By Payton Miller, GUNS Magazine
Getting a workhorse firearm slicked up is something a lot of shooters like to think about, but the majority of us either learn to live with it as-is “out of the box” or tweak things incrementally, usually over the passage of years. So it’s a good thing—particularly for us technically-challenged types—there are companies specializing not only in aftermarket enhancement gear, but total butt-to-muzzle renovations.
Our pair of cover guns this month shows what AIMPRO Tactical is capable of providing (in a complete package) in regard to a pair of very different platforms—an iconic pump shotgun and a big-bore double-action revolver. AIMPRO will either stage their Performance Packages on the base gun available or they will provide it.
Let’s take them one at a time:
Shotguns—because of their ability to digest and deliver a huge assortment of ammunition and projectile types—may classify as general-purpose “power tools.” But a single-purpose specimen takes a backseat to few other types of firearms in the specialization sweepstakes.
Thanks to a relentless aftermarket industry, shooters have long been tricking out tactical shotguns for competition, defense or to simply satisfy their own “wouldn’t it be cool if…” customizing whims. And in the words of Johnny Cash, it’s often “a one-piece-at-a-time” enterprise.
There are plenty of major gun companies vastly experienced in tweaking out dedicated slug guns, turkey guns, duck guns and clay-target guns. But AIMPRO specializes in serious upgrades to Mossberg’s menu of workhorse tactical platforms. What they’ve done with the humble M590A1 pump is pretty cool. It now features all the bells and whistles any devotee of the “social shotgun” could ask for—and then some. From the Hogue synthetic stock and the proprietary ghost-ring aperture sight to the slicked up action, magazine extension and Mag-na-ported barrel, right on up to the railed barrel clamp and ominous-looking Dragon breaching muzzle attachment, this “custom-shopped” pump is all business.
The fiber-optic front looms over the ominous-looking Dragon breaching
attachment and magazine tube extension (top). The AIMPRO Mossberg
features a fully adjustable ghost-ring rear sight (bottom).
The Hogue stock/recoil pad, in conjunction with the Mag-na-Ported barrel,
took a lot of the shoulder sting off those slug and buckshot loads.
The heat shield—a tactical touch—is there to spare your
tender hands during extended shooting sessions.
Slugs, Buck, Birdshot
I grouped an assortment of slug loads—1-ounce Federal Tru-Ball, Winchester Power Point and Dupleks steel Monolit28—at 50 yards, after initially trying them at 25 and getting disconcerting “two-fers” with each shot, thanks to the plastic wads. The ghost ring sights with their high-visibility green and red fiber optic setup proved very effective—my three selected slug loads printed 3-shot groups ranging from 2.5 to 4 inches—quite respectable from a smoothbore barrel.
All loads were, mercifully, 2.75-inch. (If, overnight, every 2.75-inch slug or buck load on the face of the earth were to disappear, I’d probably take advantage of the gun’s 3-inch capability. But not until then).
Evidently the AIMPRO crew did a bit of work on the trigger, as the one on my gun broke at a very clean (read: un-shotgun-like) 5 pounds. Maybe not a big deal on a bird gun, but very much appreciated when trying to group slugs with nice sights.
Moving the target frame up to a buckshot-friendly 15 yards, I tried some Hornady Critical Defense 00 buck as well as Winchester’s PDX-1 buck-and-ball load, consisting of a 1-ounce hollowpoint slug and three 00 buck pellets. Results with both were impressive. The Hornady buck dumped its entire 8-pellet payload—right along with the Versatite wad—into a fairly evenly dispersed 7-inch pattern dead center in a giant-size Shoot-N-C target. The Winchester PDX-1 spread its trio of 00 pellets a bit more erratically, but delivered its slugs with near 1-hole accuracy.
It should be noted I was using the cylinder-bore Dragon Breacher attachment for everything. To paraphrase the TV ads, as far as optimum buckshot patterning in any particular gun goes, results may vary. There really is no hard-and-fast pellet-size/choke formula. It’s still necessary to man up and hit the bench was a fistful of choke tubes and a shoulder-rattling assortment of different buckshot loads to find out what works best.
I even tried a bit of clay-bird busting using Fiocchi No. 8 target loads. Although a “tactical” item like this isn’t usually considered the ideal tool for a round of skeet, I’ve done a bit of it with defensive shotguns (simply because I’m more of a low-gun snap or “spot” shooter than a conventional sustained-lead type). And there’s nothing like regular sessions with target loads with which to familiarize yourself with a shotgun—any type of shotgun.
Although open rifle-type sights are easier to work with, the aperture of the AIMPRO ghost-ring is generous enough to allow you to pick up the bird without feeling as if you’re peering through a keyhole. Malina Shirley of Angeles Shooting Ranges tried her hand with the gun and managed to go 8 for 10.
Shooting 2.75-inch max-dram slug and buckshot loads from the bench is not my favorite pastime (particularly from a pump), but the Mag-na-Ported barrel and Hogue stock/recoil pad made it pretty tolerable. Heck, the recoil characteristics are good enough on this one to even make me appreciate them when crushing clay targets with relatively docile target loads.