The Evolution of the AR and AR Pistol

What is an AR pistol?

AR pistol Shockwave

While an AR-15 pistol has a similar makeup as an AR-15 rifle, there are a few differences that classify it a “pistol.” To be exact, the barrel’s typically shorter than 16 inches, you can’t put a vertical forend grip on it, and you can optionally have a pistol brace on your firearm. 



Why would you want an AR pistol? 


Gun enthusiasts love shooting semi-automatic AR pistols for entertainment and target practice, but it can also be a great firearm for personal and home defense. However, many gun owners prefer a shotgun or a Mossberg 590 Shockwave for home defense.


Modern AR firearms are lightweight, durable, and easy to use. As long as it adheres to gun laws, AR owners can also customize their firearm how they see fit—from color choices to barrel lengths and accessories.



Evolution of the AR:


There’s a bit of history to tap into when it comes to understanding how the AR pistol became such a hit. Many consider AR firearms “American.” But looking into the subject deeper, its roots actually go back to the M1 Garand, which was a rifle designed by a French-Canadian. An unlikely candidate, eh? Back in the 1930s, John Garand was hired by the U.S. Springfield Armory to design guns. His .30-06 caliber, gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle was eventually adopted as the official U.S. infantry rifle used in action — including WWII and the Korean War. By 1938, the M1 Garand was mass produced and delivered to the Army for battle. After WWII, most M1 Garand rifles were put away into storage or loaned to allies fighting in battles, but as new wars sprouted (including when North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950), the M1 Garand started going back into production until 1957. 


But things started to shift in the 1950s when the AR-10 was born. Eugene Stoner, a former Marine and Army Ordnance technician, helped design that firearm out of aircraft-grade aluminum, allowing for a mere 7- to 9-pound weapon that would be beneficial for soldiers constantly carrying around their firearm for protection and battle. This new infantry rifle design also had a larger capacity magazine and select-fire capability. 


Despite popular belief, the “AR” stands for ArmaLite Rifle, not “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” ArmaLite is a firearms engineering company based out of California and where the AR-10 name derives. This firearm was built as a magazine-fed, gas-operated rifle firing a 7.62mm bullet. By 1960, a scaled-down version, firing the 5.56mm cartridge, started making its way through the military world. However, ArmaLite’s lack of successful firearm sales led them to sell the design to Colt’s Manufacturing Company, and the U.S. Military hired Colt to start pushing out loads of a full-auto version, designated the M16, to soldiers fighting in Vietnam. 


Not long after, Colt released a semi-automatic AR-15 version—the SP1—to the public for purchase, and sales have continued to boom. Today, there are millions of Americans who own AR-15s and there are over 150 manufacturers of AR parts. 


Because of the continued popularity of the AR firearm in households, many manufacturers, sellers, and even gun owners are influencing the evolution of the AR. 


Several years ago, the creator of the Shockwave Blade was inspired to create a smaller, lighter, more-affordable pistol brace. The Shockwave Blade® Pistol Stabilizer is veteran designed, engineered, marketed, and sold in the U.S. It’s made from high-strength glass-reinforced polymer, manufactured to exacting tolerances, and fits all pistols equipped with a standard AR-15 pistol buffer tube (up to 1.25? in diameter). Just slip it on and tighten the large set screw for a rock-solid installation. The Blade 2M, Shockwave’s newest Brace, is designed to fit any standard mil-spec carbine buffer tube and adjusts with a simple trigger lever.


Shockwave’s pistol blade stabilizer is also ATF approved for pistol use. Although it’s illegal (and a felony) to have a stock on an AR pistol function without ATF approval and a tax stamp, there are many foreign firearm sellers online trying to scam gun owners into buying illegally produced products and fakes. When you buy directly from Shockwave, you can ensure to receive American-made, ATF-approved products for your firearm.


What are the laws of owning an AR pistol?


Before we get into the nitty gritty of gun laws, you should refer to your official state and local gun laws for legal advice. You can also contact the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) for more information about the AR pistol.


But for general info about this firearm, keep reading.


Most states allow you to own an AR pistol. But again, it’s important that you confirm your state and local laws to ensure you can own one before you start pulling out your wallet. Illegally owning an AR in areas where it’s prohibited could cost you more than your hard-earned money — it could cost you your freedom. 

As previously mentioned, there are a few rules that qualify an AR pistol barrel for legal ownership. The barrel can be shorter than 16 inches, you can’t have a vertical foregrip (it can be a handstop or angled foregrip), and you can have a pistol brace on your firearm to comply with AR gun ownership laws. The ATF does pay attention to the general length of an entire firearm, too. If a firearm is over 26 inches long with a barrel shorter than 16 inches long, it can have a vertical foregrip (but not a rifle stock). 


Top 5 Firearm Accessories for Home Defense

There’s nothing more intimidating than the sound of a shotgun pumping and gearing up for fire. For this reason, we’re all about using a shotgun in general for home defense — and that pump action can be scary enough to ward off an intruder before you have to take any necessary action to protect your household. But more specifically, we vouch for the Mossberg 590 Shockwave for the purpose of this topic.


The Mossberg 590 is considered a top home defense firearm across the web and we couldn’t agree more. With a shorter barrel than a traditional shotgun (which is typically used for hunting and clay shooting), you can get around corners and down the stairs more easily with a Mossberg 590 Shockwave. 


But the shotgun itself isn’t the only element needed to be prepared with the best home defense kit. Check out our top firearm accessories that you need for home and personal defense:


Shorty Shotshells

shorty shells with opsol mini clip

What is a shorty shotshell? A shorty shell (or mini shell) is a shotgun shell about half the length of a traditional shell, typically running at 1.75-inches long. They don’t blow a huge hole in the wall because they have a more narrow and targeted area of penetration. They also have less power and velocity (but enough of it to be a perfect fit for home defense). And lastly, you can fit more shorty shotshells in a tube meaning more rounds to ensure you don’t run out of ammo when a home intruder attempts to attack. 


When it comes to Shockwave, we believe buckshot shorty shells are the way to go.

Raptor Grip

Shockwave raptor grip

With the enhanced texture and ergonomic design of the Raptor™ Grip, you’ve never held onto your firearm with as much confidence and control for both safety and comfort. Its unique angle minimizes felt recoil, allowing for maximum control shot after shot. It’s also constructed with a glass-filled polymer, making it virtually indestructible. 


With less recoil, mini shells work great with the ergonomic design of the Raptor™ Grip. This is especially important for those who may be more recoil sensitive.


There are also new Raptor™ Grip colors available: black, FDE, OD green, and gray. 


Learn more about the Raptor™ Grip R870 and Raptor™ Grip M500/590.


OPSol Mini Clip

shockwave opsol mini clip

The OPSol Mini Clip only goes on Mossberg firearms and is specifically designed so that you can use short shells without jams. It allows you to easily install and uninstall in seconds to allow use of 1.75?, 2.75?, or 3? shells (as desired) with lower recoil for safe, easy, and comfortable aiming and discharging.

Flashlight Mount

shockwave flashlight mount

A GG&G flashlight mount for your Mossberg allows you to install a bright flashlight that will not only allow you to easily see where you’re going during the night and see your target, but the strong light can also stun your intruder, making it difficult for them to see you. Being in the bright spotlight will also make them feel exposed and more likely to run than to continue with their intrusion, knowing that they are a clear target of your shotgun. 


GG&G developed the Shockwave Flashlight Mount specifically for the Mossberg 590 Shockwave because its forend is a reconfigured version of Mossberg’s 590 foregrip. Our 590 flashlight mount which is similar, is a hair too close to the foregrip, so if you own one of the new Mossberg’s and need a flashlight mount, this is the one to get.


The GG&G Flashlight Mount for Mossberg 590 Shockwave:


  • Installs easily and is perfect for mounting a tactical flashlight to your Mossberg 590 Shockwave shotgun.
  • Manufactured specifically for the 12-gauge Shockwave (will not fit the 20-gauge Shockwave).
  • Designed, tested, and manufactured to withstand the rigors associated with professional use. It’s also been manufactured from bullet proof AS-35 Geneva steel and 6061-T6 billet aluminum.
  • Features an ambidextrous design that can be mounted on either side of the Mossberg Shockwave to accommodate both right- handed or left- handed shooters.
  • Offers dehorned edges (rounded, smoothed, and beveled) to protect the shooter.
  • Includes a Lifetime Warranty
  • Made in America by men and women proud to be Americans! 

Forend Strap

shockwave forend strapEnsuring you have a secure forend strap is an important safety feature that will protect yourself when in the heat of the moment of a surprise home invasion. A forend strap will keep a nervous, sweaty hand from slipping in front of your Mossberg 590 Shockwave shotgun and give you better control of your firearm to protect your loved ones. 

The Raptor Strap kit for the Mossberg 500 and 590 forends is designed for the tactical forearm image shown here, but will also fit the standard handguard. It will also fit other shotgun models from other manufacturers.


The Raptor Strap kit includes the strap, attachment hardware, and detailed instructions with full-size template. You can easily install this within 10 minutes using a drill, an 1/8” drill bit, and a Phillips-head screwdriver for installation.

What is a Shorty Shotshell


What is a shorty shotshell?


A shorty shotshell is a shotgun shell about half the length of a traditional shell. Simple right? Well, this little shotgun shell has a lot more bang for its buck than it appears. 


Shorty shotshells are also known as: 

  • short shotshells 
  • shorty shells 
  • mini shells
  • mini shotshells


Are there different sizes of short shotshells? Yes. But it’s debatable whether you can even consider anything other than a 1.75-inch shotshell a true shorty shell. Brands that sell the popular 1.75-inch shells include Federal Shorty Shotshells, Aguila Minishell®, and Challenger Shortshell. Other sizes of shorter-than-normal shells include a 2.25-inch shell from Nobel Sport and a 2.5-inch shell from Kent — but again, these sizes are only a quarter (or so) of an inch smaller than a traditional shell, so they’re not typically considered shorty shells. 


Why do gun owners love using shorty shotshells? Let’s just say it’s got a lot to do with recoil, capacity of rounds, and penetration.



How is a shorty shell different from a traditional shotgun shell?


As mentioned previously, shorty shells are typically 1.75-inches long, rather than 2.75-inches with traditional shotgun shells. 


These mini shells have a much lower recoil — meaning you can enjoy firing away without as much shoulder jolt (and soreness) from that heavy shotgun kick. Low recoil is perfect for young folks learning to shoot or for specific practice purposes. They also allow for more load capacity in your shotgun. A Mossberg 590 Shockwave can typically hold five shells in the tube, but you can fit in about eight mini shells. Of course the amount of shorty shells you can fit in a feeding tube depends on the size of your shotgun. In a nutshell: the larger your shotgun tube, the more rounds you can enjoy, responsibly. We’ll “cheers” to that.



Which shotgun shell should you use for home defense?


There is some debate over whether shorty shotshells are best used for home defense, hunting, training, or entertainment. But while we agree that shooting with shorty shells are pretty damn fun to shoot in a Mossberg 500/590 and Mossberg Shockwave 12 gauge with an Opsol Mini Clip, they have a much bigger purpose than mere entertainment. 


Mini shells with buckshot are typically used for home and personal defense — which is in line with all of Shockwave’s products. They don’t blow a huge hole in the wall because they have a more narrow and targeted area of penetration. They also have less power and velocity (but enough of it to a perfect fit for home defense). When it comes to Shockwave, we believe buckshot shorty shells are the way to go. 

shorty shells in a mossberg 590


Even OPSol Mini Clip announces, “Home Defense for the Whole Family in 3 Easy Steps: 1. Mossberg 590 Shockwave, 2. OPSol Mini-Clip 2.0 Flex, 3. Buckshot MiniShells,” on the front page of their website. So if you have all three of those, you’re all set to protect your home and loved ones.



Which shotgun shell should you use for hunting?


Depending on what you’re wanting to hunt, you can find a variety of shotshell sizes that are loaded with different types of shot: buckshot, bird shot, or slugs. 


While shorty shells are great for target practice and skeet shooting to prepare for your hunting trip, traditional shotgun shells have a longer shot range and velocity (hence, more recoil) that you might consider using during your hunting venture. 



Are there specific guns that take shorty shells?


Most pump shotguns use mini shells but have been known to have some issues with short-cycling. However, the best shotguns that seem to use shorty shells flawlessly is the Mossberg 500/590 and Mossberg 590 Shockwave series with an OPSol Mini Clip, as mentioned previously. 


The OPSol Mini Clip only goes on Mossberg firearms and is specifically designed so that you can use short shells without jams. Mini shells fit nicely in the bottom of this shotgun and prevents the shells from getting crooked, flipped, or out of place when cycling. 

With less recoil, mini shells work great with the ergonomic design of the Raptor™ Grip, allowing for a more fun and overall better shooting experience.