Decision: Pistol Grip on a Shotgun or Traditional Stock?

20140226-104541.jpgThere seems to be a simmering debate that folks are not directly addressing. This is the question of pistol grips on shotguns. I was doing a little research on 3-Gun shotgun preferences and I found that in most cases competitors prefer a traditional stock. However, anyone who is a fan of pistol grips on their scattergun has told me that it gives them a tactical advantage. Is there no overlap between the tactical community and 3-Gun on this?

I tend to believe that 3-Gun is one of the most tactical of the shooting sports, so I began to wonder why there was such a difference of opinion when it came to pistol grips on shotguns? Some will tell you that having this protruding part coming from your gun will actually slow you down. I could see how this might be the case depending on your reloading method. Others, who would not give up their pistol grip, feel that this part gives them comfort and stability. I can also see their point. There is a certain extra level of stability and ease of grasping that a pistol grip will offer.

When I look at CZ-USA’s new 712 Practical, I begin to wonder why they went with the adjustable stock with pistol grip, especially when they are using the same manufacturer, ATI, for their 712 Utility. I would have expected them to flip these two stocks, and see the traditional on the Practical and the pistol grip on the Utility. What do you think about their choice? And about pistol grips on shotguns in general?


  1. Any reload method which requires rolling the shotgun over is going to be easier with a traditional stock. Considering the how often one needs to reload with a shotgun (regardless of application) you’d think people would want to make it as easy as possible for themselves. Only exception I can think of is breaching with a pistol grip sans stock, and then transitioning to another weapon, hence no reloading the scatter-gat.

  2. I have used both types, and it will depend some on your reloading method (and practice). When I was loading weak hand, the pistol grip helped me to stabilize the shotgun. I also liked it since for a transition from the AR, essentially the grip was the same. I believe I tended to shoot it better too. Since moving to strong hand reloads, I went back to a traditional stock since the grip was getting in the way (for me). Maybe if I had spent more time on it I could have figured out how to work around it. Like everything else, each has their application, and perceptions.

    1. I’m curious what you mean when you say, “since moving to strong hand reloads”? Is there a specific reason to start by learning weak hand first? I did, but I was never told why.

      1. Gabby,

        It depends on how you are reloading. Most people loading weak hand are loading off caddies, and not using the load 2/quadloading systems. For caddies loading weakhand is best. It allows you to simply tuck the gun under your arm and thumb them in with your left hand. Re-mounting the weapon is a breeze, as your right hand says on the gun in the same position as it was when you are shooting it.

        When people swap to the load 2/quadloading system they generally are throwing the butt of the gun up over their strong hand shoulder. This allows the left hand to stay on the front hand guard. They then use their strong hand to either load 2 or quadload the weapon. When they are done, they simple pull forward with their left hand and roll the gun back to a straight and level position. Keeping one hand on the gun in it’s shooting position helps speed up re-mounting of the weapon when the reload is complete.

        I can load off caddies. I can load2 and I’m now proficient in quadloading. For someone just starting out I would say learn the load 2 system strong hand. It allows you to easily transition to quadloading when you have time. The load2 system is the easiest to learn, and just as fast if not faster than caddy loading. Quadloading blows everything else out of the water in terms of speed but is tough to master.

  3. i prefer traditional stocks, actually “English” straight stocks on my shotguns. I can see some last 1% advantage to a full pistol grip on a dedicated ‘tactical only” shotgun, especially for guys who mostly shoot AR’s etc. More ready to fire while doing something important with the weak hand- like opening a door, opening another can of beer or lifting another slice of pizza.

  4. Whether a pistol grip is a good idea depends on the gun as well. On a Rem 870? It works. On a Mossberg? Not so much. in fact it’s a very bad idea.

    Pistol grip only with no stock? Only for a dedicated breaching gun.

  5. I find pistol grip shot guns are slower to shoulder. I’ll concede if you are pivoting (muzzle low, butt at the shoulder) the gun to your eye it’s probably a push. The more vertical the pistol grip, the more recoil is shared with the grip hand.

  6. I learned to reload using the weak-hand reload method. I carry shells in 3×3 shell caddies pull up 3 shells lower the gun to my hip, lock it under my strong arm and shove in the 3 shells as fast as I can. I average like 9 seconds for 6 shells but I don’t practice this all that much because I don’t do a lot of shotgun reloading.

    However the new hotness in 3-gun shotgun reloads is the load 2 method. It involves flipping the gun over and jamming in 2 shells at once stripping them from a chest rig carrier. In this instance a pistol grip can get in the way. This is a lot faster once you got it down, I’ve seen dudes load 8 shells in just over 4 seconds this way. The only reason I don’t do it is because the chest rig to hold the shells are mucho bucks and as has been previously stated I don’t do enough shotgun stuff to make that a priority in my gun buying stuffs.

    I myself has been looking at the CZ 712 Practical because I have an unabashed love of CZ and I would probably buy the Practical and swap the stock for the ATI adjustable length but more traditional stock and then sell the pistol grip to someone that wants it.

  7. There is also a trend among shooters to assume that since they have a hammer, every problem they encounter will be a nail.

    In 3 Gun, you don’t get awarded points, or win a trophy for a non-shooting altercation with the target.

    I prefer a standard stock, but did spend significant amount of time with a pistol grip stock when I carried a shotgun on a regular basis. It is much easier to retain and control a pistol grip stock when using it as an impact weapon, or when having to wield it one handed.

  8. I’ve resisted using any of the faster reloading methods for 3 gun, simply because I use the matches as tactical training, and taking my strong hand off the grip is a no-go. So I prefer a pistol grip, since I can more easily shoot it one-handed if a target presents itself.

  9. To expand what others have talked around here: I was taught weak-hand reloads, so that I could keep my gun oriented in the threat direction, eyes up looking for threats, string hand holding the gun in firing position. If a threat popped up while reloading, I could instantly respond (dropping the shell if in the midst of reloading).

    But that technique ALSO included the idea (fairly standard) that you do not shoot a shotgun dry and reload — you top it off EVERY chance you get during a lull or (preferrably) behind cover, because you sure as heck won’t be reloading a dry gun quickly under fire. Often referred to as “Shoot two, load two”.

    The strong hand reloading technique gets more shells into the gun faster, at the expense of taking the gun out of firing position, and making it slower to reshoulder and respond if something nasty pops up while stuffing the gun. But someone skilled (and with a reasonably large hand span – if you have trouble spanning enough to easily play the piano, maybe not the technique for you) can stuff four shells in a gun at LEAST as fast as someone using the “weak hand load while shouldering” can get two shells. . . usually faster. (Seriously, it’s like watching a magician do card tricks to see one of the true masters of strong hand reloading. Most guys couldn’t swap mags on a 1911 from slide lock as fast as these dudes can shove four rounds in a Benelli.)

  10. Correction on third paragraph – “The WEAK hand reloading technique gets more shells into teh gun faster. . . “

    1. Strong hand reloading quads…is far and away much faster than the quad loading with a weak hand…

  11. DOH! No, the original post was correct, the “correction” is wrong. {slinks away}

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