Versatile New 12 Gauge P-12 Pump Shotgun from FNH

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

September 27th, 2012



Click pictures for a larger version.







Soft recoil pad attenuates felt recoil.



Crossbolt safety (top), slide release (bottom).



The ability to accept screw-in choke tubes greatly enhances the versatility of the P-12.









FNH-USA has been in the shotgun market for a few years now with their excellent FNP fighting shotguns. These auto-loading shotguns are both powerful and reliable, but there are many who prefer the simplicity, safety, and lower cost of a pump-action shotgun for use as a defensive and offensive weapon, so FNH has entered the quality fighting pump gun market with their new P-12. The P-12 is, if you haven’t guessed by now, chambered for the 12 gauge shotshell, which is by far the most popular gauge for this type of weapon. Like most shotguns in this class, the P-12 is relatively short, and wears a synthetic stock and a black matte finish. However, the P-12 has a couple of worthwhile features which set it apart from its competition.

As should any fighting shotgun, the P-12 has a good, sturdy set of sling studs for the attachment of a carry strap. The magazine tube holds five shotshells, for a fully-loaded capacity of six. That is when using 2-¾ inch shells. Three-inch shells reduce the capacity by one shell. The safety is of the crossbolt type. I personally prefer a tang safety on a fighting shotgun, but the crossbolt is more popular, and works very well, blocking both the hammer and trigger on the P-12.

The barrel of the P-12 is fully chrome-lined, including the chamber. This serves to impede corrosion, enhance bolt lock-up, and aid extraction, as the chrome plating is slicker than bare steel. The barrel measures eighteen inches in length, has an integral Weaver-compatible cantilevered base for the attachment of a scope or other optical sight. This makes the mounting of an illuminated dot or other type of sight quick and easy. The rail is not 1913 Picatinny compatible. The barrel also has a fiber-optic front sight, and a fully-adjustable folding rear sight, to use when an optical sight is not. One feature that I really appreciate, and one tat is most often not found on a fighting shotgun, is the use of screw-in choke tubes. The P-12 comes with a cylinder-bore tube, but can use any standard Invector or Win-Choke compatible choke tube. This allows the P-12 to be much more versatile than a fixed-choke shotgun. Using a rifled tube, as offered by Trulock chokes, the P-12 makes for a handy and accurate slug gun for hunting game. The P-12 is even better-suited for duty as a turkey gun simply by screwing in a tightly-choked extra full tube. The P-12 is short enough and light enough to be handy, and can fire any 2-¾ or 3-inch shotshell, from light target loads, to buckshot, slugs, and heavy turkey loads.

The stock on the P-12 is a durable checkered black synthetic, and thankfully, it wears a soft synthetic rubber recoil pad, which was much appreciated while firing magnum two-ounce turkey loads through this shotgun. The finish on the stock closely matches that of the steel barrel and aluminum receiver. The rotating bolt locks securely into the barrel.

The overall length of the P-12 measures 39 inches, and the shotgun has a 13.75 inch length-of-pull. The trigger guard is plenty long enough to accommodate a gloved finger, and the crossbolt safety is easy to reach with the trigger finger of a right-handed shooter. The trigger group removes easily for maintenance and cleaning by driving out one cross-pin and pulling down on the trigger guard. The pump stroke measures four inches, and with its twin-rail action, is very smooth and slick. The P-12 has one of the easiest and fastest pump actions that I have ever cycled. The trigger pull released crisply, with just over seven pounds of resistance. The P-12 weighed in on my scale at seven pounds, two ounces unloaded.

While the sights on the P-12 are very easy to use and highly visible, I prefer an optical sight on a fighting shotgun, so I mounted a Leupold DeltaPoint electronic dot sight atop the cantilevered rail. The DeltaPoint weighs almost nothing, and comes on and turns off automatically, greatly preserving battery life. With the DeltaPoint, both eyes are wide open, as they should be when using a shotgun for social work. If someone has just kicked in your door, you want a sight that is quick and easy to use, and with the DeltaPoint, simply optically placing the illuminated chevron dot on target is all that is necessary to assure a good hit.

For close range defense or offense, a 12 gauge shotgun is a formidable weapon. Loaded with buckshot or a combo load such as the Winchester PDX1, the shotgun is very effective out to sixty yards or so, and a slug extends the range to one hundred yards or more. Across a typical bedroom, birdshot is very effective, and if the target is missed, after penetrating a residential wall, the shot pellets lose velocity quickly. I like number four buckshot for a good all-around fighting load, and the P-12 is a great delivery system for sending the lead into the target. Contrary to myth, the shotgun does have to be aimed properly. At typical across-the-room distances, the shot load can be covered with your hand. The pattern will typically spread about one inch per yard. Using either the open sights or an optical sight, the P-12 is easy to aim.

Screwing in a good turkey choke and using a good turkey load, the P-12 is just as effective as any dedicated turkey shotgun. The weapon does not have to have the word “turkey” inscribed upon it, nor does it have to wear the latest designer camo pattern to be effective. The P-12 is non-reflective, so the weapon is just as useful for hunting as a camouflaged shotgun.

The P-12 proved reliable with all ammo tested, including slugs, buckshot, birdshot, and combo shells. The two-ounce magnum turkey loads delivered the most recoil, but the soft recoil pad handled the blow very well. Using an extended turkey choke tube from Trulock Chokes, the turkey loads patterned extremely well at twenty-five yards, and also when tested at forty yards.

The FNH P-12 is an excellent choice for a fighting pump gun. It is powerful and reliable, and with its ability to switch choke tubes, makes the weapon useful for much more than just a dedicated defensive/offensive shotgun. As of the date of this review, the suggested retail price is $655 US. While there are less-expensive pump guns on the market, the versatility and quality features of the P-12 make it a good value. The rotating bolt, twin rails, chrome-lined bore, and optics rail make the P-12 one of the most durable and reliable shotguns on the market.

Check out the P-12 and other FNH products at

For details on the Leupold DeltaPoint sight, go to

For the location of an FNH dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the P-12 online, go to

To order quality shotgun ammo, go to

To order some of the best shotgun choke tubes on the market, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



Sling studs.



Fully-adjustable folding rear sight (top & center), and fiber-optic front sight (bottom).



Cantilevered optics rail is attached to barrel.



Leupold DeltaPoint optical sight.





9-pellet buck shot pattern @ 15 yards.



Winchester PDX1 pattern @ 15 yards.



Two-ounce Federal magnum turkey load pattern @ 25 yards.