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Review of the Mossberg 500

A pump action shotgun is one of the most reliable and versatile weapons ever made. The Mossberg 500 series may well be the best pump shotgun that you can buy. Some may argue that boast, but in my experience, I stand by that statement. My last Mossberg model 500 is pictured below:

mossberg 500 mossberg 500

Military History of the Mossberg Model 500

The Mossberg 500 series shotgun is the only pump shotgun to pass the rigorous testing (Mil-Spec3443E test). This test requires the gun to handle three thousand rounds of full on 12 gauge buckshot through the gun, non-stop, without fail. I feel sorry for the guy that had to perform the test. I bet his shoulder will never be the same.

The variants that are fielded by the U.S. Army are the 500M MILS and the model 500 MILS. These variants have no plastic parts (the civilian version has a plastic trigger guard), and also has a heavier barrel than the standard model 500 Mossberg.

While these shotguns have performed flawlessly in combat for the military, the M500 is being phased out, to be replaced by the M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System. The new guns are designed to mount under barrel like the M203 and M320 grenade launchers, or optionally, as a standalone weapon (hence modular system).

Civilian History of the Mossberg Model 500

Introduced in 1960 by Mossberg & Sons, the 500 series shotgun is offered in 12 and 20 gauges, as well as .410 bore. The Mossberg model 500 is currently offered in many configurations.

worm farming

You can buy one that is wearing beautiful wood furniture, set up with a 28 inch vented rib barrel with adjustable choke, for versatile hunting options. You can buy one wearing a camouflage pattern polymer stock, with a 28 inch full choke barrel for turkey hunting.

You can also buy the “combo” package. That is the gun with an extra barrel and 3 chokes. You usually get the 28” vented rib barrel with 3 chokes and an 18” rifled slug barrel. With this setup you can hunt squirrels, dove, duck, geese, turkey, etc.

Then you just swap the barrel to the rifled slug barrel, and go hunting for deer, or anything else you can kill with a 12 gauge slug.

The one pictured below has the rifled slug barrel in it with a 4 power scope. The 28” vented rib barrel is under it. You can see the vented ribs on the top of the longer barrel and see that the slug barrel has none.

mossberg 500 combo

Tactical Style

Or my personal favorite, you can go the tactical route (or as I like to say, tacticool), and buy the 20” open choke barrel (or the more proper term, cylinder bore, which means the barrel tube inside diameter is the same diameter as the cylinder and there is no taper or closing of the barrel).

I like the open choke because you can fire slugs from it even though the barrel is not rifled. Even though it isn’t rifled you can still get fairly accurate shots on a man sized target at ranges of 50 yards or so. I like the open choke because you can mix up your ammo and fire buckshot, then slugs, then buckshot, then a slug again. Mix it up; make it more fun for the guys you are shooting.

Another popular version is the model 500 Persuader. This version is a 20 inch cylinder bore barrel with a pistol grip rather than a stock. This configuration is intended for home defense. The pistol grip makes the gun more wieldable in a close quarter situation like a hallway or a bedroom.

With this configuration you just shoot from the hip, literally. The one of mine that is pictured in this article started life as a persuader. I didn’t care for that style so I built it suited to my tastes. I accomplished this by changing the pistol grip and factory fore stock and added a few more goodies.

The parts I used for the conversion were:

  • Blackhawk tacticool M4 style adjustable butt stock with combat grip
  • Blackhawk fore stock
  • Limbsaver recoil pad
  • Side saddle six round extra shell holder
  • Blackhawk vented barrel shroud with ghost ring sights
  • Single point quick detach sling

mossberg 500

Mine also has the full length magazine tube so it holds 7+1 rounds for 8 shots total. With the 6 in the sidesaddle at the ready, that’s a total of 14 rounds of 12 gauge beast at the ready. Granted, that’s not as much firepower as my Saiga 12 was, but it still feels good in the hand. The picture above shows the 6 round side saddle fully loaded.

The M4 style adjustable stock and combat grip make wielding it a breeze too. Fully controllable and easily aimed, the ghost ring sights give an excellent sight picture:

mossberg 500

The picture above shows the vented barrel shroud, and ghost ring sights. These are handy when you are experiencing heavy use and the barrel gets hot. The shroud prevents you from suffering a burn should you touch the barrel. It also protects those near you if you were to accidentally bump your buddy on the arm with the barrel he won’t get burned.

It was no light weight though, loaded down like that. It must have weighed about 10 or 12 pounds. That doesn’t sound like much when you think about weight, but trust me, for a gun that’s pretty heavy. I didn’t mind though, the weight helped keep it under control.

Affordability

While the Mossberg model 500 is not exactly an expensive gun, it can still be difficult for some people to shell out $350-600 for a shotgun. For those who may fall into that category, I say fear not, there is hope. Mossberg also makes a lower priced, “economy” version of the model 500 called a Maverick model 88 by Mossberg.

The Maverick model 88 is usually priced around $230 new. A used one can often be found for about $150-200. They are virtually identical to the Mossberg model 500. The model 500 accessories fit the model 88 if you chose later to customize your home defense shotgun.

The Maverick model 88 is also offered in a 28” vented rib hunting configuration as well as an 18.5” home defense model, aptly called the Maverick model 88 Security. It is a 20” barrel, full length magazine tube that boasts 7+1 rounds of 3” 12 gauge home defending beast.

I have owned both of these shotguns and actually, the Maverick 88 has a feature that the Model 500 doesn’t have. On the model 500 you have to manually squeeze the trigger for every shot that you fire. The Maverick 88 lets you fire more rapidly.

This is possible because all you have to do is keep the trigger squeezed and when you rack the slide back and eject the shell, when you rack it back to the forward position the next round is chambered and fired. This little feature speeds up rapid fire considerably.

Now, some people might say that this is a bad thing, a negative point on safety. But to them I say remember your fundamentals, KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO FIRE. If you follow this safety fundamental you won’t have to worry about accidentally shooting yourself in the foot or blowing your friends head off.

Actually, there is a funny video on YouTube that shows a guy blow a hole in his ceiling because he forgot his fundamentals and had his finger on the trigger when he racked the slide on his shotgun. I’m not sure but I think his might have been an Ithica model 37.

DON’T BE THAT GUY! Always follow ALL safety procedures when handling firearms. Firearms can be dangerous if mishandled. He was lucky that all that was hurt was his ceiling and his pride. Had someone been above him and he had buckshot or a slug in the gun they could have been killed.

Here is a video showing a guy slam firing an Ithica model 37 pump shotgun on purpose.

Parting Shot

Slam firing should only be done in a very safe location. It takes a little bit of practice to do it and keep the barrel down and on target. This feature was designed for the trench guns in WWI because you can really rip them out like this once you get used to it.

I could dump them out pretty darn fast with that Maverick model 88. I wish the Mossberg model 500 would do it because I do think it is a little sturdier of a gun than the Maverick 88, but I would still own an 88. As a matter of fact I’ve been thinking about going and getting g a new Maverick model 88 because I actually sold that Mossberg model 500 in the pictures.

I traded it for an NAA wasp .22 magnum combo and a pile of .22 magnum ammunition. I only traded it away because I like to swap and trade so I can get new toys to play with when I get tired of the ones I have. I have several guns that are permanent fixtures in my home, they will never go anywhere.

But other guns I have or have had I get them, I fix or fix them up, I play with them for awhile, then I trade them for something else and do it again. I do kind of miss the 500 though. It is a very good, reliable weapon. If you are searching for a good home defense shotgun or a good shotgun for SHTF/TEOTWAWKI, I highly recommend the Mossberg model 500.

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About Eric W. Eichenberger

Eric Eichenberger is an avid outdoorsman, skilled marksman, and former certified range officer and instructor with nearly 40 years experience handling and repairing firearms. A skilled craftsman with a strong love for working with his hands, Eric spent 20 years as a carpenter and custom woodworker in high end homes. As a gold and silversmith he has created hundreds of pieces of jewelry over the years using the lost wax casting method. The grandson of humble country folk, he was raised with the “do it yourself” mentality and so is accustomed to coming up with unique solutions to problems utilizing materials at hand. Later in life Eric went on to earn an AA from Elizabethtown Community and Technical College where he is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society. This was followed by earning his BA/psychology from Western Kentucky University where he was invited to join the Psi Chi honors society. Eric is also an associate member of the KPA (Kentucky Psychological Association). It was during his time as a student of psychology that he discovered his passion for writing. He has 2 gun-related books slated for a summer release.

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