Mossberg Model 930 SPX Semi-Auto 12 Gauge Fighting Shotgun


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 27th, 2011


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Mossberg Model 930 SPX 12-gauge semi-auto shotgun.





Simple, rugged and reliable gas system.





Bolt locks into barrel extension.



Twin gas ports.



Very effective recoil pad.



Sling studs.



Extended magazine.



Simple, robust safety.



Charging handle is large and easy to grasp.



Bolt release.



Cocking indicator.





The shotgun is one of our most versatile weapons. It is widely used around the world in clay target competition, serves ideally for hunting birds and small game, and is one of the best choices for a hand-held fighting weapon. The latter topic is what we will deal with here, while looking at a shotgun that I have been waiting to get my hands upon for several months now.

The Mossberg 930 is a relatively new semi-auto to the market, as far as shotguns go. Mossberg has had great success with their pump shotguns for decades now, and a trusted Model 590 has resided near my bed for many years. Still, for fighting purposes, I prefer an autoloader. The fighting shotgun seems to be the last hold-out among shooters from switching from a manually-cycled weapon to an autoloader. Most people went to autoloading pistols and rifles years ago for fighting tools, but have held back on switching to a semi-automatic shotgun, due to a lack of reliability in auto shotguns of the past.

Today’s new breed of autoloading shotguns are very reliable; as reliable as a semi-auto rifle or pistol. The auto has a couple of advantages over a pump, in my opinion. First is the fast-operating action. There are some professional shooters who can work a pump as fast or faster than an auto can cycle, but I ain’t one of them. Most likely, neither are you. As with other auto loading weapons, the shooter of an auto shotgun points the weapon and pulls the trigger, and the shotgun will cycle as fast as you can work that trigger until the weapon runs out of ammunition.

The auto also has the advantage of being easier to handle one-handed than a pump gun, especially an auto with a pistol grip such as this 930 SPX. Lastly, the gas operation of an auto softens the felt recoil to the shooter’s shoulder. In a defensive or offense situation, recoil is not the main concern, but in long practice sessions, it makes a difference, and in getting back on target quickly in a distasteful social situation, it makes a difference as well.

This Mossberg 930 is basically their standard 930 gas gun, set up better for fighting. The 930 system self-adjusts to fire both 2 ¾ and 3 inch shotgun shells. The 930 uses two ports in the barrel to bleed off the gas to cycle the shotgun, and in testing everything from light target handloads through three-inch magnum slugs and buckshot, the 930 SPX functioned perfectly. Every round fed, fired, and ejected smoothly, and the bolt always locked open when the gun was empty.

The SPX has very good sights, with a protected fiber-optic front and a fully-adjustable LPA ghost ring rear, which is mounted atop a Picatinny rail. I really like the rail, as I prefer a good dot sight, such as the Trijicon Reflex shown here. The Reflex is always “ON”, and never needs batteries. The particular Reflex shown here also adjusts the intensity of the dot for existing lighting conditions. In a dimly-lighted area, the brightness of the dot is low, so as to not blind the user to the target, but as light increases, so does the brightness of the dot, making it visible even in the brightest sunlight. The shooter can leave both eyes wide open, as they should be in a defensive or offensive social situation. However, for those who prefer mechanical sights, the SPX ghost ring/fiber optic combo is as good as it gets. They are durable and rugged, and the protective wings on the front are made of steel. The LPA ghost ring housing is made of aluminum, but is very rugged as well.

The SPX also possesses one unique feature that, to me, is of paramount importance on any shotgun, but particularly on a fighting shotgun. The SPX has the Mossberg safety. It is large, textured, and easy to operate, with or without gloves on, in any lighting condition, and even in total darkness. It is much more natural to operate than a crossbolt type safety, and every shotgun built for serious purposes should have such a safety. Push forward to fire. Simple and easy. While on the topic of firing the SPX, it has the best trigger pull that I have felt on any shotgun in a long time. The pull on the test gun measured four and one-quarter pounds on my scale, and was fairly crisp, with just a slight bit of take-up on the slack before the resistance is felt. Excellent trigger. I was not expecting that. Another nice feature is the cocking indicator, which is located inside the trigger guard, at the front. It is easily felt, and protrudes into the guard about one-eighth inch.

Loading the magazine of the Mossberg is also very straightforward and simple. Starting with an empty weapon and the bolt locked open, drop a shell into the open ejection port and push the bolt release, located on the right side of the receiver. After that, load the magazine through the bottom. The magazine capacity is seven 2 ¾ inch or six 3 inch shells. Unloading the magazine can also be accomplished through the loading port in the bottom, by pressing in on the shell latch, releasing one shell at a time. The magazine can be topped off at any time that there is an opportunity to do so, which is a great advantage of a tubular magazine in a fight. The 930 SPX has sling swivel studs, front and back. The barrel measures eighteen and one-half inches in length, and is a cylinder bore, with no threads for a screw-in choke tube. The gas system seems to be robust, and as stated earlier, was perfectly reliable with all ammo tested.

The wide variety of shotgun ammunition available is what makes the short shotgun such a great weapon for close to moderate range work. For folks who live inside apartment building or in neighborhoods where the houses are close together, I recommend small-sized birdshot. These loads will put a full ounce of shot into a fist-sized hole at across-the-room distances, but the shot pellets lose velocity and energy quickly after passing through a wall. When more power is needed, buckshot is always a good choice. It is a common fallacy, and often stated by the ignorant, that all you have to do is point a shotgun in the general direction of an opponent and pull the trigger, and the shot load will take out anything in that geographic area. That is false. The shotgun still has to be aimed or pointed correctly. At fifteen yards, a load of buckshot will cover an area no larger than your hand, but it will hit it hard, and do massive damage. For longer ranges, and I limit myself to about eighty yards, rifled slugs do a great job. They hit hard, with a one ounce slug delivering 437.5 grains of lead into the target. For smoothbore shotguns such as this 930 SPX, I like the standard Foster-type lead slugs. The saboted modern slugs work best in rifled barrels. I like the standard nine-pellet 2 ¾ inch 00 buckshot load, and recently found a really good deal on a supply of those at Lucky Gunner. I bought the Federal shells in the twenty-five-round boxes. They cost less that way.

The 930 SPX has an overall black finish, with a black synthetic checkered stock and matte black metal. The receiver is an aluminum alloy for lighter weight. The empty weight of the SPX is seven and three-quarters pounds, with an overall length of thirty-eight and three-quarters inches with the recoil pad spacer installed, and three-quarters of an inch less with it removed. The pistol grip aids greatly in one-handed handling of the 930 SPX, which might be useful if one hand is incapacitated in a fight.

I really like this shotgun. I like my 590 just fine, but have been trying out a few autoloading fighting shotguns over the past few months. This Mossberg 930 SPX is a fine weapon, and compares very favorably with shotguns costing several hundred dollars more, while having features that are second to none. Mossberg has had autoloaders in the past, but this 930 series is an improvement over those earlier guns, and it has every feature that I like on a fighting shotgun. It is rugged, reliable, versatile, easy to operate, priced right, and made in the USA.

Check out the 930 SPX online at

For the location of a Mossberg dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the 930 SPX online, go to

For a good deal on high performance buckshot and slugs, go to

For more information on the Trijicon Reflex sight, go to

Jeff Quinn

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The Mossberg 930 SPX (left) compared to author's trusted Mossberg 590 pump (right).





Very good set of ghost ring rear / fiber optic front sights.



Picatinny rail.



Trijicon Reflex sight.