As a Home Defense Shotgun, a Mossberg Needs No Introduction

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I recently decided it was high time to add a self-defense shotgun to my collection. I’d once owned an ancient break-action 10 gauge, but I’d barely so much as handled a pump action shotgun before. After researching on the all mighty Internet and advisement from a few friends, I settled on theMossberg 590 as the best choice for my needs.

The home-defense shotgun debate generally boils down to Mossberg vs. Remington, and after handling a Remington I decided that I was more comfortable with the Mossberg’s controls – especially the tang-mounted safety.

Like everything else gun-related in these trying times, home-defense shotguns seem to be hard to track down of late, but I eventually found aMossberg 590A1 with a six-position adjustable AR-style stock, “tactical tri-rail” fore end, and 20-inch barrel. The finish is utilitarian black Parkerized and the furniture synthetic. The gun was clearly built for the long haul. My first impression was that the 590A1 is a robust firearm. It differs from thestandard 590 in that it has an aluminum safety and trigger guard, and a heavier barrel (thanks to the standards of the U.S. Navy).

Mossberg 590A1 The Mossberg 590A1 taking a stretch. (Photo credit: J.P. Anderson)

All that extra metal means extra weight, and at an advertised 7.5 pounds, the 590A1 is heavier than I’d like if I was going to be carrying the shotgun for extended periods. But as its role in my collection is entirely for home-defense and fun-gunning, I appreciated the extra weight’s ability to help absorb some of the recoil, which in a gun chambered for 3-inch 12 gauge shells can be significant.

A few days after purchase I was able to take the Mossberg out to the local gravel pit and put a few boxes of mixed shells through it, including cheap target loads, 00 buck, and slugs from a variety of manufacturers, including several magnum loads. True to its reputation for reliability and ease of use, the Mossberg 590A1 did not disappoint.

Initially I’d been ambivalent about the adjustable stock, but after just a few shots I appreciated being able to adjust the length of pull. The other shooters, a 10- and an 11-year-old, appreciated it even more. The ability to accommodate a range of body sizes seems to me a very useful feature in a home-defense shotgun if there are many people who may possibly need to use it.

The tri-rail fore end, however, was less appealing. Though their usefulness in mounting a light or laser is obvious, the short side rails interfere with a shooter’s grip. It’s easy to see how the recoil could injure a thumb. Long story short, if you want to keep your thumbnail, watch how you grasp the pump around the side rails. Fortunately the rails are relatively simple to remove.

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