The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Mossberg 590M

Photos by We Plead the 2nd

The time has finally come when major American manufacturers are bringing their shotguns into the 20th century! No, that isn’t a typo. It’s 2018 and major manufacturers are finally producing shotguns that use detachable magazines. Handguns and rifles have been produced with detachable mags by American companies for over a century, but for a variety of reasons, American shotguns have lagged behind in the 19th century as tube feeders.

Detachable magazine-fed shotguns are nothing new; they’ve just largely been produced by foreign countries and imported in relatively small numbers. Whether it was fear of legislation, fear of having the guns ruled as Destructive Devices under the Gun Control Act, or fear of making existing models obsolete, the American producers have lagged behind until now. If I had to guess, pressure from foreign competitors, stagnating sales, and AR-15s increasingly supplanting the shotgun in self-defense and recreational roles finally spurred Remington to bring the 870 DM to market, followed not long after by Mossberg with the 590M.

mossberg 590

I tend to favor shooting rifles and pistols over shotguns myself in the present day. I do, however, still enjoy using them in three-gun and other action shooting competitions. What I don’t like doing is loading them on the clock. If you like to practice loading in your living room and posting those videos on Instagram, what I’m writing will likely sound like heresy to you. There are people really good at using single-action revolvers too, but that doesn’t mean I want to compete with one or use one for self-defense.

I’ve used magazine-fed shotguns to compete in three-gun since 2006; the problem I had was that none of them really lasted very long, if they even ran at all. The Russian magic that makes the AK an enduring platform as a rifle just wasn’t present in the Saiga and VEPR-12s I’ve used. Don’t even get me started on the various Turkish import magazine-fed guns; I’ve seen too many of them simply fall apart on the range. Construction and quality control for these imported guns just wasn’t as good as I’d expect from an American manufacturer. The announcement of the American-made mag-fed shotguns was exciting, because it’s a paradigm shift that I’ve been wanting and anticipating for since the end of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004.

The magazines weren’t handled gently during this evaluation. They didn’t suffer any damage or show any signs of being fragile.

The magazines weren’t handled gently during this evaluation. They didn’t suffer any damage or show any signs of being fragile.

When it comes to pump shotguns, I’ve been a Remington 870 guy since I received my first example as a Christmas present at age 14. I’m sorry though, Remington, Mossberg outdid you in the magazine department. The 590M immediately shipped with 10-, 15-, and 20-round magazines versus the Remington’s six-rounders. The capacity of the 590M being so much greater from the start disqualified the 870 DM from use for my purposes. With 20-round mags, if the 590M just ran it could be advantageous over imported semiautos or at least competitive against them as they batter themselves apart through use. I definitely wanted to put the 590M through the trial of a high-round count three-gun match.

Nuts and Bolts
The 590M shares common controls, barrels, stocks, and fore-ends with the 590. Where it differs is in a dedicated receiver to accept the detachable magazines, a bolt designed to strip rounds from the magazine, and the elimination of the shell elevator system. The magazines rock in like an AK, with the magazine release located in front of the trigger behind the magazine well. This can be done on a closed or open bolt, but it’s easier when done with the pump to the rear and the bolt open. The magazines are made of polymer with metal feed lips, and are a semi-modular design sharing a common feed tower with different length bodies added to it, with correspondingly longer springs. One key difference the 590M mags have over other shotgun magazines is that they’re double stack. This is why the Mossberg can get such a large capacity in a relatively short overall length. There are a variety of sight and barrel length combinations available.

The evaluation unit was an 18.5-inch cylinder bore barrel with bead sight. Out of the box, the action was noticeably smoother than a comparable 590 with a tube-feed system. Without an elevator assembly to move, cycling the action is doing less mechanical work. Rounds are stripped and fed directly into the chamber and ejected with ease. This smoothness allowed me to cycle the action more efficiently with less fatigue over time than a traditional tube fed. That said, the magazines for a system like this can make or break it. So the first thing I did to begin testing was load all the magazines to capacity — one 20, two 15s, and one 10 — and leave them loaded for a week before my first range session.

three gun

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