Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun
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That’s Stubbs. He’s a wild Texas Spiny Lizard who lives in my backyard, and he was drawn to the Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 the first time he saw it, just like I was. The sleek layout, light weight, and modern, efficient design of the Sentry 12 immediately clicked for me when I held one, so I wasted no time in securing a review loaner and hitting the range.

With some help from the team at Silencer Shop (who deliver the simplest suppressor purchasing process of anyone in the country!), our video production quality has gone way up. Check it out by hitting play on the Sentry 12 range review video embedded above or click HERE to watch it on Rumble. Unfortunately Silencer Shop couldn’t do anything about my face (I told them I look my best blurry!), but the camera work, editing, and audio are legit.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

What first drew me to the Iron Horse Sentry 12 shotgun was its efficient design. A one-piece aluminum extrusion becomes the handguard with barrel nut threads, the receiver, the raceway on which the pump action grip and rails ride, the shoulder stock attachment point, and the full-length optics rail.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

With everything removed from it, the aluminum chassis is incredibly lightweight. It’s such a clean design I just couldn’t help but geek out over it, at least a little.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

The chassis is the serialized component (model and serial info is engraved on the bottom rear below the QD sling sockets…far left in the photo above).

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

Intuitively I knew that having the bore of the barrel, the action, and the stock aligned in a perfectly straight line was likely to produce a nice-shooting 12 gauge. Even if it weighs just six pounds.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

Another point in the Sentry 12’s favor was its extremely quick and easy takedown. A single pin — removable by hand without the use of a tool — at the rear of the polymer lower receiver allows it to pivot down and out of the upper. The bolt with attached action rods and grip then slide right out.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

An exposed, knurled barrel nut with wrench flats is now the only thing holding the Sentry 12’s barrel in place. Give it a few turns counter-clockwise and the barrel slides right out the front of the chassis.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

It does not get simpler than this. Whether it’s to swap barrels or just for cleaning, few long guns (or any gun) field strip as easily as this bad boy.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

Heck, even the shoulder stock, held in place by an HK-style pin, is easily removed from the chassis. Iron Horse plans to offer other rear accessories for the Sentry 12 chassis, including a brace for use with a short barrel.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

Perhaps the most important component of a magazine-fed shotgun, though, is the magazine itself. That first time I saw and handled a Sentry 12 I pulled the magazine, examined it, and was about as impressed as I could be without actually proving its function on the range.

For instance, pushing with one finger on any part of the follower — even the extreme front of it — results in perfectly smooth follower function. Up and down the magazine without binding or tilting. The guide slots for the rim of the shells, the metal feed lips, the feel of the polymer, the fit of the magazine inside of the lower…all appeared dead-on flawlessly executed.

There’s even an appropriate amount of “extra” space in the magazine after loading it to capacity, which means inserting a fully-loaded mag with the bolt forward it not only possible, but simple. This is not the case with all or even most mag-fed shotguns.

Additionally, the Sentry 12’s magazines insert and remove in a straight line out of the magazine well, AR-style. They don’t have to be rocked in and out AK-style, which is the norm for magazine-fed shotguns.

It’s a 12-gauge box magazine done right, top-to-bottom.

Each Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 comes with two, five-round magazines. An eight-round mag and a 10-round mag are in the works.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

Dropping said magazine is easily accomplished with an AR-15-style push-button magazine release precisely where it lives on an AR-15. For most of us that makes mag changes extremely intuitive and simple.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

Unlike most AR-15s, however, the magazine release is mirrored on the left side of the Sentry 12.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

Continuing the theme, the thumb safety is in the identical location and functions identically to that of an AR.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

It, too, is mirrored on the right side of the shotgun.

Also ambidextrous is the action release lever, located below the magazine release button at the front of the trigger guard. This unlocks the bolt so the action can be opened after being locked forward into battery. As with most pump-action shotguns, the action is locked in battery unless the gun is fired, which then allows you to rack the action, or the action release is manually depressed.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

In keeping with the AR-15 theme, you may have noticed the location of the trigger pins and thought to yourself, “hmm, is there an AR-15 trigger inside this bad boy?” That was one of my first questions after picking up the Sentry 12, and the answer is “no.” But close!

It’s an AR-15 trigger except for the hammer. Some 12 gauge primers need a little more oomph to ignite, plus the location of the firing pin in the Sentry 12 is a bit higher above the trigger than it is on an AR, so the Sentry’s hammer is longer.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

While nothing fancy, the Sentry 12’s trigger feels better than a mil-spec or parts-kit AR trigger. It’s without a doubt smoother and crisper. Better, too, than the vast majority of pump-action shotguns’ triggers.

If you want to upgrade even further, however, Iron Horse offers the Sentry 12 Elite, which includes a polished trigger (among other things like polished action bars and other internals, stippled pump grip, and more).

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

A full-length top M1913 Picatinny rail makes mounting sights, optics, lights, and more extremely easy.

That said, I’d probably swap those near-vertical slots on the “handguard” to horizontal M-LOK slots and I’d put M-LOK slots on the bottom of the pump grip as well. As it stands, the top rail is the only location for mounting accessories to the Sentry 12. Well, other than the QD sling cups on each side at the rear of the chassis and the sling strap slot on the stock.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

Out on the range, the Sentry 12 performed flawlessly and was a fast and smooth shooter. The pump action is slick and confident — no binding, no roughness, and no wobble, with solid travel stops at front and rear.

While recoil is stout, as you’d have to expect from a 6-pound 12 gauge shotgun, it’s extremely controllable and more comfortable than I had anticipated. I do think it’s that straight line from bore to shoulder that assists in keeping the gun flat and ensuring that recoil is straight back. The Sentry 12 is easy on the cheekbone, for instance, while many similar guns will bruise up your face due to the upwards rotation of the recoil. I put a ton of birdshot plus 25 rounds of 00 buckshot through the Sentry 12, on two occasions, and felt no worse for the wear.

Magazine swaps were super fast and happened intuitively considering the AR-clone controls. Same, too, with the safety. In fact, other than running that pump and the solid kick of 12 gauge ammo, driving the Sentry 12 is a lot like driving an AR. The straight-line format, the weight, the balance…it’s all very familiar.

Perhaps the one thing I’d change — well, the one other thing in addition to the M-LOK stuff mentioned above — would be redoing the lower receiver so it accepts AR-15 grips. In no way is this a complaint about the pistol grip that’s integral to the one-piece, polymer lower — it’s pretty darn good — but giving the overall AR-like feel to the Sentry 12 and the three bazillion AR grips on the market, the ability to swap the grip out would be pretty great.

Of course, given the modular design of the Sentry 12 and the fact that the lower is not the serialized part, future variants of the lower receiver, stock, barrel, etc. are all on the table (both from Iron Horse and the aftermarket) and would be extremely easy to swap out.

I didn’t photograph any patterning targets on my first range outing, as I intended to do that on video during the second range trip. Unfortunately, I forgot both targets and my staple gun so that plan was trashed. Suffice it to say that this 18.5-inch, cylinder bore shotgun patterns just like every other. Cheap buckshot kept all nine or 12 pellets inside of a silhouette out to 15 yards with 100% consistency, and at 25 yards most pellets were inside of the silhouette but usually there was an escapee or two. Birdshot was similar (and, again, the same as you’d expect from every other cylinder bore 12 GA).

Reliability was flawless. The Sentry 12 never failed to confidently feed, fire, and eject everything I put through it. Heck, it never hinted at anything of the sort and it ran as smooth and slick as can be the entire time.

Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Pump Action Shotgun

At the end of my testing I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve more or less fallen in love with the Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 pump action shotgun. I can’t get over how smart and efficient the design is, and on top of that it’s flawlessly executed. At least if we’re avoiding the tuned-up, tricked-out, highest-end of the tactical pump shotgun market, the Sentry 12 is my favorite pump action shotgun on the market.

Specifications: Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Shotgun

Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
Overall Length: 36 inches
Weight: 6.1 pounds
Caliber: 12 Gauge, 2.75 and 3-inch chamber
Capacity: 5 rounds (two magazines included…larger capacity mags coming soon)
MSRP: $899 ($1,299 for Sentry 12 Elite)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy  * * * *
I mean, it’s exactly the same as every other 18.5-inch, cylinder bore, 12 GA shotgun. But the easy ability to mount an optic earns this bad boy an extra star. Barrels threaded for choke tubes are in Iron Horse’s product roadmap.

Reliability  * * * * *
Flawless. Smooth and wobble-free action plus a great magazine design.

Ergonomics  * * * * *
With its fully ambidextrous AR-15-format controls, light weight, and straight-line design, the Sentry 12 is a modern and extremely ergonomic shotgun.

Customize This  * * * *
I’m dinging the Sentry 12 one star here because some of the items I’m about to mention aren’t yet available, but the door is wide freakin’ open for modification. Beyond the full-length Pic rail, the modular design of the Sentry 12 allows for easy stock swaps, lower receiver swaps, safety selector swaps, bottom half of the trigger swaps, barrel swaps, and more. Plus larger capacity box and even drum magazines. The stage is set.

Overall  * * * * *
The Iron Horse Firearms Sentry 12 Shotgun is my favorite pump action shotgun. And it pulls it all off at a fairly reasonable price, to boot.

 

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25 COMMENTS

  1. “I’d probably swap those near-vertical slots on the ‘handguard’ to horizontal M-LOK slots and I’d put M-LOK slots on the bottom of the pump grip as well. ”

    Can that be done for this? It looks like a complete replacement of the ‘upper polymer portions’ would be needed. Do they have such a replacement? Maybe the have something that attaches to the near-vertical slots polymer section that adds horizontal m-lok slots?

    You might be able to put an m-lok picitinny rail section on the near-vertical slots if the spacing between them works out, but then you would need to make sure the m-lok rail section its aligned level horizontally too as you tighten it down. It might not look too bad.

    • You could also do 45 degree rail sections that hang down off the top rail that attach to the top picitinny rail if you wanted to get say a flash light attached and not use the top rail. there are other options for at least adding a rail section.

  2. Once again, I’m all for innovation, and if anyone likes this platform for a shotgun, all the best to you.

    However, I recently had an opportunity to try a buddy’s new AR-platform semi-auto 12-ga. It was equipped with a red dot which helped tremendous in target acquisition, but it was awkwardly bulky and the detachable 5-rd box mag design doesn’t allow for topping off. It offered the ability to rapidly fire off five shells, but otherwise didn’t have an advantage over a classic pump. It was a “bucket list” type of tryout, and little more. I much prefer a Rem 870 or Mossie 500 classic pump.

    • Spare magazines are a thing. What’s the need for topping off if you have a couple of loaded spare mags on hand?

      That said, I’m not sure I’m really on board with detachable magazines on a shotgun…mainly because I haven’t had the chance to try one yet. 🙂 This looks like a heck of a gun, though. Would love to give one a try.

    • I am always amazed at firearm companies who fail to offer their 12 gauge platforms in 20 gauge.

      I prefer 20 gauge over 12 gauge for self-defense against human attackers for the simple reason that 20 gauge has less recoil and facilitates faster follow-up shots. And yet you don’t give up anything in terms of “stopping power”. (No human being on this planet is going to remain operational after taking a 20 gauge slug in the chest inside of 50 yards.)

      I understand the appeal of 12 gauge for bird hunting: slinging more shot particles means a higher probability of bringing down a bird in flight. When it comes to self-defense against humans, however, there is virtually no advantage to 12 gauge over 20 gauge. Slugs out of either gauge will promptly bring down any human. And with respect to buckshot, you can have 9 pellets of #00 buckshot out of 12 gauge or 9 pellets of #1 buckshot out of 20 gauge. Once again, at close range, both will be devastating.

      (The only marginal advantage of 12 gauge over 20 gauge would be shooting buckshot at a human attacker who was well beyond the spread pattern of buckshot–where only one or two pellets were likely to strike the attacker. In that extremely narrow circumstance, one or two #00 pellets would be somewhat more likely to incapacitate than one or two #1 pellets. And if you are in that situation, you have much larger problems than the fact you would only have #1 buckshot pellets out of a 20 gauge shotgun.)

  3. “I’m dinging the Sentry 12 one star here because some of the items I’m about to mention aren’t yet available, but the door is wide freakin’ open for modification. Beyond the full-length Pic rail, the modular design of the Sentry 12 allows for easy stock swaps, lower receiver swaps, safety selector swaps, bottom half of the trigger swaps, barrel swaps, and more. Plus larger capacity box and even drum magazines. The stage is set.”

    You should have dinged it more for “Customize This”.

    There is no “some of the items I’m about to mention aren’t yet available” its more like its going to be a few years or never before any of those things are available.

    “the modular design of the Sentry 12 allows for easy stock swaps, lower receiver swaps, safety selector swaps, bottom half of the trigger swaps, barrel swaps, and more. Plus larger capacity box and even drum magazines. ”

    You don’t know it allows for “easy”. Just because it comes apart “easy” like it does it does not mean its easy to do swaps especially if the component for swaps are not available. Seriously, take a look at their web site – they have been selling things for a while (for example a couple of rifles) and have yet to come out with or offer separate accessories or “customizations” for their own products in the areas you mention. They are interested in specific basic platforms of their own creation, not offering things to customize with.

    If the third party after market doesn’t come out with it, Iron Horse probably isn’t

    • I’ve seen pre-production pieces for some of that stuff, and what I believe was a production 8- or 10-round mag. Safety selector and bottom half of the trigger are standard AR components so there are a zillion available now. Other barrels are available now. Almost all of the parts (minus trigger and safety) can be easily swapped without tools.

  4. So I have a question. Wasn’t this going to be Blackwater’s, you know the mercenary contractor’s, shotgun that they were supposed to come out with?

  5. That is a lot of money for a pump shotgun, especially since I just bought a VRPA40 with three 9 round mags and 2 5 round mags for 250 out the door

  6. Wouldn’t mind a semi-auto variant. The extruded aluminum tube chassis certainly has enough room to allow it. The ARGO system on the Benelli M4 would easily fit inside that space, or many of the other gas and inertia systems.

    I’ve read elsewhere that the manufacturer put a lot of thought and effort into the magazine design so that it will feed rimmed ammo reliably, which has always been the Achilles Heel of detachable box magazine fed shotguns.

  7. I can see that this design might have been popular and they might have gotten a lot of sales, maybe even law enforcement contracts, with it–in 1963. In the 21st Century it’s just another manually operated repeater, just with AR furniture, and a horrible choice for anything more serious than small game hunting or breaking clay targets in an age of sub-$400 Palmetto State Armory ARs. It doesn’t bring anything innovative to the table, like the Kel-Tec (ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little) bullpups that are handier and more compact for the same barrel length.

    Why does this exist?

  8. Myself Daniel smith my profession is writing and searching new products, I completed my Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Florida in 2016. I join americans outfits as a junior writer but now leading a professional team of writers.

  9. Stubbs? You must like BBQ. It’s been a minute since I’ve gotten that far down on Red River St. myself. Maybe this Saturday…..

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