Still got it
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- Last updated: 05/10/2023
There is nothing one can say about the Mossy 500 that has not been said before. I have tested loads of them, and they always put a smile on your face. That’s because the price point is very good, and you know that the age-old pump-action operating system is one of the most reliable and hard-wearing on the market today. Mossberg has been in existence since 1919 and they produce dependable, hardworking firearms. What they lack in finesse, they more than make up for in pure shootability.
The 500 series is available in .410, 20-gauge (on test), and 12-gauge. These shotguns can be used for vermin, as a keeper’s gun, for wildfowl, for law enforcement, and for clays etc. The 500 does it all.
This version sports the wood stock, which is my preference. Plus, the 20-gauge is a nice cartridge for a lot of different uses out in the field. They retail at about £650, but you can normally shop around and pick a new one up for less than that. I use a silenced .410 version, and it’s a superb vermin tool.
I definitely prefer this model with its hardwood stock over the synthetic model, because it balances the Mossy 500 so much better with its superior weight distribution overall. Plus, you can touch up any scratches, if necessary, as the finish is just a thin, matte lacquer. The forend shows a blocky-looking but rounded profile that measures 8” long and 1.85” wide, with a scalloped finger rail to the top for grip. It is only checkered to the underside, but that’s fine, it works well.
Again, no frills to the buttstock, with function over form here. It shows a short, 14” length of pull, which is common to US guns, and I still like the simplistic lines of the 500.
The rather slim pistol grip has chequering on both sides for grip and the low comb is ideal for a good cheek weld and for eye/sight alignment. There is also a nice, thick, ventilated rubber recoil pad that is very grippy, plus a QD swivel mount for sling fitment. Yes, overall, it’s a bit plain, but it’s sturdy and built for the job of real shooting, where the odd scratch here or there does not matter.
The 20-gauge version of the 500 series has a barrel length of 26”, while the .410 has a 24” tube, and the 12-gauge, 28”. This makes the 20-gauge a great handling inbetweener, just like the calibre itself.
The gun is chambered for 3” (70mm) cartridges and comes with just one choke. This sits flush to the muzzle and is a ¼ choke (Imp Cyl), so quite open, which is surprising, as most pumps are full choke, although other chokes can be purchased. However, to be quite honest, just leave it as it is.
As with all Mossberg shotguns, the barrels are very well made and have substantial wall thicknesses, making them very sturdy and long-lasting. The exterior has a satin blue finish to it and the rib is quite wide at 10mm, which offers a nice, flat, and highly visible platform from which you can line up the two sighting beads. There is a white one near the muzzle and a brass one that’s halfway down the rib. Fitment to the end of the magazine tube is via a simple knurled nut, which also features the other sling swivel attachment point.
Pump-actions are used for a reason - they are reliable. Yes, they are a bit noisy and clunky in operation, but at least you know they will fire!
The aluminium receiver shows a well-anodised, black finish. It has a substantial build, with thick walls, and no unnecessary adornments. Unlike the .410 version, the top is drilled and tapped for scope bases, so you can now fit a red dot sight, if necessary.
The action slopes at the rear, where you will find the sliding safety catch, which is very tactile and visible, as it should be. It’s not very quiet but it does become smoother with use, as mine has.
The trigger mechanism has a good-sized polymer trigger guard for a gloved hand, and there is a smooth trigger blade that has a long first-stage pull, before its release at 6.6 lbs.
Loading the 500 is a breeze, as access to the magazine is good, with no sprung loading gate, like the ones found on semi-auto shotguns, to obstruct the proceedings. Instead, two cartridges are easily fed into the magazine, and then a lifter drops from below the bolt as you cock the action. A cartridge then pops out onto it and as the action is closed, the lifter moves the cartridge into the path of the bolt as it closes, thus chambering the round.
The whole cocking action uses a bolt that runs on twin action bars that are attached to the forend. The bolt itself is blued and has 2x large extractor claws that are opposed to each other, and these get a really good grip on the cartridge case’s rim. There is then a steel ejector spur screwed into the left-hand side of the action wall. Typically, once cocked and loaded, the bolt is locked shut until the trigger is pulled, although a small bolt release lever behind the trigger can be depressed to release the bolt in order to unload the gun.
Overall, it’s such a simple, uncomplicated, and reliable system. If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it! Plus, the actual bolt throw of 4” makes it a fast system to operate, too.
The sling swivel studs mean that you can add a sling for treks across the field with decoys etc. Plus, the gun’s basic finish is a bonus, as you will never be worried about scratching it!
The one choke supplied produced some excellent patterns, probably because the pellets were not distorted through a tighter choke. I had four types of 20-gauge cartridges to test and all of them were game loads, except the Pro Twenty, which are for clays (we use them for close-quarter vermin). These rounds hold 24-grams of No 7.5 lead shot and produced some well-distributed and dense patterns on the boards. A good total of 264 pellets with an excellent 96 inner strikes! The remaining 168 pellets could be found around the outside. We like this load as it has minimal recoil and always produces great patterns.
If you are looking for a punchier round, then the Ultimate Twenty from Hull Cartridge uses a 70mm case that’s loaded with 28-grams of No. 5.5 shot. This time a total of 190 pellets hit the board, with 61 strikes to the 15” inner sector. These were quite well distributed. The remaining 129 clustered a bit low in the 30” perimeter. We did have several hard extractions with these cartridges, so just be aware. Also, we noticed more recoil.
The High Pheasant Extreme cartridges are another hard hitter, boasting a payload of 28-grams of No. 5 shot. These produced much more widespread and even patterns on the boards. There were 62 well-distributed inner hits and 93 outer hits, which were well-spaced with a few holes, but still a nice pattern overall.
Finally, the Eley Zenith cartridges showed a 70mm case that contained 28-grams of No. 6 CU (copper-plated) game shot. We had a very healthy 211 pellets hit the board, with 88 inner strikes and 123 outer hits. A good overall sporting cartridge that is hard-hitting down range and produces some great patterns.
In my book, Mossberg stands for good value and unbreakable. The fact that the basic design has not really changed over the years, means they got it right the first time. This shotgun is reliable and throws really good patterns, as the tests prove. Some of these have been better than some more expensive shotguns I have tested recently!