In 2017 Remington introduced the Tac-14 12-gauge firearm. It is a short-barrel version of the popular Remington 870 shotgun, which has been in production since the 1950’s.
What is the Tac-14?
The Tac-14 is technically not a shotgun; it is a firearm. The National Firearms Act (NFA) defines a shotgun as a smoothbore gun, made to be shoulder-fired, with a barrel length over 18 inches, and an overall length of more than 26 inches. If a shotgun is less than these dimensions, it becomes classified either as an SBS (Short Barreled Shotgun), or an AOW (Any Other Weapon) either of which is considered a Title 2 weapon. For a civilian to own a Title 2 weapon you would have to fill out the appropriate paperwork, pay for a tax stamp and be registered with the ATF.
The Tac-14 gets around all of this because of its design. Instead of a buttstock it has a unique pistol grip, called a Raptor grip made by Shockwave Technologies. The weapon is not made to be fired from the shoulder, so it is not a shotgun and therefore the barrel length restriction does not apply. The overall length is greater than 26 inches, avoiding classification as an AOW. It is thus a firearm, not a shotgun, and most importantly, not an illegal shotgun. (Some states classify shotguns differently from the Federal government; make sure you check your state and local laws).
Specs of the Tac-14
First, let’s go over the specs. The firearm is a total of 26.3 inches long and has a 14 inch barrel. It is made in both 12 gauge and 20 gauge versions. It weighs just over five and one-half pounds with a front-bead sight. The 12 gauge has a capacity of four (2 ¾ inch) shells, plus one in the chamber. The receiver is solid steel with a black oxide finish. It has a Magpul fore-end and the aforementioned Raptor pistol grip. It has a traditional pump action.
Many have promoted the Tac-14 to be well-suited to home defense. The argument is that, like a handgun, the short barrel length allows it to be easily maneuvered in tight spaces, such as a hallway or small room. Yet, unlike like a handgun, you have the increased firepower of a shotgun. The wide variety of 12 gauge shotgun shells available gives you a spectrum of load choices, making it tailor-made for the homeowner.
Considering a Shotgun for Home Defense
However, when considering a shotgun for home defense, there are a few caveats that need to be discussed in order to make an informed decision. First of all, it is often claimed that a pump shotgun gives one an advantage, because the ominous sound of racking the slide can, in and of itself, be sufficient to deter a would-be intruder. While this may be true, in reality it is probably most often not. The fact is most criminals, brazen enough to break into a home or business, are not likely to be deterred merely by the sound of a shotgun being loaded.
Secondly, many untrained individuals have the mistaken belief that a shotgun need only be pointed in the general direction of a target; the blast will be so large that it will take out anything close to your aim, like a miniature cannon blasting out grapeshot. But depending on the load used, the spread of projectiles can be quite small, especially at short distances, the kind of distances you are likely to be dealing with inside a house.
An additional issue to be considered is over-penetration. Again, depending on the load you use, a shotgun shell projectile can easily penetrate doors and walls, putting whatever may be on the other side of them at risk. After all, this is one reason why Law Enforcement uses shotguns.
Double-aught buckshot is often mentioned as a good choice for home defense, and there is no question that it would do its job well, but it will also easily penetrate drywall and doors. Birdshot has less penetration but not much stopping power. Number four buckshot seems to be an acceptable compromise between effectiveness and penetration.
Practicality of the Tac-14 for Home Defense
Given these things how does the Tac-14 fit in for the person looking to use it for home defense? Can it be considered practical and effective? If you search on the Internet you will find a wide variety of opinion, both pro and con, with lots of reasons supporting both sides.
To use this firearm effectively a person must train with it. As already mentioned, it cannot be fired with the receiver up to your face as you might a conventional shotgun. Rather it must be held up to eye-level, but at a proper distance from your face, firmly cushioned by your gripping hand while steadied with your other hand. For some people, depending on your arm-length and arm strength, this may take some getting used to.
Aiming takes practice. The somewhat awkward position in which you must hold the gun can make gazing down the barrel to line the front-bead up with your target difficult. Again, it depends on your size and stature.
Then there is the recoil to be considered. The Tac-14 has recoil typical of a 12-gauge, and it may not be easy to handle for some. As already mentioned, Remington does make a 20-gauge model of the Tac-14 which will have tamer recoil; this may be a good alternative for those who find the 12-gauge a bit too much.
The addition of a laser sight can be a significant help in aiming the Tac-14. I have a short Picatinny rail on the forend with a Tru-Glo Micro-Tac laser attached. This allows me to rapidly acquire a target while holding the firearm in a lower, more natural and comfortable position, away from my face.
My opinion is that, while the Tac-14 can be useful as a home defense weapon, it may not be the most practical solution, as a standard pump-shotgun could be mastered and used more easily. But with proper training and careful selection of loads, a person armed with this weapon would be a formidable obstacle for any would-be intruder. And while the sound of racking the slide may not be enough to deter a criminal, the sound of it being fired is sure to get their attention.