I meet a ton of great people through my position at Gun Digest, and recently one of them happened to be a U.S. Navy veteran. Part of this person’s role involved using shotguns to breach rooms (note that he wasn’t a SEAL, or at least didn’t tell me he was). I’ll pass along the models this person used here.
This information may not apply to every manuscript out there, but I think it’s interesting anyway. The Navy isn’t all about ships, just like the Air Force isn’t exclusively the domain of aircraft.
- Type: semi-automatic shotgun
- Gauge: 12
- Capacity: 5 (civilian), 7 (military and law enforcement)
- Year introduced: 1999 (military), 2003 (civilian market)
The Benelli M4 is one of the finest tactical shotguns ever produced. It’s no wonder the military uses it for close-quarter operations, where it’s officially dubbed the M1014 (use that instead of “M4” in your stories for an authentic flair). A civilian version is also available for non-military characters (“M4”), with the primary difference being ammunition capacity. This one made my Hit List of go-to firearms in The Writer’s Guide to Weapons.
- Type: semi-automatic shotgun
- Gauge: 12 (introduced in 1987, the gauge the military would likely use), 20 (introduced in 1999)
- Capacity: 5 (standard), 7 (extended magazine, preferred by military)
- Year introduced: 1987
The Remington 11-87 is similar to the M4 in many ways. It boils down to a preference on the part of the shooter. I think for writing purposes that “M4” is easier on the reader’s eye than “11-87.”
The 11-87 shares a heritage with some of the most popular Remington shotguns, meaning its design is exceptionally trustworthy. That’s why it’s also used by law enforcement and civilians. It’s hard to go wrong with giving a character an 11-87.
Note that both of the following models are used at up close and personal ranges. The character wielding the shotgun may not even use the sights. It’d be more of a “point and shoot” situation. Likewise, the ammunition would be buckshot. That’s the type of shotshell with the largest BBs. You can see the buckshot BBs inside the shotshell in this pic.
(P.S. Those spherical pieces of metal can be referred to as “shot” or “BBs.” The first is more technically accurate, while the second is colloquial.)
One other note: The barrels may be shortened when used by military characters. This makes them more maneuverable in close quarters. In the civilian world, shortened shotgun barrels less than 18 inches long (aka “sawed off shotguns”) are illegal without an OK from the federal government (i.e. lots of paperwork).
Shotguns Used by the U.S. Coast Guard & the Marines
Shortly after this article originally went live, I was contacted via Twitter by a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. I’ll keep this person anonymous, but here’s what I was told about shotguns used by the USCG:
I carried a Remington Model 870 fairly extensively as my long gun. I preferred it over the M16 for tactical boardings and crowd control. I carried the older 80s model, but the CG after 9/11 modified it by shortening the barrel and putting on a red dot.
Here’s a video of a drug interdiction. At the 1:05 mark you’ll see the boarding officer using carrying he newer model. (And here’s one that actually shows the Coast Guard using the 870. ~Ben)
Also here is an article from the U.S. Marine Corps site about the evolution of the USMC shotgun. During my operation in Haiti during ’94 I worked with the Marines. In the unit I worked with, one guy had carried a shotgun. I have no idea how he was assigned to carry it, but he had one.
Shotguns Your Characters Use
What shotguns have you assigned your characters? Let me know in the comments.
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