Local Gun Store COVID Availability Challenge: Hurricane Butterfly’s Cyclone Shotgun $399

Hurricane Butterfly’s Cyclone shotgun is a solid choice for home defense on a budget. Under current conditions, buying any gun can be a challenge, and ammunition availability is even worse. One bright spot in the field is the venerable 12 gauge shotgun. Ammunition is in stock and selling for around normal retail, even if it is not present in unlimited quantities.

I have recently been criticized for writing about guns that are unavailable. That is fair, why read about something you can’t have. COVID has made everything a little more challenging, So, Level of Difficulty: Post Election COVID Lockdown, I went to my local guns shop and bought a gun.

My local gun store, I5 Guns (Pronounced: Eye-Five-Gunz) in Olympia Washington is a very typical local gun store. They had a dozen or so handguns in stock, a couple of ARs, and a rack of shotguns. I chose the cheapest new gun that I would trust for home defense which had ammo available at a reasonable price, the Hurricane Butterfly Cyclone 12 Gauge shotgun ran $399.99.

I5 Guns in Olympia Washington is a typical local gun store. They work hard to keep guns and ammo in stock. They are always willing to ship and receive guns from other FFLs.

The store had 12 gauge slug, buck and bird shot in stock at MSRP. One catch, the Cyclone has a Picatinny rail, so I had to get a sight too. In the optics counter, they had a Burris Fastfire 3 sight which the box claims is a… “Versatile optic is the perfect primary or backup sight for pistols, rifles and SHOTGUNS” for $249.99. You can’t do better than “perfect”.

I didn’t get out cheap, but I did leave with everything I needed to protect my home and family. Why did I buy this gun in a time of scarcity? Did I deny some poor new gun owner a shotgun? Tom at I5 Guns had a dozen Cyclones in stock and assured me that his distributor had hundreds more. If your local gun store can’t find one, I5 Guns will ship to any FFL.

The Cyclone 12 gauge shotgun is a clone of the Remington 870. Introduced in 1950, over 10 million 870s were sold. I am a huge fan of the 870 and used them in the Army and with the Customs Service. There is a wide variety of aftermarket upgrades including forearms, stocks, lights, and side saddles.

The internal parts of the Cyclone are very familiar to anyone who has ever taken apart a Remington 870. The parts readily change with the 870 (except the barrel) for upgrade or repair.

The Cyclone is made by Hawk Industries, the only privately owned shotgun factory in China. Hawk has been making 870 clones for worldwide sale since the 80s. Hawk shotguns have been imported into the US by Interstate Imports, H&R, and even Remington for many years.

The fore-end is 9 inches long so shooters with short arms can reach it with ease. It is textured, so your hand isn’t going to slip off.

Why am I writing about a Chinese shotgun? With the current problems at Remington, who knows when more American made 870s will come along. In this market with these uncertain times, the Cyclone is there for new gun buyers. The Cyclone is imported by Hurricane Butterfly and sold directly to FFLs.

Hurricane Butterfly is a Seattle based importer, exporter, and manufacturer with offices in Taipei, Taiwan, and Seoul, South Korea. Their primary business is exporting US made firearms in support of foreign military contracts, but they also import unusual and highly sought after firearms from around the world. 

They recently drew attention as the importer of the famous Heckler and Koch HK416 as a semiautomatic pistol and the Heckler and Koch MR223A3 in pistol configuration. When the firearms market heated up in mid-2020, they saw the niche for the Cyclone as a cheap, well-made shotgun for new shooters. 

The single exception to commonality is the barrel. An 870 barrel will fit on a Cyclone but the distance between the barrel lug and the magazine cap is different and you will need a spacer of some sort.

Magazine tube extensions will fit but will require minor modifications. Like the 870 Express, you have to drill out the stops in the tube so that shells can pass into the extension.

If I was going to put a light on the Cyclone, I would go with the Streamlight TL-Racker for quality and value. It will drop right on without modifications.

While you can change parts, there is no good reason to. The Cyclone is perfectly adequate for home defense as it comes out of the box, needing only a sight.

Cyclone Specifications:


RECEIVER: Steel: Matte black finish

CHAMBER: Accepts 2 ¾ inch and 3-inch 12 gauge (18.4 mm) Shells

BARREL: 18.5 inches steel; matte black finish

CHOKE: Cylinder Bore

OVERALL LENGTH: 38.5 inches

MAGAZINE CAPACITY: Five in the magazine, one in the chamber


BUTTSTOCK: Black polymer w/ rugger recoil pad


FOREARM: Black polymer, 9 inches long

SIGHT Mount: Picatinny Rail on the receiver

TRIGGER PULL: Approximately   6 lbs.

A real advantage of the Cyclone is 6 inches of Picatinny rail on top to mount a red dot optic. The Burris Fastfire 3 clamped right on in seconds.

The fit and finish are acceptable for a working gun at this price. I like the working class matte black finish, not everyone does. It is smooth and evenly applied. The trigger action breaks at a clean 6 pounds, perfect for a defense shotgun. The 5-round tube magazine comes with a two-round block for use in hunting. It can be removed in seconds by simply unscrewing the magazine cap.

The stock is a thick and very durable Rynite polymer. An effective vented recoil pad is held on by machine screws and brass inserts.

The Cyclone features black synthetic furniture. The stock is a thick and very durable Rynite polymer. Other budget shotguns typically use hollow stocks with wood screws holding the recoil pad. The straight stock design lends itself to fast reloading. The barrel at 18.5 inches is handy for moving around obstacles.

The Cyclone has a thicker hardened steel receiver than the 870. It feels very solid compared to a Remington 870 Express. The Cyclone also has a machined extractor like the premium 870 Police models.

The Burris Fastfire 3 Red-Dot comes with a Picatinny mount so it was shotgun ready. It features a Steel body construction for durability and is advertised as capable of handling the punishing recoil of 12 gauge rounds. It has a top-mounted battery (CR1632) for easy battery replacement with simple precise windage and elevation adjustments.

The Burris Fastfire 3 power button provides three manual brightness settings and an automatic brightness setting with a low battery indicator. Covered by the Burris Forever Warranty this is a perfect first red dot for new gun owners.

Out of the box, the Cyclone’s action was a little scratchy. It didn’t bind, but there was more resistance than I liked. In normal times, I would have run 100 rounds through to smooth out the parts. Instead, I got out my dummy rounds and my duty belt and practiced a hundred reloads. I then took it apart, cleaned the shipping grease off, and oiled it. Problem solved, the action is now smooth.  

When I finally got to the range, I zeroed with slugs from several different manufacturers at 15 yards, for point of aim point of impact. The Fastfire III adjustments were 1 MOA and made for an easy three-round zero.

I then shot 150 rounds of birdshot at steel. If you are not familiar with the Texas Star target pictured below, the plates fall off when you hit them and the target spins as the weight shifts.

Whacking the Texas Star Target with bird shot is one of the many guilty pleasures of pump shotguns. Five rounds in the magazine, five plates on the target. The red dot makes it all too easy, but you still have to aim.

The Texas Star’s plates are about the same size as the birdshot pattern at 10 yards so if you are too far off, the plate doesn’t fall off. The movement was the perfect way to see the advantages of the red dot tracking the swinging plates.

The Cyclone has a cylinder bore. This means the barrel doesn’t have any choke to tighten the pattern. Cylinder bore gives the widest pattern with the lowest shot pattern density. With most buckshot, the Cyclone has an effective range of less than 20 yards. Shotguns with Cylinder Bores are most commonly used in home defense and law enforcement applications, where the wide shot pattern at close range is considered an asset.

I patterned four different OO Buckshot loads. They all patterned about the same. I found 8 pellet loads to hold a slightly better pattern at 10 yards, this would be more pronounced at a longer range. The shotgun is designed to be highly effective for close-range work. Don’t try to turn it into something it is not.

I chose to use Fiocchi 9 pellet OO Buck for my pattern in the picture because it is more typical of available home defense loads. I only shot one round so the pattern is obvious. 9 pellet loads are notorious for throwing one pellet because of the way they stack in the shell. At ten yards, my pattern was about 10 inches. I wouldn’t want to go much farther than that to be 100% sure that all pellets stay in the target.

A OO pellet is .33 caliber. A hit from one Fiocchi 9 pellet OO Buck is roughly equivalent of a 9 round burst from a 9mm submachine gun. That is why shotguns are such fight stoppers. The Cyclone can load five of those with another in the chamber.

If you are thinking that you want to shoot buckshot farther than 20 yards, I have good news. Federal’s FLITECONTROL Wads, will hold very tight patterns past 20 yards and their technology works best with a cylinder bore. Using them in this test would be cheating because the LGS didn’t carry them.

Range University Targets were perfect for shotgun patterning with multiple bullseyes of just the right size. The top bullseye is five rounds of slug from 25 yards. The bottom bullseye is 9 pellet 3-inch magnum buckshot. 9 pellet loads are famous for throwing one pellet off the target. This shotgun will hold OO Buck on target all day long at 10 yards

I went back to 25 yards and shot a five-round group as quickly as I could aim with some old Federal slugs. The slugs were plenty accurate for urban predators. If I had shot from a rest all 5 holes would have probably been touching.

The good news is that I don’t live in a warehouse, so I can shoot anything inside my house with a 10-yard shot. If I move to a bigger place and need a longer shot, I can go to 8 pellet load with a FLITECONTROL Wads or the Slug.

A typical 12 gauge bore measures 0.729″, slugs are sized smaller (.690″) so they can clear the choke. Caliber can refer to the diameter of the projectile or the measurement of the bore between the lands or between the grooves of the rifling. So you could call a 12 gauge a .73 caliber. If you are familiar with the National Firearms Act, you know that anything with a bore bigger than .50 caliber is a Destructive Device that requires a tax stamp.

How was I able to go to the local gun store and buy a 12 gauge repeating shotgun that shoots a .69 caliber slug? The shotgun has a special exception to this law because it is “generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes”. Without this exception, shotguns would be in the same category as rocket launchers, mortars, and flame throwers.

If you want extra shells on your gun, I suggest that you stick pile side industrial velcro to the side of the receiver to attach the ESSTac Shotgun Card system to your gun. You can buy cheaper cards but they are mostly internet junk.
The ESSTac Shotgun Card system comes in several colors and sizes. These panels are about the size of an M4 magazine so they will fit into magazine pouches or attach to velcro on your gear. MSRP: $14
The Gunner Solutions Ez8 Generation 2 Shotshell Carrier in Flat Dark Earth is my favorite belt-mounted loader. It will support dual loading, quad loading or grab four. MSRP $69

I used my belt-mounted shot shell loader and tried several different loading techniques. I found that dual loading in an upside down gun was no problem. Grabbing three or four shells and doing magazine well loads was simple. Ejection port loading was a snap. Everything the same as the 870.

With “Grab 4” I pull four rounds from one side of my Gunner Solutions Ez8 Generation 2 Shotshell Carrier in Flat Dark Earth at once with my working hand and then thumb them in one at a time.
With “Dual Loading” I turn the gun over holding it in my shooting and grab the top two rounds of the top of a Gunner Solutions Ez8 Generation 2 Shotshell Carrier in Flat Dark Earth, with my working hand, line up with the magazine tube, push the lifter down and stab them both in in one movement. Some guns require modification for this load, the Cyclone eats them right up.

I was impressed with the Cyclone. They aren’t very pretty but they have a working utility look to them that I like. The shotgun performed flawlessly with 100% reliability in the mixed bag of rounds that I fired. Pump shotguns are a highly reliable design so this is to be expected.

With the straight stock and 18.5-inch barrel, it handled easily, and the recoil pad design was effective even with 3in shells. The ability to mount a red dot sight makes it ideal for new shooters. I would recommend it without hesitation. Function and capability with the Cyclone were excellent for the money.  Most importantly, they are on the shelves when you need one.

Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!

About the author: Mark Miller is a former Customs Agent and a Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and a number of other live fire locations. A student of firearms and shooting, he is an FFL and a SOT. The guiding philosophy of his life is that terrain and situation dictate tactics and the enemy always gets a vote on any plan.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Chuck January 9, 2021, 11:48 pm

    Good article. Sometimes you must feel like you’d have been better off shooting yourself than having to explain the premise of your writing to some of these blockheads. I’m not sure if I’d buy the gun or not, but I did comprehend the article and appreciate your honest critique.

    • Mark Miller January 10, 2021, 12:14 pm

      Thanks Chuck. There are a lot of new gun buyers who don’t know how to buy used or what to look for. We need to welcome these people into our community and help them take care of their families.

  • Todd January 8, 2021, 7:36 pm

    So, I’m saved by the Chinese if I want to buy a shotgun during a period of limited inventory primarily due to the Chinese?

    Yeah, I know there are other political and economic factors at play but if the industry was able to operate at capacity, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    Too, NO WAY I support the Chinese Communist Party’s arms manufacturing when our children or grandchildren will be fighting them one day with the CCP’s Army armed with weapons honed by their commercial activities.



  • Bryan January 7, 2021, 1:56 am

    Mark, you are a patient man.
    The 24 comment total includes the 10 or 11 in which you explain, with courtesy and humility, the same damn thing you had said to begin with.
    Reminds me of my career as an English teacher. For almost 40 years I had to keep telling myself that if the student body consisted only of highly self-motivated geniuses — I’d be out of a job.
    Thank you for writing, and also for your service.

    • Mark Miller January 7, 2021, 4:38 pm

      Thank you for your support Bryan. Comments are always interesting. Some people insist on adding their pre-conceptions and framing to what I have written. It is always interesting.

  • Jay Smith January 5, 2021, 8:36 am

    I get the point of the article . I read comments, and agree with a few ( I would buy Turkish before Chinese for the above mentioned reasons) . But, Around here 12 ga ammo is as scarce as pistol ammo ( Unless you want birdshot or steel shot. I was lucky to find #4 high brass to add some to my 100+ rds of buck & slug ). Now , gun shops aren’t the ONLY place to buy a shotgun . Pawn shops , private sellers (you get this point , i am sure) . I do kinda think the $250 sight is Way Over-kill , esp as it costs more than half of the original weapon investment. The flash light forend is plenty. If you just HAVE to buy a sight, There are FAR cheaper decent optics than a Burris FF . The money not spent on the site buys more ammo ( if you can find it) & the other accessories ( side saddle , mag tube extender, etc. ) Yes , i own a used 870 already , set up with light, side saddle & tube extender for 8 rds total , loaded.

  • Charlemagne January 5, 2021, 2:52 am

    I don’t see the problem with these being “Chinese” shotguns. A friend and each bought IAC 982 Hawks a number of years ago. We upgraded our guns to Remington 870 Police Magnum specs, spending an additional $100 per gun on American parts and services we would not have otherwise spent!

  • Chris Nichols January 4, 2021, 1:05 pm

    Earlier in the year, I bought a used, 1978 Remington 870 Magnum on Gunbroker for $250 that came with a red dot sight. I guess if you just have to have a NEW gun, a “made in China” Hurricane Butterfly is a reasonably good choice. I’d rather have an American made, solid and reliable used gun with a wood stock, thank you very much.

    • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 10:48 pm

      I like American guns too. With Remington in bankruptcy and local gun stores with shelves empty of new and used guns, the Hurricane Butterfly was the only choice available when I was looking. This was a post about what you can get now, in the current market. Go to your local gunstore and look around. Look on GunsAmerica. There are guns out there, but they are hard to find, particularly for new gun owners. If you want to protect your family, many new gun owners want to have a gun tonight rather than next month.

  • John Butler January 4, 2021, 10:27 am

    Congratulations on buying a Chicom made shotgun that clones the 870. You spent what $650 for the Chinese junk and a sight (?) plus tax now close to $700. My complaint; you purchased a Chinese shotgun when you could have spent a few bucks more or even less and bought American. Hasn’t China done enough damage to us without you helping out their economy. Sorry for being a dickhead but next time you decide to write a piece on a Chinese product or products , think first. Thanks for your service.

    • Big Al 45 January 4, 2021, 11:11 am

      At least you admit you’re a dickhead. And your grasp of economics is typical of ignorant Americans.
      Did you even get the gist of the article???
      It is interesting to note that when GA did a Chinese SKS review, there were far fewer complaints about Chinese stuff. It was the same with the Norinco copy of the 1911, many loved that gun.
      And why not? It WAS a good copy, I know because I ran a shop at the time and modified one to take many of the aftermarket parts from Kings and Ed Brown, they fit fine with no more work than a Colt.
      Many of my fellow gunnies are a fickle bunch.
      Frankly, I don’t know how Gun Writers put up with this stuff, it’s gotta be a thankless job, dealing with self made ‘experts’ all the time.

      • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 10:52 pm

        Many people would respond differently if they read the post before replying. Thanks for your support. I am not always right and their experiences and circumstances may differ greatly from mine. I love intelligent disagreement.

    • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 10:55 pm

      The point of the post is what’s available. When I got that gun, there were no, I mean zero, American made options viable for home defense with ammo available. That was the gun a new owner COULD buy to protect their family that night. You mileage may vary.

    • OceanDragon January 5, 2021, 1:25 am

      You’re smart enough to know that you are a dickhead. I’d like to ask you in what country your cell phone, television, and camera were made in…..most likely not the US. When it comes to high end precision, the Americans have a tough time. On top of that they usually charge double the price for less quality work. I am not saying that there are some cheaply made stuff that comes out of China, but just like in the US, you have to look at higher quality made stuff.

  • Steven J January 4, 2021, 10:01 am

    If the goal was “cheap” why not get one of the Turkish knock offs for 130 bucks.
    They hold shells and go bang every time.
    Not a lot of technical finesse in a shotgun anyway, so if the point is “affordable home protection” why buy a Chinese copy that’s almost the same cost as the original?
    Btw, the Remington 870 DM’s were on sale forever for 198. Jus sayin.

    • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 10:56 pm

      The goal was not cheap, it was what was available. There were no turkish or American shotguns available for new gun owners that day. I bought what they had, as most new gun owners do.

  • leonard January 4, 2021, 9:05 am

    a cheap $399 shotgun ? i do NOT think so as it cost you $250 just to buy a site that you could put on the gun. and a site that requires batteries at that! so that shotgun made in china cost $650 (with just $2 for sales tax) and not $399+sales tax
    i guess since it only has an 18 1/2 inch barrel and sawed off shotguns normally have the front site bead at the end of the barrel cut off , that you do not need sites anyway. i use to own a charter arms “snake charmer” 410 single shot that i had knocked the forearm mounting tab off, so i could saw the barrel off to 3 1/2 inches. the thumb hole stock was cut off and filed smooth and i carried it in the leather holster that was for my grandfathers smith and wesson model ctg in 38 special.
    i also use to shoot slugs from a browning a5 12 gauge one handed with the factory barrel length when i was 14 or 15 years old, yes it was a chore and i was not a great big kid either, this was prior to 1974 (the year my grandfather died).
    and before you say i do not know jack shit, i was raised up in pulaski county arkansas and Carlos Hathcock was a friend of the family , my father was an instructor at the very first hunter education course in arkansas, and my criminal history shows i was suspected of many things before you were born!

    • Terry January 4, 2021, 12:19 pm

      A criminal, carrying an illegal weapon. Name dropping a famous sniper doesn’t mean you are one. and shooting a 12ga with one hand is no big deal. Not sure what point you are trying to make other than you are a very insecure braggart.

    • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 10:59 pm

      In this market, cheap is relative. You can wax philosophical about the good old days. That doesn’t protect a family tonight. What guns are in your local gun store today? Ammunition for them?

  • Phillip DeWitt January 4, 2021, 8:43 am

    I will considered a Turkish or Russian shotgun but not a China copy. I also want jump at a new a Remington as I have read some bad reviews on poor quality. A old used Remington would be a top choice if you can find one.

    • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 11:00 pm

      If you already have guns, you can wait for the market to return to normal. What about some one with no gun who wants protection tonight?

  • kevin j hain January 4, 2021, 6:59 am

    I would like to start by saying i own 2 870″s 1 with a smooth bore for hunting foul and the other one with a rifled bore for deer, I am very happy with the 870″s they have never let me down. About your article on buying a cyclone i disagree, for one you can buy a nice used 870 for $300 dollars or less with a little shopping around and if your truly going to use a shot gun for home that’s great but i don’t see the reason for spending another $300 dollars on a scope makes know sense for home defense if you are going to point a shot gun at some one at close range the last thing you need is a scope. It sounds like you are pushing your readers into spending a lot more money then they need to for what ever reason when they can spend $300 or less and get what they need to more than do the job. I do not agree with your $600 dollar advice especially in these COVID hard times. If you are truly looking out for your readers i think you could do a better job. From one gun owner to another thanks for what you do.

    • Kent January 4, 2021, 7:51 am

      I bought a new genuine made in America Remington 20Ga Youth for my home defense. And not too long ago either, it was just over $300. My wife can handle it, and it will get the job done. Now why the H would I buy a cheena copy? This is an insult to each and every American Patriot.

      • Terry January 4, 2021, 12:03 pm

        I sold my AR15 and kept my SKS as it is superior in almost every way. If you have ever been in the military you would know that picking up the enemy’s weapons and using them is pretty common practice especially if they are better and more reliable. I’m as patriotic as the next guy but I want the best rounds and weapons available. IMO that means 762×39 and the SKS.

        • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 10:50 pm

          The SKS is a viable chose for home defense, if you can find one and find ammo in stock. 762×39 has been more available than .223 in my area.

      • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 11:02 pm

        Many American patriots don’t have guns and want to buy something to take home today, with ammunition to protect their families. An American gun a month from now may be too late. You were lucky to find a Remington. There were none in my local gun shop.

    • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 11:04 pm

      Many readers would consider themselves lucky to find any 12 gauge in stock. I made the best choice from the available guns. The red dot was not essential, but I believe that it provided great utility to a new gun owner. The prices you talk about are a pre-pandemic memory. New gun buyers can’t easily find deals like that.

  • Steve in Detroit January 4, 2021, 6:30 am

    I bought a Hawk in 2000-01 and it was cheap, but functioned well and shot a slug well. It was stolen along with a assortment of other things, they left a old Western Field 12 gauge that was a Mossberg copy, I prefer the Mossberg style anyways and my local Walmart had 1 -100 count box of Winchester bird shot for around $23, and nary else, in these strange days.

    • Mark Miller January 4, 2021, 11:06 pm

      There were no Mossbergs available. At least you can still find 12 gauge ammo.

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