This afternoon I want to go over the Mossberg 590 A1 combat shotgun. Not only the weapon itself but the overall usefulness of any “gauge” in MIL or LE use.

Just a bit of history, it looks like from some research that Mossberg shotguns have been in MIL use since 1961. I was unaware of that. I’ve personally seen several models and a bunch of variants of gauges in MIL use over the years. I’ve seen Stevens, Ithaca 37’s, Rem.870’s and Moss 590’s. I have heard tell of the Moss. 930 SPX tactical in limited use by the US Marine Corps and the IDF. (Israeli MIL). I cannot verify that from personally seeing it though. I can verify our (the Corps) latest and greatest mainstream shotgun is the Benelli M4 Super 90. I’ve seen a boatload of variants, some I’m sure modified by the user, If something didn’t suit me I’d order a part/accessory myself and bolt it on. I’ve done it to m4’s.
Just every variation and barrel length from the much too long 590’s to 3 shot “sawed off” entry guns. Too many to list them all or even probably remember them all.

Gauges have a few uses in both LE and MIL applications. Breaching doors, signaling and specialty rounds, crowd control/less than lethal ammo. A locked door is no problem, need a flare? we got those too, intimidation factor is high because people on both ends of the gauge wrongly believe you “can’t miss”. Use of stun rounds, usually rubber projectiles that cause great pain but won’t kill you (probably not anyway). An officer I used to work with used some kind of what he called a “knee knocker” round (2 pieces of wood with a string attaching them??) way back in the day at some auto worker riot to drop a dude that hit him with a brick. Instead of skipping the thing off the ground as was the intended use and hitting him in the legs, he point blanked him in the chest for hitting him with a brick 🙂 He lived but was carried off on a stretcher. That’ll teach you not to throw bricks at a Marine Vietnam vet turned city cop. Further more I was issued an 870 Remmy back in my early years in Olongapo City, Philippines after Mt. Pinatubo blew its top and wrecked the country. The NPA (muslim insurgents) were all over the place wreaking havoc. I was given that gauge instead of my m60 gpmg. It was very useful in that everybody co-operates and suddenly speaks English after hearing the action racked. I never had to fire on anyone there. We also used them to guard munitions supply dumps and aircraft as they have less penetration than m16’s, less collateral damage.

Anyway onto the Mossberg 590. They were subjected to a 3000 round military torture test and passed it. My particular variant has an 8 rd. capacity, ventilated barrel heat-shield, collapsible m4 style butt-stock and a forward “Thompson” style front grip. I prefer this grip as you can rack the slide faster and harder, you maintain a more solid grip on it if it’s grabbed by somebody and is generally more comfortable to hold and fire. It has a large very good set of “ghost ring” iron sights. They rock, red front sight, white rear, fully adjustable, tough and fast. One thing I love about the 590 is loading, there’s no feed tray to work around while pushing more rounds in the tube. They just go right in, its quicker and easier. One thing to remember with shotgun tactics, if you have a millisecond you can reload, you had better use it! You have 8 rounds, if you fire 3 and have a second, at least replenish 1 of them. Try not to run her empty if you can avoid it. My particular model has the standard safety mounted on top the receiver, it’s a bit of a pain to turn off quickly with a pistol gripped stock, personally I don’t see this as the end of the world. I have never been in a situation where I was surprised I had to fire a weapon on somebody, you get the feeling its coming. So click your safety off when you have the time beforehand. The 590 is a totally reliable shotgun capable of firing most any kind of shell, it has a roughly 40 meter range with OO buck. I do like the thing quite a bit, its a good weapon.

Taking a second to talk about accessories, red dots, lasers and scopes on gauges-UGH 🙁 A 40 meter range and you need a red dot?? Its your $$ I guess and I won’t knock it I suppose but I’ll pass. What you do need is the side shell carrier, it bolts onto the left side of the receiver and keeps 5-6 rounds ready for fast reloading into your tube with you weak hand all the while you can hold up the weapon and stay ready to fire while doing it. The other is a good light. Everybody knows how I feel about lights, they are a must have. For blinding your target and helping you positively identify them before leaving 9 pellets in the wrong persons chest.

Wrapping up: This was food for thought on gauges and the Mossberg 590A1 in particular. I personally don’t get all excited when I see a shotgun but they do have their place, it’s just that my place is behind an M4, 50 cal or a sniper rifle that’s all. They are effective tools for home defense as long as you have a shorter model, they also scare a lot of people on the receiving end. I recommend the high brass #6 “Heavy field load” from federal (blue 25 rd box at walmart) for home security. Enough thump to be sure your target is going down but should minimize the dangers of over penetration in your home. That ammo choice I read years ago from the late (Great) Col. Jeff Cooper and I totally agree.

As always thanks for reading and happy shooting.

By: Cary Kieffer

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Cary Kieffer

USMC Infantry/Combat Veteran/MUESOC/Sniper School - Med Retired LEO w/ 8yrs on job before Iraq wounds caught up with me.

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