For the past few months, I have been testing a fun little gun pretty heavily. I’ve run every kind of ammo that will chamber in it, and literally a thousand rounds of that varied mix. It’s from a shop up in Vermont called 802 Traders, and it’s a 12 gauge with a 14 inch barrel, pistol grip, and no tax stamp required. And 802 is not getting it back.
In 1934, the National Firearms Act ruined a lot of fun with some fairly pointless laws and regulations. This gun, however, is not regulated by the NFA at all. Because it isn’t a shotgun. A shotgun has to have a stock. It isn’t a short barreled shotgun, because it isn’t a shotgun. If it isn’t a shotgun, obviously, it cannot be a sawed off shotgun. The last option for NFA classification to qualify for a tax stamp, is the Any Other Weapon. But to be an AOW, it has to be less than 26 inches long. And this puppy measures in at twenty six and a half. So, it is classified as a firearm, and nothing more.
It just happens to throw 12 gauge pretty well. As it should, considering it’s a custom Mossberg 500. Now, you cannot simply chop down any shotgun you happen to have already and call it a day. You must begin with either a virgin receiver, or a PGO. (That would be Pistol Grip Only) That means it can never have had a stock attached, or available to attach included with the sale of the weapon. Why does this matter? Well, as I already said, the NFA has some fairly pointless regulations. This is one of them. It doesn’t matter that the final product is the same thing, what they care about is how the weapon began life.
That’s where 802 Traders comes in. They start with a PGO, modify the gun and sell it. No wait on a tax stamp. No trust or CLEO sign off needed. Why not build it yourself? Well, the mechanics of it can get difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you don’t get the cut square, if you don’t chamfer evenly, if you leave a burr behind, you will have issues with accuracy. If you have to modify the magazine tube, you might run into issues with spring length and tension. The guys at 802 take care of all of it. And if you do happen to have the skills and tools needed… well, 802 is working with Shockwave Technologies (The maker of that special grip) on something just for the DIY folks out there. Or, you also have option 3. Buy a Mossy Persuader, and a separate Mossy 14 inch front end, and a new grip that brings the overall length to over 26 inches, then put it all together yourself. Option three will cost you just over $560, plus shipping, and you do all the work yourself. Or for pretty much the same price, the folks at 802 can do it all for you and save you a lot of time, effort and annoyance.
The 14 inch barrel makes the gun very easy to carry and use for home defense. It doesn’t hang up on doorways or scrape hallway walls. The magazine holds 5 rounds of 2 ¾ or 3 inch shells. The action is standard for the Mossy 500, a little rough at first but the build quality is very strong and smooths out with use. After 1000 rounds, this T&E sample is butter smooth.
The sample gun is the Magpul variant that 802 offers. The slide comes up a bit higher on the sides to keep your fingertips off the barrel as it gets a bit warm. And it will be getting warm. Armscor USA was kind enough to ship me a case of buckshot to test this shorty out, so my first trip out to the range, I put a hundred rounds of 00 buck through it in less than an hour. It gets toasty, and I was thankful for the high rise handguard.
On that same range trip, I had no pain or discomfort at all in my hands. The key to that is this grip. I know a lot of our readers have fired a shotgun from the hip before, and it really is the same feeling. The short barrel puts out a hell of a blast, but for all the ruckus on the business end of the gun, the felt recoil in your shooting hand is almost kittenish. At least with #8 bird shot. #4 and 00 buck are stout, but still very comfortable. Slugs have a different feel, but not harsher. It’s just a little sharper kick as opposed to the push from the bird and buck.
Some folks might prefer to have a different grip, and that is totally understandable. However, switching to a vertical grip would reduce the overall length of the gun to under 26 inches, and you would then have an un-taxed AOW in your hands. And that is the only thing I do not like about this weapon. When you hold high to get a good bead on a target, you have to chicken wing a little bit. In a house or apartment, this would push you away from some corners or walls, and in the field it makes it more difficult to steady against a tree on your shooting hand side. But as is, the grip works wonderfully to dampen felt recoil.
Facing reality, this is a gun that is meant to be used up close and personal. These were shot at seven yards for patterning. While the sights are minimal and not likely to see much use, I will mention that the bead was dead on. The shot cups blew through the cardboard, and carried for another fifteen yards or so. I was surprised at the very respectable groupings considering the 14 inch barrel. I know, shotguns don’t really work like they do in video games, but I did expect wider spread. For defensive use or just fun at the range, these results are more than adequate.
For slugs, I also sat a jug of water out at twenty five yards, and loaded up a couple. Both slugs hit near enough point of aim. In fact, the first slug had me cussing, because the jug did not move. It blew out the back of the jug and the water with it. The second slug caught a little and tossed the empty plastic down range. In addition to the buckshot I had been firing for the function tests, I also had some birdshot and slugs on hand thanks to the folks at Ammunition Depot. I ordered a pretty wide variety of ammo, and none of what they sent me was old stock. Which has been a problem with other vendors. And shipping was fast. The ammo fairy was at my door the next morning. Also, my FedEx guy hates being called “The Ammo Fairy.”
I was curious as to the viability of hunting with such an abbreviated weapon, so I ran a few more slugs and #4 and 00 buck at distances out to fifty yards. As you expect, the buckshot patterned dismally at longer ranges. Only a few pellets striking the jugs that far. I fared poorly with the slugs at that distance as well, but that is all on me. I am very confident that with more practice and time shooting slugs through the gun, it would be very usable for deer here in the scrubby Georgia woods. I did not test bird shot at fifty yards because well, it is bird shot. It’s not going to pattern well, and it’s not going to be effective enough at that range to be certain of a clean kill. While I do feel that with practice this weapon could be used to hunt deer or similar sized animals with the proper ammo, bird hunting with it would be irresponsible.
It is not an all-purpose shotgun. It is not a perfect gun. Don’t let that dissuade you though. For a home defense gun, it is an excellent choice and will serve that role very well. With a good bit of work and practice, it would serve for hunting, should the need arise. The lighter weight, with all the thunder of a 12 gauge makes it a nearly ideal pack gun, rather than carrying a take-down model .22 or 410.
And yeah, I’m not sending it back to Vermont. This one is staying with us here.