In today’s review of the Mossberg 500, we’ll be checking out the only pump action shotgun to earn the designation of Mil-Spec. We’ll look at specs for the 500 from Mossberg as well as providing some extra resources to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Mossberg 500


Reliability: A+
Customization: C
Accuracy: A
Ergonomics: A-
Value: A+

Final Grade: A-

Mossberg 500 Background

The Mossberg 500 is a pump action shotgun that was first introduced back in 1960!  The 500 has sure been around a while… but not as long as the Remington 870 pump action shotgun for which the Mossberg 500 ws introduced as competition. The Remington 870 was introduced 10 years earlier in 1950.

Both the 870 and the 500 have been American staples – they are both the leaders in pump action shotgun sales. Although the Remington 870 is known to be the most popular pump action shotgun with 3 million sold by the 1980s, Mossberg caught up in sales at a later date (although in a faster time from first being available for sale).

The Mossberg 500 isn’t a “copy” of the 870, but it was sure introduced to compete with it. At first, the Mossberg 500 had reliability issues with its original single action bar design but the 500 now has twin action bars as of the expiration of Remington’s patent on the design.

The Remington 870 is more refined but the Mossberg 500 is surely the work-horse of the two shotguns: the Mossberg 500 is the only one adopted by the military as a shotgun.

Mossberg 500 Specs

Operating SystemPump Action
Caliber12 or 20 Gauge
SightsGhost ring
Barrel Length14-30″
Overall Length41″

Mossberg 500 Features

1. Interchangeable buttstock. Easily swap out the buttstock to other styles.

2. Optional pistol grip. Allows you to operate the Mossberg 500 in a more comfortable way.

3. Changeable barrels. Allowing for easy customization of the Mossberg 500 pump action.

mossberg 500 – Our Take

Full disclosure: I’ve always been a fan of the Remington 870.  The 870 has always been a bit more refined and smoother to me. However, with Remington’s quickly deteriorating quality control, the Mossberg 500 might just be the choice for you!

Yes, I’m talking a lot about the Remington 870 in a Mossberg 500 review… that’s because it is difficult to address one without comparing it to the other. Their differences are the pros and cons of each.

It is fairly obvious that the Mossberg 500 is a bit more “clunky” than the Remington 870 and it has fewer options for upgrades. However, it is built like a tank and it just….well…works!

If you’re looking for a reliable pump action shotgun in a standard configuration, then the Mossberg 500 is for you. If you want something a bit more refined and are looking for more upgrades (especially an extended magazine or a pistol grip) then you might want to check out the Remington 870.

When you rack the action of a Mossberg 500, you’ll notice that it is a bit “clunky.” There’s clearly more moving parts in the action. Also, the Mossberg 500 is a bit sharper on the edges/less polished.

Don’t worry, though… the action of the Mossberg 500 will smoothen up a bit with use.

Differences of the Mossberg 500:

The Mossberg 500 has a unique shell lifter. This open bottom design allows the lifter to tuck up and around the bolt when the action is closed. This allows the easy loading of shelles without pushing the lifter out of the way and it also allows the shooter to use new mini-shells with a small adapter. The adapter won’t fit in a Remington 870 because the lifter is solid.

The Mossberg 500 has its safety on the rear top of the receiver. This is a great place for the safety when using a standard shotgun stock. It is easy to access with your thumb and it makes it easy to see the condition of the shotgun. However, if you’re going to use a pistol grip, it is downright awkward to use.

The barrel is held in place with a barrel nut at the end of the magazine tube. This is a strong design but it prevents you from using an extended magazine tube. The capacity at which you buy your Mossberg 500 is the capacity it will stay.

The action release button is behind the trigger guard. This location makes it very easy to open the action to eject a live shell. Remington’s action release button is in front of the trigger guard and requires that you reposition your firing hand grip to access it.

Mossberg 500 Reliability:

Although slightly less refined, this shotgun works! It is beefy but that is part of why it is so reliable. Remington 870s have had numerous problems with simple operations like shell extration or ejection… the Mossberg 500? It runs and runs and runs.

Also, the mini-shells we mention? They are super fun to use and are really only an option with the Mossberg 500 due to reliability issues with othe pump action shotguns.

mossberg 500 Pros and Cons

Good safety location with standard stock
Super reliable
Convinient action release button
Can use mini-shells
A bit clunky (at first)
Less refined than other options
Can not extend magazine
Safety awkward with pistol grip stocks

Report card

ReliabilityRuns and runs and runs.


AccuracyAs good as a shotgun can be


CustomizationAftermarket parts available, but a bit limited.


ErgonomicsGreat in standard configuration, awkward with pistol grips.


ValueIncredible value and a GREAT choice for your first pump action shotgun


Final Grade: A+


You now have the full Gun University take on the 500 from Mossberg. If you’re still reading, you’re probably ready to dig deeper and see whether the 500 is the right shotgun for you.

We’ve got you covered. We’ve scoured the internet to find the most useful resources for potential Mossberg 500 purchasers to help you decide if the pump-action is a great fit for your needs.

Read on to check out:

  • A video showing what it is like to clean and operate the Mossberg 500
  • The full manual from the 500 shotgun from Mossberg so you can delve deep into the technical specification of the shotgun
  • Answers to some of the most important questions about the Mossberg 500 so you can satisfy the questions you have about this pump action shotgun

Let’s get to it!

Do Mossberg offer a dowbloadable owner’s manula for the Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun?

Yes, you can check out the owner’s manual for the Mossberg 500 here. 

What is the magazine capacity of the Mossberg 500?

The Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun is capable of holding six or eight shotshells, including when a round is in the chamber. The load capacity may be impacted by using 3” shotshells.

In order for the Mossberg 500 to be in compliance with US Migraratory bird laws, the shotgun magazines come complete with a wooden dowel. The wooden dowel can be removed and instructions for carrying this out can be found in the owner’s manual that is linked to above.

What are the official cleaning guidelines provided by Mossberg for the 500?

Mossberg recommend that the only day to day maintenance and cleaning requirement for the 500 shotgun is use of a light lubricant. Excessive lubricant should not be used as this will negatively impact the performance of the shotgun.

A more thorough cleaning of the Mossberg 500 is only suggested after firing 200 rounds. This is intended to remove any residue and keep the 500 in top performance shape.

After 200 round have been fired, Mossberg suggested cleaning the following four sections of the 500:

  1. Barrel cleaning. Achieved by scrubbing the bore and the chamber of the 500 with a solvent and doing a final clean with an oiled patch.
  2. Action cleaning. The action of the 500 should be cleaned using an evaporating solvent to clean the bolt, bolt slide, and action slide.
  3. Receiver cleaning. The internal area of the receiver can be cleaned by using a soft brush or rag. After any residue or grime has been removed, the tracks may be lightly oiled.
  4. Trigger housing cleaning. In order to clean the trigger housing of the 500, a soft bristle brush should be used. Mossberg state that a metal bristle brush should not be used as this can impair the functioning and longevity of the shotgun.

Can the trigger pull of the Mossberg 500 be adjusted?

Yes, Mossberg have ensured that the trigger pull of the 500 is adjustable. In order to do this, the trigger housing assembley should first be removed from the firearm.

The shotgun owner can then use a wrench to adjust the Trigger Pull Adjusting Screw either clockwise or anticlockwise in order to increase or decreased the trigger pull.

Are the sights of the Mossberg 500 pump-action adjustable or not?

Yes, both the front and rear sights of the Mossberg 500 can be adjusted.

The Williams style rear sight can be raised or lowered based on the needs of the shotgun operator. This is achieved by loosening the sight screw, raising and lowering the base, and then tightening the screw when the sight is sitting at the desired height.

The Ghost Ring sight is also adjustable on the Mossberg 500. This is done by rotating in a horizontal direction to alter the windage and rotating the elevation ring in order to affect the elevation adjustment.

Can different grips be fitted for the Mossberg 500 Pump Action Shotgun?

Yes, it is possible to fit a pistol grip on the Mossberg 500. Full instructions for doing this can be found in the official Mossberg manual linked to earlier in this review.

Do Mossberg offer an official way to get the 500 quickly and easily serviced?

Yes, in order to speed up the services process for your Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun, the owner can fill in an official online service request form. This can be carried out at www.mossberg.com/service.

Owner’s can also contact Mossberg’s service department by emailing service@mossberg.com or calling in on (800) 363-355.

Do Mossberg include an official warranty when a Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun is purchased?

Yes, every shotgun purchase from Mossberg comes with an official ten-year warranty. This covers problems and issues with the Mossberg except for several exempted problems:

  • Typical wear and tear that would be expected to occur with use of the shotgun
  • Defects or problems arising from improper or irregular maintenance and cleaning of the Mossberg 500
  • Accidents, abusive or neglectful operation of the Mossberg 500 shotgun
  • Obstructions found in the bore or barrel of the pump-action
  • Any failure to adhere to guidelines and safety instructions that Mossberg officially present with official documentation relating to the 500 shotgun
  • Use of improper ammunition, such as Non-Saami standard, repurposed or other incorrect ammo

GUN Maintenance and Cleaning Process




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