Big Box Shotguns

I confess to being conflicted on the topic of mag-fed shotguns like this one:

As any fule kno, when it comes to MOAR FIREPOWER I am generally on the side of the angels, i.e.  the MOAR, the BETTAH.

But having handled several shotguns of this type in the past, I have to say that I’m not sure they’re for me, simply because they are unbelievably cumbersome and unwieldy.  Shotgun ammo is heavy, Bubba, and unless you are of the Ahnuld / Stallone type, these guns are a bitch to be around.  (More so for anything on the naughty end, of course, but we can discuss that topic another time.)

My thought is that if you’re going to need ten or twelve shots of 00-Buck, that would be what we Old ‘Uns used to call a sticky situation, and I for one would rather employ an AK (or even an AR-15) which would give me all the follow-up shots I’d need, and more (20-, 30- or higher-capacity magazines, none of that 10-round stuff).

Remember, I’m not saying “Don’t get one”, but be aware that these are not movie guns to be waved around — at least, not for long.

I remember a friend once showing me his Franchi-SPAS shotgun, which could switch from pump to semi-auto by clicking a toggle and jiggling the slide:  I could barely lift it, unloaded.  It weighed nearly ten lbs, and the prospect of actually running around with the thing made me tired just thinking about it.  (Unloaded, a decent over-and-under weighs about seven lbs, a side-by-side about six, and a Mossberg 500 about five.)

I can’t help but think that mag-fed shotguns fall into the same category:  excellent concept, but unrealistic in practice.  It’s like those sexy 50-round drum mags one sees for Tommy guns, AKs and so on:  wonderful, until you have to work with them.


  1. Same, here. Perfect case of wanting something I don’t really have a reason to want. For years I’ve wanted a Saiga-12, but every time I get to the point of purchase I remember I already have a gorgeous AK that I’ll grab over it for any self defense need, and a bunch of field shotguns I’ll grab over it for hunting.

  2. About 10 pounds was the standard for infantry weapons from the Brown Bess musket (10.5 pounds) through the M14 (9.5 pounds).

  3. It makes a lot of sense. The slowest thing in using a shotgun for “operations” BY FAR is reloading a shotgun. (semi, pump). This becomes extremely obvious under a stressful situation. (just to pretend, go try a 3 gun course, the slowest part of the entire course is the shotgun reload). And reloading a shotgun in a bad spot (under a bed, lying underneath something, whatever) is really slow and awkward. Grabbing another mag and slamming that sucker home? bam 2 seconds.

    shotgun ammo is heavy. If you have already chosen to carry a shotgun, well then you understand the weight penalty. But in close quarters, mighty effective weapon. (1.125oz of lead at 1200fps more or less). And now with their major deficiency removed? Not a bad idea. IF they can make them reliable.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly. I once got into a “shotgun phase” and ended up with a Mossberg 500 Security with Ghost ring sights, SureFire flashlight forend and a sidesaddle for carrying six more rounds of LE 00-Buck, tactical sling, the works … but after getting it out of my system I sold it, too heavy to want to really use it. I mean it would have been PERFECT for social use in CHAZ/CHOP, but nobody seems interested in that endeavor, unfortunately.

    It was about then that I read through the Ammo Oracle and learned that the old 55-grain canelured bullet in an AR was perhaps the perfect HD round as it was bad on perps, not much energy after going through 2 sheets of standard drywall. I have my .45 on the nightstand, and since the recent troubles Began, an AR in the BR corner now.

    However, if someone is inclined to use an HD shorty, I will recommend, again, the perfectly serviceable Mossberg Maverick 88 for about $250. Then get a Blackhawk bandolier to hang more shotshells over your shoulder, keep the weight off the gun. The 88 with full tube is not a bad weight to firepower ratio, IMO. No gimcracks and gewgaws, though. And remember to Google the “Rob Haught Shotgun Technique” on YouTube. Thank me later.

    The Maverick isn’t going to win any beauty competitions, but it’s a tool, like an electric drill, not supposed to go skeet shooting with it. Use a little 800-1000 grit wet dry paper to ease the sharp edges on the action bars (not round them off, just make sure you smooth any tool marks and lightly take the sharp edge off). Pump it a couple hundred time every night for a week while watching TV, and you’ll have a perfectly reliability’s HD shotgun you couldn’t beat for functionality at any price. And your great grandkids will still be hunting commies with it a century from now.

  5. The Mossberg 590M has been getting some decent reviews, and is supposedly very reliable. Magazines are a bit expensive, though.


    Unlike hard cased ammo, which can be left loaded in a magazine practically forever, soft sided shotshells may (will?) eventually deform when left loaded in magazines under spring pressure, and the resulting oval profile WILL NOT CHAMBER.

    This PSA brought to you courtesy of my colleague Egregious Charles, who discovered this the hard way.

    1. I’ve never thought of this possible problem, nor even heard of it. Thanks for the tip…and I mean that in a non-obscene way.

    2. See, I hadn’t even thought of that. Another check mark in the “Negative” column.

    3. Another reason for regular range trips to properly dispose of old ammo (as if I needed another reason)

  7. Geek has it right on the deformation in the box mags. I was shooting a 3 Gun Nation match in Orlando, FL, and saw that failure manifest in a competitor’s gun. He DNF’d the stage, and was out thereafter.

    As far as “handling”, my 870s are Point Defense guns, staged fore and aft in the house. #4 Buck, 2-3/4″ shells, and factory 2 shot magazine extensions. They’re not for “hitting the streets”, other than maybe confronting a wanna be car burglar. They’re for defending me and mine ON my property. Or, the occasional competition.

    If I had to respond to the call of my local Sheriff to be deputized to help with rioters, it’s going to be my lightweight AR with fast optics, and carrying a vestload of pMags. I’ll gladly weild the 300 yd. “sure thing” range, vs. the +1oz of lead-per-round of the shotty. And the AR is no slouch at shotgun distances, either.

    I’ve gotta concur with JCinPA, too. If I didn’t already own the 870s, I’d be buying a classic Mossberg 500 or two, for the same job. Not as pretty, just as effective, and less of a loss if taken for “evidence”, after Civic Duties.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

    1. Jim! Good to see you still knocking around, man! We’ll have to catchup someday!

  8. +1 to the points above. In the late 80’s, I read Massad Ayoob’s write up of the 1986 FBI shootout in Miami, wherein an agent wound up running his pump shotgun with one arm. This convinced me that there might be some utility in a semi-auto, and led to me buying a Benelli Super 90 M1 with a 7 round mag. Still have it.

    That said, my front line weapon is an AR, with this sight–

    –and this light–

  9. Also, bear in mind the Remington 870DM only has 6 round magazines and they are impossible to find. It only comes from the factory with 1 magazine, not really a rapid reload under those circumstances.
    With Remington’s impending bankruptcy sale and the noises the new owners are making about abandoning the tactical market it doesn’t bode well for that changing.

  10. I have the 870 as a door clearing gun to allow me to get to a better home defense weapon.

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