AS have many of you reading this, I followed the introduction of the Mossberg 590 Shockwave non-NFA 14- inch barreled “firearm” with interest.
My test example came in last week and, though I knew it would be compact, I was still impressed with how handy it is. At 26.37 inches overall, it is substantially more compact than a 14-inch barreled shotgun with a stock. Of course, the stocked SBS (Short-Barreled Shotgun) is an NFA weapon, although a shoulder stock is more effective at longer ranges (For a full report on this shotgun, see SHOCKWAVE: Mossberg’s Short-Barreled Shake-Up, July 2017 S.W.A.T.).
As stated, the Shockwave is quite compact and handy, but I immediately began considering what its tactical application would be. The obvious answer is that it would be useful for close-range self-defense, especially in close quarters. Traditionally, some undercover police units have also used short-barreled shotguns when arresting dangerous suspects.
But the more I thought about the Shockwave, the more I considered its application as a vehicle firearm. Before explaining my thinking, however, let me explain my situation.
I live in a state where I can legally carry a loaded shotgun or rifle in my vehicle. I also live in an urban area with a high crime rate, including carjackings, gang activity, violent street crime, and demonstrations that have turned violent. With some care and lifestyle choices, I can avoid most of those dangers, but insurance policies, spare tires, fire extinguishers, and guns are all in the vehicle for unexpected circumstances.
I decided to test the Shockwave for its effectiveness from within a vehicle. I figured that if I had to use it, I would most likely be driving.
With the Mossberg unloaded, I tried manipulating it from various stowage points while seated behind the wheel and found that its short overall length and low weight (5.25 pounds) made it easy to bring into action.
The 12-gauge barrel poking out of my truck window looks intimidating as well. But I wanted to be sure I could use it effectively if I needed to engage with it.
A friend and I set up a silhouette target on the range and I pulled into position about five yards from it. The scenario assumed I would not use the Shockwave unless facing a serious threat at close range when I could not drive away.
I chose to use Federal lighter-recoil Tactical 00 Buckshot to allow better control of the Shockwave in the confined space of the vehicle.
The best way to fire the Shockwave is to hold it up level and aim it as though it had a full stock. But that technique does not work well inside the confined space of a vehicle, so I developed what I consider sound tactics for vehicle use.
For firing at a target on the driver’s side, resting my support hand on the window frame gave me more stability. The hand strap on the forend ensures the hand stays properly positioned and also helps dampen muzzle flip upon firing. More importantly, it keeps the support hand behind the muzzle. Don’t even consider removing it!
The Shockwave’s bird’s-head grip does a good job of allowing control of the weapon and also lessens felt recoil. I was surprised at how comfortable it was firing the Shockwave from within my truck.
Here are a few tactical lessons I learned. When aiming, even at five yards, if you are resting the shotgun on the car window’s frame, you won’t be able to use the bead front sight.
As a result, I found that I had to concentrate on keeping the barrel lower on the target than I perceived was necessary. But when I was shooting high, I was still putting the buckshot in the neck/head area of the target.
I used the same technique for pumping the action that I use when firing a shotgun over cover. Instead of moving the support hand, I leave it stable and push the shotgun forward with the shooting hand. This works much better in the confined space of a vehicle.
Finally, the Mossberg safety atop the receiver works better than a cross bolt when holding the shotgun across the chest as I was doing when firing from within the vehicle.
The top-mounted safety was an even greater boon when firing from the driver’s side out of the passengerside window. To fire in this manner, I switched the Shockwave to my left hand and operated the pump action with my right. It was more effective— and less likely to put buckshot into my roof—to lean across toward the window to engage.
When shooting out of the passenger- side window, that recoil was a little more noticeable, since I was stretching across and holding the shotgun out, but it was still much more tolerable than I had initially expected.
Although the Shockwave holds 5+1 shells, for use in confined spaces such as a vehicle, I would only load the five rounds in the magazine and keep the chamber empty until ready to engage, as the action can be worked while bringing it to bear on the threat.
If more rounds are needed, it’s easy to carry a reload within the vehicle without having to twist and turn to gain space so you can shove shells into the tubular magazine. I have loaded standard-length combat shotguns while seated in a vehicle, and it was much easier with the Shockwave.
One other ancillary vehicular mission for the Shockwave could be as part of a bug-out bag for those interested in preparedness. The Shockwave is compact enough to fit in a backpack and offers the intimidation and very close-range deadliness that could be invaluable when facing civil disorder.
Though for a specialized mission that will only apply to a few, I think the Shockwave can be an effective vehicle firearm. In fact, it is an update of the classic Ithaca Auto & Burglar Gun that was designed in the 1920s, when motorists sometimes faced marauders on back roads.
The Auto & Burglar Gun was in 20 gauge, which made it more controllable. And to be honest, I would like to see Mossberg eventually offer the Shockwave in 20 gauge as an option that would be handled more readily by smaller users.
I think many early buyers of the Shockwave have been intrigued by the fact it is not an NFA weapon that can fire 00 buckshot and is deployable in confined spaces; that works for me.
But as it sees some use, I think it will find a niche for specialized selfdefense missions. Vehicular use is one of them.