(Travis Pike Photo)
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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.

Whoever thought 590 and .410 would be on the same roll mark. (Travis Pike Photo)

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.

A bead is okay, but like all 590s this one is optics ready. (Travis Pike Photo)

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 stock may be a hair long for smaller stature shooters. (Travis Pike Photo)

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 plain bead sight tops the gun off. (Travis Pike Photo)

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.

The gun has practically no recoil. (Travis Pike Photo)

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.

Port loading a tiny ejection port was tough. (Travis Pike Photo)

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 Hornady rounds produced respectable patterns. (Travis Pike Photo)

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.

The Winchester discs hit the target virtually stacked. (Travis Pike Photo)

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.

The little 590 weighs less than 6 pounds. (Travis Pike Photo)

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.


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  1. Any gun is better than no gun. But .410 ammo is expensive and can be hard to find. If recoil is a problem it is time to move to a PCC in 9 or a 5.56.

    • Generally agree but for states where you need a permit just for a semi auto rifle this does make for a viable option that should be cheaper to acquire than most 357 lever guns or building a bolt action AR. Ammo would still be annoying and may be a reloader recommended option. For free America……. probably will be suboptimal but still fun.

  2. I recently found the Premier issue of Ballistic Precision magazine, from 2018 in the attic.
    In it, on page 48, they featured a young lady by the name of Mary Beth Olson. At the time she was 10 years old, 4’5″ weighing in at 57lbs.
    She was first introduced to long range shooting a 6.5-284 Norma. As of the writing. she was competing in PRS with a 6.5CM.
    If you have a problem with recoil, turn in your man card.

    • Epstein,

      I believe that the “recoil sensitive” concept universally applies to children, petite women, elderly folks, and people with a physical deficit. For those populations a pistol-caliber carbine is a far superior choice to a 20 gauge or 12 gauge shotgun. Anyone outside of those populations should be able to handle at least a 20 gauge shotgun.

  3. I find myself repeatedly wanting to like .410 gauge and I keep failing to like it except for young children or very petite women who want the ability to launch modest shot patterns into the air at moving targets.

    Is a shotgun chambered in .410 better than nothing for home defense? Of course. Is almost every other platform superior for home defense? Yes in my humble opinion.

  4. .410 today is best left to small game hunting for children and upland bird in the hands of an experienced hunter. Although, .410 bore in the hands of plume hunters did raise hell with the rookeries in the Everglades at the turn of the old century. Can’t muss those feathers. Fashion you understand.

    • I’m all for the small game hunting of children, however my home state refuses to issue any permits or seasons.
      With the influx of immigrants it seems they would have a least have a migratory kid stamp or something.

  5. Interesting that most people consider a Taurus Judge chambered in .45 Ling Colt / .410 Shotgun to be a hand cannon yet a .410 shotgun is considered to be pathetic. Keep in mind that the longer barrel of a shotgun ensures higher muzzle velocity and muzzle energy than the shorter barrel revolver.

    Of course the biggest advantage is Judge and jury appeal. It is very easy to convince people that a politically correct shotgun isn’t a deadly weapon. Shoot at someone with your AR-15 but miss and go to jail. Shoot someone with your .410 shotgun, killing them deader than a doornail and he a get out of jail free card.

      • That is the marketing.
        Any iteration of a Judge is large, heavy, very large caliber, and has considerable wounding capacity. While even a twenty-two caliber, AR-15 rodent rifle has many tactical advantages, a Judge creates a wound channel with about four times the cross sectional area. This is why so many Tacticool Fools favor the 300 Blackout cartridge which duplicates the ballistics of the M-1 carbines.

  6. A 28 bore is a better choice than 410 bore. Cost for high velocity 6 shot runs from $.55 to how fat is your wallet. Of course, finding one in a pump gun might be a trifle difficult. Great quail getter.
    I’ve used 410 for rabbit and squirrel, not a lot of bloodshot meat that way.

  7. Travis:
    You forgot to mention the price. I looked it up on the Mossberg website, as follows: $566.00.

  8. 15 yards in a “home defense” scenario is 10 yards too far.

    It’s the rare home where muzzle to target distance inside the house is even 7 yards, let alone 15.

  9. Was wondering if the chamber accepted .45 Colt? Would be great if it would cycle 45 Colt although .410 slugs would be good.

    • I keep hearing that. When I was a kid my stepfather hunted squirrels and introduced my mother to hunting. I did not accompany them, but I was struck by her stories of how difficult it was to kill a squirrel with a single-shot .410 at fifty feet or less, how usually they required multiple hits before they’d stop moving. My stepfather used a 20 gauge and had no such problems.

      The .410 was created to be a handicap, to make skeet shooting more challenging. It is not for shooting anything that bleeds. It is not for fighting for your life. It’s silly. It might even be fun at the range. You could load it with birdshot and practice reduced-scale skeet shooting, I guess. Just have someone stand behind you and throw aspirin tablets over your shoulder when you say “Pull!” But as a “working gun” or “home defense gun,” no.

      There are people who, due to physical infirmity, cannot use most long guns effectively. I always thought that for this category of user, something like a Ruger 10/22 with the factory 25 round magazines and good quality 40 grain solids–hollowpoints mostly don’t get anywhere near 12″ penetration in calibrated ballistic gelatin and are unlikely to get to a bad guy’s vitals if the bullet penetrates his arm before entering the torso–and maybe a light and a red dot sight, was the least bad choice. People who lack the upper body strength and grip strength to rack a shotgun and control its recoil for fast follow-up shots usually can’t pull the trigger of a double action revolver, either, nor rack a slide. Are they really going to be able to pull back the charging handle to load a semiauto rifle?

  10. “.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.”

    Ok, one of the most common 410 slugs is 1/4 oz (109 gr). At 1300 fps, you have 409 fpe. Some loads are around 1500 fps and 540 fpe. Federal has a load that runs 1775 fps and 760 fpe. How many 380s will do that?

    There are legitimate reasons to select against 410 for various types of hunting, but don’t disregard it for home/personal defense because of power.

  11. Just came back from a shoot in Mississippi using my Model 42 in 410 for Quail and Pheasant.

    I always liked the 410 for general utility gun. Great for snakes, possum (sorry possum), reacoons, and armadillo.

    #6 – 8 shot for snake and rodents and slugs for bigger stuff. The slugs performed about as well as a 357 lead SWC. Used to be able to find Brenneke slugs – these are the superior design IMO. Deep penetration and a well defined hole. Much better than foster slugs.

    Never used the new “buck and ball” defensive loads but was not impressed with Paul Harrell’s findings.

    My experience with buckshot in a 410 is mixed. I have taken bobcat and coyotes with it and seen some deer taken with it. Penetration is good unless it hits a flat bone like the should blade. Accuracy is also sketchy and may be affected by barrel length. I’ve never had a 410 with choke tubes and all of mine are full choke.

    But they are very handy. My normal snake gun is a Stevens bolt action with 2.5 inch #6. Something to be said for handiness. But if I figured on two-legged predators, I’d pick a 20, 16, or 12 with solids.

    Mossberg makes a good gun and this might be nice behind my office door.

  12. A 410 shotgun with modern “pistol” rounds, can be an effective Home Defense firearm. As one of the “senior shooters”, firing a 12 gauge in an enclosed area is frightening. As the max distance I would typically be shooting within my home is less than 10 yards, the effect of a 410 “pistol round” is sufficient for my requirements. AND that a shotgun is not a “Black Rifle”, should remove that option for any Lib DA to use in court against me. A shotgun is also cheaper than most pistol caliber carbine as well. Never underestimate the power of any shotgun at near contact distances. P.S. – my 410/3″ is the older Mossy 500 model.

    • “firing a 12 gauge in an enclosed area is frightening”

      Yes, it is. Sans ear protection, it will hurt you.

  13. Used to be .410 emu was cheap because the companies making the emu didn’t have to use as much ingredients, same as 22short.
    I don’t like the Winchester PDX loads in .410, straight buckshot is better.
    Full choke, not so great with a .410, modified is better.
    I have .410 for HomeD because I live in (yuck) town now.
    A pass through from the 20mmJDJ might be the end of freedom?
    Clowns to the left of me Jokers to the right
    Here I am ,
    stuck in the middle with emu.
    My neighbor was given a Bearcat 22 for home defense by her X,BF, who loaded it for her, because she didn’t know how to load it and doesn’t care to learn.
    Never practices, doesnt know you have to pull the hammer back, and if she did wouldn’t know how to decock it, thinks the whole cartridge flies out the barrel, doesn’t know an empty cartridge from a loaded one, will not accept any instruction because the X Night in Shining Armor told her all she needs to know.
    Should she have a gunm?
    Personally I don’t think so but this is America.

  14. Ain’t seen 410 on the shelf in over 4 years. All these “adults” running round trying to be tacticool on TikTok n IG and the adults trying to buy it for their kids has the supply dried smooth up

  15. A .410 3-in shell with any given shot size generally fires about half the shot weight as a 12 ga 2-3/4 in shell, at the same velocity. So the 12 ga is important for filling in the shot pattern at distance. But at short range, if a .410 doesn’t get the job done then a 12 probably wouldn’t either, probably missed the target.

  16. “.410 slugs are basically .380 ACP in size.”
    That’s so obviously false that it’s disinformation, as .380 ACP is .355 caliber and weak, while 410 slugs exceed 10mm Auto in energy (as well as caliber, at .410 caliber vs .40 caliber).
    That fact bears repeating three times:
    .410 slugs EXCEED 10mm Auto in energy (as well as caliber)!
    .410 slugs EXCEED 10mm Auto in energy (as well as caliber)!
    .410 slugs EXCEED 10mm Auto in energy (as well as caliber)!

    Would you call 10mm Auto inadequate for home defense? I think not.
    So why denigrate the .410 for home defense, when it’s more powerful than 10mm Auto?
    Below are the comparison of energy values (from my handy spreadsheet).

    Hornady .380 ACP is .355 caliber and has only 200 ft/lb of energy.

    Hornady 10mm 175 gr Critical Duty is .40 caliber and has only 523 ft/lb of energy.
    Hornady 10mm 180 gr XTP is .40 caliber and has only 612 ft/lb of energy.
    Hornady 10mm 155 gr HP XTP is .40 caliber and has only 684 ft/lb of energy.

    Federal .410 2.5″ Power Shok Rifled hollow point slugs produce 762 ft/lb of energy!
    Brenneke .410 3″ Silver Rifled Slug produce 781 ft/lb of energy!
    Winchester .410 Super-X 3″ rifled slugs produce 788 ft/lb of energy!

    The only way 10mm Auto can equal the energy of a .410 slug is if you fire the 10mm Auto from a carbine with a barrel length of 16″ or more (which will give it about 800 ft/lb of energy from a carbine barrel), but 10mm carbines are few and far between.

    Now if you want to argue bullet construction or bullet weight, I’ll admit that 10mm Auto bullets are heaver and better constructed than .410 slugs so they might expand more (except here in New Jersey, where the law says we can’t use hollow-point pistol bullets for home defense), but don’t try and peddle the lie that .410 slugs are only equivalent to .380 ACP, when in reality they have four times the energy of the .380 ACP and even more energy than 10mm Auto!
    However, buckshot makes more sense than slugs for home defense, due to less risk of overpenetration, but if you want raw power. .410 slugs are more powerful than 10mm Auto, so they’re more than adequate for home defense.

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