Since FN was already sending us a 3-Gun focused rifle, it seemed only natural they would send along their SLP Competition 12-Gauge shotgun. I would have liked to run the two guns together in a 3-Gun match, but weather and my schedule prohibited it. That said, we did manage a thorough test of the SLP Competition.
Once the shotgun showed up at my FFL, I was pleased when I opened the case to find a bright blue finish on the receiver and magazine tube indicating that it was their competition series. The color is rather striking and would set your shotgun apart from other competitor’s guns. Taking a quick look at the shotgun at the dealer revealed a rather nice shotgun but I also quickly identified a couple of oversights that I will get to later.
Let’s start with breaking the shotgun down. Please keep in mind the photos were taken after my range trip where I shot WAY more 12 gauge in a few hour period than is probably wise.
The bright blue anodized mag tube cover is a beautiful shade of blue with a nice laser marked FNH USA logo in case you forgot who made your shotgun. The SLP Competition has an 8+1 capacity keeping it legal in all 3-Gun matches that allow a semi-auto.
FN fitted an easy to pick up fiber optic front sight to the SLP as well as a folding rear sight on the 24″ vent rib barrel. Included with the gun they sent us was an Invector Plus pattern extended improved cylinder choke.
The receiver is drilled and tapped for a rail, although none was included with the shotgun. The shotgun also featured FN branding on just about every surface that would accommodate a roll mark, again reminding you who made your shotgun in case you forgot.
FN did work on the loading port a bit to speed up load two and load four reloads. I struggled with the load four method a bit, but the load two was easy enough that it made me look like a pro. I believe that the large, flat, smooth shell elevator had a lot to do with the loading ease.
The loading port leads me to my first gripe about the shotgun. I would have rather preferred a higher visibility follower since the unit used is clearly upgraded from the stock one. When checking the shotgun after a string of fire, I found myself having a hard time determining if the follower was a shell when standing under a shadow.
My shooting partner for the day, Scott, remarked that he didn’t much care for the stock. He stated that it didn’t drop quite enough for him, I felt that it wasn’t an issue, though. If you are thinking about buying one of these shotguns it might do you well to try shouldering it a few times before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
Even though Scott didn’t like the stock, I was able to shoulder the gun and hit whatever I was aiming for without much issue. The recoil pad did a pretty good job of soaking up some of the felt recoil; my shoulder felt a lot better after around 500 shells fired than I thought it would.
When you take a look at the charging handle and bolt release, it is easy to see that we have arrived at gripe number two. For a competition shotgun, both are woefully undersized and are in desperate need of being addressed. If you look at the Mossberg 930 JM Pro that comes in around half the price you see that they were even able to offer an oversize bolt release and charging handle.
I broke the shotgun down to take a look at the gas operated action and found that it is refreshingly simple. The gas piston is interchangeable for other loads, but if you are shooting 3-Gun, you should only need the one. While taking a look at the action, I was a bit disheartened to find that it would be a bit of a chore to replace the magazine tube with a larger one if you chose to do so.
Since I had already broken the shotgun down, I might as well take it apart and give it a quick clean. Just like almost every semi-auto shotgun the charging handle pops right out and the bolt slides forward out of the receiver. The bolt is a two piece unit and appears to be the same as the one used in the Browning Maxus shotguns.
The SLP Competition shoulders well and points naturally for me, as I said previously Scott wasn’t as impressed as I was. Once the shotgun was shouldered, the bright orange bead was super easy to acquire and land shot after shot on target.
I spent some time transitioning between smaller targets (shotshells stuck on a string) and found the shotgun swings rather nicely. As long as I did my part I was smooth in the transitions and was able to move to the next target in the blink of an eye.
Out at the range, I went through roughly 500 rounds of various birdshot without a single malfunction. I probably should have spent less time dumping the mag onto my steel target, but what the hell, why not. I was able to rip through the tube pretty quickly but not as fast as I have been able to with other shotguns.
We did manage to pattern the shotgun at 25 yards; it did a pretty solid job of dumping the shot into a two-foot radius with pretty nice uniformity. If you needed to use it to shoot aerial targets, it would do the closer ones in a pinch with out much of an issue.
After spending a day on the range with the FN SLP Competition, I found myself wanting more out of the shotgun. The trigger breaks at a very agreeable 5.5 pounds, but there is far more over travel than there should be. On top of the almost great trigger, the lack of an oversized bolt release or charging handle leave me stumped as to why they weren’t included. My final gripe about the shotgun is the lack of a high visibility follower, not exactly a deal breaker but it is something I would address if I were to buy one.