Stepping into tactical:Weatherby's PA 549

I recently tested Weatherby's PA 459, a sub 7-pound tactical shotgun with a 19-inch barrel and a synthetic pistol grip stock. This is not a usual offering from the Weatherby, known for building eye-candy rifles around a game specific wildcat cartridge...


I recently tested Weatherby's PA 459, a sub 7-pound tactical shotgun with a 19-inch barrel and a synthetic pistol grip stock. This is not a usual offering from the Weatherby, known for building eye-candy rifles around a game specific wildcat cartridge. Still, it does fall into the category of a purpose-built firearm.

I also tested the Konus Sight Pro Atomic Red/Green dot sight, a compact optic with great flexibility and Spec-Ops LoneStar Rig, a single point tactical sling. Not only did this combination work well together, the shotgun and the hardware cost less than many tactical shotguns alone.

I understand that the PA 459 was named after the California Penal Code for burglary. (The number 459 is often used to indicate a burglary in progress.)It is not clear to me if the name is appropriate for a civilian victim defending his roost or the responding officers. Either way, the tests on this shotgun prove it is an appropriate instrument.

The PA 459 pump gun is a popular choice for general law enforcement use. Its 7075 T6 CNC machined receiver has a fine matte finish. Under the hood, parts fit together with above average tolerance. There are no spurious tool marks, and the finish is cleanly applied. The picatinny rail atop the receiver has enough mounting space for all kinds of accessories. Weatherby mounted a removable adjustable ghost ring sight here, a nice compliment to the fiber optic front sight. Another picatinny rail on the forend allowed me to try out several types of hardware, until I settled on a Streamlight TLR3.

The PA 459 is about 1 to 2 pounds lighter than similar pump guns. Sometimes this is a disadvantage, especially with 3-foot slugs. Less inertia in the gun means more recoil in the shoulder. Fortunately, this gun came with a forgiving recoil pad that mitigated the kick quite a bit.

With slugs, it felt like I was shooting light trap loads. (I did shoot trap loads in it, by the way.) This sounds like cheating when using an improved cylinder choke, but it's a great way to test an optic: One puts an optic on a tactical shotgun, then mows down pepper poppers with buckshot at 10 to 15 yards, shoots a few paper swingers and calls it a day. There are some good static moving targets out there, but I test optics by how well a person can track a small, fast-moving target with the eyes non-occluded, and raise a non-magnified optic into the visual plane and intersect the sighting device with the line of trajectory. The Sight Pro Atomic did this rather well, even when my buddy with the thrower decided to be a wise guy with the crossing targets.

The PA 459 balances in the middle, in front of the receiver. This kind of balance is a must for long searches. Its handles would be well suited for an ad hoc active shooter deployment, especially with the LoneStar Rig.

The PA 459 has a shortened length of pull (the distance from the trigger to where it contacts the shoulder), which is typical for a tactical gun in order to accommodate a vest. I am not a fan of shotgun stocks with pistol grips, but this one is suitable for pinning it to the shoulder during a prolonged search.

Besides the silky action, the best feature of the PA 459 is its glove-friendly operation. The action release tab in front of the trigger guard is prominent and easy to find.

Although I liked the taper of the forend, it looks like this one was planned for a sporting firearm, not a door kicker. A law enforcement gun needs the cutout at the loading port. After all, the most likely means of unloading the gun is to flip it upside down with the muzzle in the bullet trap, alternately pressing feed tabs.

Additionally, an advanced user can kick up the spoon of the carrier (which shoots shells from the magazine to the chamber area) when this area is open. This stock covers the port when fully retracted, which is typical on trap guns but not on a patrol gun. I still wouldn't change the overall design of the stock. I've carried enough 12-gauge weight through buildings and over fences to recognize that this is a comfortable one, thank you.

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