 870 barrels can be modified to fit, but with other barrels available from H&R, I don’t see the point in modifying a Remington barrel. Magazine extensions are iffy as well. As far as I can find out, Remington tubes are too long. Wilson Combat makes a +1 extension tube that is rumored to fit. I’ll be giving this a shot in the near future. Another nice addition is the gun comes with sling attachments, including a swivel at the end of the magazine.
After getting the gun home and cleaned up, it was time to figure out when I could get out and put it through its paces. Luckily, my cousin called me up wanting to shoot a few rounds of skeet. We got to the range and walked up to the skeet field. Needless to say I got some chuckles when I uncased a black shotgun with an 18.5 inch barrel. One of the other shooters asked if I was expecting a riot on the skeet range. I just took it all in stride and got myself together for our first round. I step up, load a couple of shells and get set. “PULL!” “BANG!” Then a clay turns into a little cloud of black dust. Now I’m the one chuckling while a couple of other shooters are wondering if their foot will fit in the mouth. The first round went well for me and I finished up breaking 20 birds out of 25. Now the other shooters are interested in what kind of gun I’m using to outshoot them. We ended up shooting 6 rounds which comes out to 150 shots. Every time the gun fed the shell in smoothly and put lead downrange. I was expecting a hiccup somewhere in there since new guns tend to run a little tight. Not an issue one. I’m pretty abusive on a pump shotgun when shooting clays, so I was a little concerned. I’ve actually broken the slide arm on a Mossberg 500 at a previous range trip. The Protector took the abuse in stride. 150 rounds in rapid succession is a good way to get a gun hot and dirty, especially using cheap shells. Even when it got hot, the Protector ran smoothly. Overall, we had a great time at the range and the Protector proved itself.
I had concerns about the gun when I was researching before buying. H&R Pumps are manufactured in China and that can be hit or miss with quality. After my experiences with this gun, H&R did well when selecting a manufacturer. They felt comfortable enough to put their name on it, and I feel comfortable giving it my personal endorsement. I know there are plenty of purists out there that say they would never buy a Chinese gun, but I would point out them that China has a long track record of making some fine firearms. Anyone will admit that Chinese SKS rifles are top notch, and just about anything else labeled Norinco. I prefer to buy as local as possible, but I’m also have an eye for a good deal that fits my budget. The Protector fits that bill. This gun gets the seal of approval for quality, function, and finish. I would recommend it to a friend and to any of my readers that are looking for a reliable weapon for home defense or the zombie apocalypse. I really tried to look for flaws or issues and haven’t had much luck finding anything wrong other than the weight of the gun. It’s slightly heavier than the comparable Remington 870 Police model. Even this isn’t much of a flaw since I carried it around for an afternoon without much fatigue. If you are looking for a good deal, this might be the gun for you. I plan to add a few accessories to my gun, including a collapsible stock and the Wilson Combat mag tube extension. Once I get around to these modifications, I’ll revisit the gun in an article to let everyone know how well everything fits.