By Sam Trisler
O.F. Mossberg & Sons
When I hear someone talking about a Mossberg, I think of dependable shotguns that get the job done. They might not have all of the bells and whistles of their more expensive competition, but they work. Work is the key word here. Mossberg is a workingman’s gun. Mossberg has been making the 930 auto-loading shotgun since 2005. It has proven itself as a versatile scattergun for hunting and reliable tool for defense. It also doesn’t break the bank. Though the latest 930 is dressed up in Duck Commander haute couture, this scattergun is first and foremost a Mossberg and could make a good all-around gun for turkey, ducks, or upland birds.
Mossberg sent us a 930 Duck Commander for review in late January, right at the tail end of duck season. Now that the rush to get it into the field is over, I’ve spent some more time with the 930 and have given it a more thorough testing. It is proving to be versatile and reliable autoloader and could be an ideal choice for the spring turkey season.
The 930 Duck Commander by the numbers
The 930 Mossberg Duck Commander model comes with a 28-inch barrel. This is a great barrel length for duck hunting. I personally like my duck guns with a 28-inch barrel, especially when hunting from a blind. This length helps cut down on the amount you have to turn your body for the pass shots at birds. I prefer a 26-inch barrel for upland birds or for the quicker snap shots. The Mossberg webpage lists the Duck Commander 930’s barrel as the shorter 26 inches. The Robertsons originally requested that the Duck Commander guns have the shorter barrels, but Mossberg changed them to 28 inches due to that length’s popularity with the majority of duck hunters. And the gun isn’t exceptionally heavy, so it is easy to move, even with the extra inches.
The 930 comes with full, improved cylinder and modified choke tubes. There is also a simple stamped-metal wrench in the box. These three tubes should cover most every shooter’s preference for duck hunting. Any aftermarket choke tubes that fit Mossberg barrels with the Accu-Choke threading are compatible and easy to install.
Like the normal line of 930 Mossbergs, this one is chambered for 2 ¾ and 3” shells. Unlike the regular 930s, the Duck Commander 930 is dipped in the new Realtree Max-5 waterfowl pattern, which was released in January 2014. Only the Duck Commander Mossbergs are finished in the Max-5 pattern. If you are familiar with Realtree’s Max-4 pattern, Max-5 is similar but a little lighter in color. When put next to my Max-4 gear, I notice fewer browns and more light greens. The Max-5 has plenty of reeds, cattails, cane and grasses for marsh concealment. It also has some corn, sunflower and wheat (in case you want to hunt in fields). There are even some twigs, leaves and what looks like a sun-bleached log for flooded timber camouflage. The only prominent deviation is the Duck Commander flying duck emblem that’s carved into the stock.
The front sight on the Duck Commander models is different from the standard offerings from Mossberg. The other waterfowl 930 has a single color (red) front fiber optic sight. The Duck Commander has a TruGlo Tru-Bead dual-color fiber optic. It has a bright neon yellow ring with a red dot in the middle. It is super easy to pick out, but it is so bright that it is easy to focus on it and not on what you are aiming at. So practice with it. A lot. Like you needed an excuse….
The fit on the review 930 is good. The forend is a tad wobbly on the end next to the receiver where it is not supported. The finish is well applied and covered everything thing except the bolt, trigger and recoil pad. Overall, the Mossberg feels good and shoulders quickly. Mossberg also ships these with a stock spacer system to help fit the shotgun to your frame. These are spacers that either increase or decrease the drop of the stock and are nice extras. Every stock Mossberg shotgun I have owned or shot slaps me on the cheekbone when I pull the trigger. The insert that drops the comb usually fixes this.
The 930 weighs under eight pounds, empty. It comes with a magazine plug installed, so it will only hold 2+1 (which helps keep it legal for migratory bird hunting). The trigger pull on the review gun is one of the nicer Mossberg shotgun triggers I have felt. Its travel is short and it breaks very clean at 5.2 pounds. I wouldn’t call the trigger guard oversized by any means, but it is big enough that I was able to get a gloved finger inside it with plenty of room.
There’s one feature I would like to point out that is standard on the Mossberg 930 line. There is a neat little trick that makes unloading the shotgun easier than most. To get the shells out of the magazine, you press the loading gate in and then push the bolt release button. The 930 will eject the shells without having to cycle them. This is a pretty handy little safety feature.
The MSRP on this model is $864. These are shipping to retailers, and there should be plenty available by the time the next season rolls around. At the time of writing, there is not a clear street price, but I expect these to sell for about $100 more than the standard models without the Duck Commander treatment, at least until everyone who wants one has one.
As a gun reviewer, I sometimes try to set up a gun to fail in a “real world” sort of way. For example, this is a gun that is designed for duck hunting, so it should function in a cold and wet environment. It is not a military-style weapon that needs to function after taking a prolonged bath in the lake or being buried in the sand. There’s no need to bake it into a cake, or run it through the dishwasher, or whatever you’re supposed to do to plastic pistols. And I’m not talking about subjecting a review gun to excessive abuse. For the Duck Commander, I fired a number of different shells in cold, wet weather that would be common for a duck gun. And I didn’t clean it (other than the removal of the excess of oil that most new firearms ship with). I also ran a variety of loads to see how well it would cycle them.
The first day of the short-notice hunt was anything but nice. The temperatures were between 0 and 10 while we were in the blind. During and after the hunt, I ran at least a box of 3” Kent Fasteel number 3 shells through the 930. They all cycled fine, but there was one light firing pin strike. I attribute this to the extreme (extreme to this southerner) cold thickening the lubricant in the firing pin channel.
The week after the hunt, I took the 930 back out to the field for more testing. The weather this time was a bit warmer, mid 40s, but there was some light drizzle and snow falling. I first ran a couple of boxes of Estate 2 ¾ target loads in #7 ½ and #8 to see how the 930 would cycle the lightest shells I could find. Mossberg has made great strides in the reliability of its auto loaders, and they can cycle a wide range of loads. I ran the light 2 ¾ shells all together to see if the gas system would gunk up without being blown out by the higher pressures of the 3” rounds. But it was able to cycle everything I threw at it. And there’s a noticeable difference in the felt recoil with the light Estate, which don’t kick anything like the full power waterfowl loads. Yet the 930 kept on running.
I did get two more light firing pin strikes, both with the target shells. When I broke the bolt down to give it a cleaning after the testing, I didn’t notice anything that could have been blocking the firing pin channel, and it didn’t have an excess of oil. If this were my personal gun, and the light strikes continued, I would change out the spring and see if it was the culprit. Over the course of firing more than 500 rounds, I experienced three failures due to light strikes on the primers. But that was the extent of the problems.
Due to the tight timeframe of getting this gun into the field before duck season was over, I didn’t have a chance to pattern it before the hunt. Better late than never, I guess. I prefer to duck hunt with a full choke to have that little bit of extra reach if the incoming ducks decide to put on the brakes. So I screwed it in and went for it.
I patterned three different steel duck hunting loads out of the 930. These were all done from 25 yards using the
full choke included with the gun.
Kent #3 Fasteels. These are my normal go-to ducking hunting shells. They are fast (1400 fps for the 1 1/4 oz loads), reliable and don’t break the bank.
Remington Sportsman Hi-speed Steel #3. Remington makes some steel loads that are faster than these, but the 1400 fps is plenty fast enough, and will save your shoulder a little. Not that recoil is necessarily mild on the 930 with any of these loads, but it is manageable.
Federal Black Cloud Phil Robertson Signature. What better round to test for the Duck Commander than the Black Clouds that carry Phil Robertson’s name? These are the normal Black Cloud FS in #3. Apparently these are what Phil uses or at least endorses.
Duck Dynasty and the Robertson family have almost become household names. They have marketed themselves as rednecks, hunters and as a God-fearing family of characters. The family has been in the duck call business since Phil started the company back in 1972. With the added success of the A&E show, they have expanded their brand by licensing their name and image to a plethora of products from drinking glasses to eyeglasses. They have been endorsed by the likes of Browning and Benelli, but there hasn’t been a Duck Commander branded shotgun until now.
All the Duck Commander hype aside, the 930 is a solid shotgun. Yes, this one had a couple of light primer hits. A new gun, right out of the box, shouldn’t have that happen, but it should be an easy fix. Other than this, the gun performed flawlessly.
Yet the Duck Commander branding is still the biggest selling point on this gun. Even if you could care less about the Duck Commander tie-in, the Realtree Max-5 cammo could be a deciding factor. It is a very good pattern. If you are a Mossberg fan and want the newest waterfowl pattern, this 930 would be a good choice. I personally will probably not switch out my Max-4 gear to the new Max-5, but they are close enough that they would blend together pretty well. If I had a negative thing to say about this pattern, it would be that it seems a little light in color. But that is being nitpicky. And what do I know? I’m not a duck.
If you are a big fan of Duck Dynasty and are looking for a new shotgun, then this might be the shotgun for you. I mean, you do get an American flag bandana like Willie wears on the show with it. Now if it only came with a beard….