Over the course of the past several months, I
have fired a few weapons from FNH-USA, and have been
highly impressed with each. FN builds many of the weapons that
are used by our soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan,
and they are battle-proven, well-crafted arms.
During the past couple of months, I have been
playing around a bit with this SLP Mark I semi-automatic shotgun
from FNH. The Mark I is built on the short stroke piston
principle, and is in function very much like its cousins, the Browning
Gold and Winchester Super X2, and owes its lineage to the
older Winchester Super X. The design is a good one, and works
very well. Upon firing, gas is bled from two ports in the
barrel, which pushes upon the gas piston, which in turn pushes
upon the sleeve which contains the operating rod. The rod
impacts the bolt carrier, propelling it rearward along with the
bolt, and a spring pushes the bolt/carrier forward, chambering a
shell. The short stroke system works very smoothly, and is
cleaner than some other semi-automatic systems. The Mark I comes
with two gas pistons; one for lighter loads, and the other for
heavy magnum loads, whether they be 2 ¾ or 3 inch shells.
Changing pistons takes about a minute, and is easy to do without
the use of any tools.
The Mark I wears a twenty-two inch barrel, and
has a full length magazine tube which holds eight rounds, for a
loaded ready-to-go capacity of nine. The barrel wears a set of
good rifle sights, with the front being a fiber optic orange
rod, which is very visible in most lighting conditions. The
barrel also has a cantilevered scope base attached which hangs
over the receiver for the mounting of a riflescope or other
optic. The base is not Picatinny compatible, so I could not
mount an ACOG or Reflex sight,
but it will accept any Weaver style rings. Packed in a
hard plastic case, the shotgun comes with two interchangeable
choke tubes and a choke wrench. The tubes provided are of
improved cylinder and modified constriction, and are also
approved for steel shot. The Mark I uses standard Invector
choke tubes, of which there are many available from
Browning/Winchester, as well as the aftermarket. More on that
later. While I prefer a top tang safety to a crossbolt type, the
safety on the Mark I is large and easy to use, and best of all,
it is easily reversible for left-handed shooters such as myself.
The SLP Mark I is built to be a fighting
shotgun. Many call this type of weapon a “defensive”
shotgun, and the Mark I can certainly fill that roll. However,
it is also well-suited for offense, as well as defense. A twelve
gauge, properly loaded, is a formidable weapon at close range,
and is also very effective out to 150 yards and beyond when
stoked with good quality slugs. Up close, nothing available to
the common man equals a shotgun. I have often heard it stated,
by people who should know better, that with a shotgun you just
point in the general direction and fire. That is not true at
all. Across the distance of a bedroom or even down most hallways
in a home, a load of shot will open up no bigger than a man’s
fist. However, at that distance, that load of bird or buckshot
will blast a rat-hole clean through an opponent in a gunfight.
You still have to aim the weapon, but across a room, a twelve
gauge delivers like nothing else, except maybe a ten gauge. That
huge wad of shot is devastating at close range. I prefer bird
shot myself at close range, like number 5 or 6, but many others
prefer buckshot. Doesn’t matter much a twenty feet. Out
farther, like forty yards or so, the buckshot is a better
choice, and beyond that, the slug is the load of choice.
It used to be that shotgun slugs were pretty
inaccurate at distances exceeding 75 yards or so, but with
today’s modern slugs and rifled barrels, a shotgun can be as
accurate as a good bolt-action rifle. The key to this is
shooting the right slug. One of my favorites is the Winchester
Rackmaster. Another is one which I have just started using is
the Extreme Shock saboted
frangible slug. Made of compressed tungsten, it is built to
fragment in soft tissue.
While the Mark I would make a dandy offensive
shotgun for police or military, it is also available to the rest
of us, and would fill the role perfectly as a bedside shotgun.
While pump guns are very good, I prefer a good semi-auto for a
fighting shotgun. I do not know why, but many “experts”
claim that a pump is more reliable. I do not agree. A good pump
gun is more reliable than a bad auto, but a good auto like the
Mark I or a Benelli M4 is just as reliable as a pump. I
often hear the phrase that “the sound of racking the slide on
a pump gun will scare the intruder so badly that he
will……..whatever.” I don’t agree with that either. First
of all, the sound of racking the slide will do nothing more than
give away your position. If you hear someone breaking into your
home at two in the morning, it ain’t the local Girl Scouts
selling cookies, and the sound of the slide on a pump gun will
probably not impress them. The intruder should not know where
you are, and he should hear nothing. Maybe he will see a brief
flash of light from your muzzle, but the load of shot should
arrive before the sound, and he won’t ever hear a thing. I
also like the semi-auto for its ability to be fired one-handed
if needed. Sure, you can hold a pump gun between your legs and
work the slide if necessary, but why? A good semi-auto shotgun
is just as reliable as a good semi-auto pistol or rifle. I never
hear proponents of the pump shotgun promoting the use of pump
action rifles and pistols. I have nothing at all against a good
pump shotgun, and they are cheap and reliable, but I like the
advantages that a good semi-auto offers for a fighting shotgun,
and the SLP Mark I is one of the best.
Now I would like to get into the versatility of
this shotgun with the addition of a couple of accessories. FNH-USA
markets the Mark I, and all of their shotguns, as fighting guns.
With their matte black finish and composite stocks, they fill
that role well and really look the part. However, the Mark I can
be much more than that, and the key is the interchangeable choke
tubes. Many manufacturers of fighting shotguns fit them with a
fixed cylinder bore or maybe a fixed improved cylinder choke,
but FN has, thankfully, fitted the Mark I with choke tubes.
Seeing this shotgun as much more than just a gun for resolving
social conflicts, I called George Trulock at Trulock
Chokes and ordered one of his legendary turkey choke
tubes, and also one of his rifled choke tubes. Filling its role
as a bedside gun every night, the Mark I is very well suited to
make an excellent turkey gun. It can easily handle the heavy
three inch magnum turkey loads, the twenty-two inch barrel and
rifle sights make for a handy woods gun, and the sling swivels
are also an excellent feature on a hunting gun. Screwing in the
Trulock turkey choke, I tested the Mark I with number 5 shot
three-inch magnum loads out to sixty yards, and the gun
patterned perfectly for bagging a turkey. The matte black finish
and plastic stock makes for a good, rugged shotgun that can
withstand being banged around in the woods without fear of
damaging the finish, and the non-reflective finish will not
spook the birds.
I have wondered for a while now if a rifled
choke could stabilize a modern slug for good accuracy as well as
could a fully rifled barrel, and that is why I ordered the
Trulock Slug Mate extended tube. I mounted a Mueller
illuminated 2 to 7 power scope atop the cantilevered mount with Warne
Quick Detach rings. Having a scope that can be added or removed
without tools adds greatly to the versatility of this shotgun. I
tried three different Winchester slug loads that exhibited good,
but not excellent accuracy from the Slug Mate in the Mark I,
grouping into about one and one-half to two inches at fifty
yards, which is acceptable for deer hunting at those ranges.
However, the Extreme Shock BD-50 round was really impressive,
grouping into one ragged hole at 100 yards! I was expecting
pretty good accuracy, but nothing like that good! These loads
have a saboted compressed tungsten bullet loaded into the 2 ¾
inch shell, at an advertised velocity of 2000 feet per second. I
tried repeatedly to get a reading over my chronograph with these
loads, but could not, perhaps due to the muzzle blast or the
sabot separating from the bullet as designed. I will just have
to take Extreme Shock’s word for it, which I have no reason to
doubt, as I have found their advertised velocities of their
other products to be accurate. With a bullet weight of 325
grains, these loads should be devastating on flesh. I hope to
try these out on a Russian boar hog very soon.
I fired the Mark I with a variety of loads from
light one ounce target loads to heavy turkey loads and the
aforementioned high performance slugs. The shotgun cycled
perfectly with every load tested. The gas pistons are marked for
loads below one and one-half and above one and one-half ounces,
but I found that the gun would cycle just fine with the heavier
gas piston in place, and recommend its use for all of the slug
loads, regardless of weight. I tried the lighter piston with
some of the slugs that were below one and one-half ounces, but
the heavier piston is highly recommended for the Extreme Shock
slug load. Even during extended bench testing sessions with the
Mark I, recoil was not bothersome. The gun is very soft on the
shoulder, and that is another reason that this gas-operated auto
is a good choice for a fighting shotgun.
A good semi-auto shotgun of the quality of this
Mark I is not inexpensive, but it is a good value. Selling for
about the same price as a quality handgun, the Mark I offers
much more power for home defense or as a police shotgun, but the
versatility of the Mark I to easily fill the role of a turkey
gun in the Spring and a deer gun in the Fall, while protecting
the homestead all year long makes the SLP Mark I a really good
Check out the entire line of quality FN products
To order a wide variety of high performance
shotgun chokes for almost any shotgun made, go to www.trulockchokes.com.
To order Extreme Shock ammunition, go to www.extremeshockusa.net.
To find an FNH dealer near you, click on the
DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order FNH products online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
|For a list of dealers where you can
buy this gun, go to:
||To buy this gun online, go to:
Trulock Slug mate rifled slug choke tube.
Trulock turkey choke.
Winchester's slug loads.
Extreme Shock slugs.
Winchester's Extended Range turkey load.
A load of number 8 bird shot at 20 feet, typical
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