Is 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.)
When 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.
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. . .
Someone really smart once said “The best gun to get is the one you can shoot well.” That being said, do you want a Chevy or a Ford? Shotguns are so versatile that you have to consider exactly what you want to do with it. In most cases, if you get a tactical shotgun, it is probably not going to be a good hunting, trap or skeet rifle. This is not necessarily the case when you buy a typical pump shotgun such as the Mossberg 500 or the Remington 870. Just bear with me. Since I have owned both, my opinion has some weight to it. I have owned the Mossberg 835 utilimag, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 590A1, and the Mossberg 590 Flex. My current shotgun is the Remington 870 Express. Quick background, the 835 Utilimag with wooden furniture was my first shotgun and I loved it, but eventually I got a wild hair and did some trading and selling and ended up with a Mossberg 500 with synthetic furniture. The 835 Utilimag was excessive for me as I never really intended to fire 3 1/2 nitro mags at anything. However, I bought it used for $180, put well over 5000 rounds through it and got $150 for it almost 10 years later. The Mossberg 500 seemed a bit light to me and although I never had any problems with it, didn’t seem very rugged. Got another wild hair, sold the 500 and bought the Mossberg 590A1.
This gun is the epitome of rugged and let me tell you, was very fun. Eventually I had to sell it because of the economy and all. After saving up money, my wife gave me the thumbs up on a new shotgun so I went and bought a brand new Mossberg 590 Flex. After having a 590A1, I wasn’t very impressed with the finish or the ‘assessed’ ruggedness of the firearm. Not being familiar with the difference between the 590 and the 590A1, I rejected it because it lacked the aluminum trigger gaurd, aluminum safety, and heavy barrel. All told, Mossberg shotguns are very dependable, light weight (except for the 590A1), and just a little more affordable than a Remington 870. If you are looking for a lighter shotgun that will serve as hunting, sporting, and tactical then the Mossberg 500 is for you. If you want a ready to go ass-kicker out of the box with a 9 shot capacity and bayonette lug then the 590A1 is for you (Not the 590 which uses polymer trigger gaurd, polymer safety, and normal barrel). Mossberg’s however have aluminum recievers which is weaker than steel (not really of much consequence) and cannot be blued or seemingly refinished ever again and unless you have a parkerized 590A1, the finish will wear off of the receiver. The other downfall of buying a Mossberg is that the 500’s seem ‘cheap’ to some people and if you pony up and just buy the 590A1, there is no versatility as you cannot put a longer barrel on it for sporting. Mossbergs overall are very dependable, affordable, and very popular with law enforcement and civilians alike.
Reminton 870 Express is truly the Ruger 10/22 of the shotgun world. Not only is this American icon very dependable, it is extremely versatile and rugged as well. Although it is a bit pricier than a Mossberg 500 to start off with at $330 (Mossberg 500 combo with a 28″ and a 20″ barrel for $300), I looked at down the road costs and true versatility of modifications. After holding a Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 it was pretty easy for me to see the quality of a Remington, and the main differences between the Remington 870 Express and 870 Tactical is the barrel and tactical stock. My Reminton 870 came with a 5 shot capacity (1 less than a Mossberg 500), but for $65 I can purchase and easily install a screw-on 3 shot magazine tube extension, and for an additional $180 I can get an 18.5″ or 20″ tactical barrel. Aftermarket parts and accesories are vast for this weapon. No, the math doesn’t compute but when I compare Mossbergs to Remingtons, the only Mossberg that I believe feels as rugged is the 590A1 and those are anywhere from $500 to $750 if you can find one. So for just under $600 I now have a shotgun that has a 26″ barrel with a modified choke tube and 8 shot capacity which can be switched to an 18.5″ or 20″ tactical barrel in minutes. Mossberg 500’s do not feel as ‘tough’ to me and the 590A1 does not enjoy that kind of versatility. Of course that is just my preference. Overall Remington shotguns are dependable, have durable finishes and are extremely versatile with the sheer amount of easliy adapted aftermarket modifications. To be quite honest with you, if I had the money I would have a Mossberg 590A1 and my multi-purpose Remington 870. If you have the money and like a solidly constructed shotgun, go for the Remington, and if you want to save a little cash and still get a quality firearm, get a Mossberg. Here is what you do, find friends who have one or both and shoot them. You will figure out very quickly which one you like better.
First and foremost, I slammed Mossberg a couple of times for the ‘quality’ or lack therof of the Mossberg 590 Flex. After doing some research I found that the main difference between the Mossberg 500 and the Mossberg 590 is the magazine tube design. Otherwise the 590 has a polymer safety and trigger gaurd. The Mossberg 590A1 has the heavy barrel, aluminum trigger gaurd and aluminum safety. So the Mossberg 590 Flex is apparently true to the Mossberg 590 line. Having owned only Mossbergs, and having gone from the ultra rugged Mossberg 590A1 to the Mossberg 590 Flex, I realized that I was looking for ruggedness more than anything. That being said, I just bought a Remington 870 Express.
No this is not the one I bought, but there is little difference between the 870 Express and the 870 Tactical. So why didn’t I spend the extra money and get the Tactical? The 870 Tactical had a 6 round magazine tube which would make getting a longer barrel almost impossible unless I bought a shorter mag tube to accomodate a longer barrel. A Remington 870 Tactical also usually comes with some type of pistol grip and usually an 18.5″ barrel. When I went to the store the Remington 870 Tactical was $530 and the Remington 870 Express was $330, and for an extra $40 I could have gotten the 870 Super mag and made a tactical that fired 3 1/2 mags. My 870 Express came with a 26″ vent rib barrel that has a modified choke tube and a 4 roung mag tube. For $65 I can put a 3 shot mag tube extension on it and have am 8 shot clearout, and for an additional $180 put a 20″ home defense barrel on it an have my 870 Tactical. I’m give or take on the pistol grips, because as a civilian if a person or people break into my house, I am not going to do a sweep and clear with my shotgun or any other gun for that matter. My dogs will bark and if I cease to hear them I will point the shotgun at the door and get ready to unload eight copper coated #4 shot. Anyway, the Remington 870 has a steel receiver and really seems to have tighter tolerances than the Mossberg 500 overall, and honestly, the Remington 870 has far more accessory options than the Mossberg 500. So far I can accessorize my Remington to have an 8 shot clearout and a 20″ barrel for a total of $575, plus I still have my 26″ barrel for hunting and shooting clays. The only gripes I was able to find with the Remington 870 over the Mossberg 500 is the ejector and ‘loading tongue’ for lack of a better term. First the ejector spring is riveted in so if it breaks it has to be sent to Remington to be drilled, reinstalled, and refinished. Second, in order to load your 870, a tongue has to be depressed in order to load shells in your mag tube.
As for Mossbergs, I feel as if I need to buy the 590A1 to get the kind of ruggedness that an 870 Express already has. Yes, Mossbergs are dependable and the aluminum reciever makes them significantly lighter unless you are talking about the heavy barrel on the 590A1 and then it is kind of a wash. The ejector on a Mossberg is held in by a screw so if if breaks, you buy one and replace it. Loading a Mossberg does not require depressing any ‘tongue’ to load it, and right now and pretty much always, you can go out and buy a Mossberg 500 ‘combo’ package that comes with a 26″ barrel with chokes and a 20″ tactical barrel. For an additional $50 you can mount some type of pistol grip on it and be into a tactical shotgun for $350 with a 6 shot clearout. Mossberg 500’s have a closed magazine tube though which makes them more difficult to clean, but you could fork over the money and buy an upgraded mag tube (which is always a pain in the ass to change out), but then you need to buy different barrels and a locking retainer nut as the 500 barrels have the retainer screw attached to them. Mossbergs have been around for a while and are certainly not going anywhere. They served me and many other people well through many shots and many years. I never had a single probem with any of my Mossbergs except my 835 Utilimag. After putting about 700 or so rounds through it without cleaning it I started to have extraction issues due to carbon fouling build-up. If say you step up to a Mossberg 590 or even a 590A1 you have now limited yourself to a tactical firearm. Sure they have a 9 shot clearout and the 590A1 is still one of my favorite guns, especially equipped with ghost ring sights and a bayonette lug. So really the two biggest gripes I’ve found with Mossbergs in general are the seemingly loose tolerances which causes people to call them ‘cheap’ which they are not, I can attest to their durability; and the other gripe is the aluminum receiver which cannot be blued and is considered ‘weaker’ than steel recievers, but I have not seen or heard evidence to show me that it is a hindrance of any kind.
So the verdict is, buy whichever one fits your needs best. I like shooting clays and am anticipating doing some turkey hunting and maybe some slug hunting for deer. I also like the fact that I can buy a barrel and mag tube extension and have my tactical with an 8 shot clearout. The Remington 870 is very rugged and very dependable. Mossbergs are also very dependable and have their own adaptable capabilities. Many law enforcement officials trust their lives to Mossbers and many trust their lives to Remingtons. Do research, hold them, shoot them if you can and then decide. Hell, if I had the money, I would have both (the 590A1 of course).
When I think of survival I think of guns because you will need to hunt and most certainly have to kill some zombies. Lucky for you I have compiled a list of the most efficient guns to have when confronted with a zombie apocalypse. Why zombies? Because they are f*ckin scary and difficult to prepare for. The two criteria in particular are hunting capabilities and zombie destruction.
1. Mossberg 590A1- This versatile firearm was used by our marines for years because it kicks serious ass. A shotgun is a true survival gun because it can shoot bird shot for small flying beasts, buck shot for larger fowl type birds and slugs for serious zombie head removal. With the ever so growing ‘zombie’ populariy, Hornady (a manufacturer of ammunition) has made a wide array of ‘Zombie V-max’ ammunition in many different calibers and gauges. There are also Remington PDX shells that launch two 00 buck shot with a slug right behind them. Did I mention that the 590A1 can also fire 3″ shells for a little added oomf? These also have a bayonette lug for equipping your knife so you can spear a zombie head before you obliterate it. A pump shotgun is good for beginners and intermediates. If you give a semi-auto shotgun to a beginner and unleash some zombies at said beginner, that person would first release their bowels, then all of the ammuntion and probably not hit a damn thing. The only downfall is the short range of the weapon. Survival rating= A-
2. Gas-piston AR- Communists and other non-americans can say what they will but there is no platform more versatile than the AR. In particular, a gas-piston AR chambered in 6.5 (.260 cal)grendel is going to be your best bet. The recoil is only slightly more than a 5.56 x 45 (.223 cal), but the velocity and energy at distance are greater than a 7.62 x 51 (.308 cal). What does it all mean? It means that with an attached quad rail you can mount tactical optics, a forward handle for greater control; and with ever so slight recoil you can acquire and demolish zombies expeditiously. Did I mention that there are accounts of people taking good sized elk with a 6.5 grendel? The only downfall is not being able to shoot birds in the sky. Survival rating= B+
3. Barrett M84A1- Chambered in .416 Barrett, this is one of the fastest flying and hardest hitting projectiles on the planet and has a tendency to explode its targets. This particular model is available chambered in 50 BMG and the aforementioned .416 barrett and has a 10 round magazine. If you possess this firearm, zombies can be kept at extreme distances and you can hunt anything on the planet with it including elephants and dinosaurs (if you happen to see one). The downfalls are the extreme heft, complete obliteration of potential food. Survival rating= B
4. Smith and Wesson .500- This is a handgun, but is a serious contender. This is the most powerful handgun available (commercially). They often come with 10″-12″ barrels and are compensated at the end to reduce recoil. A single shot from the .500 will take down any animan in North America and most on other planets as well. Put a scope on this puppy and you can reach out a couple hundred yards. Zombies will also fall without a fight but it is a ‘wheel gun’ and unless you are well practiced, they are slow to reload. It can serve as a fantastic bludgeon if you do happen to run out of ammo at a desparate moment. Survival rating= B-
5. Rifle of the .22lr variety- Don’t laugh because these are still guns and they CAN kill you. During the great depression, there were many accounts of success feeding families using a .22 rifle to take rabbits, squirrels and birds that have landed. There are now also bird shot so you can safely shoot in the sky. These are also the favorite of the mafia because they have enough power to penetrate a human skull but not enough to exit which means it pinballs inside of the brain, destroying it. Zombies can only be stopped by destruction of the brain and a person with a reliable rifle and scope can take out plenty of zombies with well placed head shots. Did I mention that you can carry over 5oo round of ammo in the space that a softball takes up? The only downfall is that you will not be able to take down large animals very efficiently and they are not recommended for melee style fighting. Survival rating= B
Honorable mentions: SKS, FN- FAL, Lever action 30-30
Please keep in mind that this page is geared towards civilians without a class III FFL who have little or no firearm experience/background, so the guns discussed are readily available to the public. If there is a communist firearm that I did not mention such as the AK-47, it is because you actually have to be communist for the firearm to work.