Not another budget pump-action shotgun, you moan. But here’s the deal—pump-action shotguns are reliable, function nearly flawlessly, are good for home defense—especially for the first time gun buyer—and besides, dove season is here. With one look, experienced shotgunners will probably want to ask, “Just tell me. Is it a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500 clone?” On the contrary, Rock Island Armory’s M5 pump-action shotgun is neither.
The M5 is actually based on the underrated, now obsolete High Standard Manufacturing Flite-King pump-action shotguns. High Standard used to market its shotguns as the “world’s fastest firing pump-action shotguns.” They eject by gravity alone. Sounds crazy, but flip the M5 upside down, click the slide release and it does just that.
Dare I say it? The Rock Island M5 has a smoother action than any Mossberg or Remington I’ve encountered. Some shotguns’ pump action, especially right out of the box feel gritty or like it wants to catch, but not the M5. This baby’s forearm slides quick like a hot knife through butter. What helps? Rock Island’s dual action bars improvement to the High Standard’s single.
Some of you might argue that for a little bit more money you could purchase a Maverick 88. However, the M5 is still an improvement over the Maverick—for $100 less! The M5 does not have a plastic, or even an aluminum trigger assembly, but steel. Where some manufacturers of budget shotguns skimp, Rock Island doesn’t take shortcuts. The black polymer speed-feed style stock and forearm are the only plastic parts on the gun. The receiver and safety are steel.
Constructed of precision-reamed ordnance steel, the 20-inch barrel holds 2.75-inch and 3-inch shells. It has a cylinder bore to pattern shot widely and quickly. It holds five rounds.
When you first look at the M5, two features pop up—the extended heat shield and jeweled bolt, which Rock Island calls “damascened” bolt. The heat shield essentially aids in keeping your hands from burning on a hot barrel after a lot of shooting, but it also adds a cool-looking factor that other budget shotguns don’t have.
Typical on shotguns is the M5’s cross bolt safety. What isn’t typical is its placement. The cross bolt safety is located in front of the trigger guard for quicker, easier access. Nothing fancy on the sights, though. It includes a bead sight, typical of any shotgun—be it high-end or budget.
The durable, corrosion-resistant parkerized finish makes the M5 one tough cookie and shooting it doesn’t disappoint either. It is smooth, accurate, reliable, and functions flawlessly. It isn’t picky on shells, so load it up with a #8 dove load during the day, and feed it slugs at night. It’s a bit heavy at seven pounds, but that should help to absorb some of the recoil.
Is the M5 as finely polished as a Benelli? No, it isn’t. However, at $200 there really is no reason to complain. You might find a few machine marks on the inside and some rough edges, but nothing that would effect the functionality of the shotgun.
Rock Island builds a very dependable 1911; the M5 shotguns are the same. The price is unquestionably great. You could call it “cheap,” but that doesn’t reflect the top quality Rock Island puts into this shotty.
Specifications and Features
- Gauge: 12 gauge
- Action: Pump-action
- Chamber: 2.75” and 3” shells
- Capacity: 5 rounds
- Barrel: 20”
- Safety: Cross bolt
- Stock: Black polymer
- Finish: Parkerized
- Overall length: 40”
- Weight: 7.5 pounds unloaded
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Buy it here.