I know what you’re thinking; that’s a Witness Protection gun! Well, Witness Protection is a term applied to a commercial version of a shotgun used by the Marhsall’s service. However, the Marshal’s never called it the Witness protection shotgun. Instead, they called it the Marshal’s Service Short Shotgun. A Marshal named Lynn Jordall came up with the idea and worked with an armorer at Glynco named Gene Thompson to produce the first of these shorty shotguns.
According to Gene Thompson, he built the first prototypes, and when they decided to produce the shotgun en-masse, they contracted the creation of the bird’s head grips out to Jim Wilson of Wilson Combat. Wilson was young at the time, and he hadn’t formed one of the premier firearms companies just yet.
The early version of the gun utilized Remington 870s with barrels trimmed to 14.5 inches and the cylinder bores modified to accept Mossberg pattern chokes. Almost 250 of these guns were created and fielded for various roles in the Marshal’s Service, including Witness Protection.
What Makes a Marshal’s Service Short Shotgun
I know we’ve established. Well, they are characterized by barrels as long as 14.5 inches and as short as 12.5 inches. The Marshal’s Service Short Shotgun Is a pump-action 12 gauge, and it’s built specifically on a Remington 870 receiver. The Witness protection models sold by Wilson were likely the closest you’d get, but there is a more affordable and NFA-free option to replicate this classic short blaster.
Specifically, you are going to have to look for the Remington TAC 14 Hardwood Model. It’s about as close as you can get to Marshal’s Service Short Shotgun without a tax stamp and a gunsmith. I’m using a TAC 14 Hardwood for this very article.
Like the actual Marshal’s Service Short Shotgun, the TAC 14 Hardwood utilizes wood furniture, including a crafted pistol grip only design. The barrel is short and sweet, and ultimately the weapon is highly maneuverable and a potent powerhouse.
The weapon holds four to five rounds, with this model featuring a plus one magazine extension. Also, an essential part of the gun is the forward hand shield. This prevents your hand from slipping in front of the barrel and becoming Swiss cheese. Of course, that shield acts as a sling point as well.
These Short Shotguns often wore M1 Carbine slings, and they provided a small package that could be concealed over the arm with a sling and a windbreaker. Concealing the TAC 14 would turn it into an AOW, so don’t try it.
Why Does it Bang?
The Marshal’s Service Short Shotgun brings compact firepower home without the cost of being an SMG. A short shotgun like this delivers a ton of power per trigger. Sure, the lack of a stock makes it tougher to wield, but it’s really not that hard to be efficient with practice.
Pair it with the correct ammunition, and you can easily wield the weapon accurately. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it won’t smack you in the face if you try to aim. In fact, I can handle it with a single hand and not experience some crazy whip-like recoil. I blame the propagation of the AR-15 for making people so sissified about recoil.
Sure it kicks a bit, but it’s not a damn elephant gun. The bird’s head grip actually makes it easy to control and doesn’t beat your wrist up with every shot. You can easily steer or direct the gun when necessary, and it’s short enough to work in and out of vehicles easily. Plus, you can tuck in close to the body for close retention sue and have a powerhouse of a weapon on tap.
The Action is the Juice
It’s a challenge to handle and shoot, but that’s the fun of it. The Marshal’s Service Short Shotgun and the TAC 14, by extension, is a blast to shoot. It requires good technique, but landing quick headshots for the low ready is immensely satisfying.
Sure, you can put a string of 5.56 into a target from 15 yards, but is that really fun? Or even challenging? Nah, but hammering a target with buckshot over and with a PGO firearm provides a real thrill. The TAC 14 Hardwood brings back a law enforcement weapon that time has forgotten, and it’s nice to own an NFA-free replica of the Marshal’s Service Short Shotgun.