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With their ability to handle a broad range of loadings, as well as the not-insignificant intimidation factor of the gaping maw of a 12-gauge muzzle, they have an important role to play in the hands of LE officers. Here are six great choices, in alphabetical order, for the modern street cop.
Beretta 1301 Tactical 12 Ga.
By Robert Jordan
The 1301 Tactical has a short 18-inch barrel, a fixed choke and ghost ring sights. I looked closely and found a few improvements from the old TX4. The 1301 Tactical has aggressive stippling in the stock and forend to help with handling under stress, when your hands are sweaty, bloody or the gun gets wet. The oversized safety is also larger on the new 1301. The ghost-ring iron sights sit slightly lower on the 1301 than the TX4, which makes it much easier to get a good cheekweld. Best of all, a large, tactical charging handle and a large, paddle bolt release come standard, right from the factory. On my old TX4, I had to buy these as aftermarket parts. Getting them standard saves about $100.
The 1301 Tactical has a fixed choke that is bored out to 0.73 inches (or “cylinder”). This is very important on any tactical shotgun. If you put any choke more restrictive than cylinder, you risk splitting the barrel when slugs are shot out of it. Also, tactical shooters are not in the habit of changing or checking their chokes. I have seen more than one barrel ruined when a choke got loose and eventually fell out without the shooter ever knowing. The accuracy dropped off and the internal choke threads were ruined before the shooter realized what had happened.
At the heart of the gun is the Blink operating system. First introduced on Beretta’s A400 Xtreme, Beretta says it is 36 percent faster than any other shotgun operating system. It has a rotating bolt, similar to an AR rifle and many Benelli shotguns. I already knew the Blink system was utterly reliable from running it on personally owned shotguns, but I had never checked its speed. I couldn’t wait to put it up against the shot timer. But first, I wanted to check its performance capabilities.
To learn more, please check out “Beretta 1301 Tactical 12 Gauge Shotgun | Gun Preview” on Tactical-Life.com.
For more information, please visit Beretta.com.
FN SLP Tactical 12 Ga.
By Rob Garrett
The SLP is a modern self-loading shotgun that is specifically designed for law enforcement/military use. FN has also made the SLP a modular shotgun that can be configured to both the user and the mission requirements. This modularity starts with a synthetic pistol-grip stock that features interchangeable recoil pads that allow the length of pull to be configured to an individual user. Interchangeable cheek combs allow the height to be configured depending on the user’s requirements. This feature is significant when an optical sight is used or the user is shooting while wearing a protective mask.
The SLP Tactical has the traditional 18-inch barrel that is common to most non-NFA police shotguns. The barrel features a hard-chromed bore with Invector interchangeable chokes. This is a feature not commonly found on law enforcement models. The system allows the user to optimize the SLP for a specific load and/or environment. The SLP Tactical shotgun is equipped with an extended, six-round magazine tube that features three Picatinny accessory rail sections.
For more information, please visit FNherstal.com.
Kel-Tec KSG SBS 12 Ga.
By David Bahde
Bullpup designs really shorten things up, and the SBS definitely earns its moniker. At only 21.5 inches long overall, it is incredibly short. The KSG SBS starts with the same base as the standard KSG but utilizes a 13.7-inch barrel instead of the original’s 18.5-inch barrel. The KSG SBS’ magazine tubes hold five shells each, for a 10+1 total capacity. The pump forend features an integral vertical foregrip with a built-in tactical light powered by a single CR123 battery.
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The KSG is a mix of steel and polymer, with the magazine tubes, barrel and receiver made of steel. The pistol grip, forend, trigger and lower receiver are made of polymer. Sights can be accommodated using a 7.5- inch, aluminum, T-marked Picatinny rail that rides above the barrel. Standard AR-style, rail-mounted sights will work, as well as any rail-mounted red dot or optic. The slide is released using an ambidextrous lever at the front over the triggerguard. Pressing down releases the slide for loading and clearing. The safety consists of a polymer crossbolt unit located behind the triggerguard, high on the pistol grip.
The KSG SBS ejects empty shells from the bottom rear of the receiver, and this is also where you access the magazine tubes. A polymer lever moves from one side to the other, “turning off” either magazine tube and allowing you to load the other one. This same area houses the lifting gate. The rear of the stock has a couple of slots that will accommodate a sling, but there are no quick-detach (QD) sling cups or swivel attachments.
To learn more, please check out “Kel-Tec KSG SBS 12 Ga. | Bullpup Shotgun Reviews” on Tactical-Life.com.
For more information, please visit KelTecWeapons.com.
Mossberg 590A1 12 Ga.
By Chad Thompson
The Mossberg 590A1 is a “shotgunner’s shotgun.” From its appearance to its performance, it is immediately apparent to any human being with a reasonable amount of intelligence that this is an all-business shotgun meant for hard duty use. I know most readers are probably thinking to themselves that there cannot be a whole lot new in the pump-action shotgun arena, but there are some very unique things about this 12-gauge shotgun that need to be addressed.
First and foremost is its durability. The Mossberg 590A1 has unstoppable reliability written all over it. I will not go so far as to say that I conducted a torture test while I had it in my possession, but I did do everything that I could (within reason) to cause it to fail, and it never once hiccupped. The shotgun’s standard features include a beautifully uniform Parkerized finish, which is perfect for a working shotgun, and a durable, cylinder-bore, 20-inch barrel. The SPX variant I received for testing featured an AR-style front sight with a fiber-optic insert for fast, accurate shooting; a rail-mounted rear LPA ghost-ring sight, quickly removable for mounting optics on the Picatinny rail; and a nine-round magazine tube. A shorter six-shot version of the 590A1 SPX is also available. Last but not least, the SPX comes with an Ontario M9 bayonet (and sheath) that quickly mounts on the under-barrel lug! The sample I received featured a traditional-style synthetic stock, although versions of the 590A1 with pistol grips and collapsible stocks are also available.
As with any Mossberg shotgun, operation of the 590A1 is simple and straightforward. A tang-mounted manual safety is located on the top rear of the receiver and is fully ambidextrous. The action release is located at the rear of the triggerguard. Loading is accomplished through an open port on the bottom of the alloy receiver, and a generously sized ejection port is located on the right side of the receiver. To utilize its lightweight alloy receiver, the Mossberg employs a steel-on-steel locking system in which the steel bolt assembly locks directly into a steel barrel extension. This method achieves both strength and light weight. The shotgun also has a 3-inch chamber, meaning it can accept any shell up to that length. This gives the gun a good amount of flexibility in loads that can be used.
To learn more, please check out “GUN TEST – Mossberg 590A1 12-Gauge” on Tactical-Life.com.
For more information, please visit Mossberg.com.
Remington 870 Express Tactical Magpul 12 Ga.
By William Bell
One of the newest Model 870 LE variations from Remington is the Express Tactical Magpul. This shotgun is all business with its non-reflective, “blasted” black oxide finish and black synthetic stock and forend. It has a short 18.5-inch barrel for better maneuverability, which is capped by an extended and ported Tactical Rem Choke. The factory-extended, tubular magazine holds seven rounds of 2¾-inch, 12-gauge shells.
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Up by the muzzle is a ramped front sight; the back of the blade has a white dot, and it’s dovetailed into the ramp. The upward slope of the ramp facing the shooter is serrated to reduce glare. The receiver is drilled and tapped, and the Express Tactical Magpul is equipped with an XS Sight Systems accessory rail with an XS Ghost Ring peep sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation. The sight is small and unobtrusive, a feature I for one happen to like.
My 870 variation comes from the factory with Magpul components, including a reinforced-polymer SGA buttstock that is spacer-adjustable for length of pull (from 12.5 to 14.5 inches). The stock comes with two cheek raisers to adjust the comb height as well as a Remington recoil-absorbing SuperCell buttpad, integral 1.25-inch sling loops and enhanced grip ergonomics.
The Magpul MOE forend, also made of reinforced polymer, is longer for improved pump manipulation, but it will not overlap the receiver or hinder sidesaddle shell carrier compatibility. Slots in the sides of the forend allow for the use of MOE accessories, such as MVG rail sections, which I added to my test sample. A tactical light I use on the job worked well on the left-side rail. Another useful item is the rail-mounted LaserMax Uni-Max green laser unit. This little baby weighs 1 ounce, its integral claw mount clamps right onto a Picatinny rail, and with the flick of a switch you get a pulsating green 5-milliwatt laser that’s very visible in all lighting conditions. It runs on two CR1/3N lithium batteries, and battery life with full-time use is over an hour. It’s fully adjustable for point of aim (POA), plus it has a built-in rail in case you want to hang a small tactical light beneath it.
To learn more, please check out “Glock 22 Gen4 & Remington 870: The Ultimate Street Combo” on Tactical-Life.com.
For more information, please visit Remington.com.
UTAS UTS 15 12 Ga.
By David Bahde
UTAS is an American company focused on innovation. The UTS 15 was designed from the beginning as a tactical shotgun. The idea was to build “the ultimate tactical shotgun for American law enforcement.” Utilizing a bullpup configuration, the UTS 15 is 28.3 inches long with an 18.5-inch barrel. The barrel features Beretta-style internal threading to accommodate choke tubes, and users can easily add breaching attachments. Chambered for 3-inch magnum shells, the UTS-15 will handle most any ammunition used by law enforcement today. Weighing in at 6.9 pounds unloaded, it is lighter than most, and its design makes it feel even lighter. Twin magazine tubes above the barrel hold seven 2¾-inch rounds each, and a selector switch determines which one is used. With the selector pushed all the way to the right or left, rounds will feed from only the right or left magazine tube, respectively. Move the switch to the middle and the UTS 15 automatically feeds from one magazine tube and then the other.
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The shotgun has AR-like controls, with a safety in a similar position, an AR pistol grip and a similarly shaped buttstock. The continuous top Picatinny rail allows for the use of any rail-mounted red dot, optic or iron sight combination. The UTS 15’s side ejection also allows for single feeding if needed. The model I was sent for testing is a new design with some changes focused on its use in police and military environments.
Given the need for absolute reliability, UTAS spent a great deal of time working on this LE shotgun prior to its introduction. Most of this model’s updates revolve around materials used, increasing the UTS 15’s reliability while maintaining its strength and light weight. The top rail is now injection-molded from magnesium alloy. The monobloc (the heart of the dual feeding system) has also been crafted from magnesium alloy. UTAS also offers a powerful light/laser combination unit that can be inserted into the forend. Users can choose from red or green lasers.
To learn more, please check out “Preview: UTAS UTS-15 12 Gauge” on Tactical-Life.com.
For more information, please visit UTAS-usa.com.