Few things frighten me, but one that does is becoming too rigid in my thinking. There are all matter of hypotheses concerning personal defense and the best tool for the job. I have personal and institutional experience in personal defense, on the point, in the training rooms, and in teaching. I have ideas on what is the best shotgun for personal defense. The JTS MAK12 did not score in all my criteria.
There are many who don’t understand shotguns. Shotguns aren’t rifles firing a splatter of shot. Arguably the AK-type shotgun is a rifle that fires a shotgun shell. Well, as I discovered, that isn’t quite true.
It isn’t my best tool for personal defense but there are other shooters — shooters of experience and shooters who train — who will find the AK-type shotgun a good tool. Whether you own an AK rifle or not, you may find the JTS shotgun worth a hard look and evaluation. For recreational use, I have no reservation. It is a fun gun to shoot. For personal defense… let’s look a little harder.
Some may say it isn’t fair to compare an inexpensive shotgun to a Benelli, Mossberg 930, or Remington V Max. For recreation or hunting, of course, it isn’t. For personal defense, fairness is off the table. The shotgun must run. I have a different appraisal of our protein fed ex-con criminal class than some do. I mean you have to respect 200–300 pounds of rage and stupidity.
So, I want something formidable in my hand, not something that is “good enough.” The JTS MAK12 shotgun is not lightweight. The appearance is AK like, and the operating mechanism and manual of arms is AK. The sights are a little out of place as they are AK rifle-type sights. That is fine for commonality with the AK rifle but not for shotgun shooting.
Still, the JTS shotgun proved useful with slugs, and these are good slug sights. Remember, if you cannot close the distance, you must get steady and shoot well. The JTS rifle sights allow this. They are not terrible for close range shotgun use.
If you want to be ‘all you can be’ there is a picatinny rail for mounting a red dot sight. The JTS detachable, box magazine holds five 12-gauge shells. The shotgun will accept Saiga magazines including the 10-round magazine.
I explored the 10-round option. While it added weight to an already hefty package, it doubled magazine capacity. Five rounds is a good number for home defense — one more than a standard Remington 870, less than many extended-magazine shotguns using a tubular magazine.
The JTS shotgun features a well-designed magazine well and a sturdy AK-type magazine catch. The JTS shotgun features the same safety lever design found on the AK-47 class rifle. The JTS doesn’t hold open on the last shot. The safety may be used to lock the bolt open.
An interesting feature is the four-position gas regulator. Many shotguns feature some type of setting or regulator to allow the user to set the shotgun for light field loads including birdshot, duck loads, buckshot, trap loads, and so forth. This allows the shooter to use light loads in training and then ramp up to buckshot.
The barrel is 18.5 inches long and features the ability to take Remington choke tubes. I like a tighter choke on defense guns than some, and this a good feature. This brings up the subject of hunting with an AK shotgun. Well… maybe.
I don’t see a shotgun weighing nearly 10 pounds (loaded) swinging on dove and quail or a running rabbit. The sight radius is too short. I guess that isn’t an optimal strategy. People with woods sense prosper whatever the gear. But there is ‘hunting’ and then there is hunting. The shotgun would be fine for boar hunting, which is often a close range pursuit as it proved to be a decent slug gun. Making one shotgun do a lot of chores is a time proven American ethic. You could do worse.
I broke the rule on testing shotguns and began with buckshot loads rather than birdshot. I collected 75 shells. These were the cheapest loads I could find in 25 shell value packs. Most often there is no wad, and the shells burn dirty leaving powder residue.
I loaded the magazines and rocked them into the magazine well. I racked the bolt and opened on targets at 7, 12, and 15 yards. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. The shotgun is more comfortable to fire than any other 12-gauge automatic in my battery. This is a product of the weight. That weight doesn’t matter in a home defense shotgun.
Place the hooded front sight on target and hammered the X. Control was excellent. Putting up two and three targets to engage quickly worked well enough but not in the class with a standard stock shotgun. The balance and sight radius isn’t there.
You may move a rifle quick but not shotgun quick. And I tried! Just the same it is what it is and if you fire, control recoil as you move, and get on target, speed gets better. The supplied open cylinder choke keeps eight and nine pellet ‘cheap buck’ on target to 15 yards. At 25 the load is no longer centered. Some pellets may be off the paper. Par for the course with any economy gun and with an expensive gun with cheap shells.
A few words on the trigger action. Just mash the trigger all the way through its travel. The first example I tested a few years ago broke at 7.5 pounds. The newest example breaks at 5.5 pounds.
At the second firing session, I had more diverse munitions. I tried a good mix of AA field loads. The JTS MAK12 shotgun gave a fair showing, about 75% reliable with these loads. I didn’t adjust the gas as I am defining the JTS as a dedicated buckshot gun. However, I relented at a later session and found the piece reliable with affordable birdshot. This is a good option.
Next, shells that had been on the shelf a few years. Winchester’s 3Gun buckshot, Fiocchi plated buckshot, and Hornady’s (out of production) Zombie buckshot. Each full magazine of five shells functioned well. Next, I fired three Hornady Black 12-gauge shells to test the pattern at 20 yards. (I am jealously conserving my first rate deployment shells!) Results were good with a nice grouping around the X-ring. Afterward, I tried four of Remington’s Managed Recoil slugs. I set the gun on a bench and took my time sighting just below the X-ring. At 20 yards, the four went into a cloverleaf about two inches high. That is good performance for an inexpensive shotgun.
Overall Length: 39.375 inches
Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
Sight Radius: 9.875 inches
Length of Pull: 14 inches
Weight: 9.0 pounds with an empty mag
Chamber: 2.75 or 3-inch shells
Trigger Pull: 5.5 pounds
Recoil was light throughout the test. Light recoil is a result of both a relatively heavy platform and the AK-type gas-operated action. So, how do I like the JTS? I like it because it is reliable. That is the baseline and nothing else is as important. This isn’t a 3-gun shotgun or a bird gun. For personal defense it is a decent choice, an ideal choice for some. For recreational use, it is high on the list.