The new Remington 870 Tac-14 works around NFA regulations and offers a potent defensive option for home defense or as a truck gun — or for just plain fun.
What should you know about the Remington Tac-14?
- Remington’s short and wicked-looking 870 Tac-14 is based on its classic 870.
- Despite boasting a 14-inch barrel, the 870 Tac-14 doesn’t run afoul of NFA regulation.
- This is due to its factory outfitting of the Raptor grip.
- The pump gun has a cylinder bore, is topped with a bead sight and has a 4+1 capacity.
- The author believes the 870 Tac-14 is a highly viable home defense or truck gun.
With its bicentennial in the rearview mirror, the Remington Arms Company opted for a new take on an old classic, the Remington 870. The 870 is the model most often cited by gun owners as their favorite model from Big Green’s vast catalog; it seems more shooters have owned or do own the classic pump shotgun than those who do not.
The real question was how to make it new. After all, more than 11,000,000 have been sold since the model was launched in 1951, and there are literally dozens of configurations already available. In the end, the answer was simple, really: the Remington 870 Tac-14, a non-NFA shotgun with a 14-inch barrel and a pistol grip.
The key phrase here being “non-NFA.”
Since the National Firearms Act (NFA) was enacted in 1934, buying certain firearms has involved jumping through a variety of hoops, including a lengthy wait period. Shotguns of a certain type fall under the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the federal agency responsible for enforcing the contents of the NFA.
According to 26 U.S. Code §§ 5845(a)(1)-(2), (d), “The NFA defines shotgun, in part, as a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of projectiles (ball shot) or a single projectile for each pull of the trigger. A shotgun is a firearm subject to the NFA if the shotgun has a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length. A weapon made from a shotgun is also a firearm subject to the NFA if the weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length.”
So, how is Remington’s newest model a non-NFA firearm? It has a pistol grip rather than a shotgun stock and has an overall length of 26.3 inches, meaning it’s a “firearm” and therefore not subject to additional Federal regulation. Translation: no tax stamp, no NFA registration, no worries. (Well, state and local laws do apply, but most states are Tac-14 friendly.)
I have a confession. I love all things NFA — SBRs, SBSs, full-auto, the list goes on — and I also have a soft spot in my gun-loving heart for firearms capable of creating bigger booms. This means a non-NFA 12-gauge with a pistol grip and 14-inch barrel was met with unabashed interest. I even treated the selection of test ammunition with the kind of reverence typically reserved for religious leaders. And when the firearm arrived, I opened the green box with glee, sitting down to look it over from grip to muzzle and back again.
From Head To Tail
The Remington 870 Tac-14 features a Raptor pistol grip, which is constructed from glass-filled polymer, a composite with far greater strength and rigidity than straight polymer. The Raptor is manufactured by Shockwave Technologies and has a bird’s head grip that’s designed to maximize recoil control. Also promising improved control is the Magpul MOE M-Lok Forend. This particular Magpul forend is a bit longer than standard and has front and rear hand stops.
The Tac-14 might be smaller, but it’s sturdy; the receiver is milled from solid steel, as expected for a firearm from the 870 line, and has a black oxide finish. The 14-inch barrel is a cylinder bore, meaning it has no choke, and is topped by a bead sight. Capacity is 4+1 when the 12-gauge shotshells in question are the common 2¾-inch length. And again, overall length is 26.3 inches.
Testing And Accuracy
At the range, I decided to bow to the 870 Tac-14’s size and most likely use by firing it at 10 and 25 yards, although mostly at 10 or less. The majority of shooting was done standing and off-hand; however, I did spend some time at the bench and kneeling. Because I wanted to be thorough, I fed the gun everything from Fiocchi’s Exacta target load 2¾-inch 7/8-ounce No. 7½ shot, to Remington’s Managed Recoil buckshot, to Federal’s 3-inch magnum 00 buckshot — for a start.
Starting with a relatively light load seemed wisest, so the first dozen shotshells through the 870 Tac-14 were the aforementioned Fiocchi Exacta target loads. Recoil was negligible — a term sometimes thrown around casually — but in this case, felt recoil was so minimal it was surprising. The Raptor grip allowed for a firm grip even when wet, and the trigger was relatively light with a clean break.
The gun’s initial performance was encouraging, so I promptly loaded it with Federal 3-inch TruBall rifled slugs and blew away a row of Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C targets. Recoil remained well within my control, which was a pleasant surprise following the sometimes-significant recoil of the half-dozen 12-gauge shotguns I’ve reviewed in the past few months. Even better, I nailed the targets where I was aiming, an important detail given the method of shooting.
Aiming the 870 Tac-14 took some fine-tuning, but I quickly realized shooting off-hand from the hip was best executed by stabilizing the gun against my hip so it bore some of the brunt of the recoil. The upward or downward angle of the gun necessary for an accurate shot changed according to range, but that was easily mastered. The gun can, of course, be raised to eye level and held out so the bead sight can be used, and I did so several times before deciding I preferred shooting from the hip.
The gun ate every standard-sized shotshell I fed it. Remington’s Ultimate Defense 00 buckshot performed well in both standard and Managed Recoil loads, nailing targets with more precision than many others.
The real buckshot front-runner was Hornady’s Critical Defense 2¾-inch 00 Buckshot, a load packed into black hulls that recoiled a little more than the other 00s — although with less muzzle rise than one might expect — and patterned quite well considering the gun’s cylinder bore. At 10 yards, Critical Defense consistently struck the bull’s-eye with an average spread of 2.75 inches. At 25 yards, that spread broadened to 12 inches, reinforcing this gun’s close-range specialty.
If recoil is a concern, there are a number of workable options. I’ll preface this by saying there was only one load with recoil that got my attention — No. 4 buckshot, across the board — but even that was not a problem.
For slugs, Fiocchi’s Low-Recoil 2¾-inch 7/8-ounce Aero slugs were softer-recoiling and made follow-up shot placement simpler (the tightest group with slugs was created with these). Remington’s Ultimate Defense buckshot in managed recoil — eight 00-buck pellets rather than nine — checked the boxes for a lower-recoiling 00 buck option.
The shotshells the gun didn’t enjoy cycling were Aguila Minishells. Although it would fire them without hesitation, it seemed no amount of finessing the pump action would consistently chamber the next Minishell. If you’re shooting for fun, a few hiccups aren’t life-threatening, but if you’re using this gun for self-defense it’s another story altogether.
Remington officially launched the 870 Tac-14 at the NRA Annual Meetings 2017 with the prominent tagline, “The shortest allowable distance between powerless and prepared.” This brings up an important point: Is the 870 Tac-14 for fun or self-defense?
My first thought upon seeing the 870 Tac-14 was that it would make an excellent truck gun, and it does. However, it’s also a viable option for home defense. It has one significant benefit a full-size 870 doesn’t have: greater maneuverability, which is something you should never discount when it comes to close-quarter shooting like you’ll find in a house packed with furniture. The gun’s size also makes threat-focused shooting — also known as point-shooting — quicker and likely more accurate, not to mention flat-out doable when the threat moves from social to personal space.
While I don’t recommend shooting the 870 Tac-14 single-handed unsupported unless you absolutely must, it’s reasonably accurate with one hand as long as it’s supported. That said, the recoil creates enormous muzzle rise without the use of your off hand. Its weight makes it unwieldy and difficult to aim with nothing beneath it, but if you rest the forend on a surface it gets the job done. You can even cycle the pump with a sharp motion against said surface.
One caveat: Take care which load you use for self-defense. As awesome as it is watching 00 buck utterly annihilate a watermelon, it’s also eye opening watching it blow through multiple sheets of drywall. There’s a reason our service members use 12-gauge shotguns to breach doors and walls; this is a load capable of incredible destruction, and it neither knows nor cares what lies beyond said door or wall. Stick to loads less likely to over-penetrate, such as No. 4 buckshot — which, yes, did recoil more noticeably — and practice. Find out what your chosen load can do before you make a long-term decision.
Overall, the Remington 870 Tac-14 seems to be a well-made, resilient firearm. It brought a smile to my face and, I’m not ashamed to say, more than one exclamation of “Sweet!” to my lips. It ate every 2¾- and 3-inch shotshell I fed it without a single failure, and when I was done, the pile of spent shotshells was quite substantial. It delivered solid accuracy with a broad range of loads, even when firing the Federal Black Cloud 3-inch 1¼-ounce BBs I ran through it just because. And while it was fun, it was also reliable. It’s my new truck gun, and there’s every reason it should be yours as well.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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