Thursday, February 14, 2013

Shotgun Project; Status: Completed


Don't say anything.  Just look... ... ... ...

Ah, it feels good to finally wrap up a gun project.  This one went fairly quickly.  The reason is that I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted before going into it, though a couple of products needed discovery during the process.  This is my solution to a home defense problem.  Let's get into specifics.

For those who have followed my blog, my journey started with Ole Plain Jane, a Remington 870 that I bought in July of 2011.  At the time, I wasn't looking for anything other than a simple shotgun for home defense.  But as I used the shotgun, and got to know it better, I found myself wanting a little more than what it offered.  First off was to get new sights for it.  However, that adventure would have turned out quite expensive for me, as getting sights onto a gun that doesn't have them to begin with is costly.  I sold Ole Plain Jane to finance the Remington 870 Tactical that I purchased in late 2012.  It was a couple hundred bucks more than the original shotgun I bought, but it saved me in the end because getting sights on Ole Plain Jane was going to run me $250+ from a gunsmith.  I'm happy I went this route instead.  For my money, I ended up with exactly the sighting system I wanted, plus a bonus in the form of a funny little tactical choke on the end.  More importantly, the gun is not only equipped with this funny choke, but can accept others as needed.  Ole Plain Jane was a cylinder bore with no option for chokes.

I had anticipated getting the Magpul MOE for end for ole Plain Jane and purchased it a few months before buying up into the 870 Tactical.  That said, the Tactical didn't keep it's original for end for very long.  In fact, I think I had it a whole 30 minutes before I changed out the for end.  Now, the reason for this is simple.  For starters, the Magpul MOE for end is larger, and gives more surface area to grip the shotgun.  It also gives me the option of putting a piece of rail, as you can see in this pic here, on either side.  I opted for the left side since my left hand will be operating any lights that find their way onto the shotgun.  I also like the 21st century look that the Magpul MOE gives the weapon.  It brings it out of the dark ages, when man first invented the pump shotgun, and into the modern era of pump action shotgun shooting, which is faster, more accurate, and far more dynamic.  This ain't your granddaddy's old Remington!

Onward in the project, I wanted to address the pitiful excuse that Remington calls a stock.  I hated it on Ole Plain Jane, I certainly wouldn't abide it on my 870 Tactical.  I'm not a fan of pistol grips on shotguns.  It just doesn't work with my body.  If you like a pistol grip, then more power to you.  I prefer a well-engineered and thought out monte carlo style shotgun stock.  That said, I checked into others.  I almost went with a Hogue over-molded stock, which is what I have on my Winchester 1300 Defender.  It's a great stock!  However, price and availability made me somewhat less than enthusiastic.  Plus, I've been spoiled over the last few years with AR-15's and their adjustable stocks.  While at a gun show, I located the Magpul SGA stock on a Remington 870.  I shouldered it and immediately felt that this is the stock for me.  I dropped my cash down on the SGA without hesitation, much to the chagrin of my wife, the household banker.  I could have gotten a slightly better deal online, but I wasn't going to sweat saving $10 bucks online, just to pay it back in shipping.  The design of the SGA stock certainly has its advantages, and while it looks weird, it is ergonomically friendly to me.  It fits like a glove.  The fact that the firing hand is positioned up so high gives a low bore axis feel to the weapon, and helps minimize recoil.  I have the stock a little shorter than the Hogue stock on my Winchester, and I love the length of pull.  It's like the gun fits me perfectly now.

Not pictured is a Nordic Components Teflon coated follower.  I didn't replace the magazine tube follower for any reason other than the fact that the one that came with the gun was made of thin plastic.  On something that critical, I want metal.  It hasn't failed yet, and seems to work well.  I did notice, however, that when loading Sellier & Bellot 2 3/4" buckshot rounds, I can only fit 5 in the tube - not 6.  But I think that's more the fault of the shotgun shell itself.  It's longer than a Federal 2 3/4" shotshell.

Finally, the light.  It was the last piece of the puzzle, and a critical one at that.  Every home defense weapon should have a light mounted to it for a multitude of reasons.  In a review of the Streamlight TLR1-S, I took the time to explain the advantages, disadvantages, and I dispelled some rumors about weapon-mounted lights.  The short description is, "Own the light, own the fight."  Being able to see down dark hallways and into dark rooms gives you many more advantages than if you were operating in total darkness.  My main reason for having a light is target identification.  When things go bump in the night, I want to know that the person I'm aiming my 12 gauge shotgun at is a burglar - not my wife getting up in the middle of the night to take a pee.  Any disadvantage of having a light on a gun pales in comparison to the extreme disadvantage of having to explain to my Mother In-law why I just blew away her daughter at 2 in the morning.

Searching for the best light for this gun's application was the most difficult and rewarding part of the project.  Initially, I tried mounting my Streamlight TLR-1s from my handgun onto the rail section.  I didn't like how the user interface (UI) worked at the angle it was at.  I also didn't like the profile it gave the weapon.  Looks aren't everything, but if there's one thing I can't stand, it's a hokey looking shotgun; and there are a lot of them out there.  I wanted something that would be streamlined, clean, modern, and unobtrusive. I wanted something lightweight and durable.  I had looked into the idea of getting a cantilever mount from Impact Weapons Components, and getting an Elzetta ZFL-M60 on the for end, but in the end, I thought it would be too heavy and bulky.  It took awhile, but I was watching Travis Haley on YouTube, showing a new version of the awesome Thorntail light mount.  I then saw, for the first time, the INFORCE WML weapon light.  The research on this was worth the affects of sleep deprivation I endured the next day at work.  A small, easy to use, lightweight, durable, bright package, all for less than $125 bucks!  The best part is that it comes with it's own integrated picatinny rail mount!  This was definitely worth the look!  At 125 lumens, it is perfect for work inside the house.  Those who say that 125 lumens isn't enough, I suggest having your eyes examined.  I've tried using my Elzetta, at 235 lumens, in the house.  If I point it at directly at a white wall, and tapped the happy switch, guess what happens.  Yeah, I end up blinding myself because it reflects 235 lumens back into my face!  Of course, the keyboard commandos are revved up by now.  "Don't point it directly at the wall!"  Well, yeah, duh.  But in a dynamic situation, where time is life, things can happen.  And pointing a light at the wall is something that very well could happen when the shit is hitting the fan.  But I digress.

The INFORCE light that showed up on my doorstep is coded as such: INF-WML-B-W.  Well, I can't tell you exactly what every letter in that sequence means, but what it does mean is that the light I have is a momentary on/off, high/low/strobe.  I have the capability of disabling the strobe, and also changing the sequence of when high and low come on.  Suffice it to say this:  If I press the button for 2 or more seconds, the light comes on high.  When I take my thumb off the switch, the light turns off.  If I quickly press and release the switch, it's on high constant on.  If I press the switch within 2 seconds, it switches to low.  And if I tap with the switch twice within 2 seconds, no matter what position the light is in, the strobe comes on.  Touch the switch again, and the strobe is deactivated.  It's really easy to do.

The only concern I have is that because of the position of the light, and how far back along the barrel it sits, I get shadows to the right of the weapon when using it in the dark.  This is mitigated by pointing the gun more toward the right.  For my money, the disadvantage of having a standalone light this far back on the weapon beats the obvious disadvantage of clamping a light to the magazine tube and using a funny pigtail cord going back to the for end with a tape switch Velcro'd to it.  Clamps come loose, and cords get caught on shit.  Tape switches fail, and Velcro peels off and gets sticky.  Ask me how I know.  Or I can just take a tenth of a second to point the weapon to the right a little.

The last bits about the light are that it uses a CR123 battery and has a two hour run time.  That's pretty standard.  You can also rotate the back of the body up to cover the switch.  It doesn't fully lock the switch out because I can get my thumb in there, but it makes accidental light discharge highly unlikely.  It's a feature worth having.

Some day, I might get a Burris Fast Fire to put on the shotgun rail, but for now, for all intents and purposes, this shotgun project is done!  Now to finish up the SR-556 once and for all, and move on to the OH-MEGA project!

-James

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