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billt 08-16-2012 05:01 PM

Mossberg 500 Vs. 590 A-1 Mil-Spec ??
I've had a Mossberg 500 "Combo Gun" for some time now, and recently picked up a 590 A-1 Mil-Spec. I thought it would be helpful to do a comparision of the features / price / and value of both guns because while both may appear similar, there are a few differences worth pointing out.

First off I'd like to point out that isn't rust you're seeing in the pics. It is just very poor color saturation from my crappy Sony Cybershot camera. The "striped" appearance of the Parkerizing on the 590 are oil absorption marks that transferred from the case I had it in.


The Mossberg 500 "Combo-Gun", as it is referred to by several of the big box stores that sell it today, runs right around the $249.00 to $299.00 range. The 590 A-1 Mil-Spec runs, (as you see it configured), around $460.00 to $480.00. About $160.00 to $180.00 more.


The 500 "Combo" comes with a standard anodized receiver and 2 gloss blued barrels. The barrel you see mounted to the weapon is the 18" cylinder bore with a standard brass bead front sight that is threaded into the barrel. The gun also comes with a 28" Vented Rib standard field barrel that has a fixed Modified Choke. It does not accept screw in choke tubes. Mossberg does sell aftermarket barrels for this gun that do have them. It has the standard synthetic field stock and forend. The gun has a standard 5 + 1 capacity. Both barrels have 3" chambers.

The 590 A-1 Mil-Spec has a parkerized finish on all exposed parts. Barrel, receiver, and bolt, as well as the magazine tube are all Parkerized. The barrel is a 20" cylinder bore with a single brass bead threaded front sight. The magazine tube hold 8 rounds for a 8 + 1 capacity. It also has a 3" chamber. Other features of the 590 A-1 Mil-Spec Model are a bayonet lug that is threaded to accept a front sling swivel that comes with the gun, a heavy walled barrel, a metal safety button and trigger group, (the safety switch and trigger group on the 500 are plastic).

The 590 A-1 Mil-Spec also comes in an all but limitless amount of stock configurations. Standard, collapsible, as well as Speed Feed and others are offered. There is also the 590 SPX Model that comes complete with the Ontario Knife M-9 Bayonet.

Another feature of the 590 A-1 Mil-Spec Models are the dual barrel / magazine tube attachment points. As the photographs show, the 500 Models are attached by a single ring at the end of the magazine tube. The 590 A-1 Mil-Spec has a dual attachment system with two rings that are heavily brazed to the barrel. The barrel also attaches a bit differently on the 590. The magazine cap is completely removed, then the barrel removed. This is much like a Remington 870 in that regard. On the 500 the magazine cap does not completely come off.

The actions on both guns, while not totally identical, are very similar. The manual states that barrels and internal parts will not interchange between the 500 / 535 / 590 Models. I haven't tested this, so I'll take Mossbergs word on it.


Both of these guns exhibit excellent value and quality for the price. Both are made in the USA. If a person is looking for the most for his money, the 500 "Combo" is pretty hard to beat. It offers very good value for the dollar. Especially considering you get 2 barrels with the package. I've had around 1,500 rounds through mine total so far, and have not had a single issue or problem. These loads were a combination of low brass target loads, heavy 3" Magnums, as well as Buckshot and rifled slugs. It ate them all with zero issues. The 590 Mil-Spec I just received this past Friday, so I have not been able to evaluate it's performance. Hopefully I'll get out to the range next week to run it through it's paces.

If a shooter is looking for a well built, solid home self defense weapon, the 590 A-1 Mil-Spec would be a pretty difficult gun to beat. It was the only pump action, combat shotgun tested by the military that met Mil-Spec requirement Mil S-3443 which consisted of 3,000 rounds of Magnum buckshot with the gun being fully operational afterward.

The other guns in it's class are more expensive when similarly configured. It appears to be a gun that can hold up to a lot of rugged use. I think it would be a hard gun to beat in the role of a home self defense shotgun. Which is better? At this point having not yet run the 590 A-1 Mil-Spec through it's paces as of yet, I would say based on features and price, the 500 "Combo" is the better buy, while the 590 A-1 Mil-Spec is the better gun. Either way I doubt you could go wrong with either.

HockaLouis 08-16-2012 11:35 PM

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A good comparison and analysis.

First, reliabilty is a given. Ergonomics and economics too IMO. That MilSpec testing included freezing and baking the gun and dropping it (from 12', IIRC) onto concrete and THEN shooting it with military buckshot thousands of times without cleaning.

I would add that the 590 A1 20" is a HEAVY son-of-a-Model-500-gun. Actually, it is the grandson of the 500. The standard 590 (NON A1) offers some of the same basic features with the standard civilian weight barrel, etc., and is one of my two "if-I-could-have-only-one-gun" guns, LOL, made more versatile with a custom-added Poly-Choke.

The 18-1/2" barreled 590 A1 is a much handier gun I literally feel than the 20". This was my own choice of the two. No, there's no bayonet lug on this shorter one and, yes, I added aftermarket mag extensions but that was always the plan having handled them both first. 5+1+1 or 5+2+1 is still more maneuverable than the longer 8+1 to me -- one needs to be able to quickly swing and snap-shoot a shotgun in its proper employment if need be.

There are choices of different barrels/sights as well. First thing I did after shooting my A1 was to remove/replace the asinine, albeit cool looking, ghost ring sights barrel setup and put their simple beaded barrel on. Eventually I added Mossberg's three-dot sights version.

As for all the other attributes? The bolt in the 590 A1 is blackened and the alloy receiver is also thicker. The whole 590 A1 gun is the 500-based 590 on steroids!

Lots o' choices at fair and reasonable prices. The only things I'd change in the lighter and I, frankly, think underpriced 500 is the plastic safety (for SURE!) and maybe reduce the forend-play of the standard 500 a tad which is a personal preference. Other than those the world's your oyster and, basically, you can't go wrong.

billt 08-17-2012 01:34 AM

Thanks Hock for the additional information. I didn't know the receiver was thicker on the 590 as well as the barrel. I had thought about the Ghost Ring sight configuration, after reading your analysis, I'm glad I went with the standard bead front sight. I was watching a video by Hickok 45 on You Tube, where he puts a Mossberg 590 A-1 Mil-Spec through it's paces. He made some very impressive 200+ yard shots with standard Foster type slugs, offhand with a standard bead front sight. How many extra rounds will your Speed Feed Stock hold?

HockaLouis 08-18-2012 02:08 AM

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The SpeedFeed is (was?) referred to as the (SpeedFeed) +4. I don't actually know how many I have -- LOL. Didn't own a sidesaddle till a year or two ago when I was working on a "project" gun with a pistol-grip-only and then a top-folder.

The 590 A1 receiver is heavier. The ghost ring sights (GRS') are so tacticool looking and useful for rifle shooting, I'm sure, but they totally limit your field of view -- the opposite of what a shotgun needs most to do what it does best. For fast target acquisition and working within the range envelope of a shotgun, skip 'em. The manufacturers don't even slant the damn ears outward a tad to match your visual perspective so you only see the edge instead of the insides!

3-Dot below is middle-of-the-road compromise, Mossberg #52682

billt 08-22-2012 11:46 AM

Just thought I'd mention it. Cabela's has Rio Royal 2 3/4", 00 Buck on sale for just $2.19 for a box of 5. I think the sale lasts until the end of this week. I was there yesterday and picked up a couple hundred rounds for when I hit the range later today with the new 590 A-1. That comes to only .44 cents a round. Rio is manufactured in McEwen, Tennessee.

The shells have a standard load of 9 pellets of 00 Buck loaded to 1,345 FPS. They are loaded into a semi transparent case with a clear plastic over wad on top with a roll crimp. I'm thinking of going back this morning and grabbing another hundred rounds before hitting the range. That's the absolute cheapest I've seen 00 Buck in a long time.

billt 08-22-2012 10:21 PM

Well I decided to head out to the desert today with the new Mossberg 590 A-1 and run it through itís paces. We got almost an inch of rain last night, so I knew it wouldnít be too dusty, thatís for sure. I brought along a hand trap and some clay targets, and a bunch of water filled jugs, cans, and some other stuff I had lying around to shoot at. I stopped at Cabelaís this morning and picked up another 100 rounds of the Rio, 00 Buckshot they had on sale for just $2.19 for a box of 5. I also had some Federal 3Ē 000 Magnum Buckshot loads, and about 50 slug loads. Some Winchester, Remington, and a few Federal.

Before we left I lubed the action up really good. I set up several water filled 2 liter bottles at about 30 feet, and filled the magazine with 3Ē rifled slugs. The gun ran through them flawlessly, vaporizing the bottles into nothing more than shredded plastic. The 3Ē Magnum 000 Buckshot loads did much the same. Recoil was stout, but it felt a bit less than the same loads run through my Mossberg 500 I brought along as well. I had a can of Miller Lite thatís been sitting in the fridge for months that I shook up real good, then smacked it with a 3Ē slug from about 25 feet away. It erupted like a can of shaving cream! It's amazing how accurate that single bead front sight is once you learn to settle into the same sight position every time.

My wife shot it with both the slugs and buckshot loads, but found the recoil to be a bit uncomfortable. I had a bunch of Trap loads I brought along, so I threw several clays for her, which she had no trouble breaking consistently. Tossing clay targets from a hand trap is like shooting fish in a barrel, when compared to shooting singles from the 16 yard line, but itís still enough of a challenge to do it with a cylinder bore riot gun.

I had some short pieces of 2 X 4ís I brought along, and sat them against a small hill. I shot them with 3Ē 000 buckshot, 2 ĺĒ 00 buckshot, as well as Trap loads, (1 1/8 ounce of #8ís loaded with 17.5 grains of Clays). From 6 to 8 feet away the buckshot had zero trouble chewing the 2 X 4ís in half. It didnít surprise me how much damage the Trap loads did from that distance either. They would have been extremely lethal at that close of a range. They chewed right through the wood like a spade drill. The 1-1/8th ounces of shot almost acting like a slug at that close of a distance.

Through all of this the gun performed flawlessly. It was amazing how slick the action became after about 200 rounds or so. It was very humid, so after cleaning up after ourselves we decided to call it a day. After we got home it was humid as hell out, so I set up a fan in the garage and gave both guns a good wet cleaning with clean Kerosene, cut with a little Hoppes #9. Both barrels got a good brushing until they were spotless. While shooting I tried not to heat them up too much. This greatly reduced the plastic fouling from the wads. Afterward I gave the actions a good blow dry with compressed air, and a good oiling. The 590 A-1ís action improved immensely after the cleaning and relubrication. Itís far smoother than I though it would get from just a bit of use. The Parkerizing can be quite ďgrittyĒ, and after you wear it off the high contact areas, it really smoothens thing up.

The only downside to the day was the high humidity from all the rain we got last night. But I canít complain. And the way itís shaping up, itís looking like weíre in for some more rain later today and tonight. We donít get much of it in these parts. All in all it was a good day, and I couldnít ask for a better performing gun than this new Mossberg 590 A-1 Mil-Spec!

HockaLouis 08-23-2012 12:17 AM

Great -- thanks for sharing. Yeah, it's a terrific arm. Thoughts on the weight and maneuverability?

By the way, that really is a great price for the ammo; the least I think I've ever paid, once, recently is $2.54 for Federal 'military' and it came in an ammo can (too cheap to pass up though I need #00 Buck like a hole in the head). I waited 18 months once for Winchester #1 Buck for $3.87 -- it was normally 25% higher when the order finally came in, is still 13% higher now, and I expect will go up again... $3.50-$4.00 is the norm for us. You done good and if you shoot it and like it, I'd invest a little cash in a little cache of it tomorrow...

Zombiegirl 08-23-2012 12:19 AM

I have 2 Mossbergs and love them both. :)

PanBaccha 08-23-2012 12:21 AM

I most certainly do love my Mossberg 590A1. Yeah! :D

billt 08-23-2012 12:37 AM


Originally Posted by HockaLouis (Post 912513)
Great -- thanks for sharing. Thoughts on the weight and maneuverability?

I found the gun to be extremely maneuverable. I wouldn't want it any lighter. If it were heavy loads would be too uncomfortable to shoot in any large amounts. I like the forend on the 590 A-1 a bit better than the "field" style forend on the 500. It's a bit smaller and less cumbersome, and it's easier to grasp and maneuver quickly. The 590 A-1 also seems to be a little quicker to mount from the hip.

The only drawback I could find on the 590 A-1, (and this is really nit picking), is the recoil pad is very "grippy", and will catch on a loose fitting tee shirt or clothing. That is easily remedied by bringing the gun into your shoulder more abruptly, rather than trying to slide it up into position. But it is a better all around pad. It did a better job of absorbing recoil from the heavier 3" Magnum buckshot and slug loads.

It took a bit of getting used to, but once you figured out bead placement and alignment, (keeping it a little low on the receiver), it's possible to really hit with slugs quite accurately with this gun.

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