Exclusive: A 14″ 12 Gauge You Can Own?

Mossberg Shockwave

By John Higgs

The 590 Shockwave from Mossberg gives you a civie-legal 12 gauge with a 14″ barrel,
but no NFA headaches (but be sure it is legal under your state and local laws).
Image courtesy of Mossberg.

The National Firearms Act (1934) restricts an individual’s ability to own full-auto firearms, and rifles and shotguns with short barrels. The law did allow for private ownership, but only after a fee had been paid to the government and the firearm registered. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms enforces this law along with all the other firearms laws and collects a $200 tax each time ownership is transferred.

Under the law, a shotgun with one or more barrels less than 18″ in length and an overall length less than 26″ is considered a short-barreled gun and must be registered and taxed. And that’s how it was for decades … until now.

A Different Direction

The new Mossberg 590 Shockwave prompted some wide grins and sidelong glances between my FFL dealer and me when we first opened the shipping box. That gun is pretty short. The barrel barely extends past magazine. According to the letter written by the BATF, the Shockwave is classified simply as a “firearm” according to the provisions of the Gun Control Act (1968). The key is the fact it has an overall length greater than 26″, thanks to the length of the curved bird’s head grip. Also key is the fact the newly manufactured receiver was never attached to a full stock (and never should be).

But is it legal, and is it legal everywhere? Some states do not recognize it as a firearm in the same way they would allow the Mossberg 590 with a full shoulder stock and an 18.5″ barrel. As noted above, the Shockwave has never had a full-length stock attached to it. This would make it a short-barrel weapon, subject to “Any Other Weapon” (AOW) status, if a stock were attached. So, under no circumstances should the user ever attach a full stock to a Shockwave. To do so, even just for a minute would be a violation of the law. It might even invite an angry visit from the men in black division of the ATF and a nasty court hearing. To read the full letter from ATF, go to: http://www.mossberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Shockwave-Letter-from-ATF-3-2-17.pdf

The entire gun is finished in a non-reflective black coat of badass. There are sling swivel studs mounted in the front of the tubular magazine and in the end of the curved bird’s head grip. A nylon strap is attached at each end of the forend to prevent the hand from slipping in front of the muzzle under recoil. That is a good idea! I recommend always using it.

The recommended way to shoot a shotgun with no shoulder stock is with the gun held against
the hip, barrel parallel to the ground, support hand inside the forend strap.

Attention Getter

At conversational distances, it’s a devastating bad guy blaster. The Shockwave can really only be fired by bracing the pistol grip against the hip and keeping the barrel parallel to the ground. Using this technique, with a little practice, I was able to make good center-mass hits out to around 10–15 yards on a humanoid style target. I found buckshot rounds are quite manageable. However, one-ounce slugs will cause enough recoil to draw a little blood on the trigger hand. Dillon Precision sells B&P 3-Gun competition (reduced recoil) slugs in 25-round quantities that make the Shockwave great fun to shoot, while still having the capability of putting a deep ¾-inch hole in living tissue. Since I like to take advantage of the versatility of any shotgun, I will use buckshot as my primary load, but I’ll also carry a couple of slugs on my belt. I like the Belt Mounted Double Shotshell Carrier made by Spectergear that fits 2″ Duty & Tactical Belts.

Another option (which also increases the magazine capacity significantly) is to use Aguila Minishells. These 12-gauge shells come in loads of #7½ shot, 00 buckshot and a 7/8-ounce slug. However, a special adapter must be fitted to the tubular magazine to get the short shells to feed properly.

I’m not much of a fan of laser sights on firearms, but I think the Shockwave would benefit from a laser mounted as close to the barrel as possible. That would likely increase the effective range, especially with slugs. NcStar makes a short Picatinny rail that mounts to the top of the receiver and then a small laser can be mounted on the rail.

The Shockwave shown above a standard Mossberg 500 12 gauge with a full stock and 20″ barrel.

Special Skills

The Shockwave may have limited applications, but what it can do, it does very well. I can see it as a car gun, a home defense gun (with the appropriate ammunition that won’t penetrate the neighbor’s walls), and maybe even as a defense gun for boat owners. But perhaps most importantly, ownership is one more brick in the wall that protects the Second Amendment. The more people who own one, the harder it might be to reverse the BATF’s ruling.

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9 thoughts on “Exclusive: A 14″ 12 Gauge You Can Own?

  1. Bill Gordon

    I own one. I recommend to any shotgun enthusiast to purchase one. They are easy to handle, effective for self-defense purposes and, like mine, once assigned a shell holder/side saddle, sling, maybe some grip tape and certainly a laser, they are absolutely accurate and fun too shoot! Perfect truck gun, and one to own before anyone changes their mind……. Good luck finding Aguila mini-shells, although if you do the OpSol adapter for mini-shells is a must. Exotic, available through several ammo dealers (CTD and J&G) also makes a great mini-shell but expensive (around 2.00 per shell) but what the hec, they are just what this shotgun needs. Also, Nobel
    Sports makes a 2.25 buckshot reduced-recoil shell that works well. I love this shotgun. Well done, Mossberg!

  2. Jim L

    Interesting home defense gun. I like it, but look at it more as a novelty. I’m not sure that most people buying it, would practice enough to benefit from its ownership.

  3. JD

    Mossberg should partner with Laser-Lite to sell it as a package with a Center-Mass laser unit attached. That would be the only way it would be really useful. I’m waiting for the 930 version. As far as practicing, the big problem there is lack of ranges that allow shotguns. One range I go to doesn’t allow shotguns at all, and the other only allows slugs over fear of ricochetting shot. There are zero tactical-style publicly accessible ranges around central Florida unless you’re a member of an expensive club!

  4. JD Duece

    What an awesome versatile personal defense weapon. Of course this kind of weapon is not for everybody…no weapon is. But for those who cannot, for whatever reason, may be able to fall back on the Mossberg 590 Shockwave. Home defense especially.Think about it. It’s not hard to imagine what it would be like for someone with minimal weapons experience being awakened by hearing an intruder in the house. Nervous doesn’t even come near describing it, but crap in your pants scared, might be close. Sorry but a handgun, even with weapon skills would be feeling scared right now. If they did have to fire a handgun at an intruder odds are it wouldn’t likely even come close. So this Mossberg Shockwave could be exactly what’s needed in this situation, even 12 gauge with birdshot. I am a Vietnam Vet with over a year of active combat experience, and on top of that lots of street experience on top of that. My experience says a perfect weapon in MOST home invasions is for the owner to be armed with a 12 gauge pump scatter gun. If it was me on the opposite end of hearing someone rack a pump shotgun…. well, needless to say I’d be the one leaving the crap trail…all the way out of there!!

    1. Frebitz

      You are aware that round in chamber/safety on is preferred ready for a firearm? Why announce your position while giving up a possibly needed shot?

  5. Stan Bennett

    I’m a FFL in the “Peoples Republic of New Jersey”, and recently received an email from the state police saying that the Mossberg Shockwave and the Remington 870 Tac14 are legal in New Jersey. Hard to believe, because they look like way too much fun for NJ, but it’s true.


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