Review: Mossberg International SA-20 Field 20 Gauge Shotgun

(Woody for TTAG)

Semi-automatic 20-gauge shotguns are often good choices for female or younger shooters who want a lighter gun with less recoil, but with most of the shot-pattern effectiveness of a 12 gauge. There are actually quite a few choices in this niche, but many of them get quite spendy, such as the Benelli Montefeltro 20 Gauge and the Browning Silver Field Micro Midas and similar semi-automatic shotguns from Beretta, all north of $1000.

A much more affordable option is the Mossberg International SA-20 All Purpose Field Shotgun, made in Turkey by Armsan (Armsan.com). It has a 26-inch barrel and a walnut stock and usually sells for around $550 street price.

I had a chance to shoot an SA-20 extensively along with a few women shooters, who found a lot of things to like about the SA-20, such as the bantam 6.5-pound unloaded weight.

The Mossberg International SA-20 All Purpose Field semi-auto is made in Turkey by Armsan. It has a 26-inch barrel and a walnut stock. (Woody for TTAG)

Features include a five-round magazine capacity (or 5+1), a 3-inch chamber, ventilated rib, a bead front sight, a good selection of included chokes, an attractive matte-finish walnut stock, and a standard length of pull at 14.5 inches.

The semi-auto shotgun measures 46.25 inches in length and comes with the company’s Sport Set of five chokes and a wrench in a breakdown-style plastic case, a free gun lock, and a one-year limited warranty. All the metal surfaces are glossy blued on top of satin-finish walnut stocks. It handled loads from 7⁄8 ounce to 1 1⁄4 ounce without adjustment.

The semi-auto shotgun measured 46.25 inches in length in a breakdown-style plastic case. (Woody for TTAG)

A set of stock spacers allow the shooter to raise or lower the vertical position of the stock, arguably the most important measurement after length of pull. Each spacer is marked with the amount of drop or rise they provide.

To install the spacers, empty the gun, check it twice, and put it on Safe. Remove the recoil pad (the buttpad screws will remain in the recoil pad). Remove the stock bolt using a 1⁄2-inch socket wrench. Remove the stock. Place the selected stock spacer on back of receiver, text side facing out. Note the clocking slot. Reinstall the stock and stock bolt. Do not overtighten the bolt. Replace the recoil pad, making sure you do not overtighten the screw. Test the adjustment.

Like on a Browning, the autoloader’s gas system vents excess gases to aid in recoil reduction and helps eliminate stress on the operating components. Notable was that while shooting this 6.5-pound gun, neither my fellow shooters or I noticed any more felt recoil with it than with heavier guns. Also, it comes to shoulder and points very fast.

Female shooters liked the Mossberg’s light weight and light price tag. (Woody for TTAG)

The trigger-pull weight was a decent 6.5 pounds, and the rounded trigger itself was comfortable on the finger. The top of the receiver offers a clear sighting plane. The bolt-release button is easy to work, and none of the female shooters had trouble with the button. However, the bolt-retraction effort is a stout 13.75 pounds.

The stock dimensions are comfortable for most shooters, including a lefty, because there is no cast in the stock. The wrist feels trim in the hand. Also, the pistol grip has a forward edge that increased control of the gun.

The choke-tube package included SK, IC, Mod, IM, and F constrictions. (Woody for TTAG)

The receiver isn’t drilled and tapped for red-dot mounting, and it lacks sling-swivel studs. Both are oversights on a field gun, but the inability to put on a proper sling is the bigger issue. A slip-on sling would have to do if you don’t want to make the investment in adding studs.

The SA-20 had positive ejection with low-recoil 7⁄8-ounce ammo. The SA-20 has a nicely chromed bolt, and it came with a rubber bolt cover. Some shooters used the cover to operate the heavy action.

The SA-20’s trigger guard is plastic, not steel or aluminum alloy. The forend checkering doesn’t wrap as you’d see on Benelli and Browning guns, and the grain of both the stock and forearm were fairly plain. The stock and forearm have a satin finished in a tough, clear lacquer.

Checkering on the wood appeared to be laser cut. It’s clean with no overruns on the borders. The SA-20 has a half-inch-thick rubber recoil pad with a hard insert at the top of the pad, so the rubber doesn’t grab clothing.

The crossbolt-type round safety button on the Mossberg SA-20 is mounted behind the trigger in the polymer trigger guard. The safety moved positively and without incident.

Specifications: Mossberg International SA-20 Field Shotgun

Caliber: 20 gauge
Item No.: 75789
Action: Semi-auto, gas-operated
Chamber Length: 3 in.
Overall Length: 46.25 in.
Barrel Length: 26.0 in.
Receiver: Matte-anodized black aluminum alloy; grooved top strap
Ventilated Rib: 0.3 in. wide; checkered
Sights: Checkered ventilated rib; brass front bead
Choke Tubes: SK, IC, Mod, IM, F
Capacity (Plugged Magazine Tube): 2+1
Capacity (Unplugged): 5+1
Weight Unloaded: 6.5 lbs.
Buttstock: Satin-finish Turkish walnut, wrist checkering. Synthetic-stock models available.
Buttstock Length of Pull (LOP): 14.5 in.
Buttpad: Rubber, 0.46 inch thick, hard heel insert
Trigger Pull Weight: 6.5 lbs.
Warranty: 1-year limited
MSRP: $675 (street price about $550)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
Plain wood grain in the walnut stock, but nice color and finish.

Customization * * * *
The ability to make major stockfit changes is a real plus on a gun of this price. A drilled receiver and sling swivels would have been nice, especially in a field gun.

Reliability * * * * *
After 1,000+ rounds of mixed Remington, Winchester, and Federal shot shells, no issues at all. Low-recoil loads worked fine, too.

Accuracy * * * * *
It takes some patience to get the gun fit correct to see the top of the vent rib perfectly, but it’s doable without getting the stock bent.

Overall * * * * 1/2
The Mossberg International SA-20 is a very good value for the money. It’s lightweight and customizable enough to fit most any shooter. The lack of sling swivels on a field gun is the only glaring miss.

comments

  1. avatar RGP says:

    Female? Younger? No, a lot of people prefer a 20.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Amen!.
      I enjoy shooting a 16, 410, or 28 as well.

      A 20 will get it done for most shooting, but you do have to be able to shoot.

      So instead of buying a bigger, heavier-framed gun and shooting 7/8 loads – buy a nice, light 20 and enjoy it for what it is and does.

  2. avatar NORDNEG says:

    Nice shotgun, I have a 20 gauge & sometimes when the sky is full of birds & I know I’m going to get a lot of shots I’ll use it instead of one of my 12’s, their fun to shoot & great for kids or someone that’ not used to a kick. Just my take on the 20 ga.

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    Nice gun for the money. 20ga shells are a good alternative to the 12 for a lot of shooters. Probably not as many ammo choices in that gauge though.
    It looks like the case was opened upside down in the photo.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    Did you shoot any 3 inch buck loads or slugs? I have 2 youth model 20’s, mossberg pump and a single shot. My wife is 5 foot. 3 inch loads kick like an army mule out of them. The pump is at that 6.5 pound weight but that single pipe is doing good to hit 5 pounds. Easy gun to carry. But brutal with any but light loads.

    1. avatar Todd in the sticks says:

      I got my first physics lesson with an Ithaca Model 37 20 gauge when I first started hunting. I think I weighed about 90 pounds and was not impressed with pheasant loads. I begged my dad to let me use his 16 gauge 870!

      I go about 170 40 years later and found another Model 37. I keep thinking I need to write an article about this classic.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        My brother is a left hander. In those days we couldn’t get left handed guns. At least none we could afford. We had 2 of the Ithaca’s. 20 and 16. And dad found a Remington that had the same action. in 12.

        Those Ithaca’s were labeled as Lightweight or Featherweight. I don’t remember which. They were easy to carry but they kicked some.

    2. avatar Larry Adams says:

      I have the 12 ga. 930 and find the semi auto gas system makes it a very soft shooter.

  5. avatar enuf says:

    No way I am spending money to support the Dictator and Islamist of Turkey. Mossberg makes perfectly good shotguns of all sorts here in the USA, so if you need a Mossy (everyone does, truly), focus on the MADE IN USA models.

    Please do not support an Islamist Dictator!

    1. avatar Skinnedknuckles says:

      Agreed. I love Mossberg for their Made in the USA firearms and am disappointed they went to Turkey for this gun. I love the 20 ga and would like to add a semi to the safe, but not from Turkey.

    2. avatar jonnysalt says:

      Double strike.

      1) Turkey
      2) Mossberg’s drop-in trigger lawsuits

      The fact that it got spanked out of court doesn’t let Mossberg off the hook. I don’t spend money with creeps.

    3. avatar Ron says:

      I personally wonder why it seems nearly all new shotguns are suddenly made in Turkey now? Why Turkey, and why shotguns? What’s the political/economical reasons behind this?

      I know why companies export labor and materials to other countries such as China or Mexico. But why is Turkey suddenly churning out everyone’s shotguns? I also don’t understand this when American made shotguns weren’t expensive to begin with. We’re not talking about Multi thousand dollar hand crafted Berrettas here. Regular American pumps and semi autos made by a number of companies both were never that expensive, and could be bought by regular people on normal salaries. This Turkish trend started recently, within the last 5 to 7 years or so, and nothing in the market seems to dictate that an American made shotgun’s price of production would’ve skyrocketed in this time.

  6. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

    Cue the morons about to claim 20 ga. is as effective as .22 short for home defense in 4, 3, 2, 1…

  7. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    A semi-auto 20 is a shotgun for women and youth? My 1100 Special Field LT 20 handles like a wand and quail tremble when I step off the wagon. Don’t even get started on my son’s 870 Wingmaster LT 20. One of 200 manufactured with mahogany furniture. He wouldn’t walk across the street to shoot a deer, but if you’re between him and a quail hunt he’ll leave a boot print on your back. 20 is for those who know how to shoot. Recoil has nothing to do with it.

    1. avatar RGP says:

      +1.

      The shotguns I own were all replaced about ten years ago with one 20 ga Benelli M2, and I’ve never regretted that choice.

  8. avatar enuf says:

    A 20ga has it’s place, I see nothing wrong with it be it used by petite women and youngsters of big strong men.

    On the other hand absolutely nothing MADE IN TURKEY is acceptable. How any American can support an Islamist Dictator is beyond my comprehension.

  9. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I’ll keep my 60 year old Winchester auto 20 ga model 50.
    The action is so very smooth. Haven’t weighed it, but it’s light enough for the snake river hills. I think I carry more weight in ammo. (Chukar ain’t easy to hit).
    And I’m not supporting some musloid fachist.

  10. avatar jimmy james says:

    I’ll never forget the Mossberg (Patriot?) bolt gun I bought. The blind magazine would not feed a round into the chamber. The follower and spring was a bad design they knew about and sold it without a fix. Then there is the Mossberg shotgun a friend bought for duck hunting trip. It came with a corn dog stick for a magazine plug. Cant believe Jerry Miculek put his name on their crap. Must have been a lot of zero’s after that 1. Friends dont let friends buy Mossberg or Taurus or Keltec or…

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Bullshit. I have a lifetime of Mossberg use behind me. A lot of folks I know would rather has a mossy than a Remington, me included.

    2. avatar enuf says:

      Bought my first Mossberg 41 years ago. Still own it and AZ another I bought just 5 years ago. Both have been nothing but trouble free workhorses.

      Could not be more satisfied!!!!

  11. avatar Richard D Cutie says:

    I have the SA 20 tactical with pistol grip. It has ghost ring sights, rail on top and tri rail at end for a light/laser. Although this guns saftey isn’t where most Mossbergs are (at the rear) this little gun is a fantastic 20g home defense shotgun. It’s 100% reliable (so far) and a blast to shoot, it’s really lite and handy. I’d recommend it if you want a shotgun for home defense semi auto 20g (like there’s many to choose from lol) but any woman not afraid of it could handle no problem!!
    Best Regards

  12. avatar Hoyden says:

    Isn’t this basically the same gun as a Weatherby SA-20 and Tristar?

    1. avatar Dukeisok says:

      I can’t speak to the tristar but bought my son a mossberg sa20 and I have a weatherby sa08 20 gauge. Similar guns but the the sa08 uses a single action bar and interchangeable pistons for heavy and light loads. The mossberg has dual action bars and a valved piston that covers all loads. The sa20 is a youth model but the fit and finish falls short of the weatherby. Flat anodized aluminium receiver, plastic trigger guard, and ours was sold as a “walnut” stock but is clearly a stained hardwood and not actually walnut. In my conversation with mossberg I was told that it was accepted practice in the business to refer to strained hardwood as Turkish walnut. Unfortunately no shops around had any in stock to look at before I ordered it. Lesson learned.

      I swore off mossberg after this disappointment and their less than satisfactory handling of it “this gun meets our standards” but in all honesty both guns have been perfectly reliable for us.

  13. avatar Gregolas says:

    Made in Turkey, which is not our friend. Strike one. Strikes 2 and 3, they have a crossbolt safety which I will not have on a gun, in place of Mossberg’s tried–and-true-to-your-thumb-handy safety, like their pumps and the 930 series have. I have personally begged Mossburg reps at 2 NRA conventions to make a “920” little brother for me and millions of others. I WILL buy 2 if they will make it.
    If I’d wanted a crossbolt safety, 20 ga. Semiauto, I would have bought a Remington 1100 30 years ago.
    PLEASE Mossberg, GIT ‘ER DONE !

  14. avatar Daniel S. says:

    And then there is the Model SA-20 Turkey, with a 22″ barrel and Mossy Oak Obsession Camo. It’s only 40.5″ and weighs only 5.5 lbs. Wanted the 20 barrel model, but they only sell it on the railed, pistol grip model The 22 is still nice, comes with Fiber Optic Ghost Ring Sight. Also have a 500 pump 20 with 18.5″ barrel with Hogue Tamer pistol grip . . . its awesome! Hoping I can adapt this SA-20 to a pistol grip. I would agree with many others here; a 20 gauge is just the thing to get for anyone . . . unless of course you’re Macho Man. I do like pistol grip 500 too, but the 20 is actually enjoyable to shoot; the 12 can be punishing after a while. As for buying a (one) gun made in Turkey . . . how much stuff do you buy from China? Communist country, abuses their people, sex trafficking, murders citizens . . . etc . . .

    1. avatar Dude says:

      “As for buying a (one) gun made in Turkey . . . how much stuff do you buy from China? Communist country, abuses their people, sex trafficking, murders citizens . . . etc . . .”

      Great point. Everyone here supports the commie dictatorship in China, in one way or another. With that being said, support American workers whenever possible. When you take the economy as a whole into account, people aren’t saving as much as they think by exporting jobs and buying cheap Chinese junk.

  15. avatar California Kid says:

    I have one in the youth model. It is great way to train my nephews. It is too light for me, but for a 12 to 16 year old it is perfect and it does not recoil much. I like my Beretta A400 12 gauge target shotgun for myself but this is a cheap reliable 20 gauge for getting youth started in clays. I know it is made in Turkey but I was not going to buy a $1,500 Beretta or Browning to teach youngsters that will soon outgrow this gun. A new Remington 20 gauge 1100 runs about $1100 retail and is not offered in youth stock. I did not want to buy used.

  16. avatar hillhunter says:

    glad the gun works! thanks for getting ladies to the range as well. disagree with sling assessment. in fact at large dove hunts and on clays course (where these types of shotguns thrive) i’ve found slings to be a safety issue. way too many opportunities for muzzle sweeps and other clumsy maneuvers.

  17. avatar Mark H says:

    Crossbolt Saftey = Instant Pass

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