Gun Review: H&R 1871 Pardner Pump Protector 12 Gauge

The name says it all. The H&R Pardner Pump Protector wasn’t built for wing-shooting doves or busting clay pigeons. No, this is a gun to be kept at the bedside, ready for behavior modification on bad people who want to go bump in the night. Loaded with up to six rounds of 2 ¾” or 3” shot, its twelve gauge bite is even worse than its thunderous bark, and that says a lot.

This H&R shotty is crafted in China by Qiqihar Hawk Industries Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China North Industries Corporation. Commonly referred to as Norinco, most gun fanciers know China North Industries as a major producer of inexpensive SKS and AK-pattern rifles. Hawk confines itself to making shotguns, including a slew of clones of the classic Remington 870 sold under the H&R name.

Oh, and H&R is an affiliate of Remington, which is part of the Freedom Group, which is owned by Cerberus Capital Management. Got that? Thus, the H&R/Hawk alliance reflects the modern era where money-loving American capitalists and money-grubbing Chinese communists come together like lions and lambs to sing “Cumbayá” and peddle inexpensive defensive firearms to a grateful American public. The deal twixt the two companies might not be Mao Zedong’s idea of a Great Leap Forward, but the rest of us can enjoy one of the fruits of this cross-cultural incest: the H&R Pardner Pump Protector.

First Impressions
Anyone who is looking for class and style is advised to go elsewhere. Those seeking a robust, quality-built shotgun have come to the right place.

The Protector arrives in a lovely corrugated cardboard box, and that’s as fancy as things are going to get. The gun nestling in contoured packing foam is matte black, except for the dab of gold at the sight. It’s a menacing-looking piece. At first fondle you know this is a heavy gun, built like the proverbial tank. Maybe from tanks; it feels as if it’s made from milsurp Type 59s.

The Pardner Pump Protector’s machined extractor is large and ruggedly constructed. It positively engages the rim of the shotshell. Since a broken extractor can make self-defense problematic, a strong one is a real good thing.

While there are tooling marks inside the chamber, the ejector is smooth and well-constructed. Overbuilt. Whenever you fire a pump action shotgun, the ejector and extractor are doing their thing. If those two relatively small parts are rugged, the odds are good that the shotgun will remain serviceable for a long time. Such is the case with the Pardner Pump.

The synthetic fore-end rides on rigid twin steel rails. The steel trigger guard is hefty, but it’s not contoured for a gloved finger, reinforcing the notion that the Protector is no deer-shooting slug gun. The barrel is thick enough that it would take many thousands of dollars rounds to shoot it out.

Even the Pardner Pump’s plastic has the feel of quality. The synthetic stock and fore-end seem dense and strong. I didn’t test the stock with a hammer, but it’s clear that some Chinese engineer with a degree from UCLA made this shotgun to take punishment. Altogether, the Protector seems heavier than its claimed weight, but sure enough it measures at its listed 7.5 lbs. on my made-in-China scale.

Weight aside, the H&R 1871’s balance is just about perfect for its intended use. Its balance point is just forward of the trigger guard, where it should be. The Protector comes to shoulder naturally and swings readily from side to side, as well as up and down, and points very well. The Protector’s 18.5” barrel is short enough to make the shotgun fairly handy in close quarters, although it would not be the right tool for a gunfight in a phone booth.

Looking down the barrel of the Protector is an unnerving experience. A full cylinder shotgun, the P³ has no choke tube, so the muzzle looks about as big around as the Channel Tunnel and scarier than a dragon’s cave. Shouldering the P³ puts the shooter on the right side of the tunnel and the bad guy on the wrong side, which should imbue the owner with a feeling of confidence and the bad guy with a serious case of the yips.

If guns are supposed to be comforting and not comfortable, then the Pardner Pump Protector is the cover boy for comforting.

Shooting the Protector
If stealth was the goal, then the P³ is an epic fail. It’s about as quiet as a jackhammer. Just pumping it produces more decibels than your average Metallica concert. Racking the P³ is so raucous I suspect it was tuned by someone familiar with the term “stack of Marshalls.”

I think the notion that a home invader can be compelled to brown trow by the mere sound of a shotgun being racked is an urban myth. More likely, the average home invader is expecting an easy mark slumbering insensate between a down comforter and the Ninth Circle of Consciousness.

Greeted instead by a wide-awake homeowner wielding a noisemaker, even the dopiest doped-up bad guy is capable of making a well-reasoned decision to leave the premises and screw with someone else. I confess, however, that if I was a bad guy creeping into someone’s home on little cat feet and I heard this shotgun being pumped, I would exeunt, stage right, so fast that I’d leave a contrail.

Racking the gun didn’t require the use of ear protection, but firing the beast was a whole different kettle of noise. It’s the loudest twelve gauge I’ve ever fired. I’m used to heads swiveling around at the range when firing a Mosin Nagant M44 carbine, but not when shooting a modern shotgun.

The P³’s sonic boom might be a positive considering the gun’s defensive function, but a negative considering that most people don’t wear their ProMag electronic earmuffies when they don their footsy pajamas. Anyone who intends to shoot this gun indoors without adequate soundproofing covering his auditory organs should learn American Sign Language immediately and forthwith.

And then there’s the recoil.

All twelve gauge shotguns kick. Some kick harder than others. This one kicks like an angry jackass with hemorrhoids. The P³’s spongy perforated rubber buttpad looks great and moderates the recoil somewhat, but shooting this gun requires the operator to pay attention and really pull the gun tightly into the shoulder. Otherwise, it will leave a mark. Fortunately, most of the recoil is straight back and muzzle rise is controllable for follow-up shots, in the absurdly unlikely event that another blast of twelve gauge persuasion might be required.

The PPP is chambered for 2 ¾” and 3” shells. To test the ability of the Pardner to pump a variety of shells, I loaded the five shot magazine with a mix of 2 ¾ and 3” shells at random, consisting of both slugs and 00 buck. Each shell needed to be pressed into the tube until it clicked, indicating that it had found a welcome home. I racked the pump to chamber a round, and topped off the magazine. Then I let one fly.

Trying to create a jam, I babied the pump after the first shot. Sure enough, this rugged shotgun does not take well to a feathery touch. Simply stated, this ain’t no Benelli. The action doesn’t go snick-snick, but it loves to go whack-whack. Pumped hard, as one is apt to do when energized by fear and adrenaline, the P³ functioned flawlessly, time after time.

Accuracy? At home-defense distances, this shotgun will turn a bad guy’s man suit into Hunan shredded beef rather quickly. I wouldn’t take it on a snipe hunt, but for persuading an evildoer to see the error of his ways and get right with the universe, this gun rules.

After sending several magazine-loads downrange, my shoulder began to insist that discretion was the better part of bursitis. Remembering Scarlett O’Hara’s plaintive last line in “Gone With the Wind,” I called it a day after running through about 50 rounds.

I’ve never been a big fan of Chinese products. Between slathering baby toys with lead paint and seasoning our pets’ food with poisonous melamine, Chinese industry has done nothing to raise my confidence level. Until now.

The Pardner Pump Protector is one tough-ass shotgun, built to last and cheap to buy. Sold under the H&R, NEF and Norinco brand names, the P³ has a decade-long history in the US, almost all of it extremely favorable. While those who don’t own a Pardner Pump may abjure the very thought of a Chinese shotgun, them that owns ‘em loves ‘em. Most of all, unlike so many Chinese products that kill owners and animals through negligence, the Pardner Pump Protector might actually save my life on purpose.

While the list price of the P³ is a whopping $240 or thereabouts, the street price of this home improvement power tool is closer to $159 at Dick’s and other chain stores. Used guns can sell for $100 or less. And since black goes well with green, the Protector will dress up a room as neatly as the money it saves will dress up a wallet. For a real, no frills home protection shotgun, look no further than H&R’s Pardner Pump Protector.


Model: H&R 1871 Pardner Pump Protector
Caliber: 12 Gauge
Ammunition capacity:  5+1 (2 ¾” or 3” shells)
Materials: High carbon steel barrel and receiver. Black synthetic stock with grooved fore-end, ventilated recoil pad and swivel studs.

Weight empty: 7.5 pounds
Barrel Length: 18.5″
Overall length: 37 5/8″
Sights: Bead front; drilled and tapped for scope base
Action: Pump
Finish: Matte black
Price: $240 msrp (approx.)

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * *
I tried to be objective with the style rating. Subjectively, I love the lack of style and I’d rate the Pardner Pump Protector as a  * * * * ½ out of five. It compares very favorably to a well-designed tractor. It looks about as purposeful a tractor, it’s as noisy as a tractor, it’s as tough as a tractor and with a little TLC will probably outrun a Deere. That’s my kind of style.

Ergonomics (carry) * * *
It feels like a heavy shotgun, but balances perfectly. Since the Protector was meant to be carried from one’s bedroom to one’s front door and maybe up a flight of stairs, its avoirdupois isn’t an issue.

Ergonomics (firing) * * * *
The 14 ¼” length of pull suited me just fine. Petite ladies, men with alligator arms or NBA rebounding all-stars might feel differently. The pistol grip is comfortable and correctly angled. The gun points and sights very well. The trigger is as light and smooth as Chinese farm implement technology can make it. Recoil is a bitch or this would be a five star shooter.

Reliability * * * * *
It handled a mix of 2 ¾” and 3” shotshells, both buckshot and slugs, without a hiccup. Rack the pump like you mean it and the Pardner Pump Protector will feed as rapidly as pack of hungry hound dogs with tapeworms.

Customize This * * * *
It’s drilled and tapped for the mount and sight combination of your choice. Because it’s a Remington 870 clone, it accepts most aftermarket Remmy stuff except for Remington barrels, which are not compatible. But why customize anything? The Pardner Pump is perfect for what it is, exactly as it is.

Cheap, powerful and reliable, it’s the quintessential bedside shotgun and a damn good warclub to boot. Get one. Hell, for the price of a Remington 870, you can double down on Pardner Pumps and snag some ammo, too.