We here at TTAG wholeheartedly welcome the United States Marine Corps to the year 2006. Used primarily for door breaching (shooting large slabs of metal through the hinges of doors that refuse to open) shotguns (in their military roles) haven’t changed much since Vietnam. The current state of the art is a Mossberg 500 12 gauge dubbed the M500, and it looks like that platform has just gotten a much needed makeover.
The “Military Enhancement Kit” for the M500 shotgun allows the USMC to use what’s been available to American civilians for years. According to reports the kit adds a few extra bells and whistles which improve the gun’s effectiveness.
First up is a replacement stock. Instead of the standard shotgun stock the MEK now allows Marines to use either a collapsible stock or a simple pistol grip attachment. This makes sense when your sole purpose for carrying the gun is to breach doors from less than an inch away. It also provides a much more comfortable shooting platform for those who don’t have the arms of an orangutan.
Also added is a Picatinny rail on the bottom and sides of the pump. In theory it should allow the operator to add all sorts of equipment to the shotgun to make it more useful, but beyond a simple flashlight I’m not seeing anything I’d want to add. Is anyone really going to need an AN/PEQ-15 on their pistol grip scattergun? I feel like it’s more likely to annoy soldiers and slice up their hands than provide much actual utility. Then again I’m just a keyboard commando so what do I know?
The last improvement is a vented and crenelated muzzle device. Robert wasn’t impressed when Mossberg added them to civilian shotguns, but in this case it does make sense. Having a ported muzzle device allows the shotgun to be placed directly against a door without concern that it might create a seal, causing all sorts of nasty side-effects (like barrels splitting from over-pressure and such). The crenelated muzzle also allows the shotgun to “bite” into the door and keep it in place.
There once was a time when the military was driving innovation, when “MIL-SPEC” was the coolest thing out there. These days it seems the civilian world is doing most of the innovation and the military cherry picks the best ideas to put into the field.
Full-length rails were something that came into fashion right around the time when I was in college and have since been mostly phased out in favor of keymod and other attachment styles. Slim is the new sexy, but the USMC may not have gotten that memo yet.
We look forward to the 2030 MEK which might include a keymod handguard and maybe even a red dot.