Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave vs. the Remington Model 870 TAC-14
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the two new 14″ barrel 12 gauge firearms from Mossberg and Remington. The Mossberg 590 Shockwave and Remington 870 TAC-14 have been hot ticket items since their introduction. Without getting too technical, both are National Firearms Act (NFA) compliant guns that allow a 14″ barrel 12 gauge WITHOUT a tax stamp. This is accomplished because the overall length exceeds 26″ (making the gun non-concealable) and they are not made to be fired from the shoulder. Under the NFA, they aren’t “shotguns”!
Both the Mossberg 590 Shockwave (above, top) and the Remington Model 870 TAC-14 (above, bottom) have similar overall lengths (~26.3″), use Shockwave Raptor birdshead-style pistol grips and have 14″ cylinder bore barrels with beads sights. The Mossberg was announced in January 2017 and Remington quickly followed suit with the TAC-14 in late April of that year. Both are built on established actions and sell for similar prices. It is the Chevy versus Ford debate of the firearm world.
Which one should I buy? I wasn’t quite sure myself, so I bought both.
It helps to actually pick one of these guns to get a feel for their handling characteristics. Take a look at the design of the grip and then take a look at the design of your arm. You’ll notice something doesn’t seem right. Traditionally, pistol grips on shotguns are vertical. This naturally points your gun and wrist in the right direction. The problem with a traditional grip is it does not exceed the 26″ minimum length when coupled with a 14″ barrel. Because of this, if you want a 14″ barrel without a stamp, you need to use the Shockwave Raptor birdshead style grips. Remember, these firearms were designed to meet a legislative requirement not a performance standard.
The grip looks cool and certainly has a great feel when you have the shotgun resting on your shoulder (see pic above, thank you TRACT Optics for the shirt). The problem is when you actually shoot the gun. Shooting from hip or waist level is the most comfortable, however, you can’t get a sight picture. Using a push-pull method with the gun thrown in front of you allows use of the sights but isn’t particularly comfortable. For purposes of testing and evaluation we settled on shooting these guns with the push-pull method, indexing the target with the bead sight.
Short barrels put the muzzle close to the shooter’s hand. This can be dangerous. If you take a look at the short barreled shotguns issued to certain LE units, you’ll note many have a metal plate or sling attachment point that prevents the support hand from moving in front of the muzzle. Mossberg addresses this by adding a strap while Remington’s MAGPUL grip has a raised surface on the front that serves as a mini hand-stop.
Time to shoot!
To get a handle on these guns, I met two of my friends at the range with a pail of buckshot, a pile of cardboard targets and an open mind. One of my buddies (Cranky) also had brought a newly purchased Mossberg 590 Shockwave. That gave us another data point and the ability to shoot three guns side by side. For the purposes of the data reported below, the Shockwaves are referred to as “Shockwave #1″ (mine) and “Shockwave #2″ (Cranky’s) respectively.
We elected to try a couple of different 2 3/4″ 12 gauge buckshot loads; Remington Reduced Recoil 00 Buck with 8-pellets, Federal Tactical LE132 00 Buck with 9-pellets, Winchester Super-X 00 Buck with 9-pellets, Federal 000 Buck with 8-pellets and Winchester #4 Buck with 27 pellets. The first two loads (Remington Reduced Recoil and Federal Tactical LE132) are both law enforcement style, reduced recoil loads. The rest of the loads are full power 2 3/4″ loads.
Initially we considered patterning the guns in 5 yard increments, but ultimately decided on working back from the 10 foot line in 10 foot increments. The first load we tested back to 50 feet and decided that hitting the target at that distance was difficult. Because of this, all remaining loads were shot at 10, 20, 30 and 40 feet, with the exception of the #4 Buck, which was only shot at 30 feet for comparison purposes. For you “yards” guys, these ranges convert over to roughly 3.3, 6.7, 10 and 13.3 yards. These are extremely close ranges. The Shockwave and TAC-14 are the antithesis of a precision rifle on so many ways…
Without further ado, here are the results of our testing:
Remington Reduced Recoil 00 Buck, 8-Pellet load performance
Federal Tactical LE132 00 Buck, 9-pellet
Winchester Super-X 00 Buck, 9-pellet
Federal 000 Buck, 9-pellet
Winchester #4 Buck, 27-pellets
Once we had an idea of how the guns performed we elected to run a quick “combat course” from the 30 foot line on in. Each shooter loaded up 5 rounds of Federal LE132. Results are below, the first target is the TAC-14, the second is Shockwave #1 and the third is Shockwave #2:
Not too shabby!
It is worth noting that the TAC-14 shot closer to the point of aim than the Mossberg 590 Shockwaves, both of which shot high (both Shockwave shooters started holding low on the target). We suspect this was due to the design of the front sight bead on the 590 Shockwave. Take a look at the image below:
- Lots of fun! I went into this with exceedingly low expectations. I originally wanted a pair so I could have two strapped across my shoulders like a ninja turtle, but these are more than a cool prop. The guns were fun to shoot and hit better than we thought they would.
- Reduced recoil loads! I would suggest staying away from the full power 2 3/4″ 12 gauge loads, the Remington and Federal reduced recoil loads were comfortable to shoot. My go to load would be the Federal LE132.
- Very similar. These guns have more in common then they differ- both have 14″ cylinder bore barrels with bead sights, plastic trigger plate assemblies; have similar overall lengths (~26.3″) and use Shockwave Raptor birdshead-style pistol grips.
- Mossberg 590 Shockwave. I liked the strap on the fore end of the Mossberg. The guns patterned slightly tighter than the TAC-14, had a safety and slide release that were easier to access and held one more round (6 total, 5 plus 1). The Shockwave could benefit from a different front sight assembly like this one from XS.
- Remington 870 TAC-14. The action on the Remington was easier to cycle, it shot closer to the point of aim and despite not having a strap on the fore end, handled well. The biggest downside of the Remington is the lower capacity (5, 4 plus 1). The TAC-14 is built with the synthetic magazine retainer system that engages the magazine cap. To add a one shot magazine extension requires the dimples in the magazine tube be removed and use of a “wavy” washer in-between the magazine cap and barrel.