Pistol Grip Pump Action: The JAG Scattergun TPG
That's a totally valid question after what some would call a relatively tepid release of the previous models in JAG Precision's Scattergun line. The line entered with a pretty big flash, as the first real competitor to Tokyo Marui's popular gas 870-style shotguns, but a multitude of technical flaws marred the otherwise impressive look, feel, and performance. Now, those guns predate the creation of our humble little review blog, but when the newest line of Scattergun hit the market, we just had to know if they were worth your time, money, and commitment. Come jump down the rabbit hole and see if the Scattergun's Tactical Pistol Grip model is for you.
We can't review a gun without talking about performance. We chronographed this gun using .20g Elite Force biodegradable BBs, a standard we use to measure each gun against each other. Chronographing this gun is a bit trickier, since it has a few different fire modes. We checked it as best as we could on three and six shot settings, but our chronograph simply did not want to read it. After committing to painstakingly loading each of the three included shells with a singular BB, we got a peak reading at 370 FPS, with the other two falling just shy of that high point. However, we decided to utilize the tried and tested poor-man's chronograph using an empty coke can, and none of the BB's were able to reliably bust bottom lip of the can, but could break the sides, meaning this is likely still a close quarters legal shotgun at your local field, just know that chronographing it is going to be tough.
We opted not to bother with a proper range test, since it's a shotgun, but found that on both shot options, we got 6-12 inch groups at about fifty feet or so, what we would consider practical distance. For those of you curious, the scattergun line is known for actually being able to hit farther than you expect a shotgun to shoot, but since they are green gas, and environmental conditions make such an impact, it felt unfair to test it in the blazing heatwave we're experiencing here at Airsoft Rifle HQ. Rounds did not have any trouble reaching the fifty foot mark, and seemed like they would carry much farther.
Build quality on this gun is actually about what you would expect from JAG after several other models have been introduced. This model sits somewhere in the middle of the pack from the other Scatterguns I have handled, with a noticeably better build than the early HD models, but the plastic pistol grip just doesn't feel as chunky and rugged as the TSS or SPX guns do, with all of their extra furniture. Much of that feeling is perception though, as materials are roughly the same across each gun. There's just something about all of the extra fiddly bits that makes it feel better, I guess.
The Scattergun does come with some notable improvements to the external feel. The pump arm feels decidedly more deliberate, requiring more force than older models, if only by a small percentage. That extra heft required to actuate this gun's pump arms makes it feel solid, and less like a cheap toy. This was a large complaint I had with the HD models, and while they are still light enough to rack like the terminator, it doesn't feel like it's two seconds from rattling apart in my hands anymore, and that's a huge improvement for this gun.
The plastic parts have a solid finish, with no sharp mold lines or flashing to cut my hands, the metal components didn't show any signs of rust from transit or poor finishing at the factory either. All in all, this gun met our expectations for how it should look, though we wish if they weren't going to include a rear sight, that they'd leave the brass bulb front sight off as well, as it's kind of an eye-sore.
The three included shells were a nice touch as well. They are transparent now, which means you can see how much ammo you have remaining. While we couldn't put our finger on exactly why this was, they also felt much more st able and less like they were going to split in half during loading. Everything about this package is designed from the ground up to be a wholesale iterative improvement on the previous catalog of Scatterguns.
Normally, we'd do a comprehensive internal breakdown on this gun as well, but ran into a couple of key issues that made that difficult.
Firstly, the gun utilizes some different tools to take down from normal airsoft guns, and while we could get it partially disassembled, we couldn't get to the fun parts. Secondly, having taken a few of these apart before, I can tell you they won't photograph in a way that you can see anything worthwhile, and they are not fun to rip down and piece together again, so in the interest of time savings, we opted out. Instead, we've gone right to the performance tests, checking practical usage and functionality.
Practically speaking, this shotgun is built to do one thing, very very well, and we'd say that it accomplishes the goal. It's very clearly made for quick, hip fire speed focused gameplay. It has a selector system allowing you to choose between six shot or three shot spreads, and we found that three was usually the best option for ammo consumption purposes, unless you outfit with a 3d-printed magazine adapter or something to stay topped off longer. Six shots does make sure your opponent will know they've been shot, but the reload time on this gun is definitely slower than an AEG or pistol and you'll want to keep those moments to a minimum for sure. It only holds one thirty round shell at a time, and it's not as quick to reload as the real thing, don't get caught empty handed mid reload, or you'll be regretting your gun choice for sure.
Gas efficiency was great, getting over 100 shots from a gas fill meant you'd likely run out of shells before you ran out of gas, but topping this gun off is as simple as gassing up directly via the valve on the pistol grip. You could even replace the valve with an HPA tap and stop worrying all together. We didn't have any leaking issues during our testing, which was a common fault on older models, and velocity seemed consistent over the first half of the gas reservoir, noticing the dwindling power after fifty to sixty shots or so. We ran into some issues with the pump arm hanging up on us during fire when being a little gentle with it, so make sure you mean it when you go to rack this sucker, as it's going to fight you sometimes.
The gun is a vast improvement in performance over previous models though. It shoots great, the pump arms hang up less often than they used to, gas efficiency is great, and most importantly, it didn't bust a leak in the first 24 hours of testing, which is huge.
That's going to come down mostly to you as a player. Shotguns have a very particular appeal to most people, either you love them or hate them, but we'll give you the pros and cons the best we can.
The gun feels great, points easily, and definitely does what it is designed to do. On the other hand though, the pump can hang up on you if you aren't a bit rough with it, and that can make or break a tense moment. Gas efficiency was wonderful, with no leaking issues and plenty of shots before you run out, but reloading shells is time consuming, and you only get ten shots before you have to do it at most.
This begs the question: Who is this gun made for?
It's really worth the purchase if your looking for a wacky gun for your collection, or you play a lot of CQB or indoor gameplay. There are some things you can do to mitigate the downsides, but this gun is built for short range play, and leaning into that is where it will shine the most. If you're primarily playing outdoor, this makes a good back up that is small and easy to strap to your kit for a back up option, but it's never going to be your primary go-to for outdoor play, it just isn't built for it.
However, the price on this gun is competitive, coming in at $160 on Airsoft GI, it's not going to break the bank to try it for yourself and see if shotguns are for you. Personally, I'll be waiting until the Master Key style they teased at SHOT Show 2018 finally releases, so I won't be forced to choose between this and my trusty AR, but there's definitely a good time to be had here, and JAG seems to have nipped most of the issues this gun presents. We'd say this gun is worth the price.
Want to snag one for yourself? Check out the gun at Airsoft GI