Thursday, September 16, 2010

I've been asked by a lot of our club members what constitutes a decent tactical shotgun for our Three-Gun matches or home defense.  Essentially, any short-barreled, 12 gauge shotgun, capable of holding five rounds, that you would select as a home defense gun would work just fine with a few minor refinements.

ACTION TYPE: For cost effectiveness, weight consideration, and total reliability, I'd go with a name-brand Pump shotgun.  Two come to mind right away.  The Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500 or 590 series.  Both are reliable and both come in a tactical model.  They can also be found on the used gun rack at most gun shops. 

From time to time, gun shops will have Remington 870 police trade-ins that they sell off cheap. These police trade-ins may have a few cosmetic blemishes on them but they are still solid shooters.  I have purchased used Remington's and Mossberg Tactical shotguns from $125.00 to $250.00.  The Mossberg is normally on the lower end of the price spectrum when found used.

WHICH MODEL: In my estimation, the Remington 870 is the King of all Pump shotguns!  I've owned several, and have never had a reliability issue with them.  I've also owned both the Mossberg 500 & 590 models with the same results.  The Mossberg may be a bit more ambidextrous because the safety is located on the Tang of the shotgun, which is located right under the shooter's thumb.  As a Lefty, I appreciate this a great deal.  The Model 500, has an alloy receiver so if you're recoil sensitive, it will definitely bark a bit more than the 590.  Personally, I shoot a Benelli M4 semi-auto tactical shotgun, but I'd buy either of the above two brands without hesitation. 

ACCESSORIES: Now for the refinements I mentioned.  Since we're always shooting in low, to no-light conditions, a tactical illuminator is almost a necessity for Three-gun matches.  The Streamlight TLR-1 is an excellent light and can still be found for under $100.00.  Also, the Streamlight Universal Light Mount, which clamps to the magazine tube of almost any 12 gauge shotgun, can be purchased for under $25.00 from several on-line sources.  "LA Police Gear" being one of them.  For more information got to: 

The other addition I'd install is a good tactical sling.  The sling makes using the shotgun far more comfortable and will be very beneficial while you're reloading.  The Sling-Systems model is hard to beat.  For more information go to:

RECOIL FACTOR: Shotguns produce recoil; it's just the nature of the beast.  With hotter loads, the felt recoil can become quite substantial.  If you don't want to eat a bunch of recoil while you're supposedly having fun there are a few options open to you.  The first is to shoot Reduced Recoil shells.  Federal, Winchester, and Remington all make Reduced Recoil loads for law enforcement use.  They are also available to the public.  I prefer the Federal brand.  The problem is finding them right now.  The gun-buying frenzy that the new administration (Yes We Can) created has dried up a lot of dealer's inventories.  My local ammo provider has been out of stock for well over a year. 

The second option is to install a good recoil pad.  The Pachmayr Decelerator pad, or the KICK-EEZ pads are tops, but having a quality pad installed can be just as expensive as a good replacement stock.

With that being said, the only other item I'd consider is a replacement rear adjustable stock with a pistol grip to help control recoil.  The best one's I've found for this is the Knoxx Stock from Blackhawk.  The "Spec-ops" stock has a recoil-reducing system built into it which supposedly absorbs about 95% of felt recoil from hot loads and the length of pull is adjustable up to 4".  This will allow the shotgun to be far more manageable and will fit even the smallest statured shooters.  See: 
I have installed Knoxx stocks on both a Remington Model 870, and a Mossberg 500.  While they work great, I'd argue their claim about 95% recoil reduction.  It feels more like 50% to me.    
SIGHTS: Most of these shotguns come with a standard Bead front sight and that's it.  If you're lucky enough, you may come across one with rifled sights or the Ghost-ring type sights.  If you're buying a shotgun new in the box, I'd probably order one with the Ghost-ring sights on it, if they are available.  Ghost-ring sights resemble those sights found on a military rifle.  They are adjustable for both windage and elevation (left/right & up/down).  These sights will make the shotgun more rifle-like. 

ELECTRONIC SIGHTS: Even though we also allow the use of electronic optics such as the Eo-Tech, Ultra-Dot and Aimpoint, they are not necessary or required for Three-gun.  Your scores will of course improve by using an electronic sight, but they are not mandatory.  If you ever attend a tactical shotgun class and your shotgun is so equipped, remove the dot sight before going to the class.  The weight will become a major issue when you're shooting several hundred rounds in one day.  For Shotgun training course information go to:
AMMUNITION: We shoot twenty (20) rounds of 12 gauge Shotgun ammunition for record.  Ten of these rounds are 00-Buckshot (9-pellet variety) and ten rounds are Rifled Slugs.  The 00-Buck is fired at fifteen yards in two strings of five rounds, fifteen seconds per string.  The Rifled Slugs are fired at twenty-five yards, in two strings of five rounds, fifteen seconds per string.

One word of advice.  If you're going to use a shotgun as a home defense firearm I'd load it with Trap loads (7 1/2 shot), especially if you live in an apartment.  00-Buck and Rifled Slugs will tear right through and inner and outer wall like nobody's business.  You run the risk of injuring an innocent bystander by using heavy loads in a home environment.  Trap loads are devistating at close range and even out to 50+ yards.

I hope this information has been of some use to those of you who may be thinking of buying a tactical shotgun for home defense, or for shooting Three-gun.

Benelli M4 Failure

It appears as if my Benelli M4 Tactical shotgun has finally failed me.  I have fired just north of 1,000 rounds of 00-Buck and rifled slug loads through it and she finally hung up on me.  The 00-Buck loads were the wonderful Federal, law-enforcement, reduced Recoil variety with their Flight-control wad.  The Rifled Slugs I was using were also the Federal L/E Reduced Recoil variety until I ran out of them and then couldn't get any more as availability dried up because of the 2008 presidential election. 

I was then forced to use the Remington, one-ounce Sluggers.  While they were brutal to shoot they were extremely accurate.  So accurate in fact that I again secured my club's Three-gun crown for the sixth time.  After a thorough cleaning it appears that the bolt rails are badly burred.  It will be going back to the factory tomorrow for a full check-up.  I am very surprised by this because before I bought the M4, I had a Benelli M1 Tactical and ran a slew of rounds through it without a hiccup, and the M4 is a far more robust platform than the M1.  More on this when I get the patient back.

NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program Blackpowder Pistol Event

I’m got the itch to shoot some Blackpowder Bullseye again.  I did it many years ago and found it quite fascinating.  I recently completed the requirements to earn the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program’s Distinguished Expert’s Award in the Pistol category.  I had already earned the Distinguished Experts Award in Bullseye pistol several years ago, and decided to try my hand at becoming a Triple Distinguished Expert through this program.  I came close to doing so in their International Air Pistol event but so far I’ve only earned an Expert’s rating with the air gun.  Air Pistol is a very tough event.

This program is not to be confused with the Distinguished Rifle and Pistol awards given by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP).  Those awards are far more difficult to achieve and the matches are far and few between.

I’ve got the itch so bad, that last night I bought a mint .44 caliber, Ruger Old Army revolver off of  The .44 designation is kind of a misnomer because this revolver actually fires a .457 diameter ball. 

My next step is to assemble all of the accessories I’m going to require.  A one-pound canister of FFFg Goex Blackpowder.  Some RWS percussion caps.  A box of precision cast round balls.  A bag of Wonder Wads, and a tube or two of Bore Butter lube.  Let me not forget cleaning supplies.  I don’t want my new Ruger rusting shut overnight.

The course of fire for this program is fairly grueling as it is fired one-handed at both 25 and 50 yards on an NRA approved B-17 International pistol target.  You fire thirteen rounds per target and count your best ten hits for your score at each distance.  You must shoot an aggregate score of both targets and post a 165 or better five times over the course.  Believe me this will not be a cakewalk.   I’ll let you know how I do as time progresses.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adding Additional Weight to a Choate Ultimate Varminter Stock.

Here's a tip for those of you who own a Choate Ultimate Varmint or Ultimate Sniper stock.  For the past three seasons, I have been shooting my Savage 110 FLP rifle which I have bolted into a Choate Ultimate Varminter stock for use in my club’s F-class matches.  I decided that I wanted to add some additional weight to my stock by filling the hollow cavities in the Choate with Lead shot.  It just so happened that I had a bottle of various sized Lead shot in my garage, which I had salvaged from some old shotgun shells. 

There are two such cavities on the Choate stock.  One is in the pistol grip, and the other behind the recoil pad in the butt.  The pistol grip cap is secured with two screws, and I must say I had a devil of a time getting the cover plate off because it is such a good fit.  As I filled the stock, I tapped on the sides to settle the shot so I could as much as I could into each of the cavities.  I filled them to the point where the shot wouldn't rattle around inside the stock.  

 Many F-class shooters who use wood or laminated stocks will drill out the butt and forearm area and add Mercury-filled recoil reducers, pieces of Lead, or steel bar stock to add more weight and reduce felt recoil. 

While I didn't weigh the stock before and after the addition of the Lead shot, it did add several pounds to my rig which is just fine for this rifle will only be fired from the Prone position and off a sand bag or a rest.  The addition of the Lead shot should steady the rifle even further and help dampen felt recoil.  While the .308 is no Butt-kicker, firing several boxes of ammunition will have an effect on anyone’s marksmanship whether you think so or not.

According to the NRA rules, an FT-R class rifle may weigh as much as 18.15 pounds including any attachments.  A Bi-pod is considered an attachment.  So filling the Choate stock with Lead is perfectly legal and well within the scope of fair play.

If you have a Choate stock and you have some Lead shot available why not give it a try.  You’ve got nothing to lose.  The great thing about this experiment is that you can always remove the shot if you don't like how it performs in your stock.

The NRA's Second Annual Women's Wilderness Escape

The National Rifle Association will host it's Second Annual Women's Wilderness Escape, at the 33,000 acre NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico.  There will be ninety women in attendence at this year's event.  The event starts on September 17th and runs through October 4th.  I haven't been to the Whittington Center since 1977 when I was lucky enough to have drawn an Elk tag in the Whittington Center's Elk permit raffle.

I was honored to be selected as one of the staff firearm instructors this year.  I will be instructing the ladies on the FN PS-90 carbine, chambered for the potent 5.7x28 M/M round.  Luckily I've already had some trigger time on this interesting Bullpup carbine so I should be up to speed when I get to Raton.  More on the event when I return from my trip.

My Thought's on the Glock Pistol

My Thought’s on the Glock Pistol.
I truly believe that the Glock pistol is the perfect self-defense handgun available, bar-none.
Let's face the facts; the Glock pistol is today's duty weapon of choice.  More police agencies (about 62%) carry the Glock than any other pistol available.  It’s also the top choice of civilian shooters who are quite serious about their personal protection and home defense.  It also comes in a multitude of sizes and calibers.

I like the Glock because it is a simple, reliable, and pretty much idiot-proof pistol right out of the box.  Personally, the Glock is the ultimate combat handgun: I can draw, align the sights, press the trigger and the bullets will hit their mark with stone cold reliability each and every time I do so.

Mandatory Upgrade for SIG P238 Pistols

SIG has issued a Mandatory Upgrade for their P238 pistols.  Mandatory Upgrade?  Sounds like a product recall to me.  If you have one of these diminutive pistols check the serial number against the recall list and get it Upgraded if needed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Gunner's Galley is Now Open!

Hi everyone.  The Gunner's Galley is now open.  Welcome to my new blog.  In the coming weeks we'll be posting shooting tips, articles, industry recalls, and anything pertaining to the shooting sports and firearm training.  Thanks for stopping by.