View Full Version : HD, pistolgrip and distance

January 16, 2001, 03:11 PM
I noticed that some people in this forum are considering pistol grips (meaning pistol grip only not the combat style stock) as useless for HD since they don't allow for enough precision. But what kind of distances are we looking at? In my apartment a typical confrontation distance would be within 5 yards. I find it difficult to believe that the gain in precision with a ordinary stock could be of any interest in a typical HD scenario.
In my oppinion having a shotgun with pistol grip gives you three advantages: First, you can turn the shotgun in a wider angle much quicker than with the shoulder stock where you would have to move your whole upper body instead of only moving your arms (try it). Second, having a pistol grip shortens the overall length of your gun and therefore increases the distance to the BG by that extra inches that might keep him from grabbing it. Third, at very close distances (1 yard or less) - when swinging around corners for example - you can pull your gun even further back and therfore minimize the grabbing distance for the BG even more.
These advantages outweigh in my oppinion the loss of precision by far.
(I'm assuming that you would wan't/have to move around your apartment/house instead of staying in a safe room)


[Edited by Schweizer on 01-16-2001 at 05:29 PM]

Christopher II
January 16, 2001, 04:07 PM
In my (limited) experience, pistol-grip only shotguns actually protrude farther from the body than standard-stocked ones.

I'd also disagree that manuvering a standard-stock shotgun is any slower than manuvering a pistol-grip shotgun. With a standard-stock shotgun you can pull the stock back under your arm when the quarters get a little too close. Or you can dip the barrel around corners, etc. I don't see where the pistol-grip gun has any advantage.

Besides, there's the small matter that you might need to shoot the shotgun. With a pistol grip, shooting from the hip, missing a man-sized target at 10 feet is a real possibility. If you don't believe me, head over to the range with a bud and try it. Have him set up a few targets while your back is turned, then on his signal, turn around and try to engage them as fast as possible. I bet you'll be surprised.

I am firmly of the opinion that pistol-grip shotguns are utterly worthless for any kind of serious use. But hey, I might be all wrong. Anyone else?


January 16, 2001, 04:40 PM
My experience is that hitting the first target is easier when shooting in your "180 scenerio" with the PG (although I doubt that this test reflects a real HD situation in any way). However I agree that follow up shots are faster when the gun is shoulder mounted with the standard-stock. But much more important than the following shots is the first! At distances this close you won't have lots of opportunities to place a second or even third shot if you miss. (Of course if the BG is standing right in front of your muzzle it doesn't make much of a difference if you have it shoulder mounted with the standard stock vs. holding it at your hip with the PG.)
I also don't see how a standard-stock can be shorter than a pure pistol grip shotgun? Note that I'm not talking about shooting from the shoulder with a PG (unless you have a very good dental insurance).
Of course it needs a little bit of practice to be able to shoot from the hip with a shotgun. But on the other side what good is a shotgun without training?

I realize that my opinion is not what is taught by "experts" but I haven't found any good reasons against it so far (although there might be some).

Dave McC
January 16, 2001, 05:49 PM
OK, here we go....

Back when I was younger and tougher, part of my duties for the Md Dept 0f Public Safety consisted of teaching hundreds of Correctional Officers. I was also on the HRT and considered one of the best around with an 870. Competition wasn't all that fierce, IMO.

The brass decreed from on high that first, we used rapid response vehicles at our newest prison instead of towers, and second,that said vehicles would have folding stock shotguns as standard issue. Third, ALL personnel had to qualify witht he folders and also at shooting from the hip.
IMO, someone was watching too mnay action movies. SO, we set to work, with a new prison opening we had maybe 3 months to get 300 rookies qualified, w/o casualties. We did, but the idea of an 8 hour day seeemd to be a myth that summer. Did I mention MD gets pretty hot in May, June and July?

So, we worked out a technique for the folder, and borrowed liberally from the FBI, who had run an instructor's school or two for the Dept.Then, we put our noses to the grindstone and got 300 rookies, mostly of zero real world experience with firearms, of varied talent and motivation, out on the range, and armed....

The Mini 14 had few not qualify,the 38 weeded out more, and then the 870 cut the class size seriously. I had a rookie take one shot, throw the weapon towards the target and yell," %^&* this, I quit". Others quit before they shot.By this time, we had all worked our forms nigh into perfection doing demos.

As the pile of empty hulls grew higher, the roster grew shorter, and a few things became quite obvious.

First,few if any troops moved past the basics (Loading, unloading, firing only when needed and making safe) unless they liked shooting shotguns and did so recreationally. And, about 40% of the class was female, and the stock was just too darn long for comfort.

Second, most folks found it harder to qualify with the folder, some impossible. Several had their cheeks cut by the metal stock,even I had to work harder to make qualification. Instructors had to qualify to 90% to stay instructor, I made it but it wasn't a walk in the park. By this time, I was doing my demos with my personal 870, weighted down to about 9 lbs and with a full wood stock like G*d intended. By this time,I was living on the shotgun range with the TO breathing down my neck, and had exhausted every resource we had trying to find anything that would help the troops handle that nasty folding stock.

BTW, training ammo was generic 8s,qualification ammo was 00,usually Winchester or Federal,and each rookie was supposed to fire 2 SLUGS each, for "Familiarization". The last thing we wanted was to make those rookies fire ammo they'd never use in a prison situation and hurt even more, so we told the TO we'd get them on the annual qualifier at in service training, and got that out of the way.

It's been a busy decade,but I seem to recall that folder/ hip shooting scores ran 10-20 percent lower than standard stock scores.

I know this, after firing hundreds of rounds from folders and from the hip, I'll take a standard stock and shoot it from the shoulder at anything past hard contact distance. And, an AS scenario is the last place I'd want to compromise effectiveness....

January 16, 2001, 06:44 PM
Dave McC:

Could it be that the 10-20% lesser scores are a result of the test setting?
My point is that if you shoot at a row of targets you would usually move from left to right if you have the gun mounted on the right side. Also if you're hunting you usually follow the target in a fluid motion either from left to right or opposite. In both situations you would move relatively slow and in a small angles but most important always in one direction and this is where a shoulder mounted standard stock has its strength.
But if you watch carefully what happens when targets are appearing/disappearing in random order most shooters first move the gun with their leading arm FOLLOWED by the shoulder and eventually followed by an adjustment of the stance. Why is this? I believe that this results from the fact that lesser masses are moved more quickly than greater ones (Newton). When shooting from the hip you take advantage of this fact because you usually only move your arms. If the angles between the targets are small then the standard stock would win because in this case you move the gun equally to shooting with a PG but at the same time having the better precision. But at very close distances (HD) the angles get bigger (especially if the BG is closing in). To cut a long story short: In my experience it is slower to turn the gun in larger angles when it is shoulder mounted (especially when the target is on the left side) because you then have to turn your whole upper body compared to only using your arms.
Of course you can take the standard-stock under your arm but then where's the advantage of it?
I personally use a Benelli M1S90 with standard-stock/PG combo which allows me to have the best of both worlds.
(When shooting from the hip I prefer to have a PG)
I respect your experience and therefore am very interested in your oppinion on this.

Christopher II
January 16, 2001, 07:29 PM
Schweizer -

I didn't say that a standard SG is shorter than a pistolgrip, I said that the standard protrudes less when mounted in firing position (particularly if you have a 13" LOP stock on it.) Seriously, have a partner measure the relative position of the muzzle with a standard SG and a pistolgrip SG, in firing position. 9 times out of 10, the standard shotgun's muzzle will stick out less.

As to shooting from the hip, well, if you can shoot as fast and accuratley from the hip as you can from the shoulder, by all means shoot from the hip. I can't hit the proverbial "squat" from the hip, at any range past muzzle contact.



January 17, 2001, 03:43 AM
I find it interesting that many "enlightened" police departments will fire an officer who gets caught shooting his shotgun from the hip. As someone said before, the bosses who expect you to shoot from the hip must be watching too much TV.

Consider this, in a typical indoor setting your long shot may be 5 yards. Depending on the load and choke, your pattern may be as small as 2" or as large as 5" out of an 18" cylinder bore barrel. You better be aiming that shotgun and not just pointing it.

The only exception I can think of is one of those 11" entry guns with an over bored barrel. They will tend to shoot a larger pattern at close range, but your average citizen or police officer doesn't have one of these.

Dave McC
January 17, 2001, 07:41 AM
Something to remember, most of us instructors were instructors because the idea of getting paid to shoot up someone else's ammo was quite attractive. And at lunch hour, we'd get to play. Maybe we'd one on one a few clays, or the trick shot we invented. 2 liter cola bottle filled with water, topped with empty soda can. Hit the big bottle near the bottom with a load of 8s,then hit the can as it climbed. Loser buys a round....

During all this fun, we were also trying to find better ways for the rookies to shoot these courses, AND for all of us to become more effective. We all worked inside the razorwire too, and our lives could depend on the effectiveness of the perimeter officers.

So, we did El Presidentes, and other selective shoot/no shoot scenarios, we went right to left, and reverse to see how traverse fire could be affected by direction. We shot counter side, to see if the lefties had problems we didn't.

We shot multiples out of sequence, with the caller trying to make us miss or hit a "Hostage" target. We busted our butts, and had some fun trying new stuff.

And if one of us stepped into the office and said something about "This" working, heads turned.

We found that while the best position for hip shooting a standard stock was forearm parallel to the comb of the stock, support arm straight and elbow locked,stock jammed into the soft area just above the hip bone,shooting a PG shotgun meant a higher position there(firing arm should be as close to and parallel to the centerline of the bore) and the support hand gripping the forearm out further, so one had to learn TWO positions for the hands instead of one. Hard to keep straight in an AS scenario.

We learned that it took longer to respond in an either/or situation, and that people equipped with the folder took longer to complete a course,EVEN when shoulder fire was the only option. Longer time,lower scores....

And, I've know some serious WIHTF types over the decades. To the best of my recollection, none had PG only shotguns,so it's not just me.

However, if someone can show me I'm wrong, please do. I'm more interested in seeing results than maintaining a rep.

Hope this helps, and if anyone has ANY questions, please sign out. The only stupid question is the one nobody asks...

Al Thompson
January 17, 2001, 08:51 AM
I have used both the Remington folding stock and the various pistol grips. (Pachmyer and Choate) I have also used a PG only SG in an sidematch at an IDPA shoot.

The PG only SG has a storage advantage. If you need to use it, there is a corresponding practical accuracy disadvantage. Three points of contact (as opposed to two) between you and the SG simply increases your reference points for precisly placing your shots.

From muzzle to ten yards or so, we all know that shotguns require aiming as the projectile is still doing a great imitation of a giant Glaser Safety Slug.....

The issue of muzzle protrusion is a non-issue, IMHO. If you move with either at eye level, the amount of protrusion will be very similar. Obviously, other positions should be the same, except there is no underarm/assult possible with the PG only.

SG retention is also greater with a stock vrs. a PG.

IMHO, unless there is a storage issue, the PG only SG simply sacrifices practical accuracy with no increase in utility.

January 18, 2001, 07:31 AM
I've read a lot of these posts with interest and would like to add my opinion. I'm not as knowledgeable or experienced as some (like Dave McC) but I shoot a lot: at least four days a week at the range (often six) and some of this time includes professional instruction with shotgun and pistol. I wanted to see the difference in my shooting with a PG only as opposed to a standard stock. I made 5 silhouettes out of cardboard (traced from a plastic military pistol silhouette) and headed to a gravel pit with my buddy. We used my Mossberg, the gun I shoot regularly, fitted with a factory pistol grip and 20" barrel. Shells were a mix of 1oz 'target loads' #8 shot and 1 ¼ oz rifled slugs (what I had in the closet and most often shoot.). We set up one target at a time 2 - 10 yards from the shooter. At the signal, the shooter would turn, chamber a shell and fire, repeating till the target was hit. The results? With the #8 shot I hit 4 out of the 5 on the first shot with PG. I missed the target furthest from me. Only one hit was a good center of mass shot in the target 2 yds away. The rest would have been arm or hip shots and grazes. I was a miserable failure with the slugs and found the recoil (something I usually don't think about much) to be uncomfortable and distracting with the more powerful loads. It hurts to take the blast from a 1 ¼ oz load in your palm and wrist. Other than that I found the PG to be comfortable. I didn't do a terrible job with it but I wouldn't be comfortable with those results if the situation was serious. I've practiced this drill before using my standard stock and usually get 5 center of mass shots on the first try, shot or slug. The pistol grip equipped shotgun was lighter and very maneuverable, but I like the security of actually being able to aim instead of point. I think a pistol grip/shoulder stock combo would be ideal but I think one would need a huge amount of practice to become at all proficient with a PG only stock. Just my $.02.

Dave McC
January 18, 2001, 08:01 AM
JLK, with all due respect, non COM hits on target less than 10 yds away IS a terrible job. My guess is that were you to repeat this drill with a standard stock on a shotgun you shoot as regularly as you say,they would all be COM hits and in short order.

And to the PG only crowd, don't take either JLK's and/or my word for it. Run some drills with your shotgun of choice with both PG only and a standard stock and both score and time them. I bet you'll sell off that PG to someone you don't like....

January 18, 2001, 08:34 AM
I know Dave, I know... That's why the pistol grip came off and was relegated to the junk drawer as soon as I came home.

January 18, 2001, 04:54 PM
According to the posts it looks like most shooters get better results with the non-PG stock. I guess it must be just me then but I'm quite comfortable with shooting from the hip and would prefer it always over shoulder mounting in close quarters.
Shooting from the hip with a PG either works for you or it doesn't.
But from what you've all said I guess I'm going to be more hesitant to recommend PGs to others.

January 18, 2001, 05:20 PM
Hi Schweizer.

This is not a nicely worded flame, just an observation from reading all the posts. I don't mean to try to convince you to change your method, just want to make sure we're all on the same page.

Part of the problem here is, I think, an incorrect asumption on your part concerning the ready position used by standard stock fans. As a standard stock fan, if I am employing the shotgun in, say, a room clearing exercise, I mount it to my shoulder when I pick it up, dropping the muzzle somewhat as I approach corners, but essentially ready to go. It can be fired very fast, very accurately, and is, importantly, ready for fast follow up shots. As accurate as you may be with first shots, at the very least, the target might not be alone.

I think from your last post you assume that it is being carried at waist level anyway, so firing from the hip should be faster.

I had a full length pistol gripped stock on my Benelli for a time, and it looked really cool, but got in the way during transitions to pistol, so I dumped it into the junk drawer.

We're sort of having the handgun debate over aimed fire vs instinctive fire. As there, while "instinctive fire" may work for some, with the amount of time most are able or willing to train, aimed, or here, shoulder fired, is the way most should operate.

Absolutely use what is best for you, and clearly hip shooting is your preferred method.

BTW, your first post about NOT patrollling your dwelling, but holing up in a safe room, is right on the money.

January 18, 2001, 06:08 PM

I wasn't assuming that you would go clearing your house with the shotgun at waist level - I know how to do it 'properly'. When doing close quarter exercises I quite often also use the standard stock shoulder mounted. But if I had to defend myself at home I would take the PG gun carrying it at hip level. This might sound paradox but the reason is that exercises are ... well just excercises and I mostly perform better with the standard stock depending on the kind of scenario. The reason is that excercises get sometimes a little bit competitive (you'd like to get a better score than your classmates) and real life considerations get less important. During these exercise I'm always uncomfortable having the gun right in front of my face and I feel somehow 'handicaped'.
When thinking about it I find it quite strange that with my glock I just feel the opposite way. Shooting at eye level is what I prefer there. Maybe I'll have to try a shorter shotgun like the M1 Tactical and see how this works for me.
I like your distinction in "instinctive" vs. aimed shooting... I have to think about that.

Dave McC
January 18, 2001, 06:16 PM
Test it out,Schweizer. Hit the range and shoot some courses both ways. Score and time both count here. After burning up some duty ammo,on the drills of choice, please let us know what's working for you.

I've never seen anyone do as well with a PG only shotgun, but I'm interested in seeing if it can be done. Thanks...

Al Thompson
January 18, 2001, 07:25 PM
I have seen a fellow do well with a PG SG, but he (can you believe this) practices with his Dave McC Special (aka 870) equipped with the Thompson SMG style grip and forearm.

Shoots from the hip, hits bowling pins out to 10 yards or so.

And... He's a range rat - out there all the time..

Somebody once said something about "practice makes perfect".


Badger Arms
January 18, 2001, 10:59 PM
With all this talk about accuracy, I think you have all lost track of the bottom line. PG shotguns have only ONE advantage: They store in a 12" smaller area... THAT'S it. When you Rambo's hold them pistol-gripped shotguns, where is your elbow. Chances are that it's 12" behind your trigger and directly behind the gun. That's the space that's normally occupied by a stock that you can rest your forearm against for control.

I'd challenge you guys to find a SINGLE reasonable scenario where a PG is superior to a Full Stock in use. Sure, for backpacking and car storage you can make a good case for the choice. However, for you eyes to be pointing at a target, the elbow is virtually always behind the gun directly in line with the bore.

The bottom line here is that if you are dead-set on buying a pistol grip shotgun, you are going to latch on to any ludicrous statistics or narrow situation that will justify your position. In truth, there probably isn't that much difference to justify switching but if you haven't already got one, the full-stock is the better choice for home defense.