By Randy D. Smith
Mossberg Model 500 Field with combo upland game and cylinder bore barrel options
-- The longevity of the Mossberg Model 500 is in no small part the result of the "shooting system" approach the company has developed. A Mossberg Model 500 can be purchased in a configuration that will meet any shooting need that might develop as long as a 3-inch magnum shell is the maximum requirement.
If a buyer wants to move up to a 3 1/2-inch cartridge then Mossberg has alternatives found in the Model 535 and 835. But if you need a youth, self-defense or multi-purpose model then there is a variation of the Model 500 that will fit your needs.
Basic Model 500 All-Purpose Field Configuration
Mossberg Model 500 Turkey Slam with camouflage finish and special extra-full turkey choke
The Model 500 All-Purpose Field shotgun is available in 12, 20, and 410 gauges. A 12-gauge All-Purpose can be had with either a 26- or 28-inch barrel. The 20-gauge is available only with a 26-inch barrel and the .410 gauge is available with a 24-inch barrel.
All 12- and 20-gauge Model 500 shoguns have Accu-set interchangeable chokes. The .410 gauge has a fixed full choke. I personally believe that a modified choke is the best choice for the vast majority of hunting situations. I use my Model 500 almost exclusively for feathered upland game.
My original 12-gauge Model 500 All-Purpose with 28-inch barrel was purchased with a full choke, which I immediately changed to a modified choke. With that basic shotgun and choke, I hunt quail using 2 3/4-inch low brass No. 7 1/2 shot loads, early season pheasant with 23/4-inch No. 6 shot loads and late season pheasants with 3-inch No. 6 shot loads.
I like a modified choke because of the pattern, which is not too tight for many close range shots and will still do very well out to 35 and 40 yards for long-range, late-season pheasant hunting. For a while I owned an excellent Model 500 in .410 gauge and used it for rabbit and quail hunting. Because of the small amount of shot offered by shells in this gauge, I believe a full choke is the only practical option.
Mossberg Model 500 Slugster with integral barrel mounted scope mount and special raised comb
Our old 20-gauge Model 500 with a poly choke is set at modified and very seldom changed, but sometimes it will be changed to the full choke setting for late season pheasant hunting and farmstead use on varmints and predators.
So, why is there a 28-inch barrel option? This barrel allows for a longer sighting plain for long-range shots such as late season pheasants and waterfowl. A 26-inch barrel is a bit handier for fast-action shooting and tight quarters.
The Model 500 All-Purpose Field is offered with a wood stock and blue finish, synthetic stock and matte blue finish, and camouflage finish. The camouflage option is not offered in 20 and .410 gauge.
Should You Choose a Camouflage Finish?
Mossberg Model 500 Youth Model Slugster with adjustable polymer stock
Camouflage finishes are popular choices for many new shotgun buyers. The question is whether it is practical. A nice feature of a matte blue or blue finish shotgun is that various home security and specialized hunting barrels can be easily located to match. The standard model can easily be made into a rifled deer gun, short-barreled home defense gun or even a muzzleloader by simply changing the barrels.
My original smooth bore Model 500 Slugster was a blue-steel model, and I have added a Bell & Carlson Creative Effects camouflage finish to it. I did this because of the way I use the shotgun.
I periodically hunt deer with it using slugs, but I wanted to keep my 24-inch smooth bore barrel because I also use the same gun for calling coyotes and home defense. Since the areas where I hunt deer very seldom present a shot beyond 70 yards, and I get excellent accuracy from Federal Tru-ball loads, I do not see where I need a rifled barrel.
I had the gun camouflaged because nearly all of my field shots are at very close range, and I had no intention of changing barrels. I believe there is an advantage to a camouflage finish gun when hunting predators, waterfowl, turkeys and deer from ground blinds.
Special camouflage finishes are available for hunting deer, waterfowl and turkeys. You don't need a camouflage finished gun to be successful hunting any of these various species. You can benefit from a camouflage finish, I believe, in specialized situations. If you are on a budget, however, a black composite stock, matte blue finish shotgun will provide the best of all worlds. I prefer the look and feel of blue steel and a wood stock when I head out for upland game.
Tactical with adjustable stock and stainless steel finish
Nothing affects shotgun shooting success more than length of pull. Length of pull is the distance between the end of the butt and the trigger. If length of pull is too long, the shooter is thrown off balance, cannot properly sight the gun, suffers from exaggerated recoil and develops poor shooting habits.
Having a shotgun where length of pull can be adjusted as the shooter matures and grows is the single most important step a child's guardian can take to insure shooting success. Buying a youth model for a small-framed woman is a perfect way to make sure that your wife, daughter or significant other will enjoy and take part in the hunt. Even if you have to place a special order for a youth shotgun for your children or small-framed adult, do it. It is well worth the wait.
Scoping a Deer Gun
I do not have a scope mounted on my smooth bore slugster. However, if my shotgun was my principal deer and predator hunting tool, I would absolutely have a scope mounted on it. I ran a series of tests on basic slug hunting shotguns a few years ago, and I came to the conclusion that using a mounted scope, whether the gun is smooth bore or rifled, was the most significant alteration to improving my shooting success.
All Model 500 shotguns have drilled and tapped receivers for scope mounting. Integral scope mounted accessory barrels allow a shooter to mount the scope on the barrel and leave it there. In this way the shotgun receiver does not have to be altered as barrels are exchanged. A low magnification scope with long eye relief of at least 3 inches is most suitable for shotguns.
If I could have just one firearm in my home it would probably be a 12-gauge Model 500 shotgun because of the variety of options the gun offers. The range of loads, sabots and slugs combined with the available options for this gun makes it the single most versatile unit on the market. Whether I'm shooting small game at 30 yards or deer at 100 yards, I can make a Model 500 work.
-- Randy D. Smith
Click here for "PART 1: Mossberg's Model 500 Shotgun - A Monument to American Gun Dependability."