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.

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52 Responses to USMC Pimps Their Shotguns

  1. Ok… Keep in mind that a breaching shotgun is also often used for room clearance after you make entry. (Not strictly speaking SOP, but it is done quite often.) Being the military, and thus not concerned about the NFA, I would have gone with something like a 8″ to 10″ barrel and a standoff muzzle device along with a shorty mini-stock. You don’t need much more than 3-4 shells in the tube for what the gun is intended for and, quite frankly, it would shave a pound or two of off the weight of a secondary piece of gear.

    I’m a big fan of the Magpul hand guard for the 500. That will give you more than enough ability to mount a light to the thing and will, again, cut down on weight. The railed affair that they are issuing here is adding a pile of weight and making the gun LESS useable. That’s pants on head retarded.

    • I recently Magpul-ed my Mossberg. I couldn’t be happier with the forend in particular. In addition to your point I’d like to add that it covers the both sides of the barrel, which helps to prevent getting burnt while working the action, especially if you have large hands. Which is nice for shooters who don’t like to use gloves, myself included.

    • pwrserge,

      “Being the military, and thus not concerned about the NFA, I would have gone with something like a 8″ to 10″ barrel …”

      And the instant that the U.S military employs “short barreled” shotgun, the part of the NFA that applies to short barreled shotguns is immediately unenforceable thanks to the Miller decision … of course that will not stop the police, prosecutors, and courts from contradicting the Miller decision and the U.S. Constitution anyway.

      • The USCG which is both Federal law enforcement and military employs short barreled (14″) Remington M870 shotguns all the time. We can load them with copper sabot slug for shooting out engines, flashbang warning munitions, or good ol’ fashioned “00” buck shot. They aren’t used for boarding usually just pursuit missions of drug runners. A few flashbangs across the bow (think someone throwing an M80 in front of you) to get your attention, hen if you don’t stop we load up the slugs and take out your engines.

      • Oh and we also employ Mk18’s for some of our more highly trained units. LEDETS and MSRTs, those sort of people.

        • Meh, mk18s are a mixed bag. They are more or less useless past 300 yards or so. (Great for urban combat, not so much for shooting across hills in Afghanistan.) In my opinion, the M16A4 was probably the finest rifle ever deployed by the US military. It’s short and handy enough to clear buildings with, but has the ability to reach out and touch people at 600 meters with the right ammo.

        • pwrserge says:
          “…the M16A4 was probably the finest rifle ever deployed by the US military. It’s short and handy enough to clear buildings with…”

          I liked the A2 and A4 while in the Corps., but they most definitely were not short or handy while clearing buildings during my deployments. They might feel short and handy if you’re clearing the Taj Mahal, but not when you’re clearing Mohammed’s junky little house.

          My unit also had the Mossberg 500 during deployments. They were the basic 18.5″ barreled variants. They would have been nice to have with the breaching barrel. The rails on the pump, not so much.

        • It’s not perfect, agreed. But it’s a 7lb rifle that you can short stock and maneuver quite effectively. Indoors, it’s all point shooting anyway, you’re not going to be up on your sights most of the time.

    • I guess you missed the memo that use of the word Ret****d is a sign of gross insensitivity. This isn’t about being politically correct. It’s about hurting our brothers and sisters out there who have handicapped sibs, cousins, grand kids, etc. Watch your mouth!

  2. uh oh, i already see Ian and Karl at Forgotten weapons throwing a fit over this. they seem to think there is NEVER a reason to use a pistol grip shotgun over a shoulder fired shotgun. They don’t seem to want to admit that deployment time is a huge factor…not to mention practice. We pretty much all have more time with a shoulder fired shotgun so when using a pistol grip, especially when hip firing, takes extra practice.

    • To be fair, their testing had the gun being placed in a primary weapon role rather than a handy breaching tool. If the purpose is to blow the lock out of a door, a tiny little mini-shotgun will do the job just fine. The Marine in question can always drop the thing and go back to his M4 or M9 if he actually needs to shoot people. (or just let the rest of the team handle the entry) If the need is immediate, even having a tube full of 2-3 breaching rounds is more than sufficient for emergency close range use.

    • Karl and Ian are great guys but not door breachers on a team nor military in current engagements so throw the fit the facts won’t change. They don’t even carry fully loaded gear when pretending on the stages they shoot.

      • Well, Karl DOES run in Trooper / Armored divisions quite often and Ian ran a hilarious Mexican drug mule getup at an AK competition last year. (The video had me cracking up for an hour.)

        • Yes he does with empty water bladders and sometimes without plates and often without full mag pouches. Definitely not the same as wearing everything and having to kick in door after door all day switching from shotgun to primary weapon time and time again.
          Again great guys but no comparison to the real out here doing in day in and day out.

    • Pistol grips on 500s are flat out stupid. Remington and Mavericks they some kind of sense, but how are you suppose to reach the safety? And if you have a fixed stock, they really don’t handle any better, and it makes it harder to sling as a secondary weapon.

  3. Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children do just fine without the accessorizing, and in a war zone will sh_t you out a pistol-gripped shotgun (even if it’s not in your unit’s TOA). They will get you slugs, frangible breeching rounds, and other specialty rounds. Again though, those are also-ran items when it comes to rifles/pistols etc., and they don’t waste a moment on ‘stuff’ that’s a civilian solution looking not only for a problem, but for a military contract, when their first order is to train their Marines (your MARINES) to never modify their weapons or their ammo.

    • I’ve seen quite a few guys deploy with their own custom uppers for their rifles. It’s not common, but it does happen. It depends on your unit.

      • Really? I have heard that in no uncertain terms gets you a proper ass chewing from the brass and usually a not fun ride home.

        • Again… It REALLY depends on the unit. This is second hand data from my buddies who are still active or have moved to reserve / NG units.

    • I believe the instruction is to 1) Not invite an inquiry into the “humane-ness” (conformity with Geneva) of their ammo; and 2) not “look like the enemy” by using their styled weapons or the “bag-of-ass” appearance they put-out when everyone isn’t “uniform”; and 3) looking like switched-on special forces might save your life if the enemy is scared, but it might make you a bigger target, in-country, than a saluted officer, if you merely put a “tactical” ‘sniper-grip’ on your AR [https://www.cheaperthandirt.com/product/ar-15-panther-tactical-grip-black-dpms-adjustable-for-increased-control-and-accuracy-easy-installation-arr-012.do?sortby=ourPicks&refType=&from=fn].

      The U.S.M.C. was able to look the other way when AK-47’s were ‘obtained’ or convoy security rolled with an ‘unassigned’ shotgun.

  4. The rails will be nice for a light. I’ve also learned that as time changes so do devices so who knows what might ride there in the future like maybe a laser plasma cutter. It shouldn’t cut up your hands if your doing it right, wearing gloves(recommended) or have rail covers.
    Also who’s to say that the pistol grip get replaced in the future depending on mission tasking’s and the shotgun suddenly finds itself in a firefight role.
    The breacher end is a good thing.
    Keymod LOL really? I have to buy a extra part to put a rail where the rail coulda been to start with? Waste of tax dollars

    • An extra $3 part? Please. Oh, and if you get into a firefight with your breaching shotgun you done goofed. It’s a secondary weapon for a reason. That M4 you’re carrying around isn’t for show.

      • “Oh, and if you get into a firefight with your breaching shotgun you done goofed. It’s a secondary weapon for a reason. That M4 you’re carrying around isn’t for show.”

        If I am a Marine using a breeching shotgun, I have other Marines backing me up.The fact that I need to breech a door is a pretty good hint that there might be a firefight on the other side of the door. That’s why the Marines see to it that I’m not alone in that situation.
        If, OTOH, I am a civilian, what need do I have for a breeching shotgun?

        • Yeah… People forget that the job of the guy with the shotgun isn’t to clear the building. It’s to get the rest of his squad or fireteam into the building so that THEY can clear it.

        • If, OTOH, I am a civilian, what need do I have for a breeching shotgun?

          Because… REASONS

          😛

      • +++

        $3? Nothing costs $3, and the poor bastard supplier paid more than $3/part attempting to comply with the government contract. . .

        1) Yes, I attempted to hire the ‘proper’ amount of minorities.
        2) Yes, I attempted to hire pregnant ladies, and then (desparately) attempted to not make them feel like it was a big deal to my business when they took off for maternity leave 2 months later.
        3) Yes, I use a bio-medical / HAZMAT certified carting service
        4) Yes, I had my attorney properly review this 6000 page contract
        5) Yes, I have made my premises and last 5 years of books and records available during business hours.
        6) No, neither I nor any of the owner’s or management of my company not have any affiliations to Treasury Dept. SDN listed individuals or foreign entities.
        7) Yes, I am current with all my local, state, and federal taxes.
        8) Yes, I am in compliance with all applicable zoning, codes, regulations, statutes, directives, notices, letters, authorities, information, assumptions, standards and measures.
        etc., etc., etc.. . .

        But Bill, (as a civilian) the breeching choke is for use on anyone who says you don’t need a breeching choke. The Second Amendment is notice to everyone else that no other notice is forthcoming per the 2nd Paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.

        • The Second Amendment is not an “extension of” a “right”. It’s the acknowledgement of it. As soon as you start mincing what ‘goes-with’ that “Right” and what doesn’t, it’s a Wrong.

  5. With those attack drones used in Mosul, it makes me wonder if another useful mod would be a 28 inch vented barrel for anti-drone operations. Might be preferable to use a semi-auto for that purpose, however.

    • I read once that militaries shy away from semi-auto shotguns due the fact that shotshells are more prone to expansion and contraction due to atmospheric conditions (temp, humidity) than metallic ammo. With a pump action, a slightly wonky shell can be chambered by working the action a little harder while a semi auto might jam.

      Plus, pump guns are super cheap and more than capable of the very limited roles they’re used for. Jamming devices are probably way more effective for anti drone duty, though way less fun.

  6. 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.

    Civilian innovation does not cost the U.S. Government (e.g. us, the taxpayers) anything. For this reason alone our federal government should eliminate all the FFL nonsense and promote private innovation without the expense and legal jeopardy that encompasses any attempt to innovate (create prototypes of) new firearms and accessories.

    • I’ll add that in the first 200 years of U.S. history, MIL-SPEC has almost always been inferior to what citizens can buy. And that’s the way it should be. 😉

  7. Being the military, they will keep adding stuff until it needs a tripod too use, all it takes is for one General-and his cronies
    too see where their bread is buttered upon retirement then huge contract!
    Buddy carried an 870 at the South East Asia War games! #4 buck 9rnd magazine 18″ barrel good effective jungle gun, Another buddy dropped two Sappers trying to blow ship up.

      • Have we checked their testosterone levels recently? Because I’m thinking this “inclusive” USMC might be going a bit too far.

  8. “There once was a time when the military was driving innovation, when “MIL-SPEC” was the coolest thing out there.”

    The term ‘Mil Spec’ is for all practical purposes utterly meaningless, unless you are selling something to the US Military.

    *Anything* purchased by the US Military has a United States defense standard (Mil-Std, Mil-Spec).

    That includes pencils, ink pens, a bucket and a mop through a multi-billion dollar NRO reconnaissance satellite.

    There’s a considerable difference in the paperwork for a mop and something intend for use in orbit.

    You say your ‘widget’ is Mil-Spec? Show me its US defense standard number…

  9. I have a Winchester 1300 Defender that I bought new around 1990 or so, it had the synthetic furniture. Recently I had the barrel reamed and tapped for replaceable chokes, plus Sage combat sights new stock with pistol grip. Best 300$ I ever spent, modified much more useful than I.C. with the sights I can usually get a 3 or 4″ group at 100yd.

  10. Wow this is a whole new level of stupid. Not going semi auto, check.

    Putting rail mounts on a pump shotgun to destroy soldiers hands, check. And finally not going SBS to reduce weight when room clearing. Who designed this the same guys that were behind the Bradly Fighting Vehicle?

    (Whats next replacing the M9 with Glock made revolvers? Since we all know Glock is having a temper tantrum now.) 😉

    • To be fair, this is a breaching tool, not intended to be used as your primary weapon. The M1014 is still issued for people who actually NEED a combat shotgun.

    • The Bradley is horrible. But it is a horribleness completely made up for in the M242 Bushmaster mounted on it.

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