Gun Review: Weatherby PA-08 Upland Shotgun



I recently got the itch to pick up a shotgun dedicated to sport shooting. I soon realized that a great many offerings in the sporting-shotgun category will make your eyes bug out of your head (both in style AND price). I wanted entry-level, average-Joe, “I work for a living” shootability—with a touch of class (of course). I wasn’t looking for a clay buster, home defense and slug hunting all rolled into one. Versatility was besides the point. I was looking for a field gun that would happily live its life blowing the crap out of little orange eggshells in the sky. . .

First impressions:

The box-fresh Weatherby PA-08 Upland was a minor surprise. When I read “walnut stock” in the description, I was expecting a heavy, hefty “uwf uwf uwf” set of wooden furniture. Expecting the Weatherby to come in around the 7.5  - 8lbs. mark, I almost threw it through the ceiling the first time I picked it up.

Fully assembled, the PA-08 weighs in at 6.5 easy-to-carry pounds. That’s more than a half-pound less than same-gauge offerings by other major brand pump-action sporting guns. The Weatherby’s CNC machined aircraft-grade alloy receiver significantly reduces the shotgun’s weight. A pound or so might not seem like much, but after a day of swinging through clays or trudging after doves, a pound saved is a pound appreciated.

The PA-08 comes with the three “standard” screw-in sporting chokes; IC/M/F. These three will satisfy almost any shooter’s needs. In the event a shooter happens to be hunting geriatric former political-appointees, the Weatherby also accepts standard Remington screw-in chokes.

Fit and Finish:

The shotgun arrives in three pieces; the stock/furniture, barrel and bolt. Field assembly / dis-assembly requires no tools. The twist-off magazine nut holding the barrel in place includes a break-washer—which prevents over tightening and creates a uniform tightness throughout the gun every time it’s broken down. An extended bolt shroud on the Weatherby’s barrel extends fully to the rear of the receiver, completely covering the left side of the bolt when the shotgun is fully assembled.

Weatherby PA-8 action inaction

I have an untreated not to say unnatural attraction to long guns with heavy-duty wooden stocks. The Weatherby PA-o8 stock put a spring in my step. I agree with American Rifleman Field Editor Phil Bourjaily: the PA-08 sports the most beautiful wood you can buy on a $400 shotgun. It’s Bentley accents on a Corvette ZR1. The $20 up-charge is a no-brainer.

The Weatherby website promises that all their stocks are “hand-selected, shaped and finished… [providing] superior wood-to-metal fit.” They aren’t kidding; everything about this Turkish delight is tight. But not too tight; and there are no seams, gaps, or finishing defects.

The PA-08′s barrel and bolt are both chromed. I was skeptical about this combination. Cycling the shotgun is like listening to a Lowell George slide guitar solo, with Richie Hayward providing punctuation. Less poetically, both the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 fall well short of the Weatherby’s PA-08′s cyclic-smoothness.

The PA-08′s trigger is a little on the heavy side. I don’t have the tools needed to measure the pull, but in comparison to the other shotgun platforms I’ve owned, the Weatherby is heavier than John Coltrane on a rainy Tuesday night.

Take-down for cleaning is a breeze. After unscrewing the magazine nut, the Weatherby breaks into its three main parts. Weatherby incorporates a drop-out trigger system (giving you a fourth part); it’s easy to clean this weapon to a Marine-pleasing shine.

Assembly is a tad tricky until you get the hang of it. The PA-o8′s barrel fits back into the receiver best when the shotgun is at “half-shuck”—a fact that the owner’s manual forgot to mention. Once familiar with the process, you can assemble the shotgun from full-takedown to field-ready in under a minute.

Accuracy

After a brief wipe down, the Weatherby came right out to the range. With a simple vent-rib / brass bead sight, there’s almost nothing to getting this scatter-gun on target. Benched, it shot straight and true right out of the box.

In its first trip to the clay range, my Dad put the shotgun through its paces. The Weatherby’s point-and-shoot ergonomics had him scoring 19 of 20 through four rounds of five clay sets. I won’t mention my results, but I will say that my Dad hasn’t fired a shotgun in nearly 20 years. Make of that what you will.

Performance

I bought two of these shotguns; one for me, and a second as a present to my Mom. The same weekend I delivered the second Weatherby to her in Pennsylvania, a local sportsmen’s club held a flying-board shoot. The game was pretty standard; four rounds of shooting with meat (yes meat) as the prize, and one “money shoot.” They set the buy-in at $1.50/board for the first four rounds, and $2.00/board for the money round.

What better place to test a brand-new, completely unfamiliar firearm than a contest where’s there’s money on the line? Shotzberger PA-08 number two was taken directly out of the factory box, assembled, and carted off to the shoot.

NB: Pennsylvania sportsmen take their shooting seriously. There were around 30 shooters at this event—and only one stock shotgun. (No points for guessing that one.) I mean there were some FINE looking and shooting firearms in the rack; I spied custom work by Ziggy and Bud Burgy.

I decided to shoot two boards across (two in each of the five rounds). The Weatherby performed extremely well against much more expensive guns, much longer barrels and easily beat a majority of better shooters. When it counted (the money round), the Weatherby came through with a pattern good enough to tie for third/fourth. I avoided hospitalizing any marauding Texas attorneys, made back the money I’d used to buy-in to the shoot. I went home safe in the knowledge that I’d found an excellent sporting shotgun.

Conclusion

Inch-for-inch, pound-for-pound, shot-for-shot, the Weatherby PA-08 is a cut above its competitors. It’s earned its place in the “not for sale” section of my gun cabinet.

SPECIFICATIONS: Weatherby PA-08 Upland
Caliber: 12 Gauge
Action: Pump
Capacity: 2+1 (magazine limit insert can be removed)
Chamber: 3”
Barrel Length: 28” (also available in 26”)
Overall Length: 48” (46” OAL w/ 26” barrel)
Chokes Included: IC/M/F
Length of Pull: 14”
Drop at Comb: 1 ½ “
Drop at Heel: 2 ¼ “
Weight: 6.5 – 7 lbs (dependent on density of stock)
Country of Origin: Turkey
Stock / Finish: Walnut / Gloss Black
Price: MSRP $409 (now readily found around the $300 – $350 mark)

RATINGS (out of five)

Style * * * * *
Compared to other shotguns in its class, the Weatherby is a runway model. The walnut grain is a xylophiles delight. Even the checkering oozes quality (22LPI).

Ergonomics * * * *
This shotgun handles extremely well. The vent-rib aligns with the eye for ease of swing-through. I knocked half-a-star off for the cheek-mold; it’s just a little low. I would have liked to have seen an adjustable trigger here, but I like seeing a sub $400 price-tag more, so I’ll just shut up a little. The heavy trigger pull removed the other half star.

Reliability * * * * *
No issues. It fed, shot and ejected anything and everything I stuffed into it.

Customizable * * *
There aren’t as many “specific” accessories for this shotgun as there are for the Mossberg or Remington, but there are plenty of aftermarket “universal” accessories available. The only accessories I would ever even consider for this shotgun are fiber optic clamp on sights, a .660 choke, a cheek-pad, and maybe an EZ-pull trigger.

Overall Rating * * * * 1/2
With a few minor tweaks in design (or to the shape of my face) this shotgun easily hangs tough with its better known Remington, Winchester and Mossberg competitors.

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About Benjamin T. Shotzberger

Ben is an aspiring gun-writer caught up in the pursuit of playing with firearms for a living. He spends his days grinding his way up the corporate ladder and wishing for 5pm. His nights.. well the details of how he spends those are private.. His childhood dreams of chasing "bad guys" for a living met the unfortunate reality of student loans, bills, and promotion potential. Ben resides in the Northern Virginia area and enjoys long walks.. to the range. Ben is always on the lookout for new article ideas. Have a firearm you want reviewed? A product tested? Your suggestions are welcome!

35 Responses to Gun Review: Weatherby PA-08 Upland Shotgun

  1. avatar2yellowdogs says:

    In the event a shooter happens to be hunting geriatric former political-appointees, the Weatherby also accepts standard Remington screw-in chokes.

    I deplore the violent rhetoric and imagery so casually used by the author. I hope you’re happy the next time an old, fat presidentially-appointed former czar gets a pantload of buckshot. Once I stop laughing, I’ll be the first to make sure the world is aware of your obvious culpability. Repent, sir. Repent.

    • avatarJames says:

      “I hope you’re happy the next time an old, fat presidentially-appointed former czar gets a pantload of buckshot.”

      Who isn’t?

    • avatarJames says:

      “I deplore the violent rhetoric and imagery so casually used by the author.”

      Then maybe you should spend more time hanging out over at RawStory or AlterNet – somewhere your panty-wetting sensibilities can be encouraged and echoed back to you by hundreds of fellow lemmings.

      “I hope you’re happy the next time an old, fat presidentially-appointed former czar gets a pantload of buckshot.”

      Who isn’t?

  2. I agree on the trigger pull on the weatherby pa-08 pump. Being an avid clay and bird shooter the gun can really use a drop to 4 to 5 lbs. I haven’t measured it yet , but i’m sure its near 8 0r 9 lbs right out of the box. Other than that , the only other slight flaw is getting the bbl back into the reciever after cleaning the gun. As mentioned in another review i read , if you keep the bolt ”half-open” and work the bbl back and forth gently , the bbl should slip down into position. Overall i LOVE the gun , and for the price you can’t go wrong.

    • avatarBen Shotzberger says:

      Paul,

      I’m thinking that the EZ-pull trigger might be a quick and easy solution for the trigger-pull weight.

      Glad to hear there’s another as satisfied as I with the Weatherby.

      Did you also pick up the wood-furniture version?

      • avatarMr. Carpenter says:

        Ben, I just bought this. When you say 20.00 upgrade for walnut is that from plastic to wood or from the regular walnut stock to a different grade walnut stock? The gun store told me that wasnt an option? thanks

  3. avatarRudy Griego says:

    Is it just me, but I did some side by side comparisons of pictures of an 870 express and the Weatherby, and thy look almost identical. Are they both made by the same manufacturer?

    • avatarHhauglie says:

      Yes, the new pa-08 very similar both in design and function to older models of the 870, the only difference I can make out is the about 1 cm (0,4″) longer barrel of the Remington, as well as slightly different magcaps.

      • avatarAbe Nelson says:

        Fair review. I am looking into this as a back-up for upland hunting. You tried to make it a little too cute and witty, thus showing your immaturity. If you continue to write – stick to the topic. As a writer/editor of countless magazine and newspaper pieces, and 24 books, I offer this advice to help. The bit about the political appointee . . .well when you get out of high school, I am sure your college instructors will be able to help you tighten up your stories. Good luck! Abe

  4. avatarHeron Bustamante says:

    I am really glad to read positive comments on the Weatherby pa-08. Im getting mine soon for this dove coming season. I am really looking forward this season and after the comments I’ve read, I bet im going to have a good season.
    -Heron

  5. avatarAnthony says:

    I also bought two of these shotguns myself. I do alote of bird hunting and clay shooting, this is only my second year having them both. I can say they are alote of fun. But yes in one of my Weatherby’s is already acting up i just went bird hunting and it seems not to eject the shell all the way when cocking it back so it always get jammed. I already have to go get it fix. But i guess thats the whole part of game is to maintain your gun. But yes my other one i put it through hell and is doing good……

  6. Thanks for this review. I actually read this from from my phone while I was in a Dick’s Sporting Goods. I went in to check out the Mossy 500 and Remington 870 Express. I had handled both repeatedly for about an hour and couldn’t decide on either. Then I noticed the Weatherby also on the wall, and asked to hold it. The difference in quality was immediate. The finish on the stock really caught my eye on the wall, as well as the quality of the wood. In the hand, the action is buttery smooth when compared to the Mossberg and Remington. I ended up going with the Weatherby after taking a moment to check online for some reviews. This review helped me with that decision. Thanks again!

  7. avatarJoshua Grooms says:

    I thought this was a wonderful review. I just saw this shotgun today and was very impressed by it compared in looks to all the other ones out there in any close price range. Definately looked more expensive

  8. avatarTravis says:

    Much like Sahil I was taken by the finish, look, and feel of the Weatherby in the store (Sports Authority). Came home read this review and went back and bought it yesterday. The Remington had a good sale going on for $3o9 with a mail in rebate of $30 for a total of $279. The Weatherby was down from $400 to $329, still went with the Weatherby even at $50 more. The wood looks fake on the Remington, like that composite decking stuff, plastic looking. The wood on the Weatherby alone is worth the $50 to me. And I am not so sure the sales associate was correct on the $309 plus $30 mail in rebate. One said no one day the other said yes the next. So I think the Remington may be at $309 total and the Weatherby at $329 until the end of October for any one interested.

    • avatarMike says:

      I just picked mine up at Dick’s selling for $299.00 on sale. Couldn’t believe the price and the appearance and style. Hope it works fine. Did anyone use theirs on waterfowl.

  9. avatarJake says:

    I bought one of these last winter, for pretty much the same reasons as in the blog: I wanted an all-around clay buster that could do reasonably well in the field.

    I went rabbit hunting with it and found that the light weight made a big difference while hiking around farm fields from place to place. My son’s 20 Ga. Winchester 1300 is significantly heavier.

    When the gun first came to me, I found a significant level of manufacturing debris in the action. I spent quite a while cleaning the gun and running the action until it was reasonably smooth. Thankfully, it is relatively easy to break down and clean. And for that I am thankful. As others have pointed out, it can sometimes jam when attempting to eject a spent shell. I have been careful to lubricate the action and keep things clean, and this seems to reduce the problem.

    One other minor annoyance: I notice that something (don’t know what yet) rattles slightly when I walk with it while unloaded. It’s not too noisy and it doesn’t seem to be a problem when the gun is loaded, but it is annoying.

    For the money, however, it can’t be beat.

  10. avatarSahil says:

    Have any other owners of this shotgun been able to find spare parts kits for it? I’d like to keep some trigger group and action parts on hand, in case they discontinue the model or go on back-order for parts. Thanks.

  11. avatarTom says:

    I just picked this shotgun up at Dick’s for the clearance price of $289 – $10 Sale = $279. Sweet shotgun for the money. Will be breaking it in this weekend with my son shooting some clay birds!

  12. avatarJillian St. Jacques says:

    A couple of things that Shotzburger neglects to mention in his review of the PA-08: 1) If you damage the recoil pad to the PA-08 with the wooden butt stock, they cannot send you a replacement pad that will fit; you will have to buy an aftermarket pad and have it cut to size by a gunsmith; 2) If you hunt in salt marshes and estuaries, you will be distressed to learn that you cannot easily clean the magazine tube, which only breaks down part way, a fact you can see when you look at Shotsburger’s pictures; 3) the bolt that holds the butt stock to the back end of the receiver is so deeply recessed that detaching the butt stock from the receiver is highly inconvenient; again making the gun difficult to clean all the way.

    I have owned a PA-08 for three years now, and have hunted hard with it. The action of the gun is not bad for its price range, but the hardware on the gun is cheap, the finish on the wood is overly glossy. If I was going to buy another pump, I would shell out the extra $300 for a Browning BPS, it is worth the extra coin. As it is, I am keeping my Weatherby until I wear it out, but I am also adding an 11-87 to my stash as well. Happy hunting to all of you.

    • avatarNate says:

      Glad you’re able to afford the extra $ 300 for a Browning. Some of us have trouble getting the first $ 300 together.

  13. avatarWoody61 says:

    I have been playing with these for over 18 months. They’re on clearance @ Dicks for $289.97 which is a steal. I had ordered a Browning BPS at my local shop for $510. When it showed up I loved the walnut stock and fit finish. Then as I was admiring it, I noticed the slide rattled really bad. I tried another BPS Camo and it also was a loose as a goose slide. Luckily the owner wasn’t mad I no longer wanted it. I’d rather spend a little more than half for the solid Weatherby.

  14. avatarUparms says:

    I just won the base model stock synthetic 28 inch version of the PA-08 last night for 40 bucks in tickets at a DU dinner. Looked like a solid gun. I can’t pick it up till later this week from the dealer.

    Thanks for the review and the gun related comments by most of the posters.

    Uparms

  15. avatarWalt says:

    Regarding the PA-08 from Weatherby, I am very unhappy with it. Out of the box, it was patterning low. At 20 yards the center of the pattern was about a foot low, with only the very top of the pattern touching where I was aiming. I contacted Weatherby and they had me send the shotgun in. They tested it and said it met their factory specs in the shop. They then took it to the field and tried shooting clays with it. The results were that it was able to break 50 percent of the clays they shot at and therefore it was up to factory specs. The customer service was terrible at returning phone calls when I was trying to get updates on my gun’s status also. They are now returning my gun to me telling me it is within factory specs because it was able to hit 50% of the clays. I was sure I was getting a quality gun because of all the good things I had heard about Weatherby. Their adds even state that they are very accurate. I am very unhappy with Weatherby and will never buy another gun from them. I will stick with Browning and Remington for shotguns from now on.

  16. avatarchuck says:

    P.O.S wont cycle prperly shold have paid more for a browning or rembuy cheap get cheap

  17. avatarJOSH B says:

    I’m thinking about getting this gun..I’m a big water fowler and I really need a semi auto..is it a good idea to get this??

  18. avatarBrian says:

    I just bought one of these in 20 ga. It’s the PA-08 Upland. It has a 28″ barrel. It was an emergency purchase (….long story), so I need something that wouldn’t break the bank but would be serviceable for dove and quail. I can’t say that mine is as nice looking, or as smooth as the reviewers gun. The walnut was very plain; very similar to a Mossberg 930 with a walnut stock. I also found the pump action on the stiff side until worked…a lot! And, it was no more or less smooth or stiff than an entry level 870 or the MB 500. I also don’t like the composite trigger guard & housing. Although it may prove very durable in the long run, I do wish it were steel.

    All in all, it’s a fine everyday type of shotgun for the money. No issues, no malfunctions, no problems. Handles great, fits me great, and shoots where I point it.

  19. avatarSteinar says:

    so what u say is any original remington choke will fit weatherby pa 08????
    cant find any parts for this gun in my country.

    :)

  20. avatarCris says:

    Thanks for the detailed review, it was not only informative but entertaining as well. I just received one as a Christmas gift and I’m so excited to take it out!

  21. avatarme says:

    Good article, thanks … could have done without the political rhetoric though. Stick to the guns.

  22. avatarJoe Manis says:

    I bought my PA-08 from a pawn shop. Less than $150. I needed a cheap entry gun for trap since pistol ammo has vanished.
    I have shot 250 rounds through this very cheap, very solid, very accurate gun. Being new to competition shotgun I find it shooting very well. I am 75 years young and find the 28″ barrel a little bit of a upper body work out, But as I get stronger
    I find my coutinuous target breaks getting longer each round I shoot. Shooting Federal value paks (100 2 3/4 rounds.) it shoots very flat, I seem to hit more”birds” with each visit to the range. Yesterday a mis-fire broke my string of 21 and consequently trashed my first 25. All in all I am finding this gun a very satisfying experiece. I just wish the previous owner would have had more respect for the weapon that will break clays, put meat on the table, and give back in pleasure.

  23. avatarSteve Frazer says:

    Bought the PA-08 last Christmas for my son, he loves it, the only complaint he has is it doesn’t cycle near as smooth as my Mossberg 500, I’ve tried his and have to agree, the Weatherby isn’t quite as smooth, he isn’t ready to trade it in, it’s a great shooting gun for pheasant and ducks, a little too slow for competition though.

  24. avatarMatt Hawes says:

    I have a PA-08 which I purchased after reading this article. I like it very much with two acceptions. I wish it were available in a 3 1/2″ chamber, and if you dare take the upland model duck hunting the finish will flake off the stock if you get the gun wet. Other than that this shotgun is awesome.

  25. avatarmary greenwood says:

    I was wondering if someone can tell me why I can’t remove the barrel from the 12 gauge shotgun.I have watched the youtube video and done it step by step still can’t remove it.

  26. avatarBob Jerome says:

    I just bought a PA80 from a pawn shop. Brand new condition. At 65 I just started shooting trap, won’t say how I do. ha.. But having fun.. It’s just a beautiful gun…My friends eyes light up whenever I pull this gun out of it’s sock…

  27. avatarRob Bird says:

    Brought mine home today. I’m also disappointed with the overly-glossy finish and the plainness of the walnut quality, both in grain and stain color. It certainly isn’t the burled walnut of the reviewer’s gun. And fit isn’t seamless either. Not having shot it yet, I can only comment on aesthetics. If it turns out to be a good, reliable shooter, I may strip the stock and do an aquafortis stain and oil rub finish instead.

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