Remington 870 vs. Mossberg 500 Series

The age old question of Remington 870 vs. Mossberg 500 has plagued shooters for decades. In this episode of TFBTV, Patrick takes a look at the two shotguns to talk about some of the features of each and reveals what shotgun is his favorite based on the features alone.

What choice would you make? Tell us in the comments.

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Transcript ….

[coming soon]



Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Co-Director for TFBTV. He is a verified gun nerd. With a lifelong passion for shooting, he has a love for all types of firearms, especially overly modified plastic handguns, precision rifles, and AR based things. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at TFBpatrick@gmail.com.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Rick O’Shay

    I’m a lefty… the 500 all day.

    • valorius

      Yep.

    • CommonSense23

      As a lefty also. 870.

    • Mike

      A lefty here as well, I have the 590 with the heat shield and love it, The thumb safety is so sweet.

    • Flounder

      So many funny people in this thread. JK but doesn’t remington offer a lefty version? For the same price? or a 50$ premium?

      • iksnilol

        yeah, but then you’re stuck with a Remington.

      • Rick O’Shay

        Ooooorrrr I could buy a non-FG shotty and not worry about quality control.

  • Jared Vynn

    Black Mesa T-shirt, nice.

  • valorius

    I’ll take Winchester 1300 Defender for $1000, Alex.

    • Kivaari

      Do they still shear off the screw on the bottom of the bolt carrier like the 1200 when clearing a double feed?

      • valorius

        Couldn’t honestly say, i never had a double feed.

        • Kivaari

          Going back at least 30 years when the 1200 was first bought by local PDs, they had quite a few double feeds. The “cure” was to beat the butt on the ground. It worked with Remingtons, but a screw on the bolt carrier in the Winchesters sheared off. We had quite a few come through the shop. Even the early Remingtons gave some fits and Remington developed the slotted lifter to improve the “emergency action”. Perhaps the 1300 solved the issue. I know I just never bothered with Winchester M1200/1300/1400/1500 after that. The autoloaders were constantly breaking down and the parts were simply cheap.

          • valorius

            The 1300D is built like a tank, has a spring loaded pump (of sorts), and generally holds 1 rd more than any other tubefed shotgun on the market of the same OAL. Check one out, i think you’d be suitably impressed.

          • Kivaari

            Thanks.

          • valorius

            Here’s a pic of the bolt carrier group, you see the screw you were thinking of anywhere?

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9c8f3af0343423c3aff546c45a3d1e0988e11b586443b5359e645b10b4082fbd.jpg

            It’s a rotary bolt like an AR, pretty cool setup for a shotgun.

          • Flounder

            There is a screw on the bottom. It is pretty tiny. The thing on the back is an early firing pin. The one I have is solid. Although… Maybe mine was the weird one?

          • valorius

            I don’t have my Defender any more to check.

          • Kivaari

            No. There was a plate on the bottom of the carrier held on by a screw. If it’s gone, that’s a good deal. I’ll check one out.

  • Kelly Jackson

    They’re about equal, the Mossberg is lighter but I’ve never handled one that didn’t rattle, the Remington is heavier but feels more solid.

    And let’s be honest, the “Remington is trash” crowd is made up of the same group of people running around with AR15s cobbled together from tacticool webstores.

    • EHW2

      Actually, the “Remington is trash” crowd is a much more diverse group than you give them credit for.
      Take me, for example. Got my 870 wingmaster about six years ago. My dad is an 870 owner as well, his NEVER had any problems and looks like it might as well be new despite being older than I am. HOWEVER….
      My 870 failed to cycle properly and needed to be sent in for maintenance the first time it was used. The ridges on the barrel ribbing started to accumulate what appeared to be rust, indicating that the metal had not been coated properly during manufacture.
      Had a friend with an 870 made in the same time period, same thing happened to him. Back to Remington!
      Their quality control went down the drain around the time they joined Cerberus and I haven’t heard of any improvement since. Remington is trash, which is a shame because they clearly used to make great 870s.
      NOT ANYMORE. Advantage Mossberg.

    • Koh

      The Remington Model 31 was an exceptional shotgun, well within the category of the Win Mod.12 (which has more ACTUAL combat experience than an 870) and Ithaca model 37. The 870 that replaced it has always been a cheap gun in comparison. Cheap gun in design, cheap gun in materials, but was (emphasis on WAS) a good cheap gun, there was a lot of bang for the buck.

      The 870s sold now are a different story. Freedom Group Remington quality control is all over the place, and the bad guns are really bad. My personal experience is with a 2009 vintage 870 that would not extract, called Remington and was told to polish the chamber. Not directed to a Remington service gunsmith, told to do it myself. With a Brand…New…Gun…

      If you are in love with an 870, buy an old one, otherwise there are better options out there now.

      • Mark Kraemer

        I can vouch for the Model 31. I finally got my hands on the family shotgun. We’ve had it since the 80’s, but it was made in 1934. Hand fitted and the smoothest you’ve ever felt. They advertised it as “ball bearing action”. Didn’t have em, but it made good copy and felt that good. They literally don’t make em like that anymore.

    • Flounder

      I have one complaint. Every person I have seen shoot an 870 has had the pump “stick” forward and get stuck there. I agree the 500’s pump is sloppier, but the action itself should be just as tight. Otherwise you are looking at a crappy one. Like one that barely passed QC.

    • n0truscotsman

      Im one of those people.

      Its depressing knowing what Remington *was* and what they are *now*. This is especially true in the case of the 870.

      I have a couple old 870s. The new ones dont even compete in terms of quality and craftsmanship.

    • Raginzerker

      I was a Remington fan till my buddy bought a newly express, just didn’t look as good, or cycle as good as my old wingmaster

  • The Mystic Seer

    500 just on the safety location alone.

    • Sand

      I posted this a few days ago in the 870 express tactical review thread, but I think it’s worth repeating.

      I chose an 870 for my hunting gun because I have seen a couple ND/ADs where a tang mounted safety was likely a contributing factor. It was worth it to me to have the safety a little more protected and actuation a little more deliberate in order to minimize those “oh crap” moments when you realize that you’ve been swinging a loaded shotgun around (but hopefully still always in a safe direction…) for the past hour with the safety off. Even so, I’ve shot the thing enough that as soon as a bird flushes, the safety is off like magic without even having to think about it.

      But yes, if you see self defense as being a primary use case, I understand how a tang mounted safety would be preferable.

    • Palmier

      I’ve never understood this, that kind of safety is my favorite style on any gun.

  • Major Tom

    Kel-Tec KSG-25.

    Why settle for old as dirt mossberg 500/590 or Remington 870 when I can get a pump gun that’s more innovative? (And holds 20/25/40+1 shells)

    • Kelly Jackson

      By “innovative” you mean copy of the 1992 Neostead right?

      • Probably not, since the KSG’s operation and loading method has almost nothing in common with the Neostead.

        • Kelly Jackson

          Except for that whole dual magazine tubes above the barrel setup.

          • That’s like saying a 2018 Corvette is a copy of a ’99 Lincoln Navigator because they both have DOHC engines. The Neostead was a pump-forward design where the magazines tilted up for loading, the KSG is a rear pump that loads from below behind the grip.

          • Flounder

            There are predecessors to that. Look at forgotten weapons. The youtube channel or the website.

          • iksnilol

            So the M16 is a copy of the AK? I mean, both have the whole detachable box magazine under the receiver setup going on.

    • Zack mars

      Why settle for something made by keltec?

      • Brian Menin

        Because their quality is years ahead of what it used to be. I was skeptical, but my KSG has run flawlessly through hundreds of rounds. It shares a safe with a pair of 870s, a Versamax Tactical, and a custom Saiga 12.

        None of them compare to my Defender 1300 that I picked out for my dad 20+ years ago. That’s always my go-to for home defense.

    • andrey kireev

      reloading KSG is pain in the ass, tears up my fingers quite a bit

      • iksnilol

        Yeah, but you only have to load it once if it’s the 20+ shell model.

        • andrey kireev

          True, but 20 shell version gonna be weighting about 12lbs witthout an optic… it’s 9.25lbs empty according to Keltec website…

          • iksnilol

            So?

          • andrey kireev

            heavy

          • iksnilol

            I repeat: “So?”

          • andrey kireev

            So, its pain in the rear end to be hiking hills/mountains with a heavy gun, gets tiring really quick

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but there ain’t no hiking hills or mountains in your house. Which is what that thing was meant for.

          • andrey kireev

            With that length of the barrel ? 20rds would be an overkill for home defense too…. I can see using this for hunting or skeet shooting, but original version would do way better in home defense, shorter barrel will give you just a bit more spread too.

          • iksnilol

            Why not? Bury your enemies under a mountain of lead.

          • andrey kireev

            Good point… I should be ready to be home invaded by 10+ people …what an oversight on my part !… Thanks for identifying this vulnerability in my home defense plan, I’m pretty much forced to buy one now !

          • iksnilol

            I mean, people use 30 round mags in their ARs just to be sure. Why settle for 5-8 shots just ’cause it’s a shotgun.

          • andrey kireev

            I think what you’re saying is, I need a belt fed shotgun….

          • iksnilol

            LITERALLY, FOR DECADES I’VE BEEN SAYING THAT (well, one decade).

            All the other solutions for shotguns are too bulky, just look at 20 round drum mags and 10 round box mags for Saigas.

    • Raginzerker

      Well the advantage the 500/870 has over the ksg is they aren’t built by Kel Tec

  • Well, Mossbergs don’t rust away to nothing if you stare at them too intently, so I’d say this contest is over before it starts.

    • EHW2

      Too true.
      What causes that anyway?
      Improper application of coating at the factory?

      • Post-Freedom Group Remington’s complete and utter lack of quality control means that you might get a gun that had everything go right during manufacture and will last for years of tough use, or you might get one where some random factory worker spilled their Coke in the blueing mix and didn’t bother to clean it out because minimum wage is not conducive to giving a fsck. If I had to guess as to the specific failure mechanism, I’d say it’s probably a combination of cheapo degreaser fluid, poorly-maintained cheapo sprayers, cheapo blueing fluid, and poorly-maintained surface treatment equipment being applied to low quality steel.

  • Dabloon@goldfingers.com

    We know what leprechauns prefer now.

    • Flounder

      need all nine shots to protect that pot of gold.

  • Brett baker

    Another lefty, another 500. Of course, neither is a pimple on the butt of a Shuang Dong Ithaca sorta copy😉

  • John

    So the answer is Saiga, I take it?

  • Audie Bakerson

    I’m not time traveling to before 2007, so Mossberg.

  • InfidelCrusader

    I was introduced to both back in the early 80’s. Remingtons ruled the roost back then and the Mossbergs were economy model jam-o-matics that couldn’t be relied upon. That time has come and gone with Mossberg really upping their game by fixing the jamming problem and dramatically improving their quality control. Remington seems to struggle to keep up now and rarely manages to do it. I’ll take a Mossberg.

  • Spencerhut

    A few things to keep in mind if you are
    buying a new pump shotgun for protection today. There are only really
    two good choices and many Turkish and Chinese bad choices. I’m
    talking about a life saving tool here, not a toy or bird gun.
    It’s
    simple, Mossberg 500/590 or Remington 870. Mossberg 500 is the same
    as a 590, just not as tough so I prefer the 590, but they are both
    fine.
    The Turkish and Chinese guns are made cheap to be sold
    cheap. They break, end of that discussion.
    The 590 and 870 are
    both solid guns you can bet your life on. Buy either one with
    confidence but if you plan on using either one a lot, keep the
    following in mind.

    I’ve repaired more 870’s and a lesser
    number of 500/590’s than I care to admit. Open your mind and learn
    from my experience. Put Remington’s and Mossberg’s QA issues aside,
    they have both had issues and Remington still does it seems. If the
    factory send you crap, send it back until it is right, either gun.

    What breaks?
    On the Mossberg it’s the ejector, trigger group
    pin or action slide tube assembly usually in that order. On the
    Remington it’s the ejector, shell latch(s) and the forend tube
    assembly.

    The big difference it not what breaks,
    but how hard it is to repair them when they break, and it you shoot
    them enough, they will both break sooner or later.

    Ejector on the Mossberg is literally a
    5 minute job that is impossible for anyone to mess up, even at home
    with minimal tools. The Remington ejector on the other hand requires
    drilling out two rivets and using a special tool to put them back. No
    big deal after you have done 10 or so, but a real knuckle biter on
    the first time you fix one. Mess it up and the receiver could be
    ruined. This repair leaves rivet heads that don’t match the receiver
    finish when complete and you can live with the new rivet color or get
    the receiver refinished. Win Mossberg, by a lot.

    Action bars, forend tubes are not a big
    deal on either to replace. These just wear on both guns out from very
    aggressive usage. Be just a tad gentle or just plain smooth in what
    you do and they last much longer.

    Mossberg trigger group pin is a 30
    second job and a couple of bucks to replace.

    Remington shell latches are another job
    requiring special tools and you can ruin the receiver if done
    improperly. Hammers are involved, it’s easy once you figure out how
    to do it correctly. You can only deform the metal in the receiver so
    many times to fix this, so you should really try to do it right the
    first time. On the Mossberg the shell latches just fall out and it’s
    super easy to replace one if you need to. Another major win for the
    Mossberg.

    Both guns can benefit from an upgraded
    safety, but the Mossberg safety tends to be more intuitive and easier
    to use for most people right out of the box.

    I was raised on Remington shotguns and it took years of fixing
    them and the Freedom group buying Remington and messing up even the
    new guns to make me a Mossberg fan. But that switch is complete, I’m
    a 590/930 guy until something changes.

    • andrey kireev

      Dunno… Stoeger M300 and M3K generally have pretty good track record compared to the 930…

    • Flounder

      excellent post sir.

    • KestrelBike

      Wow, thanks for typing all that up!

    • Nicks87

      I’ve shot hundreds of rounds through my cheap ass H&R pardner pump and it has worked flawlessly. Damn right it was cheap and worth every penny ($200 after tax at walmart). It’s a better built 870. Think I’m lying? Go to Walmart and check one out for yourself.

      • Porty1119

        Agreed, the Chinese 870 clones are better guns than actual new-production 870s now. Both of ours are great.

        The Chinese Ithaca 37 clones, and the “Ultra 87″…run away. Fast.

        • John

          I’ve also heard great things about the Girsan MC 312, turkish Benelli M2 clone with a ~$300 price tag

      • Spencerhut

        Yes, yes . . . totally. Walmart has all the best “Made in China” life saving tools on sale everyday. It’s your money and of course it’s your life.

        • Nicks87

          Mine doesn’t sit in a closet waiting for some hypothetical home defense situation, I use mine to hunt birds and small game. I abuse the s**t out of it because it was a cheap ass shotgun. It rides around in a truck and it’s never malfunctioned once.

    • Jack

      I like how no one ever remembers the Benelli Nova/Supernova in these discussions… Easily the better shotgun in both quality and features compared to Remington and Mossberg

    • n0truscotsman

      ^this

      Out of the scores of shotgun models I’ve ever operated whether in a training or tactical environment, Mossberg is by far the superior choice. They lack the refined features of other names, although their rugged simplicity makes them an obvious choice for anybody who wants an inexpensive, high quality shotgun.

    • TDog

      Wait a minute… you spent the first paragraph talking about how Chinese and Turkish guns break and how the Remington and Mossberg are great…

      … and then the next few paragraphs describing in lurid detail how Remingtons and Mossbergs break.

      I’m glad you know so much about guns, but isn’t it a tad contradictory to say “These guns suck because they break, American-made shotguns never break, and here’s how much I know because this is how American-made guns break”?

      • Spencerhut

        Every machines breaks sooner or later, if you actually use it. 590/870 are both good solid machines and when you pound the crap out of them they both break in different ways. Both 590/870 are common and easy to fix with readily available parts. Chinese/Turkish guns break even under light use and parts and people to work on them are not easy to find. But don’t listen to me. Go buy a $179 12ga from Walmart and then trust you life and the life of your family to it.

        • iksnilol

          But they are literally exact clones of the “much better” American guns… how can they then have rare parts and be difficult to fix?

    • George

      Thanks for the info. I read a couple of reviews where Turkish models were graded well. I didn’t know they are more prone to breakage than Mossberg and Remington. It sounds like their lifespan is shorter as well. If they’re a copy of American models, why are Turkish models more inclined to break?

  • codfilet

    Well, this topic ought to keep the site traffic clicking all weekend……..

  • Haulin’ Oats

    It’s time for both companies to stop resting on their laurels and update both designs to address the perceived weakness and compromises you have to make in deciding one over the other. Or we the buying public should start choosing some of the other options on the market, like FN, Beretta, Benelli, CZ, and others.

    • iksnilol

      They need to make a 40mm version, that’s what.

      • Haulin’ Oats

        I want my 10 gauge Benelli M4 or 10ga pump with a detachable magazine drum/box.

        • iksnilol

          That’s ridicilous. 40mm or 12 gauge, gotta stick to standard cartridges.

          • Brett baker

            Let’s compromise. Russian 30mm, it’ll make Green Hell happy.

          • iksnilol

            If going for 30mm caseless then we need an LSAT or G11 chambered for it. It is caseless after all.

          • Haulin’ Oats

            10ga is still in production. I think Winchester or Remington make ammo for it.

      • Gary Kirk
        • iksnilol

          The fools, they had it right so many years ago yet they cancelled it.

  • missourisam

    As a police officer on a large department I was assigned a Winchester Mod. 12 WWII era. Faultless performance and the slickest action I ever used. The anti gun chief decided to ” modernize” by borrowing Rem. 870 s from a sister department. I for one offered to buy my Mod.12. No way. The idiot chief ordered the Winchesters cut through the receiver with the bolt closed with a tungsten burning bar.

    Enter the super 870. Loading under pressure can cause a short insertion of the new round. Ever dig a live round out from under the shell carrier with a pocket knife while under fire? Makes you hate the S.O. B. real quick. I have used the 870, the Mossberg 500, the Mod. 12, and since I’ve retired I own a Mossberg Maverick 88 as my personal protection shotgun. The exact copy of the old Remington Mod.31. That is the plan until I can find a good mechanically sound Mod. 12 that looks like crap that I can justify cutting down the barrel on.

    My take on the 870, the older ones were decent bird guns, with no experience with the newer ones. But as a defense weapon they suck big time.

    • Flounder

      Dude… I feel the pain of digging out a round that gets all screwed up with the shell lifter.

    • Kivaari

      For about 30 years, Remington has fitted a slotted carrier to the gun so you can take corrective action by hitting the butt of the gun on the deck. The gun cycles. The old models were a sometimes thing, hence the replacement.

    • Dougscamo

      The thought of a Model 12 being destroyed in this manner makes me ill….

    • George

      Unfortunate they destroyed the shotguns rather than sell them…I didn’t know the Maverick 88 is a copy of a past Remington. I thought it is a more economical Mossberg 500.

  • Out of the Fray

    Winchester Model 12 pre 60….the older the better….

  • Glen Hess

    I have both, But the best pump gun I’ve ever had was one of the old wingmasters. It never failed to work properly, and in fact had belonged to one of our local police chiefs before I got it. But unfortunately I had to sell it in tough times. But another thing to consider is that if you want an M4 type stock on your shotgun, the amby safety on the Mossberg isn’t so convenient anymore. I hate that both companies have let their QC go to crap lately, I’m going to keep my eyes open for a good buy on some old ones.

    • Raptor Fred

      Wingmasters are neat

    • Flounder

      We could debate the aftermarket accessories all day… But you raise a valid point about pistol gripped shotguns and the tang safety.

      I learned the hard way I vastly prefer classical styled stocks on shotguns. It just is much more comfy for the operations of loading and pumping. idk why exactly. I like pistol grips on all my rifles. I suspect the magazine (on rifles) makes the difference.

  • Jirka Kýhos

    Viva la Black mesa

  • KestrelBike

    My first and only pump is a Benelli Nova Tactical (18.5″, ghost ring sights that aren’t too bad) that i got for about $380 after mail in rebate, love that thing. Never a hiccup that wasn’t my fault (excited short stroking during a 3gun match).

  • John Ruhl
    • mazkact

      Gorgemous. My Maternal Grandfather had a 1897 that He feed the family with. I hope my cousin still has it.

  • New Chris

    Mossberg 930 JM Pro… I really don’t understand why people prefer pump shotguns when there are so many good reliable semi autos out now. mine has reliably fed everything from low brass 7 1/2 to 3″ magnum 00 buck.

    • Palmier

      Price. Pumps are cheap.

    • Raginzerker

      Because I like pump guns more, had a 935, thing was garbage

  • Vizzini

    I ended up with two 870s (one Express 12-gauge, one 20-gauge youth model) before I was educated enough to understand about how much better the Mossberg safety was for a lefty. I have a lot invested in my 12-gauge 870 now (new barrel, fore-end, extended mag tube (I had to have a gunsmith grind out the stops in the tube — old Express mag tubes couldn’t be extended otherwise), Knoxx recoil-reducing stock) so I just cope with the safety, but if I had it to do over again, I’d start with Mossberg.

    ETA: It seems to be an important point, my 12-gauge is late 80s, my 20-gauge early 2000s, both pre Freedom Group.

  • Vizzini

    Anyone have any experience with Stevens pumps?

    • mazkact

      I have one that was made in the forties, Model 820. The 820 was my first multi shot firearm, Dad bought it for me when I was fifteen. The 820 had no disconnect so you could pump it with the trigger pressed and it would shoot, like many older pump shotguns. Once I discovered this it became my choice of shooting styles(15 years old). After many years of shooting this way it caused a spring to break, a spring that no one had in stock ever. The 820 sat idle for about twenty years until I found a complete trigger group on ebay, love my old 820 but these days when it rarely comes out to play it is not slam fired.
      As I understand itt he new Savage/Stevens shotguns or made in China, FWTW.

  • mazkact

    I have both. My 870 Express is a pre Freedom group, no issues with it. In 2010 my Wife wanted a pump 20 gauge so I bought Her a Mossberg Super Bantam . We both like the Super Bantam so much that it has become our house gun, short, swings nice,light and it always is loaded with 0000 high brass.
    In the eighties it seems many of my friends had failures with the plastic trigger group on Mossberg 500 pumps, something about a anchor point for a locking lever, has that been cured ?

  • Will P.

    I own a 870 Express Super Magnum, Mossberg 590, and a Mossberg 500. I like them all but the 870 has always been my go to field gun. The ejector being welded is no big issue as I have put thousands of shells through mine(more than the average defensive shotgun will probably ever see) with little to no deformation of the ejector. While the 590 is my HD shotgun it’s only because I got a really good deal on an 18″ model. A regular 500 cannot take mag extensions because the barrel is retained on the mag tube with a screw, whereas the 870 and 590 are retained with a mag cap. The Mossbergs while reliable definitely show their cheapness in fit, finish, and feel(rattles, and rough machining). While the tang mounted safety is nice on the Mossbergs I have had to replace several of them for customers because they tore up or came off. The trigger guard safety is not not bad if you are used to it, there are a many a snap shot birds dead that can prove that. You mentioned the 870 has a plastic trigger guard but the 500s do as well. Honestly using a 590 as a substitute for the 500 is like using a Cadillac to substitute a Geo, the reciever is about the only similarity. The 590 and 870 are very close to being on par and really boils down to personal preference, though it’s a lot easier to find an 870 over a 590.

  • Stephen Jakubowski

    Surprised patrick did mention the difference in the position of the shell elevator. When the action is closed the remington’s elevator is in the down position and has to be pushed up to load the magazine. The on the mossberg, the elevator is up with the action closed, making it faster and easier to load. I think the only thing that’s better/easier on the 870 is the mag tube design and its extensions. My 500 came with a 5 round tube and if I wanted to move to a 8 round I’d have to buy the tube and new barrels that have the attachment screw out further down the barrel.

  • Raginzerker

    I like my old wingmaster but if I were to buy new, I’d get a 500, Remington’s quality control is pretty atrocious

  • adverse4

    I don’t argue about firearms, I buy what I want.

  • Disarmed in CA

    I just bought a used 870 so hopefully it is still a few thousand rounds away from a failure!

  • Jerry Buchanan

    i’d rather have the Mossberg 535 as it can shoot all the way up to 3 1/2in sells with no problems!! I know I own one and it’s just fine! plus I own a h&r pardner turkey 12g singlehot shotgun and it beats all pumps, auto’s,etc made!!