Impulse buying guns isn’t easy to do with the price most go for. Even “cheap” guns rarely offer enough value for an impulse purchase. However, sometimes a low price and a lot of value gets me in trouble. For example, that time I ran across the Puma Camper.
The Puma Camper — also sometimes advertised as the Howa or Howa-Legacy Camper — is a Turkish made shotgun imported by Legacy Arms. This is a single shot shotgun that comes with three barrels, 12 and 20 gauge as well as a .410 bore tube — all for the low, low price of right around $160.
I saw this little gun at my local gun store and when the proprietor whipped out the other two barrels, I had to have it.
I don’t necessarily have a purpose for it, but the value of it alone sold me. The price includes all three barrels and a rather lovely carrying case for them. The carrying case has four pockets, one for each barrel and a large pocket for the receiver and stock.
The Puma Camper is a very simple shotgun. It has a front bead sight, sling swivels, and two spacers you can remove to adjust the length of pull. The barrels are all 18.5 inches and the gun folds in half for easy, secure storage. It fits in the bag folded, just barely, but it fits.
The LOP can change from 14.5 at its longest to 12.5 at its shortest. The Camper is super lightweight and is outfitted with ugly, but functional furniture.
The stock has a hollow cavity that allows for secure storage of survival goods, and the gun does float, which is a nice touch.
Bring a Tool
Taking it apart and putting it together is relatively simple. Swapping barrels can be done in under a minute. I would suggest keeping a small multi-tool in the gun’s bag. This makes it easier to swap barrels, change spacers, or access any survival goodies you’ve stashed in the stock. Barrel swaps can be made without the tool, but the pliers and a punch make it easier.
To swap barrels, you have to remove the front sling swivel and the handguard. Pliers come in handy here. From there, the user needs to open the gun up and punch out a large pin. A multi tool’s punch makes that easier, too. The barrels then separate from the receiver.
You also have to be mindful of the extractor. The gun comes with three identical extractors and a small space pin for each. They remained locked in place until you remove the barrel from the receiver. Installing everything is smooth and is something you can do in the field.
The .410 barrel has a grip adapter to allow the forend to easily fit the much smaller barrel. That adapter will pop off easily, so be mindful of that.
To change the shotgun’s LOP, you have to remove the long screws, then remove the spacers, then install the included short screws — another problem my multi-tool solved.
There is a certain appeal this gun will have for those looking for a bug-out weapon. It won’t be a good fighting weapon, but the Puma Camper is a reliable game getter with lots of scavenging potential.
The lightweight folding design make it pretty unobtrusive compared to a traditional shotgun, and the three barrels give you all sorts of ammo options.
It’s also pretty hard to mess up a single-barreled shotgun. The designs are so simple that they have very few failure points. The Camper is similarly straightforward to use and is about as brain dead as it gets.
The controls are just a safety and barrel release. The safety is a simple cross-bolt design, and the barrel release is a lever forward of the trigger guard. Once opened, the extractor pushes the shell out for easy removal.
The Three Bears and the Puma Camper
I’d love to tell you that I fired 500 rounds of each caliber, but I didn’t. That’s quite expensive to do, and getting through just 25 rounds per barrel takes some time with a single shot.
I ended up doing 25 rounds of game loads for each barrel, and then ten rounds of buckshot for each caliber. On top of that, I also fired some mini shells in twelve gauge and some slugs for the 410. Twenty gauge ammo is surprisingly tricky to find locally beyond bird and some buckshot loads.
That’s a shame because 20 gauge seems to be the best caliber for the Puma Camper. It’s very much a Goldilocks situation in which the 20 gauge is just right.
The .410 is cute and an excellent small game getter. It makes the gun ultra-lightweight, and with the right load you can even take smaller deer and coyotes. It’s easy to shoot, but the ammo costs as much or even more than 20 gauge loads. Winchester Super X 20 gauge buckshot loads cost about 95 cents per round. The .410 Super X loads are about 1.30 per round.
Twelve gauge, of course, gives you the most extensive ammo selection overall. In a lightweight shotgun like the Camper, most lighter birdshot loads are okay, but a full-powered 2 ¾ load smacks you nice and hard.
If 12 gauge is your goal, invest a slip-on recoil pad because the included one sucks. I’m not a recoil sensitive shooter, but single shots will deliver a nice pounding with full-powered buckshot.
One significant advantage for the Puma Camper and the 12 gauge barrel is you can use mini shells from Federal, Aguila, and Challenger. Especially the slugs.
These are much lighter recoiling, but still pack more than a .44 Magnum’s worth of power. Out to 35 yards, I made smooth hits on a ten-inch gong target.
In 20 gauge, I found the recoil to be just right. It’s not painful like the 12 gauge and you get a lot more power than the .410 delivers. Plus, the ammo is either cheaper or at least the same cost as the little .410. The smaller shells also mean lighter carry weight for bug-out situations, as well as the ability to pack more of them.
The Puma Camper reliably went bang with each and every shell. It never gave me a problem and didn’t produce any weird patterning.
It’s as simple as it gets. The chokes are fixed and I can’t find any information regarding their choke design. I’m assuming cylinder bore due to the performance I got with Olin company buckshot.
The Puma Camper is a neat little gun that offers a lot of value for a meager price. Legacy Arms has zero information on their website about these guns, but they’re out there for sale, so take it for what you will. They’d be an excellent investment as a Christmas gift and a fun firearm that can grow with a shooter.
Specifications: Puma Camper
Caliber: 12, 20 and 410
Barrel Length(s): 18.5 inches
Overall Length: 35.5 inches (Folded Length 18.75 inches)
Weight (varies by barrel): 12 Gauge – 4.65, 20 Gauge – 4.55 pounds, .410 – 4.5 pounds
LOP Length: 12.5 – 13.5 -14.5 depending on spacers
Price: About $160 retail
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy * * * *
It’s a shotgun that does shotgunny things. I took off one point for lack of interchangeable chokes. That would help shooters extend their range and control their patterns more.
Ergonomics * * * *
Easy, simple controls, an adjustable LOP, and decent enough furniture make this simple gun score high. However, the recoil for 12 gauge buckshot loads can be pretty rough and the included recoil pad is dinky.
Reliability * * * * *
It’s a single-shot shotgun. It doesn’t jam or fail to cycle, etc. It goes bang, and that’s all.
Value * * * * *
Three calibers in one gun for less than $200? Hell yeah, that’s a good value.
Overall * * * * 1/2
As far as cheap guns go, this one offers more value than any other in my perspective. You can hunt nearly anything with it, and anyone of almost any size and experience can use it. If I were Legacy Sports, I’d be trying to sell this gun hard instead of ignoring it.