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 played around with some dummy loads and live loads to get an idea of the shotgun's action qualities. It loaded easily and shell length variation was not an issue. The magazine shoots the shells onto the carrier with authority, and the loading stroke smoothly chambers a round. I could not fool it with a short stroke or trip it up with various loads.

On my first trip to the range, I accurately emptied the magazine with high recoil rounds. The Sight Pro Atomic projected a daylight visible red or green 4 MOA dot on the target. Originally, my plan was to use a laser bore sight to do a coarse adjustment on the Sight Pro Atomic, and then fine tune it with slugs. I mounted it and found it was easy to co-witness it (view the same point of aim with the fixed sights). The Sight Pro Atomic and the supplied ghost ring sight complemented each other.

The Sight Pro Atomic has windage and elevation adjustments with sealed caps. I liked the fact that I could switch it on with the thumb of my support hand, and could look almost into the sun and pick up the dot in a hurry on the fly.

The Sight Pro Atomic sight is small enough to be mounted on some pistols, but it is perfect for tactical long gun work. I would improve one thing, however; I generally like bikini scope covers because they are quiet and easy to get into action. The Sight Pro Atomic is tiny and needs just a little edge on both ends to keep it on. I would make the tube a centimeter longer and add flip-up caps.

A dot optic has to do one thing well: One should be able to track a target with both eyes open and raise the optic into the visual plane for a quick shot -- the Sight Pro Atomic excelled at this. The dot was crisp with no visual distortion in the sighting plane. Simple and efficient.

The sight's mirrored front is fine for patrol, but I would use an anti-reflective cover for deliberate deployment. There is a definite halo when one turns the dot intensity up for the ambient conditions, but this is typical with almost every product of this type I have tested. With 5 adjustments for each color, the features of the Sight Pro Atomic belie the reasonable price.

This gun's dual action bars prevent any kind of torquing when cycling hard and fast. Surprisingly, the bolt block, which is separate on many shotguns, is integral with the action bars. Not only does this simplify disassembly, but it will reduce wear in the timing areas, where the action releases the shells from the magazine and keeps the rest of the shells from leaving until their designated time.

The ejector port of the barrel extension is a steel "bump" that tosses the shells out with authority. This is interesting engineering, as many ejectors are pinned into the side of the receiver. The advantage here is the end-user serviceability and the inherent strength of the barrel steel. Instead of re-pinning the ejector, one can swap barrels.

The shotgun's replaceable choke tube could provide a platform for many tactical options. Its drilled vent holes could aid in compensating the recoil, yet I didn't get the barrel too hot to operate. It's an all-day shooter that doesn't smack the user with punishment.

Everyone liked the LoneStar Rig. It has a loop of webbing with firm elastic stays. I adjusted it for a 5-foot 4-inch user and a 6-foot 2-inch user could step into it and adjust it later. With two different adjust positions and two others to quick release, it proved to be the choice for rapid deployment. Since it used a nylon loop to attach it to the gun, I figure it could attach to anything. I'm sure there is a critical response team out there with one of the detachable loops on the handle of an entry ram.

If the gun hangs from the center line of the body with a single point sling, one gets an interference-free transition to the handgun. Also, one only has to work one clip to dismount the gun.

No one seems to make any law enforcement accessories for the PA 459, except universal parts. I couldn't find a cartridge rack for the receiver anywhere. Fortunately, Spec Ops makes the Ready Fire Mode pouch, which adds eight rounds to the buttstock without getting in the way. This goes on every shotgun I run with.

I anticipate someone will step up and make the brightly colored less-lethal stocks for this one, because its design is perfect for it. I wouldn't mind having a tactical model without the pistol grip.

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