Note: this is an unsolicited review of the shotgun parts my husband got me for Christmas. The opinions are mine and mine alone.
Last month, I wrote about the parts RCC got me for my shotgun and how easy they all were to install. Shortly after BAMF (yes, that's her new name) got put together, we arranged a range day with my boys, Mez and Z joining us. I was anxious to see how everything was going to work. On my previous shotgun, one similar to RCC's, I had a Breako mercury recoil reducer, which made shooting the 12 ga as comfortable as shooting a .22.
Blackhawk Knoxx Special Ops Adjustable Stock
This is advertised to reduce felt recoil by about 90%. Having been spoiled in the past with the Breako, I wasn't sure this one would even come close.
Here's what it looks like in real time...
Not too bad. The felt recoil is greatly reduced to the shoulder, almost as well as the Breako system. With this Knoxx system, the receiver actually moves back into the buttstock to help absorb some of the recoil. The springs in both the grip and the stock itself help dissipate the recoil before it gets to the shoulder, which is great. What is not so great is that when the receiver moved back to it's original position, it tended to smack me in the cheek. Ouch.
In slo-mo you can see the recoil move through the gun and my shoulder (and cheek)...it looks much worse than it really is.
RCC had been shooting his shotgun, which has the Breako system in it, so I asked him to shoot mine to compare them side-by-side. He says that they are pretty much the same, not enough difference to choose one over the other with respect to decrease in recoil.
Since he's eight inches taller and a few pounds heavier, I wanted to see what it looked like when he shot BAMF. Here's his video in real time...
And in slo-mo...
It looks horribly brutal in slo-mo, but it's not (other than the cheek slappy thing, which you can see in this video). I didn't get smacked every time I shot, just often enough to make it uncomfortable. Would it deter me from shooting a bad guy? No, but I did find myself reaching for RCC's shotgun more than my own.
Rating: 3/5. Yes, it does reduce recoil, but the ocassional literal slap in the face isn't worth it in my book.
PowerPak Modular Cheekpiece with Shell Carrier and Battery Holder
The high cheekpiece was a necessity for me, as the optic sat way too high on the receiver for me to use without it. It still wasn't quite high enough to effectively use the optic, which turned out to be okay in the long run.
The Shell Carrier, being on the right hand side of the gun, is convenient for a right-handed shooter. With the left hand stabilizing the gun, it should be fairly easy to grab a shell out of the carrier and insert it into the chamber. The only problem is that, brand new, it's awfuly tight and takes a lot of yanking to get the shell out of the carrier. In order to get my last shell into the carrier, I had to pry the space open with a screwdriver.
I don't know if it will loosen up or get easier with use, but I've loaded up the Shell Carrier with Snap Caps for practice. I did notice that it was a little easier to load the Snap Caps after I'd had shells already in the carrier, so I'm hopefull it will loosen up. I really like the ability to carry a variety of additional rounds.
Rating: 4/5. The whole having to use the screwdriver to load up the carrier was irritating.
Mako Remington 870 Handguard with Three Rails
While I really like the idea of rails, I'm not in love with this handguard. The forward rails on both sides tore up my hand. I lost a chunk of thumbnail from the left-hand rail - hurt like a bitch - and a chunk of skin from my index finger from the right-hand rail. If I moved my hand back to the near end of the foreend, I didn't get smacked or lose any portions of my body.
I want to be able to place my hand anywhere on the foreend without worrying about getting bit. To say this pissed me off would be an understatement. The foreend (or handguard) is going to go. I'll go back to the standard Remington foreend until I can afford the SureFire foreend that I really want.
Mako Quick Release Ergonomic Vertical Foregrip
I originally didn't want to put this abomination on BAMF, but RCC talked me into it. It *does* look cool - very intimidating, at least - but I wasn't sure it was for me.
So, partway through our shooting day, I made good on my promise to RCC to at least give it a try and put it on the handguard. I ran a few rounds through the gun and noticed that I could cycle it so much faster, which I loved!
What I didn't love...the damn thing bit me. Now, remember, I'd already lost a chunk of thumbnail and a chunk of skin off of my fingers. Not to mention getting slapped upside the head by my recoil system. You can see in the video that I get a couple of rounds through and then look at my hand. I originally couldn't figure out why the base of my thumb hurt.
The vertical foregrip *did* solve the problem of getting smacked by the rails and losing skin, but there is a gap right at the top of the foregrip, where it attaches to the bottom rail and that's what was biting me. I think that a couple of strips of electrical tape might be just the fix for it. Of course, if I decide to keep it, that means I also have to keep the Mako handguard. It'll take another trip to the range for me to completely make up my mind about what I'm going to do.
Rating: 4/5. Even though I think it's kind of ugly, it did speed up my cycling of the gun. But it also bit me, which is the reason for the 4/5 rating.
UTG M87 Tactical Mount
Love it! Easy to install, looks bad ass. 'Nuff said.
NcStar Red Dot Sight
I loved this. Yep, past tense. As I was dialing it in, it broke. As in the reticle disa-freaking-ppeared. I got about four rounds through, was just about sighted in, and then nothing. Nada. No more reticle.
I think that maybe it wasn't rated for a shotgun, though nothing in the literature says otherwise. I've got it boxed up and ready to ship back, so we'll see how the next one holds up. My thought is that it might be okay with a "normal" backward recoil, but because of the set-up of the Knoxx system, the spring, as it returns to its normal position, might cause the recoil to travel upward at a diagonal through the receiver, knocking the reticle around. Same thought as to why I get smacked with the cheekpiece on ocassion.
Rating: 1/5. While it was working, it freaking ROCKED! For four rounds.
Overall impression of the customization to BAMF? I'm luke warm about several of the components, but really like the gun changes overall. I think with tweaking things here and there, I'll get her exactly where I want her.