Some of the best pump shotguns are listed here. Pump guns are usually the most reliable type of repeating shotguns, period. They've been around for more than a century, and their simplicity and reliability means they continue to keep and gain many fans each year.
Pump guns have advantages over semi-autos, in that they are usually lighter and less expensive, and generally more reliable. Disadvantages include more recoil and manual operation. Below are some of the best pump shotguns on the market (and in history), alphabetically by manufacturer.
I own a Benelli Supernova, and I like it. I don't think anything other than a Benelli would have gotten me to try serious shooting with a pump shotgun again. I have put it to use at the range and in the field, and I'm very pleased with its performance.
The Nova has many fans, and the Supernova (SN) is even more versatile. Both are available in 12 gauge (3.5" chamber), and the Nova can be had in 20 gauge. While the Nova's stock and receiver are built as one unit, the SN allows drop adjustment using shims. The SN also offers a ComforTech recoil-absorbing stock, and a pistol-grip stock is also available.
About the only thing I'd change about them is the location of the safety (trigger guard), but at least it's in front of the trigger, rather than behind.
They also offer M3 and M4 models.
2. Browning BPS
The Browning BPS has been around since about 1977, and these days it can be had in a wide range of gauges, including 410, 28, 20, 16, 12, and 10. Hard to find a shotgun that's made in so many different bores.
I have never known Browning to make junky guns, and the BPS has a good reputation. The top-mounted thumb safety is ambidextrous, and it's just where a shotgun safety ought to be. It also features bottom ejection, so if you're shooting with someone, you're not slinging empty shells their way at the range or in the duck blind. Bottom ejection also means it's not as easy to just drop one shell into the action, something I often do at the range.
The BPS's steel receiver gives it a strength advantage over some guns, but adds weight.
The Ithaca Model 37 is one of the longest-lived pump gun actions to stay in demand. The bottom ejection is a good feature that keeps your empty shells from flying off to the side, but as mentioned above (BPS), it's not quite as convenient to drop a shell into the receiver when you want to chamber just one.
Unfortunately, the safety is not only on the trigger guard, it's located behind the trigger. To me, this is the very worst location for a shotgun safety. But that hasn't stopped the M37 from becoming something of a legend. Steel receiver on most models, aluminum receiver on Ultralights. Available in 12 and 20 gauge, in a variety of models.
The Mossberg 500 is a success story. It's been around for more than 45 years and has many fans. My first repeating shotgun was a 500, and it was pretty good, but would occasionally malfunction, so I traded it off.
Mossberg pumps all have tang-mounted ambidextrous safeties, which is good. They're usually plastic and tend to break, which is bad. Their alloy receivers have earned them sneers, but many Mossberg pumps have taken a lot of use & abuse and still continue to function.
500: Many versions, many aftermarket accessories, 12, 20, and 410, up to 3" shells.
510: Mini version of the 500, 410 and 20 gauge.
535: Geared more towards hunters, 12 gauge, up to 3.5" shells.
835: Designed around 3.5" 12 ga shells, ported barrel.
Remington's 887 is too new at press time to say much about, but it looks like it's trying mighty hard to resemble the Benelli Supernova. 12 gauge, 3.5".
The 870, on the other hand, has had about half a century to gain a following, and has done so. It may be the most-accessorized shotgun of all time, but it may share that title with the Mossberg 500. Poor quality control has plagued recently-built 870s, but overall they remain popular.
The 870's steel receiver is good for strength, bad for weight.
The worst feature of all Remington repeaters is the safety placement: in the trigger guard, behind the trigger.
Be careful what shells you feed your 870. Serial numbers with M suffix = okay for magnums.
870s have been made in 410, 28, 20, 16, and 12 gauge.
The SXP (Super X Pump) is Winchester's latest offering in a long line of pump shotgun models. 12 gauge, 3" chamber. Radical Supernova-ish design. It's pretty new at press time, so it doesn't yet have much of a reputation, good or bad.
The 1300 was Winchester's main pump shotgun in recent years, but was discontinued in 2006. It is a lackluster sort of pump gun, which never gained the following of the Remington 870 or the Mossberg 500. Alloy receiver, crossbolt safety in the front of the trigger guard, many variations were made. Reliability reports vary for the 1300, but many folks love it.
The Winchester Model 1897 was quite popular in its day. More than a million of 'em were built before it was discontinued in 1957. This model features an exposed hammer (and thus has no other safety) and side ejection. I have one which belonged to a great-uncle, and it is a rattly, clunky old thing that has seen a lot of hard use. Naturally for the period in which it was built, it's made of steel.
For many years, the premier Winchester pump gun was the Model 12. Originally called the Model 1912 and first chambered in 20 gauge, it's a high-quality steel scattergun. Crossbolt safety in front of trigger. Made 1912-1980, in many configurations. Possibly the most collectable of all pump shotguns. It was made in 12, 16, 20, and 28 gauge.