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Reviews : Arsenal

Mossberg: The 'Other' Shotgun

This venerable line of police scatterguns offers affordable firepower and a highly adaptable platform

August 01, 2002  |  by Roy Huntington - Also by this author

Of perhaps notable interest is the Model 695 Bolt Action Shotgun. This is decidedly not Grandpa's bolt-action, 16-gauge. With a fully-rifled, 22-inch ported barrel with 1-in-36-inch twist, the 695 is custom-designed for today's high-performance lightweight slugs.


The Mossberg line includes such police standards as the Model 695 bolt-action.

The 695 is drilled and tapped for a scope and a Weaver #55 scope base is included with each one. The synthetic stock is classically styled and the dual extractors and light, 7-pound weight might make it an innovative tool in the right circumstances.

Can't afford a big .50 caliber bolt-action rifle but feel you may need the penetration and sheer "punch" of a big bore? The 695 may be the answer. With today's saboted, solid copper slugs running at close to 2,000 fps and delivering 2-inch groups at 100 yards in some cases, the "old-fashioned," bolt-action shotgun is as modern as this minute.

The Mariner model has a special anti-corrosion coating that looks like electroless nickel and is called "Marinecote." The synthetic stock and weatherproof finish may make the Mariner just as at home in a squad car as on a police boat. The features are the same as on the standard 500 series.


The Mossberg line also includes such police standards as the Model 590.

The 590A1 Bantam is a reduced-size 590 with a 13-inch length of pull. With so many smaller-statured officers on the job, perhaps a slightly smaller version simply makes good sense. A little bit of difference in fit can make a big difference in an officer's performance, and there's no reason why the Bantam can't be an effective weapon in the hands of larger officers as well. The Bantam would really shine where officers are issued take-home cars or authorized to purchase their own equipment.

For serious undercover work the Model 590A1 Compact with pistol grip is a no-nonsense solution. The short 14-inch barrel requires a class three license but if the needs are there, the time should be taken to have the right equipment.

With today's crowded patrol car "offices," it may even make good sense to try out a Compact as a shorter barrel alternative to the full-sized 20-inch tube. Once you factor in all the radios, computer terminals, cages, equipment, and even printers, things get a bit on the crowded side. The smaller package the Compact offers may help with the rapid deployment of the shotgun when speed is the order of the day.


The basic Mossberg 500 comes with a classic brass front bead sight.

For sheer unadulterated panache, perhaps the orange-stocked Line Launcher is in order. We've yet to quite figure out why you may need one (perhaps SWAT might work on the problem?) but with that large projectile and underlug container for line, the Launcher looks like a mini-version of a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and just maybe that's not all bad. We really wanted to shoot one, but didn't have the nerve to ask for one. Maybe next time.

Old Reliable

A trip to the range with a "beater" Model 500 that had seen many days in a patrol car went as anticipated. We rounded up some low recoiling Federal Tactical Buckshot and Slug along with some grungy "bulk" stuff a local agency had been saving.

While the new model we used for photos was a bit stiff to operate, the used one was smooth as glass. Although blue-worn, the currently issued test gun felt right at home in the hand. Feeding and cycling was smooth and predictable, and the uncluttered receiver offered a natural carry position at the balance point.

However, with a full magazine, the 500 was decidedly muzzle heavy and quick work from target to target would take some getting used to if an officer was transition training to this model from a typical four shot pump gun.

The Federal low-recoiling buck and slug was a real pleasure to shoot and if you haven't tried it (or a similar type from Remington or Winchester) you should. For smaller-statured officers, it turns shotgun qualification days into pleasant experiences, rather than fearsome encounters with fire-breathing dragons that leave bruises on cheeks and shoulders.

The range we were using has a 50- and 100-yard gong and even with the basic, brass bead front sight, we were able to hit both gongs more often than not. Lots more often. The moral here? A hundred yards is not far enough away if you're a bad guy and the cops involved have a good 12-gauge and some high-quality slugs. You can run, but you can't hide from these beasties.

Final Thoughts

After shooting the battle-weary 500 we were reminded why the line has become so popular. Having some experience with most of the Mossberg models (except for that cool Line Launcher), we are left wondering why anyone ever talks about giving up shotguns for patrol work. They are simply the best tools possible in some situations and we shouldn't forget that.

If you need a shotgun, Mossberg can supply one that works, and it won't break the bank either.

Roy Huntington is a retired officer and the former editor of POLICE. He is an internationally recognized firearms expert and the editor of American Handgunner magazine.

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Tags: Shotguns, Mossberg, Firearms Reviews

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