I was serving in the Persian Gulf during the L.A. Riots in the early ‘90s. I called home on a MARS station (Military Auxiliary Radio System) to see if everyone was safe and out of danger. My mother answered the phone and said she could see fires burning from three different directions. From 8,000 miles away, I instructed her to get a pump shotgun from the spare room and made sure she knew how to load it. She was worried. I assured her the sound of chambering a round was very distinctive, and if she was really worried about shooting someone to touch a round off into the ceiling—no one would likely stick around to see if she got more accurate with the second shot. She assured me if came to that, I would not have to worry about patching a hole in her ceiling. That’s my mom… I think she grabbed the well-suited Mossberg 500 back then. I am from the school that believes the bigger the bore, the better the boom in a home defense situation. But by no means is that statement meant to discourage someone from using a 20-gauge or a .410. I would prefer something bigger and feel most anyone can handle one, but in the end, a small gun you can wield is better than no gun or the one you are afraid of handling.
Recently one of the best, low-cost options for a security shotgun to cross my path is the Interstate Arms Hawk Model 981R and Model 982. Am I alone? Hardly. I have not checked the numbers lately, but a few months back it was our top selling firearm. I am sure price has a lot to do with it, but when your life could possibly be on the line, it has to work reliably, the first and every time.
Next to the Mossberg 500, I would say the next most popular shotgun for home defense over the years is the Remington 870. Thinking about it, mom would have been just as likely to have grabbed an 870 that day several decades ago, but I digress. The Interstate Arms Hawk Model 982 is close, actually very close, to being a direct clone of the Remington 870. Not all of the parts are interchangeable, but many are.
As the old saying goes, “You can’t step into the ring with Ali just because you say you can box.” And so I decided to take a closer look at the Model 982 and see just how close and reliable it really is.
Interstate Arms Hawk Models 981R & 982
Okay, let’s be upfront and start with the downside. This shotgun is basically a Chinese-made Remington 870 manufactured by Norinco and imported by Interstate Arms. That is a turnoff for many, which I understand completely. Leave a comment if you’d like, but we all get it.
Nonetheless, it is still our top seller, so a lot of people have looked past its origin.
The IAC Hawk does a great job of doing exactly what the manufacturer intended it to do, which is to be a rugged, home-defense gun—and it comes in two different flavors. Because it is patterned after one of America’s favorite 12-gauge pumps, the IAC Hawk 981R features a machined solid-steel receiver, 18.5-inch barrel, 3-inch chamber and bead sight. This traditional pump-action model is fitted with polymer stocks, recoil pad and comes decked on a black matte finish. Distinguishing the Model 981R from her sister, is the picatinny rail topping the receiver for your favorite optic and a bead sight.
The Model 982 is identical with all the same features including a 5+1 capacity, but has preinstalled ghost ring sights instead of a rail—and if you have priced out ghost rings lately that is a great deal. The price? $199. However, I am a bird hunter and occasionally get out for a round of skeet, trap or sporting clays. Therefore, I am not a big fan of sights on a shotgun—turkey guns and slug guns for deer would be an exception of course, but those are longer-range guns. In a home defense situation, just eye your target; you’ll hit what you’re looking at, so either model is great.
Other than that, it is hard to knock the construction. The extractor and ejector are machined which beats its American counterpart that uses MIM (metal injection molded) parts. As mentioned, the receiver is steel as is the trigger guard.
Times are tough and everyone’s looking for a deal these days. Often, that means you get what you pay for. The IAC Hawk, however, seems to be an exception and provides plenty of quality at a great price. In fact, although it hurts me to admit, better quality at a fraction of the price of some of my favorite guns.
Specifications and Features
- Caliber: 12-gauge
- Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
- Chamber: 3-inch
- Capacity: 5+1
- Stock: Polymer
- Finish: Matte black finish
- Receiver: Machined, solid steel
- Sights: Adjustable ghost ring sights
- Length: 38.5 inches in overall length
- Weight: 7 pounds