Mossberg 535 Camo
By: Mark Stone
Mark Stone checks out the Mossberg 535 Camo, one of the latest generation of pump action shotguns from the legendary American gunmaker
The last Mossberg pump I tested could best be described as disappointing… a testament to the fact that those who manufacture arms of any description shouldn’t put accountants in charge. However, now things have got better and Mossberg’s shotguns are back where they should be, one of the most respected names in single-barrelled shotguns, and the 535 Camo Pump is right at the forefront.
All you’ll need
By Mossberg’s reckoning the 535 is everything you’ll ever need in a shotgun the minimal accessories tending to highlight the point. Open the box and besides the Max4 clad pump action contained within, you’ll find a set of three short, flush-fit Accu Chokes, a simple key, a bright yellow plastic clad branded padlock and, should you so desire to shout out your choice of shotgun to the world, a sizable Mossberg stock sticker.
From the gun’s perspective it’s actually easier to tell you what hasn’t been clad in Max4 camo since the 535 more or less pays homage to this photorealistic attire. The black one-piece bolt that bears the Mossberg name is visually joined with the black trigger-blade, forend slide guides and the deep, soft, honeycombed recoil pad. Apart from that it’s all bulrushes and reeds as far as the eye can see - and for someone whose not a major camo fan, I reckon the 535 actually looks rather attractive and in keeping in this heavily disguised form.
There’s the famous anachronism that states KISS or ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’, four words that that not only describe but personify the 535, physical properties that genuinely set this pump-action apart as one that embodies everything a pump should be. A large captive nut and a short extension secures the 28” steel proofed, 3½” Magnum chambered barrel to the mag tube and into the alloy receiver whilst a broad, grooved 9mm vented rib complete with a small black mid-rib bead and a high visibility bright red bead over the muzzle keep the tube on target.
Two short black slides and a horseshoe pressure spring keep the forend slide running true whilst a T-piece skeletal lifter keeps the ammo feeding from the two-shot capacity magazine. The bolt is Mossberg’s familiar one piece affair whilst for those who prefer more pinpoint accuracy, the top of the receiver is ready drilled to facilitate the fitment of an accessory rail and scope. Apart from these simple controls and fitments, the 535 boasts Mossberg’s familiar safety, this deep grooved slider sitting on top and to the rear of the receiver that falls perfectly underneath the thumb for instant engagement.
The only other control is once again ergonomically situated, a short black protrusion to the rear left of the trigger-guard instantaneously accessed and depressed by the side of the middle finger allows the forend to slide rearwards, extracting the chambered round in the process, the next round remaining safely within the magazine until the forend is once again pushed forward into the battery position.
Lock and load
There are certain aspects of the 535 that when you pick it up seem at first slightly unusual. A comfortable, well radiused and rounded grip is united with a goodly proportioned sporter style stock, drops at comb and heel are 1 3/16th and 2 3/16th with a length of pull measuring 14 1/16th with an average trigger weight of a crisp, creep free 5lbs 6oz whilst the cyclic distance of the forend slide is just 4¼” in each direction all combined in a gun that weighs just 6lbs 4oz. Physically, the 535 balances beneath the chamber giving this Mossberg a slightly weight forward attitude but not one that upsets the overall dynamics or disturbs the gun’s flat shooting manner that was confirmed after a moment or two with the Arrow Laser Shot.
Setting out on fifty sporting clays and loaded up with 28gram fibrewad Express World Cups discharged through ¼ choke, the 535 instantly proved its worth after picking off some long distance birds with leisurely ease within minutes of first using it proving that if a shotgun’s made correctly, it will shoot well.
If there was a ‘new gun’ fault it was that the slides and magazine tube needed a decent squirt of Ballistol to free them up, but apart from this ‘field repair’, the 535 was an entertaining pleasure to shoot. The only aspect of the 535 you have to become familiar with is that with the weight slightly forward, it’s down to the leading hand to drive the gun along, the upside being that once the swing has started its very easy to maintain whilst the 535’s natural habit of looking exactly where the shooter’s eyes are focused maintained the gun’s impressive first outing accomplishments and emphasized Mossberg’s and importer’s York Guns seemingly well founded confidence in the product.
Likewise an excursion on crows; loaded up with 32 gram Express Hunting Steel, the minimal increase in load size having hardly any effect on the 535’s ability to absorb and displace felt recoil. Both cartridge types also produced well distributed patterns and clean, comprehensive kills beyond forty yards. The 535 handles well, comes up exactly as it should do time after time and more than rewards the shooter’s efforts embodying everything you’d expect from one of America’s most respected makers.
On the up
It’s an interesting fact that the once humble pump- action shotgun is now enjoying a renaissance, numerous manufacturers updating their current models or launching new ones. Once considered the preserve of the American turkey hunter or the practical shotgunner, the benefits of the pump have over recent years been overlooked. The main benefits are the price, the 535 itself retailing out at £559 or £499 if black synthetic be your preference, the fact that the simplicity of design means there’s next to nothing to go wrong since it’s the shooter themselves that provide the cyclic power, weight and the lack of it plus the fact that they will withstand untold levels of abuse and neglect. Not something I recommend but after you’ve spent a morning crawling about the reeds looking for ducks or sat on a marsh awaiting geese, no matter how you try, you gun will invariably get covered in detritus of some sort.
So enter the 535. If ever a sporting pump action was designed to weather the storm it’s this Mossberg. There’s also something about the 535 that appears to set it apart as a shotgun you seem to have known for years irrespective of the fact you’re on your first outing with it. It just feels right in every respect, shoots any ammo you care to load up with (including big banger 3½” magnums), can have a scope fitted, and should provide trouble free service for years to come.
As something to take wildfowling, or go shooting vermin with, an impromptu slug gun or as an entertaining clay breaker, the 535 embodies the lot and for less than six hundred quid - you can’t ask for much more. Back in the States, Mossberg call the 535 their ATS or ‘All Terrain Shotgun’ and from what I can see there isn’t any terrain this Mossberg isn’t prepared to take on and conquer. If further proof were needed the 535 is one of only two shotguns to withstand the American military and police long-term destruction tests… tangible physical proof of this Mossberg’s genuine durability.
|Name||Mossberg 535 Camo Pump|
|Action||Pump – action
|Chokes||Flush – fit multi – chokes
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates