Across various industries, there are certain names that make our ears perk up when spoken—whether it’s BMW, Rolex or even Pappy Van Winkle. For most of us, these names represent things we covet because of their benchmark of excellence.
There’s a certain expectation of mythical quality that instills in us a desire to have the very best, even if it’s just one thing in our lives. One such brand that imbues some of us with that same inner stirring is Wilson Combat.
One of the top-tier gun manufacturers in the industry, Wilson Combat is probably best known for its offering of custom 1911 pistols and aftermarket parts for the same. While full builds with all the bells and whistles can command a stiff price for the average person, it’s still a fairly easy pill to swallow since the user is getting one of the very best 1911 pistols available.
However, in another corner of the shop, Wilson Combat works on an entirely different type of firearm, and has been doing so almost as long as the custom pistols. Wilson Combat acquired Scattergun Technologies back in 2000 and has been doing custom shotgun work ever since. One option is for a customer to send in his own Remington 870 for a makeover and tune-up, and the second option is to simply order one of Wilson’s (anything but) standard packages and let them do all work of putting a brand new, high-end shotgun together. One of those packages is their CQB Shotgun model—also based on a Remington 870—which we just happened to get in for review.
The CQB model sits at the head of the table as far as different shotgun packages, and the main difference between it and the others is the Wilson AR stock adapter, which allows the user to add (via a MIL-SPEC buffer tube) any AR-compatible pistol grips and buttstocks available on the market. Wilson’s offerings with the CQB model are the collapsible Super-Stoc Carbine buttstock and a Wilson/BCM Starburst pistol grip. The integration of a telescoping/collapsible, AR-style stock allows the CQB shotgun to adjust to each user’s preferred length of pull, and it makes the gun more maneuverable when the stock is completely collapsed—hence the CQB moniker.
The goodies don’t begin and end with the stock, however. There is a suite of add-ons and custom work that make the CQB a must-have tactical shotgun for those that demand the very best tool for the job. But before we get into the things we can see, let’s start with the stuff we can feel: mainly, the internal work accomplished with the slide-action and the trigger group.
The gunsmiths at Wilson Combat have polished the rails and action of the pump mechanism to the point where it feels like a drawer rolling on buttered ball bearings. Having shot a number of pump shotguns, including Remington 870s, the action on the CQB had the silkiest movement I’ve experienced. There’s no rough movement or catching; it’s just a fluid movement to cycle each round.
“ … the action on the CQB had the silkiest movement I’ve experienced.”
Another inside spot that got some attention was the trigger work. Again, some polishing and tuning has been done here to provide a crisp and clean trigger break with minimal effort. After a few test pulls, the average (and consistent) pull weight of the trigger was just four pounds. While it’s probably not very manly to giggle, there are moments when you just can’t help yourself.
THE TACTICAL SUITE
For a shotgun of this type, there are a number of add-ons that will not only improve the shooter’s performance, but also give the shooter the edge in a real-life threat engagement. The first, and most prominent, accessory is the SureFire Tactical Forend WeaponLight. In many ways, the inclusion of the SureFire forend could well be the most important of all the accessories included in the CQB package. Built into the forend is a tactical LED lamp that can throw out either 200 or 600 lumens of light. Not only will it assist the user in identifying threats in the darkness, but it can also be used to disorient a threat.
Another important feature on any weapon is the sight system, and Wilson Combat put an excellent system into place for the CQB. The rear sight is the company’s adjustable Trak-Lock ghost ring, and the front sight is a ramp with a highly visible fiber-optic insert. Additional touches for the CQB shotgun include an extended magazine tube for 6+1 capacity, an extra-power magazine spring, a non-binding follower, a jumbo-head safety and a rigid magazine-tube sling mount. In addition to this mount, there are also quick-detach mounting points on both the stock adaptor and buttstock.
Rounding out the added gear is a six-round Mesa Tactical side-saddle carrier for a complete magazine reload, and the Armor Tuff finish, which came in OD green for our review sample. All of this work and extra gear is completed on the 870 platform with a three-inch chamber and an 18-inch cylinder-bore barrel. As they say, half the job is just showing up, and the Wilson CQB shotgun does that with both style and an assertive posture to boot.
“Built into the forend is a tactical LED lamp that can throw out either 200 or 600 lumens of light.”
DELIVERING THE GOODS
No matter how good the reputation a brand has, the proof of the pudding, as they say, is always in the eating—or in this case, the shooting. Testing was, of course, necessary to confirm the performance of the CQB. Never mind that lots of fun lay ahead. We had a good assortment of 12-gauge rounds to try with the CQB, including Federal Premium’s LE Tactical 00 Buck and Vital-Shok 00 Buck, Remington’s Express 00 Buck and a smattering of Brenneke’s K.O. slugs. All loads were of the 2.75-inch variety, and are all rounds that we’ve used before with great success.
“The Wilson Combat CQB Shotgun is the total package for those that want … an exceptional tactical shotgun.”
For the sake of honesty and objectivity, I will admit that I found using the CQB a bit awkward at first. Pistol-grip shotguns that I’ve used in the past have always had a bit of a rearward slant to the grips. However, the Wilson/BCM pistol grip sits at a near-perfect 90-degree angle to the receiver. This put my hand and index finger in an unfamiliar position in relation to the trigger. This arrangement made holding the CQB Shotgun in the low-ready position very comfortable, but it took some getting used to when shooting. In the beginning, I thought this was an issue I wouldn’t work through, but after a few dozen rounds, it became more natural. I also found that I didn’t have to hold my hand and arm up quite as high as I might with a “regular” pistol grip. I could let my arm relax, allowing the bottom side of my wrist to pivot forward a bit, thereby relieving unnecessary strain. By the time the first range session was over, I actually liked the angle of this grip much more than expected while the gun was shouldered. Live and learn. The handling and performance of the CQB shotgun was exceptional during the shooting trials, once we became familiar with its design. The pump action was easy to actuate on the polished rails, and the four-pound trigger pull made it effortless to achieve quick, precise shots.
There isn’t much in the way of padding on the Super-Stoc, so having it properly seated with a forward-leaning stance is crucial to mitigating felt recoil. The user can’t get sloppy on this point unless he wants to feel a jackhammer pounding into his shoulder. The gun does have some heft to it, considering the addition of the SureFire Tactical Forend WeaponLight and a fully loaded Mesa Tactical side-saddle. The entire package is a solid and professional affair, so the extra weight is unavoidable if the user wants the requisite gear for a complete tactical shotgun.
Aside from the overall handling and shooting experience itself, in regard to accurately putting rounds downrange, the CQB shotgun delivered in spades. We enjoyed the same performance from the various loads we tried during testing, as we have with other models; that’s a reflection of not only the excellent sight picture obtained with Wilson’s Trak-Lock Ghost Ring Sight, but the ammunition as well. One test we consistently like to do with a shotgun is to fire all rounds in the magazine as quickly as possible, and then, check to see how tightly we were able to keep the shots on target at an intermediate distance. Using the Federal Premium 2.75-inch Vital-Shok 00 Buck, we were able to keep 53 of the 54 pellets within a six-by-six-inch area at 15 yards.
That was an impressive display, and was owed, at least in part, to the slick pump-action that required little effort to cycle, allowing us to maintain our point of aim between shots during the rapid-fire exercise. While we have experienced similarly tight patterns with this load at 15 yards, the CQB had a significant impact on our ability to do it quickly with multiple rounds.
The Federal Premium Vital-Shok delivered a strong performance at 40 yards, with all pellets going into a 13.50-inch area. Federal’s Flitecontrol wad helps hold the group of pellets together for a longer period going downrange, thus keeping the pattern confined even at longer distances. For a tactical shotgun, that’s a valuable performance point, as it minimizes the chance of stray pellets going off target and striking unintended targets.
The LE Tactical 00 Buck’s overall best spread was 16 inches at 40 yards. It uses the Flitecontrol wad, as well, but travels at a lower velocity than the Vital-Shok. Oddly enough, one pattern had eight pellets within 8.50 inches at 40 yards, with a single pellet opening the spread to 19 inches. So, there’s definitely no issue with getting the majority of the payload on target at longer distances with these loads.
Sometimes, you need a little more punch, and that’s when you reach for some slugs. The CQB shotgun also performed quite nicely with Brenneke’s K.O. slugs, with a two-inch group of five rounds at 30 yards, and a three-inch group at 50 yards. That’s not too shabby considering the CQB has a ghost ring sight, which isn’t quite as precise as a scope or a set of three-dot sights. But, it’s more than accurate enough to get a center-mass shot on a man-sized target at 50 yards.
Based on Wilson Combat’s reputation, I had little doubt that its CQB shotgun would perform admirably. What I didn’t expect was the overall synergy of the package as everything came together during use. It was one of those moments when the experience can be described as a sum that’s greater than all of its parts. I also didn’t expect to find (and actually appreciate) a design aspect that I hadn’t encountered before—namely, the almost-90-degree Wilson/BCM pistol grip. The Wilson Combat CQB Shotgun is the total package for those that want or need an exceptional tactical shotgun. Aside from the carefully chosen accessories to make it a tactical juggernaut, the internals are expertly tuned to allow efficient employment of the firepower on hand.
There is an adage that says, “You get what you pay for.” But, on occasion, as with the Wilson CQB Shotgun, you get even more than what you pay for. That’s when real value is truly found.
Wilson Combat CQB
- Adjustable Trak–Lock Ghost Ring rear sight
- Ramp-type front sight with fiber-optic insert
- 18-inch cylinder bore barrel with 3-inch magnum chamber
- Extended magazine tube; total capacity: 6+1 rounds
- Aluminum collapsible stock adaptor with quick-detach swivel sling mounts
- MIL-SPEC buffer tube and Super-Stoc carbine buttstock
- Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter grip
- SureFire Tactical Forend WeaponLight with 200- 600-lumen light
- Aluminum shell carrier by Mesa Tactical; extended capacity: 6 rounds
- High-visibility, non-binding follower
- Extra-power, heavy-duty stainless magazine tube spring
- Jumbo Head safety
- Rigid magazine tube sling mount
- Armor-Tuff finish
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the September – October 2016 issue of World of Firepower.