The Remington 870 TAC-14 and Mossberg 590 Shockwave “pistol grip firearms” have been quite successful for the two big names in American-made shotguns. Successful enough that both companies have produced a number of variants of these short not-a-shotguns.
As the owner of several of these firearms, I have to say my all-time favorite is the Remington Model 870 TAC 14 Hardwood version. That’s because TAC-14 Hardwood is more than just a TAC-14 with wood furniture.
The TAC 14 Hardwood adds a plus-1 extension over the original model to give you 5 rounds in the tube. You also get an included sling, as well as a built-in sling keeper that acts as a handguard to keep your hand from drifting in front of the 14″ barrel.
To top it off, the TAC-14 Hardwood model sports some traditional-looking furniture which gives it a rather classy appearance. If you’re like me, you may be a fan of obscure police and military firearms and recognize the Hardwood model for what it is, a clone of the old Wilson Witness Protection 870 shotguns built for the U.S. Marshall’s service.
Those shotguns were mostly built with 12.5-inch barrels, but some early models had the 14-inch barrels we see here in the TAC-14 models. Regardless, this is the first time we’ve seen something so close to those originals without the NFA being involved.
Explaining Firearms Law
Because this firearm is sort of a rare bird, it’s probably a good idea for a quick refresher on firearms law, so let’s go ahead and get that out of the way. The Remington 870 TAC-14 is not a shotgun. Not in the eyes of the ATF, anyway.
It’s a pistol grip firearm. It’s a firearm that happens to be a pump action 12-gauge based on a standard shotgun operating system, but never mind all that. Federal law defines a shotgun as, among other criteria, a firearm that’s designed to be fired from the shoulder.
In the funhouse mirror world of the National Firearms Act, if you take a Remington 870 that has never had a stock attached, it’s not technically a shotgun. It could be an AOW (any other weapon), but because the TAC-14 is over 26 inches in length (Remington makes them 26.3 inches long) it’s not an AOW either
Instead, it sits in a category best described as “other,” AKA a pistol grip firearm. Because it’s not technically a shotgun, it’s not limited to an 18-inch minimum barrel length, so the 14-inch barrel that the TAC-14 is equipped with is perfectly legal.
In case you’re wondering, you can’t add a stock to a TAC-14 without also adding an 18-inch barrel. You can’t make it any shorter than 26 inches overall length, eigher. Also, if you add a stock, it can’t later go back to a firearm configuration. The 14-inch barrel combined with the Raptor pistol grip keeps the overall length greater than 26 inches.
Do Looks Matter?
How much do looks matter in a firearm? With guns built for defensive purposes surely ergonomics, reliability, and a whole host of other features come first.
So looks may be secondary, but when a gun looks good we should be able to celebrate that. And the TAC-14 Hardwood is a good-looking gun.
The only thing that might have made it better is if Remington had used the 870 Wingmaster model rich blue finish over the 870 Express-style parkerized finish. I can attest my original Model 870 TAC-14 had some of the rust-when-exposed-to-air finish that some Remington budget guns have unfortunately become known for. This particular model doesn’t have that issue.
Did I get lucky with this one? Did I get unlucky with my original TAC-14? Who knows, but the finish on the TAC-14 Hardwood seems plenty sturdy.
The wood looks great and maybe it’s the hipster in me, but I love wood on my shotguns. The forend has the corn cob texturing just like the older Remington 870s, thought it lacks the glossy appearance of shotguns of yesteryear. Still, it looks amazing to me.
The handguard/sling keeper, the sling, and magazine extension are all top notch and give the gun a very distinguished appearance.
To The Range!
What I’m about to say about the gun’s performance on the range will largely seem negative, but I want to get out in front of that. This gun is ridiculously fun to shoot. It’s a challenge to handle, especially aimed buckshot, but that’s where the fun comes in.
The challenge is why this is such a blast to shoot. It’s like trying to hold onto a bucking bull. When you figure out how handle it, you’ll get a ton of satisfaction out of it. buy guns online
The first time I put a full load of buckshot into the head of a target at 10 yards with the TAC-870 14 Hardwood it made me downright giddy. So it’s fun to fire, regardless of what I’m going to say below.
As you can imagine, a pistol grip only 12 gauge has a lot of recoil, but luckily it’s pain-free. While your average 90-degree pistol grip is pretty brutal on the wrist, the bird’s head grip is much more comfortable to shoot full-power loads.
That’s because the recoil isn’t delivered directly into your wrist. Instead, it feels as if travels mostly upwards. I’ve never any pain from shooting this gun due to the pistol grip design.
Make no mistake…the gun does buck and jerk and tries to get away from you. This thing is a literal blast to shoot, a thrill and a workout. But if you exercise proper form you can shoot from eye level and deliver decently accurate, withering fire on a target.
You won’t do it fast with full-powered ammo, but you can place shots on target with some practice. The technique I use is to push forward with my support arm and pull rearward with my firing hand.
That technique brings the front bead sight up to eye level and helps stabilize and support the 870 TAC-14 Hardwood. The tension helps keep the gun stable and controls the bucking enough to hit your target without getting a black eye. There’s a rhythm you have to develop to apply tension, fire, release tension and activate the pump, but a little range time will help here greatly.
Admittedly the gun feels clumsy, especially at first. It’s nearly 6 pounds of steel and wood and the technique I found works means holding it out from the body at quite the awkward angle.
Should you experience a malfunction you’ll be out on a limb to fix it with any speed. Not to mention trying to reload this thing can be a hassle if we’re trying to keep the weapon on target.
I’ve found reloading is easiest if you treat it like a handgun and bring it up into your ‘box’ and then shove rounds into the tube.
The TAC-14 Hardwood’s trigger is pretty standard, short and sweet with some over-travel. Hardly a concern with this kind of gun. The cross-bolt safety will be a nightmare for lefties. The pump is very smooth, though, and shells eject consistently and surely. As a pump action shotgun, it’s hard to mess up.
After blasting some rounds downrange you’ll be feeling the exertion, especially after applying proper tension shot after shot.
As you’d imagine this is not a replacement for a real shotgun with a stock. It’s slower and harder to shoot in every way.
That being said this gun is much smaller and lighter. If size is an issue, a TAC-14 packs a significant punch. But it has such a narrow niche use case that I’d have a hard time suggesting it over a standard 870 Express Tactical for most people.
Firing birdshot from the hip is an absolute blast though. At ten yards or so, I was surprised how easy it was to direct birdshot into clay pigeons sitting on a berm.
With slugs, I was able to get back to 35 yards and shoot a decent group onto an old school NRA rifle and pistol target, as well as a printed torso target from Sage Dynamics. Federal Low Recoil slugs produced a very respectable group at these longer distances, especially from a TAC-14.