Find the Malfunction – Black Aces DTR Short Shotgun Problems

Black Aces Tactical DTR Short Shotgun

You know what really chaps my ass?  When I see a supposed “gun reviewer” bash a product online based on very limited experience.  It is almost as bad at the ‘tubers who review a product positively, after putting a dozen rounds through it, because…drum roll please, they got a free one.  As you’ll see in the video, my topic for this week is a followup review on a problematic Black Aces Tactical DTR short shotgun.  On first blush, the gun is junk.  But at the same time, we’ve had a prior gun in that worked great.  I’m not personally a huge fan anyway. It’s clunky and hard to rack. But I think that whenever you encounter a problem with a gun, it is important to try to figure it out, especially before you spreading bad information around the internet.

Ammunition is expensive for all of us, but ammo sensitivity is the #1 cause of malfunction in all types of firearms.  All guns are sensitive to some kind of ammo.

More than not, it is the cheap stuff they don’t like, but not always.  I was one of the first reviewers of the Glock 42 single stack .380. For the life of me, I couldn’t get Hornady Critical Defense to run in the gun, even though it would shoot flat tip roundball just fine.  It made no sense, but it was what it was.  Hornady even said later that Glock had told them it would run the Critical Defense, and they were not pleased with me at the time, but in my test gun it didn’t work. For those of you regular readers, you know that Hornady is our goto ammo here. I don’t think you have tested the accuracy potential of a gun until you have tested it with Hornady ammo.

This Black Aces gun doesn’t like any low brass target loads at all, even Winchester AA hulls, which are the standard in the competition world.  It shot Hornady Superformance buckshot just fine, as well as Federal Law Enforcement reduced recoil rounds, and the grey Winchester buckshot that you’ll find at Walmart. Estate buckshot, sold in bricks of 25 rounds for just over $20 at Walmart, would not run reliably.

Magazines cause I would say the 2nd most common malfunction in semi-auto firearms, but this is a pump gun, and the force that you can exert with your muscles is not in the same league as that from a return spring.  I didn’t find a difference in the malfunctions, magazine to magazine in this Black Aces, but in your own tests with your own problem guns, always test a different mag whenever possible.  There was also no consistency between malfunctions that occurred in the 5 round vs. the 10 round in this case, but beware that high cap mags, especially in guns that traditionally have not carried so many rounds, are historically a big source of problems.

I think that the problem with this gun is engineering, but I won’t pretend to know more than the engineers who designed it, or those who designed the magazines.  The rounds in the mag press up on the bolt with a lot of pressure.  This, I think, is flexing the thinner walled low brass rounds, and the thinner walled cheap buckshot rounds.  My 2 cents.

This gun came to me as the potential giveaway gun for our promotion some time back.  Black Aces had volunteered it, and we had reviewed the first gun positively. It had no issues at all.  Thankfully, the winner of the promotion never answered, and before we remembered to pick a new one, the reviewer who had the gun figured he’d do a tactics video with it. He immediately came back with “it doesn’t work,” and he even went so far as to take apart a magazine and see if he could fix the problem.  I got a dissembled magazine in the mail after the gun itself went to my FFL.  It took me about five minutes to figure out that the gun didn’t like cheap low brass target rounds, so I set up the camera to review the rest of the types of rounds I had on hand.  That box of Federal that you see in the video was about the 10th that I shot, using both the 5 and 10 round (9 round for most brands) magazines.

After Black Aces failed to answer 2 emails to them, I went looking around the internet to see what I could find.  It turns out that my problem was not isolated, but I was not surprised that most reviewers didn’t try several brands of ammo to rectify the problem.  For a gun this expensive, anger is perfectly justified when it doesn’t work, especially when you don’t get an answer back from the company, but I saw a lot of people out to just trash Black Aces.  The gun does work. It just doesn’t work with all ammo.

So just to follow up the story, we will be giving this gun away to a new pick from the entries on the promotion, but hopefully we’ll hear back from Black Aces as to whether the have an answer to this problem first. In the meantime I thought it a great opportunity to temper the accepted view of online “reviewers.”  Don’t take things at face value when you see someone trash a company, especially if they are clearly angry and feel they got ripped off.  Over the years I’ve chased down some of these guys, and I’ve even had two (not one but two), admit to me that the first thing they do when they get a new gun is take it apart and put it back together again. In speaking to the head of support at Taurus here in Miami, it is actually pretty common.

I’ve also had guys admit that they had dry fired rimfires, (including just last week, here in the comments of my Cobra Derringers article). You can’t ever dry fire a rimfire, even the ones that say you can. The only guns I ever dryfire myself are plastic striker pistols, and wouldn’t you know it, I had a firing pin failure in one of those. Guns are just simple machines, with very small and delicate parts.  Tolerance and metalurgy effect all machines. There is no way to repeatedly strike a piece of steel and not have it work harden, then break.

The internet has become a cesspool of opinions. I have shut comments off on many of my Prepping 101 articles, because in over a year, I have had only about 3 useful comments, out of hundreds (the most useful, btw, was that Beefaroni tastes like metal after about a year of storage).  Now, what I have suspected for years, it is now out in the open that many of the “trolls” you see commenting on editorial sites like GunsAmerica Digest are paid by interested parties. Ask yourself, when you read someone’s opinion online, or you watch a video, what are the motives behind this? Are the details intentionally obfuscated to make the “reviewer” seem relevant?  Do they claim something that is not likely true?  Where are the details? Where is the proof? Just because someone says something, especially online and anonymous, it isn’t necessarily true.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Mike January 1, 2018, 4:35 pm

    I agree with the comment lauding companies developing products like the brace that has changes rifle caliber pistols so now you can have a brace/stock attached to your shorty and have ,without the wait ,price and registration a legal sbr type firearm,at the time I’m writing this ,batfe has changed its policy on shouldering such weapons, so it is allowed legally, I always wondered how they could enforce how you place the stock ,maybe they did to,bottom line ,for us not able to afford a true krinkov style ak ,now we can ,especially the serbian model 92 still available at well under $600 usually with brace,less than cost of a Krinkov parts kit,which still needs a barrel,receiver and assembly, which ends up when done , $1500 or more,thank God for these manufacturers great ideas!

  • Zorgatron February 22, 2017, 4:43 pm

    So… does it work with slugs?!

  • Alex Smith August 18, 2016, 1:35 pm

    I bought two (2) DT Black Ace Tactical weapons ( $3,200.) and I shot them 2 times with 2 range attendants as soon as I received them , 100 rounds , and could not get it to shot without jamming virtually EVERY TIME ! Eric LeMoine , the Owner of Black Aces , WOULD NOT SERVICE THE UNITS WITHOUT ME SIGNING A WAIVER GIVING AWAY ALL MY RIGHTS !!! The world does not need people , companies or guns like that. What a Low Life.

  • Ren Baker June 24, 2016, 9:28 pm

    I admit, I was drawn to the idea of the DT. And having been a Black Aces fan already, I thought little of the pricing issue. I believe that the DT was an idea that was rushed to market. Perhaps out of fear that the SigBrace might be delisted by ATF, perhaps due to a lack of resources, who knows. What I do know is that I had to put some work into the gun to make it right. Many of the things I did to it I have noticed are also new options from BA, probably because they too saw room for improvement. The one nasty thing I couldn’t Fix was the magazine follower issue. For reasons of design, the follower on the BA mags has an big nose that sticks up, pushing the front of the shells into the bottom of the bolt. If I mod my Saiga mags to fit the receiver, it doesn’t feed right with all ammo. the BA mags don’t either. i believe that this magazine problem is probably the root cause for many other issues… i am considering reducing the nose on the BA mags to see if the problems go away now, but am hesitant to perform destructive mods to one of my expensive mags… Regardless, the DT was designed as a limited scope weapon and has a very narrow effective mission. But in the role it’s designed for, there is little to offer any comparable effectiveness. I like the idea of this gun, and I am partially happy with the execution of the design. If you are needing a low-viz and highly maneuverable platform for 12 Guage munitions, and don’t wish to get mired down in SBS BS and restrictions…. This is a great platform to work with…. Think about it – it’s a very versatile platform for a lot of varied types of ammunition and other stuff they uses the 12ga. for deployment… and with a little more work, they could have had a home run, but instead had a mediocre result that did nothing but create a great divide between those who like it and those who hate it. After researching the original designer/businessman behind the DT and hearing about the customer service debacle and possibly poor attitude towards customers, I am not surprised. he seemed to have similar results when he was making car parts. Unfortunately Black Aces probably should not have engaged in business with the guy. they should have licensed it and built it to their standards, or just outright copied the darn thing.

  • Stuart Lear June 22, 2016, 4:22 am

    Not only does Beefaroni taste like metal after about a year, but Spaghetti-Ohs taste like metal after about 12 hours.
    My $0.02

  • alex June 7, 2016, 7:56 am

    what a piece of shit!!! the gun runs like it has pieces of steel grit inside,you have to be the hulk to rack far as a tactical home defense weapon only being able to run a few select loads of shotgun ammo takes it right off my list,what if you only can get store brand ammo like two years ago!!! i’ll take a plain old mossberg 500 or remington 870,at least they work 100 of the time.

  • Kivaari June 6, 2016, 5:50 pm

    I am convinced that this is more of a club than a shotgun. The shooter looks like he is unfamiliar with operating the gun. I’d like to see how a Washington state cop would view this ATF-approved gun. I’m pretty sure you’d end up in jail. Perhaps having an 18″ M870 and skill would be a better choice to use.

  • Matt June 6, 2016, 5:43 pm

    Last summer, after the GA review came out, I ordered one of their models. I later, after hearing nothing back from them like a confirmation of my order etc, emailed the guy to cancel the order. He fired right back, saying my gun was done and ready to ship. He came back eventually and said he’d cancel but there was a restocking fee. I asked where that was ever disclosed to me, he countered with “it’s on the website”. Well, it’s not on the order form or anywhere else…but it is in the FAQs, buried. I wanted to buy the gun and I didn’t read the FAQs. He finally relented and didn’t charge the restock fee, but WTF?? I told him multiple times it is unethical to charge a restock that isn’t disclosed to the customer and that customers should not have to search for that info only to find it buried in FAQs. I told him I didn’t want to buy from a company that treated customers like that. It’s probably a fine company and all, but I was not impressed and felt a little slighted that I had to fight so hard to get my money back. I canceled because of the lack of communication from them. I’d hate to own the gun, have a problem and have them treat me this way when they had all the leverage. No thanks. Not for the kind of money they want for these shotguns. Cool product idea, have no idea if it really delivers or not. And I won’t be finding out. Haven’t went to their website since last August when this all went down…hopefully they listened and at least prominently and proactively display the restock fee for cancelation. If I’d have known, I would have avoided placing the order. They had a backlog and just sold it to the next customer in line. Turned out ok in the end. To their credit, I did get all my money back on my visa. Just wish it wouldn’t have been a hassle.

  • Richard Taylor June 6, 2016, 5:37 pm

    I had problems with Hornady in my Keltec .32 auto when other ammo worked fine.
    When compared to the Remington brass I had when I bought the Hornady. I saw that the rim of the Hornady was thicker than the Remington causing the round to catch between the slide and the extractor and not feed into the barrel. I removed the extractor and removed some of the material, with a file making the gap for the round bigger and rounded the sharp edge on the bottom of the extractor.
    After that I had no problems with any round I feed it.

    If you’re gun is picky on brands fixed it. It’s millimeters from failure if one will work and not the other.

  • Norm Fishler June 6, 2016, 3:23 pm

    Is that the fringe of a talacin I see peeking out from under your T-shirt? Shalom!

  • darrenp1976 June 6, 2016, 2:27 pm

    I’ll stick with my catamount fury 1 I bought for 350$ and add 200$ worth of mods for the pistol grip and 6 position stock.Knock on wood, I have yet to have a single hiccup with this mag fed shotgun. I really enjoy it.

  • Steve June 6, 2016, 12:28 pm

    I ran into a strange problem several years ago and the saga continues.
    I was given an auto loader made in the ’80’s.
    It wasn’t feeding shells most of the time. Chamber was shiny as new.
    I finally removed the bbl and tried dropping shells into the chamber.
    Only about 1 out of 5 Remington Heavy Dove Loads (20 ga) would drop in.
    Estate and Winchester are no problem.
    I took the bbl off my Japanese made A-5 and the Remingtons dropped right in.
    I wrote it off to the shotgun’s manufacture…..until I bought an 870 made in 1950, during the paper hull (which were known to swell) era.
    The Remington shells wouldn’t feed in the Remington shotgun.
    I have about 5 boxes made over about 5 years that have the same issue.
    It appears that they have their crimper set too deep and it’s mushrooming the plastic just below the crimp.
    After all this time, I think I’ll contact the manufacturer. They prob won’t do anything for me, but maybe they’ll fix the issue.
    As for the shotgun you tested, if it’s not dependable, would you trust it in the situation it’s intended for?
    It’s one thing when you have feed problems hunting birds and another when your life depends on it.
    Get an old 870. Put a mag extension on if you want.

  • Robbee June 6, 2016, 11:53 am

    I don’t want to spend my hard earned money on a finished product (and let’s face it, if the manufacturer makes it available, they are telling me it’s done, come get it) just to pay even more (time, s&h, gas money etc.) to make it the product I was supposed to be getting in the first place. You made it look like a piece of junk and then tried to make excuses.

  • Kevin June 6, 2016, 10:54 am

    I watched for several minutes as the Author wrestled with the summation of parts that Black Aces calls a tactical shotgun and came to this conclusion: The tested shotgun is junk. Comparing this to, lets say, an automobile being tested for safety, if your first test finds that the brakes are no good, why would you keep testing to find if the headlights or windshield wipers worked properly? This video illustrates that a poorly designed and manufactured gun can not only be ineffective but dangerous as the sticky action left the tester with a chambered round that would have cleared properly in most other guns. Furthermore, being marketed as a tactical weapon means that someones life may depend on its function and in some tactical situations, low brass or light field loads could be the best choice. A tactical weapon MUST function properly with every common ammo. I suggest for your readers that if you are in the market for a tactical shotgun that your first priority should be dependability. Choose a weapon that functions well this most every ammo rather than trying to find some ammo that functions well in an “off the wall” product.
    A good example of this would have been to compare this weapon in the same test with a used Remington 870 Wingmaster that you bought at a gun show. The results of the tests would decide which gun ends in the water tank in the video. Nothing else seemed to work on the Black Aces gun….I wonder if its waterproof?

  • Dave Rassmussen June 6, 2016, 10:49 am

    Don’t mean to be a little bitch but are you worried that the angle of incidence to that water is just too close to the 5 degrees, it might ricochet.. I guess there is nothing out there.. And… I just don’t get it… this weapon seems awkward and a bit goofy when used…sure you can say that i should stand in front of it and say that… but .. you know what im mean…ok.. look at this lady… im more scared.. I will turn down the stereo.. ok mam.. I know its not relevant but i need to cover up and unsee what i saw with that pump action plastic 90 degree pump action design that you can hold like Scar face at the end of the film, or its not legally held..or whatever..
    just having to pump it with a 90 degree thing that puts so much torsion , making it go off target.. ahhh its weird.. ok thanks for listening fellow gun aficionados. The 1911 has been around since 1911 .. something tells me this species will not last so long.. ok and .

  • Victor Pirie June 6, 2016, 10:47 am

    I have solved the problems of many guns, one of which was a Rem model 10 if I remember right. And believe it or not, that one problem of the Rem seems to be the problem in many of the shotguns I have repaired.
    Look close, and you may have to do a bit of disassembly and still play with the components to see how they all fit and work together, but the shell stop after you jack in the new round could be a lot of the problem.
    I see this is a clip fed finger jammer, so look close to how far the mag goes into or not into the receiver. If it goes too far in, the bolt has to work harder to get over the new round, where if it doesn’t go in enough, the bolt may not catch the rim of the new round enough for a straight feed. If you still have the problem, give me a vid with Slo Mo and I can help you solve the problem.


    • Victor Pirie June 6, 2016, 10:49 am

      Also, look for wear marks on the Bolt for signs of what may or may not be happening.

      • Victor Pirie June 6, 2016, 11:09 am

        I would suggest you attempt to run all the different types from each of the mags. Some of the mags are not all created equally. You might find your mags are not all fit for that weapon.

        And if the ramp and bore are not polished, the brass can stick after each round. And the Mag position is critical. You could find that some of the mags do not fit in as far as others, or they try to fit too far in in some cases.

    • Kevin June 7, 2016, 11:01 am

      Why would anyone buy a gun and then spend time and money trying to make it work. I don’t know what one of these cost but I don’t think you have to look very far to find a gun that works and put money back in your pocket.

      • Mike January 1, 2018, 4:42 pm

        Kevin I agree completely! And I checked prices,they run about $13 to $1400 which imo is way overpriced, the rifle caliber pistols like Draco and Serbian models 92/85 when still available new were $400 ,now the 92 is under $600 so tho I love the idea ,imo it’s priced double what it should be,I can buy a Molot semi auto ak shotgun that’s proven to be reliable, for less than this pos,I’ll wait until another company develops a similar product that works and is priced reasonably

  • Lee Dingle June 6, 2016, 10:14 am

    I have a Black Aces SBS with an 11″ barrel. I also have found it to be ammunition sensitive. I also have much better luck with the 5 round magazines compared to the 10 rounders. The gunsmith that built my shot gun had to remove a little extra material from the barrel where it locks into the lug at the top of the receiver which solved many of the feeding issues. Previously rounds were catching on that area before entering the chamber. In Black Aces defense there is a little sheet that comes with the kit that warns of the potential problem. Lastly I have found just like Paul said, the shotgun requires a lot of muscle. The action strokes must be done with authority, smoothly and without hesitation. At the moment I see this shotgun as a novelty, I would have to put in a lot more work to gain a trust in the system before using it anywhere else besides the range. I think the additional work will break in the shooter and the shotgun and determine which ammunition is best.

  • rogertc1 June 6, 2016, 6:51 am

    I have a Saiga, KelTec and DP-9. $1200 for a short magazine fed gun seems high for what you get. My DP-12 was only $1300 and shoots everything. My Saiga took some tuneing back then. Please do a review on the DP-12.
    Thanks for the honest video.

  • DrThunder88 June 6, 2016, 5:01 am

    I have a YouTube account. I must’ve missed the signup for free guns!

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