Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Shotgun "Violin" Reloading Technique

In the TFBTV video I linked to yesterday, one of the things demonstrated is the "violin" reloading technique. This is a reloading method in which you place the butt of the empty shotgun on top of your strong side shoulder for support while reloading. The supports it with minimal muscle effort and allows you to load rounds into the chamber and magazine after the gun has run dry.

However, when we saw it in the video it was always done by a right handed shooter. I'm left handed and wondered how it would work for us southpaws. So, I grabbed my 1951-vintage Remington 870 Wingmaster and a couple snap caps.

As it turns out, the technique is viable for lefties:

  1. With the action open, place the butt on top of your left shoulder with the gun laying on its side so that the ejection port is skyward. Support the front end of the gun with your right hand.
  2. With your left hand, place a round into the ejection port and chamber it.
  3. Rotate the gun so that it's now upside down with the loading port skyward.
  4. Load rounds into the magazine using your left hand.
  5. After the gun is reloaded go back to a ready position or firing position, as the situation dictates.

Ok, cool. Is this something I really need to practice?

IMO it depends. It will be very useful when shooting a match or taking a shotgun class. On the other hand, if you're a civilian relying on a semiauto or slide action shotgun for defense, the odds of you ever needing to reload in a gunfight are very, very slim. As Greg Ellifretz recently posted on his blog:

I dug deeply into the details of almost 1800 shootings for my study on firearm stopping power.  Outside of cops shooting at barricaded suspects, I never saw a single gunfight where the defender emptied his shotgun.  If you plan to miss a lot, you’ll probably want to have some extra ammo on board.  But the reality is that if you hit your target, I rarely see cases that required more than two shotgun rounds.  One or two hits with 00 buck or slugs tend to be very decisive stoppers.

With most defensive shotguns holding between four and eight rounds, you probably will not need any extra ammo for your home defense shotgun.  I would not criticize you a bit for wanting to minimize weight by just carrying the rounds in the magazine tube.  Take a look at my SBS 870.  It only holds four rounds in the mag tube and I have no spare ammo on the gun.  The reality of the situation is that I’m exceedingly unlikely to need more than four 00 buck cartridges in my home defense gunfight.
Emphasis added by me.

Now, with that being said, practicing reloads is a good idea because it builds familiarity with your weapon, which makes it more likely that you can manipulate it properly under stress, and if you need to clear a malfunction it will be easier.

Of course, if you're a cop or a soldier armed with a shotgun, you should definitely practice reloads because as Ellifretz notes, there are fundamental differences between those who seek to avoid trouble and those who are charged with running towards it.

Finally, I recommend that anyone who has a gun for defense should buy a set of functioning dummies and/or snap caps. They are vastly safer to use when checking function or running drills at home than using live rounds.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

TFBTV: Combat Shotgun Basics with Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch

 This video is one of the best I've seen on using shotguns for defense.

It's about 23 minutes long and worth watching the whole thing.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Esstac Shotshell Card

The old, cheap elastic butt cuff that used to adorn my Mossberg 500 stretched out after several years. Rather than purchasing another one, I decided to try putting on an Esstac 4-round shotshell card. It's attached to the stock with heavy duty Velcro tape.

Since I'm left handed, it's mounted on the left side of the stock so the right side is unobstructed.

I actually purchased two of the cards, so if I'm camping or the SHTF I can throw the second one in my pocket for another 4 rounds.

I've also seen pictures of shotshell cards attached to the left side of the receiver. This won't work for me because I keep the gun in a Mossberg Loc-Box that surrounds the receiver.

Anyway, the sewing on the Esstac card appears to be very high quality. The loops are tight, and it was a bit of a struggle inserting the shells. I expect they'll stretch a little. We'll see how the Velcro holds up.

If this doesn't work out my plan is to get a stock cuff from Hill People Gear.

Good reading on home defense shotguns

I recently found a few posts on the MDTS Training site that are worth reading, regarding defensive shotguns:

Recently, I bought 100 rounds of Prvi Partizan 2.75" 1200 FPS 00 buckshot. Full power buck is generally rated for 1300 FPS so this should hopefully have somewhat less recoil. The Prvi ammo is old school: non-buffered, it looks like it's not in a shot cup, and is held in place with a clear plastic over-shot card that's roll-crimped to secure it. I expect it to open up much more quickly than Federal Flite Control but for inside use in a subdivision that may not be a bad thing.

In a couple weeks I'll be heading upstate again and hope to test the Prvi buckshot for function and pattern in my Mossberg, after which I'll post a report.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

New Stock for my Mossberg 500

Like millions of other Americans, I keep a 12 gauge shotgun for home defense. In my case, it's a Mossberg 500 Mariner. It's basically a regular 18.5" barreled Mossberg 500 but with an electroless nickel finish on the metal and it came with black plastic furniture.

Several years ago I replaced the too-long factory stock with a Hogue youth-sized stock, giving it a 12" length of pull. Even though I'm only about 5'5" tall that was too short to shoot comfortably, so I added a Kick-Eze slip-on recoil pad to add another inch or so. That wasn't ideal because it just didn't feel solid.

So, last week I replaced the Hogue with a Magpul SGA, which is adjustable via adding or removing spacers. I set it up for a 13.5" LOP.

The pistol grip section is more vertical than either the factory or Hogue stock, but it's comfortable for me. I was initially concerned that the comb was a bit too high but after shooting the gun with the new stock, it's not.

Last weekend I was camping on private property where I had the chance to shoot it with a couple different loads. First were a few Herter's buck and ball (a single .650 ball plus six No.1 buckshot) from Cabela's. Second were some Remington 00 buck that I bought years ago at Walmart.

Both were high-brass 1300 FPS 2.75" loads, and of course they kick quite a bit. The Magpul's recoil pad made them bearable for a few rounds.

At home, the Mossberg is kept ready with Federal reduced recoil 00 buck featuring Flite Control wads. They are a lot more pleasant to shoot and will be plenty effective in the unfortunate event I ever need to use it.

No doubt someone reading this will wonder why I'm using a shotgun for home defense in 2022 instead of a pistol caliber carbine or an AR-15. Shotguns remain highly effective defensive arms to this day. Greg Ellefretz has a recent post that mirrors my thoughts on the matter.

You'll note from the picture that my shotgun lacks a light, red dot, laser, sling, or curb feelers. IMO, home defense shotguns should be kept as slick as possible. It's been awhile but I've shot in multigun matches and my shotgun with a simple bead was always at least as fast as guns with ghost rings or optics. (Read Ellefretz's article on why I don't have a sling or light on it. I might add a light, but in the house a sling has too much potential for getting caught on something, IMO.)

Yes, it kicks a lot and doesn't carry a lot of ammo. But the Mossberg is light, handy, reliable, fast on target, and the terminal ballistics are basically unmatched at the range I would need it at.  I live in white bread suburbia, not a war zone.

As Ellefretz notes, it's extremely uncommon for someone defending his home with a shotgun to need to reload in a fight. That said, I had an elastic butt cuff with 5 spare rounds on it on the stock. I am replacing that with an Esstac 4-round card. That will allow me to grab the shotgun have nine rounds of GTFO in/on the gun.

One thing I found interesting during the early days of the pandemic was that aside from all the military-style rifles and handguns that sold out, so did fighting shotguns. Americans get combat shotguns more than most other people.

As an aside, when I got the Mossberg I sometimes ran into sticky extraction. I did some online searching and found that I wasn't the only Mossberg Mariner owner to experience this. I resolved the issue by polishing the chamber with some Flitz metal polish on a cleaning patch wrapped around a 12 gauge bore brush, chucked in an electric drill. Since then the function has been flawless.

Edit 3/25/22:

After some more consideration and seeing how it felt, I removed one of the stock spacers, so LOP is now at 13". This enables me to more easily tuck it into my shoulder and will also be helpful if I need to use it while wearing more than a T-shirt.