Two New “Threat Response” Fighting Shotguns from Weatherby


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 12th, 2011


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Weatherby PA-459 (top) and PA-08 (bottom) fighting shotguns.




Slide lock release.



Crossbolt safety.



Removable ported choke tube.



Magazine plug.









The Weatherby name has long stood for quality and innovation in the firearms world. Since 1945, a Weatherby rifle has been near the top of the list of desires for many riflemen, especially after the introduction of the famous Mark V rifle in 1957. I remember as a kid looking at pictures of those ultra-modern, sleek rifles sporting knockout gorgeous wood with a Monte Carlo cheek piece and contrasting forend tip. Those great rifles were, and still are, available chambered for high-stepping cartridges that bear the Weatherby name.

I have also seen and handled a few Weatherby shotguns over the years, and they have all been very well-made shotguns. I dearly love the Orion Upland Japanese guns that were discontinued a couple of years ago, but the Italian Weatherbys are very fine shotguns as well. However, I had never thought of Weatherby having shotguns that are built for more serious purposes, until recently I learned of these new Threat Response shotguns that bear the Weatherby name. The two shotguns shown here have in common short barrels, tubular magazines, matte black finishes, and are of slide-action, or pump, design. However, once I got acquainted with the PA-08 and PA-459 shotguns, I discovered that internally, they are of different design, as well as having different sights and furniture externally. Both also have crossbolt safeties, which I am usually not too fond of, but in the case of the PA-459, I like it better than a top mount safety. I usually prefer a top mount, and with a traditional-style buttstock, I still do. However, with the semi-vertical pistol grip on the 459, the crossbolt safety allows manipulation without removing the hand from the grip. The lockup of the bolt into the barrel extension is different on these two shotguns, but both accomplish the same function, and both work very well. Both shotguns also have, thankfully, sling studs attached, as should every fighting shotgun.

The PA-08 is the more traditional looking of the two. It has a matte black metal finish, and a black synthetic stock. The PA-08 has a ramped white bead for a front sight, and no rear sight, in the traditional shotgun style. The stock has molded-in checkering for a positive grip, and it balances, handles, and shoots well. The PA-08 wears an eighteen and one-half inch cylinder bore barrel with an overall length of thirty-eight and three-quarters inches. The PA-08 weighs in at six pounds, nine and one-half ounces on my scale. The PA-08 has three inch chambers, so it can fire any twelve gauge shotshell from light two and three-quarter inch loads through heavy three inch magnums. The magazine capacity is five two and three-quarter inch shells, or four three inch magnums.

The PA-459 is, to me, the most interesting of the two, and the one through which I have fired the most ammunition. The 459 wears a synthetic stock with a digital camouflage pattern of green and tan colors. The forearm is very well-shaped and textured for ease of use, and the vertical pistol grip is covered in a semi-soft synthetic rubber. Atop the aluminum receiver is a Picatinny rail for the mounting of optical sights, and another section of rail is molded into the bottom of the forearm for the attachment of a light or other accessory. The PA-459 has a very good set of sights. The front is a fiber-optic rod set into a high protected housing. The rear is a detachable aperture that is adjustable for windage and elevation correction. It too is well-protected. The magazine capacity is five two and three-quarter inch shells, or four three inch magnums. Like the PA-08, the 459 comes with a magazine plug to limit the capacity to two shells, to comply with Federal migratory bird regulations. The PA-459 comes with a removable choke tube that is ported and grooved for easy removal. This shotgun, with a good tight choke tube from George Trulock ( would make an excellent turkey gun. Trulock makes choke tubes to fit just about every shotgun on the planet, and I have found none better for making good, tight, even patterns for turkey hunting. The PA-459 has an eighteen and one-half inch barrel, and an overall length of thirty-nine and one-half inches. It weighs in at six pounds, nine ounces on my scale.

For shooting these new Weatherby shotguns, I assembled together a variety of ammunition, from light target loads to three inch magnum buckshot and Winchester buck-and-ball PDX1 ammo. The PDX1 is a very versatile and effective fighting load. It throws three 00 plated buckshot and a one ounce rifled slug with every pull of the trigger. The patterns with the PDX1 were superb from the PA-459 and PA-08 shotguns! At fifteen yards, the slug was centered, with the three buckshot spaced evenly about four inches radially from the center, like planets orbiting the Sun. For use within an apartment or in a neighborhood with homes close together, a load of birdshot is a good choice. At across-the-room distances, that shot load will make a fist-sized rat hole through flesh, but the lethality will diminish quickly after passing through a wall.

A pump shotgun is a very effective close to moderate range fighting tool, more effective than any handgun, and is also easy to shoot accurately. Contrary to myth, you still have to accurately aim or point a shotgun. You can’t just pull the trigger and expect the shot pattern to cover everything in the general compass direction. It doesn’t work that way in the real world. Another popular shotgun myth is that with a pump, all you have to do is to rack the action and your aggressors will wet his pants, fall to his knees, and melt on the spot. That assumption will get you killed. More likely, they will fire in the direction of the sound, or maybe dive through a doorway into the room where your kids are sleeping. The intruder into your home has planned his action, and assumed the risk. He should not hear the action of the shotgun. He should hear nothing before the load of buckshot slams into his chest. This sounds cruel and might seem harsh, but a gunfight is a serious situation, and as Bill Jordan was famous for stating, there is no second-place winner. In such a situation, I would rather have a good twelve gauge shotgun in my hands than anything else, and these Weatherby shotguns are good choices. I am especially fond of the PA-459, but the PA-08 will do just as well. However, I prefer a good dot sight, such as a Trijicon Reflex, and the 459 makes the mounting of that sight quick and easy. The trigger pulls were just about right for a fighting shotgun on both the PA-08 and the PA-459, with pull weights measuring five pounds, ten ounces and four pounds, seven ounces, respectively.

I usually do not recommend Turkish-made shotguns for serious purposes. It is not that they lack quality. They certainly do not; I find Turkish shotguns to be tough and reliable. It is that lots of foreign shotguns come to the US market, but are not supported by a company with the staying power to be around when parts or service are needed. Weatherby has been around for well over a half century, and they have an excellent dealer network and customer support. Therefore, I do make an exception in the case of these Weatherby shotguns. They are well-made, reliable, rugged, and affordable. They also wear the Weatherby brand, and I highly recommend them.

Check out these and other Weatherby firearms online at

For the location of a Weatherby dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order these shotguns online, go to

For a closer look at the excellent Winchester PDX1 fighting ammunition, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Weatherby PA-459 (left) and PA-08 (right) fighting shotguns.



Winchester PDX1 load throws three pellets of 00 buckshot and a one-ounce rifled slug.




Slide lock release.



Crossbolt safety.