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The One Shotgun That Passed The U.S. Military’s Torture Test

The One Shotgun That Passed The U.S. Military’s Torture Test

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If the average gun owner is asked what the most important weapon to own for home defense is, the answer often is the 12-gauge shotgun. Yes, some will say go with a pistol and others will prefer a semi-automatic rifle, but the 12 gauge is probably the most commonly recommended firearm for home defense.

There’s good reason for that. Twelve gauge 00 buckshot or any other kind of defensive load is devastating at close range and will incapacitate the attacker, likely with only a single shot. The pump-action shotgun itself is a very rugged, reliable and simple weapon that practically anybody can pick up and quickly learn how to use.

Many will claim that the pump-action design is now outdated in the age of automatic rifles such as the AR-15 or AK-47, and indeed, there are some very high-quality semi-automatic shotguns out there. That said, semi-auto shotguns (at least the quality ones) almost always tend to be more expensive than pump actions, and they also can be just a little more finicky with certain types of ammo. For those reasons, the pump action is still an excellent defensive weapon even in the 21st century and likely will continue to be for many years to come.

Be Prepared. Learn The Best Ways To Hide Your Guns.

The next question then is: What is the absolute best 12-gauge pump-action shotgun for home defense? Well, if you knew that there was only one pump shotgun that has passed the U.S. military’s brutal and unforgiving torture test, you would probably agree that that shotgun would be a top contender, right?

The specific shotgun is the Mossberg 590A1, a further development of the hugely successful Mossberg 500 and 590 series of shotguns. The 590A1 incorporates all of the same features of the 590 and then makes several improvements of its own. The overall weapon itself is insanely rugged and durable.

Why It’s So Rugged

First of all, let’s become familiar with how the Mossberg 500 series of shotguns work. The 500/590 is a very basic pump shotgun that features a polymer safety, trigger guard, and blued barrels (that are easily interchangeable). The safeties of Mossberg 500s are ambidextrous and located behind the receiver, while the slide release lever is located behind the trigger guard for convenience.

Right off the bat, the 590A1 uses more durable materials than the 500 and 590. All of the parts of the gun are constructed out of aluminum (trigger guard, safety, slide release lever, etc.). Furthermore, the 590A1 also uses a heavier durable barrel that is intended to better take abuse, as well.

The overall finish of the 590A1 is parkerized, which is rust- and corrosion-resistant in contrast to the standard bluing of the 500 or 590 that will require constant care and attention. In other words, the 590A1 is a shotgun you can take out in wet environments and not have to worry as much about.

Granted, 500 and 590 models called the Mariner are made in a corrosion-resistant stainless steel finish (called Marinecote), but these specific models tend to be significantly more expensive.

Additional notable features of the 590A1 includes a bayonet lug on the front for mounting an M7 bayonet. The 590A1 also incorporates a swivel mount on the stock for easily adding a sling. In contrast to this, you generally have to add the swivels yourself to the 500 or 590, which, of course, increases the amount of money you have to spend. The 590A1 will have a 6+1, 7+1, or 8+1 capacity, depending on the model that you get.

All in all, the 590A1 is essentially the ultimate pump-action combat shotgun and a superb choice for home defense or personal protection. The Remington 870 is also a great shotgun, no doubt, but keep in mind it was the 590A1 that passed the military’s torture test, which says a lot about its capabilities and quality.

Do you own a 590A1? What is your favorite pump-action shotgun? Share your tips in the section below:

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns For Home Defense. Read More Here.

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  1. The tang safety for me puts it over the top. The open shell lifter is both good and bad. Great for removing shell if shell stop fails (had a bear of a time removing a Rem. 870 shell that did that – this is before the slotted gate). But it also opens up the bottom to debris getting caught inside action. This firearm is the standard 500, NOT the 590.

  2. The photo is a mossberg 590 but not a 590a1. Mossberg 500’s do not have a bayonet lug as this one does which also has a heat shield, not available for the 590a1.

    • I have a 590A1, and this looks like one to me. Very few 590’s have a parkerized finish (most are blued like the 500’s as you probably know). This likely isn’t a stock 590A1 with the wood furniture either unless it’s old, but I doubt it. That said, the heat shields are available for the 590A1 (and were a requirement for the MIL-S-3443G specifications for a Type 1 shotgun). They have a wider dimension to accommodate the thicker barrel profile, and they are a little harder to get, but you can call Mossberg and order them, or you can get them through dealers such as Aimpro Tactical for about $60. The purpose, by the way, is to use the heat shield with a bayonet in the event the barrel is hot when you’re out of ammo and need it. It’s ironic they make heat shields readily available for the non-bayonet versions, but those thinner ones work on the 590’s as well.

  3. My Mossberg 500 ATP works just fine, especially since I bought it in the early 80’s.

  4. I left a comment here regarding this shotgun that for some reason was removed so I guess that’ll be the last time I’ll be commenting on your site.

  5. I have the 20″ U.S. Service Model 590A1, and it’s my favorite; but honestly, I’ve had a Benelli SuperNova and a Browning BPS to compare it to, and they’re all very good in their own way. I sold those and kept this is one that answers the author’s question about which is my favorite pump-action shotgun. I think the action is comparable, but I like the shell lifter better than the others I owned. Browning has the bottom eject that I like being an ambi shooter, but then you can’t drop a load in from the side ejection port (even from the bottom). Although the Benelli has more accessories than the Browning, neither touch the Mossberg 500/590/590A1 aftermarket support. For ensuring best patterns, however, I’d have to say Benelli and Browning are probably a step up, but there are fixes for that if you want to go to Aimpro Tactical and get some customization done.

    I do have one beef though. Technically speaking, I think it’s misleading to say the 590A1 is MilSpec because the length of pull supposed to be between 13 and 5/8th and 14 inches as specified in the MIL-S-3443G specification. These are 14.25 inches. Normally I wouldn’t be hung up on such a thing, but the LOP is a bit long for someone like me who is just shy of 6 feet. If you don’t have unusually long arms, then you’re likely going to end up spending more money to shorten the LOP (and that’s another $100 if you get the ubiquitous Magpul SGA stock).

  6. But Remington 870 was used by military too and it could not get to the military without passing their test, right?

  7. The origins of the term are thought to be that it is like a “shotgun” in spraying receivers around the field.

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