Mossberg 590 Nightstick – Old School Cool


Johnny Law and the Mossberg Nightstick. mustache not included.

Last year was a great year for those of us that like sticking it to the man at every possible occasion. My hat is off to Mossberg for creating a new class of “firearm”, poking the National Firearms Act in the chest as well as I have ever seen it done. Exploiting a loophole in the 1934 act, one that everyone somehow missed for 84 years, Mossberg burst onto the scene with the Shockwave.

The original Shockwave is a firearm, but it doesn’t fit any other category. It isn’t a handgun, because the barrel isn’t rifled, and its overall length is greater than 26 inches. It isn’t a rifle, because it doesn’t have a rifled barrel, and isn’t designed to be shoulder fired. And it isn’t a shotgun or SBS, because none of us have been arrested yet. Nor has the ATF shackled the door at O. F Mossberg and sons.

Night Stick and test ammo

The resulting firearm is a great piece of gear for any of us that always wanted a sawed-off shotgun for whatever reason, but weren’t willing to pay the tax and deal with the NFA hassle. It’s 12 gauge, does everything a short barrel shotgun does except have a stock, and is based on the revered Mossberg 590 action. Just saying sawed off makes you feel good. Along with the 1911 and M1 Garand, it is just a piece of Americana to have one.

The original Shockwave was cool, but it was also very utilitarian. Polymer furniture is incredibly durable, you will get no argument from me. It has many advantages over more traditional materials, and in a heavy use gun, it is hard to argue with. But one place it doesn’t win is in class. Reeboks also work better than wingtips for running a marathon, but they look silly with a 3 piece suit.

Raptor Grip

The new Nightstick model is everything good about the Shockwave, dressed in its Sunday best. In a throwback to more refined weapon stocks, the Nightstick features wooden furniture. That sounds like a minor detail on paper, but in execution, it is a thing of beauty. The moment you lay eyes on the Nightstick, you are instantly transported to a different time. I can’t touch my test model without thinking about the famous Witness Protection model short barrels, or a 70’s era NY Zombie Squad. It would be equally at home in the jungles of Vietnam, a tunnel rat’s friend. It’s easy to picture Jim Cirillo or “Mad Dog” Schriver carrying a weapon like this, albeit in different circumstances and environments.

Corn Cob fore end

The wooden grip and fore-end are exceptionally well designed. The grip is what Mossberg calls a raptor head. The basic shape is a thinner grip, with a swell on the end to keep it in your hand. Like a pirates one hand blunderbuss, for lack of a better description. The fore end is a classic corn cob design, with radius cuts all the way around to give you some purchase. On initial inspection, I thought the slick grip of the raptor head was going to be a problem. But in use, it isn’t something you even notice. Also a nice touch, Mossberg added a leather strap to the fore end. In firearms this short, that is a must-have. The leather strap prevents your hand from accidentally slipping in front of the barrel, which can easily happen under intense recoil. They could have saved a few pennies by using nylon, but the leather really adds to the overall feel of the gun. The strap is big enough for meaty paws, but not so large as to be a hindrance to those smaller statured.

Gold Bead front

The barrel is 14.375 inches, sized to hit the sweet spot of NFA loopholes. The overall length had to exceed 26 inches, and this is how they did it. The .375, however, is a small enough figure as to be irrelevant. Having used quite a few short barrel shotguns in the military, I prefer a 14 inch for most tactical purposes. A 14-inch pump gun gives an excellent balance of maneuverability and capacity and is great for most purposes. A dedicated breaching shotgun can be a little shorter, and 14.375 is obviously not ideal for hunting ducks. But for social work, it is an excellent all-around choice.

Leather Strap built in

The barrel is topped with a gold bead front sight, which also adds to the overall nostalgic feel of the Nightstick. The barrel length accommodates a 6 round capacity, 5 in the tube, 1 in the chamber. Just like the full sized 590 models, the Nightstick uses Mossbergs intuitive tang safety. The trigger isn’t exactly a precision rifle contender, but it is crisp and clean enough for the job. I think we all agree a hair trigger in a sawed-off is a bad idea.

Classic 590 safety

For testing, Federal provided all the goods a growing boy could want. Today might be the only day a Nightstick gets fed Gold Medal Grand, ever. But it did get the job done. With these sporting clays shells, the Nightstick was a joy to shoot. Using birdshot, this firearm is tame enough for most any shooter. More importantly, it is just plain fun to blast away with.

Gold Medal Grand, probably overkill for this review

Given that the Nightstick was built as a defensive tool, I had to test it with defensive rounds as well. A not so sincere thanks to Federal for including a box of Grand Slam turkey loads in my care package. You know your turkey loads are serious when they have a spur tap ruler printed on the side of the shells.

Turkey shells, not recommended for the Night Stick

The Nightstick is rated for 2 ¾ or 3 inch shells, and the Grand Slam shells are all of 3 inches. The recoil was, in a word, stout. While I don’t doubt the effectiveness of them terminally, I don’t recommend it for this platform. I didn’t drop the Nightstick, but I definitely thought about it.

Buckshot, no sweat with the Raptor Head design

Federal also provided their Personal Defense buckshot in 00, which has a velocity of 1145 feet per second. A testament to the raptor grip design, the buckshot was no problem. From either a hipshot or holding the Nightstick out in front of your face, buckshot is fine. I actually expected some sting from this one and was satisfyingly surprised to find none. Having tried this with both raptor grip style and pistol grip style guns, I will attest that the raptor grip is much more pleasant to shoot powerful shells.

Is the Nightstick the most useful gun in the world? No. But it is cool. And it does have a spot it excels. For a shooting match at close range, the Nightstick would absolutely burn it down. And that aside, it is incredibly fun to shoot. Not to mention a gaggle of firepower, in a very small package. Any gun that causes me to get out the costumes I can recommend highly. If you grew up on Charles Bronson movies and Tales of the Stakeout Squad, the Night Stick is for you.

Visit Mossberg to learn more by clicking HERE.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next Mossberg Shotgun***

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • John A Boutwell December 16, 2019, 8:06 pm

    I have the Nightstick, I put a UTG subcompact laser / flashlight on it and found a matching leather sling on it. I shoot the 1 7/8 mini shells with the adaptor. For home defense I load slug, buckshot, slug etc. I love this “firearm”!

  • Irish-7 December 16, 2019, 1:54 pm

    I really enjoy Clay’s videos! Airborne, Brother!

  • Danny Chrisler January 19, 2019, 12:50 am

    I purchased one of these in 20 gauge from GUNSAMERICA. Tricked it out a little already. Put on a neon front sight, and a nice sticky wrap on the Raptor grip that fits very well. I checked with Crimson Trace and found that they only make a laser for the Shockwave 12 gauge so far and not the 20 gauge. What’s with that? I was not sure if the receiver was a different size, but it must be. I was very disappointed since they had no idea at all when they “might” make one for the 20 gauge.

  • michael January 18, 2019, 11:25 pm

    Clay definitely makes the coolest videos.

    • lloyd myers December 16, 2019, 10:18 am

      Yup, He’s an all American Bad Ass. The real deal.

  • john January 15, 2019, 9:08 am

    Did I or did I not see Clay either short stroke the gun about three times in the video? Or did the gun eject a live shell? I realize he was trying to be funny but tossing a loaded firearm to someone is never a good idea.

  • Paul D January 14, 2019, 9:44 pm

    I have the poly version in 20 ga with a side saddle to hold another 5 rds. To me it’s just a big pistol. I can make head shots on a humanoid target with slugs all day long out to 30+ yds. Just don’t hold the birds head too close to your face or you’ll Mike Tyson your own chin. Buckshot patterns tight enough out to about 30 yds as well.

    Just as accurate as my Glock 35 and quite a bit more punch. Goes with me camping in bear country just in case.
    Don’t knock it till you try it. It’s a keeper.

  • Rick McC. January 14, 2019, 8:52 pm

    I do like the retro look of that!

    I have a 12 gauge Shockwave, and it shoots high brass #6 shot, and 0000 buck very well. It lives in my truck, loaded with 0000 buck.

    I also disagree with the PC compliant posts in this thread. Anyone that believes that the anti-2A crowd will leave your “normal” firearms alone is sadly mistaken.

  • Rick P. January 14, 2019, 7:26 pm

    For those who are saying it’s a “bad idea”, it’s sack check time. The man reviewed a legal firearm, if your afraid of what those who don’t share our enthusiasm for firearms, I hope you hold your other convictions more seriously. The review I heard said it was cool, fun to shoot and not to be used for everything. The first two reasons were good enough for me. It was a honest review. By the way, the 1911 was the preference for those heroes who went down the tunnels, but like the man said, the nightstick is fun and cool.

  • Tom McCarty January 14, 2019, 2:51 pm

    I wonder if the Nightstick will be made in 20 ga.?

  • Mike January 14, 2019, 2:29 pm

    Do I need one of these? No.

    But if I have an extra $400 unaccounted for …

  • Area 52 January 14, 2019, 1:35 pm

    I had an NFA version of this years ago. I fired about 10 to 15 shells out of it. It went back in my safe and stayed there until I sold it. What I found was shotguns without a stock are boring on the range. You can’t aim and firing just from the hip position gets old. Most shooters I know don’t even shoot there regular tactical shotgun a lot. My suggestion is get a tactical shotgun w/18 barrel with a folding stock. You will be legal, it’s more useful at the range and elsewhere. Leave theses for the mall ninja’s.

  • Paul O. January 14, 2019, 1:17 pm

    That was pretty much a video that demonstrated why shotguns need stocks. But I get it…a shorty is a fun toy. Recently picked up a Mossberg 500 Thunder Ranch, which is short as you can get a shotgun without the tax stamp fine. With a red dot and Federal flight control buckshot it’s a 50 yard gun, with slugs a 100 yard gun.

  • Phil Sprague January 14, 2019, 12:54 pm

    Clay your reviews are the best. You speak from experience (Real World) not what someone read about in a book., or wished they had done. Sure enough when you mentioned Tunnel Rats would have loved them it brought back memories for me. I would have given a months pay to have one. I had a hand me down Remmingtin that was sawed off and we called a greener because someone had pained the stock green to make it cammo. I preferred my faithful old 1911 over it. Thanks for the great review…

    • Dr Motown December 16, 2019, 9:14 am

      I can’t imagine this being too “hearing friendly” or “concussive friendly” inside a cramped NVA tunnel, even with some kind of rudimentary 1960’s ear protection. One or two blasts and you’d probably be fully deaf and collecting permanent VA-disability benefits. I met a tunnel-rat vet and his 1911 left him that way, so I can’t imagine what a short-barrel shotgun would’ve done to him….

  • Mike in a Truck January 14, 2019, 12:49 pm

    I have its cousin the Remington Tac 14 in 20 ga.Its by the patio door in a wall mounted shotsafe.At the beginning of last month we got a snowstorm that dropped 2 ft of snow here in N.C. where I live.This is a rural/residential neighborhood. Imagine my surprise when a black bear appeared at the deer feeder.No long winters nap for this big boy.Kids and pets around here.B’rer bear got a load of Lightfield Rubber Ball load(2 balls) .Shoulda seen him hightail outta here.If anyone thinks they can outrun a bear better think again.It ran at least as fast as a big dog.Well thats one use for these short guns.

  • Andrew January 14, 2019, 11:47 am

    Neat items.
    Maybe Ohio will take them off the “may as well get a Tax Stamp” list one day.
    But it won’t be today.

    • Brian March 29, 2019, 5:04 pm

      Happily, this is now outdated information! With the signing of House Bill 86 by (new) Gov. DeWine (which fixed the snafu in House Bill 228 and contains an emergency clause so that it goes into effect the same time HB228 would have), as of March 28, 2019 these firearms are no longer in a “gray area” and are explicitly not prohibited in Ohio!

  • Stephen Graham January 14, 2019, 10:39 am

    Clay, your reviews are absolutely the best and absolutely my favorite. Your knowledge and real-life tactical experience, combined with your nuts and bolts of presentations Are simply fantastic. I selfishly wish you would do even more of these reviews. On anything! 🙂

  • Joseph York January 14, 2019, 9:36 am

    I have two the 12 and 20 gauge. The 20 gauge is a all day shooter. Shop online before you buy. I got the 20 gauge for 269.00. Local gun shops had it at 350.

  • Dr Motown January 14, 2019, 8:54 am

    Slap on a rail with a Streamlight, and it might truly be a “nightstick” when things go bump in the house @ 3am

  • David January 14, 2019, 8:53 am

    At 0:52, 3:07, and 3:44 a live round ejects with the empty shell. I wonder how common this problem is with the Shockwave.

  • srsquidizen January 14, 2019, 8:36 am

    Those who like them should probably get one of these “other firearms” Mossberg and Remington make while they can. It will only take one gruesome act by one depraved criminal POS for all the anti-gun zealots out there to be screaming “legal sawed-off shotguns” are responsible for the crime, not the criminal.

  • Tom Benton January 14, 2019, 7:40 am

    Like bumpstocks, I think these shotguns are a bad idea. Allmost always, shooters describe whether they can control the weapon. Sounds like a bumpstock reboot. If one wants to play with this class of weapon in a field by themselves, so be it. A defensive weapon, however, should be 100% productive when the wolf knocks at the door. There should be no question of whether it is controllable to save ones life and minimize danger to bystanders. An 18 inch barrel shotgun with a stock is a much more reliable option and can be shortened if needed by tucking the stock under the armpit while still maintaining three points of contact. I chose a 5.56 bullpup for home defense, short, maneuverable with a 30 round mag. There is never a doubt I can control this platform. Lethal to an intruder while minimizing risk to the household for errant rounds. When things go bump in the middle of the night, you have only one chance to command the situation.

    • Greg B. January 14, 2019, 11:27 am

      Tom, as the owner of a 12 gauge Shockwave, I can tell you it’s very controllable. I have the Aguila mini-shells with the adapter and mine cycles them just fine. More controllable recoil but devastating to anything in their path. But I’ve also shot heavier full length shells and it wasn’t horrible. The mini shells are what make this platform a very viable defense weapon. Brings the capacity up to 8 or 9 shots to boot.

      It also makes an excellent truck gun. Wedges nicely between my center console and front passenger seat. Good for dealing with both 2 and 4 legged critters.

      Just my opinion from an owner’s perspective.

    • mikeb January 14, 2019, 11:57 am

      I have a 12 ga model and use Aguilla mini’s utilizing the Ralph Hollister adapter. Works great. Less recoil from mini’s plus almost double the number of shells it’ll hold.

    • Eric Holder January 14, 2019, 1:07 pm

      A thinking man for sure and great observations and points. Well done.

    • Charles January 14, 2019, 1:42 pm

      I think I have to agree. Bad idea. To the average person this is just a plaything. …most of us are not and never will be tunnel rats…Now with that said…it is time for the ATF to open up machine gun registration …want to charge a 1000 dollar registration fee???fine. There is no reason for any full auto to cost what they do. And lets do AWAY with the paperwork for suppressors…they are NOT silencers anyway. The poster above is correct..the average person would be just as well(or better) off with a regular 1 inch shotgun. BTW Mossberg made a short bbls 410. Think it had a pistol grip forend…wish I had bought one of those

  • Bear Creek January 14, 2019, 5:41 am

    Anytime Clay writes a review, I literally drop everything and read! This review really got my attention because going back nearly 40 years, I was one of the first to own and shoot regularly a Mossberg 500.
    In response to this, I got to get one! No, maybe 2…..
    Clay, no doubt u r 1 tough and smart hombre…best of all you slay us with your gift of words!

  • martianone January 14, 2019, 4:25 am

    Want one of these in .410, loaded with Brenneke slugs ?

  • Chris Reynolds January 14, 2019, 4:02 am

    I want 1

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