Monday, February 20, 2012

Shotgunnery Solutions

SOE Gear 12 Gauge Micro Rig
We live in an amazing time.  Quite often, if you have a problem, someone else has come up with a perfect solution to it, and you can buy it!  While thinking of my shotguns, it dawned on me that I don't really have an ideal solution to the biggest problem that a shotgun faces - capacity, or the ability to keep that puppy fed.  Now, if you only think that you will just need a few rounds in the tube and maybe some extras on the side saddle, then that is your prerogative; I like to think more into these things than the average Joe does.

My first thought was to get a dedicated shotgun rig, like the one above from S.O.E Gear.  This is their 12 gauge micro rig.  Quite simply, it's a small chest rig that places 24 rounds of shot shells at your fingertips, and also features a utility pouch to store other "essentials" in.  Having that much ammo on hand would give a fantastic advantage when it comes to keeping a shotgun fed.  It is much better than using a sling to hold shells in place.  Those things suck.  I speak from experience, as I have two of them.  They move around too much and the ammo is never in the same place, so you lose precious seconds swinging that thing around to find fresh rounds.  And forget about sectioning it off for buckshot, slugs, or bird shot.  Under stress, you'll never keep track of that.  The kit above will help with all that, but at $140, it's a little more than I'm willing to shell out right now.  Don't get me wrong - I still have it pinned to my wishlist at pinterest.com.  Maybe someday, when my tactical dollars aren't being stretched so thin, I will get one.  For now, I need a more economical solution.

TAG MOLLE Shotgun Shell Rack
  Along comes Tactical Assault Gear, and their newest offering for shotgunners like me.  This is the MOLLE Shotgun Shell Rack, and it is priced just right.  At $24.95 (okay okay, $25), this offers a low cost solution for my system.  I don't run my shotgun as a primary weapon.  The last time I checked, I only carried one long gun at a time anyway; my rifle or my shotgun.  That's fine though because this rack can be installed on my TAG Gladiator Chest Rig for when I want to train with my shotty, and then removed (or ignored) when I want to train with my rifle.  My chest rig has plenty of MOLLE webbing on the front of the AR15 magazine pockets, which will accommodate this shotgun shell rack.  Since my chest rig sits so flat to begin with, this rack won't stick out so obtrusively as to get in the way of me getting into and out of my truck, or going prone, or just moving around with my gear hung off my body.  The only interference issue I could encounter is from the TAG Universal Pistol Mag pouch that I just bought.  I haven't even received it yet, so I can't speak to its size, relative to the chest rig itself.  Conceivably, it should only take up 3 vertical slots on the webbing, but that's pure speculation at this point.  The chest rig has a lot of real estate on it, and I want my pistol magazines to be as far to the left as I can get without interfering with my knife.

TAG Universal Pistol Mag Pouch (Enhanced)
I have two solutions to this possible issue, should it become an issue.  I could either mount the shot shell rack on the right hand side, or play the swapping game whenever I want to play with my shotgun.  Because of how I used to carry my shot shell sling, mounting the rack on my right would not be an issue because my hand naturally gravitates to that direction for reloading.  It's all about consistency.  If the thing is in the same place every time, and I can get to it quickly, where it is placed really doesn't matter as long as it is there when I reach for it.  It's the same story for my holster, which I mounted on the rig.  It's rather high, compared to where I was used to carrying it, but I wanted the holster there instead of requiring myself to use a belt or a drop down thigh rig.  I wanted it all compact and there to just "grab and go" for emergencies.  Instead of being burdened by a ton of different pieces of gear, I need only one.  Long story short, after putting it there and wearing it around for long periods of time, and practicing draws and reholster drills, it became second nature for me to have the holster tucked up high on my right side.  Just for kicks, I wore my chest rig to a Halloween party with my Beretta M9A1 sitting inside the holster, and it didn't bother me one bit.

You'll have to forgive my size in the picture.  I was 50 lbs heavier when that picture was taken.  If you can't already tell, I was a zombie hunter for Halloween.  If there was a contest for the most expensive costume at the party, I would have taken first place easily.  The $600 Beretta alone would have put me well ahead of the pack.  I've only got 4 magazines sitting in the rig in that picture, but if you can imagine one more on either side, you can see how well distributed and balanced the rig is.  As I'm 50 lbs lighter and a lot skinnier, the entire rig comes in and hugs my body much better than when I first bought it.  Placement of a shot shell rack on the right hand side would put my arm at a perfect 90 degree angle for reach.  If my upper arm was pointed straight down and held tight to my body, my forearm comes right across the middle of where that chest rig sits and I can touch just above where my appendix is located.  Either way I choose to go, I will need to first see if it works in a controlled environment, and then get out and train with it in the real world to identify flaws in my theories and iron out the kinks.

I don't plan on getting into a combat situation anytime soon, so I have time to figure out what works for me.  As long as I can afford to feed this system and get it working for me, then I'm happy with figuring it all out.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

-James

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