Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Retrograde Shotgun

Mossberg 590 Retrograde

Travis Pike for TTAG

Just a short while back, I reviewed the pump action Mossberg 500 Retrograde and found it to be a fun, lightweight, easy-shooting gun. It was as simple as shotguns get. But the 500 is not the only Retrograde model, Mossberg also introduced two 590 Retrograde models.

I got my hands on the manlier version of the two and have been putting it through its paces. What sets the models apart is capacity and barrel length. I have the 8+1 model with the 20-inch barrel Mossberg 590 Retrograde. There’s also a 6+1 with an 18.5″ barrel.

Nine rounds of buckshot is nothing to be trifled with and should you run dry, and this model also includes a bayonet lug if you want to reenact the charge at Little Round Top.

Mossberg 590 Retrograde

The pokey poke (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The 590 Retrograde’s barrel comes complete with a heat shield that gives it an aggressive look and turns out to be quite practical when sending lots and lots of rounds downrange. The Retrograde portion is the fact that the shotgun comes complete with classic wood furniture and a matte blued finish.

This smoothbore certainty cuts a distinguished silhouette, and its appearance is most assuredly that of a defensive shotgun, but one separated from rails and MOLLE. The 590 Retrograde is old school cool, but would have no issues keeping up with shotguns covered in polymer and inches of rail.

Keeping it Light

Shotguns should be relatively lightweight weapons that are quick to maneuver and easy to handle. The 590 Retrograde most certainly checks those boxes. At 7.25 pounds, the gun isn’t as light as the 500, but lighter than many tactical shotguns.

An important note here is that this is the 590, not the 590A1 (which is also offered in a Retrograde setup). The barrel is a normal diameter and not a heavy-walled variant. The trigger group is also made of polymer and not metal like the 590A1. As the owner of a 590A1, I will say the standard 590 is a bit better balanced and less front-heavy than the A1 version.

Mossberg 590 Retrograde

Travis Pike for TTAG

The front sight is a simple gold bead. It works well enough and is a sight most shotgun users are used to. The 590 Retrograde feels quite light and well balanced, even with a full payload of 8 rounds of 2¾ inch buckshot in the tube. Lengthwise the 20-inch barrel may feel a little long for some, and I get that, but that’s the trade-off of higher capacity.

The 590’s controls are famously very ergonomic. The safety is positioned on the tang so it’s ambidextrous and natural to engage and disengage with your thumb without breaking your firing grip. The pump release is also easily reached and accessible.

The pump itself is smooth and easy to reach and rack. The downside is the famed Mossberg pump slop. This isn’t anything that affects function, just something you’ll notice when running the gun side-by-side with a tighter shotgun.

The Furniture

The 590 Retrograde’s length of pull is 13.87 inches, which may be too long for some shooters, but for me, it’s just right. I find it easy to sit it in the pocket of my shoulder and be very comfortable while shooting. The wood furniture is a finished American walnut that’s textured for a sure grip.

Mossberg 590 Retrograde

The 590 Retrograde’s corn cob forend…the beautiful wood furniture is a major plus. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The pump is cut with a corncob design that allows your forward hand to dig into it. The stock’s pistol grip is checkered and comfortable. I use the push/pull method for shotgun recoil mitigation, and this furniture layout is perfect for that technique.

Mossberg 590 Retrograde

Checkered for a sure grip (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The stock also has a built-in sling point, as does the magazine tube cap so slinging it is quite simple. I appreciate this little add-on and find it frustrating when sling points aren’t included on my long guns.

The 590 Retrograde – Letting It Run Free

Pump-action shotguns are some of my favorite guns to shoot. Something about the combination of a manual action firearm, the aggressive nature of pump-action shotguns, and that unforgettable noise makes these guns so much fun. The 590 Retrograde most certainly doesn’t let you down as far as the pump-action fun factor goes.

Mossberg 590 Retrograde

That fantastic tang safety is right where s shotgun safety should be. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Performance-wise there are also no disappointments here. The 590 Retrograde is built on the bombproof Mossberg 500 design. It’s a simple system that famously works and works well. Three inch, 2.75 inch, and even 1.75-inch shells (with an Opsol adapter) work perfectly through the gun. Manual action guns most certainly still have their place when it comes to reliability.

The gun’s cylinder bore performs as expected and is optimized for buckshot at inside-the-home ranges. At 15 yards, the spread covers a toro sized target with regular old 00 buck. With my favorite load, Federal Premium FliteControl, the spread is much tighter and punches one big hole in the target at home-defense distances.

With the reduced recoil loads, the gun is a breeze to handle and allows you to easily engage a single target with three rounds in under three seconds. The gun will do its job as long as you do yours; control it and run that pump like it owes you money.

Mossberg 590 Retrograde

Light, comfortable, powerful, what’s not to love (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The front bead sight is more than enough with buckshot. In a home defense scenario, the bead is a perfectly suitable choice and, to be honest, my preferred choice in tight quarters. It’s gold, highly visible, and easy to see and catch with the eye. It’s very fast to get the gun on target and follow up that sight picture with a healthy dose of lead.

Ghost ring sights are great, but beads are faster.

Mossberg 590 Retrograde

That heat shield sure is slick (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The capacity, bombproof design, and light weight of the 590 Retrograde make it a solid home defense shotgun. It’s light and handy and packs plenty of punch. The wood furniture, matte blue finish, heat shield, and bayonet lug give it a uniquely eye-pleasing appearance.

Specifications: Mossberg 590 Retrograde Shotgun

Barrel Length: 20 inches
Overall Length: 41 inches
Weight: 7.25 pounds
Caliber: 12 Gauge 3-inch chamber
Capacity: 8+1 2.75 inch rounds
MSRP: $573

Ratings (out of 5 Stars)

Reliability: * * * * *
Pump action shotgun go shuck-shuck. While not impossible, it’s hard to screw up a pump gun. The tried and true Mossberg 500/590 design is an old one and a reliable one.

Accuracy: * * * *
It’s a shotgun. At shotgun ranges, it’s a very capable weapon. I’m not putting it in a Caldwell Lead Sled to measure accuracy. The bead does reduce some slug precision potential. In that realm ghost, rings still rule.

Ergonomics: * * * *
I’ll knock off a point for pump slop, but other than that, the ergonomics are awesome. They work well, everything is easy to reach, I like the LOP, and the light-ish weight of the gun.

Overall: * * * * 1/2
The Mossberg 590 Retrograde is an awesome shotgun. It looks good, handles well, and is a lot of fun to shoot. Add a bayonet and a heat shield and I’m ready to make the Kaiser sweat.


  1. avatar No one of Consequence says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been considering one of these

    The local shops don’t have either a 590 or A1 in, but tell me that on the A1 versions, the wood is generally nicer.

    1. avatar 41mag says:

      Gotta find ammo first tho

      1. avatar No one of consequence says:

        You’re making an assumption there, friend… 🙂

      2. avatar Matt in Oklahoma says:

        There’s shotgun ammo everywhere here. No shortage

  2. avatar Squiggy81 says:

    Shotguns aren’t usually high up on my list for some reason, but this one really appeals to me. I’ve always loved the older style corncob forend. The darker stain really helps make it look retro along with the heat shield. I think I need one. Thanks for the review.

  3. avatar GunnyGene says:

    I have a 1987 590 Mariner – the shiny one – but it won’t accept a bayonet, so I have to duck tape my WWII Katana on it. 😉

  4. avatar enuf says:

    Made mine out of a pile of left over parts plus a new receiver found on GunBroker. So it’s either a 590 or a 590A1 or the 590 SPX version, as it’s a mixed up mutt.

    Heavy 20″ barrel, parkerized finish. But it came with a bead sight.
    Bayonet lug
    Bolt is parkerized, or some such dark finish.
    Polymer trigger housing
    Blued receiver, tapped and screwed to mount sights on top.
    Speed Stock, holds shells in spring loaded recesses.
    Of course, I have a bayonet for it. Can’t have an unfulfilled feature!

    I have a Mossberg Ghost Ring Sight for it, but have never gotten around to installing it.

    It just flat out works, as Mossbergs tend to do. That it was assembled out of miss matched parts from multiple guns, likely multiple variations of the gun, does kind of impress me too. Mossberg did a good job for all those pieces to come together as they did.

    Oh yes, as I recall I was missing an ejector part or a screw, can’t recall which. Got that from Numrich.

  5. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Thanks for the review. I have the original 590 Mossberg. It’s great. I love the bayonet lug. I’ve got an M9 for it that fits just fine.
    What would be more effective in open carry, an AR15? Or a 590 shotgun with a fixed bayonet for open carry?

  6. avatar cgray says:

    I don’t like shotguns.

    I’m buying this shotgun.

    1. avatar Barry Hirsh says:

      That’s pretty decisive. I take it, you approve?

    2. avatar GS650G says:

      Why would cgray buy a firearm?

  7. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

    Been wanting one for a few months but there aren’t any 590s or 940s to be found in stores.

    I doubt the situation improves with riots and it being an election year, but I can wait.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Even being an election year a pump shotgun will be less likely to be snatched up then semi auto rifles. If you can wait until after the covid riot zombies I think you might have luck finding what you want.

      1. avatar GunnyGene says:

        There’s a war going on between the covid riot zombies and the Floydpocolypse zombies. Don’t get caught in the middle of it.

  8. avatar Mike V says:

    Gotta get rid of that ugly buttpad…

    I love the look otherwise. I’m setting up an 870 along those lines.

    1. avatar Mark H says:

      For some reason that ugly but pad is somehow “traditional”. I have a Mosberg from the 70’s with the same unit.

  9. avatar Dirk Ri says:

    I wouldn’t mind one of these, but I already own a standard 590 and now is not the time to be trying to trade-up to a nicer model, if its even possible to find one. My Mossy is currently on alert duty (with a black M9 bayonet affixed) near the front door.

  10. avatar GS650G says:

    Perfect for that riot down the street.

  11. avatar Neil says:

    Ohh… bayonet lug. Errr… how do I explain that to a jury of my peers?

    1. avatar Ranger Rick says:

      If it comes to that there won’t be any jury notifications going out.

    2. avatar Barry Hirsh says:

      Or to Chuckie, Nancy or Shannon?

    3. avatar ironhead says:

      As Sheldon once said…. “I have no peers”

    4. avatar GS650G says:

      Explain it to the rioters.

  12. avatar Hoodlum says:

    I got a 590A1 couple years ago. Been very happy with it so far.

  13. avatar enuf says:

    Soooo…… about that bayonet. What do ya’ll say? Leave it the dark grey parkerized finish it came with or polish it up bright and shiny? Original finish is for not being seen. A bright mirror polish would be because you want to be seen.

    For, um, you know … “Psychological Effect” 😉

    1. avatar PROUD chicano says:

      “Psychological Effect”
      It’s a thing, some people will react differently to the image of a stainless revolver to a polymer pistol being pointed at them.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Mine has a snakeskin finish which I find amazing (don’t know how they do that!), I would need the bayonet to match, except I have no damn LUG!! Poo! I saw that pic and I was in love.

  14. avatar Fun Gunner says:

    This kind of shotgun has a certain appeal in light of current events. In fact the bayonet may be more practical than ever.

  15. avatar BuckeyeMike says:

    Last fall I was looking at the Mossberg 590, mostly for my wife when I was out of town. I told her it’s easier to point a shotgun and shoot than aim my Glock and shoot. Holidays were coming up, money was disappearing quickly, so I put it off. Figured I’d have plenty of time. Fast forward to February, I couldn’t find a pump action anywhere. I looked all the way through May, once a week, nothing. Finally a couple weeks ago I saw a Mossberg 590 Retrograde available on GunGrabber. I ordered that so fast I screwed up my phone number. But I got it ordered to be sent to my ffl. I look couple hours later and they had “out of stock” under it. Nice shotgun. Very happy.

  16. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I don’t generally bayonet wounded quail. I wring their necks and put them in my game vest.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      had you used an ar they would have been dead.

    2. avatar GS650G says:

      If they are wounded be a better shot

  17. avatar Frank M. says:

    I didn’t get too far past the picture before I decided that I wanted one. Thanks for the review.

  18. avatar Hannibal says:

    “I got my hands on the manlier version of the two..”

    I dunno, seems to me that the lighter of two shotguns, all else being equal, would take someone more manly to shoot it properly.

    In any case, I like wood shotguns. If I didn’t already pick up a cheap 590 before the covid I’d try and get this one. But I can’t really justify both for myself.

    Bayonet lugs on a shotgun in 2020 is worthy of an eye-roll but whatever.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      You’re kidding. Strikes me as the ultimate in home defense. I can think of a hundred ways it might help me not kill someone.

  19. avatar Barry Hirsh says:

    If I didn’t already own a vintage ‘riot gun’ version of the Remmy Wingmaster, I’d jump on it like a cat on a junebug.

    But I love that Remmy, so everything’s QRU.

  20. avatar FormerParatrooper says:

    Reminiscent of what was issued for guard duty. The bayonet is a nice touch for it.

  21. avatar OldProf49 says:

    Can the length of pull be shortened by a gunsmith? I’m also on the lookout for a Shockwave. I want to fit it with a tactical brace, Opsol adapter and either a bead or ghost ring sight.

  22. avatar UpInArms says:

    I’ve already got a Mossberg 500 “Persuader”. Don’t need a 590. But thanks for review.

  23. avatar k says:

    What brand/mnfctr is the bayonet?

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