STORY AND PHOTOS BY DAVE WORKMANRecent tragic events have forced a growing number of armed citizens to the realization that while it is still a remote possibility, the potential for ﬁnding one’s self in the middle of a terrorist action or a riot has gone up, as has the need for a defensive weapon.
After San Bernardino and Orlando, our comfort zones have shrunk, and for the ﬁrst time many of us can remember, some in law enforcement have changed their tune from “call 911 and wait” to “run, hide or ﬁght.”
Unfortunately, San Bernardino taught us that we may not be able to run fast enough, and Orlando showed us that hiding and waiting to be saved might not be a survivable option. That leaves the third alternative.
According to a recent report by the Crime Prevention Research Center, the notion of carrying a handgun for personal protection has inspired somewhere north of 14 million citizens to arm up, and the number is rising steadily.
I PREFER A DEFENSIVE HANDGUN because it can always be with me. But it’s just one tool in the box. If it should ever come to pass that something major happens, I’ll use that sidearm to get me to something with a little more horsepower: my Mossberg 500 pump shotgun.
Many of us have good pump guns in the closet for bird hunting or maybe home defense. Mine was purchased some 25 years ago, as a package deal. It has a 20-inch upland bird barrel with a vent rib, and a second 18-inch barrel with an open choke. I ordered it with a “Speed Feed” synthetic stock designed to hold four extra shells, two on each side, in spring-loaded slots. With the plug out, that gave me ﬁve shells in the tubular magazine and one in the chamber, plus four spares.
Recently I added something new, thanks to Tac Star’s latest entry in the Side Saddle lineup, the “Slimline” version. Made from a tough rubber compound with a metal backing plate, this worthwhile add-on allows the user to have six extra shells at hand on the left side of the receiver in the event one has to grab and run. What previously gave me 10 rounds now oﬀers as many as 16 shots, provided I start oﬀ fully loaded.
INSTALLING THIS ACCESSORY is a snap. First, make sure your shotgun is completely unloaded. Then, using the proper diameter punch, push out the pin on the lower rear of the receiver that holds the trigger assembly in place, being careful to keep the trigger housing where it belongs.
Tac Star provides a two-piece screw that inserts from both ends. One end features a beveled head that ﬁts into the corresponding slot on the Side Saddle Slimline. Two small hex wrenches are also included to tighten this screw from both sides simultaneously.
However, don’t tighten the ﬁrst screw all the way. Leave enough slack for the mount to rotate so that it can be fastened up front. Remove the interior slide screw with a screwdriver inserted in the open ejection port. Insert the replacement screw that goes through a corresponding hole up front on the Side Saddle and tighten it down. Then ﬁnish tightening the rear screw.
It’s also a good idea to use a drop of blue Loctite to keep both screws in place.
You can pray to all the Gods in the heavens to keep you safe and out of harm’s way, or you can follow the age-old advice of the Boy Scouts and “always be prepared.” Personally, I’d rather prepare than simply pray, except to pray that all of my preparations never have to be used. ASJ
A bright orange disc ﬂies out of the trap house at a pace only slightly slower than the speed of light. You were hoping for a lob, a gimme, or a straightaway that you could transform into orange powder and boost your conﬁdence a little. But you don’t get any of those, and instead the demonic chunk of clay goes hard left – your worst angle – and you struggle to catch up with the meteor. Finally, you stop the gun and slowly lift your cheek off the comb in defeat as the intact disc spins away to safety.
From somewhere nearby, you swear you hear a snicker.
This nightmare scenario is played out time and again on trap shooting ranges all over the country, and sometimes we reluctantly ﬁnd ourselves in the starring role. But maybe, like me, you have a desire to break out of your present skill level for busting clays. Perhaps this will be the year you do what it takes to improve those scores.
I don’t suggest that I’m a rocket scientist in these matters, but in all honesty, it isn’t rocket science. We all know what the experts tell us. If you want to improve, you’ll have to take action to come up in the world on the trap, skeet or sporting clays range. You have to get serious and burn more powder. You have to ﬁnd some good, qualiﬁed instruction, because just listening to the buddy you shoot with every other Saturday ain’t gonna cut it.
Oh, and one more thing – one really important thing. You have to get a good shotgun, one that is built for the task; a shotgun designed to make it easier for you turn those elusive little clays into powder.
Now, I admire the man or woman who shoots trap, ducks and turkeys all with the same shotgun. But if you are going to get serious in this game, you need to start thinking about a shotgun built for the job, and CZ-USA has something new that may be just what you are looking for.
CZ-USA HAS TURNED OUT impressive shotguns for several years, but the brand-new player in their lineup is the All-American Trap Combo. David Miller – CZ’s shotgun guru and the current Guinness Book of World Record holder for the most clay targets broken in one hour – travels all over the country shooting shotguns. He knows a thing or three about them, and between trigger pulls, he told me all about the company’s new smoothbore.
“It’s been a long time in the making,” he said, “I remember talking to Alice Poluchova [president of CZ-USA] on how important it was for us to tap into the American trap market
way back in 2010, but to do so would take a special product.”
Miller ﬁnally began working with CZ-USA’s partners at AKKAR, the shotgun makers in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2014. In those early talks, he stressed how durable the gun had to be, and what sort of features a shooter would want in a high-quality shotgun speciﬁcally designed for American trap shooting. That list of features soon made their way to Semih Polat, the product manager at the AKKAR factory. It was a pretty impressive list (see sidebar), so I’ll discuss the main features one group at a time.
THE FIRST GROUP OF FEATURES consists of drop-in replaceable action components, three sizes of replaceable locking lugs, and easy-to-replace ﬁring pins and bushings. The drop-in parts feature is huge. A well-used trap gun will ﬁre thousands of rounds a year, and no matter how well made it is, some parts will wear out faster than others. The ability to quickly replace things like bushings, hinge pins and ﬁring pins will be greatly appreciated by the avid shooter.
Neale Flynn, gunsmith at CZ-USA, provided even more detail on the replaceable locking lugs. “The locking block engages the bites of the barrel underneath the bottom of the chamber,” he said, “and the locking block wears over time. Slowly, the top snap lever will go from the right, when the gun is shut, to center.”
“Once at center,” he continued, “the locking block needs to be replaced. On other over/under shotguns, you have to weld and machine the locking block that was in that gun to begin with. It’s more time consuming, and we have to do it in-house to ensure it’s correct. With these drop-in locking blocks of different sizes, it allows us to send the next size of locking block to a customer for their local gunsmith to replace, no major special surgery required.”
Next on Miller’s list were an unsingle singles trap barrel with full ﬂoating rib, and a matching set of midheight rib over/under barrels. “Unsingle” refers to a single-barreled option on this gun to shoot singles, with the barrel being
“under” on the bottom. Opinions vary, but many shooters prefer the barrel to be on the bottom in a single barrel conﬁguration, compared to a “top single” model such as one made by Krieghoff.
HOW THE RIB IS ATTACHED is important, and Flynn advised me that the rib on the All-American Trap Combo is silver-soldered to the barrel. The solder used is 45 percent silver, and is done in an oven at 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Compared to lead- and tin-based solders, or tin and antimony solder, which is more common on less expensive guns, this method is signiﬁcantly stronger.
And a matching set of over-and-under barrels allows the All-American Trap Combo shooter to compete in all phases of American Trap shooting – singles, doubles and handicap.
Finally, we come to a fully adjustable butt pad plate (also adjustable for length of pull), a four-way adjustable parallel comb, adjustable trigger shoe positing, and select wood grain. Just as Miller requested, everything that can be adjusted on this gun is adjustable. The comb adjusts, but it is also parallel. When your cheek is against the comb, your head will not raise or lower if you move back and forth on the stock.
The butt pad adjusts for length of pull, toe in and toe out (slant of the pad from top to bottom), and even for cast on and off. The trigger is adjustable up to inch, and the wood in the stock is listed as “select” – it is drop-dead gorgeous.
I PUT SEVERAL BOXES of Browning’s new BPT shotgun ammo through the All-American Trap Combo and watched others do the same. The gun seemed lively and naturally pointed, yet was still heavy enough that I saw no problems with recoil.
After putting it through its paces, I offered a few other shooters the opportunity for a test drive. Austyn Byers, a high school 4H shooter from Auto, W.Va., picked it up out of case, walked onto the trap range and shot a 23 on his ﬁrst round.
I also trolled the All-American Trap Combo past some of the instructors at the Greenbrier Resort Gun Club in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The gun was very well received there and turned heads everywhere I took it.
“Now that CZ-USA is stepping into the realm of trap shooting,” Miller said, “we will be automatically compared to the shotguns that are already proven to work in such games. For example, Caesar Guerini’s base model is called a Summit Combo and it’s a fantastic gun, but it costs $7,995. There are other great trap guns available, but none will give you more for your money than the AllAmerican Trap Combo.”
MSRP is $3,399. If you can ﬁnd another shotgun that is as well made and has as many features as this, I suggest you buy it. ASJ
If you own an old single-shot, break-action 12 gauges then you know they aren’t very accurate and the recoil is enough to leave you sore black and bruised. There are ways improve this shotgun to make it better and actually make it more enjoyable to shoot with.
Forcing Cone and Lengthening
There is a section of the gun called the forcing cone. This area is in the barrel of the gun, just in front of the chamber. The forcing cone is slightly taper down to the rest of the bore and is normally less than an inch in length. Its job is to force the shot down to the size of the rest of the bore, this can be a very sharp angle.
There is a correlation between forcing cone length and recoil/accuracy. The forcing cone is meant to catch stray pellets and bring them back into the pattern. Lengthening the cone and changing the angle will also prevent the pellets at the back of the shot from being pushed down. With a gradual slope, the shot can condense at a slower rate, resulting in a tighter shot pattern.
If you don’t know physics, you probably heard, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. This is true in shooting, when a shot is triggered the compressed gas from the shot hit the step angle in the forcing cone and then goes right back into your shoulder. By smoothing this out, this makes it more of a steady compression, thus most of the gases leaves the front of the barrel. The remaining gas that are bounced back will be spread out over a longer distance, this lessens the recoil.
So if you have that old single action shotgun in the closet why not send it to a gunsmith to put some life into it.
Source: Wikipedia, Youtube
But some things are too important to not prepare for. Depending on what and where you hunt with your scattergun, your season is either coming up fast, or is already here. September is often the last call for getting shotguns and other paraphernalia ready, so let’s talk about what you need to do to get out there and sling some lead or steel.
First, pull those scatterguns out of the gun safe and look ’em over. I’m sure that you would never put a shotgun away at the end of the season without a thorough cleaning, but if somehow this did happen, now is the time to rectify it.
Open the action and make sure everything seems to function properly – action, trigger, safety, etc. If there are any problems, you may (yes, I wrote “may”) have time to get it to your gunsmith for repair. But if there are any questions with functioning or the safety, do not take
the shotgun to the ﬁeld.
Most of the time, the only prep our guns need is some old-fashioned cleaning. Pump guns and semiautos need a little more TLC when it comes to this, but don’t neglect the actions on your side-by-side and over-and-under shotguns just because they’re easier to clean. It is, however, easy to be intimidated when it comes taking pump and semiauto guns apart, so if you feel as if you are getting in over your head, don’t do it.
Not that long ago, I needed to disassemble a Browning BPS, and when it came to taking the bolt assembly apart I was unsure about getting it back together. Fortunately, there are multiple internet videos about putting this gun – and many others – back together.
While you are making sure that your guns are ready to roll, here are a few items that will help improve your experience in the ﬁeld.
ONE GUN PROTECTION PRODUCT I’ve recently come to use is Hopper Spit by Birchwood Casey. The name is derived from – and I am not making this up – the product’s dark brownish-green color. If you caught grasshoppers for ﬁsh bait as a kid (as I did), you know what color their spit is.
Hopper Spit is an extreme rust and corrosion preventative for the metal on ﬁrearms. It will protect ferrous and nonferrous metals, and withstand the harshest conditions, including salt spray. This is a good protective spray for long-term storage of your guns (so you’ll be all ready for next season), or before a hard day in the ﬁeld or the range. The suggested retail price is under $15, so you really can’t aﬀord to not test it out.
For more, see birchwoodcasey.com.
ANOTHER TYPE OF protection that we often neglect in the ﬁeld is for our hearing. For some reason, we wear it religiously when we go to the trap, skeet or sporting clay range, but we think that banging away in the dove ﬁeld all day is somehow diﬀerent. Some of us (like me) have already experienced some hearing loss from years of unprotected shooting, but it’s never too soon, or too late, to protect the hearing you have left.
Any hearing protection, including the simple “jam it in your ear” soft foam type, is better than nothing, but I think the in-ear electronic models work best. They eﬀectively reduce shotgun blast noise while letting us hear what is going around us, and this increased awareness can be very important while on the range or in the ﬁeld.
Etymotic Research’s Gunsport PRO electronic ear plugs are an excellent option for this need. GSP 15 electronic earplugs allow natural hearing when no background noise is present, and gradually protect from loud continuous noise from vehicles, machinery or gunﬁre from nearby shooters. At the ﬂip of a switch, sound is ampliﬁed, improving distance detection up to ﬁve times for enhanced awareness.
I’ve used the GunSport 15 model ear plugs in the ﬁeld and in a shotgun class at Gunsite Academy, and found them to be comfortable, eﬀective and easy to use. The suggested retail for these ear plugs is $299.00, but if you do much shooting (or go to NASCAR races, etc.), they are worth every penny.
For more, go to etymotic.com.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING as too much ammo. Can I get an “amen?” We shotgunners tend to go through a lot of ammunition, and that is a good thing. No matter how many shotgun shells you may have stored at your ranch, you are probably always in the market for more. I know I am.
Before you head oﬀ to the dove ﬁeld for your ﬁrst hunting expedition, you should put in at least a couple sessions shooting trap, skeet or sporting clays – anything to get you out there shooting.
Maybe you’ve heard that Browning has entered the ammunition world, and here are a couple oﬀerings for you to consider.
For the range, Browning oﬀers Browning Performance Target (BPT) Shotshells. A combination of hard shot and a smooth hull make this an excellent choice. Most of you know that round shot will ﬂy truer and hold a better pattern, and the harder or denser the shot, the more it holds its shape and doesn’t become deformed during ﬂight. Harder shot also breaks targets better.
Browning wanted to come in somewhere in the middle on the price point on this ammo, and accomplished this on their BPT line with a brass-plated steel shell head. The brass plating allows for smooth feeding, but the steel head makes it diﬃcult to reload, so Browning does not recommend it. MSRP for a box of 25 is $9.99, but you may see them on shelves anywhere from $7.99 up.
Browning has also introduced the BXD line of hunting shotshells. Along with nickel-plated shot for tighter downrange patterns, the main feature of these shells is speed. The 12-gauge 2¾-inch shell with a 13/8-ounce shot load delivers a muzzle velocity of 1,485 feet per second, and that, my friends, is a screamer. This type of speed should allow for less lead when drawing on that rooster pheasant that ﬂushed a bit too far out.
For more, see browningammo.com.
THIS ONLY SCRATCHES the surface of all the things you need to attend to before you hit the woods or the dove ﬁeld, but the editors would not give me the 20 pages I asked for to cover this topic adequately. Go ﬁgure.
As always, my advice to you is to just go. There will never be a perfect or even a good time to do it. Go to the range, go to where the doves are flying, or go see if the teal are in yet. No matter what you want to go after, just go! ASJ
The ﬁrst bolt-action riﬂe adopted by Prussia in late 1840s, the Dreyse “needle gun”, used projectiles somewhere between 16 gauge and 20 gauge – a 1-ounce bullet riding a paper sabot at around 1,000 feet per second. As riﬂe designs improved and metallic cartridges came into use, several 1870s designs in Europe and the U.S. settled around .44 caliber, with ¾-ounce projectiles launched around 1,500 fps, a velocity suﬃcient to expand soft lead and provide massive stopping power on soft-skinned foes such as humans or leopards. Incidentally, that ballistic envelope is very similar to today’s 20-gauge hunting loads.
As people came upon more thick-skinned game, including Cape buﬀalo and grizzly bears, large-bore riﬂes gained popularity, culminating in the massive .700 Nitro Express. Similar to the 12-gauge shotgun in bore size, the .700 NE had three times the energy and massively greater penetration. Limited to lower-pressure actions, shotguns could not compete.
Big-bore riﬂes, however, had their downside as well. They were very expensive, had massive recoil and launched a day’s wages downrange with every trigger pull. Shotguns, while less powerful, were far cheaper to shoot and didn’t beat up the hunter nearly as badly. For most North American game, whether dangerous or merely edible, 12-gauge slugs were more than suﬃcient at close range.
At distance, some accuracy could be gained with riﬂed chokes or fully riﬂed barrels. As game regulations forced riﬂes out of hunters’ hands in several states, riﬂed shotguns enjoyed a resurgence. A few hunters even chose them over riﬂes for close-range use because of the massive payloads available, up to 2 ounces in 12 gauge. In many areas, the riﬂed shotgun became the working man’s safari riﬂe.
I TESTED TWO EXAMPLES of such hunting arms, the bolt-action Savage 220Y, a lightweight youth 20 gauge, and a Winchester SX3 Cantilever Buck, a gas-operated semiauto 12 gauge. Both have fully riﬂed barrels intended mainly for sabot slugs. In addition to sabot loads, I also tried Brenneke-style slugs, which work in smooth or riﬂed barrels.
The Savage 220Y has no provision for iron sights, so I used it with a 1-4x Vortex scope. With ¾-ounce Brenneke K.O. slugs, it had moderate recoil and gave consistent three-shot groups at ½ inch at 25 yards, the longest distance available to me during the testing. Minimal muzzle ﬂash, good accuracy and respectable terminal performance – around 18 inches of gel penetration with slight expansion to about 0.72 inches – all combine to make it a very viable load for deer or hogs. Best of all, it’s one of the cheapest slugs suitable for riﬂed bores, at under a dollar per round! Rated at 1,475 fps at the muzzle, it comes out just a shade slower from the 22inch tube.
The Savage shotgun also did its part to help accuracy. Its Accutrigger is nice and crisp, and the bolt action was smooth. The only catch was inserting the two-shot box magazine: it has to be pressed against the back of the magazine well to lock in. Single shells may be loaded over an empty magazine through the ejection port.
I then tried 250-grain Hornady FTX and 260 Winchester Dual Bond Elite sabot slugs. Streamlined expanding bullets in plastic sabots have a reputation for accuracy, and both are rated at 1,800 fps muzzle velocity for ﬂat trajectory. With the barrel slightly shorter than the test rig, both were in the low 1,700s from the 220Y, with a pronounced muzzle ﬂash.
With both loads, I was quite surprised by the initial results: a bull’s-eye with each, followed by a hit half an inch oﬀ, followed by a third nearly 2 inches from the initial hole. I reshot the groups with both, and every time they opened up to nearly 7 minutes of angle with just three rounds.
Reading up on the problem, I discovered that sabot slugs shoot straightest from a cold bore. On the return range trip, I was able to shrink the groups by cooling the barrel for a couple of minutes between shots with the bolt open. Both loads shot within 1 inch at 25 yards, reasonable for 100-yard shots on deer, but not living up to the reputation.
With the ﬂatter trajectory oﬀset by decreased accuracy, these looked less useful than the Brennekes, except for one factor: most deer hunting involves one shot on a stationary deer. The ﬁrst-shot accuracy – point of impact corresponding to the point of aim exactly – was excellent with both loads, and the ﬂatter trajectory (about half as much drop at 100 yards compared to Brenneke) makes range estimation less critical.
THE WINCHESTER SX3 comes with a four-shot tube and an optic rail cantilevered oﬀ the barrel. That way, barrels may be swapped and replaced without a substantial shift in the zero. It also had a set of post and notch iron sights visible through the trough in the optic rail.
While adequate, these sights didn’t strike me as ideal, so I put a Holosun red dot on the rail for accuracy testing. I picked it over a larger magniﬁed optic for two reasons: proximity to the bore line and the unlimited eye relief. I wasn’t sure what kind of recoil to expect.
It turns out that my concern was unfounded. The SX3 had no more recoil than the 20-gauge bolt action, thanks to the gas-operated autoloading. The solar-assisted red dot has two reticle options, a plain 2MOA dot and a dot inside 65MOA circle with hash marks for horizontal and vertical reference. That second reticle proved very useful for testing.
Since the main reason to choose a 12 gauge over a 20 is the raw power available, I went with two full-bore loads, Brenneke Green Lightning Short Magnum and DDupleks Monollit 32. Brenneke 1¼-ounce slugs rate at 1,475 fps, but actually recoiled less than the 1⅛-ounce Monolit rated at about 1,400 fps, which suggest the DDupleks load is more optimized for the relatively short 22-inch barrel. In fact, chronograph reports velocity closer to 1,500 fps.
Downrange, Brenneke Green Lightning expands very little, around 5 percent, but has nearly 35 inches of penetration. Combined with a semiwadcutter proﬁle, it is less likely to glance oﬀ such barriers as hog skulls, and that makes it a very viable dangerous-game round.
The Latvian-produced Monolit 32 is a full-machined steel wadcutter supported by plastic driving bands and base. It shows no expansion upon impact and tends to resist deflection by branches and foliage. Gel penetration with it exceeds 40 inches in a straight line. Also, breaking large bones on the way to the vitals will use up quite a bit of the energy.
The two rounds are worthy of each other in terms of accuracy. With just a red dot sight, Brenneke yielded 0.6-inch groups at 25 yards, while Monolit spread 0.67 inches. The groups were extremely consistent and not aﬀected by the barrel heating up. Points of impact moved very little between these two loads, at least at the distance to my backstop.
PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL FIVE loads I tested were short, 2 3/4-inch shells, and both shotguns had 3-inch chambers. To maximize accuracy, you’d want to use 3-inch-long versions, as the projectiles wouldn’t have to jump extra quarter inch of freebore.
I picked the shorter loads to save wear on my shoulder which, in retrospect, turned out to be excessive caution. The recoil from both shotguns was fairly mild.
As a point of caution, the muzzle rise was fairly pronounced with both, so it’s worth holding onto the forend well to avoid a black eye from the scope eyepiece. Using a hasty sling, riﬂe style, provides both the stability for aimed shots and the extra resistance to muzzle rise.
For most meat hunting, the first shot matters the most, and each of these rifled shotguns should provide sufficient accuracy and power out to 100 to 150 yards, depending on the skill of the shooter and the size of the game. For dangerous game, the more powerful 12-gauge autoloader would also provide quicker follow-up shots in case the quarry isn’t alone or the first hit isn’t perfectly placed. For stalking meat game, either would work well, weighing in at around 8 pounds with the respective optical sights. ASJ
The shotgun has long been a standard in home defense for obvious reasons. The ability to modify this weapon into a shorter more versatile style has sparked the interest of a large number of shotgun owners. This guy seems to know his stuff when it comes to creating a sawed off shotgun.
Check out the video below to see the steps he used to modify his firearm.
Having a versatile gun like this is important when seeking to be able to protect your family and home from intruders or other external threats.
It seems easy enough. A few simple steps and you are ready to hit the range.
What do you think? Looks like a pretty cool project if you ask me.
Here is another project combining my hobbies of mahcining and guns. It’s a short video of a little weekend NFA project that came out pretty well. It’s a Bi-cal MP220 side-by-side shortbarreled shotgun. This was a fairly simple project, so I didn’t make any video of the procedures. I’ll explain each step in photographs, and show some video at the end of me shooting it. Let me know what you think about this project in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe.
Here’s how the shotgun started life. It was just a standard 20-inch coach gun, no thrills. Picked it up for about three-hundred bucks at a local gun store. Remember that in the US, if you cut a shotgun barrel down to less than eighteen inches, you need to have an approved form-1 before you start. You’ve gotta pay your $200, get approval from the ATF, and have your form in-hand before you ever start work.
The first step is to cut the barrel down. I measured slightly longer than my form 1 claimed, and marked the spot. In this case I cut the barrel at 10.1 inches. The barrels taper, so getting a straight line all the way around the cut point was a little tricky. Fortunately, this isn’t really a critical step, as I squared it on the mill later. I used the straight edge of a piece of paper wrapped around the barrels at the correct length, and used a marker along the edge to mark the cut line.
Here’s the resulting line, the next step is to get the hacksaw out and start at it. There isn’t much cooler in my book than taking a hacksaw to a side-by-side shotgun.
Well, the hacksaw didn’t last long. In realizing that power tools exist for a reason, I got my trusty angle-grinder out with a cutoff wheel, and made short work of chopping the barrel down. And here’s the result. It’s rough, but it worked just fine. That short barrel’s starting to look pretty good.
The next step was to square off the end of the muzzle using the milling machine. It took a while to figure out how to do that, since there aren’t many surfaces to use for references. I ended up using the bottom of the locking-lug and the breach face as my reference surfaces. I squared them up with a dial test indicator to better than a thousandth in the Y and Z axis across the face of the breach. That should translate to a muzzle that is square with the breach face.
I then made multiple light cuts with a long carbide end-mill until the entire face of the muzzle had some material removed. This could’ve been done with a file with good results, but since I had the milling machine, it probably did a better job than I would have.
The next step is to fill the gap between the barrels. I used a bar of lead solder, propane torch, steel wool, copius amounts of Flux and patience. This was pretty tricky, but it came out nicely in the end. Well-fluxed steel wool was the key in making it look nice. Without it, this process would’ve failed miserably. I then touched it up with some Cold Blue to match the silver solder to the blue of the barrels. It came out really nicely as you can see in the pictures.
With the barrels done, next up was the woodwork. The first thing I chose to do was to cut down the forend. My chosen barrel length of ten inches caused the forend to extend just past the barrel, so I assembled the gun and marked the edge of the barrels on the forend, then used my miter saw to cut it flush.
I debated whether to do as most do, and cut the stock off entirely, leaving only a pistol grip. Ultimately I made the decision just to shorten the stock. Why did I decide on a short stock? Well, tactically, in the end of the world situation, I wanna be able to shoot at least a hundred-and-fifty slugs with this guy without having to take a break, because I’ll be protecting my massive food stores from the mobs of unprepared sheeple. A stock allows me to do that better than a pistol grip. Pistol grip would allow dual-wielding, but I thought that ‘more accurate fire’ argument swung the decision tree matrix over to the shoulder stock.
Yeah, just kidding. Like most of my guns, this is purely a range toy, and something that I made because it’s awesome. I chose the short stock because it was the most awesomest option. Which leads me to the finished gun. When I finished the wood cutting, I stripped the orginal blonde finish, sanded and rounded and re-stained it with a Russian Red and a Dark Walnut stain, and finished it off with some tung oil. I think it looks much better with the dark red wood, Certainly way more tactical. I then ground down a custom limb saver, and called this project done. Which leads me to finally getting the video. Here are the first shots with the shotgun. It’s exceptionally loud, but a LOAD of fun.
Oh yeah. S’not that bad!
This was a fun weekend project that involved six months of waiting to get approval for. Overall in the NFA world, it’s a pretty cheap and easy to complete project, and would make a great first form-1. Let me know what you think of the gun in the comments, ways I could have done something better or smarter, things you would have changed, and don’t
by Jesse Males
Source: Jim McPherson Youtube
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY OLEG VOLKShotguns are a perennial home defense favorite. They are generally inexpensive, very common and perceived as being simple to operate. Nearly every gun-owning household has at least one smoothbore. But, since research and anecdotal evidence point towards the relative ineffectiveness of birdshot against large intruders, buckshot is typically used to deliver multiple simultaneous impacts while adding some margin for aiming error.
Buckshot, from .35 caliber 000 to .24 caliber No. 4, works fairly well on opponents up close and in the open, but doesn’t penetrate cover well. For people who want the ability to get through furniture, walls or auto glass, slugs provide another option. The same applies to rural residents who worry less about overpenetration but may have to ﬁre in self-defense at longer ranges where buckshot spreads too much, and individual pellets lack adequate penetration.
Large-bore smoothbores and riﬂes have long been the ﬁrst choice of dangerous game hunters. A typical musket was around .70 caliber, and black powder riﬂes varied from .70 to .45, with long conical bullets providing necessary penetration on ornery creatures like Cape buffalo or grizzly. Jacketed bullets developed by the 1890s and monolithic solids introduced in the second half of the 20th century continued this trend.
While traditional big game hunting riﬂes and ammunition have always been extremely expensive, North Americans and Russians, two populations with relatively widespread shotgun ownership in areas with dangerous ursine neighbors, developed a number of shotgun slug loads also optimized for penetration and massive stopping power. Century-old Brenneke hardcast lead slugs and the more recent Latvian steel Monolith load both offer accuracy and straight-line punch to put down a wild boar or a bear. For the same reason – great penetration – slugs aren’t favored for home defense use. Nobody wants to overpenetrate while hitting an intruder and endanger family members or neighbors behind the actual foe.
SLUGS COME IN SEVERAL GENERAL TYPES: penetrative, expanding, fragmenting and frangible. Penetrative designs are generally excessively energetic for human foes: they are likely to make a .70-caliber hole and keep on whistling past, with all that power wasted on perforating the landscape or, worse, some innocent positioned behind the attacker.
Frangibles are designed to break up against solid backstops during training. D Dupleks Caviar 26L frangible, a plastic slug with embedded steel BBs, breaks up on ﬂesh with about 8 inches of penetration and nearly 5-inch spread. That’s considered a bit shallow for reliable stopping, but not shabby. By contrast, the Remington Disintegrator round acts as a nonexpanding penetrator on ﬂesh and only breaks up against hard surfaces, like steel range backstops.
Expanding slugs are large-bore variations on hollow point pistol bullets. With much more energy and mass, and fewer constraints on the initial shape, they can be quite effective. For example, the new Team Never Quit 375-grain copper slug sits in front of a 90-grain plastic base. The slug is slightly subcaliber, so it can be ﬁred through any choke. The plastic base acts as a gas check, but also as a drive band when used in riﬂed barrels or as a drag stabilizer when ﬁred from smoothbores.
With a full weight of just over an ounce and muzzle velocity of 1,200 feet per second, it has mild recoil. Spread was about 3 inches at 25 yards when ﬁred through an Armagon G12 cylinder bore barrel, and 1 inch when used with a riﬂed choke. The same slug grouped 2 inches at 25 yards from a Benelli M3.
SMOOTHBORE ACCURACY DEPENDS ON MANY FACTORS, including the concentricity and evenness of the bore, the amount of ﬂex on ﬁring and many others, so it is difficult to predict accuracy without testing individual ﬁrearms. Molot Vepr 12 and Fostech Origin 12, for example, are extremely accurate even in smoothbore versions, as are most Remington 870s. Similarly, nominal velocities listed here can vary by 10 to 15 percent based on the barrel length, choke and chamber used.
In testing, the Team Never Quit slug delivered textbook perfect results, with about 12 inches of penetration through four layers of denim, and reliable 1½-inch expansion. Fired into bare gelatin, it penetrated 16 inches and had just enough energy left to penetrate halfway into standard residential drywall. While high-energy numbers make for easy marketing, this load minimizes overpenetration and reduces follow-up time, both of much value in home defense. This slug was designed for use in smoothbore defensive shotguns at ranges under 50 yards. With riﬂed barrels or with riﬂed chokes, it can be used for deer-sized game out to about 100 yards.
OATH Ammunition recently introduced the Tango expanding slug, a 600-grain, 1,200 fps copper projectile available in traditional plastic or in a machined aluminum case. I was only able to obtain one unﬁred shell, and unﬁred and expanded slugs for photos, so I can’t comment on accuracy or recoil. I would, however, expect the sheer weight of the slug to produce a noticeable push on the shooter.
The wasp-waisted projectile uses two rubber rings for obturation. The slug expands to an impressive 2.6 inches, with a ring instead of a solid base to reduce resistance. In gel, it penetrated 12 inches and then bounced back to 7-inch position from the resistance of the media. That’s consistent with how OATH pistol ammunition works, being designed for a penetration depth of 7 inches. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, the company is in Chapter 11, so the future of this load is uncertain.
D Dupleks makes two loads that combine fragmenting and expanding features, a 1.25-ounce Hexolit and a 1-ounce Dupo. Both are made of mild steel and have six preformed petals attached to a cylindrical base, then encased into plastic. The plastic provides obturation and improves aerodynamics. Both loads are very accurate from smooth or riﬂed barrels. Hexolit always expands to 1.5 inches and then produces six sharp 24-grain fragments penetrating about 12 inches with equally wide spread, and a base penetrating about 20 inches.
Destructive effect on gel was greater than from a .308 Win soft point, and approaching that of .338 Lapua Magnum soft point. At longer ranges, Hexolit acts as a large hollow point, penetrating up to 20 inches! The lighter Dupo acts similarly at close range or in case of bone impact, but stays together as a 1.2-inch expanded hollow point in soft tissue at longer ranges. As a hollow point, it penetrates about 18 inches.
With the initial velocities in the 1,400 to 1,460 fps range, these rounds have more felt recoil than Team Never Quit but also a longer useful range. They were originally developed as medium and large game hunting loads, so they are accurate out to about 65 yards from smoothbores and past 100 with spin stabilization. Because of the highly penetrative base, however, both have the potential to hit bystanders beyond the target.
All of these expanding loads are lead-free, which is helpful for indoor use. D Dupleks and OATH slugs, in particular, gain an efficiency from having relatively hard materials shaped with sharp edges facing forward to cut tissue.
FRAGMENTING BULLETS have a poor reputation among handgun users, primarily because of insufficient penetration. With shotguns, each fragment has the weight similar to a complete pistol bullet and higher velocity, so they are rather more effective. Both Winchester and Rio loads proved very accurate, with groups around 1 inch at 25 yards from smoothbores. Both stayed together well through such obstacles as car doors and laminated glass.
Winchester PDX1 is a 1-ounce load starting at 1,600 fps, and the high velocity makes ﬁring one a bit exciting. When I ﬁred it from a Vepr 12, a semiauto shotgun with some drop to the stock, the muzzle rise knocked my safety glasses off. It was much more comfortable ﬁred from MKA1919 and Origin 12, since both are semiautos with straight-line stocks. The same high velocity makes it very effective on target. The slug breaks into three 145-grain fragments, each sufficient to go through 18 inches of gel with considerable cavitation around. The fragments dispersed about 6 inches by the end of their travel, pretty much destroying the 10-inch by 10inch by 20-inch block. If you can handle the recoil, this is a very effective round.
The Rio Royal Expanding Fragmentary slug – there’s a nice mouthful of branding – also weighs at 1 ounce but comes out slower, at 1440 fps. Breaking up into four 45-grain petals and a base, it produces 7-inch penetration with 7-inch dispersion – meaning an approximately 22-degree cone of fragments. The base, about 60 percent of the whole and smaller than the bore diameter, keeps on going 18 inches or so. This load combines reasonable recoil and terminal performance with excellent accuracy and budget price. At $1.40 per shot, it’s the least expensive of the specialty loads.
While most of these slugs can be used from a riﬂe bore, they are accurate enough at typical self-defense ranges to make it unnecessary. Riﬂing would make the shotgun less versatile by dispersing shot patterns into donuts, and so should probably be reserved for hunting use. With fragmenting projectiles, the spin would also cause slightly wider dispersion of petals.
The last round to consider is the American hunting stand-by, the Foster “riﬂed” slug. With the ribs on the outside designed to pass safely through chokes, these projectiles are unsuitable for actual riﬂed bores. They stabilize by having most of the balance forward, and are hollow based. Remington Slugger, the most widely available (and cheapest at around $1 each) Foster slug, is thimble-shaped. On impact, at least up close where the 1,550 fps muzzle velocity is retained, it acts as a frangible despite its intended use as a solid.
Further out, at ranges more typical of deer hunting, the slug holds together better. At room distance, Slugger turns into a cloud of small lead chunks extending about 9 inches deep and nearly 6 inches wide. The smaller 20-gauge Slugger does the same, but to 7.5 inches and 5 inches of width. This is less depth than is recommended by the FBI testing protocol, but probably noticeable to the hostile recipient.
ALL MODERN EXPANDING LOADS are generally adequate for selfdefense. Except for D Dupleks Caviar, none of them would safely break up on typical residential walls in case of a miss. Caviar won’t stop for drywall, but tends to break up enough on wooden studs to pose reduced danger downrange. Given the massive variability of shotguns, be sure to test your selected load for functioning: I’ve seen Mossberg 930 autoloader run with plastic riot-control birdshot, and have also seen pump shotguns choke on standard slug or buck loads. Given the precision with which slugs should be applied for best effect, I would also recommend adjustable riﬂe sights or a red dot zeroed to your favorite load. ASJ
You read right, this beast of a shotgun has 6 barrels and holds 48 rounds at a time. The ultimate zombie apocalypse weapon.
Triple double is usually a term thrown around in basketball. Not so much in shotgun lingo. Double barrel shotguns are awesome. But you know what they are not as awesome as? A triple double shotgun.
The guys from Demolition Ranch brings us one of the coolest and craziest guns you will ever see. Sure it is super heavy and quite uncomfortable and to be honest, not practical whats so ever. But that doesn’t matter because it is also ridiculously awesome.
If Walking Dead was a real thing, and we must go on fighting zombies to survive, you can bet this is what I would be packing. Surely you could eventually hit your mark after 48 rounds.
Yes, 48 rounds. Each tube holds seven shells plus one in the chamber, amounting to a 16-shot capacity in each gun. You do the math. Simply put, he mounted three DP 12’s together with a few bolts and nuts while synchronizing the pump actions together.
Quite genius and shockingly never done before, the triple double shotgun is pretty cool.
If you bring that to the range, you are guaranteed to turn some heads and have plenty of questions to follow.
Video Transcript:[Gunshots] [Host] “Don’t get me wrong, I really like this gun with two barrels, but–” [Clip from Oliver Twist] Oliver: “I want some more.”
Male: “Deez nuts. Ha!”[Music montage of connectng the guns]
by Colton Bailey
Source: DemolitionRanch Youtube
This is what happened a few months ago when I ventured west to the Show Me State for some turkey hunting. I had been discussing this for a while with Dave Miller, the shotgun product manager at CZ-USA, a ﬁrearm manufacturer headquartered next door to Missouri in Kansas City, Kan. CZ-USA is the US-based subsidiary of the Czech Republic company that makes a long list of ﬁrearms, including riﬂes, pistols, submachine guns and some very ﬁne shotguns. Many of their scatterguns are made in Turkey, which, if you didn’t know, has a long history of making ﬁrearms. CZ-USA also owns Dan Wesson Firearms, which has produced excellent revolvers and pistols for years, including some very nice 1911s.
I have talked to you about Miller in these pages before. Last year I reported on a feat he accomplished that I do not expect to be equaled anytime soon. Miller broke no less than 3,653 clay targets in one hour, squarely putting him in the Guinness Book of World Records. I was there, I saw it and, to say the least, it was impressive.
Miller is what I would call a rabid shotgun shooter. He lives and breathes it. Besides handling the shotgun product line for CZ-USA, he is also their demonstration and exhibition shooter. I don’t know how many days a year he spends on the road shooting shotguns, but it is way more than I want to be away from home. Saying that Dave Miller shoots a shotgun is like saying Michelangelo painted a few pictures.
So, when Miller called me last spring and invited me to go hunt some Missouri turkeys, I was all for it. But secretly I was a little nervous. If this guy went after turkeys the way he does clay targets, I wasn’t sure I could keep up with him, but there was only one way to ﬁnd out.
When it comes to hospitality, Miller takes the cake, or in this case, the turkey. He secured an absolutely beautiful piece of property for us to hunt – many thanks to J.W. Page, the owner – not far from Kansas City. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Miller found a stunning bed and breakfast a mile from there: the Laurel Brooke Farm B&B. We were set!
THE DAY I ARRIVED Miller drove me out to the hunting area to check it out and unlimber the shotguns we would be using. We elected to use the CZ 612 Magnum Turkey Shotgun, and by the end of our shooting session I was glad we did. Any shotgunner needs at least one good pump gun and the CZ 612 may be perfect. This shotgun only weighs an amazing 6.8 pounds – that’s light. It has a 3½-inch chamber for those who want to shoot the big shells, and it also takes 3- and 2¾-inch shells. What I appreciated was an action that is not equaled by any shotgun in the same price range.
“This is the smoothest, most reliable action on a pump shotgun since the Model 12,” Miller told me. “It is very durable and easy to operate.”
After carrying and hunting with it for ﬁve days, I had to agree. The shotgun is hydro-dipped in Realtree Xtra Green camo and comes with an extra-full choke just for turkey hunting. I would have no problem taking this shotgun upland-bird hunting or waterfowl hunting, for that matter.
When you take all of this into consideration, as well as the retail price of $429, this shotgun is hard to beat. If you can ﬁnd a better made pump shotgun at this price – you won’t – you should buy it!
I DECIDED TO PUT AN OPTIC on one of the shotguns we carried and chose the Trijicon MRO red-dot sight. You have heard me talk about the MRO before, and I believe this is an excellent optic for a turkey gun. This sight allows for lightning-fast target acquisition, has a ﬁve-year battery life and is extremely rugged, as Trijicon optics are built to military specs. Miller and I did not baby the shotguns or the optic on this trip, and they came through it just ﬁne.
While the hospitality of all the people in Missouri I met was wonderful, the Missouri turkeys I came across were not as friendly. They were acting a bit snobbish and did not want to just walk in and be shot like a respectable bird. On the ﬁrst morning, after a very long ordeal with a particularly uppity gobbler, Miller pulled a rabbit out of his hat. We spent over an hour crawling on our bellies like reptiles, watching a typical ﬁeld turkey march around out of range. With a strategic decoy placement Miller coaxed the old reprobate gobbler to come right in.
I would be lying if I said that I was not afraid I might miss in front of a shotgunner like Miller, but the Trijicon MRO really helped on a shot that was closer to 50 than 40 yards. I was also glad to have a Winchester Longbeard XR load in the chamber, as I have seen these shells excel when a hunter stretches the yardage. The CZ 612 spoke and the turkey went down as if struck by lightning (whew!). I think Miller was as happy as I was.
Good friends, beautiful country, a good shotgun and some turkeys to talk to – it doesn’t get much better. Think about Missouri if you are considering a road trip for turkeys. I think the annual harvest is something like 45,000 per year.
Me? I’m glad to be home, but you know, I have been thinking about a little trip somewhere. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more on the products mentioned in this story, see cz-usa.com, trijicon.com and winchester.com.
One of our past articles showed some flaws with the security of a gun safe and how you can accidentally crack those safes. Those techniques were considered the “soft” method. What about cracking it the old fashion way of “brute force”.
Taofledermaus has just the improvised shotgun shell to try on this tough target.
This test of wax slugs is against an old safe. Can an old safe be penetrated by these wax slugs? Well, a full can of beer is what is being protected inside of this safe.
Watch as a shotgun loaded with wax slugs tries to strong arm it. At first try the rounds went through but missed the beer can inside the gun safe. Second try the rounds went through the safe and destroyed the beer can. The damage is quite impressive to say the least.
Matt the shooter used a Mossberg 590 12 ga shotgun with wax slugs.
Wax slugs are home-improvised shotgun shells with the shot mixed with wax. This causes the shot and wax to hit the target like a slug.
Not much can hold up against the power of a 12 gauge shotgun.
Story by Eric Nestor revised by AmSJ
Source: Youtube, Taofledermaus
This style of shotgun, known as a Drilling, is uniquely German. The engraved Krieghoff Neptune variation combines a double-barrel, 12-gauge shotgun with an 8×57 JR-caliber rifle barrel. The gun metal is ornate, featuring high-relief engravings depicting woodlands with deer. The serial number, 15450, indicates that the gun was made in 1931 and then sent to a master engraver to embellish the gun to its current condition. The bottom of the trigger guard is where the initials are located.
Heinrich Krieghoff was in Sewanee, Germany, where he demonstrated a gas-operated rifle to Adolph Hitler, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess and Paul von Hindenberg, possibly to gain favor for a military contract, which he received the following year to produce 10,000 Luger pistols. It is believed that Krieghoff offered Neptune Drillings to Göring and Hitler at this time. We do know that Göring, a German politician, military leader and leading member of the Nazi Party, owned a Kreighoff Drilling, which has been documented in books and period photos, and has his initials, H.G., engraved in the same location – bottom of the trigger guard – and in a similar style as the A.H. Neptune.
In May, the US Army’s 506th Parachute Regiment raided Hitler’s Berchtesgaden retreat in the Bavarian mountains and a soldier reportedly took the Drilling as a souvenir. The 506th is one of only a few units in the US Army to be transferred to the Pacific theater (also depicted in Band of Brothers). Due to weight restrictions while traveling, the paratrooper could not take the shotgun home with him, so he sold the souvenir to 1st Lieutenant Robert J. Lucas, who managed the mess hall and bakery, for $5. Lucas took the gun home with him and settled in central Illinois sometime after the war. His wife reported that the shotgun was kept under their bed for 50 years, and they never discussed its significance with anyone.
After Lucas’s death, his family began researching the gun’s history, discovering that the weapon may have belonged to Hitler.
Randall Gibson, author of the book The Krieghoff Parabellum, collector and gun enthusiast, examined the Drilling and told the family that the gun “very likely” was given to Hitler as a gift in 1934.
The family put the Drilling up for auction with Mid-West Gun Exchange and sold it to a private collector.
The A.H. Krieghoff Drilling was sold to Legacy Collectibles in a private transaction.
There are no documents to prove that this Drilling was presented to Hitler at the demonstration, or while he was touring the Krieghoff factory in 1934. All Krieghoff company documents were destroyed before the Allied armies took over the factory in 1945. The only documentation of a similar gun, that was given to Göring, comes from period photographs of him with the gun.
While Göring, an avid hunter, was photographed several times with his Krieghoff Drilling, there are no photos of Hitler with agun. This does not disprove the validity of this A.H. Drilling. Hitler was seldom photographed with any gun because he reportedly was a vegetarian and was opposed to hunting.
We do know that Krieghoff was in the presence of Hitler on numerous occasions, which would have given him many opportunities to offer a gift.
This Krieghoff Drilling variation is slightly shorter than standard shotguns, perhaps due to Hitler’s smaller stature if it was, indeed, made for him.
The similarities of both the H.G. and A.H. Drillings, the time frame, the documented origin of the A.H., and multiple meetings between Krieghoff and Hitler lead one to believe it is highly possible. The additional fact that this gun has A.H. inscribed in the same spot as the H.G. on Göring’s gun led one expert to declare that it’s very likely this is indeed Hitler’s shotgun. ASJ
Editor’s note: Legacy Collectibles is the nation’s leading provider of authentic and historical firearms. For more information on this Drilling and all the supporting documentation, you can visit them at legacy-collectibles.com.
Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: 101st Airborne, 15450, 1931, 1st Lieutenant Robert J. Lucas, A.H., Adolf Hitler, Berchtesgaden, Drilling, H.G., Heinrich Krieghoff, Hermann Göring, Kreighoff, Netpune, Paul von Hindenberg, Randall Gibson, Rudolf Hess, Shotgun, The Kreighoff Parabellum, US Army’s 506th Parachute Regiment
In the late 1960s, the military and private companies started tinkering with prototypes for a super shotgun. Three decades later, questions about the weapon’s purpose and practicality on the battlefield doomed the project. The proposed super shotguns were revolutionary, but perhaps to a fault.
Since World War I, scatterguns have been a fixture in American military arsenals. In the trenches, where fighting could be brutal and often hand-to-hand, the short-range idea wasn’t a problem. In World War II, individual soldiers or Marines, especially in the Pacific, carried shotguns to help clear out bunkers or break up ambushes. The same situation persisted in both Korea and Vietnam, but even throughout these eras, the US Army and Marine Corps mostly issued the weapons to military police officers on guard duty.
“The usefulness of the shotgun in combat has long been the subject of some controversy,” Carroll Childers wrote in the January-February 1981 issue of Infantry magazine. “Unfortunately, a great deal of romanticism about its use prevails.”
At the time, Childers was an engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., as well as an officer in the Virginia Army National Guard. In 1969, Childers started work on what he hoped would be a radical new design dubbed the special operations weapon, or SOW. Childers based his initial concept on the needs of and feedback from Navy SEAL teams and Marine reconnaissance troops. The shotgun’s features made it an attractive weapon for specialized units that often had very specific requirements.
During the Vietnam War, Marines complained about how contemporary scatterguns needed to be constantly reloaded during firefights, couldn’t reliably hit anything — let alone kill — at even modest ranges and couldn’t stand up to the abuse of a patrol, according to Childers. The SOW prototype looked fearsome and crude, but it solved many of these key problems. The gun was fully automatic and fed from a 10-round, detachable magazine. Unlike the fixed tubular designs on most shotguns of the day, a shooter with an SOW wouldn’t need to reload one shell at a time, and they could swap out ammunition types — pellets, solid slugs and more — with relative ease. Childers’ gun was also compact compared to the other types of firearms troops took into the Vietnamese jungle, at least in length. With its simple stock folded — or removed — the SOW was shorter than the pump-action Remington Model 870.
Three years after the project got under way, Dahlgren patented the SOW. That same year, Maxwell Atchisson, a former Marine and private weapons designer, introduced his Atchisson Assault Shotgun. Atchisson’s original weapon looked like an M-16 on steroids, but was clearly influenced by the same background as the SOW, and had a special recoil-absorbing system built in to make it less of a beast to shoot.
When Washington signed the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam and began pulling troops out of Southeast Asia, any interest in either design evaporated. In the years that followed, Pentagon budgets shrank across the board.
Unlike many other projects, the post-Vietnam drawdowns couldn’t kill the SOW concept. By the end of the decade, the Pentagon had started up an overarching effort to cook up new guns across the services called the Joint Service Small Arms Program, or JSSAP. The new office declared that there was a need for an improved combat shotgun suited for military purposes.
“While the greatest threat is represented by Warsaw Pact forces in Europe, there is a growing belief that the most likely US military engagement will again involve third-world countries,” a May 1979 Pentagon memo stated. “Current shotguns are converted commercial weapons adopted under the pressure of wartime emergencies.”
If another small conflict were to break out, American troops would be in the exact same predicament they had been in Vietnam. The Pentagon felt soldiers and Marines fighting in dense wilderness or urban areas needed better guns.
The work at Dahlgren caught the eye of the JSSAP. With Childers’ experience, the Navy led the development of RHINO — repeating, handheld, improved, non-rifled ordnance.
“I wanted to keep the name SOW, but that, being a female pig, never gained the support of those conferring program titles,” Childers wrote in a letter to Benjamin Schemmer in 1982. “RHINO was a little more catchy.” Schemmer, editor of Armed Forces Journal, had just published an article on the current state of JSSAP’s project. Childers felt the piece had fundamentally misunderstood and misrepresented
The Pentagon had hoped the end result would be a revolutionary gun, not limited like existing shotguns, but the JSSAP-sponsored plans called not just for a new gun, but new projectiles to go with it. The RHINO would spit out pellets, high-explosive grenades, signal flares, tear gas bombs and more. Troops would use the weapon for house-to-house searches, combat and standing watch.
Tank crews would trade in their old WWII-era submachine guns for these new weapons. Even better, the resulting design could replace existing survival rifles, but plans for such a broad and sweeping firearm would run into trouble. Two years after JSSAP’s memo got the RHINO project going, the office renamed it the Multipurpose Individual Weapon System. A year after that decision, the Pentagon changed the moniker again to Combat Shotgun. Each shift reflected an internal debate about just what the new guns were actually supposed to do.
By 1982, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., had taken over what was by then known as the Close Assault Weapon System, or CAWS. Much of the original logic for the new weapon was getting lost along the way. The CAWS requirements had largely dispensed with plans for a multi-purpose weapon. Ammunition development focused on trying to build pellet-filled shells that would be accurate at longer ranges. These new rounds would make a troop armed with the shotgun less of a liability to his comrades on a traditional battlefield, but no one had ever really expected a soldier to use the weapon in that manner anyway. “I certainly wouldn’t want an automatic shotgun,” retired Army Col. Charles Beckwith, founder of Delta Force, told Schemmer in an interview. “I’d have to have four boys along just to carry the ammunition!”
The Olin CAWS Spec Sheet
(COURTESY OF H&K)
Perhaps worst of all, the whole thing was becoming a political nightmare for everyone involved. “It is important that JSSAP show some development success [on CAWS] or lose credibility as a research and development vehicle,” Ray Thorkildsen, an ordnance expert in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, wrote the same year. Thorkildsen wanted Crane to hurry up and build something. With Childers’ in-house project scrapped, private companies were eager to scoop up the now open contract.
The AAI Corporation and Heckler & Koch took the lead. Like Atchisson’s shotgun, AAI’s prototype looked and handled like a beefed-up M-16. H&K offered a more radical “bullpup” design, which had its magazine all the way in the rear. Pan Associates, a much smaller company, planned to offer an even more futuristic-looking gun called the Jackhammer, but the Pentagon demanded all manufacturers have a line of specialty ammo ready to go with their submissions.
Despite a protest to the Government Accountability Office that held up the contract, Pan gave up trying to meet the goal. Atchisson also declined. A year after Thorkildsen sent his memo, H&K finally won out. The German gun manufacturer brought in Olin to design the new all-metal shells full of shot made from a tungsten alloy.
For the next three years, the prototypes were put through their paces. The new buckshot was indeed more accurate and deadly, historian Kevin Dockery notes in his book Special Warfare Special Weapons.
But with the project’s supporters increasingly unable to explain who would use the weapons or why, the project finally came to a close. More than a decade later, JSSAP chose a conventional semiautomatic as the Pentagon’s new scattergun, but the Benelli M-1014 still hasn’t completely replaced aging pump guns.
Four years ago, the Army started buying shotguns that fit underneath standard M-4 carbines. These M-26 Modular Accessory Shotgun Systems give troops an option for breaking down doors without having to lug a whole separate weapon around. Still, private industry has refused to give up on the idea of a fully automatic shotgun. Over the years, many companies purchased the rights to Atchisson’s design. Daewoo in South Korea built a derivative of that shotgun, too, but without real interest from the Pentagon or any other militaries around the world, the various guns have spent far more time in Hollywood productions and video games than in actual combat. ASJ
Posted in History Tagged with: AAI Corporation, Benelli, Carroll Childers, CAWS, Col. Charles Beckwith, Combat Shotgun, Dahlgren, H&K, Heckler and Koch, Joe Trevithick, JSSAP, Kevin Dockery, Maxwell Atchisson, Military, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Pentagon, Prototypes, Ray Thorkildsen, Remington Model 870, RHINO, Scattergun, Shotgun, SOW, Special Warfare, Special Weapons, WWII
I know that when you hear the word “Weatherby,” shotguns are not the first thing that springs to mind – more like a line of fine, high-end rifles. Well, I think that is going to change. I want you to consider the Weatherby SA459 Turkey model. This is a very nice lightweight (6¾ pounds) semiauto shotgun tricked out with a pistol grip, Real Tree Xtra green camo and a Picatinny rail. You will hear more from me about this shotgun, but for now I would rather you hear it from Haley Heath of The Women of Weatherby team, who has some experience with this hunting firearm. “Since I started shooting the Weatherby SA-459 Turkey Shotgun, I gained a great deal of respect for this gun. It’s a shotgun like no other, with qualities that you don’t find on any other brands, such as the larger pistol grip. This feature is a great for turkey hunting since staying still and quiet while in a comfortable holding position is so important,” Haley said. “This turkey season everyone in my family hunted turkey using the Weatherby SA-459 Turkey Shotgun. My 10-year-old son, Gunner, waited over 30 minutes for the perfect shot, and when he finally took the long shot, he dropped the large tom. Even at his young age, he completely gave credit to the Weatherby shotgun for helping him stay steady and comfortable. As a wife and mother of two, I am always looking for a gun that will work for my
whole family, and the Weatherby SA-459 Turkey is that gun for me!” ASJ
Shotguns come in a variety of types – single shot, pump action, autoloading, side by side and over and under. There is a diehard group of shotgun shooters and collectors who consider a side by side the only style truly worth their time, and nowhere in the United States can you find more of these male and female side-by-side aficionados in one place than the Spring Southern Side by Side Championship and Exhibition, held each year at the Deep River Sporting Clays and Shooting School outside the central North Carolina town of Sanford.
The shooting rules are casual, with the only stipulation being that all guns shot on the sporting-clays course must have horizontally aligned barrels. This is more of an exhibition, so although some shooters take their shooting very seriously, posting a good score is secondary for many, with camaraderie and a chance to rub elbows with fellow side-by-side enthusiasts being the true main attraction. It’s called a championship, but that’s just for bragging rights – there’s no purse, there’s no betting, and there are so many trophy categories that it’s almost like a kid’s soccer club.
One of the more notable changes at the Spring Southern over recent years has been the influx of lady shooters. They’re not just attendees either, but actual competitors. Groups such as Girls Really Into Shooting have led the way for more women to get involved.
Bill Kempffer, owner of the Deep River shooting school, says he’s seen a steady uptick in the number of women shooters over the years. Kempffer serves on the National Shooting Sports Foundation Board of Governors and has been in the shooting sports business since the 1950s – certainly long enough to notice any trends in the industry. “I’ve seen big changes – particularly in the last 20 years, and Deep River has been around for 27 years,” he says. “In the beginning you’d occasionally have a wife or a daughter come out to shoot, but around 15 years ago we had an increase in single mothers who would bring their sons to the range to be around men and learn masculine things, because that’s what their fathers and brothers did. In the last five to 10 years more women have stepped out and started doing it themselves.”
Elizabeth Lanier didn’t shoot much as a child growing up in Texas, but you wouldn’t know it by the way she handles her shotgun on the clays course. On her call of “pull,” two orange targets are launched and instantly turned to dust by her 12-gauge side by side. Liz’s childhood experience with guns was limited to 4th of July celebrations when the men in her family would set up a few soda bottles for the youngsters to shoot with .22 rimfires. Several years back she bought her then-husband a set of five shooting lessons, tagging along with him for the first outing. She discovered she liked shooting so much that she used the remaining four lessons on herself. “I thought it was great therapy; it was something I could go out and do that was just about me, the shotgun and the target. I used to drive my kids up to the five-stand and leave the car running, air conditioning on and a movie playing. They were all in car seats and I’d take an hour lesson, go back to the car and they’d all be sound asleep. It was wonderful fun,” she said.
As things progressed, Lanier figured she needed to learn more so she could help the group become more proficient. She got her National Sporting Clays Association level I certification, and then her level II. The only woman in a class of nine, she was so full of nervous excitement that she literally cried when she was awarded her certification. One thing led to another, and people started coming to her for instruction, but she says money has never been the object – it’s the love of the sport that drives her. Her sights were then squarely set on her level III certification, which she considered the ultimate goal – one that would place her in a select group of women so few you can count them on one hand. Lanier calls the day she obtained her level III certification one of her proudest moments. After weathering her divorce, instructing morphed into a career that not only offsets the cost of her hobbies, but ultimately ended up supporting her and her kids.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, how much money you have, what you do for a living – we’re all together to have fun, to enjoy being outside and shooting,” says Lanier. “People would see us out shooting and think, ‘Oh, my, those ladies are having a good time!’”
With five chapters and two more currently in the works, GRITS is spreading the word that women and shotguns are a good combination You’ll know GRITS girls at clay competitions. They’re the ladies smiling and slapping high-fives while shooting the course. It’s the love of the sport that keeps them and their side-by-side shotguns coming back for more. ASJ
Posted in Shotgun Tagged with: Bugsy Graves, Deep River Sporting Clays, Elizabeth Lanier, Ella Lanier, girls, GRITS, Judy Holiday, Judy Hughes, Marilyn Mcllvain, Mimi Wingfield, Shooting, Shotgun, Side by side, Women and guns