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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
ACTION TYPE: Pump
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
UNLOADED WEIGHT: 7.5 lbs.
BUTTSTOCK: Black polymer w/ rugger recoil pad
BUTTSTOCK LENGTH OF PULL: 13.8 inches
FOREARM: Black polymer, 9 inches long
SIGHT Mount: Picatinny Rail on the receiver
TRIGGER PULL: Approximately 6 lbs.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.