Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'm not really shotgun people but...

I had so much fun at the first Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun match shooting Iain Harrison's FN SLP that when I ran across a New-Old-Stock Remington 870 smoothbore slug gun earlier this year for a reasonable price, I snatched it up.

Once I got the bugs ironed out (or filed off, as the case may be) I had a tremendous amount of fun running it at this year's match, too. I had forgotten just how... kinesthesiologically satisfying it is to run a pump gauge at speed. Boom! shalakalak Boom!

See the shells in the sidesaddle there? I'm doing it wrong.
 Love the Magpul stock, and I say that as someone who, when she first saw the Magpul shotgun furniture, thought "Okay, the guys at Magpul have jumped the shark now, because that looks flimsy and ghey." Despite my treatment of the 870 which, like most of my guns intended as range toys and sporting goods rather than collectibles, varies between neglect and mild abuse, nothing on the stock has broken or fallen off yet.

Surprisingly, I haven't injured myself with the (optional) rear sling loop. If a klutz like me didn't hurt herself, it's probably safe for normal people.
One of the advantages of a pistol grip on a shotgun is that it allows people without superhuman forearm strength to hold the gauge comfortable shouldered with one hand. Unfortunately, the downsides are that it pokes out awkwardly when the weapon is slung, makes operating the 870 safety a pain, and some don't like what it does to the handling of the gun. The Magpul stock gives the advantage of the pistol grip, in that even my wimpy wrist can keep the shotgun shouldered with just my strong hand, and hasn't any of the disadvantages. (Well, maybe it wouldn't handle as well as an English stock if I took this thing hunting for upland birds...)

The Mesa sidesaddle holds the shells with a death grip. Now that it's a little worn in, you no longer need to beat the rounds in with a rubber mallet*, but they're still awful snug. Even given how tight it holds them, though, you probably want to keep the shells brass-up; even the mild recoil of low-brass bird shot was causing reloads in the side-saddle to "walk" downward, so why tempt gravity?

In the lighting department, my experimenting has left me convinced that the SureFire forend is the industry standard for a reason. If you want a light on your gauge, this is probably the way to go unless you have a technique- or situation-specific reason to use something else.

I have a Magpul forward sling attachment doohickey en route, and that will probably finish the shotgun project from the hardware side of things for the foreseeable future.

Whether or not I install ghost rings and/or a red dot remains an open question. I haven't had any real difficulty with the factory rifle sights, but then I haven't had any really challenging shooting problems with it yet. We'll see.

When it comes to shotguns, I can't recommend this thread at highly enough. There's more hands-on, real-world experience with running a gauge in those five pages than there is in some whole fora. It should be stickied, if not made into an e-book.

*Only moderate exaggeration.


og said...

I watched a group of guys at my club shoot a round of what they called "Speed trap". It looked like a load of fun, and compared to other types of shooting, it would be so cheap as to be nearly free- plus I never saw 12 gauge completely disappear from the shelves anywhere. I have an 870p and a wingmaster, I might have to tweak them according to the suggestions in the linked thread and give it a try. I started shooting with a shotgun and some of those "Target acquisition" skills are not as good as they once were. Plus, a lot of shooting with something low recoil like a 12 gauge would make it that much more enjoyable.

Sabre22 said...

Thank for the review I was wondering about that stock I have a Scattergun Technologies 870. I was thinking about getting a Pistol grip stock for it. I will be re-thinking it now. It cam with the Surefire Fore-end. I had to switch the sling Attachment Point as I am left handed

Alien said...

I'll toss in my 2 cents.

Shotguns need lights; I'll have to look at the Surefire rig to see how much better it is than what I've got now.

Tried red dots, decided the MB 590 ghost ring setup is the ticket. In daylight it works great, after dark with enough lumens in the mounted light (Surefire to the rescue...) it's a big, dark slab, easy to find.

I use a 6-round sidesaddle, brass up, the 590 mil version carries 4 more in the stock. Much harder to get to, but they're always there. With 18 on board, I'm hard pressed to think of any social situation needing more. 3-gun, different story (side note - some 3-gun time will quickly teach you what you don't know about running a shottie).

Shotties really need a sling, haven't found one I love yet, but there's enough like for the 1 1/4" canvas sling on it now to leave it there.

What would I like? Easy-adjust length on the stock, which I can get, but I don't want to give up the 4 rounds in the stock. And, maybe a Vang comp barrel.

Steve Skubinna said...

Bullshit. That rig isn't what we used in the Eleventy-Twelfth Marine Recon SEAL Ranger Brigade Battalion.

Plus, no timers in a gunfight.

Anonymous said...

You might want to do a search on one of the search engines regarding the A&W shot spreader or diverter. They are out there gives excellent horizontal shot dispersion of either 2 to 1 or 4 to one. every foot vertical either 2 or 4 foot horizontal dispersion and are reported to increase the accuracy with most all slugs. I just found these recently after reading of them back in the 70's.
Won't hurt to look at them.....P

KM said...

Unless you have a WayBackMachine to get you to the trenches of WWI, why would you want a spreader?

Those buckshot pellets each come with a lawyer attached, just like bullets.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Unfortunately for those living in VolksRepubliks with the New Anti-Freedom Laws coming into effect, those who aren't Shotgun People (like me) are going to have to turn into one. Thanks for the Info.

Drang said...

And in one short blog post you answered my questions about what I wanted to do with my Mossberg.

I'd like to see a Box o' Truth review of shot spreaders. There may be something new out there, but I've read reviews of a couple of them over the years, and never heard of one that actually spread a pattern significantly.

Tam said...


I personally take it as all the clue I need about shotgun "spreaders" that not one of the people in the linked thread advocates such nonsense. ;)

RevolverRob said...

I have been looking for another 870. My long gun preference has tended towards rifle, but my wife has always preferred a pump action shotgun. Nearly perfect for her 5'2" frame is an 870 Express Youth, 13" LOP, 21" vent- rib barrel. Add a +3 Nordic extension and a side saddle and/or butt cuff. The only tough thing is no one makes a 20-gauge fore-end with a rail or light attached. A friend and I drilled, tapped, and attached a piece of rail and I mounted a Streamlight to it. Perfect? No, but it works well enough. Add in Remington #3 or Rio #1 buckshot and it'll work for social work.

Now I want to build an 12-gauge 870 though. Probably not unlike your fancy one here. At first I was thinking I'd go semi-auto, then I remembered I might have to go to California for a PhD. So, pumps, levers, bolts, and revolvers are starting to make more sense.


Alien said...

I don't get the interest in shot spreaders. I want more choke to tighten the pattern because sights.

Scott J said...

Thanks for the review. I'm trying to pretend 3 gun doesn't exist because 1. I'm not good enough and 2. I just think IDPA takes up lots of time and eats up lots of ammo/money.

Match report from my first since July: 35th of 57 overall. Had 4 great stages where I was in the 20's overall but two where I was in the 40's when I just screwed up. No PEs, FTNs or HONTs though.

The guy SO-ing me after my best stage of the day pulled me aside to offer some advice. He said after watching me run my 1911 that I should stick with CDP and not let my revolvers see the light of day in IDPA for quite awhile.

That hurts my soul as revolver people but I have to agree he's right. When you said "shotgun people" I decided to share.

Scott J said...

As for being shotgun people my 870 makes it out about twice a year.

I shoot two OOB at 7 yards and confirm 9 pellets per target center mass.

I shoot 2 or 3 slugs and confirm I can hit torso-sized targets at 50.

I do have another "less tacticool" 870 that might see a bit more action this year at turkey shoots time permitting.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

I looked at various "upgrades" for my 870 and could never figure out what might be worth doing, so I left it stock. Now with one post I have an idea where to start - (the Surefire light holder)

I like my standard stock well enough, not too sure about putting a sling on it - I suppose it would be useful under long walk conditions - Anyone used a sling on a slug gun?

Also not sure about the side saddle - is it really any faster than a vest pocket with a double hand-full?

90% of my shotgun experience is Skeet (which is not the same thing as Trap no matter how often it get's used that way) (about 7% is trap, the rest is hunting)

I guess I'll have to try shooting targets with it...

Will said...

Richard B:

are you sure you will always have time to grab your vest and put it on?
When your front door bounces off the inner wall, or your anchored boat moves from the boarders, what ammo is in/on the gun is most likely all you will have for solving the problem. It tends to be a "come as you are" affair.

On top of which, you may not be the one who ends up needing to grab it. Bit awkward if you are wearing the ammo, but not the one holding the gun. Shit happens, why compound your problems.

Sport Pilot said...

Very good post on SG Tam and your mods are bare bones ones. FWIW you really don't need much else. Modern IC or Cyl bore SG from Rem or Moss generally pattern well. It's knowing your SG's pattern at varied distances with its best loads in order to get best results. SG diverters are not a new thing, nor are they really necessary. Instead learn your gun and continue to practice.

Anonymous said...

To back up Will in response to Richard Blaine:

My Mossie 590 is our "home" gun. It's kitted out with the Surefire fore end, and a 6 round sidesaddle, for a total of 14 rounds (nothing in the chamber). If the door bounces off the wall late one night, we have that, ready to go, right-there. Light for target acquisition, and a mostly-full reload right on the gun. (All buckshot, as slugs tend to keep going, and going, and going, until they hit something solid. Like the ground.)

There's no sling on it right now; it's a "grab RIGHT NOW" gun, and I don't really want a sling flapping around. Plus, my wife is right-handed, and I'm a lefty. Kinda makes putting a sling on it pointless, especially as we don't take it hiking.

Old NFO said...

Thanks Tam, but interesting, since I'm OCONUS, it appears the IP address is blocked so I can't view the link. I'll tab this and do it when I get back.

billf said...

Tam,Not to pick,but for someone who is as picky about terminology and semantics as you,why do you keep calling a shotgun a 'gauge'?
You never refer to a rifle as a 'caliber',do you?

jed said...

You never refer to a rifle as a 'caliber',do you?

No, but now that I transitioned to a rifle from a claymore, I call my old sword 'Ex-caliber'.

Tam said...


No, but I called a carbine a "gat" yesterday and a pistol a "heater" the day before.

Angus McThag said...

12ga meh.

M546 ZING!

Shooter ready?


On the way.

One shot per stage.

Boat Guy said...

Agree your 870 is probably as "accesorized" as it needs to be, but lights are good for nearly all civilian applications. I tried and discarded the SureFire fore end as soon as we got them issued; having a "flashlight ND" one night as we were operating. Now that my needs are different, I wish I'd kept the one I probably could have absconded with.

Tam said...

Boat Guy,

The most 'spensive ones have both a master kill switch and a sliding dingus to cover the pressure pad to avoid white light NDs now.

Anonymous said...

And now for something different.

I use a 870 with a an extension tube. I keep it loaded with 5 rounds, chamber empty. The spring is not fully compressed.

I tried a side saddle sometime and just didn't like it at all. I found it caught on everything.

I found a US Gov pouch that was designed to hold 7.62 Nato machine gun belts, rolled up. they come in 2 sizes (50 & 100 rounds, I think), and have a shoulder strap. I keep one of the, holding 35 extra rounds, hanging next to the 870. When things go bump in the night, I can slip the strap over my head, rack the action, and be ready to go in an instant. I wear the pouch so that the ammo is on my left side, at my waist. I can hold the 870 with my right hand, grab a few rounds with my left, and reload VERY fast.



Anonymous said...

PS - I went to this because at 2am, I don't have any pockets. And I found that the side saddle had a death grip on the shells.

I figure that if I find myself in a situation that I can't resolve with 40 roumds of buckshot, I probably need to run away.


Geodkyt said...

RE: Shot Spreaders

Pop Quiz --

Name three highly respected police or military forces that routinely issue shotguns with spreaders.


So, they've been around for practically forver, and have even been issued by the United States military for combat use in the past, but no one actually uses them for combat duties anymore?

Hmmm. . . might be some reason for that. . .

Anonymous said...

The metal followers tend to slap peen themag tube shoulders when fed a steady diet of hard kickin buckshot sez Jerry Kuhnhausen in the Remington 870 shop manual he wrote.I like the scattergun tech lime green one after I filed grooves to match the dimples in my expresses mag tube.if you gotta have an extended mag get some wave washers from Brownells to keep it from getting loose.

1 With A Bullet said...

I appreciate the HoP reference, but my shotgun sounds more like this:

However, if your 'gauge' sounds like this:

find a 'smith to put those springs back in ASAP.