Welcome to GSL

This login is for the website administrators.

Please use the member login link in the main navigation bar to access the members sections.

Member Login
Lost your password?

Short Shotgun Crazy

January 10, 2018

Mossberg shockwave870 TAC-14 870 tac dm


Photo Credit:



Blog By Michael Keleher.


During 2017, Mossberg and Remington have turned the self-defense buying public absolutely ravenous to get their hands on street legal short 14 inch barreled/pistol grip shotguns. Having an extended history with short barreled shotguns myself and a being rather well-versed student of physics, recoil and accuracy in short barreled guns, I am amazed at how these guns have taken the firearms industry and public by storm.

You probably know someone in your life that just had to have a “sawed off shotgun” or who always wanted one with a pistol grip on it. The reasons for these desires I believe are rooted in the mystic idea they are “B.A.D” or visually dominant. Also, on television and in the movies these short guns can blow up cars, buildings and toss bad guys through the air on par with 105 Howitzer rounds

I recall my first illuminating encounter with pistol gripped short barreled shotguns thirty years ago. I was a brand new federal agent on range day. Another agent brought out a long-barreled Winchester shotgun with a rubber Pachmayr pistol grip screwed on to the back of the receiver where the wood stock would normally sprout.

The owner proudly claimed to be many things, including “kind of a gunsmith.” I was particularly unimpressed by his gunsmithing abilities, believing any idiot who owns a gun and could turn a screwdriver in a clock-wise manner could mount this pistol grip on the back of a receiver. Just because you own a guitar doesn’t mean you are Ted Nugent.

One of the other new agents, (let’s call him Jeff, because his name sounds like…oh I don't know…JEFF) was instantly in love with the short package shotgun and announced “Oh man that is so BAD! Can I shoot it? Can I shoot it? Can I shoot it?”

I stood to the side, arms folded watching this fun develop. I had grown up with shotguns and hunting. Jeff had not. I was pretty sure Jeff, an educated man to be sure, was consumed with “BAD” and not any of the applied principles of physics when he lined this oh so sexy Winchester directly up with his nose.

One “Kaboom” and a certain amount of Mandatory Recoil later (Physics-not just a good idea, it’s the law!), my pal Jeff had managed to smack himself directly in the nose, cheek and mouth and yet not dislodge any teeth.
The gun owner/cool guy/pseudo-gunsmith asked if Jeff was alright and if he wanted to shoot again. Jeff passed the gun back along with the Manly Man’s Mantra, “Nah. I’m good man.”

Jeff and I have retold this story many times over the years, and as he tells it, the matter finished with me commenting “They don’t make good pistols, do they?” Hey, no blood, no foul right…and look at all he learned!

Shooting full sized shotguns with heavy loads like 00 Buck or slugs is plenty jarring for most people. If you cut down the size or weight of a shotgun, like these new factory manufactured shorties, you have more perceived recoil and twisting torque. The results hopefully pivot around your two support hands on the gun-if they are still on the gun at the point the shot leaves the other end of the gun. When you accompany this with an off the shoulder firing technique, you have to meet the not so lovely sisters “Violent Recoil” and her younger sister” Not so accurate delivery of scattered shot.”

Short guns are just harder to shoot well. They fun to shoot. But rare to see someone shoot an entire box of 12-gauge through one. A few rounds will usually elicit the well documented “Nah. I’m good man.”

Shooting shorties is generally conducted by some variation of hip-shooting or holding the entire gun away from the body- the least accurate way to shoot any shotgun.

You will eventually want to shoot one of these hand weapons one handed. Go ahead and get it out of your system. Once will probably be plenty. Just another of those learning moments that remind one that you are not a TV or movie star shooting blanks, and you will go looking for some unsuspecting non-gun person to try and convince to shoot this gun one handed for your amusement.

Some people can instinctually hip shoot shotguns. I have found the vast majority can’t. I have seen a guy hip shoot clay birds with unerring accuracy. I have seen many others barely keep hip-shots within a range and have seen several launch blasts high into the sky in a manner that would be dangerous to low flying aircraft.

As a federal firearms instructor, we used to teach hip-shooting with short barreled shotguns to agents at 5 or 10 yards on a huge Andre the Giant-sized paper target. We routinely saw people shoot the target stands, the floor, the walls and yes even the ceiling. You can’t imagine the majesty of a ceiling explosion accompanied by falling fluorescent light shards and dust on an indoor range until you experience it first-hand. It’s kind of like being inside a really loud shake up snow globe.

A better non-shouldered technique, is clamping the butt of a shotgun under the armpit, or with a short duckbill handgrip gun like the Remington 870 Tac-14 or Mossberg Shockwave, pull the grip and support hand tight and high up against the side of your ribs. This will be your most accurate way to shoot the tiny siege weapons, but please start up close to your target-you may be amazed how slight twist in your body or pressure on the gun can cause you miss the target completely-even with a cut down shotgun. Shot spread won’t always overcome poor aiming ability.

You can roughly figure about one inch of spread per yard as a starting point-until you can check your gun and load yourself on a piece of paper or cardboard. Every model is different and different sized shot will have their own ballistic behaviors. Skip the slugs in these short guns. Just skip it. They are not pleasant to shoot, and you are unleashing a heavy round in a not too accurate manner. Why bother?

I’m not poo-pooing these guns, just sharing the benefits of some long term well earned bruises in hopes of preventing drama/trauma with others. Are they packaged in a new handy size? Oh yeah. You can move and groove all through your house or buildings with awesome short-range firepower in a 5-pound package.

The small size also makes them easier to store and thus easier to have on hand if you need a self-defense weapon smaller than a full-sized shotgun. Mossberg has sold plenty of their Persuader 18” barrel/pistol grip shotguns for 30+ years at a steady rate.

Both Remington and Mossberg have brought out 20-gauge versions (20-gauge, Hmmm, that seems more pleasant!) and now, for some reason which escapes me, Remington has introduced a magazine fed 870, the DM Model. They put that package into their pistol gripped, 14” Tac-14DM shotgun with three round and six round magazines…Ok. Whatever floats your boat. Hey these would be cool to have on a boat too! I am sure if you don’t have a reason yet, you will create enough good reasons inside your head to buy one soon for the reasonable sum of $300-$400.

I am sure it won’t be long before we see slings, lasers, red dot sights, infrared target designators, I-Phone mounts and curb feelers hung all over these new shorty guns to increase their B.A.D. quotient.

4 Responses to Short Shotgun Crazy

  1. John Wag on January 11, 2018 at 10:58 am

    I would seay that your pal Jeff learned quite a lesson that day.  

  2. GSL1598 on January 11, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    With the defence loads that have come out for the 410ga. / .45long colt pistols (Tarus Judge), I would like to see a 410ga short barrel shotgun where recoil might be more reasonable than the 12ga or even the 20ga. Even if it were a single shot it would be impressive to the bad guy but a 3 or 5 shot pump action would still be light weight, more-so than the 12ga currently offered. Just my thoughts.

    • Michael Keleher on January 12, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      GSL 1598- The Judge was the most recent "ultimate house defense" gun prior to these shorty shotguns. They sold like hotcakes too. Mix and match ammo was appealing selling point but anything smaller than large buckshot did not have much penetration.

      It has only been in the last two or three years I have seen other instructors recommend the 20 gauge as an alternative self defense gun. They have a ready supply of cheap shells, low recoil and muzzle flash. The guns themselves weigh less than a 12 gauge and can be had in youth models with shorter barrels and stocks….what's not to love?

      When non-gun people ask about "What gun should I buy for my wife for around the house when I am gone?" I always replay "Get them a single shot 20-gauge shotgun. Simple, light and effective when accompanied by the phrase-I've called the police and I have a shotgun!" They usually look at me like I have two heads but it remains good advice.



  3. Steve Stanley on January 16, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    I now own a couple of  Mossberg Shockwaves.  Please remember that the Shockwave is NOT a shotgun per Mossberg and the ATF. Using a small rubber adapter,  I can load mini shells into it and fire without any problems.  I viewed a Hickock45 video on UTube and and used the methods shown. It is a very likable short barreled gun, AGAIN NOT a shotgun. I would like to fire it more but I lost the plug adapter for mini shells. And using mini shells is the primary reason for buying them. If I want to shoot full size 12 gauge shells, ill use my Keltec KSG. Everyone have a great time shooting and as the Gunny (R.Lee Ermey) says  "keep your powder dry".