SHOTGUN, 12-GA. RIOT 500M MILS -or- random thoughts


I think this is going to be less about the shotgun and more just rambling thoughts about shotguns.

As long as I remember knowing about the riot shotgun, I found the idea enthralling.  But I find a huge disparity between the classic riot shotgun and the modern fighting firearm.

I remember growing up seeing plenty of pictures of wood stocked low capacity Winchesters, Remington, Ithaca, Mossberg, shotguns in use by the police and military.

Photo from internet – Navy Seal with 870

I don’t think anyone reasonable would dispute the effectiveness of the shotgun in a fight, but the shotgun is certainly becoming less popular.

I think this is due to multiple reasons.

  • People are less familiar with shotguns.  Used to be it was expected you could hand someone a pump shotgun and they would not only know how to use it, but be proficient with it.  Often now when I hand someone a pump shotgun they don’t know how to unlock the action.
  • Much greater capacity in other weapon systems.  Many of these old shotguns had a 4-5 round capacity.  Even most newer shotguns have low capacities.
  • Increasing popularity of other modern firearms.  Now days guns like the M4 are generally seen as a single stop combat solution, so having other weapons in the mix are not always seen as necessary.

As long as I can remember I’ve wanted something like the classic riot shotgun.  At one point I picked up a used police trade in 870 Wingmaster, but that has been abused to the point where it had some reliability issues.  Ended up selling it to an certified armorer who was able to overhaul it.

Then some time back I remembered the Mossberg shotguns we used while I was in the Corps.  A simple riot gun configuration of a 20 inch barrel along with a 5 shot mag.  I read up a little and found that a couple times these were sold to the public.  Cheaply too, they were something like $350 when they were initially released.  Now people have gone insane and have been trying to sell some of these basic shotguns for over two thousand.  Fortunately I found this one for a reasonable price.

The only thing that could remotely really be considered special about these contract overrun guns are the markings.  Model is shown as 500 MILS and the serial number prefix is U.S.A [sic].

I always found it kind of odd that the Mossberg 500s we used in the military had sling swivel attached to them instead of the studs normally found on the commercial shotguns.  I figure it was so we wouldn’t lose them, but these rattled and made noise, which was generally considered unacceptable in the infantry.  It was not uncommon to tape up sling swivels.

I sometimes try to think of how I want to write about the disparity between various competitive shooting and actual combat operations along with historic combat usage of weapons.

Picking on 3-gun for a moment, if you looked at an Army M4 carbine and a 3-gun AR15 you would find very little in common between the rifles.  The 3-gun rifle would be easier to shoot, have less recoil, and have a great variety of various improvements.  The down side is these 3-guns rifle are often (but not always) tuned to particular loads, not designed for the abuse military guns get, and usually set up to gain maximum advantage for the competition course of fire.

Exactly the same with shotguns.  These old riot guns have little in common with the competition shotgun.  Some of these 9+ round capacity 3-gun shotguns are very fast and pleasant to shoot.  Various modifications are made to allow reloading them so very much faster than any of the old combat shotguns.  But many of these make for larger, more specialized competition focused guns.

Looking at some of the classic fighting firearms from a not that long ago, we see that they are obsolete by today’s standards.  If we look at the old classic riot gun, be it a Model 12 or the 500 MILS I purchased, while they can get the job done fine, there is tons of room for improvement.

What I suppose I am trying to say is if we look at what the competition shooters are doing and using can help us find improvements.  But keep in mind if the equipment or techniques are to improvement performance, or to game the rules of the game.


  1. I think part of the move away was also the lack of range and accuracy. If you’re going to be held accountable for every shot fired (not that PD’s necessarily are) then the risk of an errant ball of shot might be whats pushing departments to carbines.
    And to be honest if I had to pick a weapon for that would end up being used for any number of unknown situation I would choose a carbine too.

    • I think that’s the main point; if you don’t know what you’re getting into a carbine will be able to do most jobs well enough without the low capacity, slow rate of fire and very limited range.
      The wars we’ve been fighting for the last generation haven’t been as conducive to offensive shotgun use outside of breaching or detainee security. Our father’s war in thick jungle with very close-in, chance encounters was a different story.
      Growing up on a staple of 80’s action movies the shotgun was a given. Every patrol car had them. Now, I couldn’t tell you the last 5-0 I saw, around here at least, that had one. It’s all been ARs.


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