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Weatherby PA-459 Threat Response

July 11, 2012
by Bill Waugaman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

If someone mentions Weatherby shotguns, what comes to mind? Is it the craftsmanship and functionality of Orion over/unders or side-by-sides, or the exceptional beauty of an Athena over/under, or the rugged dependability of their semi-autos and pumps for hunting? Now you can add in a new category for Weatherby shotguns...Threat Response.

This is relatively new ground for Weatherby firearms, and personal protection is one of the hottest markets at this time. More and more people are looking at self-defense, but still shy away from handguns. This market is a place where the Weatherby PA-459 TR (Threat Response) will shine.

Before my critique of the PA-459, a quick summary of the engineering and design features in no specific order:

Article Video

-- 12 ga., 3" chamber

-- 5+1 capacity with 2 3/4" (4+1 capacity with 3")

-- 18 1/2" chrome lined barrel (20 1/2" overall length with choke)

Article Photos

Weatherby PA-459 Threat Response

-- Removable ported cylinder choke tube (extended)

-- CNC machined receiver

-- 39" overall length

Fact Box

The corresponding video was produced in October 2013 with an updated PA-459TR and includes additional pattern testing.

-- 13 1/2" length of pull

-- Approximately 6.5 pounds

-- Black synthetic ergonomic pistol grip stock

-- Rubber textured grip areas Matte black metalwork

-- M-16 style front sight with green fiber optic insert

-- Adjustable rear LPA-style ghost ring sight

-- Mil-spec Picatinny accessory rail

-- Extended & enlarged slide release

When you look at the features of any firearm, you're looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of research hours, engineering and design work, quality control and marketing. On the PA-459, some features merit additional discussion.

The light weight, short overall length and short length of pull makes it very easy to handle. Smaller stature men and women would not find this shotgun as intimidating as larger shotguns.

Whoever came up with the idea of putting a pistol grip on a personal defense shotgun is a genius. When shouldering a shotgun with a pistol grip, the hand, wrist and forearm are in a comfortable position. For shooting 'from the hip', the same is true. In my opinion, this will give better control of the shotgun's recoil than a standard shotgun stock.

I was a little skeptical of the rubber textured grip areas at first. After just a couple rounds, my mind was changed. This is definitely a nice touch for this shotgun when you consider its use and purpose.

The M-16 style front sight and LPA-style ghost ring rear sight work beautifully together making target acquisition very quick and smooth.

While the picatinny rail on the receiver is designed primarily for mounting optics, an optional TR Accessory Rail can be attached to the end of the feed tube for flashlights, laser pointers, etc., options more suited for personal defense.

While some would think a chamber capable of a 3 1/2" shells is necessary, it is a smart move by Weatherby to keep the chamber at 3" for two reasons. First off, the shorter stroke on the slide. A shotgun with a 3 1/2" chamber requires the same length of stroke when firing a 2 3/4", 3" or 3 1/2" shells; that 1/2" makes a big difference. Secondly, the recoil in a smaller, lighter shotgun is more noticeable. As a test, I fired several rounds of Remington Hypersonic 3" shells loaded with #2 steel shot; these shells have slightly more recoil than a 3 1/2" Remington Nitro Steel Magnum. The experience was not pleasant. The 1" thick recoil pad was a shoulder saver.

Normally, when a review is written, it is only from the perspective of the writer. With the PA-459, I had the opportunity to get the opinions from 10 law enforcement officers, most of who are with the Mercer County (PA) Critical Incident Response Team. I also put this shotgun in the hands of 10 shooting enthusiasts at Hidden Valley Sportsmen's Club. All had an opportunity to shoot the PA-459 multiple times and with a variety of shells. All were asked what they liked most and least about the PA-459, and what they thought of the PA-459 for home defense. The most common responses were:

Liked most -- light weight * good sights (front and rear) * smooth action * size and ease in handling * pistol grip

Liked least -- the fit of the stock * choke porting * nothing to dislike

The PA-459 for home defense -- "great", "good", "excellent" * "Would be very effective" * "I would have one in my home"

In total, several hundred rounds were put through the PA-459; shot sizes from #9 to rifled slugs, low power target loads to Remington's Hypersonic, old shells, turkey loads, duck loads, geese loads, Winchester PDX1's, Federal Law Enforcement LE133 00 Buckshot and a wide variety of inexpensive 00 Buckshot from various manufacturers. The gun was not cleaned at all and there were only two minor cycling problems; under the circumstances, that is impressive.

Shooting such a wide variety of shells and observing the targets, the ported, open choke tube held a relatively tight pattern. As the experts would say, check your pattern to see how a shell is performing in your shotgun. Many factors come in to play and affect the pattern.

Installing an Improved Cylinder or Modified choke tube, the PA-459 could also work for a variety of hunting applications since it is small, light weight, easy to handle and aim, and the picatinny rail can be utilized for various optics. Weatherby only has an Open choke tube for the PA-459; other choke tubes would have to come from a third party.

My personal likes and dislikes of Weatherby's PA-459 are almost a repeat of the 10 law enforcement officers and 10 shooting enthusiasts. Spending more time shooting the PA-459, I have a couple minor critiques and recommendations for Weatherby.

First, the crossbolt safety, located in the trigger guard just in front of the pistol grip, must be pushed in with the end of the trigger finger while firmly holding the pistol grip. With short fingers, I found myself loosening the hold on the pistol grip in order to depress the safety, and then regripping. While I see this as a possible improvement, others who shot the PA-459TR were completely comfortable with the safety as it is.

Second, the extended and enlarged slide release is very nice. I think it would be better located directly in front of the trigger guard instead of left of center.

While I found the stock comfortable, others did not. When the team at Weatherby begins to make updates to the PA-459 in the future, an adjustable AR-type stock would be an excellent enhancement.

By far, the greatest attention getter for everyone who handed the Weatherby PA-459 was the words stamped on the barrel "Made in Turkey". Even the people who had nothing but praise for the PA-459 were dumbfounded; a shotgun of this quality and the Weatherby name coming from a country known for inexpensive firearms. Keep in mind that some beautiful shotguns also come from Turkey.

The following question was asked, "With a reputation for producing inexpensive shotguns, why Turkey?" To paraphrase the reply received from Ed Weatherby, "We work with several factories, some produce a completed product, others produce component parts and there is a fair amount of amalgamation. The key issue in combating the negative reputation of Turkish produced products is how the importer interacts with them. We've had our engineers involved from the very beginning, sorting out the best facilities for both parts production and completed units. They spent months on endurance and destructive testing, redesigning and modifying materials until the finished samples could fully satisfy our QC standards. Once the design was finalized, our engineers and QC people inspect every gun of every shipment prior to leaving Turkey. While there, the also inspect the parts that will be used in the following months production. We also do "lot testing" here at our facility in California as an ongoing QC process. So you can see, we've put a lot of time, money and expertise into improving the products that come from the factories that we work with." What a great response to a tough question from a company that prides itself on quality and craftsmanship.

The Weatherby PA-459 Threat Response model tested has an MSRP of $499. Street price can vary substantially making this shotgun very reasonable. If you like the idea of making this a dual duty shotgun for home defense and hunting, Weatherby offers the PA-459 with swivel rings and digital camo finished stock/slide. MSRP for the digital camo model is only $50 more.

www.weatherby.com

First Published July 2011

Updated May 23, 2013

 
 

 

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