When you think of the ultimate survival gun, you should think of the versatility, durability, and power of a proven 12-gauge shotgun. The reason for this versatility and diversity is the variety of 12-gauge shotshells available that range from wild to mild. Available shotshells run the gamut from sabot slugs capable of downing any North American game accurately, fletched long-range defensive rounds, door breaching rounds, signal flares, heavy goose or turkey loads, light recoiling clays loads, to the standard variety of buckshot, BB, pellets, and many more.
12 gauge shotshells are also among the easiest and most forgiving rounds to reload. You can even reload with black powder. If you were faced with having only one gun for survival, any survival expert will tell you that a 12-gauge shotgun will serve you better than any other type of firearm.
This was the thinking behind the Mossberg JIC – Just In Case series. This line features Mossberg’s 500 series shotguns originally packaged in waterproof, floating tubes suitable to be buried, providing protection and legal stowage. The newer JIC II series takes the concept a step further with a simple Cordura pack-based carry solution.
Fit & Feel
The JIC II version is packaged in a more user-friendly format than the previous giant tube models. Mossberg found that people loved the ready-to-shoot concept of the original JIC watertight tube, but were also asking for a smaller, more discreet, soft-cased version as well. Mossberg worked with 5.11 (one of the top tactical clothing and accessories manufacturers) to come up with a simple shotgun case design that was durable, light, and as small as possible. The result was the Cordura JIC II case made by 5.11. It holds the Mossberg 500 in a disassembled state, assembly tools, gun lock, and provides plenty of room for your ammo.
What makes this and the other JIC kits so cool, convenient, and unique is a compact shotgun and storage solution wrapped into one. Generally, shotguns come in a cardboard box, are stored and carried in long gun-looking cases, and are fairly large and not so “packable.” On the other hand, the insanely popular Mossberg 500 series Cruiser shotgun featuring a pistol grip and 18.5-inch barrel reduces the overall size of your average Mossberg shotgun to just under 29 inches. This makes the shotgun lighter, smaller, and pack manageable. Mossberg was clever enough to package the case and Cruiser 6-shot shotgun together in a convenience high-quality package.
The case itself is designed to hold the barrel, action, and pistol grip securely with hook and loop straps in a disassembled state, and provides a pocket for the takedown pistol grip bolt, washer, and hex wrench. With the case packed, it measures a very compact 22x9x2 inches. You can easily slip it under a seat, secure it to a pack via the rear hook and loop straps, or carry it with the included case strap. The disassembled action with the pistol grip removed just barely fits in the pack. That indicates to me that Mossberg was making every effort to reduce carry size. A simple, single adjustable strap is provided to carry the case comfortably slung over a shoulder.
The kit includes the famous 12-gauge Mossberg 500, Which, at this point should need no review. However, for those who are not familiar with this slick-cycling shotgun, it features:
- Twin action bars for positive functioning
- 5+1 shot capacity (with 2-3/4-inch shells)
- 18.5-inch barrel
- Pistol grip
- Sling swivel studs
The shotgun can handle up to 3-inch magnum shells if you dare, and is finished with matte phosphate finish.
This version of the 500-series Cruiser is the less frilly version than some of the Blackwater or alien warlord-looking versions with giant compensators Mossberg now makes. This version is tipped with only a simple bead sight. Ergonomically, the Mossberg 500s differ from other brands with the position of the safety and slide release. The slide release is next to the thumb versus forward of the trigger guard location. The safety is a thumb-operated tang mounted for ambidextrous use, versus being located behind the trigger guard. Made of MIL-SPEC aluminum, the receiver features a polymer trigger guard. It may not be fancy; the 500 series is light, simple to use, and is a proven design that just works every single time.
Assembly is quick and very simple. Unzip the full length, lockable zippers to open the case, release the receiver, barrel, and pistol grip, and remove the grip’s bolt, washer, and hex wrench from the small internal pocket. Using the included toolset—bolt, washer, and hex wrench—in four simple steps, this shotgun is ready to shoot:
- Press the slide release and move the action to half open.
- Insert the barrel.
- Tighten the thumbscrew about seven turns until tight to secure the barrel.
- Install the pistol grip.
In total, you can have the entire shotgun put together in about a minute.
Pump shotguns all work about the same way—load shells by pushing them into the magazine, press the slide release, rack the action to chamber the first round, and release the safety if necessary to shoot. Once a round is fired, the slide action automatically unlocks, and the shooter can rack the action again to shoot again and again. It could not be any simpler. I am sure most trained monkeys could operate a 12-gauge pump shotgun and that’s one reason it is the ultimate survival firearm.
The pistol grip version has its sizing, maneuverability, and weight advantages. The pistol grip even mitigates a fair amount of recoil. The downside it that the pistol grip does take a little practice for accurate shots while managing the recoil at eye level. Shooters need to assure a safe recoil zone is maintained for eye-level shooting or you may find the backside of your fist smacking you in the face.
Hot buckshot and slug rounds do generate a fair amount of recoil. However, shooting the JIC II Cruiser shotgun was manageable for both hip and line of sight shooting. For new shooters, shotgun recoil takes a while to adjust to, and it just takes practice.
I was pretty impressed that even with Hornady Zombie Max 00 Buckshot loads. At 25 yards, I was able to easily destroy a 20-ounce soft drink bottle with eye-level shots over and over again. These rounds usually group in the 2- to 3-foot range at that distance, so a fair amount of accuracy was required. Turkey loads make it easy to hit just about anything at 25 yards with the improved cylinder choke of this barrel. My preferred shooting grip was a solid two-hand pistol grip when shooting for accuracy off hand. For less stationary defensive shots, I used a pushing forend grip and pulling trigger hand grip to manage recoil.
Dropping the shotgun on the bench, I found it easy to keep all my slugs in a 2- to 3-inch circle at 25-yards. However, to be honest, after six rounds of slugs I decided I was done with that experiment as slugs always are a bit brutal to shoot in any pistol grip pump-action shotgun.
Thankfully Mossberg did not adorn the JIC II case with the household Mossberg name. Otherwise, it would be obvious what the case carried. The prominent JIC II logo can be clandestinely recolored with a black sharpie or by removing the stitching for those who wish a more subdued case look.
I was a little disappointed that the JIC II shotgun did not come as shown in stock pictures with the sling and looped forend strap because, at the very least, the buyer now needs to pick up a sling for safe carry. This is a handy shotgun that can easily pull home defense duty at night and get tossed into the trunk during a trip, “Just in Case.”
This is a compact little kit that goes together quickly and takes up very little room. It provides all the functionality of the well-refined and time-tested Mossberg 500 action. Slip a 50-round shotshell bandolier sling into the case with a variety of buckshot, slug, birdshot, flare, and BB rounds and you can cover any need which may arise.
The 12-gauge shotgun is the ultimate survival firearm, great for home defense, and hunting. For $350 or less on the street, this shotgun remains one of the best deals in firearms. The JIC II kit just makes it that much easier to take a great shotgun along, you know… “Just in Case.”
What do you think about Mossberg JIC II? Do you have one? How would/do you use the JIC II? Share your answers in the comment section.
Sign up for K-Var’s weekly newsletter and discounts here.