Nothing says hello quite like a pump-action shotgun. Reliable, easy to manage, and delivering a heavy payload, the 12-gauge shotgun is a problem solver. There are many good shotguns and many cheap ones as well. I long ago got over the allure of owning many firearms and instead enjoy owning a few very good firearms that always work.
The Mossberg 590 is a product of stringent testing of a reliable shotgun—the Mossberg 500—and subsequent modification to make the piece even better. The Mossberg 590 features a heavy barrel and a smooth action. My shotgun features a 20-inch barrel with an open choke.
Some variations have aperture or ghost-ring sights. My shotgun features the simple bead I am familiar with. While ghost rings are great for many uses, nothing beats the bead for fast shooting at close range, which is what I have the piece for. My 590 also has a heat shield on the barrel and a speed-feed stock. It’s all I need and nothing more.
The barrel of the 590 sets it apart from the 500. The barrels are not interchangeable. The 590 features a heavier barrel and a different attachment to the magazine tube.
The 590 easily fieldstrips. Maintenance is simple. Don’t neglect this simple and reliable firearm, but if you do, chances are it will come up firing time and again. The Mossberg 590 maintains the tang-mounted safety found on the original Mossberg 500. This safety is easily used by either hand and offers positive function. It is an advantage of the Mossberg over other makes.
The stock is a black synthetic type that seems sturdy. There is no rattle or loose motion. Length of pull—the distance from the end of the stock to the trigger—is 14.5 inches, ideal for most human beings. Master this stock to the best of your ability before adopting any other type of gear. MagPul offers a credible choice if needed.
The shotgun weighs 7.6 pounds. This makes for recoil-absorbing weight while the 590 swings quickly and naturally.
The intended purpose of the Mossberg 590 is personal defense. It might be used for game hunting, as the open choke and birdshot shells would be fine for fowl and rabbit. It might be used for predator control around the homestead if stoked with #4 Varmint Express loads. But this is a personal defense shotgun that will do the business that needs to be done, and that is save your life.
For practice, you will use primarily light shot from #6 to #9. This is the proven drill that is lighter on the shoulder. You must also familiarize yourself with buckshot. Buckshot is the preferred personal defense loading. Shotguns differ as to choke and pattern cohesion but buckshot generally keeps a good pattern to 15 or 20 yards depending on the load.
Practice with cheap bulk loads, and use a good load you have patterned on paper for personal defense. Among the best performers is Hornady’s Critical Defense buckshot load. This number hits hard and offers a good pattern. When using buckshot, you will appreciate the 590’s well-designed rubber recoil pad.
If there is a need to address larger animals or a target at greater than 25 yards, slugs should be chosen. I deploy the Hornady American Gunner slug for the 590. The 1-ounce slug is a hard hitter with a proven record against man and beast. Accuracy isn’t sensational using a smoothbore barrel and a simple front bead, but it’s useful for defensive scenarios.
At 25 yards, slugs land practically on top of the bead and a bit under the point of aim at 50 yards. I am able to fire a cloverleaf with two slugs touching the other at 25 yards. At 50 yards, a four-shot group of 4 to 5 inches is the norm. That is useful for defense against marauding predators or driving an adversary from cover.
The Mossberg 590 is a formidable shotgun and among the very best personal defense firearms ever fielded. You would be well served indeed with this shotgun. Give the piece a hard look when putting together a defensive battery.
Are you a Mossberg 590 fan? Have do you have it set up? Do you prefer slugs or buckshot for self-defense and why? Share your answers in the comment section.
Sign up for K-Var’s weekly newsletter and discounts here.