The Mossberg 590 Goes Small

The Mossberg 590 is a legendary fighting shotgun. I can say that because it’s never pretended to be anything but a fighting shotgun. There was a time when the military used an odd mishmash of shotguns. This included the Remington 870, the Ithaca 37, the Winchester Model 1200, and more. The military wanted to standardize as best they could and put the call out for a new shotgun. Mossberg responded with the 500 series, but the stock 500 lacked some of the features the military wanted.

aiming mossberg shotgun
A set of ghost ring sights makes it easy to throw precise shots.

The military liked the shotgun, but it wasn’t meeting their requirements entirely. As such, Mossberg modified the 500 to meet the military’s expectations by adding a blowout option to the tube. Instead of using the traditional Mossberg 500 barrel and magazine tube, they altered both to allow the end user to open the magazine tube and ‘blow’ it out.

These original military-modified guns are known as the M500, and the military ordered 5,900 of them. After the original 5,900 were produced, Mossberg changed the name from M500 to the 590.

The Micro-Sized 590s

This historically 12 gauge configuration now comes in both 20 gauge and .410 bore. These two represent the other two most popular calibers outside of 12 gauge. These lower caliber guns result in lower powered but lighter weight and lower recoiling shotguns. The Mossberg 500 series has historically been built in every shotgun caliber under the sun, but the 590s are brand new.

590 minis in nature
The 590 Minis as I call them both have their place.

Though the 590 series has always been tactically oriented shotguns, most 20 gauge and 410 shotguns are not produced for tactical use. They tend to be sporting platforms. The new 590 series shrinks the barrel to a manageable length and increases capacity beyond the typical five-round limit.

mossberg 590 410 markings
I didn’t think I’d ever see a 590 in .410.

The mini 590s are an interesting option for those who are fans of shotguns but can’t handle the weight and recoil of the 12 gauge option. If I had to guess, the Mossberg Mini 590s come from the Shockwave series.

gun markings
The 20 gauge 590 originated with the Shockwave series.

Shockwaves were built on the 590 platform, and Mossberg introduced a .410 and 20 gauge version. There were also 590 variants. It seemed fairly natural for the guns to evolve into actual shotguns rather than pistol grip-only firearms.

“Cute” Shotguns

The 20 gauge variant is fine, but it seemingly uses the 12 gauge receiver and design with a 20 gauge barrel and magazine tube. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does add a little unnecessary weight and bulk. But when we come to the .410 variant… it’s just cute. Would you look at it?

Shotgun bores
The bore difference between a 20 gauge and a .410 bore is nuts.

How can you not look at this little pump-action fighting shotgun and say it’s not cute? Sure, it’s all black, with plastic furniture and a matte finish, but the small receiver, barrel, and magazine tube make the whole thing absolutely adorable. It’s just cute, and if shotguns can’t be cute, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

The standard 12 gauge variant of the Mossberg 590 weighs 7.75 pounds. It’s not super heavy, but it’s beefy. The 20 gauge variant cuts the weight to 7 pounds, which is not a bad reduction. The .410 variant shrinks down to a very small and manageable 5.6 pounds. Mossberg’s website says the .410 weighs seven pounds, but my scale says 5.6 lbs. Maybe someone forgot to weigh the Micro 590s separately.

ammo for 590s
The 590 now comes in 12 gauge, 2 gauge, and .410 Bore.

Both guns feature a 13.87-inch length of pull. For many, that might feel a little long. It’s the stock standard LOP for Mossberg shotguns. For my big gorilla-length arms, it’s just right. For smaller shooters, who are likely attracted to the smaller guns, a shorter LOP might be important. The Magpul SGA stock will fit the 20 gauge variant. For the .410, you’ll need to look for a Youth or Bantam length stock.

At the Range

I used a good mix of different loads between the two guns. I quickly became annoyed by how hard it was to find .410 buckshot. Holy crap, who is buying it all! Luckily, 20 gauge was easier to find and cheaper. With that in mind, I brought the 12 gauge version to the range to compare and contrast the three guns.

bead sight
This thing is begging for a Defender Tactical HighBall sight.

On the accuracy front, both guns are shotguns. They aren’t being used at extensive ranges, and I’m not grouping them. I’m observing for patterns and point of impact/point of aim differences. The Mossberg-style shotguns place a bead directly on the barrel, which, unfortunately, tends to make the guns appear to shoot high.

Defender Tactical makes the famous High Ball sight to correct this. Using stock standard buckshot is not a huge issue, but slugs appear to hit considerably higher. If you just want a buckshot gun, you won’t run into any problems unless someone makes 20 gauge or 410 Flitecontrol. Pattern-wise, both guns use cylinder-bore chokes, and the pattern is about what you’d expect.

Mossberg 590 fronts
Both guns offer full-length tubes and seven-shot capacities.

It depends a bit more on the ammo than the gun. Within home defense ranges, the patterns are about eight inches with the twenty gauge and six inches with the .410. The .410 is only throwing three to five pellets depending on the length of the load. The 20 gauge was firing a nine pellet No.1 buckshot load.

Shucking and Shooting

The .410 and 20 Gauge guns were both super reliable and comfortable to shoot. The 20-gauge punches are a little harder than the .410, but both are easy to control. The .410 feels more like a 5.56-round than any shotgun. With the lower recoil and weight, both guns are easier to wield and maneuver with.

590 minis in nature
The mini 590s are great defensive options for those who prefer low recoil.

The .410 continued to be cute, and the little poof after each round fired revealed this little push to my shoulder. While the 20 gauge was more intense, it still didn’t feel anything close to the 12 gauge version. I didn’t need to use a push/pull technique to shoot the 20 gauge faster than the 12 gauge.

Both guns were hyper-reliable, and both were super easy to use. They live up to the 590s’ famed design and make their bigger brother proud.

What’s the 20 gauge for?

If I wanted one of these two guns for self-defense, I’d use the 20 gauge version. Nine pellets of No. 1 buckshot is more than enough to stop a threat. No.1 buckshot is very capable, and the lower recoil makes it easier to handle. If you had recoil issues with a 12 gauge, then 20 gauge would be a great go-to weapon.

What’s the .410 For?

The .410 would work for home defense, but if you are that recoil-sensitive, I’d probably say you should grab a 5.56 rifle rather than a .410 shotgun. The super lightweight and handy design makes it a great option as a working gun. It can be loaded to deal with all sorts of varmints, and its affordability and lightweight design make it great as a working gun. It’s a gun you keep on the ATV or in the beater truck for use around the property. It can kill snakes and pests like squirrels, coyotes, and hogs as well.

The Mini 590s In Living Color

I think the mini 590s are great additions to the world of tactical shotguns. These little, lightweight shotguns are powerful and very handy. They offer a dedicated low recoil option for the shotgunner, and they extend capacity to seven rounds while keeping the gun short and light for easy, close-range use. While they might not have the glory of the twelve gauges, they are another awesome option for smaller shooters who prefer the scattergun.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap