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I went to my local gun store the other day to see about ordering a Mossberg Shockwave. Imagine my surprise when the salesman told me that they’re not legal in Texas. When I asked why, he couldn’t elaborate. After some of my own investigating, it turns out that the answer is a little complicated.

First, some background. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the gun, the Mossberg Shockwave is a non-NFA firearm with a 14-inch barrel that fires 12 gauge shells. Notice I said it’s a firearm and not shotgun.

After Mossberg got the ATF’s blessing to market the Shockwave, Remington released their version, the TAC-14. Both look good to me.

According to 26 U.S. Code § 5845(d), the term “shotgun” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of projectiles (ball shot) or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger, and shall include any such weapon which may be readily restored to fire a fixed shotgun shell.

Got that? Because the Shockwave and the the 870 TAC-14, aren’t meant to be fired from the shoulder, the ATF doesn’t view either as a shotgun. So then what are they?

Well that depends. Mossberg sent a 590 Shockwave to the ATF for a ruling. Michael Curtis of the Firearms Technology Industry Services Branch (aka Santa Clause, because Christmas came early this year) was kind enough to reply.

After the puff of white smoke went up, Mossberg posted the ATF’s ruling letter here.

In the letter the ATF states that “The Mossberg, model 590, serial number V0348718 as described above, is a ‘firearm’ subject to the GCA provisions; however, it is NOT a ‘firearm’ as defined by the NFA. Please note that if the subject firearm is concealed on a person, the classification with regard to the NFA may change.”

So it’s a firearm, but not one that can be regulated under the NFA (unless you conceal one, and they they’ll have to think about it some more).

So, un-concealed, it’s not considered a short barreled shotgun. Great! I can buy one!

Well maybe. Local laws may differ from their federal counterparts. Texas law doesn’t specify that a shotgun needs to be fired from the shoulder. Because of that, the Mossberg and the Remington could still be considered short barreled shotguns…and need to be a a registered NFA items even though the ATF doesn’t see them that way.

Then on May 26th 2017 Governor Abbott signed HB1819 which included a very important amendment that some are calling “The Mossberg Amendment.” Is the Shockwave going to be illegal in Texas after 9/1/17? According to Gov. Abbott’s shot placement below, the answer is no.


The amendment says, “Amend HB 1819 (senate committee report) in Section 1 of the bill, in amended section 46.05 (a) (1), Penal Code (page 1, line 30), between “or” and classified”, by inserting “otherwise not subject to that registration requirement or unless the item is”.

So what does that mean? Lets go to  46.05 (a) (1) of the Texas Penal code.

Basically 46.05 says that machine guns, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, and silencers are illegal unless registered with the ATF as an NFA item. The HB 1819 amendment adds the  “otherwise not subject to” bit to 46.05. So basically the Shockwave or TAC-14 do not need to be registered as an NFA item because they are not subject to the NFA and therefore legal in Texas, as of 9/1/17.

Here is a link to 46.05, its a nice easy read.

So on September 1st of 2017 I can buy a Mossberg Shockwave or Remington TAC-14. Now for the real hard part, Mossberg 590 or Remington 870? Has anyone ever had this debate?

This article is not meant to offer any legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer if you have any legal questions. I am but a lowly blogger.

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  1. I feel your struggle my birthday is in September it’s coming early this year I will be buying one asap… I really like loophole guns

        • They don’t have pistol grips; they would indeed hurt if they did.
          Instead, compare the grip with a full stock, and you will notice that if you cut the stock immediately behind the grip portion of the stock, what you have left is what’s on these firearms. They are much more comfortable to fire than you would think at first glance.
          They also seem to function well with Herter’s Mini-Buckshot, and the Mossberg can be fitted with the OPSol adapter to fire the Aguila mini shells better (although, my Mossbergs will eat the mini-shells fine if I take my time on the cycling).

        • Big Bill is correct. These don’t really hurt at all when fired from the waist. And are pretty easy to point with just a little practice. (I had a home grown version with an 18 1/2 inch barrel in high school. I may look into getting one….

          As to the “Mossburg vs Remington” debate, that may have been a debate 10-20 years ago but today it’s MOSSBURG fo sho.

  2. It was brought up shooting Mossberg and Stevens shotgun. I’ve got a 590A1 and a 930 breacher. I’m partial to the Mossberg but I don’t think there’s much of a difference unless you’re left-handed it’s easier to operate the safety on the Mossberg if your left handed. Other than that they’re about the same it’s a personal preference really.

  3. A friend of mine is a shotgunner from way back, so I queried him as to what I should buy which would be good for the range, home defense, and hunting. As it happened, he was prepping for bird hunting with some buddies out west and said he would put the question to the group. After his trip, the word was 100% Remington 870, just make sure you can change barrels and the tube extension (not all 870s allow for barrel changes). All his buds favored the 870 for the dual rails which keep the action from twisting (some shotguns use a single rail system and the action can twist causing binding at inopportune times).

    I purchased a Remington 870 Express Tactical which came with synthetic stock, pistol grip and tube extension. I swapped out the pistol grip stock for a standard synthetic stock. It has worked out quite well for me.

    [These results are not typical. Your results may vary. This product has not been tested by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease except zombies. Consult your LGS before beginning a zombie hunt.]

        • Plus Mossberg actually has some degree of integrity. After the R51 debacle, when they KNOWINGLY released a broken product, and a handgun designed for the CCW market in particular (in other words, something that folks will ostensibly be trusting their lives with), I have ZERO trust in Remington, and I will NEVER give them another dime. They’ve been circling the drain for years (largely living off of the reputation they gained decades ago), and as far as I’m concerned, they can’t go bankrupt quickly enough. Which really sucks for all their ground level employees, but that’s how things work.

      • Chris, the Mossberg Shockwave is based on their model 590, not the 500; but it doesn’t really matter, as the 590 also has dual action bars.

  4. “Now for the real hard part, Mossberg 590 or Remington 870?”

    The Mossberg vs. Remington debate died in 2007.

      • There is a poster at arfcom under the name “HendersonDefense” who works at a full-auto range in Nevada. In his experience, the Mossbergs and Remingtons (brand new) last around 2-4 weeks on the firing line. Not a long time by any means, but these are shotguns being used daily and the round count builds extremely quickly. IIRC Somewhere in the thread it was roughly anywhere from 80 – 200 rounds daily of various 00-buck, light recoiling buck, birdshot and frangible ammo. IMO, thats real world usage outside of various environments.

        FWIW, according to them the Mossbergs are easier to repair and get back on the line. But as of now they sell them off as cheap “gun range specials” when they finally fail so customers can buy and repair them when they come off the line. Apparently its just cheaper to buy a new one. In their experience, the most reliable shotguns are the Benelli M4 (which has been there since day one) and the VEPR-12.

        That being said, only the Mossbergs and Remingtons come in this loophole config. The Mossys have the OpSol adapter to use Aguila Minishells for extra capacity, lighter recoil, and perform nicely in its buck loading in ordnance gel, equal to #4-buck. YMMV

        • That’s the opposite of my experience, albeit just as anecdotal. In the Marine Corps I never saw an M590 or 500 go down, and we had some pretty intense range days with shotties when I was in Security Forces. In the infantry I carried an 500 on a couple occasions. But as an MP, I saw several M4 Benelli go down on a single range day.

        • I wouldnt say their reports are anecdotal. The smiths there keep a log of every weapon there and is updated as soon as a weapon is checked in after being on the line daily with round counts and then cleaned with Simple Green. They have quite a large sample size to work with and have produced extensive documented figures for all weapons on the premises.

          Not overall gospel, but its a great indicator.

      • Remington was acquired by the FREEDOM GROUP in 2007 and the quality of products went down big time. I bought a brand new Remington 870 in 2013 that was a huge disappointment. Poor finish and reliability issues. I traded it for a used Mossberg 590. I also own a Mossberg 500, and two Mossberg 930s. There are better shotguns, but they are going to cost more. I’m not a die hard Mossberg fan boy. I just prefer them from my own personal experience. I have come to prefer them over nicer, more expensive shotguns because of the location of the safety. I shot my dad’s 870 as a kid. The first shotgun I bought was the 500. I bought it because I thought it looked cool with the heat shield and pistol grip. I always intended to get an 870 later, and when I did, I was let down. If you do buy a new Remington, and think of it as a gun for defense, I recommend having the action worked on by a gunsmith. My dad had his gunsmith work in his 870 that he bought new in the 90s. The $100 bucks or so turned a good shotgun into a great shotgun.
        P.S. I shot my buddy’s Shockwave. It hurt. I still want one though. Need to practice shooting it. Either I’m just a pussy, or I wasn’t holding it right. It kept slipping in my hand and the safety was biting into the web of my hand.

        • Face it. Shooting the shockwave just might hurt and slip around and no amount of training will make a difference. A padded glove maybe, but there is a very good reason we don’t design guns that look likem the shockwave. They hurt to shoot and slip around in the hand.

          Expect many used ones for sale just like Ruger .480s and Smith .500s.

        • A little bit of cotton-cloth friction tape or batter’s tape on the grip will fix the hand slippage problem.

        • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the design of the gun. It’s just going to be too much for some people to handle. The owner of the Shockwave I tried has carpal tunnel and has no problem shooting the thing. I think I just need some trigger time with some softer recoiling shells.

  5. It’s rare when your ejector breaks, but having worked in a gun range, I’ve seen it happen 3 times. The Mossbergs were able to be fixed at the range since they are held in with a screw. The Remington needed to be sent back to be riveted and refinished. That being said, I love both.

  6. Well, you’re looking at 4+1 out of the Remington compared to the 590’s 5+1 capacity, which is about the only completely objective advantage to getting the Shockwave. The Opsol Mini-Clip would be another, but it’s probably a moot point since you can’t find the damn mini-shells anywhere.

    Subjectively, I love the Mossberg’s tighter, smoother action and positive ejection. My 870 was as reliable as any, but it bugged me that I could easily cycle the action without even touching the forend, and it gently threw out empties like a 4-year-old’s softball pitch. I don’t know if that’s just how they’ve always been made or if it’s a symptom of Remington’s declining quality control, but I eventually sold it to a buddy to put towards a Girsan MC312.

    Whichever one you pick, though, you’ll be looking at a long wait time; it took almost three months for my Shockwave to ship from Bud’s, so if the Texas legislature really does break our way on this (fingers crossed), you might be looking at close to Christmastime before it comes in.

    • The House and Senate already voted and passed the bill. Its just up to the Governor to sign it. He probably will sign it, as he has been largely pro gun so far.

    • The Mossberg safety location is easier to access than the Remington given the angle of the grip. That, plus the capacity, plus the fact that the 870 I bought new a few years ago jams all the time, makes me vote Mossberg.

      • Have you tried swapping the magazine spring and follower? I used to have problems with my 870, but after replacing the stock spring and follower with Wilson Combat’s, I’ve never had an issue.

    • “The Opsol Mini-Clip would be another, but it’s probably a moot point since you can’t find the damn mini-shells anywhere.”

      CTD has them listed, but you need to check often, because they sell what they get quickly. They have other 1 3/4″ shells, too, but they are much more expensive than the Aguila.
      Other ammo places have them, like Midway.
      They aren’t cheap.
      I usually find them at gun shows for about $15/box of 20.

      • Yeah, they’re already gone.

        At this point, it’d be cheaper and easier to cut down empty hulls and start making our own. With the going rate for the mini-shells, I can’t imagine it’d take long for reloading equipment to pay for itself.

  7. Well… I guess I better play it safe and take mine out of the truck for a couple months.

  8. Its been hard to find a good list of states where these firearms are legal. For what its worth Buds gun shop says they are not shipping to CA, NY, NJ, MA, MD, TX, or OH

    • I stopped by my LGS last weekend here in NJ to ask whether the Shockwave was legal. One of the guys who works there said that it was declared illegal by the state due to its short barrel. I have not seen anything official that would confirm this, but then again unless a firearm is banned specifically by name, the state can just say it’s illegal without adding it to any specific list. And even if they didn’t say anything, from my experience no NJ FFL wants to touch it anyway. Same goes for AKs. They are legal in a post-ban configuration, but some dealers do not care. They will not sell them or even let you order / transfer one through them. Also, some online retailers won’t ship stripped AR lowers to NJ, even though it’s legal to do so. Good times.

    • This is not correct. I work at a gunshop in NY State and we get Shockwaves from Buds on a weekly basis. We also have no issues having the Aguila Mini Shells in stock.

  9. LGS told me, decades ago, that if I put both a 18″ barrel and a pistol grip on a Mossberg 500, it would be under 26″ and I’d have to register it as a handgun in Michigan.
    So that Shockwave is probably a handgun in Michigan and the few other states that register handguns and not shotguns.

  10. I saw this coming and put a raptor grip on a Mossburg “cruiser” shotgun. It has all the features, holds more rounds, and the added 4″ makes is easier to handle. More important a cop isn’t gonna get it for a laws check.

  11. So, we should be able to convert our beat up shotguns to legal 14″ barreld, hand held “firearms”? Interesting thought!

    • No, you can’t convert your regular shotgun by putting on the raptor grip and adding a 14″ barrel. Mossberg and Remington are able to do this because they use virgin receivers THAT HAVE NEVER HAD A BUTTSTOCK. That’s key to this “loophole”. If you have a shotgun that has ever had a buttstock mounted, you can’t make it into the same configuration as the shockwave.

      • Yes, I was being sarcastic and pointing out the stupidity,and hypocrisy of these laws. The (new) Remington and Mossberg “sawed off” shotgun is legal, but we can’t make our own by chopping off the end of the butt stock and sawing the barrel down.

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