Shotguns are as much a part of American culture as apple pie. They have an almost mythical aura and are seen as the ultimate extension of power. As the main character in the classic movie “Army of Darkness” says, “All right, you primitive screwheads, listen up! See this? This is my boomstick! It’s a 12-gauge, double-barreled Remington. S-Mart’s top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That’s right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about $109.95. It’s got a walnut stock, cobalt-blue steel, and a hair trigger. That’s right—shop smart. Shop S-Mart. Got that?!”
I reacted with this “boomstick” mindset when I heard Remington was producing a new shotgun. A shotgun unlike anything that had been in its inventory before—the TAC-14. This newest blaster fits into essentially a brand-new category of shotguns known simply as “pump-action firearms.” It is a category that has many people scratching their heads because it looks like a short-barreled shotgun, feels like a short-barreled shotgun, but the BATFE says it is not a short-barreled shotgun.
Because you are as curious as I am, I will present some of the relevant information regarding the categorization of this gun so you can impress your friends with your knowledge of firearms law. The general specs of the gun include two major pertinent points: The TAC-14 has a curved, bird’s-head-style pistol grip and an overall length of 26.3 inches. These two items are the magic formula for the TAC-14’s classification. According to the BATFE, there are two categories of scatterguns that require NFA paperwork. First are short-barreled shotguns. If the shotgun was manufactured with a full stock and a barrel shorter than 18 inches, it is classified as a “short-barreled shotgun.” The other division we see shotguns placed in is what is called an “Any Other Weapon,” or AOW. If the shotgun has a pistol grip, is not meant to be shouldered and is less than 26 inches in overall length, it falls into the AOW category. The TAC-14 cleverly mixes these two points. The bird’s-head-style grip prevents the gun from being shouldered. Additionally, it has a 14-inch barrel, which drives the total length just past the required overall length of 26 inches. Those two points keep it out of the NFA-controlled category and allows us a small-footprint shotgun with no extra paperwork! Needless to say, I was very interested in getting my hands on one for testing.
My first impression of the TAC-14 was one of familiarity. This is essentially just a modified Remington 870, which I have spent a lifetime shooting. The two eye-catching aspects right off the bat are the shorter barrel and the Shockwave Raptor grip. This bird’s-head-style grip felt very good in my hands. While pistol grips have been common on shotguns for a while, I find the bird’s-head style easier to manage.
The TAC-14’s receiver is a milled from a billet of steel and given a back oxide finish. This 12-gauge gun will also accept 2¾ and 3-inch ammunition. It is a five-shot gun, with a tube magazine holding four rounds and a fifth in the chamber.
Finishing the TAC-14 is a nice Magpul forend with M-LOK slots, giving it a great look. All of the mechanical components of the gun are classic 870. The button safety built into the trigger housing and the bolt release are identical to other Remingtons in the 870 line. So, for me, I didn’t need to learn any new methods to run this gun.
I’ve also had the pleasure—and sometimes misfortune—of running many short-barreled shotguns and AOWs. They can be real handfuls, with the AOWs being the king of that domain. It was with this in mind that I loaded the TAC-14 up. First was a basic load of birdshot. I fired from a tight center-body position and generally got what I expected. It was a fairly smooth-shooting gun with a desire to jolt a bit. The birdshot was a good choice to begin with, as it allowed me to see just how jumpy the gun would be.
Next up, I moved into some Remington Express 00 buckshot. I used this load because I feel the TAC-14 has potential as a personal-defense weapon. I loaded five of these rounds and went back to the firing line. To say there is a difference between birdshot and buckshot with this gun is the understatement of a lifetime!
The little gun launched nine pellets at around 1,325 feet per second into my target. Being a larger guy paid dividends, as I was able to manage the recoil and get back onto target for follow-up shots. It was not a lightening quick process, however, as even with my strong grip the gun desperately tried to wrench its way free. At 7 yards, I printed a standard shotgun group over five rounds. All nine pellets were in the in center-mass along with the wad.
The challenge was of course aiming the TAC-14. I essentially shot it “from the hip,” or more accurately from a tight compressed grip close to my body, near my ribs. Even with birdshot, I would not encourage a more traditional line-of-sight type of shooting position. The recoil from the gun is serious, and some people do not have the strength to manage it. There’s a good chance you could end up as a cliché on a YouTube video.
The gun ran flawlessly as several people of different experience levels took their turn running both bird- and buckshot. While some people demonstrated their colorful vocabulary after firing the gun, everyone agreed that it was well made.
Remington has been making the 870 since the 1950s, and this is an interesting evolution of that classic gun. I enjoyed shooting the little powerhouse but took care to not step on the gas too much. In rapid fire, this gun can and will get away from you. While the Magpul forend is sound and well made, it does not offer the shooter any way to lock into the gun. Run it too fast and you run the chance of the gun jumping free of your grip—definitely something to be conscious of.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I believe it has serious personal-protection applications. I am a fan of the 12 gauge because it offers the shooter serious firepower in a simple weapon. Using buckshot, a home defender is able to ventilate an intruder with nine .33-caliber projectiles simultaneously. With practice, you repeat the process multiple times and render an assailant incapable to continuing the fight. Its small size and serious firepower make it easy to carry and run in close areas.
Out of the box, the gun includes a bead sight, but I would mount a flashlight at a minimum and ultimately a laser to assist with aiming. If ever there was the perfect application for a laser-aiming device, this is it. As for other modifications, I would have to say that you can halt at this point. Any physical modifications to the gun begins to enter the legal realm. I am not an attorney, so I will not offer any other advice other than to follow the law.
It is also important to know and understand the laws of your particular jurisdiction. While I am not aware of any state or municipal restrictions against this gun, the burden is on you to make sure. So serious is the concern over this that Remington saw fit to include a message with the gun. It states, “The Model 870 equipped with a Shockwave Technologies Raptor grip, as originally manufactured, is not subject to the National Firearms Act (NFA). Its status under the NFA, however, can change depending on how it is modified or used. The law of your state or locality may also apply.” While gun owners are notorious for tinkering with their guns, this is one best left alone.
As with any new gun to hit the market, time will tell how it ultimately performs sales-wise. The unique nature of this boomstick, however, is certain to make it a hot item—especially with those who have wanted a shorter-style shotgun but were unwilling to dive into the NFA world to get one. The gun is not for everyone, and the timid, soft-grip crowd may not enjoy the ride as much as adrenaline junkies such as myself would. What is undeniable is that the Remington 870 has found a renewed life yet again—this time as a very slick and fun-to-shoot TAC-14!
Remington Model 870 Tac-14 Specs
|Barrel: 14 inches|
|OA Length: 26.3 inches|
|Weight: 5.65 pounds (empty)|
|Grip: Shockwave Raptor|
|Sights: Bead front|
|Finish: Matte black|
For more information, visit remington.com.
This article was originally published in “Personal & Home Defense” #204. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.