Back on June 24th I bought a new Mossberg 500 Mariner 12 gauge pump shotgun, to be used as a home defense gun. I got it to the range for the first time on July 3rd.
The gun has an 18.5" cylinder bore barrel and a capacity of 5+1. It's bone stock except for a Limbsaver recoil pad, a sling in QD Uncle Mike's swivels, and an Allen elastic butt cuff for spare ammo. The sling will be coming off once it's put into the Mossberg Loc-Box that I bought for keeping the gun in my closet; I don't want it hanging up on anything in the house.
I shot it at ~10 yards and 25 yards with three kinds of ammo, all 12 gauge 2-3/4" shells:
- Remington Express OO buck
- Winchester Ranger low recoil OO buck
- Federal low recoil Tru-Ball slugs
At 10 yards, the Remington buck stayed on a 9" paper plate. At 25 yards the pattern opened up significantly, but enough to put most of the load into an aggressor's chest. The Winchester Ranger buckshot did not pattern as well as the Remington. It would be interesting to see how each load would do through a choked barrel.
I had wanted to try Federal low recoil OO buck with Flite-Control wads, but the online vendors I checked with were all out of stock. I hope to pick up some and give them a try in the future. Another buckshot load that I think will be worth trying will be Remington's reduced recoil OO buck loaded with 8 pellets, vs. the standard 9 pellet loading.
I was very impressed with the Tru-Ball slugs. They recoiled noticeably less than even the Winchester low recoil buckshot, and seemed pretty accurate. My Mossberg has only a bead front sight but it was easy to keep all my shots on a paper plate at 25 yards with the slugs. I have no doubt that they would group much better if the gun had rifle sights. However, since my intended use for it is home defense at across-the-room range, I am planning to keep the factory bead sight.
The Mossberg had no malfunctions. The first round of Winchester buckshot which I fired required an extra strong tug on the forearm to eject it, but that's an ammo issue, not a gun issue, IMO. Follow rounds of Winchester also exhibited sticky extraction, though not quite as bad. Aside from that, the gun ran well and has a smooth action. I was able to rapidly put lead on target out at 25 yards, which serves my purpose and then some. I would not hesitate to grab it if I needed to go into harm's way.
The Limbsaver recoil pad works well. Compared with other 12 bore guns with recoil pads that I've fired, the Limbsaver is much more effective in taking the sting out. That is not to say the gun is a powder puff. About 30 rounds was all I could comfortably handle before the recoil started bothering me. Between my friends and I, we put about 60 rounds through the gun today.
I'm dissappointed with the Winchester Ranger low recoil buck, so I'm glad I bought only 25 rounds of it. The 3 remaining boxes of Winchester buckshot will be used for practice only. (Note that this load may run fine and pattern well in your gun. Try it in your gun before writing it off.)
I am very pleased with the Mossberg 500 Mariner shotgun, the Limbsaver recoil pad, Remington buckshot and Federal Tru-Ball low recoil slugs. I'm looking forward to more trigger time with the Mossberg.