Mossberg 500 vs. Remington 870 is the “Chevy vs. Ford” feud of the gun world (although that analogy should probably be updated to something like “Nissan vs. Toyota” in 2018). When Mossberg first cleared a path through the thicket of NFA rules to bring the 500-based Shockwave to market, we all knew it was only a matter of time before Remington followed with an 870-based model.
If you follow AllOutdoor, you know we’re big fans of this gun. We’ve given the Tac-14 a ton of coverage, because we have multiple writers who really like it:
- Remington’s New Self-Defense/Prepper Shotgun
- Converting the Remington Tac-14 to Shoulder Carry
- Tac-14 Hardwood and Marine Magnum Shotguns From Remington
- Aimtech Warhammer for Tac-14 and Shockwave
- A Look at the Remington Tac-14 Hardwood at the 2018 SHOT Show
So we like this gun as a “prepper” gun, and I personally like it as a “truck gun” that I keep locked away in the main cab of my pickup, just in case. It’s the right size to fit in the compartments beneath the rear seats of my Nissan Titan XD, along with some ammo.
This is also a great gun for camping and hiking in bear and cougar country. Instead of a sling, I pair this gun with the Beez Combat Systems Tactical Shotgun Scabbard (of which I have a review in-progress) when family camping at Big Bend. The Tac-14 slides in and out of the scabbard easily, and I can wear a regular backpack over the whole package.
You can see from the photos in this article that I’ve put this gun through the wringer. I didn’t really do anything to it as far as cleanup — I pulled it out of my truck and photographed it as-is. So what follows are my impressions of the Remington Tac-14 after many months of travel, camping, and shooting.
Specs and features
Here are the specs for the Tac-14:
- Gauge: 12
- Mag capacity: 4+1
- Barrel length: 14″
- Barrel type: cylinder bore
- Sights: bead sight
- Finish: black oxide
- Overall length: 26.3″
As for features, this gun has two main features that we care about: 1) it’s short, and 2) the parts are interchangeable with the full-sized Remington 870 shotgun.
The former gets most of the attention, as well it should, but the latter is also killer. If you’ve already invested in the 870 platform, then you’ve essentially got a set of Legos for a SHTF situation. An near ideal SHTF shotgun loadout would contain something like a tactical 870 — preferably the 870 Express Tactical — alongside a Tac-14. With this setup and a set of Rem chokes, you’ll have the full spectrum of close-range shooting applications covered, from hunting to CQB. You’ll also have redundancy, in case a part in one of the guns is damaged or fails.
Note: It should go without saying that you should never, outside a WROL scenario, swap barrels or stocks between the 870 and the Tac-14. If it’s WROL then by definition you’re not breaking the law because there is no law. But as long as there are laws, don’t break them.
Shooting the Tac-14
If you haven’t shot a smoothbore with a “bird’s head” style grip, you might worry that it’s painful. It’s really not bad, and given the way it channels the recoil through you wrist and into your forearm if you hold it properly, it can be less painful to work with than a pistol grip.
Pairing the Tac-14 with Remington’s managed recoil defense loads softens it even further, and makes the 12 gauge Tac-14 feel very similar to its 20-gauge counterpart. That is not speculation on my part — I’ve shot the Tac 14 with the managed recoil loads side-by-side with the 20 gauge Tac-14, and can testify to the similarity.
So the ergos are great, and overall this is a fun gun to shoot. I really enjoy working with it on the range.
There are two gotchas with this gun, one of which you can overcome with a cheap mod, and the other of which takes practice.
The first “gotcha” is one you really, really don’t want to get you: the short barrel plus pump action combination makes it easy to over-reach when pumping, especially under stress or excitement, and cover the muzzle with your left hand. This could get messy, and leave you short some digits.
The solution is to put a nylon strap on the fore-end, and keep your hand through that loop as you work the action. You can pick up a strap that’s made for this gun for a few bucks on Amazon, and I recommend it to you. It’s easy to install, and a good safety feature.
The second “gotcha” you’ll encounter on your first range trip, is that you’ll tend to shoot high. This happens because you don’t raise your wrist enough to level the rear of the gun out with the front sight bead. It feels kind of unnatural to get your wrist into the right position to point the gun correctly, but this works in your favor because unless you feel that tension in your wrist you know you’re shooting it wrong.
Because of the lack of cheek weld and the tendency to keep your right wrist too low, it takes some practice with this gun before you can really hit with confidence. So you should add a few boxes of practice ammo to the cost of this gun when you’re budgeting for it, because it’ll take a bit to get dialed in.
Modding the Tac-14
The Tac-14’s sub-$400 price makes it a great bargain, but you are probably going to want to mod it a bit. In its stock configuration, it doesn’t really support some obvious things like sling carry.
The old bootleggers would drill a hole through the stock of a gun like this, run some twine through the hole, and loop it over their shoulder for concealed carry under the arm beneath a heavy coat. But given that none of us are Prohibition-era bootleggers, and we have modern-day conveniences like quick-detach mounts, we can do better.
I’ve got my own mods list for this gun, which I’ll give you below, but first a quick bit of justification.
There really is no point in putting a red dot or holographic sight on this gun, because of the lack of cheek weld and fact that it doesn’t shoot like a pistol. You really would spend too much time hunting for the dot in either case.
If you want to improve your aim with this gun, especially when shooting off the hip, a light and/or laser are really your only options. You can put a light on this via the Magpul fore-end, but it’s not going to be stationary when you rack it. In order to get a good, fixed light mount on this thing, you’ll need to extend the mag tube. It’s also the case that extending the mag tube will help you mount a sling, as well.
Putting a mag tube extension onto this gun gets you into a whole other issue of slotted followers and so on. So you may not want to go down this road unless you are really committed to spending money on mods. The mods for the mag tube extension, which enables the sling and stationary light mounting, are over $100. You could do these things for cheaper, though, so this is just my personal list of ideas for really maxing out this gun.
(Note that I had the barrel threaded for Rem chokes, hence the inclusion of choke tubes in the build below.)
- SightMark SM25012 LoPro Mini Combo
- Scattergun Technologies mag tube extension
- GG&G Enhanced Slotted Follower
- Carlsons 12268 Remington Flush Mount Cylinder
- Remington 870 Tac-14 1″ Urban-Sentry hybrid sling
- GG&G QD rear sling attachment
- Remington Tactical Breecher Muzzle Brake
A great, much cheaper alternative to many of the mods above is the Aimtech Warhammer. The Warhammer deserves its own review, but basically it gives you a QD attachment and a place to mount a light, along with a side-saddle holder for five shots. To me, the Warhammer is definitely the way to go for this gun, especially if you’re not carrying it in a scabbard.
You’re going to want to get the longer one though, with the heat shield, and not the shorter one that I got. The longer one will get the light mount out further toward the muzzle; the shorter one is more for a regular 870 where you’re putting an optic on it.
The one downside
There is one major drawback to using the Tac-14 as a truck gun: you can’t take your truck into the wrong state without risking becoming a criminal. Compounding this problem is the fact that it’s not always easy to tell where the gun is legal and where it isn’t.
I took a recent road trip from Texas to Ohio with the family, and at the last minute it occurred to me to look up the Tac-14’s legal status in the Buckeye State. It turns out it’s ambiguous. While some gun shops in parts of the state carry it, other well-respected sources say it’s illegal and urge buyers to steer clear. The problem is that it hasn’t yet been tested in court.
Not wanting to be the first guy to test the legality of this gun in an Ohio court, I left it at home. The only gun I carried on that trip was a Remington R1 1911 Commander, a gun that thanks to its near-universal legality (along with its other great qualities, which I’ll review soon) is my default road trip gun from cross-country travel.
If you’ve already invested in the 870 platform, or are looking to get into it, the Tac-14 is pretty close to a must-buy if you have the money. You get the universe of mods and upgrades available in the 870 ecosystem, in a compact package without an NFA tax stamp.
Remington markets this as a home defense gun, and I could see where you might want it in that role. But for me, this is much more of a last-ditch “truck gun” and a bear country camping gun.
If you put the time into learning how to run this gun properly, and you make a few small mods in the name of safety and convenience, you’ll have a great, compact gun that’s easily kept tucked away for backup, and that in combination with a full-sized 870 greatly increases your optionality in a SHTF scenario.