Last year was a great year for those of us that like sticking it to the man at every possible occasion. My hat is off to Mossberg for creating a new class of “firearm”, poking the National Firearms Act in the chest as well as I have ever seen it done. Exploiting a loophole in the 1934 act, one that everyone somehow missed for 84 years, Mossberg burst onto the scene with the Shockwave.
The original Shockwave is a firearm, but it doesn’t fit any other category. It isn’t a handgun, because the barrel isn’t rifled, and its overall length is greater than 26 inches. It isn’t a rifle, because it doesn’t have a rifled barrel, and isn’t designed to be shoulder fired. And it isn’t a shotgun or SBS, because none of us have been arrested yet. Nor has the ATF shackled the door at O. F Mossberg and sons.
The resulting firearm is a great piece of gear for any of us that always wanted a sawed-off shotgun for whatever reason, but weren’t willing to pay the tax and deal with the NFA hassle. It’s 12 gauge, does everything a short barrel shotgun does except have a stock, and is based on the revered Mossberg 590 action. Just saying sawed off makes you feel good. Along with the 1911 and M1 Garand, it is just a piece of Americana to have one.
The original Shockwave was cool, but it was also very utilitarian. Polymer furniture is incredibly durable, you will get no argument from me. It has many advantages over more traditional materials, and in a heavy use gun, it is hard to argue with. But one place it doesn’t win is in class. Reeboks also work better than wingtips for running a marathon, but they look silly with a 3 piece suit.
The new Nightstick model is everything good about the Shockwave, dressed in its Sunday best. In a throwback to more refined weapon stocks, the Nightstick features wooden furniture. That sounds like a minor detail on paper, but in execution, it is a thing of beauty. The moment you lay eyes on the Nightstick, you are instantly transported to a different time. I can’t touch my test model without thinking about the famous Witness Protection model short barrels, or a 70’s era NY Zombie Squad. It would be equally at home in the jungles of Vietnam, a tunnel rat’s friend. It’s easy to picture Jim Cirillo or “Mad Dog” Schriver carrying a weapon like this, albeit in different circumstances and environments.
The wooden grip and fore-end are exceptionally well designed. The grip is what Mossberg calls a raptor head. The basic shape is a thinner grip, with a swell on the end to keep it in your hand. Like a pirates one hand blunderbuss, for lack of a better description. The fore end is a classic corn cob design, with radius cuts all the way around to give you some purchase. On initial inspection, I thought the slick grip of the raptor head was going to be a problem. But in use, it isn’t something you even notice. Also a nice touch, Mossberg added a leather strap to the fore end. In firearms this short, that is a must-have. The leather strap prevents your hand from accidentally slipping in front of the barrel, which can easily happen under intense recoil. They could have saved a few pennies by using nylon, but the leather really adds to the overall feel of the gun. The strap is big enough for meaty paws, but not so large as to be a hindrance to those smaller statured.
The barrel is 14.375 inches, sized to hit the sweet spot of NFA loopholes. The overall length had to exceed 26 inches, and this is how they did it. The .375, however, is a small enough figure as to be irrelevant. Having used quite a few short barrel shotguns in the military, I prefer a 14 inch for most tactical purposes. A 14-inch pump gun gives an excellent balance of maneuverability and capacity and is great for most purposes. A dedicated breaching shotgun can be a little shorter, and 14.375 is obviously not ideal for hunting ducks. But for social work, it is an excellent all-around choice.
The barrel is topped with a gold bead front sight, which also adds to the overall nostalgic feel of the Nightstick. The barrel length accommodates a 6 round capacity, 5 in the tube, 1 in the chamber. Just like the full sized 590 models, the Nightstick uses Mossbergs intuitive tang safety. The trigger isn’t exactly a precision rifle contender, but it is crisp and clean enough for the job. I think we all agree a hair trigger in a sawed-off is a bad idea.
For testing, Federal provided all the goods a growing boy could want. Today might be the only day a Nightstick gets fed Gold Medal Grand, ever. But it did get the job done. With these sporting clays shells, the Nightstick was a joy to shoot. Using birdshot, this firearm is tame enough for most any shooter. More importantly, it is just plain fun to blast away with.
Given that the Nightstick was built as a defensive tool, I had to test it with defensive rounds as well. A not so sincere thanks to Federal for including a box of Grand Slam turkey loads in my care package. You know your turkey loads are serious when they have a spur tap ruler printed on the side of the shells.
The Nightstick is rated for 2 ¾ or 3 inch shells, and the Grand Slam shells are all of 3 inches. The recoil was, in a word, stout. While I don’t doubt the effectiveness of them terminally, I don’t recommend it for this platform. I didn’t drop the Nightstick, but I definitely thought about it.
Federal also provided their Personal Defense buckshot in 00, which has a velocity of 1145 feet per second. A testament to the raptor grip design, the buckshot was no problem. From either a hipshot or holding the Nightstick out in front of your face, buckshot is fine. I actually expected some sting from this one and was satisfyingly surprised to find none. Having tried this with both raptor grip style and pistol grip style guns, I will attest that the raptor grip is much more pleasant to shoot powerful shells.
Is the Nightstick the most useful gun in the world? No. But it is cool. And it does have a spot it excels. For a shooting match at close range, the Nightstick would absolutely burn it down. And that aside, it is incredibly fun to shoot. Not to mention a gaggle of firepower, in a very small package. Any gun that causes me to get out the costumes I can recommend highly. If you grew up on Charles Bronson movies and Tales of the Stakeout Squad, the Night Stick is for you.
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