I didn’t know my fourth anniversary present would be blue steel, but by golly, my lovely bride came through for me over the Labor Day weekend. She hit a home run (grand slam?) with her first firearm present for me in a Marinecote version of Mossberg’s hot-selling, innovative Shockwave shotgun.
Officially, the ATF classifies the Shockwave as a “firearm”, not a shotgun. But let’s be candid here: if it walks, talks and goes BOOM like a shotgun, and uses shotgun shells, it’s a shotgun. This one has a 14-inch barrel with a raptor grip. Even better, it’s legal in Illinois and most other states. Better still, you don’t need $200 tax stamps or navigate hurdles in order to buy it.
Taking it out to the range, my buddy John Naese and I both quickly discovered how it brings a big grin to your face as you make it sing.
Virtually all of my social shotguns sport sidesaddle shell carriers. While the Shockwave has a 5+1 capacity, carrying six more on the receiver adds peace of mind (the TacStar Sidesaddle is $40-ish at your local gun store). The only downside to the carrier is that you’ll bump your hip with it if you crowd your side while firing the gun.
Two of our Chicago GSL members warned against holding the Shockwave out in front to aim it conventionally. “You’ll eat it every time,” they cautioned. Valuing our good looks, we followed their advice. Both Mr. Naese and I shared a tendency to fire high and left from the hip.
Realizing early on that I needed a better aiming system than SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess), I ordered a Crimson Trace CMR-206 green laser (about $125 Amazon, or a made-in-China knockoff for $42). To mount it, GG&G makes a combination rail and sling attachment adapter ($30 GG&G). The laser works wonderfully and I have it sighted 1.5 inch low and left of point of impact.
Rather than stipling the grip for better control, I slid a bicycle tire inner tube over the grip, which helps with both control and soaks up more of the mild recoil.
Yes, Mossberg’s engineers worked some serious magic designing the raptor grip. Shooting it from the hip, the gun’s recoil isn’t the least bit objectionable. A .45 Auto pistol has more snap when fired.
Aguila minishells felt extra-mild, but ejecting them proved highly problematic. I ran some of the original minishells purchased roughly fifteen years ago and they consistently created problems after virtually every shot.
Yes, the OpSol Mini-clip ($15 at Amazon – pictured below, in the loading port) makes cycling the short shells reliable, but when it takes two hands and a few four-letter words to open the action after firing, what’s the point? My advice: skip the shorties. Conventional shells cycled smoothly and flawlessly.
So, with a barrel 4 inches shorter than anything available to mere mortals until now, how does it pattern? In short, far tighter than I expected.
The old rule of thumb about riot gun shot spread says expect patterns to spread at roughly 1 inch per yard.
This Mossberg, using Remington Law Enforcement Reduced Recoil buckshot (8 pellets), patterned at half that. At self defense distances between five and six yards, the gun consistently delivered sub 3-inch groups, thanks mainly to one or two fliers. One group measured 2 inches.
So, if you think that 4 inches less barrel means a shot spread similar to a blunderbuss, think again. This isn’t a spray and pray gun. You will need to aim this boomstick if you want hits. Hence the laser.
While this isn’t a formal review, at first blush, this Mossberg will provide you with lots of grins. At the same time, it should also serve faithfully as a relatively compact, controllable and highly effective home-defense tool.
Tell your significant other to have Santa put one under the Christmas tree for you.
If you can wait that long.