Our final article in our Civilian PDW concepts series is the Pistol Grip Only Shotgun. Due to the legalities of these guns, they may not legally be a shotgun, but function identically to a shotgun. For brevity’s sake, we will refer to them as PGO shotguns. The most popular of course being the Remington Tac 14 and the Mossberg Shockwave. These guns sport 14-inch barrels, and typically the KAK Raptor grip. However, different grips can work, but a PGO Shotgun must maintain an overall length of at least 26 inches.

These PGO Shotguns come in both 12 and 20 gauge. I prefer the 12. 12 gauge offers more defensive ammunition options and is much more effective. The role of the scattergun is to scatter; more pellets mean more scatter. That’s one of the greatest strengths of these guns. If I chose between the Shockwave or the Tac 14, I’d probably go with the Shockwave. The Shockwave holds one more round, is lighter, and comes ready for an optic.

Does it offer a significant advantage over an EDC handgun?

In regards to raw power yes. Shot placement is everything, but the amount of buckshot that’s hitting a target causes severe damage regardless of where exactly it hits. Plus, with shot placement in mind, you have at least nine pellets with double ought buckshot. That means you have nine chances per trigger pull to strike something vital.

You do have a lower capacity than most guns, save for a snub nose revolver. This gun is meant to be used quickly and in a close range kind of firefight. Regarding useful range, it’s about the same as a handgun. A PGO shotgun is effective to about 25 yards. 

Reloading a PGO shotgun is even slower than a standard shotgun because you can’t support it via the stock against your shoulder.

Is It Compact?

This is the only gun in the Civilian PDW project that has an OAL requirement. It must be over 26 inches long to avoid being an NFA item. It’s roughly the same size as the AR pistol and the KPOS, however, it’s not a takedown weapon. You are stuck having to store it in a decent sized bag. I went with something simple like a gym bag. It’s big enough to store the gun without being suspicious.

Regarding size and power, there isn’t a better compromise than this gun. It’s the most potent option on this list.

Is it Easy to Use, and a Common Platform?

Yes, no and yes. We have to break this answer down. The pump action shotgun is a very common platform. It’s rugged, reliable and straightforward. Operating the weapon is easy. It’s easy to load, easy to pump, the controls on both the Mossberg and Remington are easy to reach and use.

The prominent problem people will run into is shooting these guns. They have some ferocious recoil and can be a real challenge to control. Follow up shots are slow due to the recoil. It also causes flinches with shooters who are new to these guns. Make no mistake about it this gun is like trying to hold thunder, but you’re throwing lightning.

The most effective load I’ve found is the cheap and effective Fiocchi reduced recoil buckshot. With this weapon, I don’t want flite control because it’s made for close range. That spread you get from cheap buckshot is desirable with a PGO. This increases your chance of at least putting a pellet or two on distant targets.

Disadvantages of the PGO Shotgun

Besides recoil, being slow to reload, and kinda bulky there are a few other disadvantages of note we should consider. First, this gun cannot be concealed on your person. If it is the ATF may determine it to be an AOW. There is no set case law, but in keeping with ATF opinion letters this gun needs to be stored in a vehicle, and you’ll need to follow your state laws regarding this gun as well. Some states may ban this weapon and have it classified as a short barreled shotgun under their laws.

Also, the ammo is bulky and difficult to carry in an effective manner. You do have a wide variety of ammo options though. From standard buck to Number 4 buck, and even slugs for special occasions.

As a PDW

As a PDW this thing is not for everyone. It’s hard to handle, requires a lot of practice, and should be a carefully made consideration. This gun has a lot of disadvantages, but it packs a massive amount of power. When I started shooting and learning these weapons, I thought it was a range toy, and I even wrote that.


As time passed and I used them more and more, I started to see their advantages as an actual weapon. They are a niche weapon for sure, and they are not for everyone. They do require a measure of physical strength to control and use, as well as more training and practice than the alternatives.

The most significant advantage of the PGO shotgun is in your speed to get on target and to blow that target away. They point quick and easy, and the payload they deliver allows you to react with a brutal level of effectiveness. It’s also easier to hit moving targets due to the spread. It’s not a street sweeper, but with the right ammo you can open the pattern up.

25 Yards with Cheap Buckshot

PGO shotguns aren’t my first choice for a civilian PDW, but I see the appeal. The PGO shotgun is more effective than I imagined. After chewing through tons of bird and buckshot, I could place headshots at 15 yards from the low ready at right around 1 second.  

He’s Dead

It’s simple, practical, and brutal.


Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.