There aren’t many guns that carry such a notable reputation as the Mossberg 500 line of pump-action shotguns. With a company lineage that dates to just after the end of World War I, Mossberg has offered many firearms over the years that have seen service on battlefields and hunting fields. But the Mossberg 500 may well be the most recognizable.

So, naturally, I felt a bit ashamed that I had never taken the time to shoulder one of these classic pumps. Fortunately, that failing has now been corrected. I recently pulled a 12-gauge Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field model and some other classic shotguns such as the Remington 870 from the Vault to get some trigger time with them. Here’s what I found.

First Impressions? I Like the Price and More

I shouldn’t really say the Mossberg 500 is a budget shotgun. Rather, it’s a budget-friendly pump with a reputation that outweighs its costs. What Mossberg does – and doesn’t do – to the 500 explains why. A quick scan of the 500s at will reveal a long list of options for about any use you can imagine. For me, I wanted to see if I could trust it as a go-to sporting gun.

In honesty, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first pulled this gun from the box. I selected a sample gun that I felt would fall in line with someone on a conservative budget, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it didn’t strike me as a refined shotgun when I first held it in my hand. 

Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun
The checkering on the wood furniture is sufficient but relatively light. (Photo: Paul Peterson/
Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun
Mossberg focused more on cost and function for the 500, which is its own form of beauty really. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

From the basic wood furniture to the sights and the action release, it seemed clear this shotgun was made for practical function over beauty or the hopes of future collectibility. Honestly, however, that’s generally something I like about most of my guns. If I take a gun to the range or into the field, I prefer to keep shooting it rain or shine without feeling bad about exposing it to some hardship. Yet, how it shoots is still what really matters – more on that in a sec – but first let’s take a look at the specs.

Specs & Function Overview


Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun
The gun's robustness is in the design, which includes measures to save on the end price. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

With a design that is now over 60 years old and has catered to everyone from hunters and sportsmen to the military and law enforcement, Mossberg 500 specs vary widely – even inside the U.S. military versions. What has remained true is the reliability of the design. In fact, what started as a marketable and affordable hunting gun quickly caught the eye of law enforcement precisely because it offered reliability at a low cost because, you know, budgets. 

While later military variants were beefed up in various ways, Mossberg continued to offer more affordable 500s for civilians who had less need of bayonet lugs, heavy military barrels, or aluminum trigger guards and safeties. Hence, this 500 boasts a polymer trigger guard and safety, but it keeps the twin action bars and dual extractors. Regardless, its reputation and popularity speak to its performance.

Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun
The trigger guard is polymer... 
Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun is the tang safety. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

The trigger pull on my 12-gauge Hunting All Purpose Field model comes in at just over 5.5 pounds with a bit of mush before the wall. It’s fine, not great, just fine. Still, it’s proven perfectly capable of busting clays and would do equally well on a hunt. The furniture is also fairly basic with mild checkering and functional but not elegant wood – both benefits to the end user’s price – and the gun features a pre-drilled receiver for mounting an optic. The firearm also hosts dual-bead sights with a generous white bead on the front. 

I’ve listed some other general specs below:

Capacity: 5+1
Chamber: 3-inch shells
Barrel: Ventilated rib
Barrel Length: 28 inches
Length: 47.5 inches
Length of Pull: 13.9 inches
Barrel Finish: Blued
Weight: 7.5 pounds
Choke: Swappable Accu-Set

Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun
The receiver is also drilled and tapped for an optic. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

Maintenance and disassembly are both simple affairs, and the reliability has been 100 percent after numerous long range outings. In truth, it’s received only occasional, basic cleaning between trips over the last nine months. A shotgun like this should be more than capable of surviving a working life with a similar maintenance regimen, and that has proven to be true.  

Shooting Experience

I will start by saying this is not my favorite sporting shotgun to shoulder, with some of my other preferences falling to the Remington 870 Wingmaster and a growing fondness for the Browning BPS. The gun swings just fine, but it lacks some of the finesse of birding guns like the Wingmaster. Still, it also feels and handles more like a functioning tank than the Wingmaster.

Having shared the gun with various other shooters for several rounds of sporting clays, the opinion on shootability was split. Half the shooters preferred the feel and the bead sights on the Mossberg 500, and the others leaned toward other guns like the Wingmaster. Of course, both guns also come at very different price points, so the more affordable 500 may be your preference regardless due to that fact alone. 

Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun
The front sight bead is generous and effective. (Photo: Paul Peterson/
Mossberg 500 Hunting All Purpose Field Pump-Action Shotgun
And the recoil pad is firm but grippy. (Photo: Paul Peterson/

I’ll also give a nod to the Mossberg 500’s tang safety, which is something I greatly prefer as a shooter to the button safeties on the rear of the trigger guard that are common with many shotguns. Lastly, while not adjustable for length of pull, the shotgun does host a firm but grippy butt pad that did well for controlling recoil even under cold winter conditions. 

Final Thoughts

This gun us no safe queen. I think it’s just generally fair to say Mossberg skipped most of the bells and whistles you might find on other pricier guns. But for a classic and reliable pump, that price range is nice and reachable for the occasional hunter or range visitor. 

On the other hand, the gun would certainly also fit nicely into the role of a workingman’s shotgun, living through a life of hard use and the dings and scratches that come along with that journey. The bang for your buck would make it well worth it, and you could spare yourself from having to baby it along the way. So, if you’re looking for a shotgun that wants to live a life with some adventure and leaves room in the wallet for ammo, I’d say this 500 would be a fine choice. 

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