If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s redundancy. I also believe that everyone is in charge of their own safety. So when Sedagive? tried out my Mossberg 590 shotgun at the shooting range, I saw an opportunity to cover both bases.
The pump shotgun should be the cornerstone of any home defense plan. It requires practice, but less training than a pistol or a rifle. It is mechanically simple. It is very reliable and depending on the ammunition loaded can be counted on to stop a threat in one shot.
There are two issues people run into when buying a shotgun for home defense. One is recoil, and one is the length of the stock. If there is a large difference between the reach of the occupants, the stock will either be too long for the shorter person, or too short for the taller person.
This was an especially relevant issue in my hone, as I have gorilla arms and Sedagive? is quite short. When firing my Mossberg 590 at the range, she had little problem handling the recoil of 2 3/4″ shells. The issue was reach.
I helped my friend Duke purchase a Maverick 88 12-gauge pump shotgun several years ago. He was facing the same situation then as I was now: he had plenty of experience with shotguns, but his pixie-sized wife was not only new to firearms but had a much shorter reach. He purchased the Maverick 88 as a low-cost home defense weapon, and then spent some extra money customizing it to literally fit the needs of his wife.
When history repeated itself, I turned back to the Maverick 88.
Maverick 88, or the “Mexican Mossberg”
Maverick is actually owned by Mossberg, the same great company that makes my 590. There are a few main differences between the two companies, and the shotguns they offer:
- The Mavericks are assembled in Texas from mostly Mexican parts. Mossbergs are made and assembled in the USA.
- The Mavericks have a different trigger group than the Mossberg 500 line.
- The Mavericks supposedly have some plastic internal parts, where varying Mossberg models have more and more metal parts, until you get to 100% metal parts with the 590. I am not sure if this is correct or not; but it was explained as one of the reasons why the Maverick is less expensive.
- The Maverick uses a cross-bolt style safety that is near the trigger, instead of a safety on the top of the shotgun like the 500 series. The cross-bolt safety is a drag if you’re left handed.
- The fore end (pump) is not interchangeable with 500 fore ends.
- The Maverick 88 is $177 at Wal-Mart as of this writing. The Mossberg 590 I own (now called the “Special Purpose”) is over $500 at most gun stores.
So, if you can live with parts made in Mexico, some of which may be plastic, the Maverick 88 may be for you. The reduced build quality and oddball features didn’t deter me since this was not my primary scattergun. I picked one up (the last one, as the Maverick is a very popular item) and went to work converting a sporting shotgun into a home defense shotgun.
Customizing for home defense
The first thing I did was to cut down the 28″ barrel to a more manageable 20.” I followed this very useful tutorial on Xavier Thoughts. The two big things to remember about cutting a barrel down is that it can’t be shorter than 18″ and that the overall length of the shotgun has to be 26.” This wasn’t going to be a problem with my Maverick, but double- and triple-check your measurements before cutting.
Due to the ventilated rib on this Maverick 88 model, I had to cut the barrel to 20″ and not 18.5″. There is a “home defense” model that has a larger capacity tube magazine and a plain barrel that could be cut down further.
Cutting the barrel down made the shotgun lighter. It also made it easier to manage in smaller places. The stock 28″ barrel was almost lance-like in length. I feel like the center mass of the shotgun was brought closer to the receiver and better “balanced” for a shorter-armed shooter.
The next thing I did was remove the dowel from the magazine tube. The dowel is used as a magazine plug for hunting. Some states only allow you to load a certain number of shells while hunting. This shotgun is going to stay in the home, so the dowel came out. I did this by removing the barrel and turning the shotgun upside down (yes, Mom, it was unloaded). I shook the Maverick until the dowel fell out of the small, threaded hole where the barrel screws into the rest of the shotgun.
Lastly, I put a Knoxx (now Blackhawk) SpecOps recoil-absorbing adjustable stock on the Mossberg Maverick 88. The stock would absorb some of the “kick” from firing the shotgun, but more importantly would reduce the length between the butt of the stock and the trigger of the shotgun. This was of major important to Sedagive?, who has a very short reach.
I haven’t had the chance to put as much shot downrange with the Maverick as I’d like. We shot a little over forty rounds in a range session. By comparison, I’ve put well over 1,000 through my Mossberg 590. The indoor range here is expensive and requires that you purchase all ammunition from them. A box of bird shot there is about as expensive as 00 buck tactical is in a regular store.
That being said, the Maverick 88 functioned as I expected. I put shells into the tube, and shot came out of the barrel when I pulled the trigger. The action is smooth, and the trigger is crisp. I dislike the cross-bolt safety even more with the Knoxx SpecOps stock installed. I have to rotate the shotgun a bit to disengage the safety, and I don’t like that at all. I found the SpecOps stock to work pretty well, but I’ll save that for another review.
Cutting the stock down meant I lost the front bead sight, but the 28″ stock barrel was so long it actually has two bead sights on it. The secondary bead site was large enough for a “check-in” shoot at the range. Eventually I would like to put a fiber-optic tube sight or tritium site on the front.
I consider myself a firearms advocate. Lots of my friends and family have come to me to help them learn about guns, and how to handle them safely. One of the most common questions I get is, “what kind of gun should I get for my home?” Unless they intend to concealed carry some day, I almost always answer “a shotgun.” Even if they do intend to carry, I recommend they start off with a shotgun. Like all firearms, you need some training and practice with a shotgun, but not nearly as much as with a handgun.
All said and done, the stock plus the Maverick ran me about $275 after taxes. That was close to what a (very) used Remington Wingmaster 870 or Mossberg 500 would run around here. For the same amount of money as a dinged up pump I had a brand-new firearm with a stock specially suited for Sedagive?’s frame.
The Maverick 88 shotgun by Mossberg is an exceptional value for a basic 12-gauge pump shotgun. It may not have all the bells and whistles of other pump shotguns, but for $177 plus taxes and fees it’s hard to go wrong with the Maverick 88.
The Maverick 88 by Mossberg is strongly recommended.