On Guard

Weatherby’s PA-459 TR 12-gauge shotgun

“Have you noticed something unusual at the range recently?” my wife Simone asked as we were driving home on an August day. With several projects on the go we had been to the range at least daily, sometimes twice a day, for the past week. Simone generally goes along to help with photos and video.

I thought a moment. “Well, the range has been busy lately, but it often is in August with hunters getting ready for deer season. Is that it?”

“No,” she replied, “What I noticed was just about every day, there were more women shooting than men.”

Staff at a local gun shop confirmed they are seeing more women buying guns than ever before. Customers, men and women both, are most interested in firearms for personal and home defense. Concealed carry classes have waiting lists.

We’re located in a low-crime rural area where hunting is a tradition and sales of hunting firearms remain stable. But even here, self-defense sales drive the market. If you wonder why, I suggest you read Mark Steyn’s latest book on the decline of civilization, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.

It’s not a book about survival preparation (the only firearm advice is “get a gun”). It’s about recognizing and (let’s hope) reversing the social and economic decline. Steyn has the amazing ability to scare the daylights out of you and make you laugh out loud in the same paragraph.

With concealed carry in mind obviously many customers choose handguns. But for home defense there is a great demand for shotguns, and rightly so. Generally (not always), it’s easier to reach an acceptable standard of marksmanship with a long gun than a handgun. The shotgun adds decisive stopping power, versatility and a high intimidation factor.

One of the best choices, and certainly an outstanding value, is the Weatherby PA-459 based on Weatherby’s well made and reliable pump-action PA-08 sporting shotgun. It uses a CNC-machined alloy receiver with a steel bolt locking into a barrel extension.

The PA-459 is built on the same reliable design as the PA-08, but with features making it better suited as a defensive shotgun. It has an 18-1/2″ chrome-lined barrel with a ported cylinder choke tube. A steel Picatinny-style rail is bolted to the receiver.

An LPA rear sight is supplied which bolts to the rail and provides a “ghost ring” sight picture. The front sight assembly, a bright red fiber-optic sight protected by sight wings puts the sight high enough to align properly with the rear sight.

The synthetic butt stock has a shorter 13-1/2″ length-of-pull than the hunting PA-08, with a thick and very effective recoil pad. The stock has an integral pistol grip.

Police officer friends who tried the PA-459 felt the pistol grip makes the shotgun handier to maneuver in tight spaces, or to fire 1-handed if necessary (for example if opening doors or handling a flashlight with the other hand). And it gives the shooter a better purchase on the gun should an assailant try and grab it.

The LPA adjustable rear sight (above) bolts to the Picatinny-style rail mounted on the receiver. A large sight opening provides a “ghost ring” sight picture and is protected by the steel body of the sight. The system is accurate and very fast.

The front sight is mounted on a high base to bring sight in line with the rear sight.
The bright fiber optic is easy to see in dim light and is protected from accidental
impacts by steel wings. The ports on the extended cylinder choke tube help reduce muzzle jump.

Forward Rails

The synthetic forearm has a rail for accessories such as lights or laser aiming devices. The forearm is long, giving you lots of flexibility in hand placement. The receiver-mounted Picatinny rail can be used to fit scopes or red-dot sights, giving you multiple options in “sighting and lighting” gear.

There’s an extended/enlarged slide release, easy to access under stress, or with gloves on. The crossbolt safety is located behind the triggerguard. It operated crisply and reliably. I wouldn’t mind having an oversize safety button for more positive access, though I encountered no problems with it. The only other feature I might want would be sling swivel studs—not needed for home defense, but they’d be handy if you were using the shotgun to hunt deer.

The PA-459 weighs 7 pounds, is 39″ long, and balances and handles very nicely. Operation is smooth, crisp and reliable. Trigger pull was a bit over 4 pounds with some creep. To check functioning, I ran 100 rounds of birdshot through it with no malfunctions. A friend who shot the gun extensively didn’t care for the shape of the cartridge lifter, finding it would snag his finger while loading the magazine.

Sgt. Shawn Wegner serves on his department’s SWAT team in addition to regular police duties.
He tested the PA-459 extensively and felt with a couple of added features (sling swivel studs
and an adjustable stock for use when wearing tactical gear) it would make a good duty weapon.
Currently Sgt. Wegner is serving overseas with his National Guard unit. I hope by the time you
read this, he’ll have returned safely and resumed his police duties.

Slugs & Buckshot

Rifled slugs from the bench in this light shotgun weren’t exactly fun to shoot but the recoil pad and the ported choke tube helped make recoil tolerable. Accuracy proved to be very good, with groups at 50 yards in the 3″ to 4″ range. Such accuracy isn’t exceptional in an era of rifled shotgun barrels and tubes, but is good for a conventional smooth barrel. Federal loads with 1-ounce slugs are rated at 1,610 fps and chronographed at around 1,480 fps in the short barrel.

The cylinder choke handled buckshot quite well. With Federal loads (00 Buck, 9 pellets) at 25 yards the Weatherby consistently put all 9 pellets on a standard USPSA target (about 18″ wide, 30″ high) with most in the A-zone (about 6″ wide, 19″ high). At 50 yards the PA-459 still placed a majority of pellets (five to seven) on target.

The PA-459 is very well made, reliable and smooth in operation. At $417 it is an exceptionally good value. Hunters will want to check out the “Digital TR” version with camo stock pattern and sling swivel studs. Those preferring a more conventional stock/forearm design should check out the PA-08 TR, at an even more attractive price ($368). I believe a good shotgun should be part of every home-defense plan; The Weatherby PA-459 TR is a good one.

PA-459 TR
Maker: Weatherby, Inc.
1605 Commerce Way
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 227-2600

Action type: Pump, Gauge: 12
Barrel: 1-1/2″, chrome lined, 3″ chamber
Choke: Ported cylinder tube
Capacity: 5+1 (2-3/4″ shells), 4+1 (3″)
Weight: 7 pounds
Overall Length: 39″
Stock: Synthetic
Forearm: Synthetic, with rail
Sight base: Picatinny sight rail
Sights: LPA adjustable ghost ring rear, fiber-optic front
Retail: $417

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