It was just supposed to be a simple replacement of a Side Saddle.
My old Side Saddle fell off the other week… I don’t know how it got into this state, but the holes of the mounting plate were loose… stripped. I have a few theories, but it doesn’t matter… it fell off, it had to be replaced.
So I start to apply the new plate to the side of my Mossberg 500 and I see that it doesn’t fit. That is, when the forend is slid to the rear position, the end of the forend comes in contact with the plate. Eh? I don’t recall this being a problem before? But sure enough… so I don’t know how she managed to work before, but here we are.
The solution is simple: the furniture is wood, so I took off the forend and applied a coping saw. 🙂 Took about an inch off the back end of the forend. Applied a little tung oil to seal the wood. Back together. Ah, much better.
But I got to thinking…. back in May when Tom Givens was out here for his Defensive Shotgun class, he promoted a shorter length of pull. There’s no question going from that long 14″-ish LOP down even just an inch to 13″ makes a HUGE difference in your ability to quickly mount the gun. So why not… I pulled off the 1″ thick recoil pad and tried mounting the gun. Yeah, that 1″ will do it. So why not… I taped off the buttstock, drew my lines, then applied circular saw and took an inch off the back of the buttstock. I put the original factory recoil pad back on… it overhangs a little bit, but that’s fine. I can grind or replace it later. While the factory pad isn’t the best (it’s no Limbsaver), I like that it’s got that “hard/slick” finish to it as opposed to the tack the Limbsavers have, so there’s no hang-up on clothing. Shaving off that inch makes a huge difference in the ability to quickly shoulder the gun.
And while I was at it, that elastic buttcuff to hold extra ammo? Applied a small wood screw at the base to keep the buttcuff from sliding around.
I don’t have a before picture since I didn’t plan on doing these mods, but you can see in the picture that the forend is quite clear of the side saddle, you can see the screw to hold the buttcuff, and if you look carefully at the butt you’ll see the recoil pad overhanging just a bit.
Some months ago I purchased an Aimpoint T-1 so I could put a red dot on the shotgun. When I bought the replacement Side Saddle I also found a bolt-on rail that would allow me to mount the scope atop the receiver. Well… as soon as I bolted on the rail I hated it. When I mount the gun my eye goes right down the top of the receiver and barrel, right to the brass bead front sight. With the rail, all I see is rail. Then throw that T-1 on there and I’m going to have to raise up a good deal to see things right and well. I recall checking out Tim’s shotgun when we picked up my STI Spartan… he’s got ghost rings on it and I just didn’t like how high I had to get. Oh sure, get a new stock, get a riser for the cheek weld, but that’s just more stuff to have to get, more money, more things to go wrong. You know, I ran the Givens course with the bead front sight and shot damn well. For the intended purpose of this gun? I’ll just stick with the bead because it works.
Yeah, the gun doesn’t look as pretty as it did before, yeah it was a couple of hours of redneck hacking. But it’s sure improved the shootability of the gun, and in the end, that’s far more important.