Mossberg 590S Shockwave

July 25, 2022
The 590S is the perfect candidate for 1.75” shells, which work well in law enforcement applications.

It’s no secret that I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of the 12 gauge. Anything that can launch 20mm projectiles that are heavy enough to weigh in ounces is a respectable tool.

I tested the 18.5” Shockwave version of the 590S, which is a pistol grip gun. Actually, it has a Raptor Grip and a Corn Cob forend. There is a shorter barreled 14.375” version, but I liked the balance of the 18.5” one. If I call the short version a “firearm,” don’t be surprised. It was not designed to be fired from the shoulder, so the definition does not legally fall under “shotgun,” It is just a firearm.

This article appeared in the July issue of OFFICER Magazine. Click Here to view the digital edition. Click Here to subscribe to OFFICER Magazine.

The 18.5” barrel one has an OAL of 30.75”, so it is legal just about anywhere.

I like Mossberg shotguns because they are the most versatile designs in the business. The new 590S makes this design infinitely handier. The new 590S will accept any 1.75”, 2.75”, and 3.75” shells without any adjustment or modification.

There are some shotguns that can handle short shells, but the choices dwindle when it comes to interchanging the shells without modifying the gun. As long as we are building a resume here, Mossberg pump guns have proven themselves in some pretty challenging environments. That is, they are indestructible. Additionally, and from a tactical versatility perspective, the safety is top mounted which is intuitive for any hand position. This makes the 590S the best choice for multiple shooting challenges, including shooting from the hip.

How does it handle multiple shell sizes? The iconic skeletonized Mossberg elevator has been changed, along with a new bolt slide, and a new energy absorbing bumper. I’m waiting for spare parts to hit the market so I can experiment with retrofitting my home protection Mossy to accept multiple shells.

Originally, if one wanted to use 1.75” shells in a 590, it required a bumper assembly that fit underneath and behind the elevator. It worked wonderfully, but the problem with it was the fact that one needed to remove the bumper in order to reliably feed a larger shell. Without the brilliant engineering improvement of the 590S, the shotgun was limited to a single shell size.

Mesa Tactical Sureshell Shotshell Carrier

One observation that I have seen over and over again in law enforcement is the fact that when an officer grabs the long gun in a hurry, there is rarely provision for extra rounds. It is not comfortable to add another magazine, or even a few more shells on the duty belt, unless the long gun is the primary firearm for that officer. Whatever is in (or on) the gun is the ammunition that the officer has for the gun.

The 590S is the perfect candidate for 1.75” shells, which work well in law enforcement applications. First, this Shockwave holds 9+1 of them. That’s a lot more capacity than most shotguns with magazine extensions. Second, I added a Mesa Tactical Shureshell Shotshell Carrier, which adds six rounds.

The Sureshell Carrier is made of 6061-T6 aluminum, or Polymer. It comes in 4, 6, or 8 round configurations. I picked the polymer six-round version with the integrated Picatinny rail. The polymer version is precision moulded, glass filled nylon, and they have a rubber friction retention system. Unlike similar products, the tension on the shells is adjustable, and users can play with it a little to suit their training.

The integrated Picatinny rail gives the Sureshell Carrier enough room for an optic, so I originally mounted an optic on my 590S. I found that the bead sight works best in engagement ranges under 20 yards. I strongly recommend a laser, and the Crimson Trace LS-250 is a good fit.

Streamlight TL-Racker

For duty use, the Shockwave should have a mounted light. Streamlight markets the TL-Racker, designed to replace the Corn Cob Mossberg forend. It even has the integrated bottom strap. The TL-Racker has a 1000 lumen concentrated beam, and an almost full-length switch pad. Users will find that the TL-Racker is a little more comfortable to use over time, because of the contoured edges.

The Streamlight TL-Racker does not change the handling of the Shockwave, and having a light on the gun is the way to go.

Two Different Shooting Positions

The first time I put rounds downrange with the Shockwave, I did all of the rookie mistakes. First, I tried it with full-length shells. Second, I thought the front strap was simply ornamental, so I put my hand over it. Third, I got my face as close to the receiver as possible so I could sight the gun.

Without a buttstock against the shoulder, the Shockwave recoils freely.

All right, I exaggerated a little, but the Shockwave was not designed to be fired conventionally, and I paid the price for not doing my homework. Many users think this a fun gun to be fired from the hip. In fact, it is capable of close quarters aimed fire, out to about 20 yards.

Here’s the rule: Keep the non-firing arm extended and locked, and elbows close to the body. The extended arm maintains an outward isometric pressure, which reduces muzzle rise. Keeping the elbows close to the body builds a platform that evenly distributes the gun’s motion. Rather than trying to get the face against the gun, the idea is to keep it as far from the face as possible, while still allowing the eye to view the sighting plane.

Using these principles, the Shockwave can be sighted or fired from the hip. I found that I could easily engage a torso target up to 20 yards.

Besides the fully extended non-firing hand, the movement techniques of a Shockwave are really no different than a full length shotgun. Low Ready and Ready positions can still be defined as muzzle lower than belt and barrel horizontal respectively.

The advantage of the Shockwave is when it is used to maneuver in tight quarters in a modified “Position Sul.” This brings the gun against the body with the ejection port facing out and the loading port pointing right, for a right-handed shooter.

The Raptor Grip allows the officer to snap the Shockwave into action or give a full vision periphery when it is retracted into the body. This is the tool for urban environments where officers need to maneuver stairwells and multiple doorways, or wilderness assignments where the shotgun rides in a sheath attached to a pack.

While I was part of the firearm instructional team for my agency, I had a friend who was a motor officer. His motor unit had a mounted short shotgun, as many agencies do. When I asked him about qualification with this gun, he told me it was generally fired from the hip at close ranges. I was surprised that this is the general practice of some agencies. The truth is, an officer can use these tools accurately, and I think we need to realize the flexibility of the Shockwave.

Use 1.75” Shells

Although the 590S shotguns can shoot three sizes of shotshells in any combination, Law Enforcement Officers should consider the 1.75” shells primary, and all other sizes for special applications only. The reduced recoil and higher capacity is worth it.

Using MiniShells, the officer who employs the Shockwave and Sureshell Carrier is equipped with 16 rounds.

Aguila’s Buckshot MiniShells deliver 5/8 oz of 4B and 1B shot at 1200 fps. This is a lighter payload than larger shells, but more than adequate for Law Enforcement applications. At 20 yards, I can keep all of the pellets on a torso target. The 5/8 oz Slug MiniShell has a muzzle velocity of 1300 fps. Both shells deliver the right amount of energy to the target for most tactical situations.

The Shockwave can shoot Aguila MiniShell Slugs into a cell phone sized target at 20 yards. The recoil is considerably less brutal than magnum sized shells. I have run both the buckshot and slugs through ballistic gelatin and I can attest to the fact that these shells are up law enforcement tasks. At around 2600 foot-pounds of energy, there isn’t a handgun round in the business that can displace a MiniShell.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think law enforcement has realized the full potential of The Mossberg 590S Shockwave. When I figured out how to shoot it, I considered how firearms trainers could increase their agency’s competency with one, and the best way to qualify with one.

I would use grip tape on the Raptor Grip and add a laser grip. I have to give this some thought, but I think this gun needs a sling. Besides that, swear it in. 

This article appeared in the July issue of OFFICER Magazine.

About the Author

Officer Lindsey Bertomen (ret.), Contributing Editor

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer and retired military small arms trainer. He teaches criminal justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California, where serves as a POST administrator and firearms instructor. He also teaches civilian firearms classes, enjoys fly fishing, martial arts, and mountain biking. His articles have appeared in print and online for over two decades. 

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