Rolling into the pump-action bullpup shotgun arena with one of the market’s most budget-friendly options, Hatsan Arms Company may have a real winner on its hands with the relatively young Escort BullTac.

The company expanded the Escort BullTac shotgun line to include both 12-gauge and 20-gauge options in early 2024. Then it doubled down and used the guns as a base for a brand-new semi-auto variant of the BullTac.

I grabbed a 20-gauge model with some of my own cash purely out of curiosity. Here’s what I found after several months of testing.


Table of Contents

First Impressions
Specs & Features
Range Testing
Pros & Cons
Final Thoughts

First Impressions


I bought this 20-gauge Hatsan Escort BullTac shotgun a few months ago on a whim, and I’d be lying if I said the gun’s looks had nothing to do with that impulse purchase. I’m a sci-fi fan, and this thing has some serious sci-fi vibes that look like the M41A Pulse Rifle from “Aliens” and the Morita MK I Carbine from “Starship Troopers” had a baby that was destined for the “Halo” video-game franchise.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
I happen to love the look of this BullTac shotgun. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


That’s not to say I didn’t do some research before I bought it. A quick skim of online reviews for this gun had it performing well above expectations at a price tag that’s a fraction of other bullpup shotguns. I landed on the 20-gauge model after reading that the 12-gauge version had a gnarly kick given the gun’s light weight. 


Related: Best Bullpup Shotguns


For those who are extremely recoil sensitive, there’s a .410-bore model now. Heck, Hatsan even created a semi-auto version around the pump BullTac profile because it proved to be so popular. 
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
For a budget gun, it actually has some nice features and a solid feel to it. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Even though the price tag is low, the gun felt solid when I pulled it from the box. Aside from some space-punk-cool looks, it also balanced nicely with most of the weight behind the pistol grip where the bullpup action hosts the heaviest parts. The sights seemed just OK, but they were adjustable with a rail for optics. 

The real test was if this thing could survive several boxes of slugs and buckshot on the range.
 

Specs & Features

 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
Unlike many other pump-action bullpup shotguns, this one has an action with an ejection port on the side. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I could see how it might be easy to think this bullpup is just a budget version of guns like the KelTec KS7, KSG, or Smith & Wesson M&P 12. That doesn’t quite do it justice. Those previous bullpup designs all host bottom-loading and bottom-ejecting functions. That means you are loading, ejecting, and clearing any jams all from one hard-to-reach port on the underside of the gun.

The Escort BullTac hosts a side ejection port. Loading is done via the bottom loading port and internal magazine tube that is accessed through the loading port. You can also easily speed load the first round by simply popping it into the side ejection port and running the action bar forward.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
That ejection port makes it easy to see if a shell is chambered, and the anodized metal follower in the magazine tube is bright red to show you when the gun runs dry. I haven’t had any jams yet, but that side port is also much easier to access for clearing issues than the bottom ejection port found on many other bullpup shotguns. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Related: KelTec KSG vs. M&P 12 – Battle of the Bullpup Shotguns


I’ve tested the KelTec and Smith & Wesson bullpup shotguns, and my least favorite feature is the bottom-load/bottom-eject function on both guns. It is hard to clear a malfunction without totally inverting the gun, and it’s harder to preload your first round since you can only load the chamber via the magazine tubes. 

Hatsan’s Turkish-made Escort BullTac has an action that I think is just easier to use. However, since these are import guns, they are also limited to a capacity of only five rounds, making this otherwise 6+1 or even 7+1 shotgun a lower-capacity 5+1 tactical scattergun. You can see where they built in a stop to the magazine tube to limit those rounds.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
You can see where the magazine tube is cut on the left to limit the capacity to just five rounds, per import laws these days. The barrel is only shrouded over the forend furniture, which means you really don’t want to wrap your thumb back over the exposed barrel behind the front grip (top right) when it’s hot. On the bottom left, you’ll note there is Pic rail on the carry handle. I like having a gun light here personally. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


It is chambered for up to 3-inch shells, and I found the gun cycled both 3-inch and 2.75-inch shells with no issues. I have heard the gun can run mini shells if you run the pump with authority. The side ejection port also makes it easy to check if the chamber is loaded, unlike bottom loading/ejecting bullpups.

Here’s a quick rundown on the basic specs for this 20-gauge BullTac shotgun:

Weight: 6.7 pounds
Length: 28 inches (29.5 with flash hider)
Barrel Length: 18 inches (19.5 with flash hider)
Sight Radius: 12 inches
Width: 2 inches
Height: 9.75 inches
Sight/Optics Rail Height Over Bore: 2.75 inches
Length of Pull: 14 inches
Trigger Pull: 3.2 pounds
Capacity: 5+1


Related: KelTec KS7 – 12-Gauge Home Defense Beast


The trigger pull is remarkably light at just 3.2 pounds. It doesn’t provide a clear wall, so there is no reliable way to stage your shots. That led to a few flyers during my accuracy testing, but it makes for a fast trigger in close-quarters shooting.

Here’s a closer look at how the trigger runs:
 


Sights are adjustable at the rear for windage and elevation. There’s an option for your typical AR-style flip-up peep sight or a notch. The front sight post is a long fiber-optic rod. I found the iron sights to be acceptable out to 50 yards, but the gun itself is hardly a precision shooter.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
The front fiber-optic sight and adjustable rear work just fine. Don’t expect this to be a precision shooter past 50 yards. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


There’s also a 5-inch Picatinny rail up top that allows you to easily mount optics. I would stick to things like non-magnified red dots with this gun. The rail is only held on by a single screw mount, so it’s hardly a rock-solid base for a scope. I would also advise adding some Loctite to that screw to make sure it stays as stable as possible. A groove in the rail allows you to use the iron sights under the optic.

This is a smoothbore shotty with an aggressive flash hider threaded onto the barrel. It’s good for close-range work, but you can’t add a choke to the gun to tighten up your shot patterns if you opt for some form of birdshot.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
Controls are non-ambidextrous. The trigger is light, and the action release on the top right is intuitive. I’m not a fan of button safeties, but this one is at least well placed for my thumb to reach it. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
The flash hider on the left mostly just helps with the guns looks. There’s also a QD sling mount on the rear of the buttstock. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The non-ambidextrous controls include a basic cross-bolt button safety that, while not my favorite, is at least well placed for easy use in the same location you’d find an AR-style safety lever. The slide release is just in front of the trigger guard on the right side. 

My biggest gripe is the disassembly. There are three roll pins (on this newer version) that hold the action bar in place. I haven’t had any issue with these after 225 rounds, but you will want to make sure they don’t walk out after extensive shooting. Essentially, you need multiple tools to remove the action bar and forend, barrel, and bolt from this gun. It’s not a field-expedient system.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
Here we have one of the takedown screws on the left and the three action bar pins on the right. Earlier versions had only two pins and no cover. Some reports had those pins walking out, and the new cover design with three pins seems to have largely solved that issue. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


That said, basic cleaning does not require you break the gun down that far after every range trip. It should be a fairly rare instance when you do a detailed cleaning that you’ll have to worry about it.
 

Range Testing


This lightweight 20-gauge BullTac recoils like a dream as far as shotguns go. The gun has a nice balance behind the pistol grip, which places the center of gravity between your shooting hand and your shoulder. 
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
I appreciate the fact that the pump forend has hand stops at the front and the back. It runs fast and fairly smooth. The rubberized pistol grip has a very AR-like feel, and the butt pad is grooved and angled for easier shouldering and recoil control. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The rubberized butt pad is also angled, making it easy to lever the short little gun into your shoulder quickly and predictably. The pump runs surprisingly smooth for the fact this gun comes at a very low cost.

I found I shot the iron sights accurately enough, but a gun like this seems bred for home defense and more close-range tactical shooting. So, I popped a very low-cost Crimson Trace red dot on the gun to compliment the fact the shotgun easily cost less than three bills. To my surprise, the optic held up just fine due to the unexpectedly low recoil.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
I mounted a budget dot to the optic rail. That rail is held in place by a screw that you should Loctite before zeroing your optic. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Related: Bullpup Shotgun Showdown – KelTec KS7 & Tokarev TBP


That trigger is another story. It’s lightweight to be sure, but that makes it hard to stage shots. I ended up pulling a few during my 50-yard accuracy testing. Still, at 50 yards with a smooth bore I was able to reliably put slugs into my target at acceptable self-defense levels of accuracy.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
At 50 yards, I had some flyers, but the five shots on the left are still in a respectable group for the smoothbore and budget red dot. The three shots on the right had one flyer, but the first two were cutting through the same hole. I felt that flyer when I was shooting. It came when I was just trying to stage the trigger, but the light trigger pull has no real wall for doing that reliably. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I know many folks will be wondering how the gun handles birdshot and buckshot. I scrounged up a few boxes of 20-pellet 000 buckshot, birdshot, and target loads for testing. Coupled with the 100 slugs I put through the gun, my total round count to date is 225. 
 

20-Gauge Shotgun Ammo
Slugs and buckshot ran great for my testing, and I put 100 shells of just slugs through it. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I haven’t had any malfunctions other than short-stroking the action once and failing to chamber the next round. That’s 100 percent operator error. After testing three #8 target loads on my patterning board at just 20 yards, here’s what we got on a man-sized target:
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
Here’s what two shots on the right and one shot on the left of #8 birdshot do to the target at just 20 yards. That’s a huge spread, so shooting with either buckshot or birdshot needs to be done at relatively close quarters. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Most of the pellets fell squarely in the chest of the man-shaped target. Still, that’s a heck of a widespread at just 20 yards even with #8 target loads. Here’s where you need to remember this is just an 18-inch, smoothbore barrel. The bullpup design allows for a longer barrel in a shorter gun, but that short length with no choke still leads to a very widespread.

On the other hand, from a home defense perspective, that spread opens up fast for effective shooting inside 20 yards with non-slug ammo that seems very forgiving of stress-induced inaccuracy.
 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
Again, I really like the fact that this gun loads from the bottom but ejects from the side. It’s much more user friendly than bottom load/eject designs. I can load this gun without adjusting my shooting hand. That ejection port does make it non-friendly for lefties, sorry.  (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I never cleaned this gun during my 225-round testing, and it still ran much better than expected. However, there are a fair number of pins and screws holding the shotgun together. I haven’t noticed any working themselves loose yet. Regardless, I dislike complexity, and that’s something to be aware of when shooting and maintaining this gun.

I would not abuse this gun with thousands of rounds like I might a Benelli M4. That tactical beast can take a lot of abuse, but it’s also easily more than six times the price of this homely little Escort BullTac.
 

Pros & Cons

Here’s my shortlist of the pros and cons for this 20-gauge BullTac shotgun:

Pros:

  • Bullpup design makes it short and maneuverable
  • Reliable and relatively accurate
  • Great for close-range work
  • Lightweight design
  • Side ejection system
  • Affordable
  • Cool sci-fi looks
  • Plenty of Picatinny rail
  • Lightweight trigger
  • Controls are intuitive

Cons:

  • Complex disassembly
  • Light trigger makes accuracy harder
  • Smooth bore with no choke option
  • Limited to 5+1 by import laws
  • Not ambidextrous for ejection or controls
  • Button safety instead of lever safety
  • High optic height due to carry handle
  • Not accurate at ranges past 50 yards
     

Final Thoughts

 

Hatsan Escort BullTac 20-Gauge Shotgun
For the price, I’m a satisfied BullTac owner, and one of my range buddies promptly went out and got his own after testing mine. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Is this the tactical bullpup shotgun to replace all others? No, not really. But it proved to be a value buy in my book after testing. The price tag is low. The fun factor is high, and the gun performed surprisingly well.

Last summer, I ran several bullpup shotguns through a ton of shooting, and this 20-gauge shotty is by far the most pleasant to shoot. The controls are intuitive, while the sights are budget but functional. Plus, at the price you pay for this Hatsan bullpup scattergun, you’ll have plenty of money left for ammo when compared to the more expensive options out there right now.

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