York Guns’ Stealth Moderated Mossberg .410 Pump-Action Shotgun
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
Last year I had the pleasure of testing the first moderated shotgun in York Guns’ Stealth range: a single-shot .410 based on Baikal’s rugged, synthetic stocked IZH-18-M. Now they’ve been kind enough to send me one of their new “Stealthed” pump-action Mossbergs to try out: and this one looks like it should be a winner too.
Pump and Slide
Mossberg’s Model 500 pump-action is the preferred base model for a moderated build, because it’s both sturdy and inexpensive, which keeps the final cost reasonable. In my experience, Mossbergs come out of the box a bit rough, and only settle in properly after a ‘season-or-so’ good use: after which they’ll run sweetly forever.
I haven’t had the Stealth version for long enough yet to be able to confirm the latter prediction, but the first part’s as true as ever where the test gun is concerned: cartridges have to be energetically pushed home into the magazine and the slide racked with some determination to eject a spent round and chamber another. The trigger’s on the heavy side too, but not excessively so, and it breaks pretty cleanly, so no worries there.
As with their Baikal, York Guns have gone for a synthetic-stocked model with the Mossberg, and since this is the Bantam version, the gun comes with a short 12.75” length-of-pull, two half-inch spacers, and two extra pairs of fixing screws, to bring it up to size for the growing or adult user.
The stock is straight, with no cast, and the safety is mounted on the tang, which, along with the ambidextrous pump-action, makes the Mossberg a generally lefty-friendly gun. Indeed, the only drawback for a left-hander is its right-side ejection, but personally I find this much less an issue with a pump than with a semi-auto.
As for grip, the synthetic furniture offers effective panels of moulded-in chequering on either side of the fore-end, and a stippled wrap-around panel on the pistol grip, whilst a soft, 1” thick, ventilated rubber butt pad with vertical ribbing on the upper half of its rear surface mounts smoothly and provides more than enough protection from the .410’s mild recoil.
The real reason for choosing the Bantam version, however, is not its stock, but its 24” barrel, which keeps the gun UK-legal and still handy, despite the extra length of the moderator. It also means that the original (full) choke can be retained, giving tighter patterns than are available from a cut-down tube.
The moderator itself mounts to a threaded alloy bushing welded to the barrel just ahead of the barrel lug, and is supported at the muzzle by a second, smooth bushing, the barrel in between being drilled through with six transverse ports on each side, whilst up front the moderator’s muzzle cap is actually the end of a baffle unit that screws into the far end of the shroud. The design means it’s easy to strip, and the majority of the fouling ends up in the over-barrel section, which is the easiest to clean. I was also pleased to find that the baffle unit was small enough to fit into the ultrasonic cleaner I use for getting the carbon off my spent brass, making it easy to look after too.
Handling is significantly more instinctive than with my 12g moderated Mossberg, thanks to the light weight of the moderator and the shorter, lighter barrel underneath, with the gun balancing about 2” forward of the receiver (i.e. just behind the forward hand).
York Guns have sensibly left the rib on the barrel, along with the original mid bead, which together provide an adequate sighting plane and reference point, and you soon learn to ignore the big black semi-circle of the moderator. Unlike full size Mossberg 500s, however, the.410s receiver isn’t drilled and tapped for a scope rail, so if you prefer to mount an optic you’ll need to get a gunsmith to do this for you, or go for a rib-mounted rail, such as B-Square’s Universal Cantilever Mount (#16176). Alternatively you could try a set of adjustable fibre-optic “irons” such as the “Slugger” set from Williams’ Fire Sight range. If you can hit your target without such aids, so much the better for you; but I find that when I’m out with a moderated gun many of my targets are stationary and a more precise “sight picture” allows me to wring the maximum effective range from whatever cartridge I’m using by ensuring that the target is perfectly centred in the pattern.
As for range, whilst Eley’s 2” 9gm loads were good for 10 yards or so, I was getting effective patterns out to 30 yards with 2.5” 14gm Lyalvale Express loads, and gaining an additional 5 yards or so with Eley’s 3” 18gm loads. When shot alongside an un-moderated .410, both 2.5” and 3” standard-velocity loads were appreciably quieter out of the Mossberg, but Eley’s 3” subsonic loads were even quieter, and seemingly no less effective than their standard-velocity counterparts, whilst the little 2-inchers were easily the quietest of the lot, making them an excellent choice for yard or garden use.
The test gun was supplied in Section-2 format, with the magazine restricted to 2 rounds, but the Stealth is also available on FAC with an unrestricted tube, giving a payload of 5 x 2.5” or 4 x 3” cartridges.
The moderated Mossberg is hardly a heavy gun, but as I like to have a sling on a field gun for hands-free convenience, regardless of weight, I was pleased to see that it came with a swivel stud fitted in the butt and another for the tapped hole in the magazine end cap. Unfortunately, there’s not enough clearance between the cap and the moderator to fit this, so in place of a conventional sling I fitted one of McNett’s supremely versatile Grunt Lines, which works a treat. I also added an elasticated butt-stock cartridge holder from The Allen Company, which ensured I always had spare rounds handy, and did a little to bring the balancing point to the rear.
Out in the field the little Mossberg Stealth was a pleasure to use: taking both flying and static targets well, and I even accounted for one crow with the gun held out at full stretch in one hand, while lying on my back! It’s not that I’m into trick shooting, you understand, just that no sooner had I stepped out of my hide to stalk another bird further down the hedge than this particular crow landed in the tree I’d been sitting under, and such amateur contortionism was the only way to get a clear shot without spooking him! If nothing else, however, it testifies to the handiness of the gun. What’s more, I was quickly back in the hide, reloaded and ready for the pack of crows that soon came over to see what had happened to their erstwhile companion - itself a clear sign that the moderator was doing its job - and thanks to the fast repeating capability of the pump-action, I was able to drop two more before they could get out of range.
Obviously, the little .410 doesn’t have quite the reach of my moderated 12g Mossberg, but it’s even quieter, and handles a good deal more naturally. This makes it an excellent choice, whether you’re decoying crows, lamping rabbits, or just looking for a good gun to take for a general walk-around in areas where your quarry know what the sound of a normal shotgun means, or the livestock/neighbours are likely to react badly to louder bangs.
My thanks go to Roger Bill and the team at Shooting Supplies, Bromsgrove, for supplying the gun and cartridges reviewed here.