The shotgun is very much a part of American gun culture. Homes that vigorously exercise their Second Amendment rights and possess more than one firearm will frequently have several shotguns, and often the number of shotguns will outnumber the rifles. The shotgunâ€™s popularity is partially due to the varied types of shooting done with it (skeet shooting, waterfowl and upland hunting, self-defense, etc.) and also due to the widespread cultural acceptance of the shotgun.
While the reasons for its acceptance vary, the evidence is incontrovertible. Homes that eschew â€śmilitary typeâ€ť or AR-pattern rifles will still frequently possess shotguns for hunting or defense. Likewise, city and law enforcement organizations that shy away from the more aggressive appearance of AR-pattern rifles still embrace the shotgun as an appropriate and necessary implement of domestic security.
Here in the South, I often see prison work details picking up trash along the side of the road. Nestled on the hip of the corrections officer is almost always the ubiquitous pump-action shotgun. Whether itâ€™s for hunting or law enforcement, the shotgunâ€™s omnipresence speaks of its popularity born from generations of exposure and use.
While the shotgun has been around for more than a century, advances in shotgun-making technology and performance occur on a regular basis. One of the most recent and profound advances came in the shape of Berettaâ€™s new TX4 Storm, the first and only semi-auto shotgun that reliably feeds both reduced- and full-power loads.
The TX4 is a gas-operated semi-automatic shotgun. With the fore-end removed, the gas system is visible for both inspection and maintenance. There are two small holes in the bottom of the barrel that allow gas to escape and move down into the gas piston that cycles the action.
The piston is surrounded by a sleeve that allows the proper amount of gas to cycle the piston while simultaneously bleeding off excess gas. This self-regulation is the key to reliable functioning regardless of the load fired through the shotgun. The gas system is also self-cleaning, ensuring that extended range sessions or hunts donâ€™t come to a premature end.
As I inspected the TX4, I noticed some features that are greatly appreciated on a tactical shotgun. The barrel comes threaded for choke tubes, making it possible to tailor the shot pattern to the round issued by oneâ€™s department or most readily available to the shooter.
Each load fired through a shotgun will pattern differently. The TX4 takes five different choke tubes, enabling the shooter to select the tube most appropriate for the range and load used. Where one load of buckshot might open up at the 30-yard line with the cylinder choke, a modified or even full choke can extend the range to 40 or 50 yards.
The Picatinny rail atop the receiver is also a welcome addition for the tactical shotgun. The TX4 comes with the rear sight affixed to the rail, but it can easily be removed and replaced with any number of red dot or holographic sights popular on todayâ€™s market. The Picatinny rail is what makes this possible.
Shooting the Storm
One of the first tests I wanted to run on the TX4 was to see if it could digest the eight-pellet 00-buck reduced-recoil load so popular with law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement agencies like the load because of its lethality at typical LE engagement ranges, and the reduced recoil makes it easier for small-statured or recoil-sensitive officers to shoot effectively.
The major issue with reduced-recoil loads is that they raise holy hell with semi-auto shotguns. The one load that never worked in any semi-auto shotgun was Remingtonâ€™s eight-pellet reduced load. This is problematic because the Remington load is probably the most issued load in law enforcement. Even the vaunted Benelli canâ€™t digest the Remington load without some tuning from a qualified gunsmith.
I ran an entire box of the Remington reduced load through the TX4 and never experienced a malfunction. Semi-auto shotguns are unforgiving of what you feed them, and they usually tell you what they will or wonâ€™t eat within the first five rounds. Loads either will or wonâ€™t run a semi-auto. The Remington reduced load runs in the TX4. This is the only semi-auto shotgun that can make this claim.
Patterning the Remington load revealed that the TX4 shoots this load to point of aim/point of impact (POA/POI), with the pattern being evenly dispersed across four quadrants. From 15 to 25 yards with the cylinder choke, the Remington load disperses the eight pellets into an eight-inch circle.
When pushed back to 30 yards, the group opened considerably to 22 inches, or about as big as Iâ€™d want it to be for LE purposes. Every pellet must be accounted for, and if the pattern got any bigger, pellets would start missing a man-size target. However, a modified choke should easily stretch the range of this load to 40 yards.
The next load I fired was Federalâ€™s nine-pellet 00 buck. This load was substantially hotter than the Remington load, and once again the TX4 digested every round without a malfunction. The patterns for these loads also shot POA/POI. However, the pattern opened up faster even with the same cylinder choke.
The Federal load grouped all eight pellets into an eight-inch circle at 20 yards, opened up to 18 inches at 25 yards and finally to 26 inches at 30 yards. The Federal load produced noticeably more recoil with its higher velocity and additional pellet.
Last up for the evaluation was Federalâ€™s rifled one-ounce slug. The hollowpoint maximum load was hot and also functioned with no issues in the TX4. I fired the rounds offhand at 50 yards and was able to easily keep all rounds in the chest of a human-size target.
The TX4 is what you would expect a premium shotgun maker to turn out with its tactical offering. It is an excellent shotgun. It is obvious that Beretta put a lot of thought and effort into its design, as it is the only shotgun Iâ€™ve ever seen digest such a wide variety of loads. This did not happen by accident or thanks to good luck.
Beretta also put a lot of thought into the little things that make a shotgun more enjoyable to shoot. The loading gate is constructed in such a manner that it doesnâ€™t bite the loading thumb even when Iâ€™m rapidly stuffing rounds into the magazine. The longer, slender fore-end is also an asset on a tactical shotgun. Many tactical shooters like to push their support hand out toward the muzzle to rapidly drive the muzzle from target to target, and the long fore-end makes this possible.
One thing I didnâ€™t like about the TX4 was the height of the sights. The front sight post sits high off the barrel, as does the rear atop the Picatinny rail. This requires the shooter to pick his head up off the comb of the stock to shoot and gives the comb a running start into your face. Beretta noticed this, too, and offers drop and cast spacers to raise or lower the comb. I did not have any spacers, so I was unable to determine how well this issue was addressed.
I spoke with representatives from Beretta while preparing this article. They are excited about the new gas system (as am I) and also looking at developing a line of accessories to go with the shotgun.
I think one of the biggest markets for the TX4, other than the tactical market, will be the 3-Gun crowd. The TX4 is the only shotgun that runs reduced-power loads, which are great for police departments, but also for competitors who are trying to get the quickest splits possible.
Beretta is considering the development of an extended magazine tube to offer a greater than 5+1 maximum. Also in the works is a longer barrel. The 18-inch barrel is ideal for tactical shooters, but a longer barrel is preferred by most 3-Gunners.
One of the most relevant accessories Beretta needs to develop for the TX4 is a way to mount a light to the shotgun. Any firearms designed for real-world tactical use must have the ability to mount a light. As it stands, the only way to mount one to the TX4 is to cut out a section of the handguard and epoxy in a section of Picatinny rail. While this solution would work, it would be ugly and probably flimsy. Better if Beretta puts its engineers on this one.
In the world of tactical shotguns, I crown the TX4 both King and Supreme Generalissimoâ€”with caveats affixed to both titles. The TX4 gets the titles because, from the factory, it eats more loads more reliably than any other semi-auto shotgun on the market. Pump shotguns are great, but they canâ€™t compete with the semis in the tactical realm when it comes to quickly putting rounds on target.
The caveats stem from the TX4â€™s lack of ability to mount a light and derth of aftermarket accessories for the 3-Gun crowd. Once both of these deficiencies are addressed, the TX4 will securely hold the titles and reign with adulation and distinction.
For those who argue that the shotgun is no longer relevant in the tactical world due to the presence of AR-pattern rifles, I say that nothing beats the shotgun for sheer awesome destructiveness at the ranges at which almost all LE engagements occur. With a load of buckshot and the right choke, nothing beats the shotgun at 40 yards and in.
Berettaâ€™s TX4 features a unique new gas system that appears to cure what ails the semi-auto shotgun. Once the accessories catch up to the foundation laid by the TX4, I expect to see these shotguns in the hands of police officers and competitors alike. If you want a semi-auto shotgun that will eat anything, the TX4 is for you.