View Full Version : Heat shields on shotguns

September 28, 2002, 08:36 AM
The Mossberg 590 (and a few older militarized brands) have the familiar overbarrel heatshield. I've heard some say that this accessory isn't really needed and is a "looks cool" gadget. Opinions?

Dave McC
September 28, 2002, 09:40 AM
It's the Cool Factor again. It's killed lots of the wrong people over the years.

If you shoot your shotgun enough that the bbl's too hot to touch, don't touch it.

The Kiss Principle is pandemic....

September 28, 2002, 10:24 AM
Did some research on the whole heat-shield thing. According to the military specification for shotguns, "Type I shotguns shall be equipped with a heat shield which effectively protects the hand from the hot barrel during bayonet fighting". I guess there's some validity to this if your're trying to impale someone with a bayoneted shotgun:

September 28, 2002, 11:35 AM
I have one on a 590 and it comes in very handy when reloading fast. There are different ways of reloading and mine is to roll the shotgun slightly over in my left hand and then stuff rounds in with my right hand as fast as i can. The balence point seems to be just forward of the barrel receiver junction and the barrel does get hot! This isn't a "tactical" look good accessory for me but rather a way not to get blistered when shooting my favorite targets bowling pins. My other three shotguns do not have a heat shield, but they have different purposes. Dave how has the heat shield
gotten people killed??

September 28, 2002, 11:59 AM
For one thing, it snags on more things than a shotgun without.

However, when shooting trap, especially without a full squad, I have noticed that the barrel gets plenty hot. The trouble is
that the heat shield gets plenty hot too, especially if its a sunny day and the shotgun has been sitting in the club's trap rack.

Six of one. I'm taking mine off. I ordered a used wooden stock set too. No kidding.


September 28, 2002, 12:01 PM
Oh, great, more junk on the gun. They are feckless and they can get you hurt.

I analogize to the young & nubile as I have been known to do: the less they have on, the better!

Dave McC
September 28, 2002, 01:20 PM
It's the Cool Factor, PSS. Anytime looking good is more important than working good, the Cool Factor's at work.

As for the heat shield, here's a few downsides...

It can catch on something.

A bump that bends the thin metal can bend the shield enough to impede function.

It limits access to the bbl for lubing and rustproofing,thus increasing the chance of corrosion.

It complicates takedown, meaning fewer shotguns will get deep cleaned regularly.

It costs money that may be better spent on ammo, range fees, or maybe put towards taking a good "Serious" course from a qualified instructor.

Eagerly awaiting your rebuttal...

September 28, 2002, 01:27 PM
Dave, is the "cool factor" part of the "Iwannacoolgun" virus or a distinct disease?:D

Dave McC
September 28, 2002, 01:43 PM
Damfino, KS, I just know it keeps popping up, especially on threads about PG-only stocks, exotic "Tactical" shotguns, and HD, among others... .

September 28, 2002, 01:52 PM
Now it's time for Ask TFL:

Dearest Dave,

I'm a high-drag, low-speed kind of guy. I'm sick of my cubicle, my co-worker stole my fave mouse, and my girlfriend won't return my calls as I have started to dress in all black and demand that she refer to me as "Captain Tactical."

Will putting a neon, xeon laser/phaser on my pistol-grip only shotgun with heatshield and wind speed indicator help me any?

Lost in Lafayette

Al Thompson
September 28, 2002, 02:12 PM
You'll be the most tactical corpse in the morgue....

The cool stuff can decidedly contribute to you demise. It only takes one good action match and watching folks drop magazines out of their guns by mistake. That's usually due to a too long magazine elease button. Most of us would then realize that that accessory may give you a click instead of a boom at a bad tiime. Several instructors have come to the conclusion that you can get good hits quicker with iron sights than with a laser.

That's just two real world examples off the top of my head.

September 28, 2002, 06:06 PM
Barrel, action, stock and bead.
Hmmm....if the gun fits you could do without the bead.


September 28, 2002, 07:23 PM
My 590 came with one. I ditched it right away. Kept the bayonet lug though.

September 29, 2002, 02:36 AM
no rebuttal needed from me. I understand that simpler is better. My 870 "homeland defense" gun is just a plain barely used police trade in, the 590 with the heat shield is a shoot fast, bowling pin play gun and it works well for that purpose.

September 29, 2002, 11:27 AM
I understand the use of the shield for rapid fire gaming.

Big difference from pot fillin or combat.:D


Dave McC
September 30, 2002, 05:22 AM
Thanks for the chuckle, guys...

To a lot of folks,adding a heat shield is more for cosmetics than actual need.

The same thing can be said about vent ribs, few shotguns used in the field are fired fast enough to need something to keep the heat waves out of the sight picture. That's more of a clay game thing, but most field guns these days have them.

Any day now, I expect to see choke tubes that are not only ported, but have cooling fins too.

Demi Barbito
October 2, 2002, 09:20 AM

I understand your points about the heat shield. Here is my situation.

I Use them on all my 870's. In general I have a Surefire forend, CQB sling, Sidesaddle, Heat Shield and buttcuff. I do not look at any of these as "cool stuff". The Surefire is obvious... The sling should be too (transition to handgun or other force options). Sidesaddle/Buttcuff, obvious.

"Each week" my clients and I shoot somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 - 700 rounds thru the 870's and 500 - 600 rounds through handguns. We continuosly sling the 870 after firing 100's of rounds and it is on fire. It's actually really hot even after a mag and a sidesaddle of pull power OO buck. This is not done while standing still. We are using cover, striking humanoid CQB targets, rescuing teddy bears and dragging them to cover, using both the shotgun/handgun in CQB... (yadda, yadda, yadda) This goes on for about three hours every Monday (sometimes wednesday too).

The heat shield is a fantastic tool with a definate practical application. Before I installed it I burned the 'you know what' out of myself several times through incidental motion of the weapon while slinging the weapon, tucking the weapon etc.

In a home defense scenario one may have to shoot a mag/sidesaddle and scramble for a few more rounds (Murphy has a ringside seat for every fight) and you may have to gather loved ones/children into a safe area in the process. A hot barrel doesn't seem like it would make thing easier.

In my experience, the heat shield, so far so good.

Your insights on this forum have always been helpful. Do you have any specific instances of problems with the heat shield on an 870?



Andrew Wyatt
October 2, 2002, 08:52 PM
I think that most of these problems can be traced down to metal heatshields. Plastic ones do not get hot and do not bend. perhaps they'd be a better solution.

Dave McC
October 3, 2002, 05:47 AM
Thanks for the compliment,Demi.

A coupla things....

First, I know directly of no cases where a heat shield rendered a shotgun inoperative. I have heard second-fifthhand of a 590 having probs, but I tend to doubt info so remote.Obviously, in the high volume use environment you have on Mondays, the heat shield is useful. But how often in the real world do we(as private citizens and members of the militia) have to fire off hundreds of rounds of shotgun ammo in a short time frame?

If I were firing hundreds of shotgun rounds in a short time frame during a crisis, I might want a heat shield. However,I'd want an M-14 even more. IMO, shotguns are not top line battle tools like say, that M-14, a Kalishnikoff, or a FAL. Note that those all have something that protects the user from bbl burn.

For a real WIHTF situation, I see the shotgun as an excellent tool for HD, picket duty or a WOC for a point man in thick cover.

Same for a sling. Absolutely necessary on an all round weapon, it's just something to snag with on a HD piece.

Here's what I regard as absolutely essential on a HD shotgun, one that can double as a tool for a militia member also. That means it can be used by a citizen helping to protect his/her community and country.

It has to be absolutely reliable.

It has to be of a weight that the user can not only handle, but move with it sans excessive fatigue.

Length likewise. We don't fight in phone booths, but a weapon that can be utilized in a hallway is close to optimum.

It has to be powerful enough to neutralize an opponent instantly. All shotguns do this. But, it has to be capable of near instantaneous re- employment on another opponent or opponents. Not all shotguns nor shotgunners can do this.

It has to have a sling.

It has to have an easily controllable but safe trigger, in most cases 4 lbs or less.

It has to have a stock that fits the shooter. That means he/she can be firing effectively and quickly, with a good weld,etc.That stock should also have a good pad.

It has to have sights that acquire quickly, work in low light, and are slug capable. For most folks,a plain bead will do for HD, but a good peep or GR set is better.

That's the basic weapon. I'd like it also to have 8-10 rounds aboard,and a light.

October 3, 2002, 08:02 AM
Mr. Barbito- Just as a side note, I have a butt cuff on my shotgun as well. I'm thinking of taking it off because how is one supposed to shoulder the gun effectively on your left shoulder? The cuff gets in the way of getting a good cheek weld.

October 3, 2002, 08:08 AM
I have a TOTALLY stock 870 Marine Magnum... I have added 6 accessories...

those are: a sling, a 28" remchoke barrel, 3 remchoke tubes, and LOTSA AMMO!!!

the sling, barrel, and tubes are for small-game and turkey hunting...

in HD form, I use the STOCK 870... and the only needed accessory is the ammo... (and lots of it, for practice)

I find no need to staple alotta crap to it, as it is a VERY functional defense piece AS IS!

And when the barrel's hot, I just don't touch it!

Demi Barbito
October 3, 2002, 09:02 AM

I appreciate the response.


A right hand buttcuff would cause problems for a left hand shooter. I'd get a left hand buttcuff.


A stock 870 is a most lethal weapon!



October 3, 2002, 09:49 AM
They are not safe for real serious use in my opinion. They do protect your hand somewhat from burns after shooting several boxes, but for serious use, I would go with a barrel that has ghost rings and no heat shield or even rifle sighted 20" IC barrel.

I shot two boxes of slugs last month through my 870, and my heat shield suddenly loosened from the recoil and slammed forward when I fired one of the slugs. It was out of position and got in the way of operating the pump (the rear mounting part kept bumping into the forearm). Not something I would want to happen in a home defense situation. Or if you plan to use it for HD, tighten it down real good and then tighten a barrel clamp right in front of it.

October 3, 2002, 10:32 PM
I have seen only one heat shield cause a problem, once is more then enough. A LEO brought in a Mossberg 590 with a heatshield. The action was very stiff and he was getting failures to feed. The problem was not obvious until I tried to remove the barrel. Somehow, he had jammed the heat shield back against the receiver and it was torquing the barrel. Once the heat shield was loosened and slid forward, the gun functioned fine. We took the shield off and chucked it.

All that cool stuff can get you killed. What ever happened to KISS?

4V50 Gary
October 3, 2002, 11:56 PM
Thank you slater. Now it makes sense and I'll keep the one on my 590 when I stand by to repel boarders (ahem, tenants).

October 4, 2002, 09:02 AM
I tell you sumpin, on the coolness scale nothin beats an ole Model 97 or 12 with the WW1 heatshield/bayonet lug - in fact, it's so cool it's off the scale!

Thing about it: If you were going to bayonet somebody with a pump shotgun wouldn't you put your left thumb over the top of the bbl for leverage. Result: fricasseed thumb. :eek:

So the old bayo/heat shield was functional while the modern day tackycal/no bayo lug is just bling bling.