Monday, November 17, 2008

Improving your shotgun--do's and don't's.

Yesterday, on a particular forum that I participate in (usually by ridiculing the mall ninjas and Rambo wanna-be's who think that they're big and bad) a member sent me a message asking for help in customizing a Remington 870 shotgun for home defense. He was all set to put a side-folding stock and some kind of accessory rail on it and wanted my suggestions as to what he should put on. He admitted that he'd gleaned from my prior public posts that I had some experience with fighting shotguns.

Well he's right, and this is basically what I told him:

As far as an 870 goes, it's an excellent home-defense tool, but you'll come out ahead if you leave the silly stuff off of it. The next time you see a police car, if you can see it's shotgun, notice that it still has it's factory stock. 99%+ of military and law enforcement shotguns do and that's not because they're just not as hi-speed as the internet Rambos on these forums are. No serious combat shotgun has a side-folding stock or any other sort of collapsible stock and that's for several reasons. A proper stock gives you support, helps you to aim, provides balance, absorbs recoil, and is useful should you need to wrestle with or otherwise strike with the shotgun directly. By contrast, I'd be hard-pressed to think of a disadvantage to a solid wood or plastic stock.

Folding stocks, on the other hand, are awkward, unreliable, often make recoil unmanageable, and when the stress is high and you're moving fast, you aren't going to be messing with it anyway. It may look "cool" to some, but it tells the rest of us that the person holding it really doesn't know what he's doing. Posers have those on their guns. Professionals don't.

So leave that part of the gun alone and invest the money that you would have wasted on a folding stock on more ammo or other accessories like a Tac Star sidesaddle shell holder(a must, IMHO) or a good Surefire fore-end light. Again, there's no call for a rail when Surefire makes the best light on the market and it's part of the fore-end. Look up the Surefire 618 FA, or the 618 LF if you want an LED, and go with that. Yeah, it's pricey, but what's your life worth? If you want a defensive tool that will really come through when you need it, there's no substitute for this one.

Also, avoid stupid stuff that you see posers with in the magazines and on websites. This includes lasers, bayonets, heat shields, breechers on the muzzle and other crap intended to make the shotgun look "bad-ass". And leave the slings off of it, too. You're not carrying it on a 20 mile march and it'll just get caught on stuff when you're rushing.

In sum, Minimalism is the way to go, and a light and extra shells are all you really want. Keep the stock, add a Surefire front end, mount a sidesaddle extra shell carrier for $25.00 or so, and add a magazine tube extension such as made by Remington themselves or Choate Machine Tool. The extra shot or two that they give you are worth the money. If you still want four more rounds, put a speed-feed stock on it. These handy stocks look like factory stocks but have two spring-loaded shell tubes--one on each side--and each holds two more rounds. Using those on-gun holders, you can have up to sixteen rounds on the gun, giving you all that you'll need to end a fight without scrambling for extra shells in the dark.

Do these things and you'll have a fighting shotgun on par with most anything in use today by the average professional law enforcement agency that uses such tools.

And then get out and PRACTICE with it until your load, unload and malfunction drills are second-nature and you can hit your target dead center from 10 and 25 yards with shot and 25, 50 and 100 yards with 1oz slugs. (hint: reduced recoil are the way to go. You're not trying to drop a trophy buck at 150 yards...reduced recoil shells have all the power you need without the jarring recoil that slows follow-up shots and takes all the fun out of practice.)My own 870, waiting on it's Speedfeed stock to arrive.


  1. Anonymous11:29 AM

    I have always been told for firearms the K.I.S.S. rule applies. That is Keep It Simple Stupid.

  2. Another option for those who fantasize about being combat in their own home is to get out their GI Joe dolls and go to town.

  3. Riiight. because we all know that home invasions never occur, especially not in the Washington D.C. area.
    I'm guessing that someone (uh--that would be you Freewheel) needs to look to the left-hand column here, click on the Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog, and educate yourself. I'm a cop, and I've seen the need for armed law-abiding homeowners. Of course I also think that a lot of bicyclists need to be sent to traffic school to learn how to ride their two-wheelers in accordance with traffic laws and other users of our roadways and bike paths.

  4. I clicked on "Civilian Self-Defense Blog" as you suggested and the headline was "Woman Shot When Mistaken for Intruder." Oops!

  5. And if you were half as smart as you pretend to be, you'd notice that there are numerous stories there which can be searched by label. And if you click on the one marked "Home Invasion", you'll see how a homeowner used a shotgun to run off two intruders who were kicking his door in just two days ago.

    What was that you said? "Oops"?...

    No wonder you're still riding that bike while the rest of us evolved on up to cars. ;-)

  6. I have an old JC Higgins 12 gauge pump shotgun that I have just left as is. It shoots nice and I love it the way it is. :)

  7. Well, if the microwave and the dryer hadn't both gone tits-up within the same month, I'd be out shopping for an 870 right about now. Thanks for helping me keep focused on priorities... now just to hold tight til after the holidays.

  8. All I have to say is.......



  9. Hi my name is Doug and I am a gun modifier.
    I did take my mossy 500 and put a
    M-4 telescoping stock and pistol grip on it, Only because my 14 year old niece was having issues with the stock length,and it looks kinda kool.
    But she shoots it :)

  10. A shotgun is a simple weapon. You pull the trigger, it goes BOOM, you rack it and it's ready to go boom again. Why screw that up with all the bells and whistles?

    Shotguns like to be abused, but folding stocks do not. That's two things that just don't go together.

    Our shotguns all have Speedstocks and ghost ring rear sights. That's about as complicated as I would want a shotgun to be.

  11. Simple is definitely best for shotguns (especially because on the job, they're pool weapons, which means that no one maintains them), but I love my Surefire lights. It is dark half the time, after all, and positive target identification is a good time.

  12. As a police officer , I want to be able to grab my shotgun in the cruiser and know that it is ready to go. No fancy stocks, sights or other nonsense.

    Just the basics and let the 12 gauges of justice do what they do best.

    As a homeowner who needs a self defense weapon , the same principal applies. A basic 12 gauge is ALL you will ever need. One that you can use simply and without having to "manage" is even better.

    Pimp my ride is better left to TV than to a firearm.

  13. Noah D11:36 AM

    Thanks for the input. I've got a bog-standard Mossy 500 (18+"), which shoots just fine, but the length of pull on the standard polymer stock is too long (I'm short). I considered a pistol grip, but your part about not being able to strike someone with a folding stock would seem to go double for stock.

    Dropped the idea of putting on a heatshield, too.

    Still, I need a shorter stock. Any recommendations?

    Gotta keep reminding myself to put the money for 'dress-up' into 'function'. Maybe Santa will give me some Surefire love this year...

    wv: 'unflatin' - taking the air out of my widbag ideas for improving the Mossy. :)