The Mossberg 590 series is an undisputed American classic. Mossberg first modified the 500 into the 590 after it failed to meet a number of military specifications. Mossberg wanted that contract, so they modified the magazine tube and barrel design, and the resulting effort was the 590. The Mossberg 590 has historically been a 12-gauge. Mossberg, however, recently released 590 variants in both .410 and 20 gauge. Fortunately, we got the chance to go hands-on with the .410 590.
The 590 series has always been a fighting shotgun, and traditionally, fighting shotguns were 12-gauge designs. For some, a 12 gauge might be a bit harsh to the shoulder. They are also often heavy and not suited for everybody. Smaller calibers like 20 gauge and .410 offer a lower-recoil shotgun option. I’m sold on 20 gauge. I know it works, and to me, with the right load, it retains the primary advantage of a larger shotgun. It can still deliver a pile of lead with one pull of the trigger.
The .410 I’m not as sold on. I have no doubt it will stop a threat, and five pellets of 000 buckshot in a 3-inch round isn’t anything to sneeze at. However, if the 20 gauge is too much recoil for you, then maybe a 5.56 rifle or even a PCC would be a better choice. We begin to see diminishing returns when we go to the .410 bore. However, I’m willing to give the .410 590 a fighting chance.
The .410 590 – As a Mossberg Should Be
If you’ve ever handled a plain Jane 590, the .410 590 won’t be a surprise. It’s a very simple pump-action shotgun. The magazine tube holds six rounds, and an additional round in the chamber gives you a total of seven. The front sight is a very simple bead sight, and like all 590s, it’s drilled and tapped for an optics rail or mount.
The furniture is a simple polymer. The stock has a 13.87-inch LOP. However, I think that’s a bit long for the intended audience of this gun. If it fits my 6-foot, 5-inch frame, it’s likely going to be a stretch, literally, for smaller shooters. While it’s not compatible with the 12-gauge furniture, there are some stock options to shorten things up. Mossberg makes a Bantam compact stock. Ergo makes an adapter for the .410 590, so you can use AR stocks and pistol grips, as well.
The .410 590 keeps the traditional tang safety familiar to Mossberg shooters, along with the dual action bars, the skeletonized shell lifter and all the normal features of the 590 shotgun. The barrel is 18.5 inches long, and Mossberg lists the weight as 7 pounds. Just holding the gun, I knew that didn’t feel quite accurate. My scale says 5.6 pounds, making it super lightweight and quite handy.
A fixed cylinder bore choke finalizes things. The Mossberg .410 590 rounds out to be fairly light and certainly a handy little shotgun.
The Woes of .410
The problem I have with .410 in general is finding the right ammo. Specifically, finding buckshot. If this is a defensive weapon, you want buckshot. .410 slugs are basically .380 ACP in size, and while .380 is fine, I don’t want that from a long gun with seven rounds. I came up short trying to find a common .410 buckshot.
Luckily, AmmoToGo was kind enough to be the ammo sponsor for this review. They sent me a ton of .410 loads, including the Winchester PDX load and some Hornady Critical Defense. These were both created during the heyday of the Taurus Judge and are both designed for self-defense rather than hunting. The mighty 12 gauge has plenty of defense-minded loads, and now the .410 also has a couple.
Alongside a ton of birdshot, which AmmoToGo has plenty of, I tested a box of Winchester PDX and Hornady Critical Defense through the gun. For a defensive .410, I’d suggest a dedicated five-pellet buckshot load or either of these loads. While both were intended for the Judge, they performed really well out of the .410 590.
To The Range
I’ve always used a variety of drills when it comes to reviewing firearms, but lately, I’ve taken to shooting various complete courses of fire. There are plenty out there for shotguns, but since the .410 590 is a home-defense shotgun, I decided to do the Lucky Gunner Home Defense Shotgun Skills Test created by Chris Baker.
It’s a ton of fun and is a good skill test. It’s fairly simple and requires 12 rounds per run. I won’t dig into what the qual is in its entirety, but we’ll discuss how the .410 590 performs in the framing of the qual. I’ve shot this qual with 12 and 20 gauges a few times, but this was my first experience with the .410.
On a single-shot ready-up drill, there was a noticeable difference in performance. It took me about .75 of a second to hit the threat at 15 yards. The big difference in performance came from the multiple shot strings. The lack of recoil and muzzle rise made it super easy to pump rounds out with quickness. This led to some of my best times on the third stage with any shotgun I’ve ever run on the course.
One noticeable difference is the small size of the .410 shells, which makes me feel really clumsy when reloading. There is something about the small little shells and how they fit in my hands that makes it a little slower to do something like a port load. It might be a matter of practice, but the big 12-gauge rounds and larger 12-gauge ports just seem easier to load.
Patterning The Gun
My only buckshot adjacent loads for this test were the PDX and Critical Defense loads. The Critical Defense load packs a .41-caliber slug with an FTX hollow-point and two .35-caliber buckshot balls. The PDX load packs three big disks and 12 pellets of BB shot. I patterned both at 10 yards.
The Critical Defense patterned tight, with the pellets nearly on top of each other and the slug to the right. The pattern was still smaller than my hand. The PDX load seemingly patterned even tighter. All three disks went through one hole, and the BBs patterned together fairly tightly in a pattern that was also about hand-sized. That’s plenty solid for stopping a threat indoors or at close range outdoors.
Tight and Right
Everything on the .410 590 feels a little tight compared to the other 590s. The pump requires a little more force to move, the safety requires a little more force to engage and the rounds require a nice good push to load. I’m not sure if it’s just due to the newness of the gun, but this hasn’t been my experience with other 590s. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily. There is nothing that is bad or too tight to function, but it is worth mentioning.
The .410 590 performed admirably, but I’m still not sure if it’s the best option for home defense. Sure, it has very little recoil and won’t be targeted for gun control. Even so, a neutered rifle with a 10-round mag still gives you three more rounds with the same low recoil. But it is certainly a viable option.
Where I really see the purpose of the .410 590 is as a working gun. It could be a solid choice for the ATV or truck that’s useful around rural areas. It’s small, light and fairly affordable. With the right loads, you can kill snakes, coyotes, hogs and pests like squirrels and crows. This is one of the few shotguns that could be easy to handle with a pistol grip-only design, which makes it much smaller and easier to tote.
Like all the other .590s, the .410 590 is an awesome shotgun. It’s very well-made, reliable and easy to handle.
Barrel Length – 18.5 inches
Overall Length – 38.12 inches
Weight – 5.6 pounds
LOP – 13.87 inches
Capacity – 6 + 1
Caliber – .410
Ratings (Out of Five Stars)
Accuracy – *****
While bead sights are simple, they work, especially for some basic birdshot and buckshot loads. The gun puts lead where you want it, and within shotgun range, the .410 590 is dead on.
Reliability – *****
The gun ate through and ejected every round put through it without issue. The good thing about a pump-action shotgun is its ease of use and reliability. If it fits, it flies.
Ergonomics – ****
The basic stock and pump design is very simple but perfectly fine in most regards. The LOP is a little long, and that’s where a point gets cut. The tang safety and pump release are easy to reach, and the gun’s lightweight certainly makes it easy to handle.
Overall – *****
The purpose might not be as clear as the other 590s, but the .410 590 is still a high-performing gun. It’s affordable, reliable and very easy to use. Trim the stock a bit, and it’s an accessible home defense firearm for smaller shooters and a generally handy shotgun overall.