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Shotgun Gunfighting

Pistol Grip Shotguns - The Alternative PDW


I first saw this in an article by my friend Chris McLaughlin in the old, and then credible, SWAT Magazine. He wrote the story of its development for the US Marshal Serivice and its Witness Protection guys. As well its production by Wilson Arms, and later other firms. The short barreled shotgun is a highly contraversial weapon, loved by some and maligned by others.

We have never taken any bit of collective knowledge for granted, nor taken the words of others as gospel. When we "see for ourselves" we often discover that the reason something was either widely accepted, or widely dismissed had little to do with the efficacy of the weapon or method, and more with the "not invented here" syndrome.

One of the things we have been studying for the past year has been the Personal Defense Weapon concept, and the AR Pistol's role in that mission. In this post I want to discuss one alternative weapon for the PDW mission, the pistol gripped shotgun.

The first thing to understand is that it is a niche weapon, just like the AR PDW Pistol. It is not intended to go head to head against a battle rifle or against a full stocked shotgun anymore than an AR Pistol is intended to shoot against a Recce M4. It is a short weapon intended to be carried in tight quarters, and deployed reactively inside those tight quarters when problem-solving with a handgun is not adequate.

For the guys that say the handgun will be more effective, I will point out that one does not draw a shotgun like this. It is generally in the hands already. As well, I suspect that one centered shot of buckshot at ten feet is far more effective at killing than even the deadliest pistol round. Thus the weapon's effectiveness, or not, is more dependent on the ability of the user. Having said that, I will also say that this is not the weapon for the frail, slight statured personnel often seen in the egalitarian world. It requires some upper body size and strength to use this.

If kept in its "legal everywhere" 18" barrel configuration, it is a sufficient PDW in areas where an AR Pistol would not be possible. Being a shotgun, and ostensibly a 12 gauge, it has a substantial degree of power in the close quarters envelop. I know a man who lives in the northern parts of the places where he is on the evening's menu. He keeps a pistol gripped shotgun loaded with Sauvestre Slugs with him at all times, and reports it being successful against bears. There are regions where the nature of the PDW changes.


I was given a weapon similar to this when I worked a Surveillance Unit. In my case it was a custom Remington 1100 (long before there were any Benelli Shotguns available). I later used another one of similar organization in 870 form.

First to understand its niche. It does not replace the regular sized shotguns, and to seek to test the two side by side is like racing a Ferrari against a Jeep. On the street, the Jeep gets smoked...but on the sand...

The niche for this weapon is as a concealable power tool for surveillance units and those tasked with moving personnel from one location to another where the need for superior and overwhelming firepower is needed. It is also a niche where the most commonly encountered weapon is a handgun. One would not choose a WP870 for Witness protection in Kabul, but in Miami it is a viable weapon.

The weapon is at its best deployed quickly from a vehicle. no matter how quickly you can get the full stocked 870 out of the car, you will be faster with the WP shotgun. A skilled operator can keep up with a fully stocked shotgun for the first few shots as long as the shots are close range and we accept the short weapon will be using reduced power loads. When I used the short 1100 I spoke of, I ran #4 Buck in it.

It is best used as shown in the image from The Book Of Eli. It is brought up to the eye sight line. The support hand drives the weapon forward, while the firing hand pulls back on the pistol grip. There is a coordination of pressure that needs to be learned where upon shooting, the pressure is reversed to operate the action, and then reversed again to lock it into battery for the second shot.

A semi auto such as the Beretta 1301, configured in this manner would certainly make operation easier. There are of course NFA issues to deal with, but doing one of these is no more difficult than anything else NFA. If you have need for a close range power tool for the world of handgun armed adversaries, this might be something to consider.