The other day a student asked me, “Is a Mossberg 500 a good gun?” My one syllable answer was, “Yes.” He looked at me with an expectant look on his face and said, “OK… could you elaborate?” I said, “Sure.” This article is the result.
Before I explain why I personally like the Mossberg 500, I’d like to establish a baseline as it relates to O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. as a company and the widespread use of the Mossberg 500 as a specific model of shotgun. Mossberg is an old and respected American firearms manufacture that makes quality guns and sells them at workingman prices. When I say that Mossberg is an old company, I’m not kidding. I think Mossberg has been making shotguns since before dirt was invented. OK, that’s an overstatement, but as far as I’m aware, they’ve been making shotguns since at least 1919. In fact, Mossberg has been dubbed, “America’s largest shotgun manufacturer” on more than one occasion. One of the bestselling, if not THE bestselling shotguns in the country is the Mossberg 500. If you check the Mossberg website, you will find a dizzying array of styles and models to choose from.
Among the Mossberg 500’s many claims to fame is its longstanding use as a military arm. The Mossberg 500 is one of a very short list of shotguns that passed the U.S. Army’s Mil-Spec 3443E test, a torture test that is both brutal and unforgiving. As a result, the United States Military has been using the Mossberg 500, in one form or another, for many decades.
My first experience with the Mossberg 500 came when I purchased one from Big 5 Sporting Goods a number of years ago. They were running a sale at the time, as Big 5 is known to do. I was on the hunt for a pump action shotgun anyway, so I purchased the Mossberg 500 Combo for under $250 out the door. The gun came with two barrels: a short barrel for defense; and a long barrel for hunting. I took the gun dove hunting that year and really liked it. It has been my constant companion on bird hunts since that day.
My personal Mossberg has proven itself to be a remarkably reliable pump action shotgun. I have used it for hunting both large birds and small, posted it in my house for home defense duty, completed tactical shotgun courses with it and fired thousands of rounds from light bird loads to buckshot and slugs without ever having a failure. It has been dropped in both mud and sand, bounced around inside a boat, banged around inside my truck and dropped into a lake full of frigid water. I have hunted with it in near freezing temperatures and scorching desert heat in excess of 115 degrees. In all of that, it has never failed me. I can honestly say, without hesitation, that my Mossberg 500 is both the least expensive shotgun I’ve ever purchased and the most reliable shotgun I’ve ever owned. Now that is a pretty good combination if you ask me.
Having said all that, it is important to remember that Mossberg makes rugged, practical, reliable and inexpensive firearms. The Mossberg 500 is all of those things and it makes no attempt to be anything it is not. As a result, you can easily find shotguns that sport a better finish, have a better trigger, incorporate the latest trends, use the latest technology, or generally illicit the “OOOO” and “AAAAH” response from all your friends. The Mossberg 500, as far as I know, is not going to provide you with any of that. So, if you are looking for all those things, you might want to buy something else. If, on the other hand, you are simply looking for a solid, reliable, rugged and practical shotgun that can be had for a reasonable price, the Mossberg 500 might just be what you’re looking for. It certainly has been for me.