For the aspiring 3-gun shooter, the market used to be pretty sparse for out of the box competition ready guns. Shooters looking for a new scattergun were basically forced to purchase a stock autoloader and then spend nearly the cost of the gun over to again on modifications and kit to extend the magazine, improve ergonomics, ease loading, improve trigger pull, and the list goes on.
However, now there are plenty of options out there from which to choose. One such option is the Mossberg 930 JM Pro Series, based on their popular gas-operated autoloaders.
The gun, at its heart, is a 930, and as such is compatible with most accessories meant for 930s, including stocks, forends and barrels. As the pro series, however, it carries quite a few extra go-fast features. First, and most easily noticed, is the extended magazine tube, extended to 8 shots capacity on the 22″ model featured in this article, and 9 shots in the 24″. The extension is Nordic Components, a name synonymous for quality in the shotgun sports. The loading port has been beveled and relieved, and the rear of the forend shortened to make loading easier. It also has a vent-rib barrel with a red fiber optic bead, an adjustable overtravel stop for the trigger, and a big chunky charging handle.
At the range, the gun handles nicely, a bit front-heavy with a full tube but not hard to swing. Recoil from birdshot is comfortable and controllable, slugs are pushy, but not painful, and 3” slugs aren’t even too bad to shoot out of it. The interchangeable chokes are great for making this a jack-of-all-trades gun. This one came with Improved Cylinder, Modified, and Full Chokes, I tend to prefer Modified for 3-gun, as it keeps enough shot on target for those stubborn Texas stars and Polish plate racks, without sacrificing too much pattern spread for hitting up close quickly and sloppily. Reliability was acceptable, once I swore off the cheapest Winchester Universal shells, as they tended to stick in the chamber, to the point of the extractor tearing the rim off when trying to cycle it. When fed Federal bulk it ran like a top. For matches, I stick with Winchester AA heavy target loads.
I have noted a few drawbacks, the first, and most painful, is the lifter design. The small, semicircular cut in the front of the lifter absolutely loves to catch your thumb off guard and pinch. Badly. There are gunsmiths out there that will weld up this spot to get rid of the cut (and the pinching). This is a common competition mod for other guns as well, including the venerated Benelli M2.
A bigger gripe is the follower, which can bind up between the extension and main magazine tube, as the inner diameter changes (narrowing 0.020”) between the extension and stock tube. The sharp right angles of the stock follower bound up in the tube and caused a serious hangup in a stage, rendering the gun unusable until the follower was knocked loose with a cleaning rod. This frustrated me to the point where I designed a new, low drag follower, and had it carved from stainless steel. Since then I haven’t had a single feed hangup, and it’s easier to verify an empty tube.
Lastly, the gun tends to get dirty fast, and if the piston fouls too much, it will cause failures. I had this happen on a borrowed 930 SPX with the same piston design that had enough fouling that the bolt wouldn’t go into battery fully. If you keep on top of cleaning it, I clean before every match, especially the gas piston, this should be a non-issue.
But, even with these drawbacks, it is still a very good competition ready gun out of the box, with lots of nice bells and whistles, for, and this is truly amazing, fully one third of the price of a comparably equipped Benelli M2 3 gun. The big competitor in the same price bracket is the CZ 712 Practical, which sports a pistol grip and adjustable stock, which I personally don’t care for in a scattergun.
Bottom Line? I really like this gun. It’s a great 3-gun ready shotgun, that also makes a good jack-of-all-trades (master of none) gun for messing around in the other shotgun sports. I would definitely buy this gun. In fact, I did. The gun featured in this article is now mine, and I still love it.
Caliber: 12 gauge
Barrel length: 22″ or 24″
Capacity (2 3/4″ Shells): 8+1 (22″) or 9+1 (24″)
Action: Semi-automatic, gas piston
Sights: Vent rib, fiber-optic bead.