The Mossberg 500 has been a staple in the shotgun game for over fifty years, and for a good reason:
It’s manufactured to military specs, and the only pump-action shotgun to pass the MIL-Spec 3443 E test—requiring the gun to handle 3,000 rounds of 23-gauge buckshots, non-stop, without fail.
Today, there are two types of Mossberg 500s made: the field model and the special purpose model. The field model is perfect for hunting, while the special purpose is optimal for self-defense and law enforcement.
How has this gun maintained its popularity over so many decades? Keep reading to find out...
Accuracy is pretty much inherent with a pump-action. The 28” barrel increases the range by a mile, and the double beads and choked barrel improve the accuracy even further. In fact, I’ve fired over 400 shots through the Mossberg 500 and maintained a 1” grouping.
The 500 is astoundingly reliable. It passed the MIL-Spec 3443 E test and it doesn’t rely on maintenance for reliability. While you should always keep up with proper cleaning and maintenance on your guns, this isn’t one of those shotguns you have to clean in between each use for reliability. I’ve fired over 400 rounds with zero misfires!
The Mossberg 500 is a high functioning shotgun, with a good balance between adaptability and consistency. It handles smoothly, and feeds, fires, and ejects without issues. The 500 has an infinite selection of aftermarket accessories and interchangeable barrels to allow complete customization, and you can switch the barrels easily. All you have to do is unscrew the magazine knob, pull the action down halfway, and twist the barrel to pull it off the receiver. Then, just put the new barrel in, screw the knob back into the tube, and pump the action. The forend is a nice, tight fit on the action rails, and the serrated wood is easy to grip.
The Mossberg 500 features a top-tang safety, mounted at the top near the rear of the receiver. It’s easy to see, convenient to reach without moving your trigger finger, and naturally ambidextrous. The trigger is crisp, breaking at 6 lbs even, which is ideal for most uses. If enhanced safety is important to you, you’ll be happy to hear that the action is manually operated, meaning you have to squeeze the trigger to fire each shot.
Magazine & Reloading
The mag capacity is 5+1, but it also ships with a wooden stopper to permit loading only three shells, due to stricter hunting laws in some areas. Dual-action bars ensure reliable cycling, and the shell lifter keeps debris from collecting inside the receiver, making loading easier. The shell lifter only lowers for a moment during the loading cycle when the slide is all the way back, so there’s no risk of catching your thumb or glove between the lifter and the magazine. Loading is simple: you cock the action, press a lever by the trigger guard to unlock the action, and load the magazine. Then, actuate the bolt release, and rack the forend to load a shell into the chamber. The 500 comes with dual extractors, and the pump ejects fired shells and chambers a fresh round via the forend.
Length & Weight
The Mossberg 500 comes as a 12-gauge, 20-gauge, and .410 bore. If you buy the Field Combo, it ships with two barrels: 28” and 18.” With the 28” barrel, the gun weighs 8.7 lbs; and with the 18” barrel, it weighs 7.4 lbs. While it’s not the lightest shotgun around, it’s still relatively lightweight, partly thanks to the aluminum receiver. It keeps the weight down, while still being strong enough to keep the gun well balanced.
Recoil is pretty much average for a 12-gauge shotgun, if not a little better. There’s a rubber recoil pad at the butt of the gun, and this along with the stock design makes firing more comfortable than other 12-gauge pump-actions.
The Mossberg 500 retails around $320. It’s a pretty mid-priced pump-action, unlike its budget-friendly counterpart, the Maverick 88. While these two shotguns are pretty similar, it’s worth spending the extra money on the 500 if you can swing it!
This is the perfect all-purpose shotgun. You can use it for hunting, clay shooting, and home defense. Here are some of the best features:
- Outstanding, military-grade reliability
- Easy to change barrels adapt to different situations
- Has stood the test of time—proven in the streets, field, and combat
In short: The Mossberg 500 is one of the best pump-action shotguns on the market today. There’s a reason these have been around for so long: they’re affordable, reliable, tough, and functional.
Richard Douglas is a firearms expert and educator. His work has appeared in large publications like The Armory Life, Daily Caller, American Shooting Journal, and more. In his free time, he reviews optics on his Scopes Field blog.