Mossberg 500 Series 12 Gauge Review and Buyers Guide



This Mossberg Retrograde provides fans of classic, wood-stocked shotguns with a modern-day alternative that’s still ready for duty use.

Today I’m going to talk about a favored shotgun, the Mossburg 500. My first gun purchase was a Mossberg 12 Gauge, and it continues to be a go-to favorite for hunting, critter control on the farm, and self-defense. 

This timeless classic has only gotten better with age, offering more sophisticated designs for various needs: both hunting and competitive. I took a well loved model out to the range over the weekend, and despite the many years it has been hauled around, it still shoots the same as the day it was brought home.  Take a look at our review and buyers guide below.

O.F. Mossburg & Sons Company History

Family founded, owned, and run since 1919 with the introduction of their first firearm, a .22 caliber pocket pistol that held 4 shots, O.F. Mossburg & Sons has continually had a Mossburg at the helm through the years. Popular for their bolt action rifles and shotguns, they are one of the most recognized and iconic American owned gun manufacturing companies in the world. 

The History of the Mossburg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun Series

Mossberg 500 Series 12 Gauge lying on the wood

In 1962 the 500 model pump shotgun was first introduced, it has over 10 million sales worldwide and is likely the most popular shotgun model in existence. Just like me, most people can say their first gun was a Mossburg model. In fact, they are the only pump-action shotgun to meet US Military Mil-Spec requirements. Much of this is due to their full interchangeability of parts in the field.

There are 2 main 500 Series in current production: the 500 Hunting and 500 Flex series. Both included various models for specific disciplines, but have kept the same basic design and quality that has made them so popular through the years. 

I personally own 2 of them, both well used and loved through the years, and recently passed my first buy onto my oldest son to use. Modern models may have changed their outward appearances just slightly to accommodate changing times and styles, but nothing about how they handle is any difference between a 60 year old and a 6 month old model. 

500 Hunting

The 500 Hunting models are classic designs made with interchangeable barrels to ensure you are always ready no matter what season it is. Prolific and reliable, it is also incredibly versatile for use in any season and every discipline. Dual extractors, twin action bars, an anti-jam elevator, and positive steel to steel lockup, this tried and true design will last a lifetime and then some, and never let you down. Available in .410 bore, 12 and 20 gauge options, there is a model (or two) everyone from youth to adapt shooters will want for their gun cabinet. Choose from the following:

  • All Purpose Field & Classic
  • Turkey and Tactical Turkey
  • Combo Turkey/Deer
  • Combo Field/Deer
  • Combo Field/Security
  • Youth Mini and Super Bantam

500 Flex

The 500 Flex series takes the classic 500 style pump-action dependability and couples it with an innovative flex TLS tool-less locking system to create the most adaptable shotgun platform in the world. This allows you to easily switch between various shooting applications in mere seconds, and other diverse hunting and tactical shotgun accessories, such as butt-stocks, scope mounts, recoil pads, and pistol grips. 

Choose between a 12-gauge model or Super Bantam (20 gauge) all-purpose or youth combo field and deer. 

Mossburg 500 Combo Field/Security Introduction

Mossburg 500

This tried and true model has been around for quite awhile, and even though my gun has seen some wear, it still looks almost brand new. It has weathered being stored, hauled around in the back of a truck, and a multitude of hunting seasons, the use is a testimony to the amazing quality Mossburg offers in any of their models. The field and security combo provides two barrels and a pistol grip that are easy to change out in just a matter of minutes. 

Spec Chart







Barrel Length

28″, 18.5″


Dual Bead, Bead

Barrel Finish


Stock Finish






Features and Benefits

The 500 has a great reputation for good reason. As mentioned, I’ve had my shotguns for years, and they are a family favorite that simply do not disappoint. Reliable, easy to shoot, and well-balanced, they are a go to for a day shooting skeet, hunting fowl or deer, and are a great self-defense standby. Take a look at all the details that have made it one of America’s most popular shotguns. 

Gauge and Capacity

Even though the 500 series is available in .410 bore, 12 and 20 gauge options, their classic field and security combo shotgun is only available in a 12 gauge option. This makes it a formidable choice for both disciplines, and offers a powerful shot with a 5+1 capacity in a 3 inch chamber with pump action loading. Most hunting laws require you to use a plug in order to not have more than 3 shells loaded at a time to comply with US Migratory Birds Laws, but that is only when actively hunting. 

Interchangeable Buttstock

Interchangeable Buttstock of Mossberg

The buttstocks of the 500 are easy to change out to help fit your specifications. This particle model has a ridgid, rubberized end that provides a comfortable feel against your shoulder and absorbs recoil well. I have no issues getting sore even after shooting through a long day, and I think it’s important to note this is the original buttstock, and it looks brand new. 

Changeable Barrels

Changeable Barrels of Mossberg on the floor

One of the best selling features of the 500 series, and in fact what has made the Mossburg world famous and the only shotgun to meet US Mil-spec requirements, is the interchangeable barrels and array of barrel length options for different disciplines. The field and security combination comes with both a vent rib field barrel and a security length barrel that you can use with the pistol grip. Obviously, you can change out with other barrels as well, including slugs and smooth bore barrels of various lengths. 

Field Barrel

The field barrel is a classic design and measures 28 inches, bringin the entire gun to a total length of 47.5 inches. This is a long option perfect for both waterfowl and field fowl, and the most current option boasts a vent rib. The only issue I have with the longer barrel is how short I am. I have to take care in how I carry it since it is only about 6 inches from the ground when tucked under my arm. Otherwise, it is incredibly well balanced and lightweight, coming on at only around 7.5 pounds. 

Security Barrel

The security barrel is a shorter barrel and only measures in at 18.5 inches. It is specifically design for use with the pistol grip as a home defense option. As a skeet shooter, I’m not partial to the length, but it is a good choice if you prefer to have a gun at the ready when stored at home between hunts. 

Pistol Grip

Pistol Grip of Mossberg

The pistol grip is as easy to attach as swapping out the barrel is. You simply remove the buttstock and loosen a screw and the pistol grip will fit between the stock and the body of the gun. I’m not a fan of the overall feel, but it is an effective, and secure hold to shoot from the hip if you choose to do so. The trigger is easy to reach, but the safety is more difficult for me to get to with my smaller hands. 

Top Mounted Safety

Top Mounted Safety of Mossberg

The top mounted safety is easy to get to and slides effortlessly both ways. The red indicator dot provides a visual reference as well, letting you know with just a glance that you are in a firing position. This is a point that gets dirty easily and can gun up slightly, forcing you to use a bit more effort to slide. I find a drop of WD-40 helps keep that from getting gummed up and back in working order. 


Sight of Mossberg

The fixed bead sight on the end of the barrel is surprisingly effective, providing a clear, unobstructed view of your target all while keeping you on target. It is very accurate and perfect for getting small game in your sights. For somebody who wears contacts or glasses, and may struggle with how your eyes focus on sights and distant targets, I find this a very easy sight to use since it is not dominant in my field of vision. Other barrels offer different types of sights, adjustable sights,  or the option to put your own in. 

Length of Pull

With a fixed length type of pull, you have a 13.875 inch LOP, making it a perfect length for a huge array of shooters. Pre-teens, smaller framed women, and tall, heavier set men have all used this shotgun with no issue, making it a great choice for both beginning and well-seasoned shooters. 

Trigger Guard

Trigger Guard of Mossberg

Perfect for both a gloved and ungloved finger, the trigger guard is roomy without being overly large, and houses a smooth faced, easy to pull, well-balanced trigger. With just an easy pull, you have a smooth movement for firing. 


Finishes on Mossberg's barrel

With a wooden stock and blued finish, this is a classic looking shotgun that ages amazingly well. Obviously you do want to store and care for your gun in a manner that helps preserve it, but nothing about the materials used are cheap, and they are made to last a lifetime or more. Hence why mine is already being passed to a second generation, and I expect it to make it to a third with the same care it has received. 

My Bottom Line

My all time favorite shotgun, the Mossburg 500 series of guns are a legacy product that does not disappoint. I have shot a 500 model for over 20 years, and first fell in love with shooting sports because of it. I continually go back to them for just a fun day shooting, and especially covet some of their newer, more tactical models. 

Danielle with Mossburg 500 rifle

Would I recommend it? Let’s put it this way, your gun cabinet is not complete without a 500 model Mossburg pump-action. 

What the Rest Are Saying

The biggest competitor is the Remington 870 design, another tried and true model, so you will often find the two compared to one another. Healthy competition between manufacturers is good, it keeps them producing quality items, but they are so similar in nature that what is generally comes down to is the buyer’s preference in brand name over the actual firearm. 

This similarity earns grudging respect by those who own a quality competitive shotgun, and only helps booster its standing amongst other firearm enthusiasts. 

Wrapping It Up

No matter whether you are into competition shooting, field or waterfowl hunting, deer or turkey hunting, or simply want a good home defense choice- the Mossburg 500 series of guns and models are exactly what you want. Tried and true for close to a century, this American owned company delivers excellence and quality in all they manufacture. 

We’d love to hear about your favorite shooting experience with a Mossburg 500 pump-action shotgun, and have the chance to answer any questions you may have. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and as usual, please share.

Leave a Comment