Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Synthetic
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- Last updated: 16/06/2023
Viking Arms distribute Mossberg in the UK, stocking a wide variety of their rifles and shotguns. Recently, I reviewed one of their latest shotguns, the semi-auto Mossberg 940 Pro Field and was left seriously impressed. Well, this time I thought I would go back to basics and have a look at the 500 series of pump-action shotguns, which Mossberg has sold over 12 million of!
Viking offers three models that all come under the ‘Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose’ name. First up is the Field version, which comes with wooden furniture and is available in .410 with a 24” barrel, 20-gauge (26”) and 12-gauge (28”). Next, we have the Classic, which looks to be a deluxe version of the Field, and the Field Synthetic, which comes with polymer furniture and is the gun on test. Both are available in 12-gauge with a 28” barrel.
For those that don’t know, the pump-action comes with a few perks over a semi-auto. Firstly, the guns are cheap to produce, so won’t hit you in the pocket too hard. Secondly, the design means utter reliability in all conditions and with a wide range of ammunition. So, where you might struggle to cycle light or even subsonic cartridges in a semi-auto, you won’t have the same issue with a good old pump-action. Another perk, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked, is the simple fact that they are also damn good fun!
As per the name, this shotgun shows synthetic furniture and would almost certainly be my choice, given the likelihood that it would be put to work in the great outdoors. You certainly would not have to worry about it getting bashed about, wet or muddy!
To the rear, there is a basic, lightweight, hollow-sounding stock. It shows a sling stud and a squidgy rubber recoil pad that is just over 1” thick, giving a length of pull that comes in at 14”, which is a little short for me. Saying that, I just added a cheap slip-over extension pad to bump up the LOP a bit and I was pleased to find that when bringing the gun up into the aim, my cheek would sit on the comb comfortably, plus the view along the rib was spot on.
Just like the 940 Pro Field, the grip is a bit slim but will be manageable for a wide variety of people. It shows a panel of chequering on each side only, leaving the front and rear faces smooth.
Up front, there is an 8” forend that shows a tapered tip and a substantial, ribbed grip surface that measures 4.25” in length. The density of the polymer used makes it feel solid in the hand and it provides a decent amount of grip, plus there is plenty of material to keep hold of while operating the shotgun.
Looking closely, it also has an internal structure for a tighter fit to the magazine tube, which it travels along during operation. This helps to prevent the forend from yawing and possibly hesitating, which could reduce the cycling speed and affect the reliability. It is also important to mention that Mossberg has attached the forend to the bolt assembly with twin connection rods, ensuring that the force imparted on the bolt during the cycling of the action is even.
The gun arrived boxed with the barrel removed and it was quick and simple to re-attach it. Ensuring the gun was unloaded and with the bolt sitting in the halfway position, I just inserted the barrel extension until it connected with the shoulder within the receiver. I then hand-tightened the takedown screw that’s connected to the barrel. This locates in the tip of the magazine tube.
If you then close the bolt to function test the shogun, you will notice that the action only allows you to cycle it once the gun has been fired or if you depress the ‘action lock lever’, which is a small tab/button that is located rear/left of the trigger guard.
My preferred technique for loading the Mossy is to depress the lever, pull the working parts to the rear, ensure the safety is on, pop a cartridge into the ejection port, and then push the working parts forward and closed. Next, I simply insert two cartridges through the loading port (which measures 3” long and 1” wide) and into the magazine tube. Here, you will see that the ‘anti-jam elevator’ or shell lifter sits flush with the underside of the closed bolt, leaving unrestricted/unhindered access to the magazine tube for fast reloads. Nice!
The top of the simple, matte-black receiver shows four small screws that can be removed in order to fit bases for a scope or red dot sight. The right-hand side shows the ejection port, which measures 2.75” in length, with a 1” width. Here, you can clearly see the 500 series bolt assembly. The bolt face shows twin extractors and there is a fixed blade ejector mounted on the receiver wall. This design means that the ejection strength is influenced by the user and how much effort they put in when cycling the action. As with any pump-action, it is important to cycle the action decisively, don’t hesitate, then you will be rewarded with reliability.
The metal trigger blade shows comfortable proportions and breaks at 6lbs 5oz. Given the price point, it is nothing special but does its job just fine. It is housed in a polymer guard, which is an entire unit and is removable for maintenance. All you need is a suitable punch and you can remove the necessary pins to extract the trigger mech, bolt and shell lifter. However, with this being a pump, you aren’t going to need to do that very often! Due to the manual operation and lack of gas parts, there is not a lot of fouling in this area. A great perk that I missed off the list earlier!
One of my favourite features is the tang safety catch. Its position makes it easy to operate and ambidextrous. It shows ridges for grip and simply moves forward for FIRE and rear for SAFE.
The All Purpose Field Synthetic comes in 12-gauge only and the matte-black, 28” barrel shows a 3” chamber, so the gun will reliably function with 2.75” or 3” cartridges. It shows a straight, ventilated rib that is 10mm wide for its entire length.
Sight-wise, there is a small, brass mid-bead fitted to the rib and a standard white one up near the muzzle. With the gun mounted, they create a nice figure of eight shape.
The barrel is threaded for Mossberg’s Accu-Choke system and in the box, you will find Full, Modified and Improved Cylinder choke tubes as well as a very simple metal choke key.
For the test, I took the Mossberg to my local clay pigeon ground to see how it would fair on a variety of clay targets. I fitted the modified choke and increased the LOP by fitting an extension piece, as mentioned earlier. I took a selection of cartridges with me, including some Eley Select (24-gram, No.7.5, plastic wad), Gamebore Velocity+ (28-gram, No.7.5, fibre wad) and finally, some Hull Superfast (27-gram, No.7.5, fibre wad).
Given the simplicity of the design, it was no surprise that the gun ran beautifully and proved to be 100% reliable during use, and loading cartridges into the mag tube was simple enough, with no hang-ups. The pump stroke is only 3.75” and the resistance is fairly low, meaning that the action can be cycled pretty quickly if required. However, if you don’t regularly use a pump-action, your pumping arm will soon be screaming for a break after 50+ clays!
Handeling-wise, the gun feels very light due to the single barrel and the lack of gas parts. This lack of mass, however, means more felt recoil, as you can’t beat physics! Saying that, in use, it was perfectly acceptable and the rubber recoil pad did a good job of mitigating the effects of the recoil. The lower weight does, of course, make the gun easier to carry over long distances while doing a bit of pest control. Finally, I had no issues hitting my usual targets, such as high birds from the tower or super-fast rabbits on the ground. The Mossberg dealt with them all.
There is no getting around the fact that the Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Synthetic is a pretty basic gun with no frills attached. This simplicity, however, makes the gun very reliable and simple to use. Combine this with a solid build, durable materials and a capable barrel, and you have yourself a do-it-all shotgun that will probably outlast you!