Magpul Dynamics: The Art of the Dynamic Shotgun is a set of 3 DVD’s with over 5 hours of footage about how to run a shotgun in a combative context (i.e. this isn’t about shooting skeet, 3-gun, or duck hunting, tho some of this certainly could apply to those contexts).
This is the first Magpul Dynamics video I’ve watched. I’ve of course heard lots of hype and good reviews about the other Magpul DVD’s, so when this was released I knew I wanted to check it out. While I’m primarily a handgunner and didn’t care much for shotgun, over the past year I’ve found myself more interested and more drawn to shotgunning (skeet, dove hunting, personal protection). And while I appreciate sport such as skeet or hunting, my primary focus with firearms is for self- and home-defense. Thus, this DVD seemed right up my alley. Previously I looked at Rangemster’s Defensive Shotgun DVD; that is a good DVD, and I think it serves well for anyone considering a shotgun for defensive purposes. Magpul Dynamic’s DVD goes further.
NB: I purchased this DVD with my own money. There’s no gift, no payola, no kickback, no affiliation with Magpul other than being a customer and consumer of their products. So this review is my own.
What You Get
I purchased the 3-DVD set (it’s also available on Blu-Ray). The first two DVD’s are the meat of the production, with the third DVD providing supplemental material. Disc 1 covers foundational material such as zeroing, patterning, grip & stance, reload techniques, and how to do slug changeovers. Disc 2 covers transitions, positions, movement, and then provides numerous scenarios for LEO, gaming, home-defense. Disc 3 provides quick reference to the various drills and skills taught on the first two discs, discussion of hardware, and also outtakes and promotion of other Magpul Dynamics products.
Given the sheer amount of information (almost 6 hours) it took me a few sittings to watch it all the way through.
Overall I’m left with a positive impression of the production.
The production values are high. Yes, sometimes it seems Chris and Travis are rambling and ad-libbing. That’s somewhat good because it shows there’s no rigid script (tho obviously there’s planning) and thus they have to be knowledgeable on the topic in order to produce this video. But sometimes I found myself wondering if they left something out, or maybe they could have spoken about something in greater detail.
That’s actually my biggest beef with the production: did things get left out? Granted, there’s already a huge amount of material here and to cover any more in any greater depth would be a monumental task. But did I miss it? No, because I already know what’s going on. What it says to me is this DVD set is not for a beginner. If you don’t know what a “red dot” scope is and what “dot size” is all about, this DVD will not explain it to you; Chris and Travis discussed the issue, but they didn’t define the issue. That sort of thing happened throughout the video: they’d mention a concept, or they’d touch on X, but never really go deeply into it. If you already know about X you can figure out how it applies to this context, but if X has never been defined or explained to you, you’re just going to have more questions. So I’d have to classify this DVD set as useful for people who grok guns, maybe you’re a handgunner or rifle guy, you understand a lot of what’s going on and what’s out there, but maybe you just haven’t used a shotgun much and want to learn more. Thus you’ve got background, just not specifically into this area.
If you want a good DVD on beginning shotgun, check out Rangemaster’s Defensive Shotgun DVD. Tom Givens does a great job of taking you from square one up to a point of basic proficiency. He touches on a lot of things that Magpul’s DVD does not, things that are essential for a beginner to understand (especially about patterning and knowing your shotgun and ammo). I would say if someone was a true beginner, first pick up the Rangemaster DVD then move to the Magpul DVD.
Oh… speaking of production? If you’re a pretty lady, you get a lot of attention from the instructors and a lot of camera time. 😉
For me, the best thing I got from this DVD was their reload technique. Since I became interested in shotguns, I have searched for a good reload technique. I’ve seen so many different techniques, so many different justifications. But trying any of them, I still felt like I was fiddling and fumbling around. What Chris and Travis present here, especially their “combat reload”, I really liked. They presented a few flavors of that reload, but the “over the top” and keeping your hand in that position and overhand racking the foreend back into position? I liked that, a lot.
The Magpul guys were big on economy of motion and making sure everything logically worked and fit. They would demonstrate numerous approaches and technique because they understood that not everyone was in the same context or bodies would work the same way. Yes, they had their preferences and made those clear, but ultimately it’s about you and your situation and what works best. You must take this instruction for what it is, but really spend the time on the range to find out what truly works for you.
I also liked their “slug changeover” setup. Notice tho the inherent bias in that technique (at least in name). The general assumption is that your shotgun is going to be loaded with not-slugs, that buckshot is your primary, slugs are your secondary. Either way, the changeover technique was interesting. This was a time that really brought out the differences in shotguns, be it action type or brand. For instance, the Benelli M1 vs. the Remington 1100 were slightly different techniques. The Mossberg 500 vs. the Remington 870 were also slightly different techniques. In the end it’s mostly the same, but it shows that all gear is slightly different and you need to know your gear. If the gear doesn’t work change it for something else.
Aside: That mattered to me because I have leaned towards Mossberg shotguns. Main reason is they are more ambidextrous-friendly than the Remington, and that matters in my household. Justin T. Huang has written up a comparison of the 870 vs. the 500 and he raises a lot of additional good points for the Mossberg and where the 870 has problems. The Magpul DVD demonstrated one downside of the Mossberg in the slug changeovers. I also know Mossberg’s don’t have quite the aftermarket as Remington’s or Benelli’s. But this is the joy of the market: that we have so many choices and options. Don’t be a fan-boi and buy what the Magpul guys use because they use it. Find what works for you and fits your needs and context.
Back on topic… I like what they did with Disc 3, having the skills broken down so you could easily index to them through DVD menus and watch just the technique you were interested in. Full speed, slow motion, it was useful and saved you the trouble of having to dig around on the main DVD’s to find them. Buy yourself some dummy rounds and practice those reload techniques. One tidbit they added in that area was one-handed manipulations, which wasn’t really discussed in the main DVD’s.
Overall I liked the DVD. I think it provides a good foundation for combative shotgunning touching on fundamentals such as knowing your gun and ammo, pattering and zeroing, reloads and ammo manipulation, and so on. Yeah, some stuff might be questionable (I really don’t find myself wanting to shoot and move backwards), but generally content is good.
It’s no substitute for proper instruction from a live teacher.
It has made me want to reconsider some of my gear. I mean, getting a Vang Comp setup, maybe a Nighthawk Tactical shotgun… things like a rail for a red-dot, some irons for better shooting with slugs, a SureFire foreend, magazine extensions. There’s just so much! Gear does matter and can make a difference. But then, part of the appeal of a shotgun is that you can buy one for just a couple hundred bucks and you’re good to go. I think for now I’ll keep it simple and just continue my exploration.