Mossberg 500 Review: A guide through the ubiquitous shotgun series

Having carried a Mossberg 500 Persuader 12 gauge on duty for many years, I want to get something out of the way first so I can get on with better describing this versatile series of shotguns: The Model 500 Persuader kicks like a mule. Bottom line. End of story.

Even with a pistol grip, the recoil on this tactical style shotgun is rough. Now that that’s done, let me tell you about a series of shotguns that can fit virtually any need whatsoever in the field.

The Mossberg 500

Mossberg hit a homerun with the 500 series in that they gained popularity for all the right reasons. What makes the Mossberg 500 so appealing is that every single one has a reliable, tried and true pump action only design—making it hard to choose which one I prefer most—and they’re affordable.

The company introduced the shotgun into the U.S. market in the early 1960s as a low maintenance shotgun that would work reliably in harsh weather conditions. Although the basic design has undergone aesthetic changes throughout the years, such as adding dual-action bars, it has always been the same at heart.

Types of 500

The basic Mossberg 500 has a rather straightforward design. Nothing too fancy. It’s typically seen with a vent ribbed barrel, bead front sight, a cushioned butt pad, and comes with either a walnut stock or synthetic stock and in a variety of finishes.
Mossberg 500
There are more than a hundred variations of the 500, however, it is easiest to organize them into two categories. The first is for hunting, which has clever names such as the Turkey, the Waterfowl, and the Slugster, and the second category is intended for self-defense, which are distinguished with titles such as Thunder Ranch, Chainsaw, Cruiser, Persuader, Home Security and Road Blocker. After that they can be categorized by specific use, features and quality.

Organizing the 500 series isn’t an easy task because there’s just so many of them and it can be very confusing. So for clarity, they will be organized by size and/or moniker.

Model 505, Model 510, Bantam and Super Bantam

Mossberg 500 youth model.
These are the youth sporting shotguns, however, they’re really suitable for anyone with a smaller frame. They have shorter barrels, weigh less and tend to come chambered for lighter loads such as .410 or 20-gauge shells. However, each name merits specific features.

The Mossberg 505 is a standard, no frills shotgun. It has a wooden stock with a 12-inch length of pull, blued steel 20-inch barrel and twin bead sights.

The Mossberg Bantam models have a wooden stock and blued steel barrel either 20- or 24-inches in length, and a 12-gauge model is available, too.

The Super Bantam is identical to the Bantam models except it has a synthetic stock with an adjustable length of pull.

The Mossberg 510 Mini Super Bantam is only available chambered in 20 gauge, has as a short 18.5-inch steel barrel with a blued finish, a black synthetic stock with an adjustable length of pull and has a capacity limited to three to four shells.

Mossberg 535 ATS

Mossberg 535 ATS shotgun with camo finish.
The 535 ATS (all terrain) is a premier variant of the 500 series. The variant has quite a bit more options when it comes to features. It is available in a variety of camouflage patterns, gauges, sights and barrel configurations, but what makes it particularly unique to the series is that it has a trigger that’s adjustable to less than three pounds of pressure. On top of that, it has adjustable sights. And the 535 ATS is also capable of chambering 2.75-, 3- and 3.5-inch 12 gauge and magnum shells.

Mossberg 590

Mossberg 590 with a heat shield.
The Mossberg 590 were designed specifically for military and law enforcement use, meaning it was built to military specification. The 590 is safer to use during high-stress situations and has combat-ready features.

The previously plastic parts of the 500, such as the safety and the trigger guard, are replaced with metal in the 590. The 590 is also parkerized instead of blued as with the 500. Also, it features a heat shield, high capacity magazine, short barrel and a bayonet lug.

With all that being said, as mentioned before, there are other Mossberg 500 models designed specifically as duty shotguns, it’s just the 590 was built to meet military specs.

All in all, the Mossberg 500 series shotguns fill many niches and, for the price, are a reliable, value-for-dollar purchase. MSRP tends to hover in the $400 range, but more often than not, you can find them for well below that.

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