Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
Warren Wilson for TTAG
Previous Post
Next Post

“Not everything has to be about urban combat.” That was my justification for considering a Mossberg 590 Shockwave. I knew my more tactically “woke” friends would harangue me if I reviewed one. Pistol-grip-only (often called “cruiser grip”) shotguns aren’t looked upon favorably by most highly experienced self-defenders.

I noted that the Shockwave doesn’t have a cruiser grip. Instead, it has a bird’s head grip called the “Raptor.” There are a few obvious advantages of the Shockwave Raptor over the traditional cruiser grip: legality and shoot-ability among them.

Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
Warren Wilson for TTAG

The Raptor grip is mostly horizontal and brings the gun’s overall length to 26.5” which means it eludes NFA restrictions. That’s because the Shockwave isn’t actually a shotgun at all in the legal sense.

Shotguns, by federal legal definition, have a smooth bore, are more than 26″ in length and have a shoulder stock. The Shockwave falls into a middle ground category referred to as, “pistol grip firearms.” PGF’s aren’t pistols either. They are just non-NFA firearms.

Another important legal distinction is the receiver. It must have never been part of an actual shotgun (with a butt stock attached). If there was ever a butt stock on a receiver, it is a shotgun receiver and cannot legally be converted into a PGF. In other words, if you want a Shockwave, you can’t make one in your garage. Go buy one at the fun shop, no ATF entanglements, no tax stamp required.

Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
Warren Wilson for TTAG

The negatives of the Raptor bird’s head grip are similar to those of the cruiser grip. Most notably, the lack of a shoulder stock makes accurate shooting and recoil management difficult. In reference to self-defense tools, my personal rule has always been if I wouldn’t take it to a high-round-count school, it’s just a toy. In which category, then, does the Mossberg Shockwave fall…tool or toy?

I could see some usefulness in the Shockwave as a motor home defense gun. Of course, the only way to find out for sure is to shoot one. I’ll have to wait to purchase one until Oklahoma straightens out the language in its statute regarding, “sawed-off shotguns” for that to happen. Fortunately I was able to locate a friend who had one in Texas which has fewer fun-hating state laws. Do your homework before purchasing one of your own.


The Shockwave’s Raptor grip is much more natural to hold and allows for improved recoil management compared to a cruiser grip. Because the Raptor is more horizontal, the wrist doesn’t get the same direct jolt as it does from mostly vertical cruiser style guns.

Much like a standard Mossberg 590, the Shockwave has a five-shot magazine tube, matte blue finish and a heavy-walled barrel. The choke is fixed cylinder bore as you would expect. The Shockwave’s barrel is 14.375″ compared to the standard 18.5″.

One addition to the Shockwave from the standard 590 is a strap on the forend.  That thing is priceless, not only in keeping a solid purchase on the gun, but particularly in recoil control.

Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
The Shockwave will accept aftermarket accessories like a Side Saddle. (Warren Wilson for TTAG)

Dry Work

Before making noise with the Shockwave, I did some dry practice. The Shockwave operates exactly the same as the full-size 590 pump guns. One of the reasons I prefer Mossberg over Remington in this kind of gun is the ambidextrous tang-mounted safety. I find the Remington crossbolt safety works well for me when a long gun is shoulder-mounted, but it’s really awkward in this configuration.

Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
Guns of this configuration tend to benefit from Mossberg’s ambidextrous tang safety. (Warren Wilson for TTAG)

There are essentially three positions from which this gun can be shot: 1) 80’s action movie – from the hip, 2) high pectoral, and 3) eye-level.

Shooting from the hip is rarely a term used for describing one’s best effort and I had my doubt about having any success from that position. The high pectoral position seemed promising. I could see the gold bead sight out of my peripheral vision while focusing on the target.

Dry firing from eye-level still didn’t seem quite optimal, but was mostly likely to produce hits on target…and to the shooter’s face, if he’s not careful. It should be noted that Mossberg specifically requests the Shockwave not be fired this way in their literature because it’s possible for recoil to force the pistol back into the shooter’s grill. I’ll request the same from readers for the same reasons.

Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
At seven yards, the Shockwave produced a group of just over six inches with standard buckshot loads. (Warren Wilson for TTAG)

All the Booms

The first trip to the range was just as giggly as I’d hoped. The first several rounds of birdshot made for some great fun. Then I got a little more serious and loosed three rounds of Federal Vital Shok buckshot at center mass of the humanoid target from the 80’s action star position at seven yards. No holes appeared in the high chest area where my vision had been laser focused.

As my vision softened, I saw a perfect clover leaf grouping…in the target’s face. The folks around me were very impressed until they saw my head cock in confusion. This is why we thoroughly test and practice with our defensive guns.

Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
The Shockwave will accept either 2 3/4″ or 3″ shotshells. (Warren Wilson for TTAG)


I decided the buckshot portion of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Shotgun Qualification would be a fair test of the Mossberg 590 Shockwave’s potential. The course consists of three rounds of nine-pellet buckshot at 15 yards and two rounds at 7 yards. The potential score is 90 with a minimum passing score of 63 (70%).

Any pellets inside or touching the oval 10.75” x 14” scoring ring are two points. Any pellets outside the scoring ring but still on the silhouette are scored as one point.

Most folks don’t find the course terribly challenging, but it certainly is a good starting point. I shot the course with the Shockwave at eye level with the Federal Vital Shok buckshot with FLITECONTROL wads.

Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
Warren Wilson for TTAG

As you can see on the target above, I pulled one of the seven-yard shots high and to the right, but everything else was in the scoring ring. It would be difficult to score this target since the Vital Shok pellets land almost as one unit at that distance. I would score it at least three points down.

At the fifteen-yard line, the groups opened up to between 2.5” and 2.9”. Vital Shok with FLITECONTROL is the stuff! For reference, I fired a few rounds of standard buckshot from the 7-yard line. The groups averaged just over six inches. Overall, a score of 87 isn’t terrible, but it isn’t that good considering the buckshot I was using.

The other half of the law enforcement shotgun qualification is five slugs between 25 and 50 yards.  For giggles, I fired two slugs at 25 yards. I felt pretty good about my sight picture at ignition, but both sailed high left. Of course, this isn’t a slug gun, but I just had to try.

Gun Review: Mossberg 590 Shockwave 12 Gauge
Warren Wilson for TTAG

De-Fense!  Or not.

Are these little shorty (non)shotguns as effective as traditional shoulder-mount guns for defense? No. I’m sorry, they’re just not. What they are, though, is handy as heck and a ridiculous amount of fun. A Shockwave plus ten bucks worth of birdshot equals grins galore.

That said – and at the risk of enraging tactical Timmys everywhere – I do see some limited, but legitimate defensive uses for the Shockwave. As a truck gun or used in a confined space, it packs a serious wallop. We often hear concerns over the barrel length of shorty shotguns, but the Shockwave’s 14-inch barrel patterns only slightly larger than my traditional pump-action 18-inch barrel tactical shotguns at seven and fifteen yards.
I believe the 590 Shockwave’s real potential will be realized with the addition of the Crimson Trace Laser Saddle. I’ve reached out to Crimson Trace for a review sample. Stay tuned.

armscor ammunition

Specifications: Mossberg 590 Shockwave

Gauge: 12
Capacity: 6 rounds
Barrel Length: 14.375
Sight: Brass bead
Choke: Fixed cylinder
Finish: Blued
Overall Length: 26.37 inches
Weight: 5.25 inches
MSRP: $455 (about $300 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy * * * *
For the sake of a shotgun-type firearm, we’ll refer to pattern size. This shorty gun holds an impressive pattern at the distances for which it was intended. The groups were only slightly larger than what I’ve come to expect from 18″ barrel shotguns.

Reliability * * * * *
Several of us pounded a few hundred rounds of birdshot, buckshot and slugs without issue over the course of a few days. The Shockwave offers the same dependability you’ve come to rely on from Mossberg’s other dependable pump-action shotguns with their twin action bars and anti-jam elevator. It will, of course, accept accessories like a side saddle or light mount.

Ergonomics * * * 
The Raptor bird’s head grip makes this gun much more comfortable in the hand and in recoil than cruiser grips.

Customization * * * *
The Shockwave has swivel mounts ready for a sling. I had no difficulty finding loads of accessories for it.

Aesthetics * * 
It’s not pretty, but it’s not supposed to be. If you use this firearm as intended, it will be even uglier with use.  Have fun!

Overall * * * *
The Mossberg Shockwave is exactly what I think it’s supposed to be. Tough, ugly, fun and effective in the right situations. That situation is extremely close-range like inside your typical residence.  If your home state doesn’t hate fun like mine does, go get yourself one.


Previous Post
Next Post


  1. I’ve got somewhere around 500 rds through mine. Thing os an awesome amount of fun. Holds all 9 pellets of 00buck on a human silhouette at 15 yards.

  2. The real potential with these, if we’re honest, is with a good brace and a folding buffer tube adapter. Gives you a much better, uh… cheek weld. Yeah, that’s it…

    • I like how compact the gun is, as is. I don’t like a lot of stuff sticking out because I like keeping it in a scabbard. The only thing I’ve added is a low-profile pistol laser which dodn’t snag going in or out of the scabbard.

      A brace would give me the option of firing from the shoulder but I only use reduced recoil or mini shells with the Opsol mini clip. Still packs a punch and recoil is very tame with either. With those options, I don’t see the need for the gun in 20 ga.

  3. Does every firearm we buy have to be tactical? There isn’t going to be a civil war. Or an apocalypse. Can’t we just have fun with our guns?

    The shockwave looks like a fun critter to play with. And if you wanted to take it in your motor home or camper I bet it would serve real well as a weekend security gun. Unless you live in the playboy mansion or a bowling alley this would probably do fine as a house gun, as well.

  4. The other potential great value not mentioned is the addition of a pistol brace. At that point you have the functionality of an SBS without the tax stamp. My 14″ Remington has a folding arm brace & holosun circle-dot sight, and is both handy and accurate.

  5. I once lived out in the boonies, no one around, so I never worried about over penetration or a miss, now I live in a low rent apartment complex and the idea of having to defend myself with a firegum is frightening. What if I miss, what if it’s a thru and thru , people all around, somebody might catch a stray, that wouldn’t be good. So I was thinking the other night while rummaging through the dumpster, “What I need is a Shockwave , in .410 caliber and number 8 birdshot.”

    • There are many with extensive firearms experience who would very strongly recommend against birdshot for self defense. You’d be much better off with a 5.56 caliber rifle. The high velocity of the round means it will begin to break up as soon as it makes contact with anything (hopefully the bad guy). I heard varmint rounds break up very quickly but im sure there are 5.56 rounds made specifically with self defense and overpenetration in mind.
      Also bookcases can be strategically placed to serve as a backstop. Something to consider.

      • You’re kidding, right? About both parts? 5.56 won’t pass through a person, and setting up backstops for shooting intruders is a good idea? Somebody tell me he’s kidding.

  6. I got my 12-ga Shockwave about a year ago for a house gun and enjoy it immensely. One thing I did was get an OpSol Mini-Clip (cheap) and installed it on the shell lifter so that I could use Aguila 1-3/4″ shotshells in either buckshot or rifled slugs – I think the magazine holds 9+1 and they would be quite effective at household ranges. Mossberg is now making the Shockwave in 20-ga and .410 as well, so users should be able to find one to suit them. Now that Federal is making short shotshells, finding this kind of ammo shouldn’t be much of a problem.

    • Ogre,

      There is a big shotshell availability problem: no one makes shorty shotshells in 20 gauge!

      When Aguilla or Federal starts making shorty shotshells in 20 gauage (and OpSol makes their lift ramp for 20 gauge or if it is easy to adapt the 12 gauge lift ramp to 20 gauge — e.g. just make the 12 gauge ramp thinner), I will go buy a Mossberg Shockwave in 20 gauge.

  7. what you described in 410, is the SNAKE-CHARMER, by iver jonhson. the gestapo go’s nuckin-futs when they see one..

  8. I remember a number of years ago we were at the range for qualification. One of the guys showed up with a pistol grip Mossberg. Guessing that’s what you meant by cruiser grip. Me, “What are you going to do with that?” Phil, “Qualify.” Me, “You forgot to put a stock on it.” Phil, “Don’t need one. It’s a shotgun.” Me, “Okay.” Mentally to myself, “This is going to be fun.” Understand, Phil was an armchair commando. Long on theory, short on performance. Told him so. A couple of times. Anyway, the targets turn. Phil fires one round on each from the waist. He doesn’t even scare them. Repeat. Same results. Next drill he brings it up to eye level and extends it. Don’t want a bump on the noggin. At least he finally got a hit. Then there’s the reload drill. You’re required to keep the targets covered. Not a problem if you have a stock. Oops! If you have a stand off device these types of weapons do have utility for military/law enforcement applications. Otherwise, a handgun. Especially in that motor home.

  9. Good review, thanks. Have an 870 w/spring loaded M4 style stock, and a Moss. 590. Have fun with both. The 870 is the house gun and the Moss. is the “sometimes” truck gun. This looks like a total hoot and grin gun! Just because.

    • Nothing wrong with buying something because it looks fun. Everything wrong with betting your life on something because it looks fun.

    • Same here and it is indeed fun, though I don’t know why this review is running now, they’re old news. I put a laser on mine and I’m lights out with it at decent defense distances. I do live out
      In the boonies and it sleeps fine under my bed. Don’t need no damn TRAINING either!

      • Of course you don’t. You’re one of those rare individuals that were blessed at birth knowing all there is to know about defensive techniques.

        • … and you -clearly- were blessed (probably pre-birth) with stupid progenitors. Too bad DNA is inherited. (LOL)

  10. I’m pretty sure the Oklahoma issue all
    Straightened out no? Pretty sure I see these shockwaves all over the gun show circuit there. Folks wouldn’t be sellin em if they weren’t legal no?

  11. I bought one because it fits nicely over top and behind a pantry door in kitchen which is a very handy place to have it. I was very dissatisfied with my accuracy trying to shoot milk jugs of water with shot at 10 yards. The sling pin on the butt is extremely discouraging to me mentally to hold at eye level. I’ll be buying the crimson trace soon to see if that improves the utility. If that doesn’t do it, it’s getting a tactical arm brace. Thing is, between the $300 purchase price, $150 sight, and $250 brace kit you’re looking at some serious cash for a non hunting mediocre defense gun when you could have just bought 3 maverick 88s.

    • You said it Cooter. Instead of throwing good money after bad. Sell to the uninitiated. Maybe the author would be interested. Buy something that’s actually useful.

        • Ha-ha, Gadsden Flag sounds like he is on the dole by Mossberg’s competitors. Or maybe not?! So why is s/he making a fool of her/himself with all this incessant stupid commenting, hmm?!?

      • If you are buying your first and/or only gun, I’d agree.
        For a lot of us, this wouldn’t be our first gun, so with that out of the way, we can get on with evaluating this type of gun on its qualities, which the article did.
        Is it the ideal HD gun? Which gun is the ideal HD gun? There ain’t one.
        I have an 18.5: 590A1 I put a Raptor grip on; I’m arthritic, and I can shoot ten 3″ slugs with it with no problem. (I have a convertible 20″ 500; if I put the pistol grip on it, slugs become a problem after three rounds. That Raptor grip makes a difference!)(The 500 with regular stock remains my main HD gun.)
        This particular style of (non)shotgun is, for me (and remember I’m just giving my opinion), more of a fun gun than an actual defensive tool.
        The Lasersaddle® looks like a really interesting addition for pretty much any HD shotgun, IMO.

    • You can get the brace setup for $100-150 if you look around for it, and the standard front bead works just fine if you’re running it that way. Probably a little fairer to compare the cost to a standard M590 as well – I understand the Mav88 will give the same practical performance for most people, but the Shockwave is based off the top model that Mossberg offers, and I’m sure it’d be right down around the Maverick’s price point if they built it off that model instead.

  12. “I’ll have to wait to purchase one until Oklahoma straightens out the language in its statute regarding, “sawed-off shotguns” for that to happen.”

    My local FFL checked with the Pontotoc County sheriff’s dept when I bought mine online. They told the FFL that Shockwaves are OK in OK. I’ve seen them for sale at a nearby gun range and store, as well.

  13. Guns created to sneak through loopholes are generally dumb but hopefully service a purpose. AR pistols are dumb (the stock crap) but at least they can basically function as an SBR without the NFA shit. What is this? Take shotgun, make not shotgun, ????, profit? Guess so. Sucker every minute. Most of em already have some sort of Taurus .410 revolver though.

    • Hannibal,

      What I find amusing is that pretty much everyone has to hold the Shockwave out in front of them a fair distance to shoot accurately — and the muzzle ends up about as far out in front of them as the muzzle of a standard shotgun with buttstock and 18-inch barrel. In other words, the end result is that a Shockwave isn’t any more manueverable, in practice, than a shotgun with a buttstock and 18-inch barrel.

      The real advantage of a Shockwave over a standard shotgun with 18-inch barrel, in my opinion, is that the Shockwave is far more compact and therefore far easier to discretely store, transport, or conceal under a coat. And if your primary concern is intimidation factor and ability to blast away, the Shockwave shines in that regard. The fact that many people cannot shoot it as accurately as a standard shotgun will not matter to a thug who just demanded your property, body, or life. (The instant that a righteous defender presents a Shockwave, all thugs will immediately be tripping over themselves to exit the area post haste which is a positive outcome to say the least.)

  14. Listen,,, their all good,,, I would recommend you shoot one first, I’ve shot them all, the Mossberg is a very good piece, but I have to say , if I had to pick one,,, I would pick the one with the pistol grip,,, mucho easier to control & you don’t feel the punch as much as the you do with the straight grip of the shockwave,,, but like I said Mossberg makes good stuff. So you can’t go wrong with either one…!

  15. I just don’t really see the point in this thing.

    They basically took a 500 JIC, chopped off 1.625″ in OAL and gave it a less useful grip. IMHO the difference in length doesn’t really justify the lack of a more useful grip.

    • strych9,

      If you are going to hold your shotgun low at waist level when firing, a Shockwave’s bird’s head grip is ergonomically superior to a pistol grip. (Our arms and wrists have more strength holding a bird’s head grip than a pistol grip at waist level.)

      Of course a traditional shotgun with a buttstock placed against your shoulder is ergonomically far superior to any shotgun with a bird’s head or pistol grip only. However, that shotgun is a lot longer than a Shockwave and therefore harder to discretely store, transport, or even conceal under a coat.

      As I mentioned to Hannibal above, a Shockwave is superior to a traditional shotgun if your primary/only concern is intimidation factor and blasting power for self-defense.

      In terms of recreation/fun factor, that is totally subjective. Some people may think Shockwaves are fantastic for recreation/fun while other’s may hate them. Different strokes for different folks.

  16. Hannibal, that was perfect! Almost everyone I’ve talked to that thought a Shockwave was a good idea thought one of those Judge revolvers was a good idea also. The author attempted to categorize the weapon type. I’ll tell you what category a Shockwave belongs in. Judge too. The next to useless one.

  17. i’d rather an 18″ barrel and a folding stock. the choates are solid. under 30″ folded, shoulderable if necessary.
    and i’m leaning more towards 20ga.
    but those 16’s tho.

  18. I have the shockwave and enjoy it. Right now it sits in a coffee table in my living room. (Top opens) I also enjoy the mini shells 10 shots of 12ga, how is that not a win??

    I still want the Mad Max double pistol(shotgun) Just because I can.

  19. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly some are to discount new weapons. When it comes to the Shockwave, most naysayers have likely never shot (or even seen) one. Those who say it can’t be fired accurately might just be “range warriors” who only shoot from a bench. I’ve been shooting for over 50 years, to include 30 years of military service. The Shockwave can indeed be fired controllably, accurately and quickly within self defense distances. Is it a 20 yard weapon? No. It is, though, d*** good within household distances for those who put in a little practice and care to master it. If you’re a pistol guy/gal, or prefer a full sized shotgun, great. But don’t disregard the Shockwave as a “range toy” just because (a), you don’t like the looks of it or (b) you can’t shoot it. I have one and replaced my Glock with it as a bedside weapon. Love the Glock as well but feel more secure against things that go bump in the night with the Shockwave. Different strokes.

      • They are wrong ! My 12 Ga. Shockwave can hit the target every time .
        I am very concerned about accidently shooting off part of my left hand
        during rapid fire recoil , which I came close to doing .
        Shooters need to be warned about inevitable left hand slippage during
        rapid fire . Without a vertical fore-end grip , this heavy recoiling animal
        is an accident waiting to happen !

    • You said it, DanO. In my 78 years of experience, most people mostly are full of crap in nearly every subject they approach, including guns, shooting, and self defense.

      There still are some people around with practical sense and some experience to measure against, but not so many with either.

      Moreover, about 30% of humanity is essentially dysfunctional, and the next 30% to 40% fall somewhere in the category of more or less semi-functional. The Bell curve explains the concept.

      If you understand your limits and know what you like and what you can do and cannot do, get what you want and can afford and simply ignore the background noise.

      Those of us who have survived a few scrapes over many years of life are not easily dissuaded by the unsupported opinions of others.

      • My favorite line is “a recent study has shown that 97- 98% of the US population are imbecile ignorant morons, a.k.a. ‘lemmings’ who will only do what the next (lemming) does without ever questioning or using critical thinking”. I guess that explains why the rest 2-3% has so easily managed to rule over the idiots. OK, I just said it, happy?!

  20. I hate to spoil the party , but we now have the Semi-Auto Remington Tac13 .
    This quick blasting animal is certainly ” a cut above ” the Shockwave , when it
    comes to firepower . The only problem is the higher price !

    • I tried to add this in an “edit”–no joy so here goes:

      I’m interested in learning as much as I can about the reliability of running Aguila 12 ga. “Minishells” in the Mossy 590 Shockwave. Links to actual articles and vids would be much appreciated, in addition to your (collective) experiences. (I’ve found a few, short Youtubes, demonstrating that they’ll run a magazine’s worth–which was claimed to be a capacity of 10, in place of the standard 5 1–but nothing convinced me that any longterm testing had been done.)

      Also, can anyone clear up whether or not the Shockwave is still being offered in .410 or 20 ga.?

      And is the Shockwave, in 12 ga., actually still being produced? I know it says so on Mossberg’s site, but there’s an awful lot of “Out of Stock” listed in the online gun sellers sites, for the Shockwave.

      I’d also welcome recommendations for which SLINGS people prefer, for Home Defense.

      Lastly, while I’ve been a lifelong (intermittent) target shooter (and former hunter) I think it’s obvious I’m not “up” on the current market for gadgets and “farkles” for guns, so can folks please recommend the best/most powerful/RELIABLE/easiest to use gun-mounted FLASHLIGHTS for the Shockwave?

      Thank you all, in advance!

  21. I live in RI, where owning the Shockwave is no problem. I’m also a life member of a rod and gun club in No. Central Ma., and wonder what kind of grief I should expect in Maura Healy’s World. Any Mass residents here? and what do you think?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here