Gun Review – Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

The Remington 870 TAC-14 and Mossberg 590 Shockwavepistol grip firearms” have been quite successful for the two big names in American-made shotguns. Successful enough that both companies have produced a number of variants of these short not-a-shotguns.

As the owner of several of these firearms, I have to say my all-time favorite is the Remington Model 870 TAC 14 Hardwood version. That’s because TAC-14 Hardwood is more than just a TAC-14 with wood furniture. 

The TAC 14 Hardwood adds a plus-1 extension over the original model to give you 5 rounds in the tube. You also get an included sling, as well as a built-in sling keeper that acts as a handguard to keep your hand from drifting in front of the 14″ barrel.

To top it off, the TAC-14 Hardwood model sports some traditional-looking furniture which gives it a rather classy appearance. If you’re like me, you may be a fan of obscure police and military firearms and recognize the Hardwood model for what it is, a clone of the old Wilson Witness Protection 870 shotguns built for the U.S. Marshall’s service. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

Those shotguns were mostly built with 12.5-inch barrels, but some early models had the 14-inch barrels we see here in the TAC-14 models. Regardless, this is the first time we’ve seen something so close to those originals without the NFA being involved. 

Explaining Firearms Law

Because this firearm is sort of a rare bird, it’s probably a good idea for a quick refresher on firearms law, so let’s go ahead and get that out of the way. The Remington 870 TAC-14 is not a shotgun. Not in the eyes of the ATF, anyway.

It’s a pistol grip firearm. It’s a firearm that happens to be a pump action 12-gauge based on a standard shotgun operating system, but never mind all that. Federal law defines a shotgun as, among other criteria, a firearm that’s designed to be fired from the shoulder. 

In the funhouse mirror world of the National Firearms Act, if you take a Remington 870 that has never had a stock attached, it’s not technically a shotgun. It could be an AOW (any other weapon), but because the TAC-14 is over 26 inches in length (Remington makes them 26.3 inches long) it’s not an AOW either

Instead, it sits in a category best described as “other,” AKA a pistol grip firearm. Because it’s not technically a shotgun, it’s not limited to an 18-inch minimum barrel length, so the 14-inch barrel that the TAC-14 is equipped with is perfectly legal. 

In case you’re wondering, you can’t add a stock to a TAC-14 without also adding an 18-inch barrel. You can’t make it any shorter than 26 inches overall length, eigher. Also, if you add a stock, it can’t later go back to a firearm configuration. The 14-inch barrel combined with the Raptor pistol grip keeps the overall length greater than 26 inches. 

Do Looks Matter? 

How much do looks matter in a firearm? With guns built for defensive purposes surely ergonomics, reliability, and a whole host of other features come first.

So looks may be secondary, but when a gun looks good we should be able to celebrate that. And the TAC-14 Hardwood is a good-looking gun. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

The only thing that might have made it better is if Remington had used the 870 Wingmaster model rich blue finish over the 870 Express-style parkerized finish. I can attest my original Model 870 TAC-14 had some of the rust-when-exposed-to-air finish that some Remington budget guns have unfortunately become known for. This particular model doesn’t have that issue.

Did I get lucky with this one? Did I get unlucky with my original TAC-14? Who knows, but the finish on the TAC-14 Hardwood seems plenty sturdy. 

The wood looks great and maybe it’s the hipster in me, but I love wood on my shotguns. The forend has the corn cob texturing just like the older Remington 870s, thought it lacks the glossy appearance of shotguns of yesteryear. Still, it looks amazing to me. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

The handguard/sling keeper, the sling, and magazine extension are all top notch and give the gun a very distinguished appearance. 

To The Range! 

What I’m about to say about the gun’s performance on the range will largely seem negative, but I want to get out in front of that. This gun is ridiculously fun to shoot. It’s a challenge to handle, especially aimed buckshot, but that’s where the fun comes in.

The challenge is why this is such a blast to shoot. It’s like trying to hold onto a bucking bull. When you figure out how handle it, you’ll get a ton of satisfaction out of it. 

The first time I put a full load of buckshot into the head of a target at 10 yards with the TAC-870 14 Hardwood it made me downright giddy. So it’s fun to fire, regardless of what I’m going to say below. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

As you can imagine, a pistol grip only 12 gauge has a lot of recoil, but luckily it’s pain-free. While your average 90-degree pistol grip is pretty brutal on the wrist, the bird’s head grip is much more comfortable to shoot full-power loads.

That’s because the recoil isn’t delivered directly into your wrist. Instead, it feels as if travels mostly upwards. I’ve never any pain from shooting this gun due to the pistol grip design. 

Make no mistake…the gun does buck and jerk and tries to get away from you. This thing is a literal blast to shoot, a thrill and a workout. But if you exercise proper form you can shoot from eye level and deliver decently accurate, withering fire on a target.

You won’t do it fast with full-powered ammo, but you can place shots on target with some practice. The technique I use is to push forward with my support arm and pull rearward with my firing hand. 

That technique brings the front bead sight up to eye level and helps stabilize and support the 870 TAC-14 Hardwood. The tension helps keep the gun stable and controls the bucking enough to hit your target without getting a black eye. There’s a rhythm you have to develop to apply tension, fire, release tension and activate the pump, but a little range time will help here greatly. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

Admittedly the gun feels clumsy, especially at first. It’s nearly 6 pounds of steel and wood and the technique I found works means holding it out from the body at quite the awkward angle.

Should you experience a malfunction you’ll be out on a limb to fix it with any speed. Not to mention trying to reload this thing can be a hassle if we’re trying to keep the weapon on target. 

I’ve found reloading is easiest if you treat it like a handgun and bring it up into your ‘box’ and then shove rounds into the tube. 

The TAC-14 Hardwood’s trigger is pretty standard, short and sweet with some over-travel. Hardly a concern with this kind of gun. The cross-bolt safety will be a nightmare for lefties. The pump is very smooth, though, and shells eject consistently and surely. As a pump action shotgun, it’s hard to mess up. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

After blasting some rounds downrange you’ll be feeling the exertion, especially after applying proper tension shot after shot. 

As you’d imagine this is not a replacement for a real shotgun with a stock. It’s slower and harder to shoot in every way.

That being said this gun is much smaller and lighter. If size is an issue, a TAC-14 packs a significant punch. But it has such a narrow niche use  case that I’d have a hard time suggesting it over a standard 870 Express Tactical for most people. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

Firing birdshot from the hip is an absolute blast though. At ten yards or so, I was surprised how easy it was to direct birdshot into clay pigeons sitting on a berm. 

With slugs, I was able to get back to 35 yards and shoot a decent group onto an old school NRA rifle and pistol target, as well as a printed torso target from Sage Dynamics. Federal Low Recoil slugs produced a very respectable group at these longer distances, especially from a TAC-14. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

At 15 yards, with the TAC-14’s fixed cylinder bore, a couple of rounds of buckshot covers the entire torso of a target. This was a target hit with two rounds of standard Rio buckshot. The Federal 00 Buckshot with the flight control holds up much better. 

Remington Model 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Travis Pike for TTAG

This is easily one of my favorite range toys. It may not be the most useful gun, depending on your needs, but I don’t need a purpose for every gun I own. Sometimes the purpose is to put a grin on my face and the Remington 870 TAC-14 Hardwood does that in spades. 

Specifications: Remington 870 TAC-14 Hardwood

Caliber: 12 Gauge
Barrel Length: 14 Inches 
Overall Length: – 26.3 inches 
Barrel: Fixed Cylinder
Weight: 5.65 pounds
Capacity: 5+1 
MSRP: $499 (about $375 online)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * * * * *
The TAC-14 Hardwood is an extremely stylish weapon. The old school cool look with its solid hardwood grip and fore-end is fantastic. The wood is well done and the combination of the sling and sling keeper on top of that give you a very stylish range toy. 

Accuracy: * * * 
With a standard shotgun, you can reach out to a hundred yards with slugs. With the TAC 14, I’m limited to about 35 yards even with slugs. With buckshot out the 15 yards was the tap out point with standard buckshot. 

Ergonomics: * * *
As far as pistol grip shotguns go this is the best pistol grip out there. That being said anytime you mix a shotgun with a pistol grip only design you know it’s going to be a mess. As far as how the Remington 870 is laid out it’s an easy to use gun. The controls are well placed and easy to reach, even in the TAC 14 format. 

Customization: * * * *
The Remington 870, the basis for the TAC-14, is an incredibly customizable weapon. You can do just about anything you want with a TAC-14 besides add a stock or shorten it to below 26 inches. There are lots of internal customizations you can do, and you can swap furniture as well. You won’t want to, but you can. 

Reliability: * * * * *
It’s a pump action 870, it’s hard to mess up. Remington has probably made a few messed up 870s but this model is well made and works perfectly. I’ve put a lot of lead through this thing and haven’t reached an issue yet. 

Overall: * * * *
The Remington 870 TAC-14 Hardwood has a limited role as a practical firearm. Many will buy one for its powerful personal protection or home defense capability. When it comes to having fun, though, it’s an amazing option. It’s an absolute ton of fun and one of my favorite guns for hitting the range. In my book, its downsides, like heavy recoil and challenging ergonomics is what makes it so much fun. 

 

comments

  1. avatar kahlil says:

    I absolutely love mine but I’ve found that 3″ slugs pack a helluva punch – one of the last times I had it at the local range my middle finger/knuckle kept getting slammed by the trigger guard, hard enough to make it bleed. I took off the sling, I am looking for something else but I don’t like the one it came with, and when using 2 3/4″ shells recoil isn’t too much to worry about. As far as pointing and getting the rounds to the target I’ve had no issues.

    A few weeks ago I put a box of dragon’s breath through it – that didn’t go as expected. I assume a longer barrel helps with creating a stream of sparks/flame but with the short length of the Tac-14 the shells produced a fireball that travelled close to 100 yds, much further than I expected.

    I’d like to try the Tac-13 semi auto, has a 13″ barrel, but I am quite happy with the wooden furniture and design on the 14. If

    1. avatar Mike V says:

      A fireball for a 100 yards, cool!

  2. avatar Ranger71 says:

    I get it, but why not just shoulder one? It isn’t like it concealable either way. Maybe I need to shoot one myself before making a comment, but honestly just curious about the attraction to the overall experience. Just seems like more pain without benefits.

    1. avatar Travis Pike says:

      It’s just fun to be honest, a middle finger to the ATF I suppose.

      1. avatar kahlil says:

        exactly. They are fun to shoot, great to have just to spite the ATF, and they are a nifty home/camper self-defense gun. In a self-defense scenario in my current apartment I could hit anything I needed to if I shot from the hip or brought up to chest level. This isn’t a hunting tool, its a boom stick meant to be used for fun and if needed, self defense. If I wanted to go hunting I’d use the appropriate full size long gun. I am surprise at how accurate I’ve been with it but am not deluded thinking it is a shotgun replacement.

        There is at least one video floating around youtube where someone took it hunting and did take out deer. After playing around with the dragon’s breath I’d like to get some of those flash bang rounds and see what they do in the woods 🙂

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          I’m not sure it’s much of a middle finger to the ATF to make a shotgun less effective to avoid regulatory hurdles.

        2. avatar Kahlil says:

          Because you can. And legally, it’s not a shotgun 😇

        3. avatar Kahlil says:

          …and while not ideal for long distances it excels at close range and is easy to use/maneuver. I’d rather have one of these or a mossberg variant than a full size long gun for self defense in a house or smaller space. One of these down a hallway or stairwell in a house would be quite destructive towards any intruder intent on pushing through. Same class more or less as the silly AR/AK pistol nonsense imho.

  3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Ranger and Travis you’re right. This is another novelty firearm. You have to bring it to eye level to hit anything at any reasonable distance. If you’re going to do that it might as well have a stock. I worked with an idiot that showed up on the range with something similar. Tried the course of fire from the hip. Looked cool if you were in Hollywood. Didn’t hit shit. I had to keep a Remington 870 in my car and qualify with it so I bought a Scattergun Technologies. Sold it as soon as I retired. Long gun? Rifle. Rifle, rifle, rifle! And a quality handgun to fight your way to it.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      BTW, shotguns are for upland game and waterfowl. And turkey.

      1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

        And deer, in Illinois

        1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Victoria, I would rather use my T/C Encore ML than a shotgun. More range. I shoot Hornady Loc and Load 250 gr bullets on top of three 50 gr pellets of Pyrodex. Drives tacks and 200 yards of effective range.

      2. avatar jwtaylor says:

        And grizzly bears.

        1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          JW, still rather have a rifle. Say a Marlin Guide Gun in 45-70, ghost ring sights, and a heavy Buffalo Bore load.

        2. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Gadsen Flag, me too, but I just love the 45-70 in general. (Bought yet another one (Marlin 1895CB) over the weekend.)
          That said, I’ve met and hunted with many folks in grizzly territory that swear by the slug from a pump action shotgun. There’s no denying its effectiveness or reliability.

        3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          JW, no argument from me. A Brenneke rifled slug (my favorite) makes a big hole. That said the grizzly thing is theory for me. We don’t have them here. We do have black bears, but precious few. What we do have in abundance is pigs. A boar with ivory growing out of his jaw the size of your thumb can ruin your day. That’s why when I visit the farm I usually have a rifle and always a magnum revolver.

    2. avatar kahlil says:

      yeah, for any accuracy shooting these from the hip isn’t the best…was fun but trying to hit gallon water jugs and 2 liter bottles was pretty futile unless right on it. 25 to 30 feet seems to be the sweet spot when I raise to chest level, I can go further out at eye level but I figure if it was ever needed in a self defense situation a 1oz slug or a shell of buckshot is going to ruin someone’s day pretty significantly in the confines of a small townhouse. Even birdshot at that range is going to do more than just sting.

  4. avatar WI Patriot says:

    Mmmm, no thanks, I’ll stick to my Beretta 1201FP…

  5. avatar TomC says:

    Travis correctly makes the point that you cannot “add a stock or shorten it to below 26 inches.” In fact he makes those points twice each.

    He also clearly (and correctly!) makes the point that “your average 90-degree pistol grip is pretty brutal on the wrist, the bird’s head grip is much more comfortable to shoot.”

    Both those facts ought to be pretty much obvious, which leads me wonder why the only one of these not-a-shotgun firearms that I have seen outside a gun shop was a 590 Shockwave that the owner had modified by removing the “weird” (his word) grip and replacing it with a “regular” (also his word) pistol grip meant for the old Cruiser model.

    Of course, maybe there really are people out there who want to mangle their wrist every time they shoot. How else could you explain Nighthawk jumping on the bandwagon with their Tomahawk

    1. avatar joel says:

      back when i knew everything (17) i took an old winchester 1200, cut the barrel to 18.5 and cut the stock into a “pistol grip”. It looked basically like what the birds head grips look like. It was a 25 yard or less gun, but devastatingly effective in that range. That gun rode in my truck all through high school.

      For years, i made fun of people who said pistol grip shotguns were painful to shoot. Then i shot one of those atrocities they sell in stores. This works sooooo much better.

      A shockwave is on my short list. Does mossberg sell a wood furniture model i wonder?

  6. avatar "take yur hands off my dead guy" possum says:

    At first I bashed these but tooling around on a bicycle with a no leash law and a town full of big dogs, plus living with neighbors a wall away has changed my mind, yup I’m going to get me one of these, I like Remington’s,. Load her up with some of them short shells with some #9 pellets and that’d” be the ticket I think. I was going to use the .44 with snake shot but I’d look way cool with that shotgunm

    1. avatar kahlil says:

      I don’t think they can be used reliably with the short shells like the mossbergs can. I’ve never tried but I’ve seen several site that seem to indicate they can’t be used. Mossberg does make a wooden version of the shockwave though. A nice sling and throw this over the shoulder and you have a nice pest deterrent.

      1. avatar "keep your hands of my dead guy" possum says:

        I’d thought about that .Maybe rock salt in AA trap and bird shot in the apartment. I’ve used rock salt before, it doesn’t fly very far…….. Oh no, just got a text, a shooting in my daughter in law’s town. Evidently a little boy( age unknown) shot his Mom. That ain’t good

      2. avatar Herb Allen says:

        I have some 2 1/2″ shells for an older hammer gun chambered in that size.

        Would these feed in the Remington?

  7. avatar B.D. says:

    How did you know I was looking for a shotgun?

    It’s beautiful. I do like the Mossberg better though. Not sure which is more important… a new shotgun, or a p365.

    1. avatar yitz says:

      haha

      both were on my wishlist.
      got the shockwave last summer, just picked up the p365. patience!

      now for the Python…I will have to wait!

  8. avatar Hugh Glass says:

    I guess I’m an idiot, too, have a couple of Shockwaves, I love ‘em, great fun to shoot and I’m confident I could hit what I need to in my truck or an RV or whatever. Im gonna get one of this Remmies in wood, too. have a safe full of all types of full-sized shotties, for lots of purposes. The only people bashing the “idiots” enjoying the Shockwave and TAC-14 don’t own one. They’re selling because a lot of people like them. It’s not designed for a sniper defending the Pope, but I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of this novelty.

  9. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    I won’t be happy until and unless the Ithaca Auto & Burglar is brought back.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      Taylors makes (imports) one that I would love to have, but not for $1400+\-.

      I mean, not specifically the “Auto & Burgler”, but pretty cool, nonetheless.

    2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      aow. i imagine the flues ithacas were strong. the key here tho, fer me, is that these were 20ga (a very few were made in .410, 28 and 16ga), something i think would be far more pleasant to deal with sans stock.
      my ds police 37 has a folding choate to deal with the bigger bore. but a nice wooden b’head grip would be nice.
      forgive me, i keep thinking about that serbu shorty.

  10. avatar Steve G. says:

    If you’re able to get ahold of the Federal low recoil 8 pellet double aught buckshot, it makes this beast as tame as a kitten. I’ve shot the RIO double aught. NO THANKS, but Federal load is incredible. I thought I had a squib the first time I shot one. I would tell you about the tight groups but you wouldn’t believe me. You have to see them in person. Amazingly, the groups are identical between my 18” Remington Wingmaster and my Tac-14. All of my home defense and truck shotguns are loaded with them.

  11. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Looks like Miami Vice fun….but I would go with a Mossberg Maverick for less tha 200.

    1. avatar RidgeRunner says:

      Mossie Mav is a really good deal. My most recent Mossie purchase, joining the Tactical Turkey Gun and Shockwaves in 12 and 20, was their Retro Persuader, great fun, as well. My wife is no Biden fan, but she uses it as home protection when I travel, along with her Ruger .357 GP100, and Ruger LCR in .38. She can bring hell on all three. That wood furniture TAC-14 may well join my 870 and vintage .16 Model 11 on the Browning patent that was my Dad’s.

  12. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Mr. Pike, thank you for an honest review of the firearm’s capabilities and limitations. I’ve heard way too many folks tout these guns as “practical firepower”. They are anything but. Your article highlights the fun of them, and still lets the user know there are better options.

    1. avatar yitz says:

      agreed.

      one thing not mentioned in the article is that with these shortie-not-shotties is that with the crimson trace saddle lasers you can shoot comfortably from the hip and your buckshot with be within an inch or two for the bulls eye at 10 yards. This makes this a somewhat more viable defensive tool than without the laser.

      I just installed the green laser on my 12 guage shockwave and was quite impressed with the daytime visibility and accuracy.

        1. avatar yitz says:

          yep.

          I read that review, then ordered the laser. Thanks for bringing us these great reviews and articles!

  13. For everyone who complains these are inaccurate beyond 5 feet or 5 yards, these TAC-14 firearms and the Mossberg Shockwave are perfect with a laser sight — they practically cry out for one!
    Mossberg even sells a version of their Shockwave with a saddle-mounted laser sight already attached. With a laser sight, you can shoot from the hip and hit EXACTLY where you’re aiming, and shooting from the hip is what these guns are all about.

    I know, you can’t use a laser for birding or clay pigeons, but the TAC-14 and Shockwave are not bird-hunting or skeet-shooting guns, they’re home defense guns, and home defense is a perfect use for laser sights! If you want to try birding or skeet shooting with a TAC-14 or Shockwave, you must be a masochist who really loves a challenge, but in that case, instead of a laser you could mount a red dot sight that’s bright enough to be visible on a sunny day. You can’t shoot from the hip with an Aimpoint, though; you need a laser sight to shoot from the hip, and hip-shooting is what the TAC-14 and Shockwave are all about!

    1. avatar kahlil says:

      If I got the tacticool version of either this one or Mossberg I would go with laser sights. I really don’t want to add anything to this model at the present time. a nice little self defense in a home and a heck of a range toy. In a small two story townhome there is pretty much no way I could miss a shot with 00 buck or birdshot if it came to it. I do alternate my loads between slugs and 00 buck though, variation is the spice of life 😉

  14. avatar Will Drider says:

    What you don’t get with the Rem Tac14 is: the ” hand web bite” you get from the mossy Shockwave Safety location. You can Combat and Tactical Load the Tac14 in the same manner as reg 870, your just not pulled into the shoulder but you can still “cover a Threat.

    The increased capacity should have been standard when it was introduced, Rem has lost a lot of sales over one less shell.

  15. avatar David Keith says:

    These things always looked like liquor store hold up guns to me.

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