I’m a shotgun nut, so when I saw the TAC 14 and Shockwave at SHOT last year I was insanely excited. My initial thoughts was “awesome range toy” and the reviews I wrote about the guns reflected that. As I’ve used them more and more I’m beginning to see that the Shockwave and TAC 14 may actually have a place in the self-defense tool box. I wanted to sit down with an expert in shotguns, and someone who has embraced the concept in full force and talk shop. I contacted Gabe Suarez of Suarez international to get his thoughts.
Feature Image Courtesy of Suarez International, Used with Permission.
Suarez on TAC 14s and PGO Not a Shotguns
If I’m remembering correctly you actually started working on the 870 Stakeout PGO 12 gauge before Mossberg and Remington released the Shockwave and Tac 14. What drew you to this platform and concept?
(For reader reference the Shockwave was announced January 17th 2017, Gabe released photos of the Stakeout on January 13th 2017)
“When I worked the Gang Unit back in the 1990s, I carried an Armorer-made Witness Protection copy of this weapon. It worked great for me then. It was easy to keep ready in a vehicle, and it was my primary weapon when I worked surveillance details. “
“I began some updated shotgun study for an instructor class I was conducting and found my old notes on training and qualifications for my unit. I wanted to replicate the concept and spoke with Marty Ewer at Shockwave. He sent out one of his raptor grips and the rest is history.”
My first impression of the Shockwave was awesome range toy, but my view is evolving. What makes these guns more than a range toy?
“That is a very involved answer…why some think it’s a range toy. That attitude dates back to Jeff Cooper’s influence on shotgun training. I have some different ideas about that. If you understand how to use this weapon correctly, and understand its niche and its capabilities, it will serve you quite well.
My original work with this weapon in the 1990s was as a 10 yard weapon. At least that was my plan. I had good success with it and had no complaints. Its not a substitute for a full sized shotgun, but on the other hand, it can go places unnoticed where a full sized shotgun cannot.”
What’s Old Is New
You seem to be a fan of new concepts, embracing and experimenting with them much earlier than most. You were talking about appendix carry as far back as 2006 I believe, and putting a red dot on a Duty/Self-Defense pistol as far back as 2010. Those concepts are now mainstream, do you think the ‘not a shotgun’ is a fad or something that has true staying power?
One thing I learned early on from one of my brothers and a mentor in teaching is this, “Sometimes a teacher, but always a student”. I am constantly searching and studying for better ways to do things. I am also a student of history and many of the new concepts are old and forgotten concepts. For example, appendix carry was discussed by Jeff Cooper in 1972 and he admitted that is was much faster than any other form of carry.
The short shotgun idea is as old as the “coach guns” of the old west. I was telling an interviewer recently that if he wanted to see the next trend in the industry, he should go to the Cody Museum in Wyoming and see what has already been done.
I do see this as a staying concept, and I predict that the arm brace movement will eventually make the NFA…at least for SBRs and SBSs, go away.
The Role of the TAC 14 and Shockwave
What role do you see these “not a shotguns” serving when they aren’t equipped with a brace?
I see them as car guns, get-home guns, and office guns in places where the overt placement of a long gun would not be acceptable. I see them as easily carried power tools (I am being very careful to not say “concealed”, because that may reclassify them as AOWs subject to NFA regulations).
We are entering a very interesting time in our history where leftist insurgents have become more common and rioting is once again their tactic. We saw demonstrations during and after the election where roads were blocked and motorists attacked. A short, easily carried weapon like this is excellent for such applications.
On TAC 14 and Shotguns
How much standard shotgun skill and technique translates over to the not a shotgun concept?
Almost all. I teach the concept that others do, of “stretching the shotgun” before firing, and then “relaxing the tension” to cycle the action. This is essentially how the weapon is operated, except that there is no stock. The shooter must have an understanding of what he needs to see to get the hit. This weapon is fired from eye level, not from the hip like so many seem to think.
Do you think there is anything these weapons do better than a traditional shotgun? If so, would you please elaborate?
They are far more maneuverable in close confines than a standard shotgun. You can take corners and move with this weapon in ways that are not possible with a standard shotgun. They are also far easier to carry, as well as far lower profile. They don’t eliminate the longer weapons. Nor can they compete with them in a general purpose application, but in their niche, nothing is better.
Training with the TAC 14
If I was to show up to SGF-1 Shotgun Gun fighting with one of these “not a shotguns” would I benefit from and have a place in the class?
Absolutely. In the last class I taught in Prescott, we had three of the twenty using these and they did quite well. One of them was getting consistent hits on steel with slugs out to 50 yards. Impossible right?!
Would these weapons benefit more from having their own training program/class?
I will predict that the gurus that are sneering at this now will all have classes for them within a couple of years. Can it benefit from its own training program? I suppose it could. There are nuances with this weapon that are not as important with a stocked shotgun. I am teaching another shotgun class this year and its already full. I understand about half of the students will be running these weapons.
In terms of practical use is there any advice or techniques you’d offer shooters on how to maximize their effectiveness with these guns?
In all honesty, anyone can get one of these and “go have fun” at the range hip firing mini shells. But to use this as a weapon, you need some degree of physical strength. Shotguns are the battle axes of the modern battlefield and they demand physical strength…specially these.
There is a feel to running these that must be learned. Stretching – firing – relaxing. There is also a flow to the recoil. Rather than straight into the shoulder, the shooter learns to let the recoil roll back as the muzzle rises. These are the nuances of the system.
Custom TAC 14’s From Suarez International
You’ve been modifying the Tac 14 extensively, forming the Stakeout, the Tomahawk, the Amphibian and of my favorite, the Pointman from Tac 14s. Were these modifications purpose driven to address inherent weaknesses in the platform?
Each has applications. My staff and I brain storm this stuff all the time. I try to surround myself with guys that will tell me one of my ideas is stupid if it is, but also that will say, “Hey…what happens if we do this?” Sometimes my students ask for things that lead into entire areas of study or new platforms. The Amphibian was developed for a friend of ours who lives in Florida and is on the water constantly. We added slug sights to that platform for one of our guys in Alaska so he could carry slugs in it as bear defense.
The Pointman was a “what if” thing with our staff. What if we add a folding arm brace to this? Cane we do it? It turned into an awesome modification that I think supplants all full sized shotgun applications.
What kind of performance increase can a user expect from turning their Tac 14 into a Suarez International Stakeout?
“We do what the 1911 smiths used to do. We take the weapon and blue print it. We make it better, smoother, easier to use. We NP3 all the internals as one example. My gunsmith removes all the rough edges, then we NP3 finish. The porting and polishing of the barrel reduces recoils and give predictable patterns. And of course the sights make a big difference. Its like what we say of our work with Glocks, “Glock made them perfect…but we made them even better”.
This is more of a I just want to know question, but with the Pointman did it ever occur to you to use an even shorter barrel due to its longer OAL? Something like a 12.5 inch barrel?
“Something is in the pipes right now that will be quite disruptive along those lines. Once I have the details set in stone, I will send some data…but yes…there is some work in that area as we speak.”
I had some initial issues utilizing an SB 15 brace with my Shockwave, did you encounter any growing pains when attaching a brace to your PGOs?
“We did not because we used very strong interface units. Some are not as robust as others and for a short 12 Ga…you need robust. Other than that, it’s a matter of determining best length of pull and fit as so forth. A bit of trial and error.”
You seem to have a preference for the Tac 14 over the Shockwave, is there a reason you prefer one platform over the other?
“I carried the 870 into battle many times. It allowed to win against the bad guys many times. So I have preference for the Remington. In many ways it is easier to clean up an 870 and make it great. The Mossberg is generally rougher. All you have to do is run them side by side and the Mossberg is rougher and grittier. You will also notice more custom shops use the 870 as a base weapon than use the Mossberg. I don’t want hate mail from Mossberg guys but that is the truth. Now, having said that, we plan to bring out packages for the Mossberg this year as well as for the 870.”
On Remington at SHOT Show
Lastly, before we finish up here I read you didn’t attend SHOT 2018. However were you able to catch up on the new Tac 14s? Any particular models stand out for you?
“No we didn’t go. Both my kids are in college and we had opportunity for family time and that is more precious as they get older. But the wood stocked tac-14 is basically what I carried way back in the Jurassic period. I wish they would have used Walnut rather than “hard wood”, but that is the most interesting of the ones I saw. I am not so impressed with the DM models, but that is just my opinion. I am sure they will be very popular. Its nice to see a company like Remington move quickly on a popular weapon.”
Do you have any feelings on the Tac 14 DM with the removable magazine? Can the ‘Not a shotgun’ platform benefit from an interchangeable magazine?
“It’s a matter of perspective. A shotgun is not a high firepower weapon. In my gunfights where I used shotguns, the most I ever fired was three rounds. The method we teach is to constantly load. Shoot and feed. If you understand that, the magazine is only an added hindrance. “
I really want to thank Gabe Suarez for taking the time to answer a pesky gun writer’s questions, and thank him for opening up to our readers on the Not a Shotgun concept. Gabe’s blog is full of solid advice on Shotguns, and any student of the shotgun should take a peak at his blog here.