Range report: Mossberg 500 12 gauge shotgun
I finally got around to firing my shotgun for the first time over the weekend. It’s pretty embarrassing, but for about four months I owned it, the thing had just been sitting in my closet. For all I knew it wouldn’t even fire! The story of why involves a legal interlude. Skip the next section if you don’t care about New York and California’s oppressive gun laws and just want to hear about what it’s like to shoot a shotgun.
That’s some real public safety for ya there
I bought this shotgun in New York sort of on a whim while I was sending my other guns across the country for my move to California. The reason is because these states, among a few others, require that you send your guns from gun store to gun store rather than just through the mail.
In any event, I had known for a while that I wanted a nice 12 gauge shotgun, and when I got to the store, there was an unbelievable combo deal for a beautiful Mossberg 500, so I bought it then and there. The side effect of this was that I only got to fondle it for about five minutes before I added it to the other stuff being sent across the country, and I didn’t see it until I arrived in California.
On maybe the second day I was here, I went to the gun store in California to pick up my guns. But they wouldn’t let me because state law required that I show ID, and my New York ID wasn’t valid for some reason. Balls. I couldn’t get a new one because I didn’t have a permanent address yet, so I waited a month, got a California ID (which cost me three times what it did in New York), waited two weeks for it to arrive (I got a valid temporary one instantly in New York), headed back to the gun store. I showed them my ID, and paid another $125 (WTF?), but California makes you wait, and so I left again and came back ten days later. ((Then I discovered that my car was locked in a parking lot, but that’s another story. Some higher power really didn’t want to see my reunited with my firearms!)) I finally got the guns home about three months after I arrived, and the whole process made me about $300 poorer for no good reason.
I can’t think of a single aspect of public safety that was increased by making me go through such a rigamarole. But of course, public safety isn’t really the point. The aim is to make gun ownership difficult, costly, bureaucracy-laden, and filled with legal minefields in the hope that more and more people will lack the motivation to do it, so that eventually the shrinking and demoralized gun-owning population can just be crushed entirely with a blanket ban or something as close to that as possible (see: Chicago, New York City, San Francisco). Well, I’m not gonna let that be me, so screw you New York and screw you California.
Just about the one thing these laws accomplished was to force me to spend several hundred dollars at gun stores, rather than the maybe 15 or 20 it would have been if I could have just boxed them up and sent ‘em through the mail. Thanks a lot, New York and California, for subsidizing gun stores’ profits. Boy, I bet that was what these states’ cockamamie legislatures had in mind!
After I got the gun home, I played around with it for a little while, loading and unloading some 12 gauge snap caps and practicing working the action to get the feel of how it operated. But I just didn’t have time to go to the range, and so there it sat in my closet for another month or so, loaded with five rounds of buckshot but without my even knowing if the darn thing would even go bang!
I rectified this last weekend. Unlike rifle or pistol shooting, you can’t really fire a shotgun with marksmanship in mind since it throws a cloud of pellets rather than a single bullet. Before this, only other shooting experience I’d really had was a .22 at pieces of paper, while shotgun games are all about hitting moving targets.
I paid for a round of trap, one of the more basic games. After receiving some instruction, I got into position, chambered a round, brought the stock to my cheek, pulled the trigger, and…
- I was not knocked on my butt
- I was not deafened
- A 50-foot area I was pointing the gun at did not break into fragments
Well, so much for what I was taught by online folklore, video games, and Hollywood! After being told that shotguns were the ultimate death cannons, that a 12 gauge will break your shoulder or knock you backwards a foot and blow out your eardrums and annihilate the target area all at the same time!, it was actually pretty moderate. I was even so focused on the target that I barely heard the bang, and the recoil was more of a hard push than a kick. Not at all what I was expecting.
The one thing that video games and Hollywood actually did correctly teach me about shotguns is that they sound totally badass when you rack the slide. That schikk-chikk sound is every bit as awesome and intimidating in real life as it is in the movies.
Of course, I didn’t hit the orange clay sailing through the air either, but I wasn’t really expecting to. But I did break the second one, and man oh man was it satisfying! A big shit-eating grin spread across my face as I thought Man, I hit that flying object 60 feet away! Out of the 25 shots I took, I hit 8 clays, which is generally a pretty miserable score, but not terrible for a beginner. And in the next round I hit 11 — progress!
All in all, it was a great deal of fun, and it makes me want to practice and improve so I’m not such an obvious n00b!