By March 4, 2010

Maverick 88 Pump Shotgun Review

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.

Range time

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.

Posted in: guns, review

22 Comments on "Maverick 88 Pump Shotgun Review"

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  1. the Accountant (tm) says:

    Hmm, that looks more like the sort of firearm I have been looking for.

  2. Craig says:

    Very cool, I’m taking the plunge thanks to this most excellent review. 2 questions (which I guess I’ll find out soon):

    I’m assuming cutting back to the next notch on the vented ribs gets you to under the 18.5″ bogey?

    Also, could you just replace barrel with a Mossy 500 18.5″? (Appears I can get $50 cheaper on the field vs. security, could then chuck the 28″ in the closet for hunting if I ever wanted to…)

    Thanks again for your review!

  3. DrFaulken says:

    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for your comments. I made the cut at around the 20″ mark partly for compliance reasons but primarily because cutting closer would have been “between ribs” and may have caused the rib to separate from the barrel.

    I never intend for this shotgun to be used for sport shooting or hunting, so I did the chop. One of my friends bought both barrels and he was happy.

    Good luck with your choices!

  4. Lawrence Husby says:

    Hey. I am new to shotguns. I just bought a Maverick 88 TM 18.5″
    Today I had the chance to shoot at Firepower Matthews-NC and got a very nice shooting experience with Fiochi Buckshot 2.3/4 with 9.
    It groups pretty well 25 YDS. They did not allow me to shoot birdshot on this indoor Range. I am excited to do the same modifications you did.
    Other guns I own:
    Taurus 24/7 Pro, S&W Airweight 642, Marlin 60, Taurus 94,
    Very Nice Post!

  5. dlf says:

    The Mossberg Maverick 88 Security 8-Shot Shotgun is a great value for those wanting to have an inexpensive home defense gun.It is an equally exceptional value for those looking for a bird gun or a slug gun.

  6. Mike C. says:

    I am shopping around for a new shotgun for skeet shooting, I saw a Maverick 20 gauge 26 in. VR. pump. Will this type of shotgun work for me just skeet shooting only? I am not into bird hunting anymore, just into skeet shooting for fun & small time local competition.

    I read the other posts & they were very nice posts.

  7. Joe says:

    My uncles hand me down 88 Mav, slightly modified to hold 5 shots pump action rifle is a dream. I was shocked when he told me he got it from wal mart or k mart a few years back.

    I’m not a tall or big person so firing this shotgun was exciting for me. I took my good sized 12 year old step son out with me for some clay pigeon shooting and even he could hit them with the 88.

    This weapon is my only shotgun and i have yet to have any problems with the make or quality of it.

  8. Bo says:

    I was unaware the Maverick 88 has parts made/sourced from Mexico. It’s no wonder they can keep the price point that low.

  9. man witta gun says:

    just bought a maverick 88 field model and I cant wait to customize it. Im chopping off the barrel to 20″. Im changing out the stock for the special ops recoil absorbing adjustable stock. Then to top it all off Im attaching the AIM Tactical 4 Reticle Holographic Red Dot Sight. Oh boy! I cant wait till next week.

  10. Brady Stewart says:

    The Maverick 88 is my first shotgun. I wanted it for home protection. After scaring the b-jeebers out of one nosey neighbor and b-heading one eastern diamond back, I believe it has paid for itself. If the situation does come up when it is needed for more home protection and I run out of ammunition, its good to know I can keep 4 or 5 feet between me and the intruder with that barrel on there. If nothing else swing away. 28″ barrel might as well be 48″ barrel.

  11. anthony says:

    where could i find a forend that will fit my maverick 88.

    • DrFaulken says:

      Hey there,

      There is conflicting information on the Internet if you can use a Mossberg 500 forend or not with the Maverick 88. I was under the impression the tube and forearm assembly were different between the two, but many have claimed to use the 500 forend on a Maverick 88 with no other modifications.

      Take your 88 apart and compare it to the construction of this Mossberg 500: … if it is the same, you may be lucky.

      If your 88 looks different from the diagram you may be stuck with the stock forend unless you want to replace the tube / forend assembly with one from a Mossberg 500 series. You can buy them new, but some folks buy a used one at a gun show or armorer’s sale. This will also give you the option to go for a 7-round tube (where legal). I am not sure what an assembly would cost used, but new prices look to be about $100 or so for the tube, assembly, tube spring, etc. Make sure you get all of the right parts, using the Numrich diagram as an example.

      Good luck, and sorry I don’t have a better immediate answer.

  12. Gunner41 says:

    I would like to ask what measurement of the circumference of the mag tube? I would like to know due to some reviews on amazon saying that a light and laser combo attached to the tube and i have a Remington 870, almost the same thing, and i wanted to know if the mag tubes were the same but i cant find the measurements anywhere. timely response will be nice and if you could send the response to my email would be nice. thank you

  13. Cardio Man says:

    I’ve used Mossbergs for years, the 88 and the 500. They’ve all been trouble-free and durable. If I find a good deal on the knoxx pattern stock, I might pick one up, but for me it’s not a real need. I use static pg fixed stocks and they work well. One thing that makes my pump guns run better is Slipstream. That stuff makes my 88 feel like a well tuned competition gun. Friction reduction in amazing and it increases reliability which is already AK-high.
    Good review.

  14. wil says:

    just bought one at the local gun shop.
    mine is a maverick 88 security model
    it came with an 18.5″ barrell
    and the pistol grip.

    after i bought it i decided to research it online.
    after reading your review i feel very good
    about my purchase.
    thanks for the help!!

  15. dutch says:

    you know they sell the maverick 88 security model that has a 6 shot capacity and an 18.5 inch barrel. academy sports has them advertised online for $189.99 and the all purpose with the longer barrel for $159.99

  16. Seth says:

    I just bought a Maverick 88 20″ barrel with the 7+1 capacity for $210. It’s the perfect set up for me for home defense and doesn’t require cutting down the barrel. When my wife held it she asked if there was a way to get that shotgun with a stock like an AR-15 so she could adjust it. So I bought a shotgun with an immediate request to modify it! I’ve got an ATITalon stock on the way and am a very happy shotgun owner!

  17. ROON says:

    I just bought a model 88 and put the barrel on it. How do I get the action to work?

  18. Barbara says:

    Hi, I was wondering where you purchased the fore end that is pictured in this article. Mine is broken, but when I ordered straight from Mossberg asking for the original stock fore end, they sent me the same thing. I know the part had been replaced by the previous owner. When you shop for this part, it indicates it’s for The Mossberg 500, yet this is supposed to be the only part not interchangeable. Why then do they appear to be the same, minus one rail on the Maverick (cheaper made). I was expecting a differant part when I ordered direct. I may want the fore end pictured here, as it seems to have more support in the area behind the pin. Thia is where the plastic keeps breaking because all of the force is absorbed on one side only due to the single rail. Thanks

  19. ed m says:

    can you shot a deer slug through a 88

  20. ed t says:

    I brought a Mossberg maverick 88 field in July 2012 and have killed 14 deer with it best pump gun I ever used and beenhiunting all my life on s.Carolina all we do is dog hunt .biggest I killed was a 10 point 190 pounds gun never let me down wouldn’t trade it for no other gun