The Retrograde series from Mossberg proves that you can blend modern tactical function with old-school appeal. As the reigning king of tactical pump-action shotguns, the 590A1 couldn’t be left out in the rain. In fact, for some reason I cannot fathom, the 590A1 Retrograde has become absurdly expensive across online auction sites.

I know what you’re thinking: all gun prices are up with President BidenHarris in office, the COVID craziness, and our summer of love. However, the 590A1 Retrograde has been selling high since before the craziness set in. It’s a finely made gun with an excellent legacy, but some are selling for almost twice the MSRP.

I guess it’s safe to say the gun has a rather large fan base. And I can see why. The walnut furniture, the heat shield, and the Parkerized finish make it a rather distinct-looking and attractive shotgun. 

The 590A1 Retrograde makes a great first impression (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Add in the 590A1 accouterments like the 8-round tube, ghost ring sights, bayonet lug, and proven design, and you do get a shotgun that functions as fearsome as it looks. Mossberg’s 590A1 famously serves as the pump-action shotgun of choice for the United States military in various configurations. It has served with distinction more than the M1014, which tended to be much less common than the 590A1. 

Going Retro 

Retrograde goes beyond the wood furniture we see on the gun. That said, the wood furniture warrants its own recognition. It’s dark stained walnut that is rather attractive. Our pump is textured ribbed-style for an easy grip. The stock is quite traditional, with a textured portion where your hand rests. At the end is an old-school built-in brown recoil pad. 

This classic design still works extremely well (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Beyond the wood furniture, the barrel and heat shield are parkerized for an old-school finish. A bayonet lug plus a heat shield and wooden furniture give the 590A1 Retrograde trench gun vibes. Like any good 590A1, the barrel is thick and heavy-walled, and the trigger group is all metal. 

Notice the nice checkering on the wood stock (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The sights are surprisingly modern with a rear adjustable ghost ring and a high visibility front blade. It’s the same sight setup you’d see on the 590A1 SPX. Mossberg could’ve settled on the bead sight, but I appreciate the ghost ring setup when it comes to accurate shooting. 

Shouldering the 590A1 Retrograde 

A 13.87-inch LOP isn’t for everyone, though it’s much better than the 14.5-inch LOP I run across a bit too often. While a 13.87-inch length feels perfectly sized for me, since that’s the case then I imagine it’s long for most shooters. The ribbed pump and textured rear grip make it easy to utilize a push-pull recoil mitigation technique. Weight wise the 590A1 Retrograde doesn’t bring much heft at 7 pounds. 

The LOP is just right for me, so likely too long for everyone else (Travis Pike for TTAG)

A lot of weight is pushed to the front of the 590A1 Retrograde when the weapon is fully loaded. 8 rounds of buckshot and a heavy-walled barrel push the weight forward and make it off balance. If I were swinging the gun at clay pigeons, maybe this would matter, but I don’t see a big deal with it in a combat shotgun. In fact, the weight-forward advantage helps fight muzzle rise. 

Old school looks, modern performance (Travis Pike for TTAG)

After blasting through a few cycles of the ASP Shotgun Casino drill, I did see how the heavy-walled barrel and heat shield work well. Shotguns and buckshot heat up a barrel nice and fast, but the gun is rather resistant to it. This is great for situations where you might need to grab the receiver’s front to manipulate the gun and are not wearing shooting gloves.  

590A1 Retrograde Go Thump Thump 

Recoil is what you can expect from a 12 gauge shotgun. Good technique goes a long way in mitigating it, and without it, you’ll get a thump or two. Like all Mossberg pumps, the action is a little rough, and the pump is a little sloppy, but neither affects function. The gritty action will smooth out in a few thousand rounds. 

I normally hate big stamps on my guns, but this one gets a pass (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Ghost ring sights allow for excellent shot placement, especially if you are going to be using modern buckshot loads like Flitecontrol. These offer the most range of any buckshot I’ve handled, and a good set of sights takes full advantage of that range. The rear ghost ring sight is nice and wide, and the front high visibility orange sight is easy to see and direct.

An adjustable ghost rings makes slugs and modern buckshot more precise (Travis Pike for TTAG)

One neat thing about the 590A1 Retrograde, and about 590A1s in general, is the unique barrel harmonics that give you a rather tight patterning gun. Basically, the claim and effect is that the 590A1 patterns tighter due to the unique barrel profile and design. In practice, cheap 00 buckshot without a good wad creates a pattern 6 to 7.5 inches wide at 15 yards. 

Bright orange front sight is very easy to see and find (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Pump Action Reliability

The Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde gives you the reliable performance you’d expect from a pump-action shotgun. It loads, shoots, and ejects almost entirely without issue. The only situation I ran into was with S&B buckshot. On occasion, the pump would stick, requiring me to use both hands with the gun braced against the ground to free the shell. 

The Retrograde takes classic looks and mixes it with modern tactical prowess (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Some of the hulls from the S&B buckshot seemed to have expanded. I replicated this problem in a Mossberg 500 and a KelTec Ks7. I’d chalk it up to the round causing issues more than the gun. Other than the few times that happened, I had zero issues. Obviously, as a pump gun, I can use the lightest loads without problems. 

Even mini buckshot with an Opsol adapter and the 2.5-inch shells all feed without issue from the gun. 

The 590A1 Retrograde is a combination of a competent fighting shotgun with classic wooden and steel appeal. It is priced at a premium, even when you compare MSRPs between standard 590A1s and the Retrograde. It’s certainly a desirable mixture of old-school cool and modern capability. Not something we often see in the world of Picatinny rails and black polymer furniture. 

Heat Shield becomes quite handy during high round counts (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Specifications: Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde

Caliber: 12 gauge
Chamber: 3 inches
Capacity: 8 + 1
Length: 41 inches
Barrel Length: 20 inches
Weight: 7 pounds
MSRP: $987 (about $870 when in stock at Brownells)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy * * * * *
Ghost ring sights and a tight-patterning cylinder bore deliver excellent accuracy at a variety of distances. Load it with slugs and the ghost rings become all the handier. Federal Flitecontrol and these sights make precisely-placed buckshot all too easy. 

Reliability * * * * *
Pump-action shotguns are hard to make unreliable. I’m sure someone has, but Mossberg is not one of them them. The 590A1 delivers excellent performance with high brass, low brass, and various length shells. 

Ergonomics * * * *
Mossberg 500 series shotguns are very well designed with an ambidextrous tang safety, a skeletonized shell lifter, and the Retrograde series features excellent texturing. While the LOP fits me fine, it might be a hair long for smaller shooters. 

Overall * * * * *
Although it’s priced at a premium these days, the 590A1 Retrograde is chock full of features. This is a very well-designed shotgun. A standard 590A1 is cheaper, but nowhere near as stylish. The 590A1 Retrograde is a fantastic firearm that’s well-suited for home defense and a good time at the range. And you can add an M9 bayonet if you really want to get under the Kaiser’s skin. 

 

58 COMMENTS

  1. “all gun prices are up with President BidenHarris in office”

    Why are you snubbing our first female BIPOC President, Susan Rice?

    Anyway, love the shotgun.

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  2. Good luck finding one.

    Better luck finding one for a reasonable price.

    A 590 shouldn’t cost a grand. Got a guy locally listing one on armslist for 1200.

    Absurd.

    • I listed a 100% stock Saiga in a local gun enthusiast board. I bought it in 2004 ish, its my best guess for $400.

      I didn’t know what it was worth, so I said in the ad. “I have no idea what its worth, so until then I’ll put a ridiculous number of $1700 up. I’ll update it with a real price once I figure it out”.

      I got 3 emails on it with the 1700 price. Insanity.

      • Saiga’s have really shot up in price. It kinda makes me think about selling mine (Stock 7.62*39) and replacing it with one of the new Palmetto AKs. My experience with PSA ARs has been very good.

        By the way, this Mossberg looks great and all, but my $199 Maverick 88 (7+1) is about 95% the gun and a fifth of the price. But I do lean minimalist (hence the stock Saiga purchased in 2010 for $299).

  3. Best Pump Action Shotgun of the last 20 years. Naysayers say that Mossbergs cannot handle the level of use that many other other noted shotguns from more “High-End” Brands can.

    That’s hogwash. Bar-none. Looking at how expensive they are right now, they are the most desired Pump Action Shotgun out there for a reason.

  4. “In fact, the weight-forward advantage helps fight muzzle rise.”

    Has anyone ever explored muzzle porting on boom-sticks to mitigate the inevitable muzzle rise?

    I like the look. Kinda has an Ithaca ‘vibe’ to it…

    • I dont know if the comment on muzzle porting was sarc. or not but I have a Mossberg 500 from the 90’s that’s ported from the factory. It was their camo “turkey” gun.

    • Magnaport will put holes beside your shotgun barrel rib. I’ve never shot one, so I can’t tell you how effective it is.

  5. Oh boy I can’t wait to read what human blimp and sentient traffic cone Geoff PR has to write about this shotgun!

    • “… human blimp and sentient traffic cone …”

      That there was funny!

      Sorry Geoff PR. That was an inherently funny way to refer to anyone.

      • Nothing to apologize for, I have a sense of humor.

        My demented troll, on the other hand, has no sense of humor, and it shows with his incompetent little attacks on me… 🙂

  6. Hmmm. I guess I am getting old. Wood stocks are not “textured,” they have “checkering.” Back in the day they would even say how many lines per inch there was. A quibble, thanks for the review.

  7. I’d like to dedicate a very special song to a very ‘special’ troll –

    “She’s forty-one and her daddy still calls her, ‘baby’
    All the folks around Brownsville say she’s crazy
    ‘Cause she walks down town with a suitcase in her hand
    Looking for a mysterious dark-haired man
    In her younger days they called her Delta Dawn
    Prettiest woman you ever laid eyes on
    Then a man of low degree stood by her side
    And promised her he’d take her for his bride
    Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
    Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
    And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
    To take you to his mansion in the sky?”

    One big-assed *Snicker*… 😉

  8. I like the look. I can’t even find a Mossberg Maverick88 at a reasonable price let alone this😕

  9. My 590A1 was built out of parts found on Gunbroker. The total cost to build it up came to maybe $200. This was one of those deals where some dealer is selling all but the receiver of a destroyed gun. Came with the plastic “Speed Stock” that holds some shells. The barrel is the heavy wall Parkerized, with bayonet lug.

    Next, found a new receiver for $40 from another seller. It is not Parkerized, but it works and that’s the main thing.

    I had a six shell SideSaddle in my misc parts pile, that fits just fine.

    It all went together and works like it should. Even put a bayonet on it for laughs, but only to take a picture, then I took it off.

    I keep it ready with alternating 00 buck and slugs.

      • M7 too. Ontario makes both and of course the Chinese make reproductions for cheap, probably good for doing stabby things.

        • fyi
          The 1968 gun control act banned the importation of any firearm with a bayonet lug on it. And it wasn’t that long ago on TTAG that the FUDDs were saying, “you don’t need a bayonet on the end of your rifle”.
          “Why do you need a bayonet?” They ask. And many of these same people, hunters, were asking why do you need a handgun???

          The obama administrstion requested the pentagon to ban the use of bayonets by soldiers and marines. I don’t remember if the ban went into effect.

          I can take a good guess, but I’m trying to figure out, why the Left hates knives, and especially bayonets so much???

    • That’s basically the mossberg shockwave. the mag tube on a 590 would still be 20” on a 8+1 capacity.

      I have the shockwave, I don’t like it. In short, my problem is you hold it the same distance out as a regular stocked shotgun without the support the stock provides and the reduced capacity of a shorter magazine tube. I put on the laser saddle and that helps with hip fire but it’s not cheap. Then I put on the SB tactical brace and that gets in the way of the slide release by the trigger.

      The one area it’s good is the length, I bought it to put above and behind the kitchen closet pantry door frame where I could easily lift it out without turning at an angle to fit through the door.

  10. I don’t own a Mossberg and I’m sure it’s a great shotgun but I love my Remy 870 and Tac-14 870.I never had a problem with S&B buck shot.It costs less than other brands of shotgun ammo and that is all I have ever used with my Remy 870’s.

  11. Nice shotgun but not for those prices, OR: you can just get a Mossy model 500 and put hogue stock and forearm. Cheap and just as reliable.

  12. This and the mossberg 940 have been top of my gun list since before the pandemic. I can’t find them at a reasonable price ~650/~1100

    I guess I would trade some of my stash of .380 or .22 at the new prices for the gun at the new price though. Trading steel .380 FMJ I bought for about .20 a round now worth over a dollar seems like a good deal for a nice shotgun.

    • That worthless bump stock. The one that people complain about wastes ammunition. It also performed spectacularly at the Mandalay Bay massacre in Las Vegas.

  13. I have the Persuader in this Retrograde series, I love it. In fact, so much that I bought a field barrel for it and use it dove hunting in addition to “behind the door.” It’s the wife’s go-to when I’m away.
    Be careful of that “walnut furniture,” the sticker on the stock pulled the finish off with it on mine. To their credit, Mossberg promptly sent me a new stock.
    I have a passel of Mossies now, you can’t really go wrong in value for the price. I’ve took down a bunch of gobblers with my 895, and i look forward to a few more in a couple weeks.

  14. It’s a beautiful shotgun and I would love to own one – but it’s definitely not equipped with the same sights as the 590A1SPX or 930SPX – the SPX models use LPA sights mounted on a rear Picatinny-rail and front “M-16 style” post – rear aperture and front Fiber-Optic light pipe. LPA is one of the best sight-makers around, and they have many additional options or versions of sights (for shotguns, rifles, pistols, etc. etc. etc.) – they’re very awesome.

    Mossberg has their own version of Ghost Ring Sights that are on this 590A1 and other 590A1s/590s – it’s a winged-rear sight mounted on the receiver with a circular aperture and a ramped front sight with canted blade.

    Not saying they’re bad or good or a ham sandwich but it’s not the LPA sights mounted on the SPX series.

    (I have one of the early M930SPX’s which has been flawless for over a decade, and I upgraded the rear aperture to green Fiber Optic to go with the Red front and it’s amazing.)

  15. Back in the 80’s I had a nice classic Mossberg 500. Stock broke right behind the receiver. The wood is pretty thin due to the mounting bolt, and the grain runs in the same direction as the LOP which is somewhat weak.

    That shotgun now wears poly furniture. Much as I love the retro look, I wonder about the durability of the stock.

  16. With respect to above comments bringing up “Need”:

    I have absolutely no need of a bayonet on any of my firearms. That includes the three firearms I own that have a bayonet lug and any of the others on which I could add a clamp-on lug that I found online.

    I also have no need of big knives for fighting anybody.

    But that’s about “NEED”, not “RIGHT”. I have every Right to own whatever edged weapons I desire.

    Which is why I own a bayonet to fit my 590A1 or my AR’s. As well as a Buck 120 knife (sometimes called the Buck General), I’ve owned for over 40 years. Because it is my Right to and my interest to. I also own a Civil War saber and other edged items small, medium and large.

    Need?

    Ain’t got a damned thing to do with it.

    • +100
      Perhaps if Kyle Rittenhouse had a bayonet at the end of his AR-15 rifle? He may have not had to shoot anyone. The simple site of a large very sharp knife tends to make people back down.

      Which is why the National Guard and police use them for crowd control. They “use” them all the time and no one gets stabbed or shot.

      Unfortunately a lot of people in the “gun Community” have forgotten that it’s about Arms not about guns. Defensive weapons come in all types.

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