With a bite that matches its bark, Da Boom from BoomStix is one mean home defender.
If you ask some, the perfect shotgun for home defense is a simple, old school double barrel with two rounds of 00 buck ready to rock. It’s classic, pretty immune to user error and intimidating. But it’s a clunker to reload—if you remembered to grab a couple extra shells while patrolling the house in your underwear, after being awoken in the dark night by sounds of an intruder.
Some obviously choose a pump for home defense, again, because of its reliability. This leads them to the myriad options of tactical shotguns on the market, and to the possibility of being overwhelmed by breacher barrels and ghost rings. A lot of people end up with a tactical shotgun that won’t ever see the inside of a SWAT team’s armory and has more than they need, or worse, the wrong components.
Mark Dunn at BoomStix HD (home defense) has endeavored to fill that gap between hunting and tactical shotguns by creating a catalogue of mostly Mossberg 500s and Remington 870s with different configurations of barrel length, magazine tube length, stocks and accessories, all optimized for home defense.
Dunn said he chose 500s and 870s because they’re rock solid.
“When a bad guy is kicking in your front door, you want to make sure that when you pull the trigger, it goes boom, and those two models—you can use them and abuse them, and they’ll still fire,” he said.
The company has a jocular lilt to it. Mark isn’t known as the CEO but as The Big Ka-Boom-a, or TBK. His shotguns sport names like Sweet Baby Jane and Base No Disgrace. But when you get down to it, BoomStix is about no-nonsense, reliable, rugged shotguns that are easy to operate and tailored for defending your home and loved ones.
There are six configurations to choose from, sold exclusively from the BoomStix HD website. The site also features a “Bild Ur Stix” function that lets you customize a Mossberg 500, Remington 870, Hatsan Escort MP Tactical, Hatsan Escort AimGuard or SRM Arms Model 1216 12-gauge autoloader from the base model up.
Mark sent me their first and flagship creation, Da Boom, built on a Mossberg 500. When I first looked at it, the gun seemed a little unwieldy, with a 20-inch barrel and matching seven-round magazine tube (both from Mossberg) and an ATI Talon pistol grip with no stock.
The first time I hefted it, my worries were dispelled. The gun feels handy. The length is right. It doesn’t feel too short, as stockless shotguns sometimes do, but it feels, and is, extremely maneuverable inside the tight spaces of an apartment doorway or hall.
Mounted on the tri-rail slide forend was a vertical foregrip with a pressure switch attached to a tac-light/laser sight combo.
It appears extremely tactical if you don’t know what you’re looking at, which is the problem new or novice gun buyers face when choosing a home defense shotgun. What’s more important than what’s there, perhaps, is what’s not.
There is a rail running under the forend, to which the grip and tac-light/laser are attached, taking up all the space. There are two small rail sections at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions on the forend’s left. That’s it—no top rail, no rail bits near the muzzle. There’s no muzzle brake with a fierce-looking jagged edge. The idea behind this gun is that laser sights work; that’s what this gun has on board, so use it.
“In the dark, you’re never going to find your bead, so the laser puts you on target in seconds in a life or death emergency,” Dunn said. “I think you do need a laser for a shotgun. If that gun’s next to your bed or wherever you decide to keep it, you don’t have to shoulder it and try to find a sight in the dark. You just pop that light on, see that it’s a bad guy and the red dot’s on his chest, and threat down.”
A simple, low-profile brass bead sight on the barrel serves as a backup to the laser. There’s no ghost sights to get snagged on fabric, no red dot that has to be activated. Simply grab the gun where you always do—by both grips—push the pressure switch and the target is illuminated and the laser flips on.
Despite heated Internet forum arguments, laser sights are a viable and useful sighting system for a shotgun, especially one set up for defense. If it’s zeroed to the center of the shotgun’s pattern, a laser sight provides quick target acquisition, a guarantee of a clean line of sight (if the laser is getting to the target without interruption, it’s a sure bet the projectile will too) that will work in any low-light situation, and it is more than effective at the ranges one would encounter in a home.
The biggest criticism of laser sights is they are hard to see in daylight and some well-lit environments. Those shouldn’t be primary concerns in a home or apartment, and if the opportunity does arise in an emergency to turn the lights on, that’s just fine. Today’s modern lasers are bright enough to contend with lamps and ceiling lights, and there’s always the brass bead.
The heat shield could be considered a bit unnecessary on any modern shotgun, as it was designed to allow soldiers to grab a hot barrel and use the weapon with a bayonet affixed—not a typical tactical or defensive situation one encounters. But in this case it does help with gripping the short gun and maneuvering it without grabbing the slide. The shell carrier from TK carries six 12-gauge rounds securely and in optimum position for loading on the left side of the receiver.
The weight of the barrel and mag tube do quite a bit to offset the felt recoil of even 12-gauge 00 buckshot shells, which patterned as expected with an open choke at 10 yards and closer. Winchester 12-gauge PDX Defender ammo also performed well, with the slug and pellets going exactly where they were supposed to go. The vertical foregrip and Scorpion Recoil Pad on the pistol grip help manage the kick that the weight of the shotgun doesn’t absorb, which is certainly manageable.
“This was kind of our original shotgun,” Dunn said. He also added that maneuverability was a big consideration in designing Da Boom.
“If you have a shotgun with a stock, I understand there’s more stability when you shoulder a gun, but it’s harder to maneuver. With Da Boom you can get around tight corners, pile into rooms and it’s a lot easier with that configuration.”
“To help offset the lack of a stock we put a nice, chunky vertical foregrip on there. That FAB Defense grip adds a lot of stability, and you’re sharing the recoil with two arms instead of one,” he said.
Da Boom certainly isn’t locked into its configuration. The receiver is tapped for a top rail if you prefer a red dot of some kind. The light and laser can be easily removed or moved, and the same is true of the vertical foregrip. The mount for the ATI pistol grip includes an attachment point for a single-point sling that can also be used in conjunction with the sling swivel mount on the magazine tube cap for a two- or three-point sling, if one so chooses.
Da Boom is a solid home defense shotgun for those who can manage a stockless 12-gauge with quality components, no unnecessary accessories and definitely a mean look.
BoomStix Da Boom Specs
Base Shotgun: Mossberg 500
(Remington 870 also available)
Chamber: 3-inch Magnum
Capacity: Mossberg – 7+1; Remington – 6+1
Barrel: 20-inch smooth
Accessories: Tac Light/Laser combo, tri-rail forend, vertical fore grip, ATI Talon Pistol Grip, six-shell side saddle, heat shield
MSRP: $640 for Mossberg 500; add $85 for Remington 870
This review appeared in the August 2015 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.