Skip to main content

G&A Perspective: Why the Mossberg 500 is the Best Home Defense Shotgun of All Time

Mossberg 500 Flex Home Defense ShotgunToday's consumer has a wide variety of choices when selecting a defensive shotgun, but which of these guns earns the title as the best home defense shotgun ever? In my opinion, the Mossberg 500 stands out from the crowd for a number of reasons.

First, Mossberg has been building the 500 for 52 years. During that time, more than 10 million of these pump guns have rolled off the assembly line in North Haven, Conn., and Eagle Pass, Texas. For the last 30 years, the 590  has been the shotgun of choice for the U.S. military, and more than 100,000 units have been supplied to the armed forces. The 500 and 590 lines also have the distinction of being the only shotguns ever to pass the rigorous Mil-Spec 3443 torture test, proving what generations of shooters already knew: Mossberg guns are tough.

Pump-action shotguns are favored by police and military for two primary reasons: They are fast and reliable. The Mossberg 500 series has earned a reputation for dependability, which is paramount when selecting a home defense shotgun. Manually cycling the action simplifies the reloading process and reduces the odds of a malfunction. In experienced hands, a pump shotgun is almost as fast as a semi-auto, and sliding the fore end forward helps to shooter return to the target and stabilizes the gun. All of these qualities make pump guns a logical choice for home defense, and Mossberg makes more pump guns than any company in the world.

Within the Mossberg family, the 500, 590 and 590A1 all share the same action, but there are slight differences. The 500 has a bolt on the barrel that threads into the magazine tube, while the 590 has a threaded nut similar in design to the Remington 870. This design facilitates cleaning and makes it possible to add aftermarket magazine tube extensions. The 590A1 has an aluminum safety and trigger guard, and a heavier barrel — but in all other respects it is the same as the standard 590. All members of the 500 Series have twin action bars, dual extractors and a top of the receiver-mounted safety.


Barnes TAC-XPD

New from Barnes Bullets, Barnes TAC-XPD ammunition is designed specifically to perform in life or death situations. This new load features all-copper construction and a large, deep, expanding hollow-point cavity. Barnes TAC-XPD is available in .380 Auto, 9mm Luger +P, .40 S&W and .45 Auto +P.

Browning Security Door

It's built like something out of a fortified compound, but the Browning Security Door fits in perfectly in any residence and offers more discretion in concealing valuables in a home. The Security Door features 1 1/4-inch chromed locking bolts and a UL Listed Type I Electronic Lock with a keypad that can be mounted up to 7 feet away, in addition to an internal lock release to open the door from inside.

Crimson Trace Defender Series

For years, Crimson Trace has been on the outside looking in as other tactical optics companies rolled out low-price, introductory laser optics. Not anymore. The Crimson Trace Defender Series is a new foray into affordable personal defense optics for Crimson Trace. Targeting new and inexperienced shooters, the Defender Series activates with an ergonomically designed push-button system, rather than Crimson Trace's traditional instinctive activation system. The Defender Series is available for Glocks, the Springfield XD line, the Ruger LCP, Smith & Wesson J-Frame revolvers and the Taurus Model 85 with prices ranging from $129-150.

GunVault TacVault

GunVault's brand new TacVault offers discrete storage for any AR-15 or tactical shotgun, and secured to the floor. The TacVault features GunVault's High Strength Lock mechanism, and is available with a keypad or biometric system.

Hornady Critical Defense .410

Hornady's brand new addition to its Critical Defense line — Critical Defense .410 — is designed specifically for .410 revolvers and features a non-jacketed bullet with Hornady's Flex Tip design, followed by two .35-caliber lead balls. When fired, the base of the bullet flares and expands, engaging the rifling and creating a straight path for the bullet, while the lead balls will spread out, making the Critical Defense .410 a good short-range defense round.

Hornady Critical Defense Lite

Hornady's new Critical Defense Lite was introduced to round out the Critical Defense line at the 2013 SHOT Show. This .38 Special round features a 90-grain bullet with the Flex Tip design, lessening the recoil while still ensuring proper expansion and performance. Proceeds from the Critical Defense Lite will be donated to cancer research.

Hornady Critical Defense .45 Auto +P

An addition to Hornady's popular Critical Duty line, the Critical Duty .45 Auto +P features a 220-grain bullet with Hornady's Flex Tip technology and is designed for optimal performance in the FBI Protocol Test. The round is intended for 12 to 18 inches of penetration in ballistics gel through heavy clothing, wallboard, steel, glass and plywood.

Nosler Defense Ammo

Brand new from Nosler in 2013 is the brand new Nosler Defense line of handgun and rifle ammunition. Each cartridge features high-performance bullet and powder combinations and is visually inspected to ensure peak performance. Nosler Defense will be available in 9mm Luger, .40 S&W and .45 ACP +P.

Federal Premium Personal Defense HST

Federal Premium Ammunition introduced a brand new load, Federal Ammunition Personal Defense HST, at the 2013 SHOT Show. Previously sold exclusively for law enforcement, this load is available in 9mm and .45 ACP, performing well through barriers with a superb weight retention and expansion.

Mossberg is the largest manufacturer of shotguns in the U.S. by over 40 percent, thanks in large part to the success of the 500, 590 and the 590A1. With over 20 different defensive and tactical offerings, Mossberg most likely has a shotgun that meets your needs. They offer versions with extended magazine tubes, heat shields, integral lights, accessory rails, tactical sights and a host of other accessories. There are versions with pistol grips and tactical stocks as well. There's even a .410 version with a short stock, vertical fore end grip, 18 ½-inch barrel and a choke is specially designed to accommodate .410 buckshot loads. Needless to say, the Mossberg lineup of shotguns offers a variety of options.

From a practical standpoint, Mossberg shotguns have several design elements that make them a superb choice for home defense. First of all, the top of the receiver-mounted safety is easy to find and manipulate and doesn't require adjusting the position of your shooting hand. In addition, left-handed shooters will find the safety position as easy to use as right-handed shooters will, and the large, notched safety button is easy to locate even in total darkness. The action release is located at the rear left of the trigger guard, making it easy to find and eliminating the need to reach around the front of the trigger guard. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the shell lifters on the Mossberg pumps remain in the up position when a shell is in the chamber. This allows for faster reloads without the possibility of pinched fingers.

Mechanically, the Mossberg has some very real advantages over rivals like the Remington 870 and the Winchester SXP. For starters, the Mossberg's dual extractors provide a sturdy and secure grip on the shell. If the 870's single extractor fails, you've got a major problem. Additionally, the Mossberg's design makes it easy to fix any parts that wear out or break. Simply tap out a single pin, pull out the trigger assembly, squeeze the sides of the shell lifter to drop it out and pull back on the fore end to drop the bolt into your hand. The fixed ejector is held in place with a single screw, so it can be changed easily and quickly. The Mossberg bolt locks directly to the barrel via a locking lug, and this direct bolt-to-barrel lockup is stronger that a bolt-receiver lockup.

Additionally, the Mossberg has a steel bolt lock that attaches to a lug in the barrel, which is also made of steel, so the argument that the alloy receiver is somehow weaker than the Remington 870's steel receiver doesn't hold water. Arguments can be made both ways regarding the tang-mounted safety versus the trigger guard safety, but to my mind the ambidextrous tang-mounted safety is an advantage.

Robust design, a variety of options and a 50-plus year history of excellence make the Mossberg 500 line a logical choice for home defense. In addition, this gun is still made in the U.S. and is still sold for a reasonable price. There are plenty of defensive shotguns in the world, but in my mind, the Mossberg 500 is still the best.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Benelli Lupo ATR

Benelli Lupo ATR

Quality. Art. Design. History. Precision. Innovation. Family. Passion. Love. These words come to my mind when describing anything Italian, and the same is true for a product bearing the name “Benelli.”

Guns & Ammo TV: Shooting 1,270 Yards with the 5.56 NATO

Guns & Ammo TV: Shooting 1,270 Yards with the 5.56 NATO

Guns & Ammo Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand was on location in Idaho where he pushed the limits of the 5.56 NATO cartridge in this segment of “Long Range Tech” for Guns & Ammo TV. Pairing a SIG Sauer MCX Virtus rifle loaded with Hornady's 73-grain ELD-M ammunition, Beckstrand attempted to ring steel set at 1,270 yards, an incredible distance for any 5.56-chambered rifle and beyond the typical range for an AR-15.

Guns & Ammo TV: Irons vs. Optics

Guns & Ammo TV: Irons vs. Optics

How much of an edge do optics give shooters? In this segment of Pros vs. Joes, Guns & Ammo TV puts Coordinating Producer Jeff Murray against Professional Shooter Chris Cerino.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light takes on EDC illumination segment.Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look Tactical

Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Jeremy Stafford - September 10, 2020

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light...

The Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm has a unique and versatile multiple-­zero system and an erector assembly unlike any other on the market. The Z5(i) is an excellent choice for an all-­around hunting scope.Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm Scope Review Optics

Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm Scope Review

Tom Beckstrand - September 09, 2020

The Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm has a unique and versatile multiple-­zero system and...

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun matches. Here's why.Savage MSR 15 Competition Review Reviews

Savage MSR 15 Competition Review

James Tarr - May 21, 2019

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun...

In this segment of Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle Rifles

Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle

Guns & Ammo Staff - September 02, 2020

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr...

See More Trending Articles

More Personal Defense

The physical, aural and visual feedback that airsoft training offers is more engaging than dryfire practice. The following list includes the gear and target arrangement that I've been using to practice at home. I've also added a number of drills that I've adapted from live-fire training to build certain skills applicable to personal defense.Airsoft Pistol Drills Personal Defense

Airsoft Pistol Drills

Alfredo Rico

The physical, aural and visual feedback that airsoft training offers is more engaging than...

Why do we need AR-­15s and 30-round magazines? Constitutional rights aside, in these circumstances an AR-­15 and a high-capacity magazine meant the difference between life and death for their owners.Self-Defense Stories of AR-15 Armed Citizens Personal Defense

Self-Defense Stories of AR-15 Armed Citizens

Keith Wood - February 13, 2020

Why do we need AR-­15s and 30-round magazines? Constitutional rights aside, in these...

Just because you put a pistol round into a rifle doesn't mean that it will perform like a rifle round. The 9mm won't magically start punching through body armor because you juiced it up. That said, a pistol caliber carbine (PCC) does have some very specific advantages in a home-defense scenario.Pistol Caliber Carbine Considerations for Home Defense Rifles

Pistol Caliber Carbine Considerations for Home Defense

Jeremy Stafford - October 01, 2019

Just because you put a pistol round into a rifle doesn't mean that it will perform like a...

Combining the portability of a pistol and the terminal performance of a rifle makes the new Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW the ultimate personal defense firearm.Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW 300 Blackout Review for Personal Defense Reviews

Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW 300 Blackout Review for Personal Defense

Brad Fitzpatrick

Combining the portability of a pistol and the terminal performance of a rifle makes the new...

See More Personal Defense

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now