November 19, 2009
We took these two out to do a short comparison test. The course of fire consisted of one 2 ¾” 00 Buck shell at 7 yards, one 2 ¾” 1 oz. slug at 7 yards, and a few clay pigeons for good measure. One additional round of slug was fired from the Mossberg at 25 yards to check the sight adjustment, as it printed low with the slug round at 7 yards. It printed even lower at 25 yards, which indicates that the rear sight elevation simply needs some fine tuning.
The one noticeable difference between the two (aside from sight issues) was that the buckshot pattern from the Mossberg was much tighter than the Remington’s.
Both guns have been accessorized and those details will be covered in more detail in the reviews.
Mossberg 590A1 (#51663)
This particular model is the military version of the venerable Mossberg 500/590 family of pump-action shotguns. It features a heavy-walled 20” barrel (that the accessory heat shields don’t fit), a metal trigger assembly and a metal safety button (these two items are plastic on other models). It also features a 9-shot magazine and a bayonet mount that is compatible with any bayonets that fit AR-15s and M16s.
This model is fitted with a ghost-ring rear sight and a day-glo orange rifle front sight. The rear sight is well-protected inside a base that has two prominent heavy-gauge steel “ears” on the sides.
The main difference between the Mossberg and the Remington is the material used for the receiver. Mossberg’s receivers are made from aluminum, and Remington uses steel. For most users, this probably won’t matter. The Mossberg passed a 3000-round torture test without any problems. Since most homeowner-type users will not put anywhere near that many rounds through the gun, it’s an academic argument as to whether the aluminum receivers are durable enough. The action lock-up in the Mossberg is steel-to-steel anyway. There is a lug atop the bolt that locks into an extension at the back of the barrel when the action is closed.
One other feature difference that may seem like a minor issue but could be a big deal in a “situation” is the placement of the slide release button and the safety. Mossberg places the slide release right at the back of the trigger guard where it can easily be accessed with your hand in shooting position. This is also true of the ambidextrous tang-mounted safety button, which can be flicked with your thumb without removing your hand from the grip.
The 590A1 is a heavy gun, and very purposeful looking (the name of the model is the “Persuader”). The barrel is parkerized, and the rest of the bits are done in matte black, and it has a black plastic (“polymer”) stock. It looks especially menacing with a bayonet attached.
It also has a very stiff action right out of the box. This specimen has a few rounds through it, and is starting to loosen up a bit.
This gun is outfitted with a 6-round butt-cuff ammo carrier and a black nylon web sling with quick-detach swivels. Both accessories together cost about $20.
Remington 870 Tactical
The test gun we had featured a SureFire forend with a built-in tactical light, and a Hogue overmolded stock with a short pull length, as well as a 5-round butt-cuff ammo carrier.
The Remington has a smoother action from the get-go, and it was easy to shoot and cycle the action. The SureFire forend does tend to make the gun more muzzle-heavy than it would be otherwise, but it still pointed nicely.
One difference between the Remington and Mossberg, at least these two models, is that the Remington has a simple bead front sight and no rear sight.
The other difference, as mentioned before, is the location of the slide release and safety button. On the Remington, the slide relesase is located at the front of the trigger guard, and the safety is a cross-bolt type button at the rear of the trigger guard.
The butt-cuff cartridge carriers on these shotguns are an inexpensive and convenient way to carry extra ammo. They aren’t perfect, though. I had the experience of shooting some 3″ 00 Buckshot rounds through the 590 and the recoil knocked a few shells right out of the carrier.
There are plastic carriers available that are more secure, but they cost more, and usually are mounted to the side of the receiver using screws, so the installation is slightly more involved.
The SureFire forend on the Remington is a nice piece of equipment, as it allows you to toggle on and off a high-intensity tactical light without removing your hand from the forend. The downside is the weight and bulk (the gun was hard to stuff into a soft-sided case), and expense. They run upwards of $250 to about $350, depending on the options selected.
Our conclusions were that both are good choices if you want a purely defensive gun, but don’t have much utility or versatility as sporting arms, especially the Mossberg.
If you want something that will serve in multiple roles, the more hunting-oriented models of these guns might serve better, as they give you barrel choices and the abiltiy to use different chokes.