The M4 is my first shotgun, and I have never taken a formal training class with it. My M4 haD less than 200 rounds through it before this class.
M4 with a steel 7 round tube, C-stock in the middle position, and the following mods:
Surefire Dual Fuel Light on an IWC QD Mount
GG&G Bolt Release
TTI Shell Lifter
Aimpoint T2 on ADM Low Mount
FFT Trigger Set and A&S Housing
IWC QD Rear Mount
VTAC 2 Point Sling
SOE 12 GA Micro Rig
This was a “Basic Tactical Shotgun” run by a well-regarded local outfit that I’ve trained with before. It’s the first of a three class progression. This class focused heavily on a handful of items:
Understanding how the shotgun patterns and functions at different distances and with different loads. We ran a variety of 00 Buck, #4 Buck, and slug loads at 7, 15, 25, and 50 yards. We then ran the slugs all the way out to 100. This was done from standing, supported kneeling, and even prone position.
Learning how to do combat and speed reloads. This was a major emphasis of the training and one that was eye-opening for me. Dynamically loading while engaging multiple reactive targets was fun.
Doing “slug select” drills to dynamically change out the round that you have.
Concluded with a “shoot house” engaging paper targets
The temperature hovered in the low to mid 90s for most of the training, requiring us to build in plenty of water and cooling breaks.
Know what ammo your gun likes: I can say with confidence that I’m never using Fiocchi #4 Buck again. Had multiple, repeated failures to eject/extract that led to a lot of (unexpected, but valuable) experience in failure clearance drills. This was not an issue with either my Federal Tactical slugs or PMC 00 Buck.
Malfunction drills require a lot more thinking than an AR or a handgun: It’s not as easy as “tap, rack, bang” with an M4. For example, FTEs because of an extended crimp are not as simple as cycling the bolt and smacking the receiver. Getting a live round back into the chamber once you clear also requires practiced discipline with the manual of arms.
You feel every ounce of weight you drop off of this platform: The M4 is a heavy beast, especially when you’re using it for several hours during a 90 degree day. Dropping the Mesa side saddle helped, but I’m looking forward to replacing my steel tube with a titanium one. I may even SBS this thing and drop down to 14” barrel.
This is an impressively accurate gun: With a 2 MOA red dot and Truball slugs, I was making consistent spine box hits at 75 yards, and was hitting “minute of man” at 100. I was not truthfully not expecting that out of this gun.
For my fellow lefties, you have to work on modifying manual of arms: While the safety can be swapped and things like combat reloads might be easier because of visibility into the bolt, other drills are not. For example, grabbing a round off of a chest rig to do a slug select can be tricky. You have to rotate the gun, tuck it into your armpit, use your left hand to current round and hold it open long enough to drop in the new slug.
Anyway, it was a very eye opening experience for me. I’m still sore (birdshot didnt come in in time, so ran the entire course with buck and slugs) and a touch dehydrated, but well worth the time and energy.