Mossberg Model 930 Autoloading Shotgun

By Randy Wakeman

Mossberg Model 930 Autoloading Shotgun
Photo by Randy Wakeman.

Made in the USA, the Mossberg 930 has been with us for about six years. Mossberg has claimed that “RELIABLE AND AFFORDABLE, THIS IS THE BEST VALUE IN 3" AUTOLOADERS ON THE MARKET TODAY.” The tested, version is the 930 All-Purpose Field with an American black walnut stock and a blued, twenty-six inch barrel. The basic specs are as follows.


Mossberg 930 All-Purpose Field


·        Item#: 85120

·        Gauge: 12 Gauge

·        Barrel: 3 inch chamber, ported barrel

·        Shell capacity: 5 (4 + 1)

·        Barrel: 26" Wide Ventilated Rib

·        Sights: Front Single Bead

·        Chokes: "Accu-Set" IC, Mod., Full

·        Overall length: 46 1/2 in.

·        Length of pull: 14 in.

·        Drop at comb: 1-1/4 in.

·        Drop at heel: 2 in.

·        Published weight: 7-3/4 lbs.

·        Warranty: Two Years

·        2011 MSRP: $597.00


The Mossberg 930 is loaded with extra-value features and I mean loaded. The receiver is tapped for a scope base. The barrel is factory ported. There is a cocking indicator at the front of the trigger guard and it comes with a generous, vented recoil pad. The tang safety is ambidextrous. Sling swivel studs are installed, so you are all set for sling use, if desired. The tested model is one of over a dozen configurations currently offered by Mossberg in the 930 series alone.


This is certainly an affordable gun, selling for less than half the price of many gas-operated autoloaders today. There were many surprising things about this gun and the surprises began as soon as it came out of the box. That it was an affordable gun wasn't the surprise, we expected that from Mossberg.


The action was extremely smooth right out of the box. Many of today's autoloaders require shooting in and rely on some self-burnishing of the action to work smoothly and properly. Not so with this Mossberg, it was glass smooth right out of the box and functioned flawlessly with everything from cheap, one ounce promo shells on up.


One of my personal pet peeves is the horribly heavy triggers found on many production autoloaders. A pleasant surprise here, as the 930's trigger broke crisply and repeatably at just under five pounds. Still too heavy, but six and seven pound triggers are unfortunately commonplace today, making a trip to the gunsmith a necessity. That wasn't the case here, as the Mossberg's trigger was satisfactory as supplied.


I more or less expect a few minor cosmetic flaws on value-priced guns. What is remarkable about this Mossberg is that there were none. The recoil pad, for example, was properly ground with no proud wood. Sure, they all should be, but many are not. The safety was a breeze to take off and on. Again, they all should be, but too many shotguns have stiff or otherwise cumbersome safeties.


The tested gun weighs in at eight pounds on the nose. The combination of substantial weight and a gas action make for a soft shooting gun. This is the type of gun you'll love to shoot all day, without feeling it the next day. This gun is also available as a combo set, Mossberg #85125, that adds a twenty-four inch fully rifled barrel for an extra $63. As is, the model as tested has a street price of just $460. That's less than you'll pay for an extra barrel from some manufacturers. With Mossberg, you get the whole gun.


Believe it or not, I do read owners manuals and I was delighted to read a bit of honesty from Mossberg. The manual states, as far as chokes, that “Lead, steel and other non-toxic shot patterns will vary substantially based on shell length, shot size, brand of ammunition and the individual barrel. The shooter is urged to conduct pattern tests before field use.”


This has always been the case and it is refreshing to have a manufacturer actually say so. Asking your buddy what choke you should use is generally a waste of time. If you want to know what works best, there is no substitute for patterning your own shotgun with the shells you want to use at the ranges you plan on shooting. Congratulations for Mossberg for printing some valuable truth in their manual.


There are a couple areas that I can try to pick away at, if only halfheartedly. The 930's barrel is ported. Porting in a field shotgun is of no value and is of little value in shotguns in general. Nevertheless, ported barrels are supplied throughout the 930 line. I'll guess that there are enough people out there that consider it to be a valuable feature, so Mossberg decided to make them all one way. The cocking indicator located at the front of the trigger guard serves no practical purpose. In a nod to getting some cost out of the gun, the tang safety is plastic. If it were Italian, it might be called technopolymer, but it can be upgraded to a metal safety at nominal cost.


We were all impressed with the Mossberg 930 and amazed, or at least slightly astonished, that a gas-operated autoloader can be offered today that is this affordable and this good. The Mossberg also has better shell handling than most repeaters, for the tubular magazine is quickly emptied by depressing the bolt release.


We asked ourselves what we couldn't do with this gun and we came up empty. It is soft-shooting enough for even the most recoil-sensitive shooters, certainly pleasant enough for an afternoon on the skeet or dove field, and if you order one of the combo configurations you have a dual scattergun/rifled slug gun at a bargain price.


The empty hulls all ended up in a consistent pile, with about a seven foot ejection distance, and the more we shot the 930, the more we wanted to shoot it. This walnut version is easier on the eyes than many shotguns today. Shim adjustments are offered with most of the synthetic-stocked versions.


As far as Mossberg calling this the “Best Value in 3 inch Autoloaders Today,” they got it right. The smooth action and crisp trigger of the 930 puts several more expensive autoloaders to shame. When it comes to the price/performance ratio, the Mossberg 930 is a screaming good deal and a very competent autoloader. That Mossberg is able to do this in 2011 with an American-made product with good shell handling, a tapped receiver, accommodation for a sling, American black walnut stock, three choke tubes and a well fitted recoil pad for a street price well under five hundred dollars is all icing on this value-filled cake. It is a big surprise and an exceedingly nice one. The Mossberg 930 Field is a winner!

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Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.