November 14, 2022
Mossberg’s 940 Pro Field is one of the models that evolved from the 2020 introduction of the 940 JM Pro. Designed in partnership with World Champion Jerry Miculek, the new 940 is a fast-cycling shotgun built to win competitions. The 940 gas system is a new design to speed up cycling and make it more reliable. Its finish repels carbon build-up for longer maintenance intervals, too. (Mossberg asserts as many as 1,500 rounds can be fired between cleanings.)
The stock is user-adjustable for length-of-pull (from 13 inches to 14¼ inches), drop at comb and cast using incremental shims. Aggressive texturing that simulates checkering is molded into the grip and the slim forend.
Competition shooters like Miculek require absolute control of a gun’s function. Oversized and contoured controls such as the charging handle and bolt-release button were specified in the 940’s feature set for quick manipulation. Designed for a technique called “quad-loading,” the loading port was enlarged and beveled for driving a handful of shells into the under-barrel magazine tube. A bright anodized orange follower offers visual feedback to the status and location of the 940’s magazine. And if you’ve ever cut your finger on the front of another shotgun’s elevator while loading a shell, you’ll appreciate that this one is pinch-free.
For 2021, Mossberg added 940 models to the lineup including the Pro Field, Pro Waterfowl and Pro Snow Goose. Each of these shotguns possess unique qualities — the Pro Snow Goose has an extended capacity of 12-plus-one rounds, for example — but the improved gas system, oversized charging handle and magazine release button are three common details that appear on every 940.
The 940 Pro Field is ready to hunt out of the box. It has a capacity of four-plus-one, which is perfect for the types of hunting I most often pursue: Midwest whitetails, turkey, pheasant and dove. If I’m being sincere, for the last 12 years I’ve defaulted to using either a Mossberg 500 or 930 when I needed to grab a gun fast after work to head out afield for last light, or to join my colleagues for a round of clays during lunch. Mossberg shotguns always get the job done.
I didn’t need another 12-gauge shotgun, but after evaluating the 940 Pro Field I started questioning that. It features a front fiber optic sight that’s seems to auto-tune its brightness to my surroundings, and it has a matte, 28-inch, vent-rib barrel that shoots a variety of loads equally well and patterns true to 40 yards. Its performance wouldn’t be possible without a clean trigger, and though it’s not lighter than about 5 pounds, the predictability of it allowed me to print 3½ - to 4-inch groups using sabot slugs at 100 yards.
My one gripe is that the 940 Pro Field comes with short, Accu-Set chokes. These work fine, but they’re flush to the muzzle and require a tool to remove. I prefer extended chokes with knurling such as those installed on the 940 JM Pro, 940 Pro Waterfowl, and 940 Pro Snow Goose models. (You know how hard it can be to remove a dirty choke that’s been shot 1,500 rounds between cleanings?)
A “Grand Slam” in turkey hunting involves killing each of the four species found in the U.S.: Rio Grande, Merriam’s, Osceola and Eastern. Per the National Wild Turkey Federation, a “Royal Slam” adds the Gould’s turkey, which is found in northern Mexico and occasionally in the southwest. A “World Slam” adds the Ocellated wild turkey found in Mexico and Central America. Once you begin traveling to turkey hunt, have a chance to observe how different species behave and feel the excitement of a successful hunt, you’ll be chasing the next slam.
I am a Florida Osceola away from completing my Grand Slam, but to call Gould’s turkey in Mexico using the new Mossberg 940 Pro Field autoloader was an opportunity not to miss.
I joined my friends Linda Powell of Mossberg and my former NRA colleague, gunscribe Jeff Johnston, while meeting new friends in Derrick Nawrocki of grandviewoutdoors.com, as well as singer and songwriter Rick Lambert. We journeyed to meet up at Douglas, New Mexico, and then cross the border together through the town of Agua Prieta before driving south two hours through the Sonoran Desert and past the town of Fronteras.
Behind the humble, off-grid adobe hacienda of Roberto and Alice Valenzuela is the massive concrete foundation for a mysterious short story that fell to Mexico’s Revolution. It’s all that remains of a grand home built in the style of an English hamlet for James and Beatrice Paxton. The home was at the center of Paxton’s half-million-acre enterprise, the Sonora Land and Timber Company. There, the business grew crops, mined for minerals and harvested timber. They raised horses for the U.S. Army and cattle for beef. With them were five kids and an Irish tutor.
Before he bought what is now “Rancho Mababi,” Paxton had ranches in Australia and Chile. It was in Australia where he met his first wife Beatrice, who was notable for being “the first free-born white woman in the country,” according to Alice. Born James Thompson Tighe Paxton in County Down, Ireland, around 1865, records suggest that he married Beatrice Minor before 1896. In April 1908, Paxton was made consul of Panama by King Edward VII in Brisbane, Queensland. He was also the London representative for the Huon Timber Company of Glasgow but resigned in 1911. This information is documented in newspapers and public records.
Ellis Island’s “New York Passenger Arrival Lists” cites James Paxton’s departure from Liverpool on March 18, 1910. He arrived in America on the ocean liner RMS Mauretania. The dramatic mystery in the timeline exists between 1910 and 1913. It appears that James and Beatrice briefly went to Chile in 1910, but moved north to Sonora, Mexico. The year “1913” is when James’ marriage to Mary Minot is recorded in Croydon, Surrey, which suggests that he returned to England that year, also. Beyond that, he lived in Vancouver from 1917 to 1919 as the receiver of the British Canadian Lumber Corporation. After 1919, Paxton had returned to England, where he died on October 16, 1943, in London. I also found a record that James and Beatrice had a daughter, Doris Paxton and two sons, Anthony and Terence.
Doris was born in Sydney in the year 1890, lived in London in 1911 and joined her father in northern Mexico in 1912. Anthony was born in 1896 and worked as a cattle rancher in Mexico (presumably for his father) before becoming an honorary British Vice Consul at Sonora in 1915. In 1916, Anthony moved to Vancouver and joined the British Royal Flying Corps before going to England for World War I. He later became a member of an Australian squadron in France and returned to the Royal Air Force to work as a flying instructor after the war. He was a wing commander by 1937 and served in Africa and Canada during World War II. He retired in 1950 and died in 1957. Terence was born in London in 1905. Besides his marriage in 1935, I found few records on him until his death in 1984.
The years 1910 and 1912 must have been tragic for the Paxton family. Paxton’s enterprise allowed him to build a grand home using materials and lumber sourced from the U.S., which were hauled up the remote, treacherous 5,000-foot mountains more than 100 miles south of Agua Prieta, Mexico, a border town to Douglas, Arizona, and near Fronteras. Paxton’s company operated under a charter from the Mexican government, which employed Americans for $1 a day, Mexicans for .50 cents and Chinese for .25 cents. Francisco “Pancho” Villa is believed to have worked in the mines and supplied mules in 1910. An organized labor strike calling for equal pay resulted in the U.S. asking Mexico’s President Porfirio Diaz for troops to break up the strike. Villa joined Francisco Madero’s armed rebellion in 1910 to oust Diaz, which resulted in the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution.
The access road that passes through Rancho Mababi today is the same route used by Villa to strike the Army and escape. As Villa’s rebel army grew, he needed to feed and equip them. So, they helped themselves to haciendas such as the Paxton’s.
Roberto inherited the property in the 1980s and left his executive position at Hewlett Packard with his wife, Alice, who owned the newspaper “El Observador.” They maintain a researched history of the property with a few photos of the Paxtons and the home before the revolution. A gravestone on the property marks the buried remains of Beatrice with the inscription, “Don’t pray for me as I am already with God.” I presume that she died in 1912, which is the year the business venture and hacienda was abandoned and James returned to England with his children. Every board and nail from its walls, the pipes from its plumbing — yes, plumbing — elegant furniture and ornamental decorations were taken.
On arrival midday, we hurried to the sight-in range in hopes of hunting that evening. My friends and I patterned and zeroed our shotguns, mine topped with a German Precision Optics (GPO) SPECTRAdot and loaded with Federal’s Grand Slam with #5. (Worth noting, the 940 Pro Field does not include the optic rail or red dot. I added those for this hunt.) Our efforts were on point, and we were paired up in blinds with a guide.
I’d never met Nawrocki before, but I sensed that he was experienced. Our caller was a career firefighter from Houston, Joe Williams, who guided for Tall Tine Outfitters as a side job during hunting seasons. With him was a wooden box containing a life-like decoy that he controlled remotely with a string. He set it up at about 25 yards to our front.
It had been a busy couple of days getting to Rancho Mababi and sighting in. The effort caught up with us in the blind as we comfortably waited for about three hours and nodded off. Occasionally, Williams worked the fan of his decoy and the call in his mouth. We sat still and quiet as I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was using Mossberg’s 935 Magnum Turkey in 12 gauge. I thought to myself, He’s a gun guy.
Outfitter Ted Jaycox and Williams knew just where to put us. After the sun fell below the mountain top, some 20 Gould’s turkey migrated down through the trees under cover and lingered about 200 yards away to gather before roosting for the night. There were no gobblers in view for about 45 minutes, but an occasional gobble echoed from two directions.
We should have expected it, but the tranquil moment was disturbed by a Mexican cowboy on a yellow ATV flying through our area and past our blind. Our hearts sunk with disappointment as we sulked in silence.
However, commotion erupted and through our binoculars we saw a bright-red Tom descending the mountain while fanning in full strut. Williams worked the decoy and caught the attention of the big Tom. His march to challenge our decoy was exciting to watch as I settled in position to take the first shot. Nawrocki and Williams sat still with unblinking eyes.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a second fanned-out Tom. I was already on the trigger to shoot the first but managed to discipline myself and come off of it. The second bird ran at full sprint to gang up on the decoy. I’ve never seen a turkey so mad. When he arrived, both Toms thrashed the decoy as Nawrocki slowly raised his shotgun to attempt a double. Both birds were jumping and spurring the decoy, which didn’t stop for minutes. Waiting for separation to avoid shooting the decoy, I had decided that I would shoot the left Tom and hoped that Nawrocki would shoot the right. Somehow, we knew. With both gobblers separated and each of us having good angles, we fired almost simultaneously and doubled! Though feathers deceived their appearance, Nawrocki’s bird scaled at 22 pounds and mine at 19.
For the next four days, I enjoyed camp life and studying the area’s storied history with the Valenzuelas. Both Johnston and Lambert completed their World Slams to round out an unforgettable adventure. Despite a one-shot field test, the 940 Pro Field confirmed why I’m adding it to my go-to collection of Mossberg shotguns.
Mossberg 940 Pro Field
- Type: Gas operated, semiautomatic
- Gauge: 12
- Chamber: 2.75 in. and 3 in.
- Capacity: 4+1 rds.
- Barrel: 28 in., vent rib
- Chokes: Accu-Set
- Overall Length: 47.5 in.
- Length of Pull: 13 in. to 14.25 in.
- Weight: 7 lbs., 12 oz.
- Sights: Red fiber optic (front); drilled/tapped (receiver)
- Finish: Matte blue (steel); anodized (aluminum)
- Stock: Polymer, textured; adjustable length of pull,drop at comb, cast and pitch
- MSRP: $868
- Manufacturer: O.F. Mossberg, 203-230-5300, mossberg.com
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