Mossberg Model 500 and 590 Shotguns

By Chuck Hawks

Mossberg Model 500
Illustration courtesy of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.

The Mossberg Model 500 and 590 pump shotguns have been on the market for several decades and has sold in the millions. This versatile gun is available in something like 17 hunting and special purpose models, even including a 12 gauge/.50 caliber, fully rifled muzzleloading combination model. Other popular variations include the standard field models plus slug (including fully rifled), Bantam (youth), turkey, waterfowl, security, and combination models supplied with more than one barrel.

The Model 590 is a security version of the Model 500 with an extended 8-shell magazine. (The Model 500 comes with a 5-shell magazine and a plug to reduce capacity to two shells.) Because of the long magazine the 590 will not accept Model 500 replacement barrels, but in other respects it is the same as the Model 500. Mossberg offers military, police, security, defense, and marine shotguns with both 5 round (Model 500) and 8 round (Model 590) magazines in 12 and 20 gauge and .410 bore.

Model 500 and 590 shotguns have been adopted by the U.S. Military as combat shotguns. They are the only pump guns to pass the Mil-Spec 3443 requirements. To pass these tests, guns were frozen, baked, and dropped to test safety, function and durability. Parts interchangeability is mandated. And the guns had to pass a 3000 round buckshot endurance test.

The Model 500 was originally a blued steel and walnut shotgun, but it is now available in a variety of metal finishes including blue, parkerized, camo, and Marinecote (silver). Stock materials include walnut, hardwood, black or camo synthetics, and a synthetic pistol grip!

The current Mossberg 500 and 590 have a streamlined aluminum receiver that ejects spent shells to the right. The design incorporates dual extractors, an anti-jam shell elevator, dual action bars, interchangeable barrels, receiver drilled and tapped for scope bases, one pin field stripping, and a rubber recoil pad. The bolt locks into a barrel extension by means of a top lug. The safety, trigger guard and triggerplate assembly is moulded from a tough black plastic.

Available gauges include 12 and 20 plus .410 bore. Barrel lengths range from 28" down to 18.5" depending on model and purpose. There are ventilated rib as well as plain barrels, and even fully rifled barrels, with various sorts of sights. Barrels are user interchangeable. Open the action and unscrew the magazine cap to remove the barrel.

Here are the specifications for Model 500 All-Purpose field guns, taken from the 2006 Mossberg catalog: Gauge 12, 20, and .410 bore; Chamber 3"; Capacity 5+1 (furnished with a 3-shot plug); Barrel length 28" (12 gauge), 26" (20 gauge), 24" (.410 bore); Barrel type ventilated rib, Accu-Choke; Sights Twin bead; Metal finish blued steel; Overall length 47 1/2" (28" brl.); Stock material wood; Length of pull 13 7/8"; drop at comb 1 1/2"; Drop at heel 2 3/8"; Average weight 7 1/2 pounds (12 gauge, 28" brl.).

The Model 500 and 590 are economical and dependable pump guns that have been accepted by the U.S. Military. They are not a fancy guns, but they are versatile and they work.

Note: A complete review of a Mossberg Model 500 shotgun can be found on the Product Review Page.

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Copyright 2004, 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.