The Mossberg 500 and Mesa Tactical Combine for a Solid “Policy”
Let’s clear the air a bit and separate fact from fiction. The feats of this thunderous firearm are touted beyond the realm of reality. Doors are blown off the hinges, intruders cut in half and felons flee at the mere sound of the slide being racked. After all, all you need do is point it down the hallway, pull the trigger and any adversary will be instantly vaporized.
Consider this as nothing more than fodder for “B” grade action films.
Why not set the fiction aside and discover the real benefits of the shotgun for the homeowner? Pure power is the mainstay of the shotgun and most references will suggest the 12 gauge models. Out of the three most common sizes available – .410 bore, 20 and 12 gauges – it is the one with the greatest power, but for smaller frame men and women the reduced recoil of the 20 gauge has its merits.
Shotgun ammunition is standardly referred to as “shells” instead of cartridges and the homeowner has the choice of birdshot, buckshot or slugs.
All three will take care of an intruder at very close range, but buckshot is normally considered the best choice.
Birdshot loses power very quickly as ranges expand and while it will surely maim, it may not put your adversary down for the count.
Slugs will take down just about anything on two or four legs, but over-penetration becomes a concern. Slugs also reduce the number of projectiles back to one and contrary to belief, you can miss with a shotgun.
I may not be the “end-all” shotgun expert, but my choice has always been to select various buckshot loads for home defense. The typical 2 ¾ inch #00 (“doubleaught”) buckshot load will have nine pellets; each with a diameter of 0.33 inches. Longer shells are available but at the distances found in most homes, the advantage of an increase in power is overridden by the increase in recoil.
The action type and barrel length of the shotgun will also play a major role in your selection.
Single shot, bolt action and double barrel shotguns all have the same drawback of very limited shell capacity. Yes, all of these will work — but why put yourself at the disadvantage of having to reload in the middle of a home invasion?
Pump action and semi-auto shotguns offer greater capacity and most offer the advantage of interchangeable barrels. The barrels on most hunting shotguns are too long to maneuver easily through the confines of a home and being able to convert to a shorter barrel is a plus.
There are some outstanding semi-auto shotguns on the market, but at the same time, some of these may be a bit more ammo sensitive than your typical pump action. Even though a good quality “semi” may be an excellent choice, I have always felt a little more comfortable with the reliability of a pump action.
When it comes to choosing which model of shotgun, there are two major players in the field: Remington 870 and Mossberg 500. Both companies offer newer models, but these have been on the market for over 50 years. More than 10,000,000 of each shotgun have been produced and this speaks volumes for their reputation for dependability — make ten million of anything and you have the process down pat.
As to which one would I choose — it is a case of Ford vs. Chevy. New baseline examples of each shotgun can be purchased for under $350 from several mainline outdoor stores and a good used example can normally be bought for about $100 cheaper.
If needed, new “extra” barrels can be purchased between $100-200, which allows these shotguns to pull double duty as both hunting and defensive weapons. At those prices, there is very little reason not to have one of both (or at least that was the excuse I gave my wife).
After owning a Remington 870 for several years, I purchased a Mossberg 500 for the sole purpose of using it as a closet gun for those dire times. The 870 has a beautiful walnut stock and it just didn’t seem right to take the chance of banging it around. Plus, since I was going to dedicate a shotgun to the sole purpose of home defense, I wanted to make a few modifications to enhance its performance.
The Mossberg 500 I purchased several years ago came with an 18-inch barrel. I later bought a longer barrel just in case I ever wanted to hunt with it. It didn’t take me long to remove the standard butt stock and install the pistol grip. Yes, I too have watched a few of those action movies.
The pistol grip made this shotgun short, handy and it looked just down right “mean!” I even fired it several times before I realized I am not the Terminator and quickly reinstalled the basic stock. Even with a two-handed grip, it was just short of brutal and the couple of times I tried it single-handed were plain comical.
However, even with the fullsized butt stock and an 18 1/2-inch barrel, the overall length is only 37 1/2 inches. This size, combined with a weight of just less than seven pounds, makes it rather handy, even transitioning through the hallways of my home.
Having the safety located along the top rear of the action makes it easy to switch from safe to fire. The bolt/slide release is behind the trigger guard, allowing activation with the middle finger without breaking your grip. The twin action bars on the slide prevents binding even when I intentionally try to twist the slide.
Overall, this shotgun may look a little plain, but it works 100% of the time, and reliability is an absolute must with any defensive firearm.
I use the phrase “with a few modifications” and when you are talking about the 870 or 500, the emphasis is on “few.”
Actually, none of them involve changing the way the shotguns functions. The models are close to perfection and you don’t want to do anything that may change that.
However, after reviewing various products produced by Mesa Tactical, I did notice two modifications that I felt would enhance the basic pump shotgun. Mesa Tactical has been in this game for some time and their designs are not only easy to install, but just about foolproof.
The first modification was the addition of a Sureshell Shotshell Carrier with an integrated Rail Carrier handguard. This device adds the ability to carry an additional six shot shells along the left side of the action. The standard Mossberg has a capacity of 5+1 (five in the magazine tube and one in the chamber) which should be more than ample for 99.9% of the problems you will encounter. But the shell carrier does offer a convenient method of carrying extra ammunition. It even gives you the opportunity to carry a few slug rounds just in case you do need extra penetration.
However, for my purposes, the greatest advantage of this unit is it enables you to mount the optic of your choice and a tactical weapon’s light. It adds a full-length Picatinny rail along the top of the barrel, as well as a section of rail at the end of the magazine tube.
Installation is rather simple and only a two-step process. You begin by mounting a clamp around the front of the magazine tube. Then, the top rail/shell carrier is screwed to this clamp and the drilled and tapped holes supplied by the factory on the top of the receiver. There is only one minor warning: If your shotgun is old enough, it may not come drilled and tapped by the factory. In this case, you will have to do this yourself or have your local gunsmith handle it. This is a very simple job for a gunsmith and should be at minimal cost.
Over the years, the majority of the times I have felt the need for a defensive shotgun, it’s been after dark. I have also discovered that trying to hand-hold a flashlight and a shotgun at the same time is not the optimal situation. Mounting the light to the weapon is a better solution and allows you to concentrate on the situation instead of worrying about dropping the light.
Darkness is also the reason that I have chosen to mount a red dot sight to my shotgun. Trying to pick up the front sight in low light is next to impossible. As I have mentioned before, you can miss with a shotgun even at very close range. More than once I have watched a competitor miss a balloon at only 15 yards during a Cowboy Action Match.
After testing the Mossberg with my chosen load, I discovered that at 30 feet, the shot pattern was only a hair over four inches. The hallways in my home are 36 inches wide and even a large man has a center mass area of only 12 to 14 inches. That leaves plenty of room to miss in the heat of the moment. Being able to aim a shotgun is vital.
The second modification I made to the Mossberg 500 was, once again, changing out the butt stock. Mesa Tactical has a conversion kit to replace the factory butt stock with an “M4” AR pattern telescoping stock. This kit allows a quick length-of-pull adjustment to fit the needs of the individual user.
No one is ever going to say there is no “kick” to a 12-gauge shotgun, but the felt recoil is magnified if the weapon is not adjusted to fit the shooter. When I ordered the kit, I made sure it was the model that also includes the Mesa Tactical Crosshair Recoil Buffer. This spring-loaded shock absorber replaces the typical receiver extension tube found on the AR and greatly reduces the felt recoil of even the heaviest loads.
Mesa Tactical claims a 70% reduction in felt recoil, and although I can’t measure it precisely, I can attest to the fact that it works. Besides the butt stock, the unit also adds a Hogue pistol grip to your shotgun and we regain the “mean” look. Some may say the “mean” aspect is foolish, but it does add to our mental image of the weapon. Anything that helps us feel more protected does have a value.
Installation is as simple as removing the original butt stock and replacing it with the stock adapter found in the kit. Then, the Crosshair Recoil Buffer is threaded the same as the receiver extension tube on an AR-15. The standard M4 patterned butt stock is then slipped over the buffer. The pistol grip can then be attached to the adapter with the single screw found on any AR. Since the pistol grip and stock are both standard AR parts, you can switch to any manufacturer you may prefer.
OK, I’ll admit it: I’m a pansy. Shooting light “skeet” target loads is one thing, but shooting heavy buckshot loads is not what I call fun. The Mossberg 500 has become my “serious” shotgun that sits peacefully, waiting for the time it may be needed. Mossberg provided a 100%-reliable weapon and Mesa Tactical adapted it to my individual needs. The addition of the tactical light and red dot has made it functional even after the sun goes down, and this shotgun is now just an extension of my homeowner’s insurance policy. Now I pray I never need it.
Mossberg 500/590 and Maverick 88
Clearance Items for Mossberg 500/590