Introduced in 1960, the Mossberg 500 is probably one of the most famous shotguns in the world. Used by military, police and civilians worldwide, the Mossberg 500 is intended for use in harsh environments where reliability and durability are key.
The Mossberg is manufactured by O.F. Mossberg & Sons in America and comes in many different shapes and sizes depending on its intended application. Last week I bought myself a 28" Mossberg 500 Synthetic stock in 12 Gauge and took it out to test. I have always been interested in these guns as they are the ultimate pump action shotgun.
The 500 series offers a wide variety of specs depending on what you are looking for but the most common option here in the UK is a 2+1 capacity pump in either wood, synthetic or camo stock. When I picked up the gun from YorkGuns it was supplied in a cardboard box with three chokes (Improved Cylinder, Modified and Full), two choke keys, a gun sling, an owners manual & safety lock. The guns retail for around £500 with YorkGuns being the main importer for Mossbergs in to the UK.
The gun itself has 28" barrels, 3" chamber, ported matte blue barrel, black synthetic stock and multi choke (a 3.5" chamber model is also available, aptly named the 535). It also has both a front sight bead and a mid-rib bead which I personally prefer and the safety is located on the upper rear of the receiver unlike some of its competitors that position the safety on the trigger guard. It has a very soft recoil pad attached also, however I did notice that this wasn't attached overly well to the gun itself. It is provided with a budget gun sling which was a nice extra that I wasn't expecting. The slide release is also located to the rear left hand side of the trigger guard.
With the configuration of the safety and slide release it gives great usability. You could in effect operate the trigger, safety and slide release all with one hand and without having to move your hand position too much between shots.
I have thought about a Mossberg for the last year or two but almost been put off my its price point. They are a cheap gun, and cheap always concerns me as you often get what you pay for. These guns retail for only around $200-$300 in the states. However, they are mass produced and extremely popular. You are not paying for fancy wood or exquisite engravings, nor are you paying for the fancy ABS case. This is not a well tuned racehorse, this is a hard working draught horse. This is a gun that will take a battering and still keep on going. If you want a gun that will do the job no matter the environment and a gun you won't be too worried about getting dirty and covered in mud or grit this is the gun for you.
I took the gun down to Park Lodge Shooting School last weekend to put the first few cartridges through it and I loved it straight away. Being an over and under shooter predominantly, I loved the light weight feel of the Mossberg. It mounts so quickly and with great ease, the stock did feel slightly short for me but I broke the clays straight away and it was so light to handle. If the fit is something that concerns you, the Mossberg has so many aftermarket stocks and accessories available that you are sure to be able to tune and customise this gun just the way you like it. One of the most common add ons is the Magpul stock kit.
The gun cycles very well and the pump action is easy to operate. I was initially looking at a Winchester SXP which offers inertia assisted cycling but the Mossberg (without inertia) is still very easy to cycle and easy to get on to that second target. Being a lefty I was not overly concerned that this gun was configured for a right handed shooter. With a good pump after your shot the cartridges fly out of the gun with little distraction and do not impact my line of sight. Mossberg do provide the 500 in a dedicated left hand set up which is great, but as this gun will be used be my other half as well as friends and family I thought the right handed option would be more suitable. Having a tang safety and a straight stock does mean that it is very "leftie" friendly right handed pump gun regardless.
The finish on the gun is matte black all over and I did notice that after 150 cartridges there was signs of use and potential wear on the magazine tube of the gun where the slide has been pumped back and forth. But again, you do not get a Mossberg to worry about its aesthetics, much like you do not buy a Ford Mustang if you are concerned about what miles per gallon you will get out of it. This gun will show wear and tear, it will get roughed up and scratched but this only adds to the "mossbergness".
The gun also comes with a ported barrel which is supposed to help reduce felt recoil and muzzle jump on the gun. I struggle to notice tiny differences like this at times, but this coupled with the factory fit recoil pad made the gun very comfortable to shoot. Being an over and under shooter the only thing I sometimes struggled with was remembering to actually cycle a new round manually between shots!
The only slight gripe I had with this gun was the slide release. Being left handed, this at times rubbed and banged against my left middle finger when taking a shot. This of course would not be an issue for right handed shooters and I was able to easily overcome the issue by just slightly adjusting my grip.
Overall I love the Mossberg. It is great fun and I couldn't put it down after my first few shots. It won't be accepted on game shoots and I don't see pumps or semi auto's ever being fully accepted in those circles. But for a pigeon hide, clay ground or rough shoot this is a fantastic, inexpensive addition to your gun cabinet. It will probably outlive you, but whilst you own it, it will give you many years of fun and reliability.