Like my clothing, shotguns seem to come back into fashion every six or seven years.
And every time they do, there blossoms an attendant array of after-market gadgets and gizmos that aren’t worth a damn—and a few useful accoutrements that can actually improve your battle capability.
It seems that the Firearms Law of Inverse Proportions never fails: The more after-market garbage you attach to a firearm, the less the weapon functions. For the many people who buy overpriced pimp guns and knives solely for puerile bragging rights, and then relegate them to the status of Closet Queen, it’s really not a problem—because they’ll never be put to the use for which they were intended.
Vang Comp Systems two-round extender/breaching standoff device mounted on an 18-1/2-inch barreled Remington 870. Tape measure shows depth of internal machining.
However, for serious-minded individuals who think they might actually have to deploy their weapons—or, in fact, have already had to use them—reliability is Number One on the requirement list. Any potential bonus you might get from changing weaponry from stock factory specifications isn’t worth a hill of beans if there’s a potential of losing the mechanical reliability factor.
It’s a gun, and it has to work. Period.
In over four decades of packing and shooting guns, and 29 years of training, yours truly has seen literally thousands upon thousands of firearms in operation—and hundreds that didn’t function reliably (including one personally owned “white elephant”). The majority of the personally observed unreliable weapons, however, have surfaced in the last 15 years—coincidentally along with a new breed of firearms owners who apparently have a burning desire for add-on junk and the “look cool” factor at any cost, including that of weapon failure.
One-inch, one-round magazine extender, 14-inch barreled Remington 11-87, original Heckler and Koch 3-point sling, SureFire forend.
And since shotguns, as stated above, reappear on the front lines every few years, and since a factory stock field gun usually needs some modification to morph it into an efficient fighting weapon, it might behoove the buyer to seek out quality, functional add-on equipment (and/or a reputable gunsmith).
As with any other mechanical equipment marketed these days, there is good equipment produced by knowledgeable manufacturers, and there is garbage put out for sale by carpetbaggers.
So, although this author never recommends manufacturers or gunsmiths for obvious reasons, S.W.A.T. Magazine-reading shotgunners might want to examine the after-market wares of Hans Vang, head honcho of Vang Comp Systems.
No doubt many readers will be aware of the Vang and Vang Comp Systems modifications to shotgun barrels—which, for the uninitiated, are designed to reduce overall shot pattern diameters and reduce felt recoil—but he produces and markets some other interesting goodies as well.
Comparison of Vang two-round, one-piece extender and factory Remington two-round, two-piece magazine tube extension.
Concentrating primarily on modifying the venerable Remington 870, Vang obviously has a reputable, idiot-proof piece of machinery as a basis for his mods and after-market bolt-on or drop-in accessories. Let’s face it, if you can break a stock Remington 870, (and yes, by the law of averages there must have been one or two bad individual guns in its 55 years of production), your favorite home gunsmithing tool is probably a four-pound hammer.
In the do-it-yourself drop-in-parts department, Vang Comp Systems concentrates primarily on the magazine tube area of the 870, but produces other items such as a custom larger-than-standard-sized safety button for use in cold weather conditions where gloves would be the order of the day. (Or, for that matter, if you just happen to like large safety buttons.)
What initially strikes the eye of the beholder is the obvious fact that no corners have been cut during manufacture at the risk of sacrificing quality. Whether it’s the safety button, magazine springs, magazine extensions or magazine spring followers, quality and reliability take pride of place.
Though other manufacturers make magazine extensions and modified magazine spring followers, two of the specific units in Vang’s line-up of these accessories are unique:
Vang magazine spring followers. Left to right: Extended plastic follower, stainless steel extended follower, stainless steel follower with dirt-clearing machined channels.
One is a high-visibility steel follower, essentially the same shape as the early factory Remington part. So while he does manufacture plastic and steel extended followers as well, this steel unit does not have the extended appendage, but does have concentric dirt-clearing channels milled into the external surface. And even though stock Mossbergs and Benellis don’t have problems with their steel followers, it’s nice to have the “clearing channels” as an insurance policy. (If you ever score the inner surface of an 870 magazine tube with foreign matter, you could be in for cartridge feeding problems—big time.)
The plastic and steel extended followers have a large aperture at the rear end for tactile checking of loaded/unloaded magazine status, while the short steel follower is offered in two variations: either with a large aperture in the rear end, or with a polished smooth surface to differentiate by touch between the follower or a live cartridge battery cup and primer.
The second unique product is a one-piece extended magazine tube that not only will accept an additional two rounds over the standard 2-3/4-inch cartridges, but also incorporates a serrated stand-off device for breaching purposes. (This configuration does not affect any non-breaching operation of the gun.) This unit is plain, simple, robust and would be of particular interest to law enforcement and military teams (for breaching doors, car trunk locks, etc.).
All Vang Comp Systems extended magazine tubes, from the one-inch, one-round extender on up, are all machined from a single piece of high quality steel, and all variations come with a removable circlip-retained sling swivel attachment, suitable for right or left-handed operation.
There’s always room for improvement, as opposed to change merely for the sake of change. Overall, it would seem that Vang has indeed improved, and used quality materials to boot.
Vang Comp Systems
400 W. Butterfield Road
Chino Valley, AZ 86323-5613