The Mossberg Model 500 shotgun has been
around for over half a century, being introduced in 1961. It is
one of the most popular shotguns ever built, with Mossberg just
recently producing the ten millionth Model 500 shotgun. The
Model 500 design is the basis for the entire line of Mossberg
pump shotguns, including the military Model 590A1, which serves
the US military and law enforcement market, with variations of
the Models 590 and 590A1 available for the civilian market as
well. Still, the basic Model 500 has endured for five decades
because it is a very affordable shotgun, and it works very well.
Model 500 shotguns are available to serve the
needs of clay shooters, waterfowl hunters, turkey hunters, deer
hunters, bird hunters, and upland game hunters. There are
versions with long barrels, rifled barrels, short barrels, and
buttstocks of varying lengths, as well as variations with a
pistol grip in place of the buttstock. Model 500 shotguns are
currently available chambered for the 12 and 20 gauges, as well
as the 410 bore shotgun shells. In addition to its service to
generations of hunters, the 500 makes for a very good fighting
shotgun for law enforcement or home defense, and it is one of
those variations of the Model 500 that we will feature here.
As a fighting shotgun, the Model 500 fills
that role quite nicely. It is relatively light weight, powerful,
and easy to use. Inside a home, a short shotgun offers a lot of
fight-stopping power, and the Model 500’s reliable action and
affordable price make it the choice of thousands of people who
need a fighting shotgun for home defense.
The Model 500 is available in dozens of
configurations that fill quite well the role of a fighting
shotgun, and the one shown here is their Thunder Ranch
variation. Thunder Ranch is a world-renowned firearms training
facility in Oregon, founded and directed by Clint Smith. Mr.
Smith is well-known as a firearms instructor and writer, and has
successfully run Thunder Ranch for twenty years, training
shooters in the defensive and offensive use of firearms. The
Model 500 Thunder Ranch shotgun shown here was designed in
cooperation with Mr. Smith, and has pretty much everything
needed to serve as a fighting shotgun.
This Model 500 commemorates the twentieth
anniversary of Thunder Ranch, and wears the Thunder Ranch logo
on the side of the receiver. The shotgun has an eighteen and
one-half inch barrel with integral breaching device at the
muzzle. This breaching barrel is useful for blowing the lockset
out of a lock or to blow the hinges off of a door for a no-knock
entry for law enforcement. For the rest of us, it just looks
pretty cool, and makes for a formidable weapon on its own. The
barrel wears a red fiber optic bead front sight, and has a
railed forend for the attachment of a flashlight
or laser sight. The two sections of rail on the sides of the
forend can be easily removed, if desired, but the bottom rail is
integral. None of the rails caused any discomfort when firing
the weapon. Being a left-handed shooter, one thing that endears
the Mossberg 500 to me is the safety located atop the receiver,
right where God intended it to be. I do not like a crossbolt
safety on the trigger guard, and greatly prefer the style of
safety that Mossberg and Browning puts on their pump guns. The
Thunder Ranch 500 has a magazine that holds five
two-and-three-quarters inch shells, or four three inch shells.
With one in the chamber, that gives the user a loaded capacity
of either five or six shotgun shells to use before reloading. On
the topic of reloading the magazine; it is very easy to do. The
shells thumb easily into place, without having to push upward on
the shell lifter as is necessary on some other brands, as it
stays in its elevated position until the forend is almost all
the way to the rear of the cycle.
I fired the Mossberg with shells varying from
light target loads to heavy buckshot loads, with the latter
being the ammo best-suited for this shotgun’s purpose.
Patterning the 500 out to twenty-five yards, with this Mossberg
having a straight cylinder bore with no choke constriction, the
nine-pellet Federal 00 buck load kept every pellet within a 12
½ inch circle at that distance. At seven yards, the nine
pellets were landing in about a two-inch pattern, all clustered
tightly, and would put a devastating hit on an opponent.
The slide action is very slick on this Mossberg, with
both loading and ejection positive, with all ammo tested.
The black synthetic stock is capped with a recoil pad at
the rear, and was comfortable to shoot, even with the magnum
shells. The Thunder Ranch 500 comes with a padded sling, with
locking quick-release sling swivels. The shotgun handled very
well, weighing in at about six and three-quarters pounds, with
an overall length of only thirty-seven inches. The trigger pull
released at an average of five and three-quarters pounds on the
There are a few new and exotic shotgun
designs now out on the market, and those seem to get all of the
attention of the press, but the Mossberg 500 has a long track
record as a fighting shotgun, and while not holding as many
shells in its magazine, it still throws the same
highly-effective shotgun loads as do the latest shotgun designs,
and the Mossberg does it for a lot less money, and in a shotgun
design that is reliable and easy to operate. While on the topic
of money, one of the best features of the 500 is its price. As
of the date of this review, the Thunder Ranch Mossberg 500 has a
suggested retail price of only $493 US, and they are readily
available, usually selling below that suggested retail price.
The Mossberg 500 Thunder Ranch shotgun is very affordable, built
right, and built in the USA.
Check out the extensive line of Mossberg
firearms and accessories online at www.mossberg.com.
For the location of a Mossberg dealer near
you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order the 500 Thunder Ranch shotgun
online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
order quality shotgun ammunition online, go to www.midsouthshooters.com
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