Several years ago, backpacking into the wilderness was my favorite method to kill a weekend. My wife and I carried everything we needed on our backs, summited mountains, and breathed in pure, unadulterated freedom.
Two young children later, I now need a pack mule for the pile of diapers, wipes, bottles, and stuff…oh, there’s so much STUFF. First world problems, right?
We bought a small camper trailer, loaded it up with all the STUFF, and we now enjoy day hikes from the comfort of various Texas state parks. It’s been a wonderful outlet, especially to wear out the children and let everyone sleep through the night. If you’re ever west of San Antonio, Lost Maples State Park is an outstanding family hiking destination.
Buttoning up the tiny camper each night, I thought about defensive gun employment. I started by placing my EDC handgun on a magnet mount up near the ceiling, out of sight and well out of reach of the kids. The limited shelf space meant a full-size rifle or shotgun wouldn’t do.
A braced MPX or Scorpion EVO would do quite well, but I wanted something more suited to our outdoor environment. More power, such as a true rifle caliber or shotgun, would allow me the flexibility to fend off a hog, a bear, or other pesky animal.
One more consideration was maneuvering inside the camper. Standing in the middle, I can lean to either side and touch the wall. It’s a small model. A 30-40” rifle or shotgun wouldn’t let me safely and effectively engage a bad guy trying to enter the door. I could muzzle a family member while trying not to knock over stuff on the ‘kitchen’ counter.
A tertiary concern was the confined space interfering with the cycling of the action. I wouldn’t consider firearms that required the muzzle be untouched to allow proper cycling. Pressing most semi-automatic pistols into a barrier results in the barrel unlocking from the slide, preventing it from firing. Fixed-barrel firearms don’t have this issue, such as (most) revolvers, rifles, and shotguns.
The final consideration was one of the biggest: muzzle blast and hearing damage. A 5.56mm SBR is a terrific terminal performer, but the noise and blast would certainly wind up in my entire family’s medical records. I considered a suppressed 300 BLK pistol, but that would bring the overall length back into cumbersome territory.
All things considered, I settled on a Mossberg 590 Shockwave, 12 gauge, with CrimsonTrace LaserSaddle (green laser, LS-250G), OpSol Mini-Clip, and Aguila 00 buck mini-shells.
Inside the scabbard I carry Federal 00 buck (2-3/4”) and Remington slugs, in case those first 8 shells don’t do the trick. The mini-shells generate significantly less muzzle blast and noise than standard 2-3/4” shells, and the action won’t be encumbered by pressing the muzzle against a wall.
Ideally, should I ever need to use it (hopefully not!), I ‘seal off’ the muzzle against a wall anyway, sending as much blast outside the camper as possible. Only the most aggressive ATF agent would call that constructive intent, by turning my camper into a suppressor.
The scabbard protects the relatively fragile RV interior during transport and stores extra ammo.
A rubber-coated gear tie loops around the trigger guard for quick strong-hand removal and unsheathing. I store the 590 with an empty chamber…not for the myth that racking a shotgun is a massive criminal deterrent, but for the children.
The OpSol mini-clip expands capacity from 5 x 2-3/4” shells to 8 x Aguila Mini-Shells. Recoil is negligible, yet 00 buck still packs a punch at close range. If a bear or large mammal needs full power 00 buck or slugs, ripping out the mini-clip is a cinch.
The CrimsonTrace LaserSaddle (LS-250G) provides an impressive hip-shooting capability. The green laser is visible in broad daylight and nearly blinding at night.
Note: the XS Big Dot is an excellent front sight, though in this configuration it’s useless on the Raptor-grip-equipped 590 Shockwave. For a shotgun you intend to shoulder, as I once had in mind as a braced project, I highly recommend it.
In the MOLLE pouch I store extra ammo, batteries and an adjustment Allen wrench for the LaserSaddle, and a copy of the ATF’s determination letter Mossberg includes with the 590 Shockwave. If a law enforcement official wondered about the barrel length of this “firearm” (not a shotgun), that letter may help avoid an awkward situation.
A handgun dominates the other options in mobility, storage options, and serving a dual-role as a concealed carry piece outside of the RV. The braced pistol in 300 BLK makes a strong argument for packing rifle-like ballistics, but it still has lots of ‘snag’ points that aren’t friendly to the confined space of the RV.
The 590 Shockwave is sleek, compact, and wins the power competition at the ranges I would ever expect to employ it.
Mossberg 590 Shockwave – $300 (occasionally seen at $275 on sale)
Crimson Trace LaserSaddle (LS-250G) – $200 (plus a $50 mail-in rebate, expires 30 April 2019)
OpSol MiniClip – $17
Scabbard – $15-40, depending on the model you want
MOLLE pouch – $10
Total: $492 (includes $50 mail-in rebate)
Mossberg 590 Shockwaves prices have dropped considerably since their introduction. I’ve seen 20 gauge models for as low as $270 online, which may prove even more appropriate for this close-range role.
Some may consider this ‘firearm’ a range toy, and until I considered its use in an RV I thought the same. I argue the same attributes I’ve described here would make it ideal for individuals living in apartments, small homes, or trailers.
OK, TTAG Armed Intelligentsia…what say you?