Today I added a US Sporting Goods (USSG) SP 153 semi automatic shotgun to the stable. I've been researching affordable semi-automatic shotguns to upgrade my trusty Remington 870 + 26" bird barrel which also doubles as a home defense and deer hunting rig and had seen articles referring to this shotgun though I'd never been able to lay hands on one... until this weekend when I picked one up at the Hinckley gun show.
The SP 153 is produced in Russia by Baikal at the Izhevsky plant and imported by USSG of Rockledge, Florida - it also shows up in the EAA catalog. These had been popular when previously imported, EAA and Baikal parted ways when Remington imported these under the rebadged "Spartan SPR 453" name from 2006-2008. Remington quit importing and selling this model to avoid undermining sales of their 11-87 and new Versa Max gas operated auto-loading designs. The SP 153 has received glowing reviews from the NRA's American Rifleman magazine and numerous shotgun/shooting enthusiast websites & forums including Shotgun World and Field & Stream online and has recently started showing up again as EAA has picked up the Baikal line again and started importing these in quantity.
Currently, the only local distributor I've located is Rock Creek Outdoors in Pine City, MN (Brian, 651-442-1569) - and I just reduced his stock on hand by 1.
The SP-153 is a 12 gauge gas operated semi-auto shotgun rated to accept 2 3/4 through 3 1/2" magnum cartridges, available with 24, 26 and 28" chrome lined/smoothbore barrels and a blued finish. It is available with camo or black synthetic furniture. The kit I purchased includes the black/synthetic 28" model and includes 4 screw-in steel-rated choke tubes including Full, Modified, Improved Cyl and "XF" (Extra Full?); a magazine limiter (can be configured for 1 or 2 in the mag), safety lock, choke tube-gas adjustment wrench and a relatively complete user manual including complete parts break-down diagram. I believe the accessory package on all of the USSG imported models is identical. This shotgun has a basic rubber recoil pad and a simple silver bead sight with no provision for a sling that I have found (the end of the forend cap includes a threaded hole that may accept a stud, you'd have to drill and thread the read stud into the plastic stock). I paid $360 + tax before trade considerations from Rock Creek Outdoors LLC of Pine City, MN. The manual specifies a 1 year warranty, however I was delighted to note that Rock Creek Outdoors also includes a lifetime Davidson's warranty on the firearm.
Fit and finish are beyond what I expected for the price which is significantly better built than the last Remington 870 Express I purchased new 2 years ago (which isn't saying much). The shotgun was packed in a plain brown cardboard box with the barrel detached and wrapped in oil treated brown paper. The works is preserved in a light coating of cosmoline which will need to be removed and the gun re-lubricated before use, nothing new for anyone who's purchased a surplus "commie gun" before. The shotgun balances naturally on the front hand about 4" forward of the receiver and seems lighter than the Remington 1100 and 11-87's I've handled recently. It's certainly not as nice as the Benelli M1 Super 90 I owned long ago though but a third the price with similar ergonomics and controls. One of the most attractive features of this shotgun was the ability to shoot such a wide variety of shell types with the need for adjustment only if using examples on the extreme end of the performance spectrum (light 2.75" trap loads or hot 3.5" magnums). I am not aware of any aftermarket or extra barrel options for this shotgun nor do I know if any aftermarket choke tubes will work - Carlson seems to carry some options. I assume as availability of this model in the US increases so will aftermarket upgrades.
The user manual suggests a break-in period of 100 1 & 1/8 oz shells so I will do a functional review once I've gotten it through this period using some Winchester Xpert #4, 1 1/8oz 3" steel shot shells. Hopefully an afternoon shooting some skeet/trap at Metro will do the job and then I can put it through a proper day in the field hunting pheasants when the season opens. Eventually I'm hoping this shotgun will prove capable of also taking geese, duck and even turkey when paired with the right ammunition (and possibly an upgraded front sight).
Also, kudos to Brian at Rock Creek Outdoors from Pine City (also a member here, "rockcity") who sold/traded me the shotgun, he's a stand-up guy who is just getting into the business and was a pleasure to deal with.
More pictures to follow shortly along with a range report when I can get it out for some clay busting.