The Mossberg 590S- Not For Me!

While the author doesn’t like the Shockwave concept the Marine Shockwave has some merit.

I am not in executive protection although I have protected public figures and celebrities on occasion.  In one case a mayor was threatened by a person who had killed two family members with an AR 15 rifle the previous day. Fran and I drank coffee together in a dark room well away from the windows. To even the odds I had a Colt HBAR leaning against the sofa. My cruiser was behind the home- I was interested in capturing the offender more than dissuading her. We received a call on the shortwave around midnight the perpetrator had been captured. When I need a long gun I want something capable and appropriate. Something that most of us can use well without beating ourselves up with recoil. Most of us feel the same. I have no use for AR type pistols but then I don’t fight from inside my car. I prefer a handy simple AR carbine. I find pistol caliber carbines not only a good choice for personal defense within their range but a great deal of fun.  I prefer a rifle.  I am continually impressed with the accuracy and reliability of AR 15 rifles. I own several Remington 870  ‘riot guns’ and a Remington Versa Max Tactical shotgun. Good experience with Benelli not to mention the Black Aces shotgun. In comparison the Mossberg Shockwave and Remington TAC 14 in my mind are practically worthless.

Well, ask me what I really think. Other than at very short range in the home or perhaps dispatching a thrashing shark on the deck of a fishing trawler I see little use for the Shockwave type. (The stocked shotgun with 14 inch barrel is another matter)  To intimidate new shooters and create flinch they are great. Sure a very good shooter may get half way competent. But there is little point. Best to learn to use a folding stock 870 or something of that nature if you need a stow away shotgun. Having seen some interesting shotguns on both sides of the law while in uniform I was not impressed with the Shockwave. From double barrel .410 gauge shotguns with a short grip to 14 inch Remington 870s I have seen quite a few shotguns deployed. During these decades of practical experience I studied about two dozen shotgun defense incidents. In home invasions or defensive situations the rule was one load of buckshot and it was cancel Christmas. In one incident a homeowner defended himself against gang violence with a Browning Auto5 and destroyed a pickup truck with the deer load. Five shells fired and the fellow with a P 38 was killed , his friends, armament unspecified, were wounded by the five shells fired.  In case another a store owner firing a pistol grip short barrel shotgun fired four buckshot shells and downed the robber he was shooting at although he did not really get a solid hit. The good guy fired from the hip. He did a lot of damage to his store!

So- do the math. Almost one hundred per cent fatality with a single shot load of buckshot in every incident. Then there is my Uncle Arden’s many deer taken with buckshot. Buckshot, he told me, travels in pairs and worked great within 35 yards with Magnum loads. A deer is about the same size as a man and about as hard to put down save animals are not susceptible to shock. Modern loads are better. All of the police shootings were with 18 or 20 inch barrel riot guns and all were effective. Keep my experience in mind. Those working big city stake out squads or long time investigators I am certain will have experience that mirrors my own. The shotgun handles by feel and with a three point lockup of support arm cheek and firing side arm the lockup is steady and makes for a good natural point. Hit probability is high making a buckshot loaded shotgun our best choice for home defense in the majority of cases.

Another advantage of the shotgun is that they are affordable. For those on a tight budget an inexpensive Turkish pump action is reliable and effective. It isn’t as smooth or proven as a Mossberg 590 but it works. The Shockwave type shotgun has only two contact points. I have seen several types of firing stances used. Some shooters somehow raise the shotgun almost to eye level. Risking facial feature rearrangement isn’t something I look forward to. Even so this movement is so slow and unsure you are better off with a full size shotgun. But then the Shockwave is easily stored. True, and for some an under the bar under the desk or hidden under the steps shotgun may be viable.  But it certainly would never be my only shotgun. Of course it isn’t a shotgun by legal definition but a firearm making it legal in its abbreviated form. That’s great but it fires shotgun shells. The superb ergonomics of a fast handling shotgun are ruined by the Shockwave and Tac designs. Since there is no shoulder stock and less stability you may shuck the shotgun differently by holding the forend tightly and ramming the shotgun forward. Then back. You may miss very quickly in this manner. The Shockwave should be fired from hip level in most defense situations. At 3 to 5 yards with practice the Shockwave type may be used with some effectiveness. Don’t worry about the front bead. You can surely miss with a shotgun and you will miss a lot with this shotgun. The Shockwave isn’t useful past very close range. Even with an effective load such as buckshot you must aim and get a solid hit. The Shockwave type shotgun along with the Remington TAC and H&R Honcho severely limits the hit probability and usefulness of the pump action shotgun.

After a number of range drills- I am a paid writer and I enjoy good experiments so the time was not wasted but it could have been better spent. I began with birdshot for practice. Recoil isn’t really that bad. After firing about 50 shotgun shells I found I could keep shells in the center of the B 27 target most of the time at five yards. If I left the range and came back two days later I had to begin again. I can shoot and have taken quite a bit of flying and running game with the shotgun. This isn’t a fast or comfortable firearm to use well. With a handgun you have both hands on the same part of the firing grip and may direct fire accurately. The Shockwave type gun with no shoulder stock is used with two hands and the hands are widely separated. If either hand is just a little off target then you will miss the target. There is accountability in every shell we fire in personal defense. The Shockwave isn’t going to promote accurate delivery and if you are not a very experienced shooter control is difficult. If you are experienced you will realize there are better choices. The Shockwave cannot be fired from cover in any manner I was to able to discover.

A very bad idea in wide circulation is the Mini Shell a short stubby shell that doesn’t feed properly in any firearm I have tried. A single shot or double barrel proposition only. I have actually met individuals who have stuffed their shotguns with these loads without test firing! A modified feed device available only for the Mossberg shotgun improves reliability. Mossberg’s 590S is modified to be reliable with both short and standard shells, quite an accomplishment. It isn’t quite as reliable as I had hoped. You will see this soon enough for yourself.  So what do the shortie shells offer? Poor patterns and almost half the energy.  The advantage? A Mossberg with a five shot magazine has an eight round capacity with short shells. An eight round 590 jumps to twelve shells. I am unimpressed. After all- all of those cases with a single shot of buckshot on each target. Even so perhaps four shells in the Remington is a bit short- but it is simple enough to deploy an eight shot 18 inch barrel pump shotgun or perhaps add the excellent XS magazine extension. So in the end we have a Shockwave type shotgun that practically ruins the effectiveness of the shotgun compared to full size types. In a firearm that emphatically does not need a change in load as the standard load is unquestionably effective we are choosing a load that limits effectiveness and most of all DOES NOT FEED properly save in specialized or modified shotguns. Lets look at comparisons. I used an eighteen inch barrel shotgun as consistent pattern testing is practically impossible with the Shockwave. The groups were fired at ten yards. Since I take my work seriously I use a Chronograph. I don’t rely on manufacturer’s figures.  

Hornady Critical Defense 12 gauge #00 buckshot

1254 fps.      1501 ft lbs energy    Pattern 4 x 3 inch.

Aquila shorty 12 gauge

1080 fps        788 ft lbs.          Pattern 6.8 x 7.7 inch

Federal shorty 12 gauge

1125 fps        926 ft lbs           Pattern 6.75 x 4.75 in.            

I began writing as a trainer and peace officer to save lives. I believe that no one serious about personal defense should consider the Shockwave and short mini shells. I enjoy testing and firing these items as a lark is fine. But don’t bet your life on this nonsense.