Back in January during the SHOT show, Steve and I ran across this behemoth during the range day event. They had a giant trailer with flags waving in the wind, pretty girls giving away t-shirts and hats and basically doing everything they could think of to grab your attention. It worked, and I was lured into their display like a red-neck is to shiny things. Once inside I was shown what all of the hyperbole was about. As it turns out, the DP-12 is a bullpup style, double-barrel 12 gauge pump action shotgun. Yes, that’s right, two barrels and pump action. I must admit, I was a little perplexed as to how this might operate. But, the way it is designed to work is actually quite clever. Never one to shirk a challenge, we accepted the offer to take one back to our range and try it out.
Our shotgun arrived in a cardboard box at our local FFL. There were a few gawkers trying to make sense of what they were seeing. We took it out of the box and started hunting for the serial number. We looked in all the conventional places. On the side near the barrel. Underneath the barrels. Under and around the trigger housing. Pretty soon there were four of us turning it in circles, flipping it over, looking high and low to no avail. Finally, after what seemed like a good 10 minutes of fruitlessly trying to locate it, we discovered it stamped into the stock on the left side in about 8 point font. I guess if you’re going to make an unconventional shotgun design, you might as well go all the way.
Speaking of that unconventional design, let’s examine what makes this shotgun different. As I said, the design is a bullpup, double-barrel, pump action 12 gauge shotgun. That’s a mouthful. When someone says to me that they have a double-barreled 12 gauge, I immediately think, “coach gun” or “skeet gun” or something similar. Something that loads two rounds, you close the breech, pull the trigger (once or twice), then crack it open and jam in another couple of rounds. That is not what we have here. This loads via the pump action method, fills both chambers simultaneously, then you pull the trigger twice to fire the shells (you cannot fire both barrels at once). Rack it again and the expended rounds drop out of the bottom with two more up to bat. The barrels are arranged in a side-by-side configuration. It will shoot any 2 ¾” shells and will also fire 3” magnum loads. It has a maximum capacity of 16 rounds, 14 in the magazine tubes and two in the chambers. It is 25.5” in length overall with the barrels being 18 7/8” long. It weighs in at 9 lbs. 12 ozs unloaded. The safety and slide release are both ambidextrous, with the safety being an “AR” style rotating switch. The choke tubes are the Tru-Choke thread pattern. It has a picatinny rail mounted along the top surface and it comes with the forend mounted grip. The unit has an MSRP of $1,395.00.
Once it was out of the box, the first thing that was clearly evident was the weight. This beast is heavy. Nearly 10 pounds without a single shot shell loaded into it. A sling will certainly help redistribute some of that heft, but as a hand held unit, it can be a bit much for some of those that are smaller in stature. Of course, a 12 gauge would not be my recommendation as the weapon of choice for a 100 pound person. Moot point? Probably. But I couldn’t help thinking about that aspect as I was cranking off round after round without the aid of a sling.
Now, let’s be clear. The DP-12 is very capable of some respectable devastation. The very nature of a 12 gauge assures that. The addition of the second barrel takes it one step further, but not without some tradeoffs. One of the nuances that I kept running into was training. I’ve shot pump-action shotguns of all makes. They’re reliable, they’re usually accurate (or accurate enough), and there is a definitive “rhythm” one develops when properly trained to shoot one. If you’ve spent any real time firing off pump actions, then you’re well aware of the sequence of events to fire it rapidly. Rack. Trigger Press. Rack. Or, clack-clack, bang, clack-clack, bang and so it goes. With the DP-12, I had to re-learn all that ingrained muscle memory. Clack-clack, bang, bang, clack-clack, bang, bang, clack-clack. It’s not hard to do, but I had to think about it once in a while. Like learning how to drive a manual transmission, when you first learn, there is a level of coordination you must memorize. Once that’s done, you can drive nearly any manual. This is like that. I grew up with the rack-bang-rack procedure. With this new rack-bang-bang-rack, I found myself often enough jerking on the forend after just the first shot, only to find that it wouldn’t budge. Another trigger pull and we’re all set to go. It’s just something I’d have to practice more to be really proficient with it. I’m not saying it’s bad, or that it is somehow a detraction, more like a distraction. Like anything new, training would make me a better, more competent shooter with this platform.
One item I was unhappy with was the exclusion of any sights whatsoever. At this price point, this should come to the end user ready to go. Granted, you don’t need fancy sights and some would say shotgun sights are a waste, but in my opinion, sights are a must on anything that requires the shooter to be able to predict within reason where your shot will land. I used the flat top to fire off a box of target shells. I was fairly accurate with it overall, so the barrels seemed to be well aligned, but once I added a reflex sight, it was much easier to pick up a good sight picture. The sight mounted easily and stayed in place. For me, the rail is further away from my eye hole than I’d like it to be, but it worked nonetheless. Once you obtained a good cheek weld, it was easy to traverse the barrels in any direction rapidly. The gun was overall easy to handle due to its overall short length. In my opinion, this design makes an excellent close-quarters weapon. Mount a light on the end, throw on a sling and a decent reflex sight and you’ve got your hands full of a very menacing “get out of my house” tool.
I took this gun to a few different ranges over a few months period of time. I wanted to spend some time getting used to the unique firing sequence. I loaded it up with target shells and set to work. The recoil pad has dual springs in it to provide some damping of the felt recoil. It does a pretty good job at helping out. The pad fits well into your shoulder pocket and ergonomically, your hands fall right in place with all the controls within easy reach. As I stated before, the heft is what you immediately notice. Once the magazines are loaded, it helps balance it out somewhat and that helps make it feel less bulky.
Racking a round is fairly conventional, press the oversize slide release down and manipulate the slide aft. The vertical grip on the forend allows you to get a little more leverage on the slide mechanism. With rounds now chambered, we were ready to see what this thing was all about.
The first two shells sent downrange were both accurate and manageable. The gun “kicked” a bit, but in comparison, the KSG, for instance, has much more felt recoil. Because there is no need to rack again for the follow up shot, that second shot is very rapid to get off quickly. Most of the recoil travels backwards into your shoulder, so there isn’t a lot of muzzle rise. That in turn, allows for the follow up shot to be pretty accurate. Overall, the DP-12 was very manageable and behaved well.
I decided that we’d also want to check a few other things that I’d heard about this gun. One Youtube reviewer showed that whenever he lowered the barrel and racked the gun, it would misfeed. He was able to demonstrate that and repeat it during his review. So, I thought I’d better check to see if that was an issue with our DP-12 as well. I’m happy to report that was not the case at all. Lowering the barrel like you might do in CQB conditions did not affect the DP-12’s ability to feed new shells into the chambers. I’m not sure if he got a bad sample, or some improvements were made from the time he did his review to this one, but, whatever the reason, we did not see that issue at all.
We did suffer one event that we actually caught on video. As you can see by the video, I fired the first round and the rack lock let go and the forend retracted. I was not putting any stress on the grip that I don’t ordinarily put there, so the event was a bit of a mystery to me. This only happened one time throughout the test period I had the shotgun. Otherwise, the gun ran without a hitch.
I like to use Winchester’s PDX shells during testing, so I loaded this up with 16 rounds and cut loose. These shells carry a pretty hefty punch. The recoil effect is something just shy of what you might feel firing turkey loads. The butt pad does a very good job of soaking up a fair amount of the felt recoil. It appears that the springs they mounted within it actually work and are not just a gimmicky selling point. The stock being made of metal, however, did have an issue I complained about on the KSG. On a cold day, or if this unit gets cold soaked, it is VERY uncomfortable to put your face on. For the life of me, I don’t know why manufacturers haven’t worked this out yet.
Overall, I was happy with the positioning of the controls and the ability to easily reach and manipulate them. The gun handled well, and as mentioned, was easy to traverse. While the gun is heavy, once it is shouldered you tend not to notice it as much. Even with it fully loaded, it did not feel out of balance or much heavier than it did coming out of the box. That is not to say this thing is light weight by any stretch, but, just that it didn’t reach boat-anchor status with shot shells loaded up.
Accuracy was very acceptable. Our TRS-25 red dot site had to be adjusted slightly to deal with the positioning of the barrels next to each other. However, the deflection I used still put the rounds largely where I wanted them. You’ll notice that most of the shots fell low and left despite the dot being dead center. I’m sure spending more time adjusting the sight would have yielded better results overall. Patterning was very good overall with the largest pattern being the Federal Personal Defense shells. Those patterned at about 12” at 10 yards or so. The PDX ammo seemed to throw the buck shot in unpredictable places. Our slug tests had good grouping, especially out of two barrels (the hole closest to the center was a wad that went through the target).
Racking the unit did what it was supposed to do, but one more thing I noticed was the expended shells were bouncing off my strong hand wrist as they were ejected. I ended up with a few cuts and sustained some bruising which was unpleasant, to say the least. Admittedly, bottom ejecting ports have a tendency to do that, but it was still not fun to deal with. Gloves would not have solved the problem as the shells were hitting well upstream of where the glove would have ended.
In the end, this is what it is advertised to be. A heavy-hitting piece of hardware capable of serious devastation. It shoots well and is fully ambidextrous and it well made, well thought out. However, at this price point, I can think of several other platforms I’d be more likely to buy first. The old saying, “To each, his own” comes to mind with this. I think it’s something you have to want and know that you’ll spend the time mastering it and making it your own. For the casual or strictly home defense point of view, this is probably too complicated and too heavy for that purpose. For law enforcement, I think this platform would have far more practicality. That’s just my opinion, and I’m sure you’ll have yours, but I don’t think this is at all practical for home considering the the cost and complexity in that role. That same money will buy you a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500, a case of ammo, range time and lunch. Having said that, the whole point of writing these review is to give you some of my thoughts on the equipment and then suggest you try it out for yourself. Ultimately, the consumer and law enforcement will decide if this design is accepted and becomes as common as those shotguns I’ve mentioned above, or it slips into obscurity as a footnote in shotgun design.