Mossberg 20 Gauge Self Defense Shotguns

Mossberg 500

Mossberg is expanding their line of 20 gauge self defense shotguns this year with two new model 500 Cruiser/Persuader models.  Both of the new models have extended magazines (total of eight 2 3/4″ shells) and a 20″ matte blue barrel.  Both of the new pump guns have ghost ring sights.

The model #54300 has a Bantam stock, which is a traditional fixed stock, but is slightly shorter than the normal fixed stock.  It offers a 13″ length of pull (LOP), which is shorter than the 14″ – 14.5″ LOP seen on other Mossberg shotguns.

The model #54301 uses an M4-style adjustable stock with a pistol grip.  This allows the user to adjust LOP from 10.75″ – 14.5″.  Other than stocks, the two shotguns are the same.

Mossberg 500

The 20 gauge shotgun is a viable self defense tool, especially when loaded with #3 buckshot or slugs.  The loads are very effective, but with less recoil than a 12 gauge.  Although Mossberg already makes 20 gauge model 500 shotguns for self defense, these two new guns bring them more in line with the offerings available for 12 gauge.

Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is


  • Either/Or

    These look like a very nice home defense option-much easier to manage with short LOP and will be lighter and easier to use for smaller folks.

    • Manny Fal

      It’s actually not good for home defense. It’s longer than it should be, not good for indoors and it requires two hands to load the next round, difficult to do if your grappled which is likely to happen at indoor home distances. A semi automatic shotgun with no stock and green laser pressure switch would make the best indoor defense weapon for the untrained.

      • Komrad

        So you’re saying that a pump action shotgun with 8+1 capacity is a poor home defense weapon and you’re advocating a gimicky laser sighting system and a pistol grip only stock?
        Also, a semi-auto shotgun requires two hands to reload.

        • Manny Fal

          A pump action is more of a single shot since wracking another round into the chamber for the untrained in a high stress situation is slow and easily fumbled. And a stock isn’t needed for indoor home distances maneuverability is more important.

          A Turkey firearm manufacturer sells a semi auto shotgun with pistol grip and no stock as standard. Is it a coincidence this is inline with my recommendations? Or do their clients in africa and the middle east know more about home defense and home invasions than their clients in the u.s.a?

          • Cymond

            If you search through some of the old TFB posts, you can read some by the Nigerian shotgunner known as Y-Man. His Turkish shotgun broke and he couldn’t even get simple repair parts. Then he bought a Mossberg Cruiser. Both were pistol-grip-only, and he did a lot of work to fabricate a shoulder stock because he couldn’t find one to buy. He eventually bought a stock while visiting the US. I suspected (but unsure) that he could not find a stock or shotgun with a stock due to local regulations. He couldn’t get any ammo other than birdshot, so he taught himself to make slugs.

            The point is that those customers don’t seem to have a lot of choice about what they can buy legally. Don’t use them as an example of good equipment.

            (funny note – his Turkish shotgun with pistol-grip-only and minimum length barrel was engraved with a hunting motif. Maybe to comply with some ‘sporting’ standard??)

          • Manny Fal

            The important point is that in africa and the middle east the general consensus is that a semi auto shotgun with pistol grip and no stock is the best choice for home defense for the the average civilian. This is probably due to a few factors, probably there is no money/access to ammo/training/shooting ranges. But that is why I think for the beginner the african/middle east populations consensus is more relevant, they represent the untrained civilians situation alot better.

          • Cymond

            You’re essentially arguing that inexperienced shooters have the best insight into what works well.
            I think that inexperienced shooters are basing their opinions on media, rumor, and armchair commandos.

          • Manny Fal

            I’m essentially saying inexperienced shooters have the best insight into what works best for inexperienced shooters.

          • Manny–not to argue the point at all but I worked the housing projects and very high crime areas in a metropolitan PD. They really don’t have a clue they just get what they can steal and use it. Handgun or shotgun even a .22LR. They use them all. One homicide I worked the suspect used a Marlin .22 semi-auto which did the trick unfortunately. He was still shooting when we rolled up on him. The range was about 75 yards.

          • Unfortunately to many new shooters make a choice in guns based on dubious advice from Internet commandos spouting erroneous information. It happens all to often.

          • Y-man

            Thanks, Cymond… The persons who mostly have and use the semi-auto with pistol-grip-only are the CRIMINALS. Most LICENSED shotguns have stocks…

          • Manny Fal

            Exactly Y-man, who would know more about home defense, criminals in africa/middle east or your average civilian/armchair commando in the u.s.a.

          • Hey Y-Man good to see you on here. I know if anybody has reliable information on shotguns for defense in Africa it’s you!!!

          • Bob Z Moose

            Y-man, nice to see you posting again! When do we get another African shotguning update?

          • Y-man

            Very soon Bob! Very soon. I’m working on an update right now, I have made PROGRESS!

      • balaclava

        have you ever seen a untrained person try to fire a pistol grip shotgun without a stock?

        • Manny Fal

          The majority of buyers of home defense shotguns probably shoot from the hip, making your point moot.

          • Y-man

            That is why they NEVER hit their targets, and most times take out their family members and the neighbor’s dog instead…

          • Yes and also drop the shotgun a fair amount of the time.

        • Yes they miss a lot. Also they are so frightened of the recoil they have both eyes shut when they fire. I’ve seen it to many times running a civilian training course for new shooters.

      • Either/Or

        All the other rediculousness aside, how does someone’s height/arm length mean they are untrained?

      • Bob Z Moose

        Is this really happening? Not sure, but for the cost of a semi-auto, pistol grip only, I could get that 590 in 20 gauge, a Magpul “Art of the Dynamic Shotgun” Blu-ray (HD lets you see all the hairs in Chris Costa’s beard), and a whole mess of 20 gauge buckshot to train with.

  • rapewhistle

    I am not saying a 20 gauge isn’t capable of knocking down intruders but I wouldn’t take the chance. A lot of people feel the same way about .22lr for self defense. I will stick with my 12 gauge loaded with low recoil 00 buckshot that my girl can easily handle if I’m not around

    • So full power 20 ga vs low recoil 12 ga… lets not go by seat of pants here, whats the math/ Will it penetrate 12″ of gel and a few layers of fabric?

      Also, what FPS is it leaving the barrel?

      • rapewhistle

        My reduced recoil loads are about 1150-1200fps, almost identical to the M19 shells our military used in previous wars to clear trenches. plenty of videos online of penetration results that prove its stopping power

      • matthew_carberry

        1500 fps, I think, for #3 20 ga standard velocity. Per Mas Ayoob it penetrates about the same as #4 out of a 12. I sincerely doubt the guy on the other end at room distances will notice.

    • Komrad

      20 ga is nearly as effective as 12 ga and is perfect for those who want their smaller framed family members to be capable of handling the family home defense gun or just those who are smaller framed. Really nothing wrong with either gauge with the proper loads. 20 ga would probably be slightly lighter though.

  • Doubleutf

    I think i’ll stick with my 12 gauge…

  • noob

    hmm. is there a good tactical 20ga semi-auto shotgun? consider what has more pellets- a single 12ga 00buck or a doubletap of two 20ga 00buck?

    • gwhysow

      Sa-20 tac by Mossy.

      • noob

        Nice! thanks.

  • Tim Stetzer

    No OO buck available in 20 gauge that I know of, which does kind of suck. Still, I have a Mossberg 20 set up for the house now. I use a 12 at work but don’t have any qualms on the 20. Mine’s loaded with Federal Personal Defense #4 Buck. 24 pellet loads.

    • matthew_carberry

      I think they have 00 now, but it isn’t size efficient.

  • Nothing less than a wheeled tri-pod mounted Saiga 12 with double drum mag, 1 million candle powered spotlight and a 10 watt laser is suitable for home defense. But a 20 ga pump is ok if that is all you have. 😉

  • sells it but its expensive as hell for 20GA shells

  • sianmink

    I’m not sure why it has a 20″ barrel, I guess so it can hold 8+1?

    As for 20ga self defense, full load 20ga is pretty much indistinguishable from low recoil 12ga when you’re talking about effect on target.

  • Low recoil 12 gauge 00 buck still has less recoil than any commercially available 20 gauge loads. Nice to see the bantam stock though, Mossberg’s standard 14.5 LOP stock seems sized for dudes over 6’2″

  • 20 Gauge Wiz

    Mossberg had these two new models on their website a month ago, now they are both “not found”. Hard to buy a gun the manufacturer says doesn’t exist…..

  • Peter Pocket

    Pul-l-lease, stop with the garbage talk .Slap a small tac rail with a light and/or laser on it, and you’ll never have to aim a pistol shotgun from the shoulder ever again.The shot will hit whatever the light hits once you get the two of them zeroed in.

    20 gauges are WAY LIGHTER and WAY MORE MANUEVERABLE than a 12 gauge. the lengths are exactly the same, so Manny, I don’t get your “It’s longer than it should be.”

    If length is a big issue, then get a SERBU SUPER SHORTY. Of course, you’ll only have 3 rounds in a 12-gauge concealed carry shotgun, but what the heck. It’s fun.

    It’s not just a recoil thing. The real problem with a 20 is shell variety. There is none. Not like 12-gauge where you can get any size buck from #00 to #28.

    Speaking of which, why do people run stupid YouTube videos comparing #00 to birdshot? If you want to get yourself killed, well, then using birdshot would be the way to go. It’s like they are totally ignorant of the wide range pellets available to them, in addition to rubber pellets and a 1 1/2″ rifled slug.

    Then again, let’s not forget about that thing called overpenetration. #00 has nine .32 caliber slugs that will penetrate wallboard if they miss the mark.

    Now I shot one of those rifled slugs at a concrete wall from 15 yards away and left a basketball-sized hole in the wall, so a low recoil load will also prevent hitting your neighbor.

    to Plus, #1 buck is 30% more lethal than #00 buck IN ANY GAUGE but nobody sells them.