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Gimmick To Game-Changer: Cheek Shooting with the Mossberg Shockwave

Is the Mossberg Shockwave shotgun a practical home-defense firearm? With the cheek-shooting method, it's a highly capable tool.

Gimmick To Game-Changer: Cheek Shooting with the Mossberg Shockwave

Mossberg’s line of Shockwave firearms are compact and unique, but are they capable? Once you learn the “cheek method” of shooting, they certainly are. 

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For years, I viewed them as gimmicks, novelty guns that looked cool but lacked practicality. Turns out I was wrong about an entire class of firearms. I’m referring to Raptor grip-equipped firearms like Mossberg’s Shockwave seen here. These firearms are slim, trim, and far more capable than I once thought. My epiphany occurred when watching videos produced by Rhett Neumayer of Demonstrated Concepts.

Neumayer is a firearm trainer who pioneered a way to shoot stockless firearms using both hands and his cheek or jaw as a third point of contact. On Mossberg’s Shockwave, he uses a red-dot optic on the receiver, a recoil strap for the shooting hand, and a stance that utilizes the arms as shock absorbers. It’s a fascinating shooting style that Neumayer makes look easy, but does this cheek method work for a normal shooter? With Mossberg’s 590A1 Shockwave in .410 and a case of Hornady ammo, I had to find out. The .410 was once pigeonholed as a starter shotgun for youth hunters. Today, that’s not all this little shotshell is good for. With the popularity of the .45 Colt/.410-chambered Taurus Judge, ammo makers now offer self-defense loads in this versatile cartridge.

An intriguing option is Hornady’s 2.5-inch .410 Triple Defense in their Critical Defense line. This load features a 115-grain, .41-caliber FTX slug perched atop two .35-caliber lead round balls that weigh 65 grains apiece. With each shot, you send the equivalent of three pistol bullets into the target. While the FTX slug is designed for rifled barrels, I saw no erratic flight issues through the Shockwave’s 14.3-inch smoothbore barrel. Out to 25 yards, each target had three holes as advertised. For those who choose the .410 for self-defense, the Triple Defense loads make an excellent option.

The Mossberg Shockwave Cheek Method

shockwave-cheek-method-02
A recoil strap secures shooting hand to grip, preventing the Shockwave from smacking your face.

Mossberg’s Shockwave is in a class of its own. It appears to be a pistol version of a pump-action shotgun, but technically, it’s neither, even though the gun fires shotshells and has a smoothbore, 14.3-inch barrel. Legally speaking, the Shockwave is a “firearm” because it lacks a buttstock. Instead of a stock, it comes with a bird’s head-style Raptor grip that keeps the overall length of the firearm beyond 26 inches. Why 26 inches, you ask? This is the number the ATF uses to determine if a gun is “concealable.” Regardless of how it’s bureaucratically defined, the Shockwave is compact, handy, and useful once you learn how to use it.

Small arms are fired two ways: from the hands or from the shoulder. With the Shockwave, neither method is doable. This is where Neumayer’s cheek method comes in. Adding the third point of contact changes everything about using these little blasters. With the cheek method of shooting, a few accessories are needed. These include a rail atop the receiver for a red dot as well as a recoil strap that Neumayer sells. The red dot enables rapid aiming, and the recoil strap prevents the shotgun from slamming into your face. To supplement the Shockwave’s 5+1-round capacity, I added a Rifle Cartridge Holder (size large) from Brown Coat Tactical, which nestles 5 rounds on the receiver’s left side.

With the gun ready, I spent two days with an empty Shockwave to build proficiency on this new technique. Resting the Shockwave grip on your face feels weird, but after a few hundred repetitions, it gets easier. Once I got the hang of it, I was impressed by how fast I acquired the dot and how stable the Shockwave was on target. With dry-fire repetitions out of the way, it was time to go hot.

shockwave-cheek-method-03

My first range session didn’t go well. I loaded 5 rounds of Hornady’s Critical Defense .410 ammo, snugged the Raptor grip to my jaw, and sent a round downrange. The recoil wasn’t bad, but there was a burning sensation on my face. The red dot was a Steiner MRS that sits low on the rail. With my face low on the grip, the recoil strap was giving me rope burn with each shot. Bruised but not beaten, I swapped the MRS for a higher red dot like Neumayer uses in his videos. With a Crimson Trace RAD Pro on an AR-height mount, I hit the range again. What a difference this made. With my cheekbone now resting on my thumb atop the grip, I was pain free and as stable as before. After chewing up targets with 50 rounds in rapid succussion, I realized that Neumayer’s cheek method works. In fact, it’s the only way to run the Shockwave.




A Versatile Blaster

The cheek method works, so let’s explore what the Shockwave is good for. Doubters will point out that a pint-sized Shockwave .410 is not as powerful as a 20 or 12 gauge, lacks the range or accuracy of a carbine, isn’t as concealable as a pistol, and wouldn’t be a good choice for aerial targets. In its stock form, that’s all true, but the Shockwave modified for cheek shooting becomes a different firearm. It becomes a versatile tool for many uses.

shockwave-cheek-method-04
Red dot, rail, shell holder, and recoil strap were the accessories added to fire Mossberg’s Shockwave with the cheek technique.

Offhand at defensive distances, the Shockwave offers the speed of a pistol with almost as much accuracy as a carbine. In use, the red dot settles on target, you squeeze the trigger, pump the action, and repeat. It’s intuitive and wicked fast. For self-defense, the Shockwave’s performance is closer to that of a long gun than of a pistol. Plus, multiple projectiles are fired with each shot. In terms of accuracy, the Cylinder-choked barrel patterned all the buckshot and defensive loads I tested in the center of a silhouette torso out to 25 yards, the outer edge of defensive shooting distance. I haven’t run dedicated slugs just yet, but they will likely add another 75 yards to the Shockwave’s useful range, all while producing a fraction of the recoil of 12-gauge loads. Defensive duty isn’t all this gun offers. It’s also ideal for hunting or pest removal. Paired with birdshot, the little Shockwave becomes a small-game assassin on squirrels, rabbits, grouse, or raccoons. For deer hunting or swatting birds from the air, superior options exist, but loaded accordingly, this little pump gun could handle both in a pinch.

shockwave-cheek-method-05
A shell holder from Brown Coat Tactical is an affordable way to keep additional shells on your Shockwave.

As an openminded shooter, I’m embarrassed to admit how wrong I was about Mossberg’s Shockwave. This little pump-action is no gimmick or toy. With the cheek method of shooting, it becomes a versatile tool for many tasks. Compact and lightweight, fast and accurate, yet well suited for everything from snake patrol to eliminating pests and even human predators, the Shockwave in .410 is a “firearm” in a class all its own. To learn more about this cheek method of shooting, check out Neumayer’s videos at demonstratedconcepts.com. If you give his unconventional method a try, you too will likely be impressed.

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This article was originally published in Scattergun magazine, and an original copy can be found at OSGnewsstand.com. If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.

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