Mossberg introduced its pump-action Model 500 shotgun to the public in 1962 and the reliable system of operation was a huge success. It remains a popular choice to this day and has served law-abiding citizens well in the field, on the range and for home defense. The performance didn’t escape the notice of law enforcement and the military. All branches of our Armed Forces adopted it by 1979. There’s no denying the vast majority of the 10 million sold by the time it was 50 years old, however, went to civilian enthusiasts.
The company’s never been shy about improvements, though. In late 1980s, Mossberg unveiled a variant labeled the 590, adding changes that make routine maintenance chores easier without abandoning the dual action bars that provide unfailing and smooth operation. The U.S. military fielded it in 1987, reaping the benefits of its tubular magazine’s increased capacity, heavier walled barrels and other features.
The basic difference in the two shotguns is found at the muzzle end of the magazine. A 500 version is closed in a system designed to ease barrel changing—ideal for hunters. The 590 variant has a removable cap that eases cleaning and maintenance chores. That feature makes barrel swaps are a little more involved, though.
There’s no shortage of 590 variations available today, including the 590A1 Tactical. There are 11 models, each with MilSpec construction, in parkerized or Marinecote finishes. Magazine capacities are either 7 or 9 shotshells, and the 12-ga. can chamber 3" loads. Barrels, all cylinder choked, measure either 18.5" or 20 inches". One model comes threaded for the Accu-Choke system with a cylinder choke installed.
A Retrograde 590A1 Tactical model—with a walnut stock—comes close to the original configuration. It wears ghost ring sights, measures 41" overall, tips the scales at 7 lbs. and carries an MSRP of $987. Prices in that family of shotguns, go as low as the $600 range, though, depending on finish and features.
There’s also a 590 Tactical line with magazine capacities running 5, 6 and 8 shotshells, depending on chambering, which includes 12- and 20-ga. There’s also a .410 bore model. Metal work is matte blued, barrel lengths are 18.5" or 20" and MSRPs start at a budget-friendly $500.
Mossberg’s prolific design team such a wide range of 590 variants and upgrades that it borders on staggering. Today it’s hard not to find one ideally suited for any mission. In January of 2017, for example, the company came out with the Shockwave version, a fully BATFE compliant model that has a nimble overall length of 26.37". Then there’s the 590M line—unveiled in 2018—featuring double-stack box magazines.
The company hasn’t slowed that pace, either. In January 2020 it introduced models wearing M-LOK fore-ends. The following year, 2021, Mossberg made its 590S available, a compact gun that is capable of smoothly running 1.75", 2.75" and 3", 12-ga. shotshells with no aftermarket adapter required.