The Mossberg 590 shotgun has been around a long time and needs no introduction by me. That is for the best, since this article is not really a historic recounting of the weapon but more of a look back at a shotgun that I and a dear friend have a 20 year history with.
The 590 pictured above was purchased 20 years ago, almost to the day. My friend bought it during the summer of our sophomore year in college. For some reason the look of the gun really appealed to us both. Much like today, guns like this really worried liberals of the time, thinking things like bayonet lugs endangered western civilization, it was a real plus to have a shotgun that didn’t look like the Clinton approved “duck gun” fudds would use.
We used this thing hard, I mean really hard. We treated it about as rough as you could treat one without destructive testing. It took a trip into a swift moving river that filled it with sand and silt. It fired slugs and buck and the “Dragon’s Breathe” novelty rounds that could be bought at the time. It was even used as a crutch on a muddy mountain side one day, after I fell and hurt my leg. It has a lot of memories. That something like this could have such good memories and sentimental attachment is something no liberal , gun banner could ever understand.
Things have changed for all of us in the last 20 years. My friend and I have moved on to more flashy shotguns like the Bennelli M4 and the Saiga, as well as an assortment of 870s and more than a few retro M1897 Winchesters. But now that we have hit the 20 year mark, we decided to drag it out and take a serious look at something we never gave much serious thought to at the time.
We got the old 590 out for a day of shooting and testing to see what it had in it. We fired it with slugs, 00 Buck and some regular hunting loads just for fun. You can see the results of the loads intended for a shotgun like this below.
Pictured above is a group of slugs fired at the target from about 60 yards. The bright orange square being te aiming point. The gun was fired from a rest using the factory bead front sight. The ammo was federal police slugs. Noteworthy is the 3 shot group clustered very tightly together at the far left. Not bad for a smooth bore!
A close up look shows just how tight those 3 shots grouped. The shot to the far right was a (called) flyer. With a red dot or some more precises method of aiming and zeroing, the combo of this slug and the gun would easily make a head shot on an adult male.
The above picture shows the pattern of three rounds of OO Buck at 25 yards. The gun, the ammo or the shooter seem to shoot a bit high and to the left. I don’t have answer for you otherwise because I had no desire to pound myself with buck and slugs. I have always found the recoil of that 590 less than pleasant so I could not think of a compelling reason to punish myself with it again.
Above is another three rounds of buck fired at 15 yards. All pellets easily printed inside the red. The red sticker was used as it was very close to the chest that covered all vital organs. At this range, few things on this earth could have survived.
Last is three rounds of the buck at 7 yards. No surprises here. The close pattern of the buck would be almost the same as three slugs. The pellets did spread enough to make wounds bigger than a solid slug though and without a doubt would cause massive destruction at such close range.
I went on to shoot the normal hunting loadings of 6, 4 and 9 1/2 shot and worked over the old car left on the range and various skeet. The gun has always functioned well. It has proven that over the years for various LE and Government agencies in shootout all over the globe. The Mossberg 500 action is a more simple version of the excellent Remington Model 31 action, a shotgun I have the highest regard for and has spawned other well loved shotguns like the Ithaca M37.
The shotgun itself is the classic 590 from the time period. As you can see in the pictures our use and time have been rough on it, but other than cosmetics, it has had no effect. It does have the evil bayonet lug that has scared so many over the years. Sorry to say neither of us remembered to bring a M7 bayonet to mount on it for pictures. My friend, the owner, did have a side sling swivel mounted as he is an evil lefty and needed it.
The brand and type that side sling swivel has been lost to time and memory but it works fine and has stood up to the same abuses the gun has.
This M590 has been in our lives a long time. I can’t even begin to tell you all the things this gun as seen and been subjected to. It has been sidelined into my friend’s safe for a long time now but there was some talk on testing day of maybe a rail mounted to the receiver for mounting of an RMR. Maybe in the future it will have been updated with more modern sighting and some other little upgrades. But probably not. Likely it will go on being our whipping boy. It is a classic though and we always have a spot for it in our hearts.