Mossberg Unveils ‘Compact Cruisers,’ NFA-Required Shorties


Compact Cruisers feature ATI T3 grips and a folding forend with a loop for safety. (Photo: Mossberg)

This week Mossberg unveiled their new “Compact Cruisers,” which are essentially sub-compact versions of their 590A1 and 500 scatter guns. Fit with short barrels and magazine tubes these small shotguns have a 3- or 4-shot capacity.

These 12-gauge shorties are legally classified by the ATF as AOWs (Any Other Weapon) meaning that to purchase one of these cruisers it will require a $5 tax stamp for transfer in addition to all the NFA-required paperwork and hoops one has to jump through.

The Compact Cruisers have all the bells and whistles common to the 590A1 and 500 platforms, just in a smaller package.

Per the press release, the 590A1 Compact Cruiser AOW, model 51664, has a 10.25-inch heavy-walled, cylinder bore barrel with front bead sight and 3-inch chamber. It has a cleanout-type magazine tube and improved metal trigger guard and safety button. Both are built on anodized aluminum receivers with matching parkerized finishes on the steel components.

The 500 Compact Cruiser AOW, model 51697, features a 7.5-inch barrel with a cylinder bore and front bead sight. With its shorter magazine tube it has a 2+1 capacity.  The 500-series AOW will also be offered with an upgraded ATI package (model 51696) with a customizable side saddle for fast reloads and a rail for an optic like a red dot sight.

The 590A1 model has a suggested retail price of $980 where the even smaller 500-series model will start at $910.

ati mossberg aow 500

The upgraded ATI version of the new Mossberg 500 AOW. (Photo: Mossberg)


  • Chamber: 3-inch, 12 gauge
  • Capacity: 3+1
  • Barrel: 10.25 inch heavy-walled profile
  • Sights: Front bead
  • Cylinder Bore
  • Overall Length: 19.5 inches
  • Weight: 5.3 pounds


  • Chamber: 3-inch, 12 gauge
  • Capacity: 2+1
  • Barrel: 7.5-inch heavy-walled profile
  • Sights: Front bead, optional rail
  • Cylinder Bore
  • Overall Length: 17 inches
  • Weight: 4.9 pounds

Other features include the ATI T3 pistol grip, constructed of reinforced polymer and designed to absorb recoil energy before reaching the shooter’s hand. Less felt recoil reduces shooter discomfort and the time required to get back on target.

The T3’s non-slip textured finish provides for a positive grip. Adding to the shooter’s comfort and ease of cycling, the Compact Cruiser AOWs have contoured polymer forends with a durable, webbed strap. The forend can be folded down, assisting in recoil reduction, or folded up against the magazine tube for storage. Both the stock and foregrip feature a non-reflective black finish.

Many of us have a shotgun at the ready for home defense.  Shotguns are powerful, reliable, easy to use and, depending on the ammo used, they can put a lot of solid hits on target.  All of that is important, especially when you’re dead asleep at 2 a.m. and a home intruder comes crashing through your back door.

Yet, for many, the downside to shotguns for home defense is that you have to have a long gun by your bedside.  Depending on your living situation, whether or not you have children in the home and where your gun safe is respective to your bedroom (maybe your safe is downstairs and your bedroom is upstairs) this may prevent you from keeping a shotgun or a long gun near your bedside.  Instead, you may have to rely on a handgun in a smaller yet secure location.

It’s not a terrible situation, as handguns obviously work for home defense. But for those most comfortable using a shotgun for the job, these Compact Cruisers are a convenient option to have a highly portable and concealable pump gun at the ready.  Very cool.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Toby Emerson November 3, 2016, 8:51 pm

    regarding the short 12s they handle great recoils not bad, For use on. A float trip, as a survival tool for airplanes, or out in bush.
    The size and weight are perfect for carrying. Better Yet They ar. LEGAL

  • AnonymityIsAGoodThing September 23, 2016, 5:55 pm

    Now that these have been out for a little while… Can anybody that has one tell me if they feed mini shells? Or is the Opsol mini clip still the only way to feed the smaller shells?

    • Cronaghan October 6, 2016, 10:17 pm

      The opsol mini clip is the solution. The magazine well of these short barrels are identical to standard 500s.

  • richard September 5, 2016, 3:55 pm

    I would look at it more if they had a church key model I could put on my ar.

  • roger September 5, 2016, 5:17 am

    I rather like the shorty. Not that expensive for a factory made gun nicely thought out. (Grips) Regretfully in my state we cant own AOWs. Wish we could as I would have one in my arsenal.
    So I just have a KSG and a DP-12.

  • star September 3, 2016, 6:02 pm

    All of these gun manufacturers are making a killing under the Obama regime in gouging Americans. Mossberg is a low end line shotgun that is worth 200 dollars on a given day with plastic stocks. This era of all these militarized firearms being in vogue from the AR 15 to this Mossberg addition adds nothing to defense nor the requirements of offense. The muzzle blast and flash of this 12, with recoil, make this an imprudent choice, as no one is going to invest the 500 rounds required to learn how to handle a firearm like this in dealing with muzzle jump and aiming.
    In all sincerity my petite female cousin has a break action single shot 410 behind her couch for home defense, and like all of that genre are far superior to the Mossberg. This is not to state that not any experience is based on this conclusion as those cheap, pistol grip Norinco shotguns do service in predator hunting quite well. For home defense though, the Mossberg would be one of my last choices as too short of barrel is as much a handicap as choosing one of those mile long barreled Marlin Goose Guns of long ago.

    • C Ronaghan September 4, 2016, 6:37 pm

      Not sound like broken record, but I have had great luck with all my Mossbergs. As for petite females, I again suggest looking at the Aguila mini shells with the Opsol mini clip. Its a game changer combo for the recoil averse, and the buckshot hits hard enough. I really enjoy shooting shotguns now a lot.

    • Heavyguns31 September 7, 2016, 11:45 am

      Oh boy, another “shotgunner”….200$?? Single shot 410 better??…last choice?? What’s your first choice the Hi-Point 9mm with extendo super ninja “clip” or the norinco you mentioned? Short barrel handicap?? No one will “invest” 500 rounds? I did that over the last 2 weekends…Ugh….read the comment in response to Reinhard…you’ll learn something.

  • Mike September 3, 2016, 2:15 pm

    Yeah? So? Has anyone heard of the Serbu Shorty made right here in Florida. They have been making the same thing (with your choice of a Mossberg 500 or a Remingtom 870) for years now. I bought mine for $600 and a & $5 tax stamp. I think the best thing about it is the intimidation factor. I kicks like a MULE! Look up

  • Ari September 3, 2016, 10:52 am

    These are cute to look at but I’d want one in 20ga and have it Vang Comp’ed. I regularly shoot trap with a Vang Comp’ed Winchester Defender.

  • Reinhard September 2, 2016, 3:43 pm

    Like all things on the planet, there are good and bad aspects to defensive shotguns. When I worked for the sheriff’s department we had Remington 870s. They had wood stocks and either 18″ or 20″ barrels with cylinder bore chokes. For most department members, qualifying with them was optional. Those who worked transportation or perimeter security, including dog handlers, were mandated to qualify with them. The guns only had 2 3/4″ chambers and the issue ammo was Winchester 00 Buck police loads (12 pellets). Qualification distance was 50 feet at a man sized silhouette. The recoil was bad enough that over half of the department refused to qualify with them. The staff was 400 officers when I was hired and 800 when I retired. That is a lot of people who found the longer barreled guns objectionable to shoot.
    Another downside to shotguns for home defense is the spread f the shot. If one is shooting an intruder at 5 or 10 feet there won’t be any problem. If one is shooting someone at a longer distance, like across a large room or down a hall, some of the shot is going to miss the intended target which means damaging the house and/or furniture. Try this at the range. Put up a very large backing, say 6 x 6 feet. Put the silhouette target over the backing and shoot at 50 feet Then go up and count how many pellets missed the bad guy. 00 Buck uses .32 calibre pellets. You could be left with a lot of masonry to do afterward. Now realize that the ultra short barrels of these AOW’s will result in increasing the spread of shot considerably over the 18 or 20 inch barrels. These were originally designed for law enforcement forcible entry teams and were designated “entry guns.” The NYPD Emergency Service unit, their designation for SWAT, uses #4 buck to reduce the possibility of pellets passing through high rise walls. I also suggest posting two human silhouette targets up and shoot one with 00 Buck and one with #4 Buck. I expect that you will be surprised. I suggested this to a friend who competes in “Three Gun” competition and now it is the only shotgun ammo he uses and other competitors he knows are also switching.
    Before 1934 Ithaca Gun Company made a short barreled side by side called the “Auto-Burglar.” They took random side by sides off the assembly line, fitted them with pistol stocks and shortened the first model to 10.25 inches and the later models to 12.25 inches. They didn’t make very many but were very popular with bank and armoured car personnel. They were almost totally made in 20 gauge as anything bigger would have been very difficult to control. The next commonest calibre is .410 gauge. Some 12, 16 and 28 gauges were made on special order, but probably not more than 10 or 12 of each of the other gauges. the point being that a 12 gauge in that compact a package was undesirable.
    On the plus side of defensive shotguns, preferably a pump action, are you probably cannot miss your target completely and every bad guy knows and respects the sound of a shotgun being racked. I do think these are cute toys and they are class 02 rather than the full auto license which used to be 03. A lot of states permit 02 designated devices even though they don’t honour the higher class. In addition, all Class 03 weapons must receive permission from the senior law enforcement officer, ie. police chief or the sheriff, while class 02 devices do not require this.

    • C Ronaghan September 2, 2016, 6:07 pm

      thanks for the info and history. I really like the #4 in my 20 gauge Remington. The buckshot version of the aguila minishell fires 4 #1 and 7 #4s I think.

    • Larry Koehn September 3, 2016, 3:35 pm

      I shoot armadillos in my front yard with a Mossberg Tukey gun, 12 ga., cylinder choke with an 18 inch barrel. I shoot 2 3/4 in. 00 buckshot, 9 pellets. The normal range would be 5 – 15 yards. Buckshot does not spread like bird shot and the whole load will not be over 6 inches even at 15 yards. I live on 80 acres in the boonies so don’t do this in your neighborhood. I recently read an article by a PH in Africa who, if a client wounds a lion, carries a 12 gauge with buckshot as his stopper. He says that nothing can stand up to that combination at close range. That load will for all intents and purposes not open up significantly even down a hallway.

    • Heavyguns31 September 7, 2016, 11:33 am

      Wow!! I just love these shotgun BS comments….
      1. Half the dept rufused?? What a bunch of limp wristed panzies. When I went to FLETC eons ago to be a fed even the girls fired..and they fired every year after…EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM.

      6×6 target/50 feet. Oh for the love of God. Every pellet will hit in most cases. Even with the aow at 50 feet. I have one…do you? Back to FLETC eons ago, the instructors used 00 buck at 75 feet, yes 75…25 yards…with an instructor on each side of the sillouette. To prove it was still a point target weapon at 25 yards…no instructor ever got hit. I doubt they still do that as PC as we are now but they did it then. Those were 18 inch 870’s. I don’t condone that but it went on…every class.

      Aow’s considerably larger patterns: wrong again, mine doesn’t. Only a bit.. Do you even own one?

      “You probably cannot miss your target completely”: OH YES YOU CAN….tired old BS. It doesn’t clear a damn gymnasium with 1 shot.

      The slide racking/respect: another BS old tale, way to go…while you dick around trying to be “scary” the bad guy shoots you. Be ready to fire from the milli-second you find trouble. Not playing Billy badass with your pump.

      An finally….CLEO permission. Once again WRONG. It’s NOTIFICATION…NOT PERMISSION. Even if he doesn’t like it, too bad for him. Look on the ATF website and stop spreading BS. People like you do not help, once again proof of what I always say…the gun culture is its own worst enemy.

      • Reinhard September 8, 2016, 6:20 pm

        I don’t have to own one. I have shot numerous firearms that require NFA licenses for non military and law enforcement. I have tried the experiments I mentioned and have had the results I mention. As for what bad guys respect, do you own one? I have spoken to thousands of inmates about many facets of crime and merely pass on what I have gleaned or done in the past. If it isn’t of value to you, just ignore it. i could go on down a list of experiences I have had and you probably haven’t but I wouldn’t waste my, your or the reader’s time with a pissing match.

        • Heavyguns31 September 8, 2016, 6:59 pm

          As a matter of fact I’ve owned lots of bad guys over the years…same/similiar line of work as you. Only our shotguns never ever came remotely close to hitting all over a 6×6 target at 50 feet and our Sheriff doesn’t give me permission to do diddly. I send him a note telling him what I will be doing and there’s nothing he can do about it. BUT…you’re right…no need for the pissing contest or wasting time. It’s just when I feel a post is full of big holes I adress it so it’s not taken as gospel by somebody else. We obviously have different opinions…if I came across a bit harshly I apologize but I still vehemently disagree 🙂 Take care Reinhard.

  • Ron September 2, 2016, 1:12 pm

    You can get an 870 (pretty much the very same gun) for HALF of that price. I like Mossberg,,, but.

  • C Ronaghan September 2, 2016, 12:28 pm

    Pricing aside, this seems like it would kick a heck of a lot. I use Aguila Mini shells in my Mossberg with the Opsol Mini-clip because of the recoil. If the clip fits in these shotguns, I could see that making a lot more sense. Perhaps you could get 5 buckshot minishells in the 590A1, and 1 in the barrel. I like the shortness, though. I could keep 1 under my car seat too.

    • Richard September 5, 2016, 4:07 pm

      Not if you want to cross state lines. It also has to be kept in a safe when it`s not on you , and you always have to have the paper work with it .
      They might let you buy it ,but they made sure to take all the fun out of it first.

      • Heavyguns31 September 7, 2016, 10:47 am

        I own 8 nfa items. They do NOT “have” to be kept in a safe, no such law. Also aow’s and suppressors can cross lines without notice. Although I would still do it just because. You do have to have a copy of the paperwork.

  • Evan September 2, 2016, 12:11 pm

    So, for almost three times what I paid for my full size Mossberg 500, I can get a pistol sized one with half the capacity, and I have to do a bunch of paperwork and wait however long it takes the ATF these days? I really don’t see the point. I know a market exists though, I’ve seen a bunch of guys carrying these (or something very similar) at gun shows.

  • Alan Yates September 2, 2016, 11:48 am

    I have owned a Mossberg./Cobray “Rogue” AOW with an 11.75″ barrel since the late 1980s and it has been a good shotgun. It is now on the third refinish, a burnt bronze Cerakote with black grip, shroud and forend and it has 100% new internals. Of course a 12 ga pistol isn’t “easy” to shoot but it is easy to shoot. The shotty has ridden probably 30,000 miles in a patrol car and has been worth every cent I spent. These will be too and they are in line with prices on other AOWs. Easy solution for folks who think it’s silly?
    Don’t buy one.

  • Harold Steffee September 2, 2016, 10:58 am

    I am a firm beleiver in 12 gauge shot guns for defense work. Many years ago I proved to an firearms instructor that a 12 gauge shotgun was a good choice in urban warfare. I was able to hit man sized steel target at 200 yards with a rifled slug as often as I chose too.

  • Wesley September 2, 2016, 10:41 am

    Mossberg’s can be had all day for under $500. Nothing complicated about making thes. Now I have to jump through hoops to get one. At half the it is still a little pricey.

  • Luke September 2, 2016, 10:36 am

    I have a Mossberg JIC. Lovely gun. Miserable to shoot. And, I’d guess 12 gauge 00-buck at the right angle and range will cut a man or woman in half. But, these short 12-gauge guns are not fun to shoot.

    Mr Obvious Man, here: our right to own and bear arms has already been substantially ‘infringed’. “. . . .to purchase one of these cruisers it will require a $5 tax stamp for transfer in addition to all the NFA-required paperwork and hoops one has to jump through.”

    • Douglas Phillips September 2, 2016, 2:13 pm

      I know right how jacked up is it.. when you are restricted by the ATF-NFA Bs, and NOTHING is done about it?
      This doesnt even make sense, a shorty is a 5$ tax stamp and a silencer/suppressor is 200$… hell, the suppressor is an attachment!
      This infringement crap has got to go!

  • Dacell Shamburger September 2, 2016, 9:45 am

    I like the whole thing of a shotgun pistol and I would buy one for myself and wife, BUT, realistically this is a $350.00 gun. Anyone can buy a Model 500 in some form for $250.00 to $500.00 just about anywhere. I for sure would love to have one if the price is right, maybe two.

  • Dean September 2, 2016, 8:17 am

    Not sure about a 3″ mag shotgun in that config, I would try 20 gauge

  • Cary Kieffer September 2, 2016, 7:02 am

    Mossberg is getting a little greedy I think. 980$?? I’ve had one of their older AOW versions for quite awhile, half that cost and still barely worth it. Complete review on mine at this link. There’s a separate link on the sheath you can click in the comments section.

  • Jeff Lockaby September 2, 2016, 5:59 am

    I’ve had & used a Mossberg 500 with an 18 inch barrel & pistol grip for 25 years, but I can’t see paying almost a $1,000 bucks to get one only slightlt smaller.
    A few years ago, we ran mine thru the same SMG course the SWAT team uses for their H&K MP3’s. Clearly the 9mm is much more versatile, but the 12 gauge Mossberg did pretty well.
    Well enough for me to trust it implicitly. Simple, reliable, time tested, I think I’ll pass on the newer shorter ones.

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