Friday, September 01, 2006

Dianne Feinstein Memorial Assault Shotgun

I've been wanting one of these for a while, and now it is mine:

That is a Knoxx sidewinder converted Mossberg 500a; with a silly cruiser grip and barrel heat sheild.

The sidewinder is an interesting thing. It's a magazine feed conversion kit available for the Mossberg 500 and 590; along with a system of six round box, or 10 round drum magazines. This allows for rapid reload, and rapid changes of ammunition type, which I appreciate; as well as greater magazine capacity in the shortest possible barrel length (no long mag tube extensions).

I should say it WAS available; last month Knoxx took it off the market, because they couldnt manufacture it economically for the quality they wanted; and belive me that quality is very high. Although the finish on the kit leaves much to be desired, it is INCREDIBLY tough. There are videos on the Knoxx site of the sidewinder mags being run over by pickup trucks, and thrown 30 feet onto the ground with no more damage than scratches.

Now, if it's discontinued how did I get one?

Well, I was checking out one of my local pawn shops, and I saw this puppy sitting up there. I asked to see it, and it was clearly almost unfired. It looks like someone bought it, put it together, put a couple rounds through it with the cruiser grip on, realized they couldnt handle it, and then pawned it.


I have arms like a frikken Gorilla, and I won't use a cruiser grip by choice. They're for movies poseurs. The one situation I can see using them in, is if you need a 12ga but dont have enough space to allow for a stock (in a boat maybe); but even then there are folding or collapsible stocks that shoud do better than this.

Anyway, the point is, it was pretty much brand new. The guy wanted a fairly steep price for it at $375; but a new 500a is $249 (sometimes on sale for lower), and the now discontinued sidewinder kit is $249 (including one drum magazine), so I figured I was getting a reasonable price. I mentioned that $375 was a BIT high for a used shotgun even with the sidewinder, and he said "No Tax", which saves me about $30, and I made the deal.

I sold JohnOC my FN Police (Same as the Winchester 1300 defender but with rifle sights) for a song because he's my friend and I owe him money ;-), which covered more than half the cost of the new shottie, so overall I'm most best pleased.

First things first, I've got to replace that cruiser grip with something useful. I'm already a big fan of Knoxx, and I want an LOP adjustable stock so my wife can shoot this thing effectively; voila, the Knoxx SpecOps stock, which even has a very effective recoil reducing feature.

I'll be picking one up next pay check. Also, although Knoxx has discontinued the kits, there are still magazines available; from Knoxx, and some of their resellers, so I'm going to pick up another drum, and 4 or 5 stick mags. They aint cheap ($100 for the drums, $50 for the sticks), but what's the point of having a rapid reload capability without the mags to reload with?

I figure 5 six rounders and two drums makes a nice round number of 50. That's a respectible amount of ammo, and it nicely uses up one ofthe sizes of bulk box available. I can't see ever needing that many 12ga rounds at once, but if the zombie hordes ever attack, you know who to call.

I'm wondering if it's possible to adapt a surefire forend to the gun, but with the location of the mag well, I don't think it could be done without major surgery, if at all... although the version they make for the 14" barrel military shorty may work... I need to find the dimensions somewhere. I could always clamp a light on to it , but theres really mot many good spots for that either, because of the abbreviated mag tube setup.

Oh and that heat shield is coming off. In fact I'm probably just going to grab a ghost ring barrel for the thing.

Now, onto the operation of the gun.

The kit itself is as I said quite sturdy, and it feeds and cycles completely reliably. Loading the 10rd drum mags is a lot easier than I expected, and throwing the mag around the room I never managed to dislodge a round unintentionally. Also the magazines are surprisingly light given their size, even loaded.

On handy feature, the drum is reversible for left or right handed users, with a two way follower and a rim loading gate, and latch, on both sides of the mag.

So how does it shoot?

Well, I haven't been able to take it to the range yet, but unfortunately I DO know how it shoots.

Yes friends, I had an unintentional discharge into my own ceiling with my new shotgun. Now generally I make a clear distinction between a negligent discharge and an accidental discharge, but this one is a bit of both.

I was function testing the weapon. I had loaded the magazine in, cycled a few rounds, then I cleared the magazine and cleared the chamber. I verified the chmaber was clear, the magazine was out, there was nothing in the mag tube, and there was no shell on the lifter. I then racked the slide and pulled the trigger safely.

Here's where the negligence part comes in. I am familiar with the manual of arms for the Mossberg 500 series; but not for the Knoxx conversion, and there is a peculiarity of the conversion that I was not aware of.

When you remove the magazine from a sidewinder, there is still a loose round in the magwell, but you can't see it unless you turn the weapon all the way over; because it is sitting in between the lifter and the mag well, inside the end of the reciever bridge and mag tube join. The position of the lifter is such that it blocks your view, and you can't see it by looking into the mag well from behind, even though you can see the pump follower (part of the conversion adds basically a push feeder into the mag tube which pushes the shells onto the lifter from the magazine as the slide is operated).

So, when I racked the slide the first time, there was no shell on the lifter, and there was no shell in the mag tube forward of the mag well, so I figured all was well. Then it locked up and dry fired just fine, so I was even more sure that all was well. Unfortunately, the second time I racked the slide, the shell that was retained in that one spot in between the mag well and the lifter, loaded into the chamber; and when I pulled the trigger ...

Well, I know my new shotgun works, and I know that Hornady TAP doesnt have excessive recoil when fired with a cruiser grip. Oh and I also know my dog, and my three year old (who were both across the room) aren't scared by gun fire.

So on this one, there is definitely what I would consider a design defect, but had I known the manual of arms for this weapon it would not have happened, therefore it is still a negligent discharge, but there was at least a mitigating factor. I wasn't a COMPLETE idiot, jsut a 90% idiot.

Of course the fact that I was handling a loaded weapon without knowing it's complete manual of arms... No, I was a complete idiot.

The only reason more damage, even potentially lethal damage, wasn't done here is because I followed three of the four rules. The reason there was any damage at all, was because I didn't properly follow the first one.

1. All Guns are ALWAYS loaded
2. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy
3. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot
4. Always be sure of your target, and what is beyond it.

Now, rule 1 is absolutely ciritcal; and unless you have completely verified that a gun is unloaded, do not do a function check, do not pull the trigger. The problem was, I did not know how to properly verify this weapon was unloaded, and I ended up shooting something I didn't intend to.

In more than 20 years of shooting, I've had three negligent discharges. All three occurred when I was complacent, BECAUSE of how much experience I have, and BECAUSE I "KNEW" what I was doing. Well you can see here, I didn't know what I was doing with this particular gun.

The only reason a tragedy didn't occur here, is because I followed rule 2. I pointed the gun up and into the corner of the room as a safe direction, and no-one was hurt.

Oh, and why is it the Dianne Feinsten Memorial Assault Shotgun?

My friends know, and that's enough. I think Steve would have gotten a kick out of this, even though it is black and plasticy.