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Buckets of ink and ba-jillions of electrons have been spilled in the last year or so navel gazing over the subject of who owns guns here in these U-nited States. Listen to the bleatings of the Gun Control Industrial Complex (if you dare) and you’d be forgiven for concluding that there are really only 167 guys with bottomless gun safes (and wallets) who buy up just about all of the firearms GLOCK, S&W, Ruger, FNH, Springfield, Taurus et al. are busily cranking out. See? Guns aren’t popular any more. It’s just that those last few bitterly clingy, easily frightened old fat white guys keep buying ’em. There’s just one problem with that bit of doctrinaire disinformation . . .

Just about every scrap of anecdotal and empirical evidence available to anyone who really wants to look for it contradicts the more-guns-fewer-gun-owners twaddle. Besides willful blindness all that eyewash they’re peddling fails to take into account one of the biggest growth factors in gun ownership; the effect video games have had on what’s come to be called Gun Culture 2.0. And gun makers and their marketing mavens haven’t missed it. Being the rational actors they are, some of them – Weatherby being one – have noticed the allure anything that goes boom has for gamers. Thus the new WBY-X line of snazzified rifles and shotguns.

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All you have to do to grok the difference is bring up the WBY-X web site. It looks more like the bastard spawn of American Eagle Outfitters and Eddie Bauer than your typical firearms manufacturer portal. They even include a link to their latest totally dope Facebook post right there below the pics of the relatively fashionably dressed teens and twenty-somethings posing with their guns.

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You don’t need Hawking-level analytical powers to see that in creating the WBY-X line extension, Weatherby’s aiming (metaphorically speaking, of course) at a younger, possibly even hipper demographic. People who may not have been brought up hunting by gramps and dear old dad, but instead learned what they know about ballistics from watching Zombieland and playing Medal of Honor Warfighter.

Keep that in mind and the skulls-in-the-mist paint scheme that adorns their Turkish-made PA-459 “Black Reaper” shotty will make a little more sense to you traditionalists who might look at the gun and utter a disapproving “harrumph” at that non-traditional paint job. This thing’s just what you’ll want to reach for when something goes bump in the night, especially if it looks like it just shambled off the set of The Walking Dead.

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The WBY-X PA-459 is, ultimately, just a gussied-up version of their Weatherby PA-459 TR with some sprayed-on spookitude. They offer it in 12 and 20 gauges and we got the big boy to test run. For an MSRP of $549, in addition to all those scaaaary skullz, the scattergun features an aluminum receiver that’s chambered for 3-inch shells on top of which is mounted an adjustable rear ghost ring to compliment the blade-style front sight with a HiViz-ish fiber tube that glows like the last guy out of Chernobyl.

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There’s that top-mounted rail that’s right for mounting another optic if that’s what you’re into. Weatherby also included sling swivels fore and aft. To complete the whole effect, the PA-459 (PA for pump action, 459 for the California penal code number for burglary – seriously) comes with a ported cylinder bore choke tube that adds about an inch and a half to the barrel length. It looks kinda bad-ass, but I’m not sure I’d try breaching any doors with it or anything.

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While the 459 is very much a home defense gun, if you get bored fending off marauders and offing the un-dead, you can swap out that one supplied choke with any other WinChoke-threaded tube. That will let you use the Black Reaper for other pursuits like blowing the heads of Tommy Turkey or blasting holes in Bambi. You could even break some orange clay disks at your neighborhood trap and skeet range (though those sights are less than ideal for that), as long as that tactically-correct rubberized Feinstein grip doesn’t give the old-timers who haunt the place a case of the vapors.

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To give the 459 a decent go, I ran it with a variety of loads including rifled slugs, 00 buck, Winchester’s devastating PDX1 12 Defenders, as well as some of my own home-brewed #8 trap loads.

How did it do? Come on. This is, after all, a pump gun so nothing I did made the PA-459 so much as flinch. The same can’t be said of the guy pulling the trigger after sending a few dozen slugs, showers of buckshot and those hybrid Defenders downrange. The 459 is pleasantly light to hold, weighing in at only about seven pounds. The equal and opposite reaction that touches off, however, means your shoulder won’t thank you for launching anything heavier than birdshot from such a svelte smoothbore.

 

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#8 1 oz. trap load from 10 yards

In a vain effort to try to trip it up, I loaded her magazine with a mixture of shells. I combined lighter 2¾-inch target loads with 3-inch buckshot and slugs and cracked them off as fast as I could. No dice; the gun still cycled ‘em like a champ.

Once I regained consciousness, I tried it out at 25 and 50 yards with the aforementioned sluggos. Ouch. Still, other than shooting too low out of the box (don’t fret, that rear sight’s adjustable) those honkin’ hunks of plumbum hit where I aimed…and kept right on going. I didn’t put a scope on it and try it out at longer ranges because it hurt too much.

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As for disassembly and cleaning, again, it’s a pump. You can shoot thousands of shells without doing much more than running a BoreSnake through it and not worry about a thing. If you get some free time one afternoon and want to do a thorough wash and set, though, it’s a simple job that should take you about twenty minutes.

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Boiled down to its essence, the WBY-X PA-459 is still just your basic home defense-style shotgun, paint job or not. Either you’re into the death-from-the-depths decor or you’re not, but that’s really only cosmetics. Probably. If you’re ever forced to use the gun on anything more sentient than a zeke, a jury of your peers – after prompting by an ambitious prosecutor – may take a dimmer view. Underneath it all, though, the PA-459 is a practical, functional home defense shotgun that should serve you extremely well for a long time to come.

 

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Specifications:

Weight: 7.0 lbs.
Length of Pull: 13.5”
Shells: 2 3/4 and 3 inch
Barrel Length: 18.5”, chromed (20 with the supplied ported choke tube)
MSRP: $549 (about $450 street)

 

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
Its basic lines are those of a traditional tactically-inspired home defense gun. The appeal of the skulls will be in the eye of the beholder. It got some positive comments at the range, even from a few grey-hairs, believe it or not.

Ergonomics * * * *
I’m not a pistol grip kinda guy, but even with my small frame, the gun felt good, mounted easily and – for a pump – shot comfortably. If you’re built more like a linebacker, the 459 may feel a little on the small side. And it’s light. Great for carrying, not as much for shooting heavy loads for an extended amount of time.

Reliability * * * * *
One more time…it’s a pump. Nothing to report here. Move along.

Customize This: * * * *
It’s not like you’re going to want to replace the stock or the grooved forearm on this thing. The paintjob is why you buy it in the first place. If you don’t like it, buy the Weatherby plain-Jane version and save fifty bucks. The picatinny railage allows for optics and a light or laser that will satisfy just about any other purpose (or mall ninja fantasy).

Overall: * * * *
This is a love-it-or-hate-it gun. Plenty of people won’t be able to look past the paint scheme and will dismiss it out of hand, but that’s missing the point. If you’re one of those people, the PA-459 wasn’t meant for you anyway. Beneath the get-up, it’s still a highly reliable, light weight – for better and worse – home defense shotgun that will be just the ticket for plenty of (mostly younger) shooters. Get over it.

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27 Responses to Gun Review: WBY-X PA-459 Shotgun

  1. As a gunner and a gamer thank you for the hat tip, we apologize for the rise of totally tactical skull graphics and zombie hunter guns.

    The progs vilify both camps at every mass shooting. Now if we could only get your typical pansy gamer to stop deflecting the issue right on to firearms and start calling the progressive bullshit for what it is.

  2. $450 for a home defense shotgun with skulls on the plastic stock? I’m 21 and I know there are much, much better guns out there for the money.

    Skulls… HD shotgun named after the copspeak for a B&E… jury or bench trial… Nope, doesn’t look like a wise gun buy to me.

  3. Great review and having just come from the range after shooting 20 rounds through my newly rebuilt Mossy 500, I feel your pain. Gotta replace that recoil pad.

    Personally, I feel this is just the kind of thing the gun industry needs to do. Lots of folks poo-poo funky paint, new or strange styling, or pink guns, but anything that brings in new folks is welcome in my book.

  4. I confess, when I first saw one in person I found myself liking the camo pattern far more than I’d have thought.

    As to the “more guns/less owners” thing… Looking at the number of entry level bolt and AR guns introduced in the last few years, I think industry is seeing a very different trend.

  5. I flat refuse to fire any more slugs from a short shotgun. My shotguns are primarily for home defense with a side of hunting in the event of a major SHTF. Buckshot and birdshot will do any job needed. If i need range and accuracy I have rifles.

    • If I may ask, why do you refuse to fire slugs out of your shotty now? I personally like having a couple slugs around; I live in an urban environment and do not hunt, and so have not been able to justify the purchase of a rifle. I like knowing that I can reach out for anything from five feet to 50+ yards depending on the shell I choose.

      • Nigil, Fair question. I’m not a young man anymore and I have developed arthritis, mild at this point, but I tend to not like shooting the heavy boomers these days because they can bring on pain that stays with me for a few days.

        My 12 bores mostly get shot with low base target loads for practice. My heaviest handguns are .38/9mm. My heaviest rifles are mosin nagant 91/30’s. With recoil pads on the mosins and their long barrels and heavy weight I can still shoot a fair amount of 7.62x54r.

        My best years are behind me as far as shooting the big dogs. I can see a time in the near future when I will have to confine myself to girly rounds like the 5.56. ( I don’t have the computer fu skills to put a smiley face after that last comment)

        • I can certainly appreciate that. The day that I patterned mine and my brother’s matching coach guns (12 ga) with several slugs and loads of high brass buckshot per barrel, my shoulder started giving me a bad case of the flinchies.

  6. Each to their own. If you like the style, fine and fine.

    As to the intro paragraph: This was discussed before, but I think we’ve all seen our favorite gun ranges crowded with newbies, and seen hordes of people bellying up to the counter during the buying rush after the Great Synchronous Bloody Shirt Wave of Dec 2012. Just from overhearing conversations with clerks, the first time buyers seemed to outnumber people rounding out their collections with that M1A they had always wanted. My friends in other parts of the country say the same.

    Just goes to show, there is no fact that the progs can’t spin, no matter how crazy the lies. What I find amazing is the number of people that are willing, even anxious, to believe and parrot the lies.

  7. $500? Pretty pricey for a home defense shotgun with fancy paint… especially when a nice Remington or Mossy is available in that range. I quick-browsed their site, and if I’m going to go with a shotgun with a fancy paint job, I’d probably pick the Kryptek one.

    Nice review, though!

  8. At my LGS there are of course gun guys buying their umpteenth gun, but nearly every day there is a first time buyer, a great many of them young and very many of them women. The shop has reorganized to provide (certified) training in everything from safety to CCW classes for permitting to actually building an outdoor range near by for the more practical classes and for everyone to practice.

    It used to be that a first time gun buyer was male, 18-21 and already owned guns he’d received as gifts. That’s it, that’s all you got, young men just starting out and barely old enough to buy their first gun, usually with dad or an uncle along to help out the process.

    Now it’s new guys who didn’t grow up with guns but want CCW permits and a pistol to carry, and overwhelmingly women buying guns for themselves. Some come in with husbands or boyfriends, others bring a male friend but many now come alone. They aren’t afraid to ask the right questions and most want a CCW permit and weapon. The gun shop isn’t a men’s club anymore. They’ve brought on female employees and are getting them trained and certified to teach CCW permit classes.

    Black rifle sales might be a mans thing, especially driven by the gamer culture getting old enough to tool up, but in the compact to subcompact pistol arena I think sales to women are a major force in this sellers extravaganza.

    Do gamers really buy guns? Just the other day at the LGS a guy came in, 18-20, first time gun buyer, and discussed the pro’s and con’s of various rifles like an old mercenary. I was already suspicious when it was outted that he’d never actually shot a real gun! His entire knowledge came from Call of Duty. None the less they sold him Core-15, a tactical bag, half a dozen Pmags and signed him up for a safety class and some range time.

    These are truly strange and in some ways wonderful times for the POTG.

  9. For VP Biden’s sake, how loud a noise does it make when you rack it?

    Who cares how it shoots, you’re going to scare them off with the noise of the action anyway.

    • I’m sad to report that it’s no better than average on the noisy rackage scale. I’ve heard louder. If your wife will be standing out on her back deck trying to discourage home invaders, she’ll probably have more luck firing random rounds into the air as Uncle Joe suggests rather than ominously racking the Reaper.

      • On racking for effect: I don’t know about the vaunted shot gun rack, but I once had someone tell me that the double ‘snick’ of my single action Vaquero .45 being brought slowly to full cock in a dark, quiet room gave him chills. Of course he didn’t realize that I was in the room with the lights out and I didn’t immediately know who had entered and it being a SA revolver I decided that I’d better have it ready before confronting my ‘intruder’. I hadn’t thought much about the sound it makes but I suppose that hearing it in a dark and presumed empty room would cause the hackles to stand for a moment, especially if you recognize it for what it is. . .

  10. Great review. Pretty paintjob. I’ll still take my Mossberg 500 in all black, factory setup to defend my home. $299 for a proven winner

  11. I was really impressed with how well and succinctly the author explained the current trends in the gun buying public now. I think so many other journalists miss or don’t realize the impact that videogames and movies have impacted the youth and increased their interest in guns. Just like the GI-Joe action figures of my youth peaked my interest in firearms, video games like Call of Duty and others have peaked the interest of today’s youth. My son and his friends are interested in and can recognize many types of guns that they have been exposed to by playing these video games. The author really did a great job in shining a light on the false beliefs many have on who the gun buying public currently is. Very well done!

  12. I put one in 20 gauge on layaway yesterday. I was looking for one for home defense and possible competition. The Weatherby brand was a welcome surprise. The gun was beautiful. I did not notice the camo as skulls in the mist until I read reviews today. I expect it to be a fine shotgun for the purpose intended.

  13. I have both the SA and the PA and LOVE THEM! I did a lot of research and at “Normal” home distances the difference between 12 and 20 just wasn’t enough to make me go with the “Heaver” gun. Plus I don’t waterfowl hunt so a 20 will do everything I would want it to, even using slugs. They are lighter than a lot of other shotguns, and yes this is both good and bad. But being 6ft and 270 and using shotguns for the last 50 years, the additional recoil doesn’t bother me and I do like the lighter weight of the weapon. Oh and the Skulls, I LOVE THEM! 🙂

    The only thing I MIGHT trade them for would be a Benelli M4, but what tactical shotgun lover wouldn’t.

  14. I’ve taken this gun clay/gallery shooting a grand total of four times. Firing a total of approximately 300 rounds overall (mostly birdshot & a little buckshot). Every time I’ve fired more than 80 rounds through it something either comes loose or falls off. The first time it was the front sight and the buttstock came extremely loose. So the retailer I bought it from repaired it free of charge. Second time the exact same thing happened except the front sight came off this time. So I sent it into Weatherby’s service center, supposedly they “fixed the problem” by adding locktite, which should have been there to begin with. The third time I only fired 25 rounds through it and it held up ok. The forth time the buttstock came loose again, but the kicker was the picatinny rail came clean off, like popped right off the barrel after firing about round 85. So I send it into Weatherby again, only for them to sit on it for a month and a half before I get fed up and call in (I work nights so daytime operating hours are sometimes difficult to catch). Only to have them tell me that the gunsmith found this repair to void the warranty; despite no obvious marks indicating mishandling of the weapon, despite everything with a screw on this “gun” coming loose or breaking, despite the cross-threading on what’s left of the screws on the picatinny rail (they are the only ones to even touch them from manufacturing to now), despite previous repairs that didn’t hold up, and mostly despite all logic and reason. They admit no fault in the defects of the weapon, never mind the previous service record, and refuse to budge on repairs, refunds, or anything even remotely satisfying to somebody who shelled out $500 for a glorified paperweight. I can’t help but feel like I’m calling Comcast all over again. Long story short; American company that not only moved all their manufacturing overseas, but also apparently phones in every other aspect of a once reputable business.

  15. I just got the PA 459 Weatherby 12 gauge pump. Payed $350 with LED flashlight mounted to the bottom picatine rail. Awsome deal and love the grip. Not plastic pistol grip. More like a rubber type synthetic grip. Very durable, and solid black. In home defense, I need a solid black gun. Need to remain unseen. Very loud rack. So 9times outta 10. The sound of me racking the gun will send even the hardest criminal running. The light is so bright anyone unfortunate enough to be caught infront of my gun, will be blinded, and frozen in fear praying my pointer doesn’t squeeze back ½ inch, sending them back through ½ the room.

  16. April 4, 2016

    CDNN has one without the skulls on sale,
    WEATHERBY PA459 12GA 18.5INCH PUMP

    Manufacturer: WEATHERBY
    Model: PA-459 TR
    MPN: PA4591219PGM
    Caliber: 12 GA
    Capacity: 5
    SKU: WEAPA4591219PGM
    Regular Price: $599.00
    Special Sale: $289.99 ADD TO CART

    Action: Pump • Finish: Matte Black • Barrel Length: 18.5″ with 3″ Chamber – Extended Ported Cylinder Choke • Sights: Fiber Optic Front, Ghost Ring Rear • Stock: Synthetic • Weight: 6 lbs. 8 oz. • Overall Length: 38.25″ • MSRP: $599

  17. I really like what I reviewed about this gun in the 18.5″. It seems to have a great deal of versatility with change-outs & add-ons, coupled with this, my purchase motives are more Esthetics/ Value. I’m mainly a handgun owner with a very solid collection of all types and calibers, so home defense will remain within that group (for fear factor I guess I can always exhibit a S&W 500 50 Cal, which has a great sound when cocking if not practical). My question is; (1) would it be a good gun for clay shooting, if so would anyone recommend mods I should consider, (2) if not, what should I consider that might be similar to this gun keeping in mind “Esthetics/ Value”? Thanks for any feedback, at $299 or $389 from CDNN it just seems like a no-brainer, and a neat addition to my arsenal.

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