The Mossberg 590 Special Purpose shotgun is a powerful weapon. It’s built by O.F. Mossberg & Sons, a family-owned business that is renowned for quality and innovation. In fact, the Mossberg is the only pump shotgun ever to pass all stringent U. S. Military Mil-Spec 3443 standards. Given the near absurd standards dictated by this mil-spec, the fact that the Mossberg 590 survived it speaks volumes. The Mossberg 590 comes in a few different flavors, and we will look at the model 590 A1. In this review we’ll look at the specifications of the Mossberg 590 A1, take it for an extended range session to see how it performs, and then summarize the pros and cons to allow you to decide if the Mossberg 590 A1 may be right for you.

The Mossberg 590 A1 is a combat ready pump shotgun. The 590 A1 uses 12 GA (Gauge) ammunition and can take both 3″ shells and 2 3/4 shells. The internal magazine holds 9 rounds which are fed with the pump driven action.

The 590 A1 comes with a handy M7 bayonet that can second as a combat knife. The M7 bayonet resides under the muzzle and connects to a bayonet lug, which is similar but not identical to lugs found on M-16 or AR-15 rifles. Since the lug isn’t identical, the 590 A1 can’t take an AR-15 bayonet. While being a nice addition to the package, I can’t see a scenario in which I’ll opt to install and use the M7 on the 590 A1. Still, it is part of the package and something worth having.

The Mossberg 590 A1 is a serious weapon. The first thing you notice when you pick up the Mossberg 590 A1 is its weight. It feels heavy and firm. It is very well built, operates smoothly and has a good fit and finish. Since this model was built for military use in difficult environments, everything about this shotgun seems to focus on reliability–the weapon’s ability to function despite environment or abuse.

The trade-off for this rock solid design is weight. It is important to realize that this is a heavy weapon. For example, I wouldn’t want to hold a suspect at gun point for a long period of time, since the weight plays against you, and it is bound to be seen in the form of muzzle movement. If you intend to carry it around for long distances over harsh terrain, you ought to be sure you can handle it, since it is about 7.5 pounds unloaded and 41″ long. Having said that, with a sling or a good backpack, any person of moderate size and fit ought to be able to handle it.

The Mossberg 590 A1 has a black, synthetic stock which has recoil absorbing materials. Since I like to shoot my shotguns, and since I opted to use it for home defense, I replaced the original stock with a Blackhawk Knoxx, which helps absorb and reduce recoil. I wanted to be sure my wife could handle it in case of emergency. The Knoxx stock takes a bit of getting used to but it’s worth the effort.

The Mossberg 590 A1 is operated by pump action which means that it can use both full power and reduced-recoil ammunition. The action is smooth and works well with all types of ammo. The trigger is consistent, despite being somewhat heavy (I’m used to custom 1911 triggers) but given the weight of this weapon, the trigger pull as well as reduced-recoil loads offer no problem.

Taking the Mossberg 590 A1 to the range is fun. It handles any type of ammo, from cheap, reduced- recoil Remington loads to full-power military loads and self-defense loads in 00 buck or slugs. I took several boxes of different brands and different types of ammunition. I settled on the reduced 12 gauge Winchester Ranger 00 Buck ammo as my favorite for home defense, and on the 12 gauge Federal Law Enforcement Tactical Full Power (Flitecontrol 9 pellet) 00 Buckshot for outdoor use. Both types were 100% reliable, accurate and manageable. The paper targets I used were shredded after a few rounds and had to be replaced often.

The Mossberg 590 A1 is powerful but it isn’t magical. There’s a common misconception among people who think, or rather believe, that you don’t need to aim with a shotgun. They think it sprays pellets and that pulling the trigger will suffice in any home defense scenario, that isn’t correct and, in fact, dangerous. While it is true that a shotgun 00 buck will spread, it isn’t a magic spray and it depends on distance from the muzzle.

To see what type of spread I had to contend with at home, I measured the distance from my bedroom door to the end of the corridor that leads to the front door. I then used that same distance at the range with different 00 buck loads. I found that the spread was about the size of a small tea cup, just a few inches wide. You would certainly want to take aim prior to shooting!

The sights on the Mossberg 590 A1 are excellent. You get ghost rings for the rear sight and fiber optics for the front. With slugs, this rifle can be accurate to over 100 yards, and that is impressive for a shotgun. I found it easy to get a sight picture and get back on target. I don’t rapid-fire with a shotgun but I think you could send two quick shots without much difficulty. Again, the weight of the 590 A1 helps with recoil control and shooting anything but magnum loads is truly fun.

In summary, the Mossberg 590A1 is a powerful, military shotgun capable of operating in any environment. It is reliable, accurate and fun to shoot, but it is also heavy and more expensive than a Remington 870 or lower end Mossberg shotguns. When I look at the features such as the sights for example and the robustness of the weapon, I think that the price is fair. Throw in the M7 bayonet and it’s more than fair. If you are seeking a serious weapon for home defense or hunting, I would highly recommend you give the Mossberg 590 A1 a hard look. It will be well worth your time.

Until next time, stay safe by staying alert!

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3 Comments

  1. by ryan | May 13, 2011 , 9:15 am

    No, the magazine hold 8 plus 1 in the chamber.

    The bayonet lugs are the same

    “I don’t rapid-fire with a shotgun” If you’re using the weapon for self defense that rapid fire practice might come in handy.

  2. by big dave 1917 | May 18, 2011 , 8:54 pm

    the j.i.c model 500 would be a good home defence gun, 5+1 18 1/2″ barrel short & light weight put a light on it call it a day.the 590 has a lot of cool factor in its favor…its a 12 ga shotgun with a knife on it !!! i want one ; )but i’m not sure i can get one in mass with the bayonet lug

  3. by Nighthawk | April 10, 2014 , 12:28 am

    I agree the Mossberg 500 family is the King of Defence Shotgun Market. But I hold the Remington 870′s up. But once the Mossberg is used and the action is smoothe and reliable.

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