The 12-ga. pump-action shotgun has been a preferred self-protection option for decades. Known for their reliability, simple operation and more affordable price tags, combat-style pump guns have a well-earned reputation for stopping in-home confrontations quickly and effectively. However, typical 2¾" and 3" long 12-ga. shells filled with buckshot or topped with rifled slugs generate punishing levels of felt recoil, making this gun and ammunition combination less accessible to small frame shooters or those who are more sensitive to felt recoil.
The 590S Tactical 20” barrel model (top) with the 14” barrel Shockwave.
Mossberg's new series of 590 pump-actions, called the 590S, have an action that has been re-designed to accommodate 1¾" long mini 12-ga. shot shells in addition to traditional 2¾" and 3" shells. Due to their lighter payloads, lower velocities and shorter length, mini shells produce much more modest levels of recoil while allowing additional rounds to fit into a pump-action's tubular magazine. Although mini shells are not as plentiful as standard shell lengths, birdshot, buckshot and slug loads are available from Federal Premium Ammunition (USA), Aguila Ammunition (Mexico), and Challenger Ammunition (Canada).
A 1¾" mini 12-ga. shell (left) shown next to a 2¾" shell (center) and 3” Shell (right).
Mossberg is launching the 590S series with four models from which to choose. The shoulder-stocked long gun versions with are available with two different types of barrels and fore-ends. Customers can choose from a brass-bead sight 18.5" barrel with a fixed cylinder bore choke and a “corn cob” polymer fore-end, or, a 20" barrel outfitted with ghost ring sights, an interchangeable choke tube and an M-Lok slotted 7-side fore-end. The other two models are Shockwave configurations with either 18.5" or 14" fixed cylinder bore choke barrels, strapped polymer fore-ends and gently curved Shockwave grips.
Federal Ammunition’s Shorty 1¾" shells (right) are available in birdshot, buckshot and slug loads.
Mossberg flew a group of media members out to Gunsite Academy to spend some time and a few cases of ammunition getting to know the 590S. Gunsite instructors, including Aimee Grant and Lew Gosnell, were on hand to guide us through various classroom-type shooting exercises using steel plate targets.
The modifications to the action of the 590S do not cause any noticeable changes to the controls or operations of the shotgun. If you take a look at the underside of the aluminum receiver you'll see the modified shell elevator and rubber bumper. These contribute to mini shells making their way from the magazine into the chamber without jamming the gun. In fact, 1¾", 2¾" and 3" shells can be loaded into the magazine in any order or combination you prefer without feeding problems. I mixed shell lengths at the media event and in later testing with no malfunctions or issues. How hard the gun kicks changes depending on the shells fired but shotgun operations remain smooth and reliable regardless of shell length or projectile type.
Felt recoil with mini shells is noticeably lower. Buckshot and birdshot loads are comparable to light 20-ga. sporting loads with slugs generating push back more like a full-power 20-ga. round. That's a big difference especially when fired side-by-side with full power defensive 2¾" shells or 3" magnum loads. The increase in ammunition capacity is a big plus as well. The 18.5" barrel models have an ammunition capacity of 5+1 when using 3" shells or 6+1 with 2¾" shells. The round count jumps up to 9+1 rounds when the magazine is filled with 1¾" mini shells. It's a likable gun and ammunition combination with levels of felt recoil that allow for practice sessions that don’t require a trip to the chiropractor afterwards.
Suggested retail prices for the 590S series range from $605 to $708, depending on the model selected. For more information, visit Mossberg.com.