Remington/Mossberg? 12ga/20ga?

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Lucky Strike

Sep 28, 2007
Salem, OR
New to shotguns and I know the 870 and 500 are supposedly the two most popular first shotguns.

Apparently there's a "Ford/Chevy, Glock/XD, etc" type of thing concerning these two brands of shotguns. Just wondering what the actual mechanical differences between the two were? I looked at the mechanical differences between the glock/xd (grip angle, grip safety) and it helped me chose my handgun.

Also I intend to use the shotgun for home defense and trap (or skeet or clay...not sure on the difference) shooting.....really don't see myself using the thing for from my uninformed reasoning a 20ga has less recoil and as such would give faster follow up shots which would be a benefit for trap shooting and home defense.

The 12ga has more power which would be handy in hunting and also HD. Is a 20ga sufficient for HD? i carry a 9mm and obviously a .45 has more power but IMO a 9mm +p with JHP's is sufficient for it a similar situation with 20ga? If so then i'd be better served given my needs getting one right? Or am i missing something...
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You definitely want a 12 gauge. The 20-gauge was designed to create lighter-weight guns for hunting smaller birds. For trap and for home defense, the 12 is a much better bet.

Having owned several 870s and having done some gunsmithing on the Mossberg 500, it's not even a question as far as I'm concerned: the 870 is definitely the superior gun. The Mossberg is more prone to jamming and breakage. I've never jammed an 870, but I've seen Mossbergs jam plenty. This is probably why I've never seen a 500 in a police cruiser--it's always an 870.

I also find the slide release very hard to use on the 500. You'd think having it located alongside the back of the trigger guard would be the best location, but for me it's too close to the trigger guard to allow me to get a reliable purchase on it. The 870's slide release, at the front of the trigger guard, is much easier to use.
I have owned both

the 870 and the 590. I have not owned a 500 and honestly I don't like the look of most of them. The 590 on the other hand is a very rugged reliable shotgun. Of the two I prefer the 870 as it is much smoother out of the box. I currently have a 590 in my bedroom closet and it is all I will ever need in a HD type shotgun. I don't think you can go wrong with an 870 for Trap or home defence. The only problem is that you will want at least a 26 inch barrel for Trap and 20" or less for the HD gun. You can use the longer gun for HD but I find them a bit unwieldy. Of course you can always buy a second barrel for the 870 or one with 2 barrels right from the start. The 870 combo comes with a vent ribbeed barrel for birs/Trap and a 20" slug barrel with rifle sights which makes a very nice HD gun.
In my experience, the Mossberg is ergonomically superior to the Remington 870.

The slide release is in a perfect position to activate with the middle finger of your shooting hand without changing your firing grip. Just push up with the middle finger area between the 1st and 2nd joints.

The top-mounted safety is ambidextrous and provides a good index point for your firing-side thumb. You never have to change your firing grip to operate all the controls on the Mossberg.

Downside to the top-mounted safety and slide release location is that you'll encounter problems operating both if changing to a pistol-grip type stock.
I have owned both and my rem 870 supermag beats the mossberg a 100 times over. I got a turkey gun with a 23 in barrel and I use it for everything with great sucess. It is more reliable by far. Also about the slide release the only time you need to use that is when you are unloading the firearm so what does it matter where its located? I also feel the rem's safety is a little safer just for that reason... you have to take your finger off the trigger as it is located directly behind it. This does not slow you down however as I have shot even crossing green wing teal with ease. We all know how fast those things are... also I feel the rem mounts much better on you shoulder and no lie as advertised the rem points better. It also feels more blanced. Besides all of this how can you go wrong purchasing the most sold, legendary 870? You get what you pay for when you buy a rem thats quality. As for what gauge definately the 12 gague is all around more versitle and will produce much better results when hunting. I also reccomend a 12 870 supermag because of its versitlity I shoot 2 3/4 for clays, 3 for ducks, and 3 1/2 for goose. My friends with their 3's dont do as well against my 3 1/2 when goose hunting. If you buy a turkey gun I also find it is a good length for everything cant go wrong with a 23-24 in barrel not too long not too short... thats all I have to say about that. Any thing else just shoot me a message
One thing I found significant is that the stock on the Mossberg is quite a bit shorter than on the Remington. I don't expecially like either one, but you gotta try both to see if you have a major preference as to how it fits.

Fit is very, very important in trap, and since you're looking for something basic, get the one that feels better out of the box.

And get a 12 gauge. Superior for both trap and HD. And you can get the shells anywhere. 20's are a bit harder to find, particularly in all the variations you might want. Whereas in 12 you might have eight or nine choices of different loads you probably have, int eh average store, a third as many choices in 20.
Let's start with basic differences in the guns -

Receiver - Steel on the 870, aluminum on the 500.

Weight - The 500 is a good bit lighter mostly because of the receiver as noted above.

Safety - Pushbutton on the rear of the trigger guard on the 870, sliding button on the tang of the receiver on the 500.

Stocks - A bit shorter on the 500 than the 870 as already noted, but spacers can change either stock.

Magazines - Fixed capacity on the 500, extensions available for the 870; both include plugs to make them legal for migratory bird hunting.

Now 12ga vs 20ga -

12 gauge is more available, but only slightly. 12 gauge can carry a heavier payload, at the cost of a heavier gun and more recoil.

20 gauge is still widely available, and still has plenty of shot payload for clay games and home defense. If you shoot an intruder with buckshot or a slug from a 20 gauge I promise you they aren't going to stop and say "geez that hurts, but it's not a 12 gauge, so I'm ok". They won't know the difference.

I'll go against the grain and recommend a 20 gauge since it's going handle easier, and you can practice longer before shoulder soreness becomes a factor.

If you have a wife/fiance/girlfriend or responsible teen living at home who may need to use the gun for defense if you aren't home the 20 gauge will be easier for them to shoot and learn on as well.

After that it comes down to which shotgun fits you best.
I currently own both a Mossberg 500 and a Remington 870, both in 20ga with 26in barrels.
if things go bump in the night, i grab the 500.
if im going to shoot some clays i grab the 870.

They are both great guns and you really cant go wrong with either.
the 870 swings better on the trap range but the 500 is easier to manipulate in tight confines.

as said before 12ga is more popular but i have to agree that the 20ga would be easier for someone else to use if the need arose.

as for avaliablity, who cares if you cant find 20ga buckshot at every store you enter? when you find it buy a bunch to store and practice with bird shot.
Ive yet to walk into a gunshop that didnt have at least a shelf of 20ga shells.
A 12 gauge offers a lot wider choice of loads, including low recoil birdshot, buckshot and slug loads. The same wide variety is not available in 20 gauge at this time at least.

Usually 12 gauge guns will be a bit heavier- more of an advantage than a disadvantage in that increased gun weight helps dampen felt recoil. Low recoil loads out of a 12 ga. often deliver less felt recoil than standard or magnum loads out of a lightweight 20 ga.

ANY shotgun can be fitted (some are more difficult/expensive t get fitted). You aren't limited to factory stocks, recoil pads etc. You SHOULD get whatever gun you pick fitted to you properly as a first step in learning to use it, shotgun fit is a critical factor.

My preference is for the Remington 870, but I've only been shooting pumpguns for about 40 years now. What do I know?

While 870s have no greater fan, Mossies are good also.

Get the one that FEELS best. And get a 12 gauge for the ammo selection.
Great answers here. You should really give them both a feel. I'm a Mossberg guy , but I've shot and enjoyed the Remington, as well as a Winchester 1300 (damn quick action on that one!). I also think the Benneli SuperNova is an interesting gun, just not interesting enough to get me away from my Mossbergs :)

Both have long reputations for reliability, both have tons of available accessories. The safety on top of the receiver is a Mossy plus for some. And the position of the shell lifter on the 870 occasionally bites my thumb when loading the magazine. The 500 has a rattle in the action that bothers some - actually its a consequence of the relatively loose tolerances that allow it to keep working even when very dirty. The 500 is basically a field gun while versions of the 870 set up for field thru trap are avail. I've owned a 500 (got a good deal on a used one) and shot an 870 plenty. I can see why people like them but never felt compelled to sell my 500 and buy one.

I actually sold my 500 for other reasons after I got a 1955 JC Higgins model 20 pump I paid $150 for. Nothing special collector-wise but a very smooth joy to shoot.
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Mossberg 500 12ga. is my choice....

(1) Location of the safety is more user friendly, and hense, "safer".
(2) Location of the slide release (the 870 location is a PIA IMO).
(3) Larger standard factory magazine capacity.
(4) Shell elevator does not get in the way when loading (try loading an 870 with gloves on).
(5) Duel shell ejectors.
(6) The quality, durability, and dependability of the 500 has been proven over many years to be just as good as the 870...and costs less.

There is nothing wrong with the 870, but the above reasons tipped the scale in favor of the 500 for me although these reasons may not be important to you.

I'm a short-armed short fingered full-figured shooter. I prefer the Mossy to the Remington but an 870 is without a doubt a fine weapon.

The Mossy fits me and feels best as Dave mentioned because of the location of the safety and action release lever. I like the Ghost Ring sights and have switched a stock 18.5" barrel for one with the GR kit. In other circumstances I went with the snap-on Tritium sight from TruGlo, and in still others I bought a mount and went with an EOTech or the poor man's Bushnell equivalent.

Not everyone takes to a shotty, so a 20GA isn't a bad thought process...but reduced recoil loads in Slug and Buck are available for the 12GA, and 7.5 or 8 Birdshot is a great way to get acquainted with your shotgun.

Consider seeking instruction...perhaps with a friend. If opportunity presents itself, borrow/rent try out from someone willing to show you the ropes.

Shotgun has been about as challenging a platform as I've attempted, and the most rewarding (I shoot pistol, carbine, and precision rifle).

Mossberg 500/590, Winchester 1300, Benelli Nova. I have all of these as well as an old Higgins. Within my shooting fraternity, 870's are common and I've enjoyed each one I've tried, no brand "flaming" from me even though I lean toward the Mossbergs.

No matter what you decide, set aside some $$$ for ammo'. In the end, assuming a reliable platform, it will be YOU that makes the difference.

Good luck!

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You should really give them both a feel.

Yes. The Mossberg has a fatter wrist than a Remington, too. This may fit your hand better, or worse, along with LOP, etc.

The 500 and 870, though, weigh the same in 12 gauge, and the 870 in 20 is appreciably lighter than the 500 in 20.

I don't think it matters much, except that the 500 in 20 will have a bit less perceived recoil, assuming that each one fits, etc.
I own both, an 870 Express and a 3" Western Field version of the Mossberg (550). Bought the 870 first because it has the steel receiver and have killed many ducks and geese with it. Bought the Western Field/Mossberg for sentimental reasons and it is a bit nicer than the Express while it still uses all the same Mossberg chokes. As an owner of both, I have become quite the Mossberg fan and it is now my favorite pump (with a Savage 720 as my favorite auto and a Savage 333 (Valmet 312) is my favorite O/U.

By the way, I have seen many, many Mossy's in Police cruisers and it is used in vast quantities by the US military.

Right now I only use my Mossberg for HD and informal clay shooting. When looking at the two guns, I found the 500 to fit me better and the lighter weight just appeals to me. Also the cycling feels smoother to me, almost feeding itself even if I short stroke it.

Then again I do very well with a tiny NEF Pardner 410...
I have a few 870's. I have one Mossberg (835, which is a 3.5" chambered overbored 500 basically). All are in 12 ga. Ammo selection is much wider with 12. I've found that Remington managed recoil 00 buck shoots very well out of my 20" IC rifle sighted HD 870. Felt recoil is very mild and patterns are nice and tight.

I own both Mossy and Remington, but if I got in a financial bind and had to sell one, the Mossy would have to go. I'm just more partial to the Remmy's. The 500 is a fine weapon though.

As others have said, handle them and see what fits you best and which gun's features (safety position, etc.) appeal to you more.
870 V 500 is really 6 of one 1/2 dozen of the other.

both fine weapons. find the one that fits you best. i like my 500 becuase the slide release is in about the same place as my model 12 and the safety is better for a regular stock
up at the top i saw where ceemack had said go with the 12g for HD. i do have to say though that my choice for HD is still a baseball bat... you dont go to jail for shooting someone with a baseball bat in self defense. the very last reort in my house would be guns so i do leave one out of the safes. that is the remington spartan 20g single shot i have. i think the 20g is plenty sufficient. also, due to the light wieght i can whip that thing around and focus it in any area without much effort due to its light wieght. i have no doubt i could kneecap someone with this even from the hip.

if nothing else, in a dark house, the sound of a 20g slug coming at you at 1200 ft/second it will stop anyone in their tracks
I've been debating 12 or 20 for HD with my self for a while now. ( I already have a 12 O/U for clay)

I like the idea of a 20 being more handy and that my wife could use it. The rub is that its true that there is not a wide selection of ammo out there for it.

Then again the Box o truth showed that #3 buck shot out of a 20 does just as well as a 12 would.
What more would I need?
i recently cut open a 20g #3 shot and was impressed by how much was in it. i dont think it matters if it a 12g slug, a 20g bird load or a 50cal muzzleloader with #12 shot in it. point is theres a lot of shot on a little target and real fast. and the 20g i got is my girlfriends so i know she can use it
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