Mossberg pump-action shotguns have remained among the least expensive repeating shotguns on the American market and have been produced by the millions. These guns in varying condition are common on used-guns racks, and those who are now looking for inexpensive hunting tools are finding them attractively priced.
The question is, “Are these guns worth having?” Often they don’t look too good because the aluminum receivers are easily scared and don’t retain their finishes terribly well. They were also low-cost guns to begin with, and their owners often did not take care of them.
These guns are found in 12, 16, 20 and .410 gauges, and the 835 will even chamber the 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge hull and function with any smaller 12-gauge shell. Unless they have been treated terribly, or someone has disassembled them and not put the “extra parts” back where they needed to be, these are very durable guns. If repairs are needed, the parts are available.
Options for 12-gauge and 20-gauge guns include slug barrels, barrels with interchangeable chokes (except for the 410 and 16 gauge), a muzzleloading barrel for the 12-gauge 500s (you must also disassemble and clean the entire action after you shoot black-powder or most substitutes) and ribbed barrels. Barrels and chokes are not interchangeable between the Model 500 and 835, so be certain that your replacement barrel is for your gun. Unless you are a young shooter or a small individual, I would recommend the 12-gauge guns.
I add weight to the 835 to make it really shootable by pouring lead
shot fixed in melted beeswax into the hollow buttstock and using a piece of steel re-bar for a plug in the magazine. This increased weight tames the gun sufficiently so that I can shoot 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge turkey and waterfowl loads in it without loosening teeth. (Seriously, this gun is much too light to shoot with these heavy loads without adding weight to it.) The newer barrels also come with muzzlebreaks, but I would also add the extra weight to guns fitted with them.
In short, the Mossbergs are good, inexpensive, versatile guns that with a little care will take your deer, waterfowl and small game year after year. They also allow you to shoot a variety of shell lengths in 12, 20, and .410 gauges without making any adjustments to the gun so that you don’t have to shoot the most expensive shells all the time.
The 12-gauge Mossberg 500 was provided by the manufacturer, the others were purchased as new or used guns.