By request, from our own Jim Rawles, we are taking a close look at the Remington TAC-14 shotgun.
Unique in Barrel Length
Something a little unique about the Remington TAC-14 shotgun is the barrel length of only 14 inches. Normally, this would be considered an NFA firearm and you’d have to jump through all the red tape and hoops in order to own one. However, Remington cleverly got around this in a number of ways. First of all, there is the overall length of 26.3-inches. Secondly, the very unique Raptor Pistol Grip gives the TAC-14 the much needed few more inches so this isn’t considered a “sawed-off shotgun” that we’ve all heard about.
Shotgun For Home Defense
I used to advocate a short barrel (18 inch) shotgun as the ultimate in home defense, and that is still true, in a few cases, but it’s not the best choice. When I was teaching SWAT techniques to small police departments, they all had “riot shotguns”. And when trying to maneuver through narrow hallways in a house or a business, the shotgun proved cumbersome and hard to work with. It was not quite what you want when a threat is around every corner or in every room. Next time, try taking your home-defense shotgun through your house and walking through narrow hallways or small rooms. See just how fast you can bring the shotgun up and ready to fire, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Twelve or Twenty Gauge and Various Loads
Of course, then we have to discuss if you want a 12-gauge or 20-gauge shotgun for home defense. Both will sure deafen you when fired indoors, and then we have the recoil. There is no way around the law of physics. There is going to be serious recoil. We have to discuss if you have your shotgun loaded with 00 Buckshot, 000 Buckshot, or some other target or bird loads. For my money, you need to have the shotgun stoked with at least 00 Buckshot to get the job done.
Remington TAC-14 Options
The Remington TAC-14 is available in either 12 or 20 gauge, and both come with that short 14-inch barrel and hold 4+1 rounds of shotgun ammo. That’s if you keep a round in the chamber; otherwise, you have four rounds in the magazine tube. The barrel is cylinder bore, for the widest pattern. I don’t know if that is ideal for close quarters shooting inside of your home or not. The barrel has the typical bead front sight, as found on most shotguns; however, you could mount a red dot sight on it, but that makes shooting difficult if you pull the gun up to eye level with the Raptor pistol grip. Ugh!
Forend, Receiver, and Pistol Grip
The forend on the TAC-14 is by MagPul, and it’s their M-Lock forend, which is a good choice. The receiver is black oxide coated, and as mentioned, the overall length of the TAC-14 is 26.3 inches. The Raptor Pistol Grip is worth mentioning. It isn’t a typical pistol-gripped shotgun grip. It isn’t mounted at 90-degrees; instead, to bring the length into the legal parameters, this Raptor Pistol Grip extends rearward, and only at a shallow downward angle.
Pistol Grips and Dealing With Recoil
In the past, I’ve owned and tested a number of 18-inch barreled shotguns with the traditional pistol grip instead of a full stock, and they were no fun to shoot. They were extremely hard on the wrist. The Raptor Pistol Grip on the TAC-14 is all that more difficult to hold on to, and it obviously is named after the Raptor dinosaur. It lets you know just how mean this shotgun is to shoot, no matter how big and strong you are. My shooting partner for this test is 6’5” tall and very strong, and even he didn’t find the TAC-14 much fun to shoot, and the same goes for me.
As with all Remington shotguns, the dual-action slide bars were smooth and easy to pump the next round into the chamber. Also, ejection was sure and never failed. Remington is famous for smooth action pump shotguns. They always have been, so that’s a positive aspect of the TAC-14. Neither myself or my shooting buddy raised the TAC-14 to eye level to aim. This gun isn’t designed for that. It is meant for close-in fighting. So, the gun was fired from the waist as well as bringing it up next to distance between the belly and lungs, with the gun on the side of the body, still not aimed.
We used everything from target loads to heavier bird shot, and, of course, 00 Buckshot loads. The TAC-14 was not comfortable or fun to shoot in the least. We had a few people stop by and want to fire this shotgun, and with most it only took one or two rounds before they were done; the recoil is harsh and very hard on the wrist. An extremely strong hold on the Raptor Pistol Grip is an absolute must, period!
We set targets out from 25 feet to 20 yards, and the short cylinder bore barrel didn’t let us down. While it spread out the hits on the targets, it didn’t open up nearly as much as we thought it would. Still, out to 20 yards, some of the 00 Buckshot was off the kill-zone of the target. Of course, when firing indoors, your shot pattern will be much tighter. That’s a good thing.
Personally, I’m not sure where the Remington TAC-14 fits into my firearms battery. The gun tested was not mine, nor would I purchase one. I can see many people purchasing one for the sheer novelty of owning a “sawed-off shotgun” and having the ability to show it off to their friends, and of course, take them out to run a few rounds through it, just to see the expression on their faces from the recoil and to watch them complain about the recoil on their wrist. The TAC-14 would not be my first, second, or third choice to reach for when something goes bang in the night in my house. I much prefer something that I can aim, has less recoil, and is easier to walk though my house with.
I’m sure some of our more macho readers, who own the TAC-14, will probably flood our comments section with their bravado about how they can fire their TAC-14 all day long without any problems. All I can say is, they are a better man than I am and better than some of the other testers who fired a round or two out of the TAC-14 we tested. The overall opinion by everyone was that the TAC-14 was “fun”, in a sorted twisted way, to fire. No one expressed any desire to rush right out and purchase one for their own use though.
A Different Kind of Remington Shotgun
Of course, being a Remington shotgun, it pains me to give this particular type of shotgun two thumbs down, or maybe one and a half thumbs down. While I’m sure many will rush out and buy one, just because it is a bit different, is something akin to a “sawed-off shotgun”, and it will make a nice conversation piece, I don’t think they will be running a lot of ammo through their new toy. And, I can think of a lot of other firearms that I’d reach for when things go bump in the middle of the night. Needless to say, the quality is there, because this TAC-14 is made by Remington. I’m guessing they will sell a lot of them, and that’s not a bad thing.
I’d suggest you find some place or someone who owns a TAC-14 that you can test-fire, before you spend your hard-earned money on one. Several of these guns were sold through the gun shop I haunt, and several of them were returned, with customers complaining of the “kick” and how much it hurt to shoot, especially in the wrist area, where we have a lot of tiny bones that as we age get more brittle and break easily.
The Late Col. Applegate Would Have One in his Gun Collection
The TAC-14 is unique enough that many gun collectors will want one for their collection. I know if the late Col. Applegate were still alive, he’d have one in his collection, but I’m also betting that he would have handed it off to me to “test” for him. That’s something I wouldn’t relish doing. I’m sure the TAC-14 has a place, and it might best be deployed by SWAT teams, instead of a longer version shotgun with a butt stock or pistol grip and longer barrel. But I’ll just have to pass on getting one for myself. Full retail is $443; however, I checked around, and they are selling for about a hundred bucks less.