Mossberg 500 Review: A Shot in the Dark or a Beacon for Home Defense?
December 1, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: HuntingMossberg 500ShotgunMossberg 500 ShotgunAmerica

Mossberg 500 Review: A Shot in the Dark or a Beacon for Home Defense?

The Mossberg 500 name and reputation precedes it.

It’s an American staple for home defense and hunting; when you think “shotgun” you’re probably seeing a Mossberg 500 in your mind. Is all the hype overrated? Or is this gun a defining device in shooting history? Let’s take an in-depth look at my review of the Mossberg 500.


Most of what I can say for accuracy is that with most shotgun loads, this gun will certainly hit in the area you’re pointing at. Keep in mind that shotgun accuracy is mostly dependent on your ammo type. Slugs will hit where you’re aiming on the dot if you have some decent sights. Buckshot stays in about a basketball-sized cone usually out to around fifteen-to-twenty yards, and birdshot will pepper anything in a five-foot diameter. As far as the Mossberg 500 goes, I haven’t had any issues with pellets or bbs flying way off course. You get exactly what you’re expecting out of this shotgun; easy to aim, easy to hit.


The worst sound is hearing a click when you’re expecting a bang, but luckily, this well-crafted firearm doesn’t typically suffer from malfunctions.

There is one exception though: user error. The Mossberg 500 was my first shotgun, and I caused it to jam more times than I’d like to admit. I’d say I short stroked the pump about six times since I had it, all within the first month of owning it.

For those unfamiliar, a short stroke is when you go to rack the pump and fail to get the full range of motion causing a failure to actuate the mechanisms for loading. This problem is easily remedied by one thing: Practice! Practice! Practice!

Being familiar and training with your firearm is as important as drinking water and eating. If you have a good grip on the operation of this weapon, I don’t reckon it’ll fail on you any time soon.


I have a single gripe with this firearm. If you have shorter arms, be prepared to be wildly fatigued after holding and operating this shotgun for more than a few minutes.

My girlfriend had to put a lot of effort to even get the pump all the way back up to the front, so she left the range rather disappointed in the experience. I was able to fix this a little bit, I just swapped out the stock for a Magpul shotgun stock, which felt like it took about an inch off the overall length.

Otherwise, the handling felt superb to me. The action was crisp and satisfying, and most importantly: smooth. Loading shells in was as gratifying as ever.

The 500 mostly succeeds in this area, provided you don’t have shorter arms.


The best way for me to describe the trigger is this: it is what it should be; no more, no less. It’s perfectly functional and doesn’t suffer from being heavy or gritty. It was classically light and I had no urge to swap it for something else.

Sure, there’s probably a $300 drop-in trigger that would slightly decrease the pull, but it seems like the cost doesn’t outweigh the benefit. I think the trigger is just fine where it’s at performance-wise.

Magazine and Reloading

I personally purchased a model that has a magazine that holds six rounds, plus one more in the chamber.

The magazine works perfectly and has that satisfying sloop sound when you’re loading your mag up. If you have ever reloaded a tube-fed shotgun, then you know exactly how to reload this firearm. It’s easy and intuitive. There’s nothing stand out about it, it’s a magazine and does what it’s supposed to do: hold rounds.

Additionally, there are a few really cool tube extensions on the market, including bayonets and ten rounders.

Length and Weight

When talking about the 500 series, not every firearm is alike. I purchased the 590A1 which has a barrel length of 18 and ½ inches and an overall length of about forty inches. Like I said, people with shorter arms might really struggle with this firearm.

The weight isn’t too bad though, only weighing 7.5 pounds. The only issue is that the weight is felt prominently in the front end of the gun, making your support arm fatigue quickly.

Recoil Management

Shotguns are not going to be particularly gentle with your shoulder no matter how you cut it. As is the case with most anything, having knowledge is what’s going to make dealing with recoil easier. Learn how to properly hold and shoulder your shotgun. Doing that is what’s going to help prevent a sore shoulder and a bruise. The shells you load into your firearm will play a huge part in how much it’s going to kick back.

Slugs will feel like a mule kick. Buckshot will still pack a punch, but is usually softer in terms of felt recoil. Birdshot and other low pressure loads will be the most manageable when shooting.


The price isn’t so high either, costing only about $590. The 500 series has an array of shotguns, but most will hover in that price range.

My Verdict?

The Mossberg 500 series is an absolutely fantastic starting point for new gun owners. They’re also great for anyone that just wants another shotgun. Here’s why:

  • Usability: easy to understand and operate
  • Price: this is a pretty great value for the quality
  • Accuracy: easy to aim and hard to miss
  • Fun Factor: shotguns are just a blast to use in general

The Mossberg 500 series shotguns should be going on your wish list right now. They’re an excellent buy and will provide you with a quality firearm whether that’s on the range, hunting, or for home defense.

Richard Douglas is a long time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field. Columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.

Image: Reuters.