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The FN Police Shotgun

Smooth, user-friendly, and deadly accurate, the FN Police Shotgun benefits from its Winchester heritage.

November 01, 2002  |  by Roy Huntington

Versatile Platform

The rear sight, while adjustable, is a rounded “V” and doesn’t allow precise aiming with slugs. A better option would be a ghost ring rear sight for fast, close work and precision long-range slug shooting.

The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope bases. I suppose you could also mount a receiver sight if you were inclined. The use of low-power scopes or red dot-type sights on police shotguns is becoming increasingly popular. With today's newest generations of sabot slugs, you can get upwards of 2,000 fps out of a solid copper, waisted-slug. Accuracy can be less than 2 inches at 100 yards and easily repeatable.

This kind of accuracy and power (possible with the slugs) turns the FN into a versatile platform with which you can stop cars, shoot through barricades, and even play the role of counter-sniper should the need arise. With most police precision rifle shots taken at well under 100 yards, perhaps the ability to penetrate a barricade may make the scope-sighted, accurate shotgun a real player on the front lines.

With a weapon like the FN Police Shotgun and a good sight, any patrol officer would be able to respond to an active shooter or barricaded "sniper" call with effective, accurate rifle-like fire. Think about all those videos of the North Hollywood bank shootout and tell me those LAPD cops wouldn't have wanted that ability.

The push-button safety is located at the front of the trigger guard. Left is off, right is on.

"Manganese Phosphate on steel" is how FN describes the finish, but that's just fancy verbiage for "Parkerized." It's a soft-gray color that has been used on military arms for a century. The synthetic stock offers a solid grip and the heavily ribbed fore-end makes sure your hand doesn't slip during fast and furious shooting. Just don't "short-stroke" the pump, which is about the only pitfall of the pump design and is a problem with any maker's model.

Ammo capacity is pretty standard for a police scattergun. The FN holds seven rounds in the magazine tube and one in the chamber. It's also rated for 3-inch magnum rounds, but we've no reason to believe that such ammunition would ever be used in a police shotgun. This capability is a holdover from Winchester's sporting line, which shares the same action and offers the performance of the 3-inch shells for hunters.

Both FN and U.S. Repeating Arms (Winchester) are part of the Herstal conglomerate of firearms companies, so it’s no big surprise that the stampings on the FN Police Shotgun reveal that it’s actually a modified Winchester.

The shortish length of pull-13-and a-half inches-allows the FN to be used when wearing body armor and also suits shorter-statured shooters. That said, however, one of our longer-armed shooters didn't have any complaints and we've found, historically, that slightly shorter is always better than slightly longer for a shotgun pull.

Range Testing

We confess we're always looking for a good reason to say that a gun is a "piece of garbage," report it to you, and then sit back and smile smugly. But we'll have to wait for another time. The FN Police Shotgun ran fine and was boringly predictable in its performance, ease of use, and accuracy.

The Winchester heritage no doubt played a role here. With many thousands of shotguns made and millions of rounds down-range, the design has had all the bugs well-worked out.

FN's addition of the rifle sights is probably a good idea, but frankly, we'd rather they be of better design. The rear "V" is rounded at the bottom and is neither an "express-type" sight that allows very fast acquisition, nor a precision "notch" or "V" that allows very careful work. Do they get the job done? Yes. But honestly, we'd rather see a simple bead for close, fast work (which is most likely what will be called for) or, a well-executed ghost-ring. What is there now is a compromise, and like all compromises, it doesn't do any one thing particularly well. During fast, close work, we found that the tendency to automatically try to align the front sight in the rear "V" slowed us down.

As a test, I removed the rear sight and we simply used the front post. Times went up appreciably, and frankly, our long-range stuff didn't suffer much at all. There's a lesson there and we hope FN listens.

Delivery of buckshot, slugs, and simple birdshot was as things should be. The supplied chokes enabled us to tune the delivery of the Federal Tactical buckshot so it would yield groups that completely stayed on the standard silhouette at 20 yards. This is terrific performance and possible due to a combination of the nature of the Federal round and the ability to change chokes simply by screwing in another one.

All-in-all, we found the FN to be extremely smooth to run, reliable with everything we ran through it, and a pleasure to shoot, with no surprises. It didn't pinch, bite, or cut any fingers and shows attention to detail. Like your Mom's apple pie, the FN was predictable and comfortable. Perhaps it might well be called "comfort food" for patrol.

Police Shotgun

Weight (empty): 6.5 pounds
Overall Length: 38.75 inches
Barrel Length: 18 inches
Action: Pump action/rotary bolt design
Gauge: 12 gauge
Capacity: 7-shot magazine
Finish: Parkerized
Stock: Black synthetic
Estimated Price: $399 full-retail (department costs will be less)

Roy Huntington is a long-time member of the Police Advisory Board, a former editor of POLICE, and the current editor of American Handgunner magazine.

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