For a guy just finished kitting out an AR15, tactical shotguns seem great. Tactical shotgun parts are cheap and plentiful, and the guns themselves are everywhere and ultra reliable. While there is no dominant platform like the AR15, tactical shotguns are very much centered around the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500. Some semi auto shotguns have taken favor, but their utility is pretty poor compared to an all-digesting pump. It’s just difficult to make a semi that fully functions with light clay busting loads and doesn’t take damage when you shoot slugs or 3 1/2 turkey loads. Anyhow, I was over at Cabela’s and I had to buy the ATI Talon Tactical Shotgun Ultimate Package. Mostly because my existing 870 Wingmaster had a nasty cracked buttpad and scored up, chipped stock.
Since I got the, ahem, professional package for $50 more, I got a forend, an adjustable cheek riser and the mysterious aluminum upgrade package. I assume they have a regular, non-aluminum (plastic) standard for their dovetail connection, and it sucks so they came out with an aluminum upgrade. That’s just a guess though. The M4 stock is mounted on a 6 position commercial buffer. So if you’re not crazy about the stock, and I’m not, you can always chuck another commercial tube spec M4 stock on. Specifically, the stock release lever and pivot on the ATI stock were kinda shitty. The rest of the buttstock was alright. The scorpion buttpad was no R3 supercell and isn’t going to tame much kick, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the hard plastic pad on my old 870 stock. Keeping in mind that a good buttpad is $30-$40, and this whole stock system is ~$150, I’ll let it slide.
One thing I really like about the stock is the inclusion of a sling mount really close to the receiver. It’s a solid point that offers more flexibility for sling carry styles, and removes the need to wrap a sling around the stock and torque it with a buckle or whatever. You could also use this sling mount for a single point sling, if that’s your kind of thing. Now, on a negative side, changing from the no-sling option to the sling option was my first experience with the more than horrible installation manual. Not only did it regularly mess up what type of screw was being used, it also gave the wrong instructions. I disassembled the pistol grip to find out that it had nothing to do with the sling plate. The instruction manual is a waste of paper, I’d much rather have seen a link to a YouTube video.
The mounting system itself isn’t all that bad. The dovetail tightens right up once you snug the T15 torx screw. I suppose you could bust that screw if you were to really beat on something with the stock, but the rest of the stock wouldn’t survive either. This stock is not built for WWI style, hand-to-hand trench fighting, but that’s not really what we’re using it for anyways. The kit comes with a better allen head bolt for the receiver instead of the flat monster that my old stock had, but the small size of the allen socket told me that they didn’t want me torquing it down with very much muscle. Maybe that’s for the best, wouldn’t want to strip my receiver out. I added a blob of blue loc-tite and torqued it down.
The adjustable cheek rest was a nice touch and is going to be great for anyone adding on a red dot or other sight system. It came with a thin stick on cheekpad that should take a bit of the snap out of recoil to the face. The add on plastic rails and 4 screws to get the adjustable cheek pad on seemed a bit excessive/cheesy. Maybe it enables ATI to run just 1 style of buttstock?
If you’re really gung-ho on your tactical shotgun forend, there are tri-rail forends that have full rails on the bottom and sides for all sorts of accessories. Personally, I just thought it’d be weird to combine a nice wood forend on the front and a plastic M4 style buttstock, so I opted for the kit that came with a forend. This ATI forend comes with options for 3 small rails towards the front. These would be perfect for a flashlight or keychain holder or whatever other crap you want to throw on your shotgun. I installed the left rail section in case I want to throw a flashlight on there, but left the other off. Incidentally, my forend didn’t come with the bottom section molded/machined properly. Instead of having a relief and holes to screw into, it’s just a blank. It’s a basic QC issue, and even though I’m not using it, it was still a bit of a piss off.
Installation of the forend wasn’t super straight forward. First off, the part comes with pieces that it says in the manual you have to remove. That’s right, they don’t remove them at the factory, you need to. After dremelling out the “bridges” as they’re called in the manual, I did a test fit of the front and rear adapters on my forend. With the action bar tube-thing (official part name 🙂 it was about 1″ short. I had to dremel the rear adapter so that the action bars would snug in and give me enough room to get the castle nut on. I’m not sure how many 870s are like that, but it added to the cheesy factor when putting the stock on. Happily, after getting it all snugged up, the forend was very solid.
Shooting the stock
This was my favorite part of this stock. Recoil came straight back, and the 6 position stock actually gave me some nice choice; on my AR15, it’s simply “extend to maximum”. The buttpad wasn’t soft and supple like some of my pads, but it wasn’t all that bad. The rubber kept it in place on my shoulder and it was comfortable to shoot. The pistol grip was comfortable, though I can’t say I, or many people, really care how much rubber there is on the rear of the pistol grip. Unless you’re shooting from the hip or with one hand, it’s just not that important. I’d like for it to have snugged up to the trigger guard a 1/2″ more, but it was close enough. In terms of recoil reduction, I can’t say that this, or any stock, really takes much out. From what I’ve seen on recoil reducing shotgun stocks, you replace one kind of recoil with another. Personally, I don’t mind the hit of a shotgun as long as it’s straight back into my shoulder, and this stock does it just as good as most others.
I was really looking hard at just getting a stock adapter, extension tube, etc and building a stock set myself, but there were a few things in this package that I couldn’t readily build. Most AR stocks don’t come with much of a buttpad and the aftermarket pads are pretty ugly. I’d still have to get a forend, and my buddy had my armorers wrench, which I would have needed to tighten the castle nut. For about $150, I can’t really complain too loudly about this stock set but competition is tight. The Archangel Tactical 870 kit is cheaper and comes with QD mounts, and bigger names like MESA, Knox, and Magpul are only a few bucks more. I suppose it’s OK if you’re at Cabela’s and you want a tactical shotgun stock, but there are others out there that are good too.