Mossberg Shockwave Review : Is It Worth It?

by Ryan Cleckner

January 2, 2021



This Mossberg Shockwave review will cover the specification of this firearm along with its background and purpose. We’ll provide the Gun University take to help you decide whether the Shockwave should be your next gun purchase. Read our Mossberg Shockwave review for further details.

Mossberg Shockwave Specs

  • Host Platform Mossberg Shockwave
  • Caliber 12 Gauge
  • Action Pump
  • Length 26.37’’
  • Sights Front Sights
  • Capacity 5 + 1

What is the Mossberg Shockwave?

Mossberg are very much a legacy brand within the world of firearms. They have a long track record of producing firearms and their Mossberg 500 shotgun is a quintessential American shotgun.

Mossberg are particularly known for their shotguns, and the Shockwave represents the company’s current thinking – although not typically seen as a “cutting edge” company (they’re really known for “working-class” firearms), they really do innovate more than they’re given credit for. So is the Mossberg Shockwave shotgun worthy of your time, or have Mossberg had their better days already as a brand?

The first thing you need to know about the Mossberg Shockwave is it is a compact shotgun (and not even legally a shotgun).

The Shockwave grip exploits a legal loophole that allows for such a compact firearm that is REALY close to a short barreled shotgun (or a handgun that fires shotgun shells) without being either. This is an important distinction, by utilizing the Shockwave grip on a production model offering, Mossberg helps consumers avoid the hassles and cost of dealing with NFA firearms.

To learn more about the legal nuance of the Mossberg Shockwave (not-a-shotgun), check out this awesome article explaining how it works on Mossberg’s website. Mossberg reached out to GunUniversity’s very own, Ryan Cleckner to write the article for them.

In making the Shockwave a compact firearm, Mossberg are trying to protect their share of the home defense market. But is the Shockwave able to measure up to the newer, more innovative brands?

In this Gun University review of the Mossberg Shockwave, we’ll reveal the things you need to be wary of about the compact shotgun, as well as fully stating its advantages. You don’t want to go any further before checking out what we’re about to say.

Mossberg Shockwave Features Review

1 # Capacity

5+1 capacity is 1 shell more than the Remington option

2 # Birds-Head Grip

The unique piece that makes this firearm legal (and enjoyable to shoot)

3 # Mini-Shell Compatible

Mossberg’s unique lifter design allows for mini-shells.

Mossberg Shockwave Review: Our Take

HUGE kudos to Mossberg for making this an offering from the factory! If you read the article about the legality of this firearm on Mossberg’s site (link above), then you know how creative the Shockwave and Mossberg teams are.

Typically, in order to have a shotgun with a barrel this short, it would have to be registered as an NFA firearm, a $200 tax would have to be paid, and about 9 months would have to be waited until you could take possession – yuck! By making this model, Mossberg has provided a “shotgun” with a very short barrel and it’s just a regular firearm (not NFA like silencers and machine guns).

Why would you want a short barrel? It is MUCH easier to store and handle (especially in confined spaces).

Not a Shotgun?

NOTE: You’ll catch me calling this a shotgun even though it legally isn’t considered a shotgun. For our purposes, the Shockwave is nothing more than a Mossberg 500 shotgun with a Shockwave grip and a short barrel.

So, what do we think about he Shockwave shotgun by Mossberg? It’s kinda’ cool, but a bit awkward to shoot. Looking for a reliable self defense firearm for close quarters (or a great snake gun to keep in the ranch truck)? This just may be for you – but, only if you’re big enough to handle it and shoot it.

Mossberg vs Remington

First about the Mossberg 500 action generally, it’s a bit rough and clunky but super reliable. Its biggest competition is the Remington 870 which is a much smoother action but with Remington’s quality control problems the last few years, the Mossberg 500 is the more reliable choice. The downside to it is rougher edges and a rougher action (that does smooth out after a bit).

There’s also another difference that makes the Mossberg 500 platform perfect for this Shockwave firearm configuration (it’s almost impossible to talk about a Mossberg 500 anything without comparing it to a similar model Remington 870). The Mossberg Shockwave excels over the Remington version (yep, they followed Mossberg and made one of these too) in five design areas:

5 Design Improvements Better than Remington
  • The capacity. Mossberg used a magazine tube near the same length of the barrel and can hold one more shell than the Remington version. 5 rounds in the magazine is a big percentage jump over only 4 rounds in the magazine.
  • The shell lifter. The lifter (or elevator, which lifts the shell from the magazine into the chamber) is a unique design on the Mossberg in that it is NOT solid – it is two bars on the side meeting at the front with a small cross-bar. Why does this matter? Because of this design, you can buy an inexpensive plug that allows you to shoot minishells! Minishells are tiny shotgun shells that seem like they were made for this platform (they actual came out more than 10 years before) because you get a higher magazine capacity and less recoil – they are a TON of fun to shoot and perfect for small critters. Because of Remington’s design, the spacer won’t fit and therefore minishells can’t be used reliably. But, you MUST use a mini shell adapter if you want reliable function!
  • The safety. The safety on the Mossberg is a thumb-style safety on the top rear of the receiver. It’s a horrible location if you’re trying to run a pistol grip but it is PERFECT when you’re running the Mossberg 500 in this configuration. The Remington’s safety is in the back portion of the trigger guard and is not easy to use.
  • The action release button. The action on a pump action shotgun locks until fired (this is good so you don’t accidentally open the action too soon). There is a button that you can press that will allow you to unlock the shotgun’s action without firing it (this is also good). On the Mossberg, the release button is behind the trigger guard and is very easy to engage in this Shockwave configuration. Remington’s on the other hand, is in front of the trigger guard and although it is not a real problem when you’ve got a buttstock to help support the firearm, it is downright awkward in this Shockwave configuration.
  • The fore-end strap. This may not be a big deal for many of you but it is a nice feature: a safety strap on the fore-end to help keep the Shockwave from flying out of your hand while firing.
Here’s the Takeaway

The Mossberg Shockwave can not replace the utility of a full-size shotgun. However, it can be handy in areas where a full-size shotgun can not. If you’re looking for a tiny firearm that fires shotgun shells (and doesn’t require NFA hassle or breaking the law), then the Mossberg Shockwave is for you! 

However, if you’re weaker or aren’t super confident in your ability to run the pump-action design, you might want to stick to a full-size shotgun.

Mossberg Shockwave Pros and Cons

  • Size of a short barreled shotgun without the hassle!
  • Can shoot mini-shells
  • All the controls in the right place!
  • A bit rough/clunky
  • Difficult to aim

Report Card


Runs like a tank


Difficult to aim.


The grip and the layout of the controls are perfect for this platform


Can take Mossberg 500 accessories but, be careful, adding a stock without the proper registration is a crime


Tons of fun – if it fits a need for you, get it!


Our Grade


Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

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Based on 39 Reviews

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If you own the Mossberg Shockwave or want to get one, here’s a few things I recommend you get with your gun.  Some of which you might already have, but if not, you might want to pick them up.

Also, there are some options to upgrade your Mossberg Shockwave. Here is a quick list of standard upgrades you should think about:

Best Gun Sleeve for the Mossberg Shockwave

Now that you have the full Gun University take on the Mossberg Shockwave, it’s time to take another step by exploring recommended accessories you might need or want.

A Scabbard is definitely in order if you own a side saddle shotgun,  The Voodoo Tactical Scabbard can accommodate different side shotgun sizes, like the Shockwave. It has an excellent strap that makes a big difference when I am hiking and carrying it long distances. This is my editors choice.  Check Amazon Price

When I am sleeping , I have my shotgun next to my bed in a scabbard.   It’s great because it’s easy to grab if  I ever need to respond in a quick situation.  As a side note, the straps on this one allow for ambidextrous mounting and can be slung easily with the shoulder strap.

Check Amazon Price

I do have a budget friendly option.  I like that this scabbard, fully encloses the Mossberg Shockwave , and it has multiple color options.

Check Amazon Price

Another Side Saddle Shotgun in its Class to Check Out

We love the Mossberg Shockwave, and it did get a great grade. However, we know there are some of you who won’t like it and that’s fine So, for those of you who are still on the fence, here is another option. Take a look below at the review we think doesn’t even come close to the Mossberg Shockwave.

1 Remington V3 Tac-13

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability C
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics B-
  • Accuracy C
  • Value B

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Reader’s Grade


Based on 15 Reviews

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Although we are familiar with pump action shotguns, the Tac-13 has something very handy about it, it is a semi-auto so that you don’t have to worry about pumping the shotgun between each shot. READ MORE HERE

How to Care for Your Mossberg Shockwave

The most important thing we can do for our firearm is keep it clean and maintain it. The Mossberg Shockwave is a fantastic firearm, so take care of it. Maintenance is a priority if you want it to last a long time! If you don’t already have a cleaning kit, we like this one on Amazon from GLORYFIRE . It will give you the option and tools to clean your handguns, rifles, and shotguns, etc. Here is a good video to show you how to clean it.


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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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