Gun Review: 20 Gauge Mossberg 500 Persuader

Trying to pin down an identity for a Mossberg 500 is only slight less futile than trying to pigeon hole the 500′s only real competition, the Remington 870.  They all have one thing in common: they’re solid pump shotguns.  Other than that?  Most are 12 gauges, and the 500′s reputation has been built on the success of the tactical line.  Mossberg’s latest addition to the 500 family is a pugilistic 20 gauge.

The Mossberg 500 Persuader in 20 gauge

The gun itself comes in some basic variations.  The eight shot model is 39 inches long.  The barrel comes in 18.5 inch and 20 inch variations, and is available with a stand-off breaching break (on the 18.5 inch version).  Different length stocks allow you to choose a comfortable length of pull.  On the short end, at just 13 inches, the gun feels very small.  Other options, like the adjustable stock, allow for anywhere from 10 to 14.5 inch lengths of pull.


The finish on this gun is a matte black.  They’re available with a bit more gloss in the blued versions, or a mix between the blued finish and the matte of the black.  Mossberg’s making three sight variations: a white dot, a bead, and a ghost-ring with a fiber-optic front sight.


The forend, like most stock forends, is functional.  It has a light texture to it that makes getting a good grip easy enough, yet it lacks the aggressive ridges on some of Mossberg’s gun.  Beneath it, the magazine tube will hold eight (or a shorter version holds six) three inch shells.

The ejector is a heavy claw that pops empties out and slightly forward.  The lever that actuates the slide is just behind the trigger guard, where your middle finger comes in contact with the grip.  The safety, which sits on top of the tang, is easily reached with the thumb in a natural shooting position.

Shooting the 20 gauge Persuader

Shooting this gun is much less wearing than shooting a 12 gauge.  I was honestly quite surprised by the difference.  Part of me thinks that isn’t a good thing.  The 12 gauge owes its reputation to its ballistic effectiveness.  The price of that performance is recoil.  But the 20 gauge is fairly relaxed.


The gun loads easily and cycles with the reliability I expect from a 500.  We had no failures to feed.  No jams.  No failures to extract.  Even running the gun hard, in driving rain, it never faltered.  That’s saying something, considering any lubricant between the heated working parts had been replaced with water.  In fact, I didn’t know how bad it had gotten until I got home that night and cleaned it.  We’d had the 500 sitting in the rain off and on for hours on one range day, but it never effected its ability to function.


The sights on the Mossberg kick ass.  I like a good ghost-ring on a shotgun.  If I can’t have a working red dot sitting on the top of the gun (or even if I can), I want sights like this.  They are easy to use, fast, and Mossberg has gone the extra mile with the thin, white horizon line on the back of the ring.  The subtle line across the back of the ring is clearly visible, and helps when you are trying to level the front post quickly.


The front post itself is bright and easy to reference.  It stands tall on the end of the barrel and is dovetailed into its mount for easy drift adjustments.

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