In the United States we treat our pump shotguns like we do trucks, as in we tend to stay brand loyal. And we tend to fall into two camps on this one, the Remington 870 and the Mossberg 590. Both sides are equally fanatical, and the reasons tend to be less fact and more emotion based. Usually, we prefer whatever we started with, the duck gun our dad gave us at 13 sets the tone. Then it is all familiarity, mostly the safety position and pump release being the difference. I myself am an 870 guy, which is something I felt it was important to add to this review. I have used both, as both were military weapons over my career, but I don’t own a single Mossberg. But that might change this week, as the Mossberg 590M absolutely curb stomps the 870 DM.
I have seen other comparison reviews of these two guns recently, that in my opinion are a little bit milquetoast. Nobody in the gun world wants to rock the boat, so they give the 870 points for releasing a fuller line of guns ( hunting, TAC14, wood stocked). Equally good, please continue sending your ad dollars. That, to me at least, misses the point entirely. Considering the aftermarket for both guns, I really don’t care how many shades of camo it comes in. The better comparison point is how the magazine systems work, and availability of spares. And in that arena, the Mossberg has a decisive edge.
Mossberg went with a double stack magazine, as opposed to the Remington single stack. The resulting mag is boxy. In the package, Mossberg includes a 10 rounder, as opposed to the Remington 6. In fact, that means only the Mossberg has an initial capacity over its tube fed counterpart. Mossberg doesn’t at this time make a 3 round magazine, but I suppose that means they weren’t kidding themselves about this being a hunting gun. Then they proceed to just run away with the show. Six months after launch, Remington still has as the only options a 3 or 6 round magazine. On day one with the Mossberg, we were able to test 5, 10, 15, and a monstrous 20 round magazines.
The double stack magazine keeps the weight closer to the receiver, which makes the gun easier to handle. But it has another benefit. Remington could conceivably match them in capacity, but the magazine length would be insane. The double stack mag might be thick, but it won’t trip you in the brush. The factory 20 actually matches the capacity of most semi-auto drum magazines in 12 gauge, with very limited exceptions.
I also give the Mossberg the advantage on the magazine lock up, and the release. This is obviously opinion not fact, but I have shot both pretty extensively. The Mossberg has a lip in the front, requiring you to rock it in place like an AK 47 magazine. But I still find it easier to stick in the gun. With a very limited amount of practice, I would bet dollars to donuts it is faster.
The magazine release is a push button and works from either side of the gun. The positioning is at the front top of the trigger guard, which I found easy to index with my trigger finger. In addition to a very well thought out magazine release, the 590M has a few other nice features. It has ghost ring sights, with a bright orange front, that are a snap to use. And it comes with a heat shield on the barrel. Not only might this be a necessity with a 20 round capacity, but it looks cool. And cool does matter.
Looks mean is one thing, but it has to run to matter. And the 590M did run. It ate everything I threw at it, including multiple magazines out of my 12 gauge trash bucket. The trash bucket is a 5 gallon bucket I toss all the leftover ammo in from shotgun reviews or any other sketchy ammo I run across. The cheapest of the cheap, mil surplus, slugs left over from my 3 gun days, and anything I get from a fire sale. Despite the fact that the gun says 2 ¾ inch shells only, I fed it some Augilla mini shells. It didn’t like them, but as long as I ran the pump fast it ate them. The only malfunction I had was likely operator error, not a design flaw.
My malfunction came from the 20 round magazine, and I am guessing I short stroked the gun. The result was 2 rounds half in the chamber, half out of the ejection port. It was a fast clear, and in multiple reloads of the 20, it didn’t happen again. Not only do I not run a pump action often, my experience with a Mossberg is extremely limited. It does feel a little different than a Remington, so it is easy to chalk up to shooter not gun. Time will tell.
So, are their any points in favor of the 870? Well, for one, it is capable of 3 inch shells, while the Mossberg is 2 ¾ only. But outside of turkey loads, who among us really buys anything but 2 ¾? If tactical is your thing, I’m pretty sure we all lean toward 2 ¾ for defensive loads. Not only availability but the simplicity of logistics. And also for the 870, maybe magazine durability. I left one loaded for months, banged it up, and never had a problem. The Mossberg magazines may be just as durable, but we won’t know for a while. One thing, they are is a little spendy, at $95 dollars up to $130 for the big stick.
The Mossberg retails for $200 over the Remington, but in this case, you will know where your money went. While I am enjoying the pump action renaissance, and hope it continues, in this case, we have a clear winner. I gave the 870 DM a glowing review, and I don’t regret that. But the 590M is a step above, and if I was buying today, this would be it.
Full MSRP is $801
Visit Mossberg for more information on the Mossberg 590M by clicking here.