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Mossberg Maverick HS12 Review

by J. Guthrie   |  March 19th, 2013 8

This is possibly the world’s first purpose-built home defense over/under shotgun. While skeptics and purists might cringe, the author finds the Maverick HS12 to be a handy and efficient home defense tool.

At first I was skeptical (just like you) and nearly passed on the assignment to cover this shotgun. I figured Mossberg, of all the shotgun companies, had gone a bridge too far in an effort to cash in on the tactical mania that is sweeping the nation in waves.

Just about every gun on the market has been chopped down, painted black, festooned with rails and reborn as tactical. For Mossberg to take its nice, moderately priced Maverick Hunter over/under shotgun and turn it into a tactical gun was just too much. Is nothing sacred?

If you have stuck with me this far, stay a little longer and read about a new home defense tool that is practical, not tactical, and could actually be of use to someone looking to defend hearth and home from two-legged predators. What follows is a meal of lightly salted editorial crow: The Maverick HS12 is a great gun for home defense.

Most gun designs were originally intended for martial use and then refined further in Mars’ crucible. Revolvers, most single-shot and bolt-action rifles, lever guns, the Model 1911 and the AR-15 were all military arms that grew stubby legs and crawled off the draftsman’s page and onto the battlefield. Eventually, they evolved better mechanisms and finer finishes, lost the parts that made them spit bullets in full-auto fashion and made their way into civilian hands for sporting and self-defense purposes. After all, the attributes of “deadly” and “dependable” are pretty nice on both the battlefield and the homefront when something wicked this way comes.

Almost every battlefield since gunpowder was first burned in anger felt the pitter-patter of buckshot. Muskets loaded with buck and ball, coach guns and the ubiquitous pump have swept the decks and trenches, cleared buildings and generally scared the hell out of anyone dumb enough to get near and peer down that gaping maw. And many a poor boy fed his family with a brace of ducks, rabbits or quail with the exact same guns sans heat shields and bayonet lugs. The military and civilian shotgun are intertwined; they evolved in unison.

But the over/under shotgun has always been above the fray. Surely, the regal design has been pressed into service when needed, but no Marine ever stormed a beach armed with a Superposed. Other action types held more ammo, were just easier to mass produce and, most important, cost less than over/under shotguns. That is, until now.

For seven years Mossberg has imported shotguns produced in Turkey. Guns wearing the Maverick moniker appeared a year ago. Mossberg does not beat around the bush and try to hide the fact that the guns are made by Khan, a longtime Turkish gunmaker. Over/under shotguns, even in the day of precise CNC machining, still take a lot of hand fitting and fine tuning. Evidently, the Turks can make O/U shotguns much cheaper than Americans, Germans, Italians and Japanese, since the Maverick Hunter only runs about $450. At some point, a clever Mossberg employee looked at a conventional Maverick Hunter over/under leaning against a wall and thought, That would make a great…

Tom Taylor, vice president of sales and marketing, is the new kid on the block at Mossberg, though he is an old hand in the gun industry. One of the things Taylor really liked about Mossberg is the top-down approach to research and development. Every week, the suits, engineers, sales people and Iver Mossberg himself meet to talk about new products. The idea of turning the Maverick Hunter into a home defense gun was first discussed in April 2010. Three months later there was a sample to pass around the conference room.

“This was an idea we had been kicking around for a while,” Taylor says. “We talked to customers and experts in the firearms industry, and it was a road that no one had been down before. We weren’t sure how it was going to turn out, how the gun would be received by customers, but when everyone picked up and handled the HS12, they warmed up to it very quickly.”

The HS12 concept is easy to grasp: Keep the shotgun simple and affordable for home defense. Barrels were reduced from the dove-field-appropriate 28 inches down to 18½ inches. Picatinny rails were added underneath the bottom barrel and on top of the receiver. New sights were developed to work with and through the new rails. The gun was already black—it wears a black chromium finish, to be exact—so it did not need a paint job. At least Mossberg didn’t call it a tactical Maverick. After I put 150 shells through it, I call it handy, simple and deadly.

Mossberg makes one of the best home defense/duty shotguns on the planet, the Model 590A1, so comparisons are inevitable. What features and advantages does the HS12 have over this pump-action powerhouse?

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