View Full Version : Is a Vang Comp/Wilson SG right for you?

February 12, 2002, 10:25 AM
The high dollar HD shotgun is a mystery to me. Please bear with me as I try to explain.
Why do people spend all that money on a Vang Comp or Wilson that will pattern buck at amazing distances when a SG that can do this is of little use? I understand their usefulness for LE where these weapons are toted around in cars and are set up for the express purpose of killing a bad guy but who needs/wants this for a HD gun? I dare say that my “regular” short-barreled SG is an able HD weapon.
These special purpose guns are rarely used and I personally do not have the luxury of buying an inexpensive SG, dumping a lot of money into it, and then finding that it is of little use except for taking up space in my vault. If you have cash, great.
I have pistols that I shoot for fun. I have rifles as well that do little but punch holes in paper but they all get used on a regular basis and can double as SHTF weapons.
Even my daily carry pistol gets used every week at the range.
Unless your hobby is killing people, I do not see where such a specialty SG is worth the money.
I am not a collector. In fact, I am sort of an anti-collector but I do not even see these “specials” as collectable.
I have contacted most of the folks on this and other boards who have confessed to owning these wonder guns and none of them have ever patterned with birdshot. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to assume that they are not using these SG for trap or skeet or other clay games. Nor do they apparently hunt with them. I’m not saying that they’ve never shot clay games or hunted. I am saying that they would be better served with a “regular” SG. I could be wrong. It’s happened before.
I suppose there are some SG games out there where such a SG is of use but I do not know what they are. A “regular” SG that can be used for clay games and double as a HD weapon seems like a good idea but unless you are just interested in a cool trophy that you can brag about and show your friends, why do people desire such a SG?
Don’t get me wrong. I think that the performance of these custom guns is really swell. I started down this path myself as I thought that this type of performance was essential. Then I realized that I was taking a SG that I was shooting every weekend and turning it into a weapon that would, more often than not, stand at the ready near my bedside. I just don’t understand the mentality of taking a weapon that can be shot so often and so cheaply and turning it into something of less utility.
We all know that it is not the piano. It’s the pianist. I would suggest that practice is of more value than buying these types of SG’s.
Again, I am not saying that no one has ever used one of these for clay games or hunting but I’ll wager that anyone who shoots regularly, would have a lot more fun with a “regular” shotgun that can help them get better scores and they would be a better shot-gunner due to the amount of practice they are getting.
If there is a clay game (or any game) or hunting scenario where these special purpose guns can be used and are, in fact, preferred over the inferior patterning “regular” SG’s, let me know because I’d sure like to see such a thing and perhaps get myself such a SG and sign up.
As you can probably tell, I believe in weapons that are used and not weapons that are for show or bragging rights only. I really do like these Vang Comps and Wilson SG. Really.
I am not poo-pooing the super-SG’s. I just don’t understand the burning desire to own one.
I am having so much fun with my “regular” 870’s that I want everyone to get one and have the same fun. I’m serious. I would hate to see someone save their pennies for one of the special SG’s only to find that they could have had a much cheaper and more useful SG.
For example: I know a guy who bought a Marine Magnum because he just had to have that cool-looking 870. It is very nice but guess what? He bought a “regular” barrel for it so he could go and have some real fun with the rest of the lads at the range. Does this mean that the Marine Magnums are of no value? Certainly not. Would my friend have been better served to but an 870 for half the price? Absolutely.
Maybe a person would be better off with one of these super SG’s as a second SG. If you can only have one though, and you are going to shoot it often, I certainly would not make it one of these “specials”.
Has anyone else ever had thoughts like this or am I just a loon. Please share with me your reasons for having one of these. If it is as simple as “because they’re cool” I’ll buy that. In fact, I’ve been there before and will be again.
Please feel free to ignore everything I have written and for goodness sakes, don't take it personally.

February 12, 2002, 11:36 AM
Because it is cool!!! Cool, cool, cool

I mean, guys will be guys and they love to "hot rod" anything they own....particularly if it's mechanical in nature and design....

Kinda like knives....I know that my trusty old Case trapper (actually, I have 30 or so) will do anything that my $500 MelPardue custom folder will do....but.....IT'S COOL to have one of the customs.

I know that for all intents and purposes, a bone-stock Colt 1911 will do exactly what I need a defensive pistol to do...but I just love my custom-built Colt Commander with the pretty gold engraving and inlay....


February 12, 2002, 11:44 AM
Thanks Jim. I was afraid that I'd tick people off with that ultra-long post. It may be hard to beleive but I actually do want to get one of these tricked-out SG's some day.
I just see so many guys saving to buy one as their first SG and then looking around for someting to do with it. I really feel bad about what I think will be a great disappointment for them if they plan on using it for recreational purposes.
I dunno. I'm probably making a big deal outta nothing.

February 12, 2002, 11:54 AM
I agree....if you want a neat and inexpensive bird gun , grab yourself a plain-jane 870 or 1100 off the "rack" from WalMart or equivalent discount store.....nutt'n fancy....just a shooter.....hell, it'll even do in a shotgun match at your local gun club....

Then, shoot and practice and get GOOD.....

THEN and only THEN...and if you've got the bucks, get yourself something fancy you can show off to the boys....the VangComp, Wilson Scattergun, the Benelli, etc.....

Because if you're not good, then it's really embarrassing when your buddy with the $279.00 "shooter" tears your ass up at the shotgun match whilst you are standing there trying to explain why your $1000.00 custom SG was no better at taking down the targets in a timely fashion than good old 'Bruce' with his plain-jane 870 and #4 shot!

I've seen it happen....guy shows up with a high-dollar Benelli tactical SG and leaves with his tail between his legs....he thought he could "buy" good shooting...kinda like the golfers who keep buying more and more expensive drivers and clubs....only to find out that they just hit the ball farther into the woods than they did with their low-tech clubs.....


February 12, 2002, 04:27 PM
...why would you care (and remember that "please don't take it personally comment!)?

There is another side to the coin, that if you can afford a single gun for home defense, buy the one that is best suited for that role. Having "fun" should not be the priority. And if you are convinced you are best served by a short, custom shotgun for your defensive needs that is what you should acquire.

I wouldn't begin to argue the merits of a scatter gun in that role, or a revolver or a pistol or etc. If your purpose is best served by a 16 gauge with a 19" barrel, a flashlight in the fore-end & a lightweight synthetic stock I would advise you obtain that gun & save up the 26" barrel later.

On the other hand, it may just be a hobby and if so, have at it! That is what hobbies are all about; not practcial use but recreation; the fun & challange of acquiring the object of your goal.

I believe understand your point, but honestly think it is small one: why would someone buy a shotgun they want for field & game use not on function for that purpose, but based on the cool looks of a gun designed for personal defense? Answer: I dunno!

If you are questioning whether or not a Van Comp or Wilson is a waste of money because they perform no better that anything else in any scenario, I guess you would best ask Van Comp, Wilson, & those who have decided to buy the guns for their (the guns') intended use.

FWIW, I don't have a Home Defense scatter gun, but did buy an old 12g Wingmaster with about a 70% finish last year for just such a project. Will it make a good HD weapon? I think so. Do I need it? No, not really. Do I want one? Yes, I do!

To each his own, my friend! :)

February 12, 2002, 05:39 PM
Thanks for your input Kevin.
Perhaps it was rhetorical but I'll answer (again) anyway. I care because I see a lot of people singing the praises of these SG's and their awesome performance and I while I am impressed by their reported patterns, I am not "convinced" as you put it that they are actually a better HD weapon. I am "convinced" that they are poorer performers in the realm of SG games than a field gun.
My point is that I do not want to see a complete tyro (and I'm not too far along from that) sold on a SG for which he/she will have little use.
Hence the title of this post.
Seriously, when you read posts by guys who own these specials, you get the impression that they an absolute "must have". They are always reviewed very highly and I've no doubt that they deserve that praise. Heck, when I first ventured into SG's, I was almost convinced that I needed one.
Maybe I'm the only gullible novice on this board. Maybe not.
Hence the title of this post.
If I had bought one as my first SG, I'd have been disappointed because "for me" it would end up sitting at home and I'd be borrowing a SG from a friend to go clay hunting. I do not want someone to make that mistake.
Hence the title of this post.
Do I want one? You betcha. Will it sit around while my "regular" 870's go dancing? You betcha.
I would dearly love to hear from a Vang or Wilson owner and see what they use their SG's for (pardon the preposition). ;)
To put it yet another way - My point is that while a field gun can also serve as HD, a HD SG can not necessarily serve as a field gun. I guess it's a bang for the buck thing.
If you are convinced that you home defense needs are best served by one of these specials, then by all means, get one. I am not convinced.
I am sort of hoping that there is some sort of application for one of these that would help me to justify getting one.
Feeling vociferous,

February 12, 2002, 08:57 PM

Are the tricked out SG good for all applications...nope. Do they have a purpose...yep. Cost too much...depends on your paycheck.

If you define SG games as skeet, trap and the like; a 18" barrel, ghost-ring sight, extend mag tube SG doesn't make too much sense. If you play the IPSC & IDPA games that type of wep is the appropriate gizmo. Can you bust clays with them, certainly, lot's of fun. Can you hunt after you put the plug back in, birds-not exactly easy, boar-most definitely. For flying things, you'd be better off with some 28" vent-rib variable choke SG.

An HD discussion, well every one has their opinions and stories. You choose.

If you don't do field type work (clays&birds), a field gun is not the best bang for your buck.

A novice would be much further ahead buying an 870 (w/ appropriate barrel), 10 cases of promo bird loads and a few lessons than shelling out for a Vangwilson wonder gun. Heck so would I.

Buy the equipment that is correct for your wants/needs.

Al Thompson
February 12, 2002, 09:04 PM
I used my Scatter Gun Tech 870 on deer - one of the best shooting slug guns I've ever had.

There is a large amount of truth to American shooters trying to buy skill. On the other hand, a well set up firearm (regardless of flavor) is a nifty thing.

Nice thing is, we have those choices.


February 12, 2002, 09:45 PM
9mm, I own a Vang.

If I am reading you right - you don't compete in shooting sports.

As such, you wouldn't understand why some might spend $2k -$4k on a custom 1911 with optics.

Or why some send there SGs off to Vang and then mount optics for a popper that is 15 yrds away.

Or why others will spend $800 - $4k on a rifle then put $1,400 in glass / rings / bases and then spend months (if not years) recording air temp, humidity, elevation and group size - all in search of "the" load for that particular rifle.

In short - I understand that you don't understand. However, for some of us - this is our thing.

This is a game in which /100's of a second matter, where a fraction of a grain of powder means the difference at 600 yrds. Where that $3k 1911 - that is so tight that it would be foolish to carry (cause it is prone to jam) - is highly valued b/c it is so fast.

As far as a Vang goes - if you really like to shoot SGs - yes you would appreciate the difference. If that isn't your gig - it is wasted money.

I too would question why someone would that much on something that they don't shoot alot or have a distinct reason for having. The folks that I know who shave spent big $ on thier SGs all compete or live in an area in which they need a dead nuts on SG for bears.

Go check out a 3 gun, SG steel match, IPSC or IDPA match - you might really like it.

Good luck.

Vang Comper
February 12, 2002, 10:53 PM
Exactly Zam, exactly. Heck, why use ANY type of choke at all? Vang comp is the best thing for the combat shotgun since sliced bread. Some may want to spedn 200 on a shotgun, and some may want to spend 2.3k to get the best combat shotgun money can buy. Depends on how much you like the shotgun as Zam said, do you want the best of the best or just the rest?

February 12, 2002, 11:42 PM
This is all good input guys and I thank you for it. MZB, you mentioned "3 gun, SG steel match, IPSC or IDPA match". Are these events in which you would use one of the Vang or its ilk?
I have never seen one of these. Well IPSC & IDPA I know about although I was unaware that SG's were used in these. The other two sound interesting. Any links? Preferably with photos....
Another reason that I posted this was for the novice shotgunner searching the archives for custom shotgun info. I spent a lot of time doing this before I decided to but my first 870.
I did not see any threads that discussed it this way so I thought I'd start one.
Thanks again for all your contructive contributions. You guys are great.

Dave McC
February 13, 2002, 08:08 AM
My $.02 and some of you can see this coming, I bet....

Vang and ST do good work. So does Remington, right out of the box. An absolutely STOCK 870 is an incredibly effective defensive tool in trained, cool hands under certain narrow parameters.

These include ranges inside 25 yards or so, opponents not encased in TLV armor, etc.

Spend all the money you want on the bells and whistles. Spend more on ammo, range fees, and tutoring. As long as this relationship exists, your priorities are in order.

And since I can't get a match going with the PG folks, here's a challenge....

Any Vanger or ST fan living close to Central Md is invited to a shootoff. While Frankenstein is not a stock shotgun, it has a bead, no mag extension, no fancy overbores,etc. The list of mods are a lengthened forcing cone and an aftermarket stock.

I'll drop a Modified tube in it and shoot against you and your high dollar race shotgun. We shoot for time and score, loser buys the donuts and coffee.Results posted rat cheer.

It's all in good fun, and a very good way to determine if it's the arrow, or the Injun....

February 13, 2002, 11:57 AM
I am "convinced" that they are poorer performers in the realm of SG games than a field gun.

If I had bought one as my first SG, I'd have been disappointed because "for me" it would end up sitting at home and I'd be borrowing a SG from a friend to go clay hunting. I do not want someone to make that mistake.

9mm - valid points to be sure. That a purpose specific HD gun would preform at a lower level than a field gun in the field, I would agree. But that the HD gun would sit while you borrowed another is based on what you find your requirement for a shotgun is - which is gaming. Many of us have no desire for SG games. Not that we don't appreciate them, just no desire to participate.

:) To each his own, my friend. :)

I'll give you a personal example. Years ago, I bought a brand new 11-87 Premier when I fell into some money. No real reason, but I thought I might get into shooting clays at my gun club, maybe some small game hunting, & I just "wanted" a SG.

That was in about 1994. Honestly, to date I have shot trap with it 3 times, and took it on a sporting clays course once. So it might have - what - 500 shells thru it in 8 years? But, for my intended use I thought it was a good choice.

:) :) To each his own, my friend. :) :)

As a HD gun I think it is poor - the barrel is too long (to hard to swing in tight quarters) and it's just "big" & heavy. As mentioned, I've picked up an old Wingmaster to build my house SG. I'll cut the barrel, fit a synthetic stock & fore-end, & probably send it off to have the barrel crowned, comped, & reliability work done, then refinished.

In my opinion, once completed I'll comfortable with that old Wingmaster as my HD weapon. Could I do the same with my 11-87? Sure - buy a new barrel, maybe switch out the wood for plastic. But I don't want to: I'd rather have a pump as my HD gun (just personal preference), & I want a more durable finish than the perfect blue on my Premier for a gun that will be tossed under the bed, propped up in a corner, etc.

The point is, I bought a field gun & have since found out I don't go afield. While I don't consider it a waste, the argument could be made that I would have been better off to just buy my HD SG in the first place, and ignore the pull of my desire for a field gun - exactly the opposite of your scenario.

How much money you or I spend is relative. I've seen low cost HD & field guns, certainly a top of the line field gun will run you more that the top of the line HD gun. What serves better? I guess that is subjective to, & then you have to include pride of ownership!

:) :) :) To each his own, my friend. :) :) :)

Vang Comper
February 13, 2002, 05:15 PM
Well I don't live in central Md so I guess Dave and I will be unable to have a shootoff...yet!

Blue Jays
February 13, 2002, 11:14 PM
Good Evening Everyone-

Purchased my Vang Comp 870 Police Magnum several years ago.

The ONLY things at which it has shot are clay pigeons and ripe pumpkins. It digests birdshot, buckshot, or slugs without hiccups or complaints.

This tool is ultra-reliable, compact, and protects me and my family while simultaneously an absolute joy to shoot on Saturday afternoons with friends.

People love to look at the chamfered compensation ports on the barrel and feel the smooth action, too.


~ Blue Jays ~

February 14, 2002, 12:30 AM
It simply comes down to your personal values.

I own more knives then I could use in three lifetimes. Why would anyone pay $500 + for a knife that doesn't cut that much better then a good quality factory knife? Simple. He wants it.

Does a $15,000 engraved and gold inlaid O/U shoot any better then the plain Jane version? Probably not, so why would anyone pay that much? How about a Ford vs. a Lincoln? Same thing.

February 14, 2002, 02:07 AM
9MM - 3 gun, steel, IPSC and IDPA - the best thing to do is contact your local club. Get into the group that shoots these matches regularly.

With respect to VC - the advantage here is a VC gun can shoot a light load (skeet) and still able to drop a popper. This is due to better patterning. Additionally the porting reduces recoil and muzzle climb making for faster follow up / swing shots. Competitors will need to shoot a heavier load (which has more recoil) and the lack of porting makes for more flip.

As far as Dave is concerned, I think that guy is a ringer.

FWIW - for a home defense gun - a standard full length guy is more than adequate. A standard 18" or 20" is great. A Vang gun is by no means necessary for HD.

February 14, 2002, 02:46 AM
I'll chime in with a "What Dave Said"

Find a shotgun, in Dave's case an 870, in mine a Mossy 500. Shoot the snot out of it in it's intended role, clays, hunting, HD. Shoot it a lot! Shells are cheap compared to your life or more importantly being embarrased after a match. :D Please read that I'm kidding on the last!

After you find out what your gun will do, you'll also know what it won't do. Then make mods to get it to where it needs for your use.

But shoot it first! A lot!


Dave McC
February 14, 2002, 05:11 AM
No ringer, Mo, I'm exactly what I say I am, a retired CO and Instructor with a long and deep history of shotgunning behind me.

The story has been told here before, about a lunchtime match between a Fed with a Vang and moi with what's now my HD 870. It and I won by a very narrow margin.Results may be different now, I'm a decade older and out of training.

IMO, Vang work is a nice to have, rather than a prerequisite.

February 14, 2002, 06:53 PM
9mmMike --

Wait until the spring comes. Last season the Easton IDPA matches were running shotgun side matches, hopefully Ted will continue them again this season. Also got 3-4 IPSC 3 gun matches in our area for the upcoming season as well.

In those matches, I think you will lose your conviction that the Vang and ST guns are poorer performers in the realm of shotgun games. For the Easton IDPA matches, you have to have a certain number of your pellets in a pie-plate sized diameter on a standard IDPA target -- the tight buckshot patterns really help there.

No, I don't have a ST or Vang gun. But they do have their place.


February 14, 2002, 09:56 PM
Sound's neat Justin. I would really enjoy seeing one of these guns in action. One of the things that I was trying to say with my wordy posts was that it seems to me (at least around here) that they are of less use due to a lack of places to play.
As your own post suggests, I must wait until Spring to see any action while I am shooting my regular 870's almost every weekend. That's kind of what I meant when I said I'd have been disappointed if I'd have bought one of these "first".
If you remember, post the schedule here when you get it or post a link where I can watch for the 2002 schedule.

February 16, 2002, 08:09 PM

You can shoot your ST/Vang gun every weekend too. :)

Check eastontacticalops.com