The Riotgun And The Bayonet



I was asked the other day if I thought a semi auto rifle like the AR or AK was a good “Anti riot” gun. My response was that although either of those rifles would do fine, I was a bigger fan of the 12 gauge shotgun, specifically one designed with an extended magazine, rifle sights, and is designed to mount a bayonet.

The individual started laughing and said “I don’t see myself doing a bayonet charge, Sarge.” To which I replied, “Do you know of any other firearm that is designed for close in defense, can fire non lethal ammo like rubber balls, pepper dust, or pepper balls in the same repeatable way you can with lethal ammo, can accurately hit and drop a man sized target at 100 meters, and can immediately and effectively disable a vehicle engine with accurate hits.?” His answer was “No.”.

Is the shotgun the “be all end all” of fight stoppers? No. Is the shotgun the most versatile weapon available to the average consumer that might get caught in a riot situation? Yes. I have an old friend that had a guy come at him with a knife, and from about 20 feet away, his partner shot the guy in the center of the chest with a full power, 9 pellet, buckshot load. The guy survived the hit.


The Mossberg M590A1 with Speedfeed stock and ghost ring sights

The shotgun isn’t necessarily a “Death Dealer”, but it generally is a “Fight Stopper”. Do you think that shooting a rioter from 50 meters would be justified in a court of law? Probably not. Do you think you would be justified firing a “Pepper round” in that direction to redirect those individuals from coming in your direction? Maybe, maybe not, but you can show your intent to not shoot to kill someone unless absolutely necessary was there.

The pump shotgun can cycle all the less lethal ammo I know of at the same speed as a full power buckshot load, and that’s something that a semi auto shotgun cannot do. Are semi auto shotguns a bad choice? No, but the caveat is that you will have to hand cycle those less lethal rounds through your gun until it’s time to use the lethal option. There is also something funny about a bad guy hearing that distinct click-clack of a pump shotgun’s action being cycled and it involuntarily causing their rear orifice to slam shut upon realizing what it is. I’ve seen grown men stop in there tracks, then turn and run away when hearing that sound. Let me tell you something, when you’re the guy it is covering, it is an awesome sound of relief.


There are a number of good anti personnel buckshot loads out there. Everything from #4Buckshot (.24 caliber) to OOBuckshot (.33 caliber) and OOOBuckshot (.36 caliber) in either 2 3/4 inch standard or low recoil (usually has 8 or 9 OOBuck pellets instead of 9-12 OOBuck pellets in the standard load) or 3 inch magnum (up to 15 OOBuck  or 10 OOOBuck pellets). The #4 Buck has between 34 and 41 pellets in the load depending on if it’s a 2 3/4 or 3″ Magnum shell. OOBuck, OOOBuck and #4 Buck tend to be the most popular sizes of buckshot used, and most law enforcement and military ammo is OOBuck or slugs.

But JC, why would I need to have slugs available for a shotgun in a riot situation? Well, although I have practiced privately and professionally shooting a hostage drill scenario with buckshot, I would much rather take it with an accurate slug. I also would want to be able to fire slugs instead of buckshot at a car that was getting ready to ram a makeshift barricade in my neighborhood or my dwelling. In my riotguns (bead or ghostring sights), I use Brenneke slugs of both the 2 3/4 and 3 inch variety. Below is some ballistic info for both.

The black slug on the left is the Black Magic Magnum and weighs 1 3/8 oz. The lead slug/yellow wad on the right is the Brenneke K.O. and weighs 1 oz.

As said earlier, I suggested having the ability to mount a bayonet on your riotgun. But JC, that seems kinda ridiculous. Maybe, or maybe not. If multiple bad guys are coming through your front door, wouldn’t it be nice to not only have a blunt trauma capability (buttstroke), but a lethal force ability beyond just the shotgun shells in the magazine of the riotgun? So now we’ll talk about the Mossberg M590 nine-shot shotgun.


The bayonet attaches to the sheath via a hole in the blade that lines up with a pivot point that protrudes at the bottom of the sheath.  


The wire cutter in the fully closed cutting position.


The saw on the blade is actually more practical than the average survival knife saw.


The sheath the Stoner bayonet has, incorporates a quick release belt attachment


I bought my first M590 back in ’88, and other than having to square up the angle on the action bars from doing a lot of shooting, I have never had any issues with any of the M590’s I own, even after many thousands of rounds fired through them. I also carried a M590 (18.5″ barrel, 6-shot) along with my M4 in Iraq, and never had a malfunction or concern about trusting my life to it.

Why am I a big fan of the M590? First, it has been the military issue shotgun for almost 30 years, and has seen a lot of use without much in the way of complaints. Second, I’m a lefty, and the safety is completely ambidextrous. This type of feature is a big deal, and not just to lefty’s. You should train to fire your long guns off of each shoulder, and having a safety that is able to be manipulated with either hand can be very helpful.

Accessories for my riotguns are generally pretty spartan. I won’t have a defense shotgun without a sidesaddle if it’s available for it. There are a number of different types of sidesaddles available now, but I can tell you that I have had one on mine for over 20 years, and it still works well. Next up is a light. I use the same light I use on all my long guns, and that is the Surefire G2 light with this pressure switch. I use a clamp designed to hold the light to the magazine tube.

One of my M590’s (pictured) has a “Speedfeed” stock. It holds 4 rounds (I carry slugs there). I carry 6 rounds of OOBuck in the Sidesaddle, but would recommend that if you carry less lethal ammo for your riotgun, that you carry them (and only them) in that location. When you think about it, if you are carrying lethal ammo in the Sidesaddle, you have 15 rounds of buckshot, and 4 rounds of slugs, and that’s just on the gun.


Finally, the bayonet. A Mossberg M590 will take any standard M16 bayonet. The bayonet I use is one I’ve had for decades. Some will recognize it as a bayonet designed by Gene Stoner for his rifles. It has the wire cutter device and a small tooth saw that is actually much better for that type of cutting than some of the other knife blade spine saws out there.

Do you need a Mossberg M590 with a bayonet? No. There are plenty of well made shotguns out there that will do well in that roll, but very few have the ability to attach a bayonet in it’s stock configuration. The Mossberg M590 is a good value for the money, and is one of the best deals on the market.

What about a rifle with a bayonet? Well, they are available, but unless you get something like an M1A with a standard stock configuration, performing the battery of arms for a bayonet drill with something like an AR15 requires you to relocate your firing hand from the pistol grip to the wrist of the buttstock. A standard M1A is a great rifle, and would perform as well or better than most other rifles in this role. The primary disadvantage of a rifle like a standard M1A is it’s size. In this case however, the M1A’s size might be a huge asset.


Top is an M590. Bottom is a Match M1A. Both work very well with a bayonet attached, and make great blunt force weapons (buttstock) using the manual of arms for use of the bayonet. The scope on the M1A has a QD/ZH SEI mount, so taking it off and returning it to zero is not a problem. 

Considering the situations that have presented themselves over the last few years, if you have not thought about how to handle things like a riot in your neighborhood, you are lacking in a realistic perspective for preparedness. When they want what you have, all they have to do is wait for something to happen to give them the “excuse” (it doesn’t have to be right or make sense to us, they just need the media and the administration to forward them as “righteous”, correct?).

A lot of guys will try to make out that “Old School” doesn’t work simply because it’s “Old School”. Riots ARE “Old School”, and discounting techniques or equipment because they are not “High Speed” is ridiculous, and the sign someone fixated on what’s popular, not what’s useful. Right or wrong, Robert Roger’s Standing Orders are just as valid in context today as they were when he wrote them in the 1750’s. Keep that in mind when you are evaluating equipment and techniques for defending yourself and your loved ones.


American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE



16 thoughts on “The Riotgun And The Bayonet

  1. I am beyond a True Believer when it comes to riot guns and bayonets. My level of appreciation is in the realm of ‘Why DON’T you have a bayonet on that riot gun’.

    And when it comes to ladies and self/home defense, there’s an added, hidden threat assessment/ROE angle.

    Anyone who has ever dealt with ‘subdued hostiles’ understands the psychology and subconscious, involuntary impulses present when facing the muzzle of, say, a rifle in the hands of a recent captor who has shown he is unafraid to use said rifle to shoot faces.

    A bayonet enhances same, at what I think is a more primitive level. Something about the image of that bayonet point – the visual cue tends to trigger something deep in the psyche and only the most combative/self-confident/batshit crazy individuals can shrug that impulse of nearly effortlessly.

    This can be used to great effect when training and arming an otherwise peace-loving lady with said riot gun + bayonet.

    I left one of mine with a female relation who was having some post-divorce psycho ex-husband issues.

    The standard humanistic self-doubt came up: ‘I don’t know if I could actually shoot someone’.

    I explained that any unarmed or melee-weapon armed intruder looking at the muzzle of said riot gun AND the point of that bayonet who still decides to advance towards you is a 100% valid target to eat slug (1) buckshot (2) buckshot (3) slug (4) etc. Repeat ad termination.

    Explaining the ‘why’ of that statement was simple and there was no debate. The logic is as simple and as sound as it gets.

  2. Pingback: Two From MDT On Making Good Choices When Caught In A Riot | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  3. Good point on the shotgun. I have several for my grizzly bear protection, with Hexolit 32 Dupleks slugs. And stay away from those stupid pistol grips, they’re worthless.
    I went thru boot camp with the M-14, it was a fantastic weapon for bayonet fighting. Lots of weight in the right places to put a hurt on someone and give you the momentum needed to follow through. However, the key to fighting with an M-14 is having one in it’s original stripped down configuration, and not plastered full with another 5 lbs of accessories. When you stick a scope and a suitcase on it, you somehow created a beast incapable of being used to thrust or buttstroke with (can’t grip weapon properly). I know, I have one almost identical with a S&B 1.5-6x. I much prefer it without the scope.

    Didn’t realize Stoner had his bayonets made in Solingen, Germany. The squirrel stamp is Eichhorn, Solingen.

    • I agree concerning the scope, etc. If I plan to use that rifle for that purpose (it’s main purpose is as a long range gun), the QD mount comes off easily and will return to zero (tested it numerous times), and the riser section on the cheek piece quixkly detaches (just the top section). Of all the rifles I’ve practiced the bayonet drill with (I also own a 1903 Sprgfd), the M14 is my favorite. Yeah, I found that bayonet in ’96, and immediately snatched it up when I saw the German “squirrel” on it. Most people don’t know what the squirrel means. I figured at least one guy would point it out.

  4. One possible solution to the lethal/non lethal round swap out might be a magazine fed platform, such as a saiga, vepr, or AR based shotguns. Have to check to see if they allow bayonet mounts, though. Options are a good thing to have.

    • Unless it’s because it’s only a big game hunting weapon in an area that doesn’t allow rifles, that makes no sense (it doesn’t out do the foot pounds of a number of popular rifle cartridges). If so, that has nothing to do with what this post is about.

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