Without a doubt the Mossberg 500 is one of the most popular shotguns in the United States. It’s one of the two big boys in the industry. The Remington 870 is the only shotgun that comes close to the Mossberg in popularity. The Mossberg serves police, the military, hunters and of course people who need a reliable weapon for self-defense.
The shotgun has always been a go-to weapon for home defense, powerful and reliable, easy to handle and devastating at close range. Since pump shotguns like the Mossberg 500 are manually operated weapons, their chance of malfunction are slim. They are also much easier to shoot accurately than a pistol. They are also affordable; a name-brand shotgun like the Mossberg 500 is about half the price of a quality pistol.
So we all know the 12 gauge is powerful and has been the go-to standard for the fighting shotgun. The 12 gauge has such a reputation that anything smaller is almost ignored in a defensive shotgun. The 12 gauge is great for fighting, but it’s not perfect for everyone. It suffers from a few disadvantages. For instance, recoil. Trying to rapidly fire, pump and acquire a target with a 12 gauge takes both training and practice.
Calibers like the .410 and 20 gauge are suitable for self-defense believe it or not, especially in the short range of most homes.
This article leans to the Mossberg 410 HS (aka the Home Security).
The .410 as a round has undergone quite the revolution. We can’t ignore the fact the incredibly popular Taurus Judge has brought new interest to the .410 round and a slew of affordable and modern defensive loads. Prior to the popularity of the Judge the .410 was pretty much limited to bird and buckshot, which was more expensive than regular old 12 gauge. These days plenty of companies are producing new and powerful rounds for the .410.
I first saw this shotgun way back when I was a kid, at a gun show, and it caught my eye because of its unique appearance.
The Mossberg .410 is built on the 500E series of shotguns, and packs a few unique features in a lightweight package. When I say lightweight I mean 5.5 pounds, making this a comfortable and easy to manipulate package.
The barrel is 18.5 inches, just toeing the limit of a non-NFA shotgun. Again, the short barrel makes it very maneuverable in close quarters. At the end of the barrel an unusual muzzle brake is what Mossberg calls a spreader choke. The term “choke” may be a little misleading since it does the opposite of choke anything. The point of this choke is to give the same performance you would get from a short-barreled shotgun with a barrel around 14 inches.
The design of this weapon was built to be comfortable and maneuverable. Mossberg really went out of their way to design a shotgun perfect for close quarters use. Oh, did I the mention the stock pistol grip pump? I’m a big fan of forend pistol grips on rifles, but this was the first time I used one on a shotgun. It looks odd with the classic style stock and fore grip, but it is very comfortable to use. The pistol grip gives it a very firm grip, and also makes it very easy to control. Short stroking is nearly impossible with the dedicated forend grip.
The spread is quite impressive and very effective on man-sized targets with number four buckshot and double and triple ought buck. Also, the Winchester .410 PDX gives decent results with a mix of the three plates and the birdshot behind it; the Judge’s shallow rifling does seem to make the plates more accurate, though.
Now the combination of the .410 round and the spreader choke gives you a safety advantage. Twelve gauge buckshot that clings together is more likely to penetrate walls and carries a greater risk of hitting an innocent person. The .410 is a weaker round, and less likely to over penetrate, and after penetrating walls it rapidly loses velocity, making it less lethal and less likely to cause death or grievous harm. Throw in the spreader choke and it’s even less likely to over penetrate and cause harm.
Firing the weapon is very easy to do; the recoil and muzzle rise is absolutely nonexistent and rapid shots are a breeze. Engaging multiple targets is simple for my 6-foot-4 frame and my wife’s petite 5-foot-8 frame. She shudders, flinches, and closes her eyes when firing a 12 gauge but is incredibly confident with the Home Security model.
That’s where this shotgun has found its niche: smaller-framed individuals who aren’t confident with a larger caliber shotgun.
I actually took a few friends rabbit hunting shortly after buying the shotgun and took it out for a spin. The sun started to go down and we started to head in after bagging half a dozen between the three of us when two plump rabbits took off in front of us. The sun was low, and the thicket we pursued them through made our poor light situation worse.
So a flashlight in one hand and the HS in the other, we followed them. I took the first shot I had, and it was a one handed shot. Even one handed I scored a headshot, and a plump rabbit. Controlling this shotgun is a breeze.
Now besides shooting rabbits, I took it out to the dried lake I shoot in and tested some different loads. I stood 15 yards from the target, which would be pretty long in a home defense scenario. First off was some slugs, I didn’t have any superbly powerful slugs, so these were standard Winchester ¼ slugs. At 15 yards the slugs all grouped in the 10 ring. There are definitely some more powerful slugs out there, I wouldn’t advise cheap ¼ ounce slugs for self-defense.
Next was Federal Number 4, which at 15 yards covered the target from side to side. It’s doubtful this would be lethal, but it would hurt real bad. It’s also pretty hard to miss with number four. Number four could be the first round used for home defense, followed by a more lethal load.
Next was good old buckshot, a three inch load contained five pellets and the two and a half inch contained three. The 2 ½ inch had hardly any recoil, and the 3 inch had a little more, but not much. The pellets spread out to about the size of a fist with Winchester brand buck shot. I used these for some two target drills, and transitions from target to target were swift and easy. This shotgun felt very much like a point and click affair.
I’ll admit reloads are a little trickier than with the big 12 gauge rounds. It’s a training issue one has to get past if they’re used to the gripping surface a 12 gauge round gives you. Using a bandolier it’s pretty easy to grab multiple rounds when trying to pull a single one out.
For fun this gun is awesome to fire from the hip. The front pistol grip gave me a Tommy gun feeling. Shooting some number 7 1/2 in the berm as fast as I could brought a smile to my face.
The last round I tested was the Winchester PDX round. The round is three copper coated plates with 12 bbs behind it. At 15 yards the three plates spread slightly, but were close enough to all be touching. The 12 BBS were a different story. They went everywhere, six or so followed the disk and patterned around the main hole, four went high, and I couldn’t find the other two so they either missed the entire target or went through the main hole the disks created.
PDX round after PDX round created the same groups with the disk but the bbs seem to pattern randomly everywhere. First off anything that comes from the barrel of a gun is dangerous, but are the bbs lethal by themselves? Could they penetrate drywall? I doubt it, but they still pose a risk of an uncontrolled projectile. It’s a question you’ll have to ask yourself if it will be an issue in your home.
Outside of a home defense weapon it can be packed away as a trunk gun, it’s a good compromise in power and handiness. It’s small, lightweight and pretty versatile. It can be used to hunt small to medium game, as well as being a potent defensive tool. It will stay in my trunk until it warms up and hunting season ends and I can no longer bag a few rabbits along the dirt road I live on.
The Mossberg HS 410 may not be the most potent caliber for shotguns, but it’s quite effective. If you can handle a 12 gauge or even a 20 gauge, then I’ll always suggest taking a larger weapon, but if not the HS is a great shotgun, at a great price, and it’s made in America.