Pistol grip shotguns have a certain sex appeal. They’re made for TV. Or maybe Hollywood in general. They are difficult to handle, almost impossible to aim (in the traditional sense), and almost too big to conceal. Yet our fascination with these guns continues to grow. I think the reason is pretty obvious. A shotgun with a pistol grip is as close as most of us will get to a short barreled shotgun.
But how practical are they? And how can you run both safely and effectively? To answer that, we’re going to be putting this Mossberg Persuader/Cruiser 6 Shot to the test.
Mossberg 500 Persuader Cruiser: http://www.mossberg.com/500-persuadercruiser/
Buy one on GunsAmerica: /mossberg cruiser
So let’s get practical
Shotguns have stocks for a reason. You need something to catch the recoil from the typical 12 gauge round, and your shoulder works better than your nose. So be careful. These guns tend to travel backwards when you pull the trigger. If you’re holding that rear end of the gun (in this case the pistol grip) securely, that force tends to push the barrel end up.
Shooting from the hip
I worked out the 500 until my wrist couldn’t take any more. It isn’t exactly easy on joints. The function of the gun is flawless, it is the body mechanics that pose the obvious problem. Shooting from the hip solves that completely.
But hitting what you’re aiming at…not so easy. The targets below will illustrate this. You will have a much harder time hitting moving objects. Shooting clays is almost impossible. Hitting anything at any distance is also a challenge. But close targets are doomed. And that’s the point. This is a super-close quarters gun capable of delivering a wide variety of projectiles.
Let’s talk about the legality.
A shotgun, in order to avoid falling under the restrictions of the National Firearms Act of 1934, has to meet two major requirements. The barrel has to be 18″ long, or the whole length (measured in a line that run parallel to the barrel) must be 26.” If the whole gun is 26″ long, then it doesn’t matter how long the barrel is. More on that to come….
It shouldn’t be too complicated. But it is. There are other categories that you need to understand.
The following quotes are from this handy ATF reference document: https://www.atf.gov/files/publications/download/p/atf-p-5320-8/atf-p-5320-8-chapter-2.pdf.
“Shotgun: A shotgun is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder and designed to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of projectiles or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger.”
“The ATF procedure for measuring barrel length is to measure from the closed bolt (or breech-face) to the furthermost end of the barrel or permanently attached muzzle device. Permanent methods of attachment include full-fusion gas or electric steel-seam welding, high-temperature (1100°F) silver soldering, or blind pinning with the pin head welded over. Barrels are measured by inserting a dowel rod into the barrel until the rod stops against the bolt or breech-face. The rod is then marked at the furthermost end of the barrel or permanently attached muzzle device, withdrawn from the barrel, and measured.”
“Weapon made from a shotgun: A weapon made from a shotgun is a shotgun type weapon that has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length.”
“The overall length of a firearm is the distance between the muzzle of the barrel and the rearmost portion of the weapon measured on a line parallel to the axis of the bore.”
“Any other weapon: Firearms meeting the definition of “any other weapon” are weapons or devices capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive. Many “any other weapons” are disguised devices such as pen guns, cigarette lighter guns, knife guns, cane guns and umbrella guns.”
“Also included in the “any other weapon” definition are pistols and revolvers having smooth bore barrels designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell. While the above weapons are similar in appearance to weapons made from shotguns, they were originally manufactured in the illustrated configuration and are not modified from existing shotguns. As a result, these weapons do not fit within the definition of shotgun or weapons made from a shotgun.”
For those of you keeping score at home, the Mossberg pictured here is not a shotgun. I’ve been referring to it as a shotgun, but it isn’t. As it has never had a shoulder stock, it can’t possibly have been designed to be fired from the shoulder. It is not a short barreled shotgun, as it has a barrel longer than 18″. (Plus, it would have to be a shotgun in order to be a short barreled shotgun–and we just decided it wasn’t a shotgun.) It isn’t an “Any Other Weapon,” as it isn’t capable of being concealed (that’s where the 26″ overall length comes in).
So what is it? The industry vernacular is PGO, as in Pistol Grip Only. This means the pistol grip version was the intended design of the gun. It never had a stock, and so was never modified. And PGO is usually followed by the word shotgun, because everyone who isn’t a lawyer or working for the ATF is going to call a spade a spade.
For me, the PGO shotguns are incredibly cool, but have limited utility. They make great truck guns. They’re visually intimidating. The are capable of devastating close range firepower. But you have to build up some basic hip-shooting skills. And it isn’t a good teaching tool. It isn’t inherently dangerous, but a novice shooter, or someone without the physical mass needed to control it… bad idea.
The real problem isn’t the size, or the control. It is the practice. Running one of these with low-recoil low-brass is a good idea. Move up to typical bird-shot. I’d limit the size to 2.75″ shells, and only run a few heavy shells through it in any practice session. It hurts your hand. That wrist, the one holding the pistol grip, takes a beating. I’m typing this now a good four days after a punishing day on the range, and I’ve still got a serious hitch in my wrist. Every peck of the keyboard is accompanied by a small reminder of just how hard this gun is to hold. Practice, yes–but use your head.
MSRP on the gun? $494. It is selling for less, just about everywhere. Not a bad investment. And, if you ever decide the PGO configuration isn’t for you, you can put a stock on it without much trouble at all.