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Remington 870 Express Review

express10 million plus sold, the American Icon.  The Remington 870.  This model, the 870 Express is the entry level model which can be found for anywhere from $300 and up.  If you have read my other posts, I formerly owned Mossbergs and was only familiar with them, so when I did some research my opinion was “What the hell.”  Several months ago I spent $330 and acquired my first Remington 870 Express.  After countless shotgun forums and Youtube videos I was sold.  My initial impression was that it seemed very solid.  Remington uses steel receivers which are much heavier than the aluminum recievers in the Mossbergs, and the forend does not wiggle as much as a Mossberg 500 or 590.  One of my concerns was the single extractor, as Mossbergs all have dual claw extractors.  Imagine pulling a dresser drawer out from one side versus placing a hand on either side and pulling at the same time.  That is a Remington versus a Mossberg.  Well, there happen to be plenty of people who live by Remingtons and mine seemed reliable enough.  On the first run, I loaded it up with 4+1 and went in my back yard to shoot some milk jugs.  With a 28″ barrel and a modified choke tube it is a very accurate shotgun.  The groupings from 30 yards were very tight with Federal 7 shot and even better with #4 shot.  However, after about 20 rounds, I experienced an ejection failure, not to be confused with extraction.  Extraction is when the ‘extractor’ pulls the empty shell out of the chamber as you pull the forearm to you and the spring ejects the spent shell.  The ejector spring is rivited in, so if it breaks, the gun has to be sent into Remington to be drilled, replaced and the receiver needs to be refinished.  Mossberg ejector springs are held in by a screw and can be replaced very easily, however I have never had any ejection or extraction problems with any Mossberg.  So, when you have an ejection failure, you get a stovepipe, which is when a live shell is loaded but the empty remains in front of the bolt.  My research led me to mainly discussions of extraction failures (which we’ll get to) except for one Youtube video where a guy had ejection failures and was able to re-produce them on video.  His solution was to bend the ejector spring out to meet the shell sooner and it worked.  Not wanting to negate my non-transferable 2 year warranty through Remington, I called and spoke to someone in the repair department who told me to bend it a little and if it broke just send it in.  I bent it, it didn’t break, but it didn’t work either.  After a phone call to Remington I received 2 e-mails with my invoice, shipping instructions, and pre-paid UPS label.  After about 3 weeks, my shotgun was sent directly to my house.  Immediately, I looked at the work order which said ‘polished chamber, test fired’.  I loaded it up, took it outsided and shot it.  Then the forend was stuck.  Extraction failure.  I saw this in Youtube videos and heard about it in shotgun forums.  You actually have to hold the gun by the forend with the barrel straight up in the air and slam the butt down on the ground.  It works but I had to do it after almost every shot and it still stove-piped.  I didn’t get to shoot it until a Saturday and Remington is only open on weekdays so I had all weekend to be angry.  After getting on lots of different forums, I found out that Remington seems to be cutting corners here and there and especially on the 870 Express.  The Remington 870 Wingmaster gets a very thorough polishing internally and has much better parts and overall finish, as well as the 870 Police Magnum.  The 870 Express uses less desirable parts and does not receive the polishing.  Remington is doing this now to compete with Mossberg in the ‘entry level’ pump shotgun area.  So I contacted Remington again, and although this guy didn’t accept my recommendation of sending me a Wingmaster or Police Magnum, he assured me that they would have my shotgun working well.  This brings me to my last criticism of the 870 Express.  The magazine tube is silver soldered to the receiver (whereas Mossbergs are screwed in), and the new magazine tubes have detents to hold in the tube spring plug.  Well, a couple weeks back I ordered a Vang Comp 2 shot magazine tube extension which does not work because the shells cannot get past the detents and Remington cannot do anything about it for me.  The mag tube extension was $84 delivered to my house and I cannot even use it.

All of this really makes me wish I would have coughed up the extra $200 and bought a Wingmaster, because I may not have encountered all this.  All-in-all, it seems to me that Remington is not the same company that many die-hards still believe.  Apparently the model 887 also has inherent problems and they have done nothing about it.  My gun ships out tomorrow.  I should get it back in about 3 weeks.  After that, if it works properly, I am going to sell it and buy a Benelli Supernova.  That is my $0.02 on the matter.

Is the Mossberg Flex a Good System?

flex1Is the Mossberg Flex system as cool and useful as this picture would have you believe? That depends on your interpretation of cool and more to the point what useful means.  Let’s take a quick look at shotguns.  A shotgun is the most versatile firearm that you can have in your home.  If you purchase a standard Remington 870 Express or Mossberg 500 in 12 gauge, you already have the capabiliy to fire bird shot, buck shot and devastating slugs, not to mention all of these in the 3″ variety and that is not even mentioning the magnum models that handle 3.5″ nitro mags which are designed to mimic the 10 gauge.  This is before any modifications you make to it.

So why, you ask is it so important to have a Jack-of-all-trades shotgun when a shotgun is already that? It is a market niche.  There are plenty of people out there who purchase firearms and have money burning a hole in their pocket and this is a perfect indulgence.  Others just don’t know enough about shotguns and envision themselves a master hunter, tactical expert and overall cool guy for buying the most versatile of the most versatile firearm ever.  I fell into the second category.  Not really but I didn’t create any other classifications for people who purchase the Flex system so I’ll go with it.  With some Christmas money in my pocket and after convincing my wife that a shotgun is great for hunting, protection from cougars (we live out in the country), and home defense; I went on the lookout for the Mossberg 590A1 (which I used to own and is quite frankly a great shotgun for any use).  This was of course around one or another shootings that caused more scrutiny of firearms and more people to go out and buy as many firearms as possible, which made the 590A1 impossible to find for under $700 and my budget was around $500 which is what that shotgun should be.  My local firearm merchant located the Flex 590 for me and I figured, hell it can’t be much different and if I want the tactical stock, cool and if not I can always change it and the fore-end.  Just to be clear, the 590 and the 590A1 are not the same at all.  The 590 has a polymer trigger group and safety switch whereas the 590A1 has an aluminum trigger gaurd and safety switch but also boasts a heavy barrel and bayonette lug.  Anyway, the Mossberg 590 Flex was pretty cool.  An R2D2 like radar looking deal pops up out of the stock and turns 180 degrees and the whole stock comes off to expose an unfinished aluminum interface.  The forearm comes off by depressing a thumb key and it simply swings off and the butt pads are removed by pressing on the release buttons on both sides.  While playing with these functions I pictured myself in a tactical mission changing out parts that I quickly take out of my tactical backpack.  I didn’t really do that.  I actually wondered why someone would need that quick change functionality.  There is a single bolt holding the stock on normal shotguns and once you change it out, you can change it back if you don’t like it in a matter of minutes.  In other words you configure your shotgun the way you like and if you need to change it out and five minutes is too long then something is wrong with you.  There is something to be said for a large bolt holding the stock securely on my shotgun versus a double aluminum interface that has not been torture tested (at least not with published results).

This brings me to all of the wonderful modifications that Mossberg promises.  I have done quite a bit of searching and cannot find a single source of additional parts for the Flex system besides butt pads.  In other words you would have to buy another Flex model in order to get the parts you want and then you are interchanging the parts to make both shotguns more versatile? Did I mention that the Flex 590 is anywhere from $500 to $600 and you can usually find a Mossberg 590 for around $450? Honestly if you really like Mossberg and like having interchangability, go get the $300 combo.  It is the Mossberg 500 that comes with a 28″ barrel threaded for choke tubes and an 18″ tactical barrel.

Pistol grips on a shotgun are never a good idea.  If you have ever shot one you would never want to shoot it again and certainly don’t want to be doing it hunting or in a life-or-death situation.  The tactical stock pistol grip may serve police and military well but is not necessary.  Consider this.  Shotguns were invented with a ‘rifle’ style butt stock and it has served them well for a loooooong time.  If a shotgun is not versatile enough for you then figure out the void it is not filling and purchase another firearm accordingly.  If you only have the money for one shotgun and want it to do everything then get a Remington 870 Police magnum or a Mossberg 590A1.  Either one of these models will outlast you and will certainly fulfill all of your needs including hunting, sporting clays, and home defense.  If you are still super confused, the Flex system is pretty cool but is really a solution to a problem that never really existed.  If you are in the market for a good shotgun, do not buy the Flex system.  You will get far more bang for your buck with other shotguns.  If you want a top of the line long barrel shotgun that will last forever there is the Remington 870 Wingmaster, Browning BPS,  and Benelli Supernova.  If you are on a budget and want a good shotgun that will always work then buy a Mossberg.  I have owned every model of Mossberg pump and they work very well but the finish is not so good and they feel ‘cheap’ to some people.

If you care to know, I sold my Flex 590 and now have a Remington 870 Express with a 26″ vent rib barrel threaded for chokes.  I purchased a Vang Comp 2 shot magazine tube extension and am going to get an 18″ barrel for my home defense model.  All of this will come in at just under $500.  Just my two cents.  (Oh yeah, the ‘Cool’ pic is courtesy of Mossberg and Son’s Inc.)

Remington 870, A Good Shotgun?

wingmasterIs a Remington 870 a good shotgun? That all depends on what you need it for and which model you buy.  There are many pump shotguns out there and the Remington 870 has outsold all of them put together.

My current shotgun is an 870 Express which is the base model for the 870 line.  This shotgun feels very solid and is overall a good shotgun.  Remington has had some problems with this shotgun in recent years pertaining to extraction issues.  Extraction is when you draw back the fore-end after shooting.  If the extractor on the bolt is pulling the shell out of the cylinder it is being extracted.  The problem is that Remington has had to cut some corners in order to compete with Mossberg.  Mossbergs pumps are all pretty much made to the same specifications within their line and are pretty inexpensive as far as reliable shotguns go.  The Remington 870 Express is an attempt to match the low prices of the Mossberg 500.  The 870 Express does not get polished in the cylinder, in the receiver or on any of the moving parts so they have to be broken in to be smoother.  However, when there are burrs in the cylinder and the shell has expanded, this can cause the shell to be stuck which is an extraction failure.  The Express model also has a plastic trigger group and a bolt that looks like it was spray painted with Krylon.

My 870 has ejection issues.  Ejection occurs after the shell is properly extracted and a spring pops the shell out of the shotgun to make way for the next shell being brought up on the elevator.  Failure to eject can cause stove piping which is an empty shell and a live round in the chamber at the same time.  After a couple phone calls to Remington, some internet research, and bending out my ejector spring a little, I am sending it in to get fixed under the 2 year warranty.  Remington e-mailed me a pre-paid postage through UPS and said that they have a 2-3 week turnaround.  So now I wait.

So who is the 870 Express good for? It is a solid feeling shotgun and despite the problems you may encounter, they have a 2 year warranty (only for the initial purchaser).  This shotgun will probably get passed down to my children.  It is good for hunting, sporting clays or just blowing stuff up.  It came with a 26″ vent ribbed barrel and a modified choke tube with interchangeable choke threads.  This gun has a solid design and would be good for many everyday applications, however I would not necessarily use it as a home defense weapon.

Don’t waste your money on the ‘tactical’ models either because they have the same internals and are  based on the Express except with some different options.  If you are lucky enough to find a police magnum and can afford it, get it! The police magnum has been polished and uses all heavy duty parts such as a steel (not MIM like in the Express) extractor and heavy duty extractor spring, heavy duty sear spring, heavy duty magazine tube spring, stainless magazine tube follower, aluminum trigger group and are usually parkerized.  Oh yeah, they also have a recoil reducing stock.  If you want an 870 as a home defense shotgun, do your best to find an 870 police magnum, new or used it will be one of the best shotguns you can buy.

If you want a top of the line shotgun  for hunting or sporting clays that has the quality of dare I say a Browning or Benelli (yes I do dare) then buy a Remington 870 Wingmaster.  The picture above is a Wingmaster that has been turned into a tactical model.  Notice the chrome lined bolt.  Wingmasters are the pinnacle of Remington pump shotguns.  They have been polished inside and out and have a more durable finish than the Express.  The trigger group is better quality and all of the parts are the best that Remington has to offer.  This is truly a fantastic and smooth shotgun that will outlast you.  Your best bet is to buy a Wingmaster if you can afford the up front cost and then buy an 18″ barrel and a 2 shot magazine extension.  I have a Vang Comp mag extension because they are touted as the best, and I feel the same, but do your own research.

If you don’t have the money and want a good home defense shotgun you can buy the Express and slowly build it over time with more heavy duty parts (which is what I am doing).  The police (aluminum)trigger gaurd can be found on the Brownell’s website, and then you can buy and replace the bolt with a Wingmaster bolt.  However if you want a top of the line shotgun that you can switch barrels on and have a home defense  shotgun then get the Remington 870 Wingmaster and buy the 18″ barrel and whatever other accesories you want (i.e. mag tube extension, tactical handle and stock, short fore-end).

So to answer the question, yes the 870 Express is an extremely solid foundation.  Change out the bolt, trigger group, add a mag tube extension and a shorter barrel and you have a gun that competes with the Mossberg 590A1 and that is no joke.  There are many paths you can choose.  Feel free to leave comments down below or e-mail me with questions.  philymack13@gmail.com

What is the Best Pump Shotgun?

whoaRight now I have what is considered the ‘Legendary’ Remington 870 Express.  I am not overwhelmingly impressed as I should be with such a moniker behind it.  In the past I have owned all Mossbergs and all models including the 835 Utilimag, 500, 590A1, and the Flex 590.   Since I have also fired some Benellis and Brownings this is going to be my final and definitive article on the pump shotgun, so here goes.

Why pump vs. semi auto-shotgun? Most semi-auto shotguns are notorious for not being able to handle certain loads and will not properly extract and eject ‘lighter loads’.  Semi-autos are also significantly more expensive and unless you are a gunsmith or worked in the factory that built the gun, good luck taking it apart to clean it.  I also like pumps because of Herb Parsons.  Now that’s out of the way let’s talk shotguns and all shotguns discussed are 12 gauge.

1. Remington- This legendary firearm maker has some Quality Control issues right now.  My brand new 870 Express has problems ejecting spent shells after extraction which can cause stove piping.  Some of the other problems are actual extraction problems which is partly due to a batch of barrels that need to be polished in the chamber and a MIM (mold injected metal) extractor vs. the use of a steel one.  My final gripe is the plastic trigger group which is not horrible, but not great .  Since contacting Remington, I was told to try bending the ejector spring out and have not had any problems.  This is a very solid feeling shotgun and I am going to purchase the 870 Wingmaster trigger group (which is still metal), and the steel extractor; and of course a Vang Comp 2 shell tube extension and the 18″ tactical barrel.  After that it will be one hell of a shotgun.  Remington seems to understand that the 870’s are having these problems but it is cheaper to deal with them as they come than recalling them all.  Not really what I expected from a brand new ‘Legendary’ shotgun but still very solid and not too much recoil even with slugs.  Breakdown of this weapon is pretty straightforward and if shown how to do it, even a novice could tear it down to clean it.  All that aside, the Remington platform is based on a steel receiver and a solid foundation.  The upgrades are limitless and this gun can and will outlast you.  Of course if 2.75″ and 3″ shells are not big enough, go with the 870 Supermag and you can shoot 2.75″, 3″, and the awesome 3.5″ nitro mags that were designed to mimic a 10 gauge.  More than 10 million of these American icons have been made throughout the years.  Do yourself a favor and get the 870 Wingmaster which has the metal trigger group and all the ‘good stuff’.  Then build it as you will if you want to go the home defense route.  Stay away from the Remington 887 as I have heard the initial inherent problems were never addressed and fixed so they sound pretty junky, but don’t take my word, do your own research.

Mossberg 590A1

Mossberg 590A1

2. Mossberg- Critics say they are ‘cheap’ because they are less expensive than competetors but let me tell you, I have owned 4 completely different Mossberg shotguns and they always work.  Just like Remington, Mossberg is using plastic parts on the 500 models.  The trigger group and tang safety are plastic and the magazine tube has no open end so it cannot be cleaned out easily.  The fore-end has some play and they are significantly lighter than other shotguns because the reciever is made of aircraft grade aluminum which has been accused of being ‘weak’ but that has no bearing on thier reliability or ruggedness.  To be quite honest, for about $300 you can get a Mossberg 500 with a 28″ barrel (with chokes) and an 18″ tactical barrel for home defense.  I have owned and shot a modern 500 and it is very light and my wife said it feels ‘rickety’.  If you are unbiased and don’t care if a gun feels rugged or not this is a good deal.  No matter what anyone says, Mossberg’s are very reliable and are not cheap.  The 590 is a step up with composite trigger gaurd and safety and a magazine tube that can be cleaned out, and of course the 590A1 has an aluminum safety and trigger gaurd, heavy barrel, and a bayonette lug.  This is by far my favorite all around shotgun.  I must say that the 590A1 or any Mossberg are most comfortably used with a standard shotgun/rifle stock.  Any type of pistol grip makes the safety and slide release difficult to actuate.   In other words, the controls were designed for hunting and do not translate to tactical very well.  Mossbergs are not easy to fully break down and take some moderate knowledge or at least mechanical inclination.  It is certainly not impossible and with practice will seem easy enough.  The Flex 590 is like a 590 but with quick connect pieces.  The stock, forearm, and butt pads can all be interchanged very quickly and easliy for whatever application you need.  It is a pretty cool concept and the fittings are nice and tight to start off at least because nobody has owned one long enough to test the longevity of the fittings.  The biggest problem is the lack of aftermarket parts.  You buy the shotgun you want and that is it for now unless you buy a different model and use the parts interchangeably.  This should change in the near future hopefully.   If you want the 3.5″ nitro punch then purchase the 835 Utilimag.  My first shotgun was an 835 and I bought it for $180 (very used), put close to 10,000 rounds through it and sold it for $180.

nova3. Benelli-  This is an Italian shotgun and if you have any questions about Italian craftsmanship just look at the ruins that still remain from thousands of years ago in Rome.  Many people say that the Benelli Nova has a ‘cheap’ feel to it.  The stock and receiver on the Nova is a high tech poly material but the internals of the trigger and bolt carrier are all metal.  In other words this gun would be great for duck hunting in the rain and not worrying about rust.  The barrel of the Nova comes off the standard method of removing the barrel nut and it just slides off.  After that, the gun comes apart with no tools for cleaning and goes back together sort of like legos.  These are not very upgradeable as you can only change the barrel from a hunting to a home defense but there are magazine tube extensions available, and of course if you get it drilled and tapped you can add optics if need be.  This is a very smooth functioning base level shotgun and can handle up to 3.5″ nitro mags.  It is also the only entry level pump shotgun that has a built in recoil system.  For a few hundred more you can purchase the Super Nova and get a really nice, fully upgradeable shotgun that will meet all of your needs.  The form and the controls are very different from the typical American looking shotguns (like Winchesters, Mossbergs, and Remingtons), but if you are not a ‘purist’ and are looking for a good all around first shotgun I strongly recommend one of these for their dependablility and exceptional quality of parts.  My biggest complaints are the poly material (I do like my guns to be mostly metal) and the slide release is sort of buried on the left side of the trigger gaurd right behind the loading port and is not particularly easy to depress in a life or death situation.  I have heard (but do not necessarily believe) that one of the big wigs at Benelli has a Nova in a museum that has 480,000 rounds through it.

4. Browning- If you can afford one of these, by all means purchase one.  These are some of the smoothest funcitoning shotguns you can buy.  There is no ejection port on the side so when you eject a shell it comes out of the bottom where you load the shells.  This is great for lefty’s and if you are duck hunting in a boat; you know the shells will go straight down into the boat so you don’t have to go swimming for your empty shells.  It boasts a steel receiver and all metal parts that were well thought out and will outlast you.  Browning shotguns however do not have home defense upgrades or models but if you have the money to buy a Browning BPS, you can certainly afford another shotgun for home defense.  The biggest downfall about the BPS is that it practically takes a rocket scientist do break it down for cleaning.  Which means it most likely needs to be brought into a gunsmith every time you want it cleaned.  All in all this is one of the best shotguns you can buy for the money and will outlast your children.  Be sure to get it in the camo finish to avoid rust.

5. Winchester- The plant is closed so. . .no more I guess.  If you can get your hands on a Winchester 1300 or 1300 Defender, please do so.  I have heard nothing but good things about these pump shotguns as they use a rotary bolt system and are supposed to be ultra smooth at cycling, extremely reliable, and very rugged feeling.  These also have upgrades and can be made as tactical as any home defense shotgun.  I have never shot or handled one of these but it felt important to at least pay it ‘lip service’ so to speak.  Expect to pay upwards of $400 for the defender model and it is well worth it.

My favorite all time is the Mossberg 590A1 with ghost ring sights, 20″ barrel, parkerized with a 9 shot capacity and standard stock.  Our military used this shotgun for years and for good reason.  It was the only shotgun to pass the flawless 3000 slug and 00 buck test, has a heavy barrel, metal trigger group, metal trigger gaurd, and a bayonette lug.  This is probably not the best shotgun if you want to shoot trap or skeet but it is a great survival shotgun.  When choosing a shotgun, you should always handle them and feel the weight.  Spend time actuating the safety and slide release.  If possible shoot any and all shotguns you are interested because they all feel and shoot differently.  Honestly if you have the money, buy one of each because after all, pump shotguns are addictive.  I don’t know what it is but if I could I would probably have a safe full of them.

If you have any additional input feel free to comment below, and if you have any questions, e-mail me at philymack13@gmail.com

Remington 870 Ejection/Extraction Issues

ejectionAfter cycling about 50 shells (all different types) through my new Remington 870 Express, I have had ejection (not to be confused with extraction) issues in 1 out of every 10 shots.   In a pump shotgun, the trigger is depressed, the firing pin strikes the primer which ignites the secondary charge thus sending the wadding and whatever shotgun projectile you have chosen down the barrel.  This is the point where the forearm of the gun needs to be manipulated back toward you so that the spent shell casing can be ‘extracted’ from the chamber and then ‘ejected’ from the firearm while another shell is brought up by a carrier or elevator and is then shoved into the chamber by the bolt while moving the forearm in a forward ‘away from you’ motion.  Remington is apparently all about cutting corners these days as they now use non-steel or MIM extractors, plastic trigger groups, and are seemingly notorious for ejecting shells.  Many people disagree but I am at the tail end of doing 2 hours of internet research on multiple firearm forums and Youtube videos which can attest to the shenanigans of the Remington 870 Express.  Having owned Mossbergs my whole life, I never had an extraction or ejection problem as Mossberg uses dual claw extractors and the ejector spring is held in by a screw so if it is faulty, you can buy a new one and install it yourself.  Remington ejector springs are riveted into the receiver so it needs to be sent into Remington to be drilled out and replaced.  Many of the complainers on the forums I went to were actually describing ‘extraction’ problems where the spent shell is not being extracted from the chamber because the chamber needs to be polished, there is a bump just outside of the chamber opposite the extractor claw, or the cheap mim extractor claw is not doin its job.  To make sure it is not the chamber, slide the forearm back to open the bolt and drop a shell in then tip up the shotgun.  If the shell seats itself no problem and then falls out then the barrel does not need to be polished.  Replace the extractor claw with a steel extractor claw for about $15 and if that doesn’t work then you need to polish the chamber where the lip of the shell seats opposite the extractor claw.  Of course if you have a warranty you can ship it into Remington and they should fix the problem for you.

Ejection issues are another monster.  This is where the spent casing does not completely leave the firearm and stays in the receiver cavity.  Some people suggest replacing the extractor claw with the steel and the problem will correct itself or just put more rounds through it.  In a Youtube video, a guy had put over 1000 rounds through his 870 Express and it still had the ejection issues and was able to duplicate them in a video.  He changed out the extractor claw with no effects but bent the ejector spring to meet the shell sooner and had desirable effect.  My 870 is under warranty and I am going to contact Remington to see what can be done on this matter.  I am quite confident after troubleshooting that it is in fact the ejector spring.  After my contact with Remington I will post more.  Feel free to add comments, questions, suggestions.

Mossberg 590 Flex Review

flexWhen you go on the intenet there is not much information on the Flex system from Mossberg.  There are some gun magazine reviews which always seem to look at the positives of everything, and a video of a guy explaining the Mossberg Flex system and why it is so ‘Cool’.  Well you are in luck because I have owned a Mossberg 835 Utilimag, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 590A1, and a Mossberg 590 Flex; and will discuss the firearms, their differences, and my impressions in this blog.

First and foremost is the Mossberg 500 because the entire lineup is based off of the same aluminum reciever (which I have never heard of as being a hindrance of any way, shape, or form).   Mossberg and Son’s 500 model is in no way shape or form a ‘Cheap’ gun but it certainly does feel as if the tolerances are looser than some and the finish on the aluminum is guaranteed to come off at some point and is pointless to try and refinish, trust me.  The 500 model is the base for their entire lineup and comes with a plastic tang safety (located on top of the reciever), a plastic trigger gaurd, and a closed magazine tube which is difficult to clean.  Overall, these are very reliable firearms and I would certainly trust my life to a Mossberg 500 and would take it hunting.  The Mossberg 500 comes in many different packages ranging from hunting to tactical and they have many aftermarket add on accessories.  This is a very light shotgun and durable enough for most people but is not the easiest of pump shotguns to take apart and clean.  If your shotgun will see range time several times a year and will mostly sit in your closet waiting for zombies or you will take it hunting a couple times a year, this gun is for you.  A Mossberg 500 package with an 18″ barrel for home defense and a 26″ barrel threaded for choke tubes can be purchased for around $300 and you are set.  The standard 500 has a 5 round magazine tube plus 1 in the chamber and will take 2 3/4″ and 3″ shells.

Mossberg 835 Utilimag is considered Mossberg’s ‘Turkey’ gun.  The major difference between an Mossberg 835 Utilimag and a Mossberg 500 is that the Utilimag will shoot 3 1/2″ Nitro Mags and can handle the heavier loads a bit better.  My 835 Utilimag had wooden furniture (whereas my 500 had synthetic) and it was very accurate and quite a bit heavier than the 500 which made heavier loads kick a bit less.

The new Flex system from mossberg is no different except that instead of having to use tools to remove the forearm and stock, there is a locking system that can have your hunting stock and forearm changed out with your home defense stock and forearm in just a couple of minutes.  I purchased, handled, and fired the Mossberg 590 Flex.  It is similar to the Mossberg 590 because it has a polymer safety and trigger gaurd (versus the plastic on the model 500) and boasts a 9 shot capacity.  Out of the box, this gun is very light and is the one pictured above with the tactical stock and tri-rail forend.  The ‘quick connect’ interfaces are all aluminum so there is no added weight, and they are very easy to manipulate.  That being said, the matte black finish began to come off of the alumuinum where the receiver meets the stock after 2 weeks and 25 rounds through it.  The Mossberg 590 Flex (and Mossberg 590) seem to have the same tolerances and ‘cheap’ feel as the Mossberg 500.  That being said, I would still trust the reliablility of a Mossberg 590 to protect my family.  However, if I were to bring a shotgun to a riot/melee situation, it would not be the Mossberg 590 Flex.  This to me is a home defense weapon that can take more abuse than a Mossberg 500 but has not been tested in combat with all of the aluminum interfaces.   This was the last Mossberg I have owned and have since purchased a Remington 870 Express.

Mossberg 590A1

Mossberg 590A1

There is however a beacon of light when it comes to Mossberg’s pump shotgun lineup and it is the Mossberg 590A1.  This was the only shotgun that passed the navy standards of 3000 slugs and 00 buck with no failures.  No matter what firearm manufacturer you are devoted to, the Mossberg 590A1 holds a special place in your heart.  A 590A1 comes with an aluminum safety and trigger gaurd, heavy barrel, and a bayonette lug.  The model shown is parkerized and  has ghost ring sights which are great for quick target acquisition and essential for putting slugs down range accurately.  My recommendation of a standard stock is because the tang safety does not work very well with the pistol grip stocks.  Your thumb is naturally close to the safety with a standard hunting stock but gets wrapped around the pistol grip and has to be rotated around in an un-naural manner when a tactical stock is added.  As I mentioned I have had one of these and hopefully will again soon.  I have certainly grown to love my Remington 870 Express because it has the same solid feel of the Mossberg 590A1.  I truly feel that if I were to run out of ammo in a bad situation I could use the 590A1 or the 870 as a club and not damage either one.   Make sure you get the 9 shot capacity with the 20″ barrel.

Mossberg and Sons makes some very reliable and durable shotguns.  For me, I had to own the 590A1 to really appreciate what they had to offer.  I switched over to Remington because the Mossberg 590A1 is about $550 and up if you can find one right now and the Remington 870 Express was $330.  For another $180 I can put an 18″ or 20″ barrel on the 870 and for $50 put a 3 round magazine tube extension on it and have a tactical shotgun that feels just as solid as the 590A1.  However, I read on a forum that pump shotguns are addicting and that is the damn truth because I would love to own another Mossberg 590A1, and a Benelli Supernova, and a Browning BPS, and a Winchester 1300. . .

Keeping Guns Loaded or Unloaded. . .

armed and readyOne of the big debates pertaining to firearms is wether to keep a gun loaded or unloaded.  Two of the main scenarios are having a conceal and carry and guns in the home so I will break it down accordingly.

1.  CCW in a Public Setting- There are many reasons people have for carrying a firearm in public but they all equate to safety.  For instance, my wife carries a gun because when she is alone because it makes her feel safe or if I am in public and some asshole starts shooting at people, I can shoot him to keep everyone safe.  So what exactly is the debate if I am already carrying a firearm? The debate is not (or at least should not be) if the gun is loaded, it is about if there is a round chambered.  What about a revolver? There is no safety on a revolver and every round is technically chambered and all I have to do is pull the trigger, which is the way it should be.  We do not live in a movie or video game, and there is no ominous music to tell you that you are going to get mugged and any tactical or martial arts instructor will tell you that in the amount of time it takes you to unholster your semi-automatic pistol and draw the slide back to rack a round, you could already be shot or stabbed.  Defensive shooting schools teach that if you are being attacked, your non-gun firing hand should move to your attackers face while you draw your firearm but then you realize,  “Oh, time out, I have to chamber a round.” How about if you are in a public place that is getting robbed and the lookout perpetrator is scanning back and forth at everyone to make sure that nobody is doing anything ‘funny’, and you literally have a split second from when you are out of his peripheral vision to draw your already chambered gun and begin your illustrious career as the Punisher.  In all seriousness, you keep a round chambered for all the things you cannot or have not thought of.  When seconds count, make sure your slack is all towed up.  As an avid firearm enthusiast, I am still not a tactical shooter and have not practiced under duress.  You can go out and practice shooting, quick reloads, and everything else but when your adrenaline is pumping, the less action required to make your gun fire the better.  That means, I don’t even want to deal with a safety, just squeeze and then ‘bang’.

2.  Home Defense- There are 2 major issues with having a loaded gun in the house and that is having kids and potentially arming the intruder who has entered your home.  I have children, sho my wife and I go rounds over wether to keep our home defense gun loaded or unloaded because if the children find it they could potentially figure it out and end up dead and that is not good.  Since our children are 5 and 2 I proposed loading it and keeping it high in the closet on the top shelf.  No go, “what if they find a way to get it down?”.  Sure if they go out to the garage and bring in my 8 foot step ladder.  Not likely but okay, I don’t want to see my children hurt, nor do I want to get hit in the head with a frying pan (just kidding, my wife wouldn’t do that because I would shoot her.  Once again, just kidding) so the gun is unloaded.  Since I am also proficient at martial arts, my hunting knife is right by my bed and I give an armed assailant about a 5% chance of leaving my house alive (unless it is some mercenary come to kill me for war crimes in my past, then his chances go up exponentially).  We also have three very active dogs who would bark and wake us up so I could load my gun and be ready if needed and since we are all in the same room I don’t need to worry about a hostage situation.  However, if you are a heavy sleeper or hear a noise, the intruder could very well could be just outside of your bedroom door.  As you are waking up, do you really think that you can grab your gun, load it, and be ready if someone is just outside of your bedroom door? Seriously, if your gun is unloaded and it is part of your home defense plan, then it needs to be plan B.  You might as well have your wife/husband/kids load it for you while you get out the katana, machete, or staple gun (that you also have to load) because you may only have seconds to defend your life.  What if you hear your kids screaming down the hall? Do you have time to load and chamber your weapon now?

It is your life however, and your opinion and you know what they say about opinions.  That’s right, everyone has one.  shotgun-home

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