So the MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE brings legendary 590 pump-action reliability to a compact 26″ package. And so this 12 gauge firearm includes all the features that have made Mossberg pump-action shotguns the choice for millions worldwide like an ambidextrous safety, dual extractors, positive steel-to-steel lockup, twin action bars, and so a smooth operating anti-jam elevator ensure reliable operation. So this compact and versatile firearm is a fantastic option for home defense, as a truck gun or just for fun at the range.
The MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE is 2 ¾ and 3-inch capable with 6-round total capacity and features 14-inch heavy-walled, cylinder bore barrel with single bead sight. So a simple and inexpensive adapter allows the Shockwave to use popular, and so low recoil Minishells with an increase in capacity to 9+1. Designed to be fired from the hip or as a pistol, the Shockwave’s Raptor bird’s head pistol grip is uniquely shaped to minimize felt recoil. Classified as fully-compliant by the BATFE, so this model has a 26.37 OAL and requires no Tax Stamp for transfers. Be sure to check your local and state laws to ensure compliance.
COMPACT AND PORTABLE FIREPOWER
For discreet storage and transportation. And so works well in confined spaces where an 18″ shotgun would be cumbersome.
RELIABLE AND SIMPLE OPERATION
The tried and true, 90 pump action operating system will feed and eject all types of loads reliably, under demanding conditions.
AMBIDEXTROUS SAFETY OF THE MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE
So the Shockwave’s tang mounted safety is easy to locate and so operate under stressful conditions without moving your hands from the firing position.
The Shockwave is capable of cycling 2 3/4″ and 3″ shells as well as popular and effective “Mini-Shells” with a simple, inexpensive adapter.
BASIC SPECS OF THE MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE
- Item Number: 50659
- UPC: 00015813506595
- Capacity: 5+1
- Operating System: Pump Action
- Sights: Single bead sight
- Forend: Black polymer Corncob Forend with strap
- Grip: Black Polymer Raptor bird’s head pistol grip
- Barrel Length: 14 in.
- Overall Length: 26.37 in.
- Weight: 5.25 oz
- Tang mounted ambidextrous safety
FINISHES OF THE MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE
- Metal Finish: Blued
- polymer Finish: Black
Before we get to our MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE review, a brief history lesson. So-called “sawed-off shotguns” have a long and legendary history going all the way back to the 1700s in original flintlock coach gun format. But we’re probably most familiar today with the short scatterguns carried by Chicago gangsters that led to the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934.
Intended by Congress to deal with the popularity of certain high-profile weapons among the always-warring gangland factions and the new breed of motorized highway bandits of the early 1930s, the NFA generically lumped sawed-off shotguns with barrel lengths under 18 inches, rifles with barrels under 16 inches, full-auto machine guns and suppressors into one nationally regulated category requiring a specific federal process to go through for legal possession, including a $200 tax stamp.
The NFA decition about MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE
This act accomplished several things, the most obvious of which was that it effectively removed legal possession of the affected items from reach of the everyday guy or gal who didn’t have $200 to spare in the middle of the Great Depression. The second most obvious effect was to add one more law for the professional lawbreaker to ignore who, then, just like today, tended to not bother registering their tools of the trade and drawing undue attention to themselves.
Since 1934, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BAFTE) has taken a dim view of those who possess shotguns with barrels that fall under the length limits outlined in the NFA who haven’t gone through the official process of submitting two sets of fingerprints, a photo, a background check, a letter of approval by local law enforcement and a $200 check to the appropriate BATFE division. With the recently expanded market demand in short-barreled-shotguns (SBSs), short-barreled rifles (SBRs), and suppressors in recent years, the turnaround time for approval has risen from four months to roughly 12 months.
Sizing Down the MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE
We’ve traditionally gone by the government’s two length requirements to define an SBS: If it’s a shotgun with a sub-16-inch barrel, or has a total overall length of less than 26 inches, it’s an SBS regulated by the NFA. Seems simple, but let’s open up a big can of confusion and try to follow the regulations as they’ve evolved.
This SBS definition applies to modifying what started out as a normal shoulder-fired shotgun with a stock. Cut the barrel back on a regular shotgun to less than 16 inches without the tax stamp and you’re an instant criminal, regardless of what your intentions were. Chop off either end or both for the gun to be less than 26 inches overall, and you have the same result. An “Any Other Weapon” (AOW) category was also created to address smoothbore “handguns” easily concealable on the body that fall under a certain length but was manufactured as such from the get-go at the factory. An AOW still requires the same federal process, but the charge here is a mere $5, as opposed to $200.
Then Mossberg introduced the 590 Shockwave in early 2017 and I couldn’t wait to review it. Calling it a “game-changer” would be putting it mildly.
Our MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGEReview
If you’ve somehow managed to miss all the buzz on this one, the Mossberg 590 Shockwave is a 12-gauge variant of Mossberg’s tried-and-true 590 pump-action shotgun with a 14-inch barrel and black polymer furniture, including a Shockwave Raptor pistol grip. And you can buy it from your local gun shop—local ordinances permitting—with no more fuss and bother than you’d encounter in buying any other run-of-the-mill handgun or rifle. No fingerprints, no federal forms beyond the standard 4473, no year-long wait, no $200 tax stamp. Not even a $5 AOW stamp.
How does this happen? Isn’t that 14-inch barrel an invitation to a stretch in a government vacation facility? Well, no. It turns out it’s all in the way the BATFE views it, and they gave it a green light. What’s the reasoning that makes it legal? Very simple: It’s not a shotgun. It’s simply a firearm. Huh?
In a March 2, 2017, letter, the BATFE declared that while the gun does indeed have a 14-inch barrel, it is not a shotgun in their eyes. They define it as a “firearm” because it is manufactured in such a way that prevents it from being fired from the shoulder. It doesn’t matter that it’s a smoothbore that shoots shotgun shells; the BATFE ruling on this model hinges solely on that non-shoulder-fired issue. From there, the firearm also falls off from any NFA regulations because it is slightly more than 26 inches long overall.
So this pistol-gripped firearm (PFG) sells, buys and possesses just like any other non-restricted firearm. That said, your state and local laws might have different definitions, so it’s important to check before you get your hopes up on this Mossberg.
MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE Details
Now let’s get to the gun itself. As mentioned, this 5.25-pound pump is based on Mossberg’s long-running 590 series with a five-round magazine tube under a heavy-walled 14-inch barrel. The action is a standard bottom-loading side ejector. You can directly load a round into the chamber through the right-side ejection port if needed. Twin action bars have always made the 590 a dependable cycler. Also, the quick and easy thumb safety up on top of the aluminum receiver is typically much preferred over the crossbolt-in-the-triggerguard type found on other brands.
The barrel and receiver have a dull, matte black finish. The polymer forend is ribbed along 4.5 inches of its length. It also features a very important nylon strap; this keeps your support hand from wandering too close to the muzzle while firing.
The Shockwave Raptor pistol grip is lightly textured to resist slippage under recoil, and sling swivel studs on it and the front magazine cap allow you to add a sling for hands-free carry. Finally, a medium-sized brass bead up front provides a frame of reference for aimed fire, and the grooved receiver top is drilled and tapped for an optic.
Test Parameters of MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE
I personally view PGFs as having certain limitations. While you may agree or disagree, my shooting session was based on those limitations. So I took six test loads with me to the range, and none approached magnum levels. I have no problem going heavy with a shoulder-fired 12-gauge, but not with a stockless design. So my test ammo included four 00 buckshot loads 1-ounce slugs and some #8 shotshells.
I fired all of the 00 buckshot loads two-handed and otherwise unsupported from the hip for patterning on a black B-27 silhouette at 7 and 15 yards. Then I fired the slugs from the same position to gauge the shotgun’s recoil and controllability, and I tested the birdshot just to compare recoil levels. I also did a speed run at 5 yards, bracing the grip just inside my right hip and firing as fast as I could cycle the MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE.
You’ve undoubtedly noticed the absence of any eye-level aimed firing. I find any PGF to be awkward and unwieldy for aiming, and I value my face too much to bother. With practice and the necessary upper body strength, aimed fire can be practical out to 50 yards or so. But without the stability of a shoulder stock, it’s a relatively slow process. There’s also always the danger of facial reorganization with heavy loads. I’ll leave aimed fire to you; just keep the gun as far away from your face as you comfortably can.
Buckshot & Slugs
The MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE cylinder-bore barrel produced its two tightest spreads at 7 and 15 yards with Federal 00 buckshot. In my eyes tighter patterns are always better for defensive shotgunning. Both Remington 00 buckshot loads opened up markedly at 15 yards while still holding tight enough for headshots. Federal’s copper-plated TruBall slugs did what slugs do, creating a huge hole at any distance.
I didn’t have a problem controlling the MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE with both hands; the gun never jumped ship. But it did move offline enough on every shot to require a recovery period in cycling and reengaging the silhouette. At 7 yards, once I started to develop some muscle memory on the barrel elevation, it became easy to plant lead consistently inside the silhouette quickly. But moving out to 15 yards, I had a tendency to either overshoot or undershoot.
Overall, if you keep the limitations of the PGF in mind, the Mossberg 590 Shockwave can fit a niche. This is not a hundred-yard slugger. But on the other hand, it can travel unobtrusively in spots where a fully stocked 20-inch-barreled shotgun can’t. The action was a bit sluggish out of the box, but a good break-in would clear that up. With effort and the right load, the Mossberg is viable beyond 15 yards in a defensive situation.
Final Thoughts of Our MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGEReview
The MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE’s compact dimensions are very packable for transport and dynamic for close maneuvering. But resist the impulse to sling it under a trenchcoat with your favorite round-town fedora. The BATFE letter states, “Please note that if the subject firearm is concealed on a person, the classification with regard to the NFA may change.” Should they get wind of you doing it and decide to prosecute, your state CCW permit wouldn’t cover you there.
I find a 12- or 14-inch-barreled shotgun with a folding stock more versatile. But that’s a Class III NFA weapon that requires BATFE notification in writing in advance anytime it crosses state lines. This MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE doesn’t have that problem, and it would make a great truck or home-defense gun where allowed. It’s also just plain cool.
Hopefully this MOSSBERG 590 SHOCKWAVE 12 GAUGE review helped. Do your local legal due diligence first, and if you’re good to go, Mossberg can help you find a dealer. For even more info, visit Mossberg’s website.