There is no question that pump actions such as the Mossberg 500/590, Remington 870 or Winchester 12/1200/1300 are among the classics in the shotgun market segment that have been tried and tested for decades, although interesting newcomers such as the very modern-looking Benelli Nova from Italy are definitely an enrichment.
A short retrospective on the pump-action shotguns from Mossberg
In the USA, slide-action or pump-action shotguns are among the most popular firearms thanks to their robustness, reliability, easy handling and affordable prices with impressive target ballistics. They are found in many U.S. households for hunting, sporting, or home defense, especially in rural areas. The original model of the U.S. manufacturer O.F. Mossberg & Sons from New Haven, Connecticut, founded in 1919, saw the light of day over 60 years ago in 1961 in the form of the Mossberg 500. As early as the 1970s, the pump-action shotgun was also used by the U.S. military. However, the shotgun failed a MIL-SPEC 3443E standard test, which requires, among other things, 3,000 rounds with a maximum of two malfunctions. As a result, the M500 was improved in detail, but this again resulted in higher costs. About 5,900 shotguns were eventually in service with the Navy and Coast Guard until the Mossberg M590, designed specifically for the military, appeared on the market in 1987. Due to a Navy request, the M590 was fitted with a thicker barrel, longer magazine tube, and barrel shroud with bayonet mount, which became the standard shotgun for the U.S. military as the M590A1. The M500/590 series, with twin action bars, dual extractors and slide safety, has a lighter aluminum receiver, but the most stressed action components are made of steel.
Background: the new Mossberg 590S pump-action
Based on the basic design of the best-selling M500/590, the Mossberg 590S, which was available to us as a test shotgun, did not appear until the end of 2022. The special feature of this shotgun is that its feed system has been revised to be able to reliably digest the popular shotgun ammunition with extremely short cases – so-called "short shells" or "mini shells". These "shorties" from well-known ammunition manufacturers such as Aguila or Federal have case lengths of just 45 mm compared to conventional shotgun cartridges with 67.5 mm, 70 mm, 76 mm length, or Super Magnum cartridges with cases as long as 89 mm. The advantage of these mini cartridges is the increased magazine capacity with reduced recoil, which of course does not come without a loss of performance in the target ballistic effect. Weighing 3,065 grams empty and one meter long, the Mossberg 590S in matte black finish with synthetic stock and bead front sight features an 18.5"/470 mm barrel and the tubular magazine underneath can be loaded with 9 cartridges in 12/45, 6 cartridges in 12/70 or 5 cartridges in 12/76 – always plus one additional cartridge in the chamber, of course. The receiver with four threaded holes closed by plastic plugs is ready for a Picatinny rail. The 47-cm barrel is fitted with a cylinder choke and proofed for steel shot. Obviously, the Mossberg 590S is also available in several versions, for example with 20"/510-mm barrel or Ghost Ring sights. The gun we have costs about 1,025 euros.
The TactaLoad Flash-5 stock on the Mossberg 590S – What makes this combination effective?
Our test gun was equipped with the patented Flash-5 gustock from the US company TactaLoad LLC of Covington, Louisiana, featuring internal storage for five spare cartridges. As is well known, myriad aftermarket and tuning carrier devices for spare shotgun ammunition exist in light metal or plastic. The common denominator of all these systems is that they are externally mounted to the receiver or buttstock. Thus, the cartridges are exposed to any environmental influences and they always protrude from the side together with their holders, which can be annoying in gun handling depending on the situation. Cartridge holders attached to the side of the buttstock prevent shoulder changes, which limits tactical work in particular. In the author's opinion, the TatctaLoad Flash-5 stock makes it possible to increase the amount of cartridges to carry and/or have access to different types of ammunition without useless bells and whistles and external attachments to the shotgun. In the field, it may be necessary to change from birdshot to buckshot or slugs, and in official use, changing ammunition types is a huge advantage that can even be a matter of life and death. Therefore, the solution has fully convinced us.
The shotgun as a multifunctional tool – Upgraded by the TactaLoad Flash5 gunstock
With the right equipment and the right ammo, a shotgun is a "multifunctional gun" that enables flexibility in operation. With special breaching ammunition, for example, emergency forces can easily open doors. Depending on the operational scenario, the shotgun is preloaded with buckshot, and when this is no longer required for operational reasons, slug ammunition can be reloaded, for example for targets at longer distances. From our own experience, ranges beyond 50 to 100 meters are no problem with a shotgun slug. The mechanics of the TatcaLoad stock with cartridge storage compartment are of simple design. In practice, reloading one cartridge at a time from the stock proves serviceable. In our opinion, the cartridges should be inserted into the internal magazine so that the base of the case faces forward. When pulling out the cartridge, one feels a little resistance from the spring-mounted safety retainer, a simple plastic part with a rounded front. Here you notice especially that experts were at work, who designed this retainer without disturbing corners and edges. In addition, there is a large recessed cavity that makes it easier to pull out the cartridges. Especially when the stock magazine is fully loaded, the first of the five cartridges pulls out a bit harder. The following cartridges can then be easily and quickly freed from the stock. The spring, which always pushes the folding mechanism back into the starting position, also has exactly the right force in our opinion, so that the cartridges can be safely and reliably pulled out of their holder. Nevertheless, there is still enough spring force to ensure that no cartridge is accidentally lost while shooting. On the manufacturer's website, you can find a promotional video of how an experienced shooter reloads there. He takes his hand off the grip and reloads with his right hand through the open ejection port. This apparently works.
At the shooting range, another tried-and-true technique has proven to be more practical for us: in order to avoid constantly moving our hand from the stock or grip we, as right-handed shooters, grip the cartridge with our left hand using our thumb and middle finger. In this way, we can grip the cartridge stably at the base and pull it out of the holder, then place your index finger on the cartridge face (with star or rolled crimp) and your little finger against the base. This way, the cartridge rests between your index and pinky fingers. The middle and ring fingers balance the cartridge and transport it to the ejection port. It all sounds a bit complicated, but with a little training we find this to be one of the most stress-free ways to load a cartridge. Even with gloves on, this technique proves to be very reliable. The TactaLoad Flash-5 synthetic stock is available for Mossberg models 500/590 and Maverick88, as well as the Remington 870, in black and orange with a variety of buttplates and spacers to adjust length of pull, and with or without sling swivels. In the U.S. the TactaLoad Flash-5 gunstock costs $129.95. And you can thus customize your Mossberg shotgun according to your personal preferences.
Our test conclusion: what the TactaLoad Flash 5 shaft adds to the Mossberg 590S
The TactaLoad Flash-5 stock is a useful accessory for the practical shotgun shooter. It makes quick reloading easier when the gun is empty or enables the carrying of different types of ammunition for different ranges and uses. The surface design and material of the stock are very pleasant to grip, without greatly changing the shotgun's behavior when aiming and firing. The distance from the pistol grip to the trigger is also up to standard and you can work freely with the trigger finger. The Flash-5 gunstock with integral magazine for five spare cartridges turns out a bit more voluminous than the original factory stock. The manufacturer and supplier recommend that the stock be installed by a gunsmith.
Text: Frank Thiel, Stefan Perey