Short And Sweet. The AR Pistol, And The Mossberg Shockwave, A Raison d’etre

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Mossberg 590 Shockwave on top, 11.5″ inch barreled SIG M400 AR pistol with SB Tactical PDW collapsible brace and Spec Ops buttstock mag pouch with an AR 20 rounder in it. The Brace is in the collapsed position.

Recently, the BATFE has “ruled” that it is now (for now) legal to shoulder rifle type (AR, AK, etc.) pistols that have what is termed an arm brace on the rear of the weapon. From what I read, the ruling originally made by the BATFE back in 2015 said that shouldering the brace was considered a “redesign” of the weapon, and thus made it into a “Short Barreled Rifle” (SBR). The BATFE has now reversed that opinion, and you can read about it here.

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Here the SB Tactical brace is in the fully extended position. The Shockwave is 26.5″ for scale.

On the shotgun front, we now have 14″ barreled shotguns with a birdhead grip, that are not classified as “Short Barreled Shotguns” (SBS) or “Any Other Weapon” (AOW). This is apparently because Mossberg figured out that if you start with a brand new receiver and register it as a “Firearm” instead of a “Shotgun”, the only length restriction for it was an overall minimum length of 26″ instead of that plus a minimum barrel length of 18″ (requirement for a standard shotgun) as long as it never had a buttstock or regular 18″ or longer barrel on it when built.

Regardless, I have been watching this for a while now. I have owned an AR pistol for almost two years, and recently purchased a Mossberg 590 Shockwave. Although I thought the original ruling on the illegality of AR pistols being shouldered was ridiculous, I’m also was not foolish enough to get pinched by doing it. My AR pistol was plenty accurate by shooting it with other methods that were not shouldered, but just as stable.

Why concern yourself with getting something like an AR pistol, when you can have a 16′ rifle. True, you can have a 16″ rifle, but can you legally carry that rifle loaded in your vehicle like you can a pistol. I don’t know about you, but I know of a few people that had something that was considered illegal (firearms wise) in their vehicle, and ended up in an accident which revealed that illegal item, and that ended up causing even more problems than just the accident would have. If you don’t plan on having any accidents, let me know, cuz………yeah, whatever.

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Standard 16.5″ barreled M-4 on top, the Sig 11.5″ barreled M400 below for comparison.

If given the option, you always choose to have a rifle for self defense if at all possible. Anyone who does not agree with that, does not understand the realities of self defense and the degree to which a rifle user can dominate a handgun opponent in a fight. Here’s another example. In my state of PA, you cannot legally carry a loaded rifle in the state forest unless it is hunting season, and you have a license. Guess who can LEGALLY carry his AR “pistol” in the woods….. Yup, ME.

Guys who talk about having their “Minuteman Kit” in their vehicle, but are using a rifle aren’t really what I’d call a “Minuteman” since they have to dig out their rifle and load it. It’s not instant access, is it? I already mentioned PA’s rifle requirement in the state forest, but here’s another requirement. If you have a long gun in your vehicle, it must be unloaded and cased. Guess what doesn’t need to be unloaded and cased in your vehicle in PA? Yup, you guessed it, a rifle type “pistol”. The brand and model you get isn’t as important as understanding the advantages to having a rifle type pistol, especially if you have a carry permit.


SBR’s are a lot of fun, but the initial paperwork, and the administrative paperwork required for transport is a PITA. Also, you can’t carry an SBR for protection like you can an AR or AK type pistol.

As to the Mossberg 590 Shockwave. When I found out about them last year, I started doing some research and determined that they were not just a gimmick, but had some legitimate uses besides that of door breaching. I have owned a Mossberg 590 (20″ barrel, 9 shot) since 1988 when they were adopted by the military. Over the last 29 years it has had thousands of rounds through it, and never had one issue. I carried a 590 in Iraq (18.5″ barrel, 6 shot), and it’s function was flawless when in use.


Military issue Mossberg 590 with an 18.5″ barrel and 5 shot magazine (5+1)

One of the reasons I am partial to Mossberg’s pump shotguns is because of the placement of their safety. It is completely ambidextrous, and having not only hunted with, but also qualified with and carried an Rem 870 as a duty weapon ( and it’s “less than optimal” placement of the safety for a lefty), I appreciate the convenience and accessibility of the Mossberg safety by either hand.

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Top is pictured a Condor shotgun scabbard for up to a 20″ barrel. I modified its length to fit the Shockwave exactly, and the Condor ammo pouch on the front of it holds up to 25 rounds. The Shockwave can either be carried in the scabbard on the side of a rucksack or back of a vest (it has molle attachment points), it can be slung while in the scabbard, or it can be carried via a sling attached to the QD sling points on the pistol grip and the magazine nut.

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The 590 Shockwave is a 14″ barreled, birds head gripped, 6 shot (5+1), 12 gauge with an overall length of 26.5″. What are some of the uses I’ve come up with for the Shockwave? Well, let’s see, can you think of a better gun to have in a tent when you’ve been woken up at 0130hrs by a bear intent on getting those krispy creme donuts you left sitting on your pack? Would you rather have a pistol or a short shotgun in that instance considering you are half asleep, it is dark, and a bear moves pretty fast, unlike you.

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A Shockwave or AR pistol would easily fit in one of these weapon concealment shelves by Tactical Walls.

What about you guys who have those nifty mantle or shelf gun holders near your front door. Look up the penetration levels of 00 Buckshot, or even better yet, #6 birdshot, compared to a 9mm. Read those, then tell me whether you think a shotgun is better than an average pistol (9mm) for an apartment. When I went out and shot it the first time, I took some birdshot hunting loads with me to see if it was at all viable as a small game gun.

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The difference in length between a typical 18.5″ barreled, pistol gripped shotgun and the Shockwave is about two inches.

Both at 10 and 15 yards the pattern on an 8 inch target with #6 high brass was in the 80% range for shot on target. This target was over another bigger target to see approximately how many shot missed it. Would I chose it as my primary small game gun? Of course not. Would it work in a pinch for small game? Absolutely! Of course it would be easily maneuverable in a vehicle, due to it’s short overall length, and as already mentioned, people, especially military and LEO’s, automatically think of this as a door breaching gun, and it definitely would excel at it.

If you have a need for a very compact “Long gun”, and are able to buy either one of these types of guns, I highly recommend them. Are they a necessity? Generally not, but that is situationally dependent. What they are is convenient, and a lot of fun to shoot, even after what they can do for you in a defensive situation.

I know some of you get pissed off when people discuss legalities, and the laws pertaining to guns, but here is how I look at it. Can you get SBR’s and AOW’s in most states? Yes. Are they highly restricted concerning their transportation? Yes. You can either try to comply with what is on the books so you don’t have to worry about getting caught with a National Firearms Act (NFA) weapon and catch a Federal charge, or you can use what is legally available and make it work for you.

It’s easy to say things like “I don’t give a shit what is legal, the second amendment gives me the authority to Fill in the blank (carry concealed, own a unregistered SBR or AOW, etc.)”. Although I agree with your premise, when the reality of that statement hits you in the face with jail time (loss of freedom, probable loss of your job, and hefty fines, not to mention how it will effect your family economically and emotionally) simply because you wanted to violate a law you thought didn’t “apply to you”. In hindsight, you will feel like three kinds of a fool, and wish you had the opportunity to change what you did. Is what the Gov does to people in these instances wrong? You bet it is, but it doesn’t change the “real time reality” for the individual that gets caught one bit, does it?


American by BIRTH Infidel by CHOICE



32 thoughts on “Short And Sweet. The AR Pistol, And The Mossberg Shockwave, A Raison d’etre

  1. JCD,

    Thanks for bringing up the pro’s of these guns. What’s your take on the usefulness of Sig MPXs, CZ Scorpion Evos, and other Pistol Caliber Carbines? Thanks!

    • A friend just got a CZ Scorpion, and although I think they all can be used for the same niche, I think the pistol caliber models are at a disadvantage to the rifle caliber ones. They will obviously have an accuracy and power (due to higher velocity from longer barrels) advantage, but having the ability to carry a rifle caliber version (especially when it’s a mil spec rifle clone using the same parts), definitely has a big advantage, in range and power. The pistol caliber rifles/large pistols that I recommend use mags that are the same as your carry gun (example 33 rnd Glock 17 mags, but can use one of your G17 seventeen rounders).

      • I agree. Hi-Point should consider engineering a 9mm carbine that uses the standard 9mm Glock magazines. I think they would sell more than a few of them.

        • Kel Tec has a neat folding carbine with versions available to use Glock, S&W, or Beretta 92 magazines. It folds at the breech face (16 ” barrel) and will then fit in many laptop and shoulder bags – it is a nifty gun. They are available in 9mm and .40 S&W – I wish they would make a version in .45 ACP.
          The big drawback for Hi Point is single stack versus double stack; they would have to do major redesign, and in my opinion the cost would go up enough to make them a moot point versus Kel Tec, Beretta, pistol caliber ARs, etc.

          • The Keltec Sub 2000 folding carbine is great, but like the SU16C I have, It’s still regulated as a rifle, and one of my points was an AR pistol has advatages in places you csn carry it loaded, where you can’t carry a rifle.

  2. “Regret is a passion that burns deep and forever…” – B.M.C.
    It’s wise to play by the rules, for now…

  3. In MI we have many of the same rules you have in PA. I’ve been saying nearly the exact same thing to friends when they ask why I invested in an AR pistol. A lot of them see the loss of velocity and range as not being worth the price tag. I agree that it is not ideal, the utility of being able to keep it in my vehicle (especially when far from home) if it is ever needed trumps any drawbacks. With the recent ruling from the ATF allowing it to be shoulder (for now anyway) it really is a no-brainer.

    From now on I’m just going to email a link to this post.

  4. Check out the Extar 556.
    Carry one in a backpack all set to go. Hold a paper plate target at 100 yards easily.
    Uses Pmags.
    No buffer tube to complicate things.
    Paid less than 5, all included.

  5. If I ditch the buttstock and run naked buffer tube on a 10.5″ upper, am I cool? Additionally, I can’t help asking this dumb question. If I point shoot or hip fire my rifle did I “redesign” ?

  6. Hi,

    I like the modification that you did for your scabbard. What model of Condor scabbard is that, and was it fairly simple to modify it?

    • It was the standard model for a 20″ barrel riotgun. It wasn’t hard to do, I just measured the length I needed, opened up the seams and took out the padding and reinforcing plastic. Then I rolled it up and secured it in place by running/lacing 550 cord back and forth between the molle slots on both sides.

  7. Very nice article! I have one question: can an individual with a valid LTCF in PA keep the Mossberg Shockwave loaded in their truck?

    • Since the Shockwave has a classification as a “firearm”, not a “Shotgun”, “Pistol” or “Rifle”, I’d imagine any issued permit would not cover t it for carry on your person, or in a vehicle. Best bet is to start with the “Firearms Regs” people and go from there.

  8. From my understanding when purchasing the shockwave the individual fills out a pistol form. Which makes me believe it is being classified as a pistol in PA. Consequently, it should be covered under the LTCF. I am reaching out to individuals more familiar with regulations. I will keep you posted. Additionally, I will contact the PSP firearm division.

    • I believe the reason it can’t be regulated as a pistol (PA or any other state), is because Federally, if it’s a smoothbore pistol, and it falls under a different regulation than pistols. Depending on whether it has a stock or not, dictates whether you have to pay for the $5 or $200 tax stamp. Let us know what you find out.

  9. J.C., I know this is a late replay but I just came across this post. The SBR is treated the same as a pistol in PA. regs as far as being able to carry loaded in your vehicle. Locally a young fellow was cited by the fish warden for having a loaded Shockwave in his vehicle. They are treating it the same as having a loaded rifle/shotgun.

    • A shockwave falls under “firearm”, not “pistol”, thus the issue. An SBR has federal guidelines to follow (a form that has to be carried with it), not just State, so, “No”, it isn’t regulated like a pistol in PA.

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