Monday, March 20, 2006

What a pistol

A new reader at the NOR asks this common question:
How effectively can a pistol grip shotgun be aimed at home defense ranges? What is the best way to fire a pistol grip shotgun (from the hip or raising it to eye level)?

As I said, a common question; mostly because the vast majority of folks out there get their ideas about guns from TV and movies.

Actually the question isn't as simple as it seems. For one thing, there are quite a few different kinds of "pistol grips" out there. What most people think of as a conventional shotgun stock already HAS a pistol grip, it's the curved part of the stock between the reciever and the comb/cheek of the stock; and it's called a conventional pistol grip, as pictured on this Mossberg 590 above.

The alternative full stock type is called a straight grip stock, and it's just like it sounds, a straight piece of wood from the reciever to comb. Most folks associate the straightgrip style stock with winchester lever action rifles; or on double barreled shotguns

What most people are thinking of when they say "Pistol Grip" though, is a protruding pistol grip, either with a stock behind it (straight pull, dropped comb, or folding) similar to a modern military rifle;

or on it's own (conventionally called a "cruiser grip"). Here's that same Mossberg 590 equipped with a cruiser grip and a cycling strap.

In this particular case, I'm thinking the quesitoner has Stallone: Cobra in mind (when he pulls the two cruiser gripped shotgnus out of his trunk). Personally I like the parody of that scene in Beverly Hills cop II better, but hey that's just me.

Honestly, it does look kinda cool, but the commenter has the right question in mind; how effectively can this configuration be used?

The answer is, not very. The advantage to a cruiser grip is that the weapon takes up less space inside a vehicle (why it's called a cruiser grip); but it doesnt really take up much less space when it's being used, because of natural body positioning.

Firing from the hip is where the gun would take up the least space, but it's poor bio-mechanics in this situation, never mind likely to result in a miss (unless you are highly practiced in hipshooting).

The fact is, firing a cruiser gripped 12ga AT ALL is very difficult, never mind firing accurately. Assuming you have the arm strength (and believe me you need it), the best bet is to stand at a sharp angle to the target, have your support hand fully extended at shoulder level, and your shooting hand with a firm grip on the weapon, arm cocked in a v and tucked into your body to absorb recoil. Your final shooting position will be something like if the weapon had a full stock on it.

DO NOT LOCK YOUR ARMS, or you will break something.

Now as to actually doing it in a defensive situation, don't. If you like a pistol grip, get a pistol grip and full stock. I personally recommend the Knoxx SpecOps stock; which gives you and M4 style collapsible stock and pistol grip, and has a recoil reducing mechanism built into it:

If you like the way a pistol grip looks, but have no idea as to it’s function… well gun masturbation is fine, just don’t risk your life on it. I personally like a full stock with pistol grip as above, but a conventional will do me just fine.

Why do I say “dont”? Well first, using a pistol grip only is mostly just macho gun fantasy posturing. A shotgun has a hefty dose of recoil, and unless you live in a submarine, or MAYBE a doublewide, there is no reason not to take advantage of a shoulder stock. There is really no advantage to the cfruiser grip unless you are storing the gun in a car; and even then I HIGHLY recommend you get a folding or collapsing stock for the gun, and deply that stock before use.

Second, shooting with just a pistol grip generally requires mongo arms to do it effectively, and without major pain or injury.

Third, even if you CAN shoot it effectively, it still wont be as effective as a pistol grip and full stock; or a convetional stock You wont be as stable, as accurate, or be able to recover from a shot as quickly.

If you absolutely MUST have that silly grip; then I STRONGLY recommend you look into the KNoxx Breacher grip; which has the recoil reducing mechanism of the SpecOps stock, in a pistol grip only configuration.

I've never fired a gun with it on myself, but I've seen the videos, and it appears to be quite effective. I KNOW the spec ops stock is since I've fired a 12ga with it, and this uses the same system (though less effective), so maybe it will save you a sprained wrist. They call it a breacher grip, because really the only situation in which a pistol grip only stock is all that useful, is in breaching a door (using special compressed powder breaching rounds).

My recommendation? Get a pistol grip with a full stock, and a sling; and learn how to use them effectively. Leave the cruiser grips for the movies, or at most for your trunk gun.