Why Your First Shotgun Should be a Mossberg or Remington

Oh boy, shotguns are blowing up these days. Lots of people are seeing the wisdom of the gauge and embracing the scattergun. Finding your first shotgun can be an adventure, but I’m here to put a stop to that. Your first shotgun should be a Mossberg 500/590 series or a Remington 870. There are many great shotguns out there, but there are also many terrible ones.

Shotguns from foreign sources, including Turkey and China, have been pumped into the United States en masse at often low prices. They also often try to capitalize on uniqueness or weirdness to look tactical. These weird shotguns paired with low prices tend to attract new shotgun owners. Sadly, I have to put a stop to this debauchery.

Rock Island VR Series shotguns
Rock Island does support the VR series, but I don’t think they are the best choice for a first-time shotgun.

At least as your first shotgun. It’s fine to experiment, I’m quite inclusive, but I think your first time should be with a Mossberg 500 series or Remington 870 series shotgun. Some of you might be saying, but I bought a Beretta 1301 or Benelli M4! Yeah, you picked a great gun, and more power to you. However, most first-time shotgun owners aren’t going to spend over a grand on a shotgun. If you are, great, you have exquisite taste.

The Problem

I see it all the time on social media pages dedicated to firearms. “What do you think about the XYZ shotgun?” Typically the name is long and unheard of since it’s something newly imported from a foreign source.

First, what is the problem with Turkish and Chinese shotguns?

Well, some suck. A lot of them, especially the bullpup, magazine-fed variants, are quickly made, dumped into the market, and abandoned. This leads to guns breaking and buyers being left holding the promise of a warranty for a company that doesn’t exist.

Remington 870 MCS modern warfare guns
The Marine Corps used Remington for a short period.

They might be unreliable, magazines will likely be tough to find, and they’ll be impossible to accessorize, fix, or use long term. Some guns work fine. The VR series from Armscor and Rock Island Armory do very well and maintain support. However, I still think they aren’t a great choice for your first shotgun.

Your First Shotgun

Why are Mossberg and Remington shotguns the natural choice for a first-time shotgun owner? First and foremost, they are incredibly common and easy to find.

If you post, “What does every think about the Mossberg 500/590 series or Remington 870 series?” You’ll get dozens of replies because the Mossberg’s been produced since 1961, and the Remington 870 has been produced since 1950. They’ve been around the block a time or two, and if they didn’t work, they wouldn’t be nearly as popular.

Mossberg 590A1
The Mossberg 590A1 Tactical is wildly popular among shotgunners and home defenders alike. (Photo credit: Mossberg)

Not only are they reliable, but they are also affordable. They cost less than the lowest tier budget-grade shotgun for a basic model. You can get your first shotgun for a low price point without worrying about reliability. Those semi-auto, magazine-fed, no-name, bullpup shotguns will cost more than either and won’t be near as reliable.

A pump-action can be a solid first shotgun choice. The manual action of a pump gun means it’s friendly to all sorts of ammo types. You won’t need to worry about feet per second, dram, shot weight, or more. It will cycle whatever you put through it, as long as the shell meets the min and max shell lengths. (Shell length is far from complicated.)

Customize It

Mossberg and Remington’s shotguns offer you AR-15 like levels of customization. People like to accessorize, and sometimes those accessories are a must-have. If you want a shorter or more tactical stock, a light, a magazine extension, and more, it’s much easier to customize a Remington or Mossberg.

A lot of those cheaper imported shotguns won’t have much of an aftermarket. Heck, even the Benelli M4’s aftermarket is rather small in comparison. Plus, you get top-tier accessories for these firearms from Surefire, Nordic comp, and more. Those cheap foreign import shotguns won’t have any accessorizes unless a major company imports them.

Mossberg 500 Retrograde and Mossberg 590A1 with Surefire and Streamlight weapon lights.
Who Doesn’t Like accessories?

Beyond tactical tack-on, the Mossberg and Remington offer a multitude of barrel lengths and barrel designs. You can turn a tactical shotgun into a hunting shotgun by changing the barrel. Heck, you can turn it into a slug gun with a rifled barrel. Mossberg even has a barrel that allows the weapon to be a single shot muzzleloader.

If you purchase a Mossberg or Remington as your first shotgun, it could very well be your last shotgun. It can be converted to accomplish a number of tasks quite easily. You can make one your own, and it’ll be a fantastic firearm that will last you forever.

Hell, if you really want a bullpup shotgun, there are kits to convert your Remington 870 and Mossberg 500/590 into a bullpup pump-action shotgun.

So Remington or Mossberg?

Remington went bankrupt, got bought, and only recently started putting out new 870s. Prior to Remington going under, they were having some serious QC problems. However, most Remingtons do offer a rock-solid, well-made shotgun. They tend to be a little pricier than Mossbergs, but not a ton more expensive.

lightweight shotgun Mossberg 590A1 reload.
A good pump gun will take you far.

Mossberg 500/590 series offer a slightly lower price. They tend to be a little less fancy with their aluminum receivers and sloppy actions, but they work wonderfully. Plus, they come in a ton of different configurations, from the U.S. military-approved 590A1 to the simple is as simple does Mossberg 500 Retrograde. I tend to be more or of a Mossberg guy, but somehow I still own four 870s, so take it for what you will.

One or the Other

When it comes to getting your first shotgun, you might as well choose a gun that is guaranteed to grow and adapt to new situations. The Mossberg and Remington shotguns will do just that. They offer an affordable, high-quality shotgun that’s easy to find, easy to work on, and easy to customize.

These guns will shoot true and provide you with a practical option for any shotgun task on the books. These guns can be used to shoot skeet, defend the home, hunt birds, take deer and hogs, and even compete in 3-gun or similar sports. If they break you can get them fixed, but they aren’t likely to break.

Make your first shotgun a good one.

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.

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