28 Mar 12

At a Defensive Shotgun Course last weekend, a student brought a Mossberg 590. The factory forend had been replaced with an after-market one that featured rails on all three sides. To the bottom rail, the student had attached a vertical forend.

The gun ran fine, but the vertical forend broke-off within fifty rounds of enthusiastic firing. All too typical for vertical forends! So, the student simple defaulted to operating the forend in the conventional manner. The gun continued to run fine, until one of my instructors called me over to examine a finger injury that had been suffered by the student.

The student had a nasty gash in the tip of his left-side index finger. He was pretty tough, so we put a Bandaid on it, and he subsequently finished the Course, but I calculated that it would eventually required a suture, or two, to close the wound properly.

We quickly figured out what caused the finger-cut, and I should have caught it before we started. The after-market forend, as installed, produced a half-inch “over-bite” with the shotgun’s receiver. That is, at its rearmost, the forend over-rode the receiver. The gap was tight, and the rail was sharp, as was the edge of the receiver!

When he operated the slide normally, my student got his finger next to the bottom/rear of the receiver, which (as noted above) also has a sharp edge, and the forend came back and trapped his finger there, causing the cut.

I remember this was also the main problem with the ill-fated S&W 916 pump-shotgun (out of production since the 1970s). I remember having many of these in classes, because they were cheap. The guns really were disgusting junk, and there were significant problems with parts breakage, but the biggest problem was pieces of flesh they routinely sliced from fingers of whoever tried to operated them! Sharp edges and corners, combined with forend over-bite, was the culprit there too. In fact, during its short and unhappy tenure, the 916 acquired the dubious title of “finger-eater!”

S&W eventually, and wisely, abandoned the 916, and replaced it with their copy of Remington’s 870, called the M3000 (also long-since out of production). That shotgun featured a correctly-designed forend and thus no over-bite. I still have a copy!

Some pump-shotguns, currently in production, come with forends that extend backward far enough to cause over-bite. However, edges are rounded-off so as to make finger-bite less frequent and painful. Law-enforcement versions of these same shotguns come with a slim/short forend with no over-bite.

The point here is that serious shotguns, serious guns in general, should not have sharp edges and corners. Pump-shotguns, in particular, should not have forend over-bite, of any kind. Pinching/cutting one’s finger, in the middle of a gunfight, will represent the kind of distraction you don’t need!

Logic is a cruel critic!