Skip to main content

Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde Shotgun Review

As part of their 100th anniversary, Mossberg has introduced the 590A1 Retrograde pump-action shotgun.

Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde Shotgun Review
Get pumped for the new Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde pump shotgun.

Photos by Alfredo Rico

This year marks Mossberg’s 100th anniversary. To help celebrate, they’ve introduced several new firearms. One of these is the Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde.

The Retrograde is a 12-­gauge pump-­action shotgun that pays homage to the original 590A1, a staple of military and police for decades. These durable, reliable and user-­friendly shotguns were also affordable to the private citizen, where they gained widespread popularity for home defense.

A Trusted Partner

Many consider the 12-­gauge pump-­action shotgun the ultimate close-­quarter weapon, and the 590A1 is perhaps the most combat-­proven variant. In fact, since 1979, Mossberg’s 590 and 590A1 models are the only shotguns to have passed all of the United States’ military 3443 specification requirements. The specification predicates interchangeability of parts in the field, as well as the ability to withstand a 3,000-­round endurance test.


The average citizen may never put 3,000 rounds through their shotgun, but it’s comforting to know that a tool you may employ to defend yourself and your family is overbuilt. The 590A1 is a trusted partner with a proud tradition of protecting American lives.


Mossberg-590A1-Retrograde-Rich
Make no mistake, the Retrograde is a serious shotgun, perfect for home defense despite it’s obvious lack of polymer.

Shotgun Versatility

In close quarters, the 590A1 is a devastatingly effective weapon, especially when loaded with 00 buck. Nine .32-­caliber pellets traveling about 1,200 feet per second (fps) goes a long way toward keeping you safe. Pretty scary stuff if you’re on the receiving end. In fact, the unmistakable sound of a pump shotgun being racked has been known to halt would-­be assailants in their tracks. However, buckshot isn’t always the appropriate load.

While 00 buck is devastating from close range, 25 yards is about as far as you can be from the threat to responsibly account for all of the pellets. Beyond that distance, the pattern widens considerably. On the other hand, with 1-­ounce slug rounds, the shotgun is a formidable weapon out to at least 100 yards, depending on several factors, not the least of which being marksmanship. Slugs afford the shooter rifle-­like accuracy and the ability to easily penetrate most intermediate barriers, such as the passenger compartment or trunk of a vehicle, behind which an assailant may be hiding.

There is no shortage of 12-­gauge pump shotguns on the market, so what sets the 590A1 apart? Well, affordability and reliability are major factors, as well as the impressive list of standard features.

Mossberg-590A1-Retrograde-Stock
The Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde’s walnut stock is as comfortable as it is beautiful.

Pumped About Features

The controls on the 590A1 are intuitive. The tang safety enables the shooter to easily manipulate the safety off and on with either thumb. Simply push forward to disengage the safety and pull back to activate it. Many prefer the tang style safety to the cross-­bolt style safety on the Remington 870, another popular law enforcement and home defense shotgun.


The cross-­bolt safety requires a different motion to operate, depending on whether you’re a right or left-­handed shooter. Also, it’s not as easy to visually confirm whether or not a cross-­bolt safety is engaged.

Over the years, the 590A1 has undergone several design changes. Traditional hardwood components like the stock and forend were replaced with polymer, which is lighter and more impervious to dents and dings that could blemish hardwood. A quick glance at the Mossberg website reveals a wide array of 590A1 models.

Mossberg-590A1-Retrograde-Barrel
With a nine-shot capacity and a bayonet lug, the Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde is battle ready with an old-school vibe.

The 590A1 line features heavy walled barrels, cylinder bores and barrel lengths ranging from 18.5 to 20 inches. Capacity ranges from 7 to 9 shells. The heavier walled barrels, aluminum triggerguards and metal trigger groups are what differentiate the 590A1 from the 590, which is more economically priced.


Some 590A1 models come with a pistol grip, although I’m not a fan. Pistol grips aren’t bad, but when combined with the tang safety, they become quite cumbersome. A shooter has to compromise their shooting grip to work the safety. That’s why I’ll leave the pistol grips to the AR-­15s.

I’ve owned a 590A1 for years. It has a fixed polymer stock and ghost ring sights, which are well suited for home defense because they are easy to acquire under duress and conducive to accurate shooting. My 18.5-­inch barreled 590A1 is one of several firearms I keep on hand for home defense.

Mossberg-590A1-Retrograde-Sights
The ghost ring sights on the Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde adds to the old-school vibe.

Rolling Out the Retrograde

The 20-­inch barreled 590A1 Retrograde looks like something John Rambo may have wielded. In fact, it’s even reminiscent of much older shotguns dating back to World War I. From the Parkerized finish and walnut furniture to the distinctive heat shield covering the barrel, the Retrograde definitely exudes an old-­school vibe.

The simplicity, beauty and durability of a fixed walnut stock is desirable for those with an affinity for traditionally styled shotguns. The same can be said of the forend. Polymer is fine, but there’s just something about the way a walnut stock feels against your cheek or the way the corn cob style walnut forend feels in your hand.

The Retrograde sports a bayonet lug, which may not be the most practical feature, but who wouldn’t want to be able to mount a bayonet to their shotgun? The Retrograde’s bayonet lug is a throwback to the “trench gun” of the Great War. When your shotgun was empty, it could immediately be employed as a spearing weapon. Even without a bayonet attached, the lug is a stark reminder that this shotgun was built for battle.

Mossberg-590A1-Retrograde-Pump

The 590A1 Retrograde’s ghost ring sights and orange-­painted front sight blade facilitate fast and accurate fire whether obliterating a target in close quarters with buckshot or while making a precise shot at distance with a rifled slug. There are a variety of sighting options for the 590A1, but the ghost-­ring style is far and away my favorite for defensive purposes and was a solid choice for the Retrograde.

Retro Range Time

Having plenty of time shooting 590A1 shotguns, the 590A1 Retrograde performed as anticipated. I started at the 5-­yard line with 00 buck and gradually moved back to the 25-­yard line. I was shooting Winchester Super-­X 2¾-­inch 00 buck (nine pellets), and from 25 yards, all nine pellets remained on the B-­27 silhouette target.

While shooting the Retrograde, I noticed the walnut furniture and heat shield made it a little heavier than the polymer furnished 590A1s I am accustomed to. The Retrograde tips the scales at 7 pounds. Still, the weight was very manageable, and the shotgun felt well-­balanced. The action was smooth, and recoil was on the soft side as far as 12-­gauge shotguns go. The rubber buttpad on the end of the stock undoubtedly helped dampen felt recoil.

Mossberg-590A1-Retrograde-Trigger

At 25 yards, I loaded five Winchester Super-­X 1-­ounce hollowpoint rifled slugs and was able to easily contain the rounds within the head of my B-­27 target, a testament to the inherent accuracy of the Retrograde and its user-­friendly ghost-­ring sights.

The Retrograde is everything a pump shotgun should be — durable, reliable, comfortable to shoot and intuitive to operate. With its 8+1 capacity, the Retrograde has plenty of firepower for home-­defense applications.

With an MSRP of $902, the Retrograde is pricier than a more conventional 590A1, but if you’re looking for a modern shotgun with classic styling and an old-­school cool, the Retrograde is well worth the money.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Trijicon has dominated the Carry Optic landscape on hard-use handguns for years. With the new RMRcc, they plan on dominating the concealed carry market as well.Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight Review – Perfect for Concealed Carry Optics

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight Review – Perfect for Concealed Carry

Jeremy Stafford - October 01, 2020

Trijicon has dominated the Carry Optic landscape on hard-use handguns for years. With the new...

The one glaring weakness in the .30-­caliber magnum cartridge lineup is best highlighted by examining the requirement around which Hornady designed the .300 PRC; the requirement came from the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). .300 PRC Review Rifle

.300 PRC Review

Tom Beckstrand - March 12, 2019

The one glaring weakness in the .30-­caliber magnum cartridge lineup is best highlighted by...

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight ready.14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See Handguns

14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See

James Tarr - December 20, 2018

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight...

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of Mossberg, Tikka, Savage, Howa, Bergara, Weatherby and Remington.Starter Rifles for Under $1000 Rifles

Starter Rifles for Under $1000

Aaron Carter - May 09, 2019

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of...

See More Trending Articles

More Reviews

If you're in need of a pistol to bet your life on, look no further than the pistol that won over the U.S. Army, the SIG Sauer P320 - M17.Review: SIG Sauer P320 - M17 Reviews

Review: SIG Sauer P320 - M17

Richard Nance - August 14, 2020

If you're in need of a pistol to bet your life on, look no further than the pistol that won...

The Ruger Super GP100 9mm revolver is a purpose-built revolver suitable for competition use. It's a race gun. It has a great trigger, high-visibility sights and fast loading capability. It would be an excellent choice for practical shooting disciplines.Ruger Super GP100 9mm Revolver Review Reviews

Ruger Super GP100 9mm Revolver Review

Keith Wood - August 07, 2020

The Ruger Super GP100 9mm revolver is a purpose-built revolver suitable for competition use....

Available in 9mm, .45 ACP, and 10mm, the Kimber Rapide Black Ice 1911 sports a new look while maintaining the same topshelf performance as the original Rapide.Kimber Rapide Black Ice 10mm Review – A Truly Unique 1911 Reviews

Kimber Rapide Black Ice 10mm Review — A Truly Unique 1911

James Tarr - September 08, 2020

Available in 9mm, .45 ACP, and 10mm, the Kimber Rapide Black Ice 1911 sports a new look while...

The new HK SP5K-PDW is based on the storied MP5 introduced in 1976. Specifically, it's inspired by the select-fire MP5K.HK SP5K-PDW Review Reviews

HK SP5K-PDW Review

Eric R. Poole - November 12, 2020

The new HK SP5K-PDW is based on the storied MP5 introduced in 1976. Specifically, it's...

See More Reviews

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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