So, I want to thank everyone for their advice and opinions. Let me preface my decision by saying that all firearm decisions are compromises. There is no one "best", just what one perceives will work best for them.
I chose to buy the Mossberg 500 Combo from Dick's Sporting Goods for $349.
I chose the 500 because:
- I like the placement of the safety better on the Mossberg
- I like the placement of the Action Release better on the Mossberg
- The fit (length of pull) was better for me with the Mossberg
- The 500 came with an integrated cheekpad (the Remington didn't) that felt good
- $150 cheaper than the Remington 870 Combo (for this I can get a Red Dot Site, a hard case, and plenty of ammo)
As for the Remington:
- I'd concede that it is probably slightly better quality
- It doesn't have the looseness in the fore-end that the Mossberg has
- It came with a better scope (although I have no plans on using the scope and would upgrade it if I did)
Ultimately, the advantages of the Mossberg (location of controls, fit, and price) couldn't be overcome by the incremental better quality of the Remington for me
"Ideology deludes, inspires dishonesty, and breeds fanaticism. Facts, experience, and logic are much better at leading you to the truth."
"Despite the conviction and seeming depth of knowledge with which ideologues speak, they are intellectual weaklings--joiners--who defer to systems of belief and charismatic gurus for their ideas." -- Daniel J. Flynn