Who likes shotguns knows the Mossberg 500. This is one of the best shotguns and possibly the best when it comes to affordable shotguns. Still, there are some that want to tell you it sucks. So, today, we take a look at why it not sucks. We talk about why it is great, and why it gives you exactly what you need.

Now, you might already ask yourself why we put the Mossberg 500 into the corner of affordable shotguns. There are definitely cheaper ones out there, but it is not just about being affordable, but about standing out of the crowd of affordable shotguns. That was exactly the intention of the company when they designed it. It was supposed to be a very capable and reliable pump action shotgun that at the same time would cost less than the competition.

Meant to be a hunting shotgun, it has since evolved into so much more. For many shooters, it is not only their first but actually their only shotgun they use. It has become a go to weapon for the military being in war, it has been in service with law enforcement, and it has found its uses as home defense gun.

The gun has made it. It is still in production and it has outlived its toughest competitor, the Remington 870 Express which had to be made cheaper and cheaper in order to be able to stand its ground until it just did not work anymore.

The History

Mossberg as a company was founded in 1919 by Oscar Mossberg, a Swedish immigrant that was also responsible for the yellow cross on a field of blue that become the logo of the company. With his sons, he started production in the field of .22 rimfires and bolt action shotguns.

In WWII, the company manufactured .22 training rifle for the US military. What followed was the rather odd Model 200 pump shotgun in 1955. It came with a one-piece rifle like stock as well as a detachable magazine, and a metal slide that moved up and down the forend.

While such an unconventional design was appealing to some shooters, a more conventional pump action shotgun was needed to actually make it against the competition of Remington, Winchester and Ithaca. Hence, the Mossberg 500 was born. Designed by Carl Benson with his team of engineers and inspired by the Remington Model 31, it features a sliding safety on top of the receiver. This was meant to set it apart from the crowd, and it had the advantage that this was the place where the safety is normally found on a break action. Furthermore, it can easily be reached by right- and left-handed shooters. This was a clear advantage and was marketed well. To make the gun even more appealing, it was offered in combos or as we know it today in bundles. It was possible to buy the gun with more than one barrel to make it more versatile. That was the beginning of a versatility trend for Mossberg that made it possible to market the gun not just as a gun, but as a shooting system.


While all of this is already a good reason for the success of the gun, it is not yet all. Another feature that made the gun be ahead of its competition is the aluminum receiver. This made the gun not just light, it made it also less costly to produce what in turn allowed for a lower price on the shelves. At the beginning, it took some time for this to catch on as in its time, it was thought that a real gun had to have a steel frame. This led to the Mossberg 500 being dismissed as just a cheap gun. However, over time, more and more manufacturers followed this example as it was not cheap but forward thinking. Nowadays, aluminum frames are common.

With all of these advantages on its side, the Mossberg 500 was not such a success. It was a killer for all the other products of the company which were phased out one by one. This included also non-firearm products like Mossberg`s bicycles or golf clubs.

Behind this stood a simple decision when the first C-N-C machine was acquired by the company in the late 70s. As it was too expensive to switch all the production lines to this technology of the future, the company focused on the one product that worked best for it, the Mossberg 500. With more than 11 million of them made, it surpassed the Remington 870 and allowed for an expansion of the production with new rifles and pistols.

What Makes the Mossberg 500 so Great

Having features is one thing, but having features that can be promoted and appeal to the shooters is a completely different thing and here the Mossberg 500 shines. It was promoted as the gun with the features everyone wants, that was a first. What followed was the marketing of it being a shooting system, a super versatile gun, what was another first. To this came the first production rifled cantilever mount slug barrels, the Dual Comb stock inserts to raise the comb for using a scope, and more and more. The most extreme was a muzzleloader barrel that could be added to it.

Time and again, the Mossberg 500 offered what nobody else could on the market. There were many configurations available ranging all the way from trap to tactical and also of course to turkey. It has been produced in 12- and 20-gauge, as well as 16-gauge for a short time, and in .410. Whatever size, whatever flavor you choose, all of them share the same action which is super slick and time proven.

Mossberg 500

There was the 590, the military version of the 500 with features that were specifically requested by the armed forces. That includes a heavier barrel for the Navy making it harder to damage if a hatch slams shut right on it. The plastic trigger guard was replaced by a metal one. Also, the nut that is attached to the barrel ring of the 500 to hold the gun to the mage tube and frame was replaced by a magazine cap to make for an easier access to the mag tube for a simplified cleaning procedure. Apart from these changes, the 500 and 590 are the same.

Why Should You Own a Model 500

There are many good reasons to own a Mossberg 500 beginning by its proven design all the way to the tons of aftermarket parts that are available for it thanks to its use by the military and law enforcement. You can replace the top safety, you can add an Aimpoint mount, you can attach special purpose parts, and you can just individualize it to the point that it either just fits your needs or becomes right out ridiculous.

Besides all of this, the main reason to own one is that it works, has worked, and will continue to work. There are more and more cheap products and new high-end products on the market. The Model 500 is affordable while being reliable. It will shoot when called upon, and it will hit the target. That is exactly what you need if ever push comes to shove.

The More Affordable One

As the Mossberg 500 is already affordable, there seems to be no reason to make it even less expensive, but Mossberg has done it again. In order to keep the appeal of the gun especially when it comes to affordability, it has introduced an even less costly variant under the name “Maverick Arms” with the model Mossberg Maverick 88.

While it seems to be a different model, it is in fact virtually identical with the Mossberg 500. It features a blued finish, synthetic stocks, and many parts that are actually interchangeable with the 500. However, in order to be more affordable, there are some differences. For example, the Maverik 88 does not come with sling swivel studs. Also, it has a cross-bolt safety instead of the tang safety. This also means that the trigger group is not interchangeable.

Mossberg 500

Another difference is that the Maverick series is not drilled and tapped to mount rails like the 500. You can get the 88 in 2 basic variants, the field and the security model. They have a magazine capacity of 6 or 8 shots respectively. Also, it is not easily possible to extend their magazines. Instead, in such a case, some machining would be required.

There you have it guys, the reason why the Mossberg 500 is the best when it comes to affordable shotguns. If you know more reasons or have a personal experience with the Mossberg 500 to add here, put it into the comments. If you are looking for a new shotgun, the Mossberg 500 and the Maverik 88 are definitely a solid option and should at least be considered.

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