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Pistol Shotgun Showdown

We Pit the Remington TAC-14 Against the Mossberg Shockwave

Tracking the [perhaps misguided] obsession with short shotguns isn’t an exact science. Certainly Doc Holiday using one to great effect against Tom McLaury in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral didn’t hurt. There’s probably at least one sawed-off shotgun in every Western movie, and they make regular appearances in crime dramas and action flicks alike. Today we look at two new short 12-gauge guns that put a new twist on an old idea.

A Tale of Four Scatterguns
The American system of laws is a bit convoluted. While we’re far from Brunei or Burundi, there’s still a lot on the books that doesn’t make sense. And the firearms at the core of this article are a decent example.

Legally speaking, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ definition of a shotgun stipulates that it’s intended and capable of firing from the shoulder. The federally unrestricted shotgun can legally wear a buttstock or pistol grip, provided the barrel is at least 18 inches long and the overall length (OAL) is at least 26 inches.

Short-Barreled Shotgun
A short-barreled shotgun is a definition applied to a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches, OAL less than 26 inches, and the intention and capability of firing from the shoulder. An SBS, like a regular shotgun, can rock whatever stock/grip configuration you want. You’ll have to pay the King’s Ransom of $200 to build or purchase one in the United States, though.

Originally intended as a National Firearms Act catchall, certain types of shotguns fall into this category. An any other weapon (AOW) can’t have a buttstock, nor can it ever have had one. With the AOW, as with silencers, you aren’t required to notify the BATFE prior to interstate transportation — just make sure it’s legal in your destination state. The transfer tax of an AOW is also only $5, but if you manufacture one yourself, using BATFE Form 1, it’ll still cost $200.

Here’s what we’re looking at in this article. Follow closely, because it’ll get a little weird. Like an AOW, the firearm category is a little strange. As with an unregulated non-NFA item, the firearm has an OAL of more than 26 inches, but it isn’t intended to, nor can it be, configured to fire from the shoulder. And, barrel length restrictions don’t apply.

We can’t pretend any of this makes sense, nor that virtually the same gun could fall into several categories depending on its original configuration and who configured it — but we have to work with the laws on the books.

RECC-170050-PISTOL-SHOTGUN-lineup.jpg RECC-170054-NOTAOW

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Admittedly, the first time we saw this recently popular and strange, non-NFA category of firearm, we were a tad skeptical. At the time, a handful of small companies were producing them, and it looked like a curious niche — perhaps they were simply flying under the BATFE radar. After all, this is an agency that regularly makes massive enforcement policy and regulatory changes through reinterpretation at the request for clarification or permission from a bewildered public. But now major manufacturers, both Remington and Mossberg, are producing these “firearms,” so it’s time we all took notice.

While both of these firearms are unregulated on a federal level, it’s not always a safe assumption that they’ll be legal on a local or state level. As usual, your mileage may vary. Do some homework and check with your local law enforcement agency before you acquire anything that resides on the fringes of firearm law.

Though legally the Remington TAC-14 and Mossberg Shockwave are defined as “firearms,” for the purposes of clarity we’ll call them shotguns. Or scattergats. Or stubbies. Putting the word “firearm” in quotes gets tired quickly, and it’s a damned bit distracting.

Using very short shotguns, especially stubbies like the AOW breacher shown earlier in this piece, introduces some hazards. The rule of thumb is to avoid firing them too quickly. Remember, the muzzle is just beyond the forward grip; if your hand slips off the end as you’re pulling the trigger, you may have a hard time clapping later on. The Shockwave has a strap to prevent such an occurrence, but that doesn’t mean it should be your only prophylactic measure.


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