If you’re not already familiar with the Mossberg 590® Shockwave 12 gauge, I’ll provide a very brief introduction. Even though the barrel is only 14″ long, it is not considered a “short barreled shotgun”. That’s because it never had a stock meant to be shouldered, one of the defining features of a shotgun. So the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives has confirmed the 590 Shockwave is just a “firearm” per the Gun Control Act (GCA). Further, with a length of just over 26″, it escapes the added tax, paperwork, and long wait of a Class 3/NFA firearm. That’s due to the unique Raptor® “bird’s head” grip, rather than a slightly shorter pistol grip. If you want to know more, Mossberg links to the ruling letter from this page.
Now that you know the legal definition of the Shockwave, let’s get down to what it really is. While some may buy it for defense, for many more, it’s an awesome range toy. If busting water jugs or watermelons, or post-Halloween pumpkins is your thing, it’s made just for you. It’s not for the timid or weak of wrist though. Shoot a slug or 00 buck out of it, and you’ll find out what you’re really made of. If you want to get the attention of everyone at the range, bring your Shockwave. Some may ask to try it, many will take a polite pass. Truthfully, I don’t blame them. In this article, I’ll cover the first of two reasons (aiming). In the next article, I’ll cover the second (the grip).
Normally, you shoulder a shotgun, and aim down the barrel. However, the lack of a stock brings some challenges when firing the Shockwave. Holding it at eye level, as though it had a stock, requires practice and some skill. Otherwise, you’ll either get smacked in the face, or the tang-mounted safety will bite the webbing of your thumb. My first trip out, the recoil from heavy buckshot drove it back hard enough that the safety drew blood. Shooting from the hip is easy, if you’re in a Hollywood movie. In the real world, it’s not so accurate. At 7 yards, some of my shots were 2-3 high. The solution? A laser, of course.
Mossberg ships the Shockwave already tapped for a scope mount. Remove the four screws, and you can add a $30 picatinny rail. This allows you to mount an optic, scope, or laser, to the top of the receiver. Given that it’s basically a shotgun with a 14″ barrel and no stock, save your scope or red dot for another firearm. For under $60, I got a LaserLyte V4 red laser. It’s cheap, compact, weighs almost nothing, and will stand up to the recoil of a 12 gauge. Put the red dot on a pumpkin, pull the trigger, and BOOM!, you’ve just made some compost. If the Shockwave is your novelty gun, this makes it 100 times more fun.
In elementary school, my daughter took an unusual approach to her science fair project. Right after Halloween, we blasted our jack-o-lanterns with various firearms. She noted the effects of a .22, .357 Magnum, 5.56, and of course 12 gauge 00 buck and slugs. Not only did she learn a bit about ballistics, but it was a great way to introduce firearm safety. Because we did this in a legal spot outside city limits, she was less intimidated than had we gone to a busy, noisy, range. She still enjoys shooting, and it’s one of the family activities we share once in a while. Hopefully, we’ll get to dispose of some pumpkins with the Shockwave this year.
Check back for a follow up, where I install some grip material, and then get in some more range time to try things out. Feel free to share your thoughts below.