Review: Mossberg 500 Persuader

By Wilburn Roberts published on in Firearms, Reviews

A number of years ago Mossberg offered a short barrel, pump-action shotgun known as the Persuader. The piece is back as a highly finished retrograde shotgun. In my opinion the new Mossberg is better finished and tighter than the original. Retro guns are popular and this one has the look and feel of an older shotgun—the quality appearance. And it isn’t all about looks.

Mossberg 500 Persuader shotgun left profile

This is one nice looking and effective 12 gauge shotgun!

If you are serious about defending the home, the first choice is a shotgun. A 12 gauge shotgun will repel boarders like no other firearm. At home defense distances, a load of buckshot makes a ragged rathole that will anchor man or beast decisively. The pump-action shotgun, with under the barrel magazine, has been the best choice for personal defense since about 1893. There are other types, including the double barrel and self-loading shotgun, but none feature the simplicity and reliability (under adverse conditions) of the pump-action shotgun.

The action is simple enough. Load the magazine, actuate the bolt release and rack the forend to load a shell into the chamber. Fire, pump the action, and fire again. The sound of the action being racked has been known to send a chill down the spine of the toughest miscreant. Only a suicidal adversary would be willing to face a determined homeowner with a pump shotgun at the ready.

The pump shotgun is reliable in action and doesn’t depend on perfect maintenance for reliability. The shotgun has a natural point that makes for rapid hits in fast moving situations. Shotguns have been used in police service for decades with a spotless record for reliability—so long as the user doesn’t short cycle the action.

Fiocchi 12 gauge reduced recoil buckshot  ammunition can

The Fiocchi 12 gauge reduced recoil buckshot load is ideal for home defense.

Ensure you learn to properly manipulate the shotgun with a long press to unlock and a solid action to lock the chamber after the shotgun is loaded and ready for action again. While there are shotguns with ghost ring sights and the like, the simple bead-sighted shotgun cannot be faulted for defensive use. One of the most proven shotguns in home defense, police service, and even military service is the Mossberg 500. The subject of this review is the new retrograde Mossberg 500 12 gauge Persuader.

The first thing we notice is the deep, rich blue finish and top quality wood. There is an ongoing competition in the firearms world to supply the most bang for the buck. Cutting corners to lower the price point doesn’t always mean reliability is sacrificed, but the most expensive and labor-intensive fit and polish will be sacrificed. The Mossberg Maverick line, as an example, features plastic furniture and isn’t pretty.

The furniture of the Maverick is a bit loose, and it isn’t the smoothest shotgun, but it works. The Mossberg 500 retro shotgun works great and it is nice looking. The forend is a good tight fit to the action rails. The serrated wood offers an excellent gripping surface. The action is smooth in operation. The Mossberg features a tang-mounted safety that is friendly to both right and left-handed shooters.

FRont bead sight on a shotgun

A simple front bead is used for aiming.

When the action is cocked, a lever near the trigger guard is pressed to unlock the action to unload the chamber or rack the slide and load an empty chamber. Using the proper technique, riding out recoil as the muzzle rises, while working the action to the rear, then moving forward with the action as the barrel comes down in recoil, excellent speed may be demonstrated.

The Retrograde Persuader features an 18.5-inch barrel. This makes the shotgun ideal for clearing the home with careful movement. The shotgun is also handy as a truck gun. I tested the Persuader extensively with a good range of shells. A good field load such as the Fiocchi 7 ½-shot load is ideal for practice with low recoil. The Mossberg is smooth, very smooth, and the shotgun fed, chambered, fired, and ejected a box of light loads without any problems.

Moving to defense loads, I chose the Fiocchi reduced-recoil buckshot load. Double aught buckshot is a decisive defense load. This load makes for less recoil and holds a dense pattern to 10 yards and an acceptable pattern to 15 yards. This is an ideal load for personal defense in the home.

At longer ranges—beginning at 15 yards—solid shot is a viable choice. Fiocchi offers a wide choice in their proven Aero slug. The Aero slug features an attached wad that makes for excellent flight characteristics. These slugs are more accurate than any I am familiar with.

Specifications

  • 6-shot capacity
  • 12 gauge
  • 3-inch chamber
  • 18.5-inch barrel
  • Blue finish
  • Bead sight
  • Cylinder bore choke
  • 39.5-inch overall length
  • 14.5 LOP
  • Walnut stock / finish
  • Weighs 6.25 pounds (approx.)
  • MSRP: $504

Many professionals, believing it to be more effective than buckshot, prefer the slug. At ranges of 15 yards or more, I agree. I tested two Fiocchi slugs. Each uses the Fiocchi Aero 7/8-ounce slug. The reduced recoil slug breaks at 1,150 fps. This is a fine load for personal defense, home defense, and for defense against most animals. Depending on the barrel length of shotgun used this load has about 1,200 pounds of energy. It penetrates well and will solve most problems with a single shot.

A step up is the Fiocchi Aero slug at 1,350 fps. Recoil is greater. This load would be suited to defense against most bears and large animals at close range, and also some forms of hunting. I did not test the Fiocchi blockbuster slug, a 1-ounce Aero at a solid 1,580 fps. In the proper shotgun, this would be a great hunting load.

The slugs tested struck about an inch above the point of aim with the simple bead front sight at 15 yards. It wasn’t difficult to fire four slugs into a cloverleaf at 15 yards. These are stout loads, but Mossberg’s stock design and recoil pad made firing the shotgun more comfortable. Recoil is there but bearable. The trigger breaks at a smooth six pounds even—ideal for most uses. I found that it wasn’t difficult to get hits at speed and to deliver a fast follow up with the Mossberg.

The overwhelming appeal of the Retrograde line may be the appearance, fit and finish, and super cool look. That is enough reason to purchase the shotgun. However, the piece also has an efficiency unlike any other firearm. Handguns and rifles do not have the handling and wound potential of a good 12 gauge shotgun. The 12 gauge pump-action shotgun is a proven defender, and the Mossberg Retrograde makes fits the bill for personal and home defense.

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Comments (22)

  • Bob Blackthorne

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    Either the 12 or 20 will “Gitter Done” as “Larry, The Cable Guy” says. For a visual verification, fill two gallon water jugs, then shoot one with the 12 gauge from 5 to 8 yards away, using #4 shot, low brass, the other with a 20 gauge same shot size and distance. BOTH will make that water-filled jug EXPLODE and go flying. YeeeeHAW!

    Reply

  • Bo

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    I have a LOT of problems with this article. I don’t mind that the author likes the gun. My problems are in that his choice of ammo as a self defense round and the gauge he recommends, as starters.
    Let me give you my background. I was a medic on a SAR/Recon team overseas back in the early 70’s. Since I was a volunteer and NOT a Conscientious Objector, I carried a weapon. It was a 1911A1. Now, I have 2 of them. In a home defense situation, I will use one of my 1911’s; they are both loaded with light, frangible loads that will not over penetrate and kill my neighbor. And I know the gun and how it performs.
    Over the last 40 plus years, since leaving the Army, I worked, and retired, as an ER Nurse. I have talked to more cops than I can tell you about weaponry. Every one of them that I know will tell you that using slugs is a very bad idea if you live in a residential neighborhood because of over-penetration regardless of gauge. Killing an innocent bystander who happens to be walking down the street on the sidewalk in front of your house will send you to prison on a manslaughter charge at minimum, even if you have a bad guy in your house. And your home-owners insurance will not cover you if the innocent victim’s family sues.
    My house is 5 yards from my neighbor’s. Shooting someone with slugs in a 12 ga, even if I am in my house, means I could kill my neighbor, his wife or one of his kids. Even if I don’t kill anyone and the slug goes into their home. I will probably be arrested. Very few of the cops I have talked to even thought 00 buck was a good idea because of the spread causing collateral damage, again leading to possible prison time for the shooter.
    Now, back to the 12 in general, those same cops will tell you that the vast majority of the population is unprepared to shoot a 12. Go to YouTube and watch girls fail doing just that. My wife cannot shoot a 12; for that reason, we have a 20 ga Mossberg that she can shoot; it was also recommended by most cops I know as the BEST weapon for home defense.
    Now, I realize that there are elitist SNOBS who would try to shame people like her. I have a lot of adjectives to describe them but I cannot use them here. You do not know as much as you believe you do. There is such a thing as too much book or head knowledge and no ability to apply that in the real world. That would describe the people who believe their box is the only real box to use. Very few things are worse than the “my size is the only size” people.
    I have seen so many articles on self-defense, where practice drills are discussed by people who have never been there. I am all for practice. They have pretend combat drills that simulate the “real deal”, except they don’t, because when the SHTF and weapons are drawn, your world changes; your reality changes in that moment; time will seem to stand still and you become hyper-aware. Much of your “Knowledge” goes out the window when the fight for survival becomes all or nothing. And nothing in your world will ever be the same again.
    There are those who lust for the chance to be involved in a real live, honest-to-God shooting. To those I would say, JUST STOP IT! You have no idea what you wish for. Your life inextricably changes when you are standing over the dead or dying body of someone you just shot, be it in your home or in a combat zone overseas. You may find yourself ruing the day your gun cleared the holster.
    If you think I am being melodramatic, let me remind you that the number one demographic for suicide in the US is the American Military Service Veteran. I can’t tell you how many people asked me how many people I had killed, leading me to isolate myself from society except for work for years, because I did NOT want to talk about it or the flashbacks that haunted my dreams at night. Be prepared for armed conflict, but do not desire it; you may get what you wished for only to find you cannot go back. Remember Pandora.

    Reply

    • Bob Blackthorne

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      Bo, your assertions are correct about 12 gauge, slugs, and 00-Buckshot. Yes, over-penetration when fired inside the home CAN cause complete passage through interior walls as well as exterior walls, as in your suggested scenario of some innocent neighbor casually walking down the sidewalk.

      I MY humble opinion, since I am a six foot, 230 pound Russian/Polish gentleman, a full-size, short barrel “Persuader” is right up my alley. 00-Buckshot? Yeah, but I live in a very RURAL area, on a lake, a dead-end road, and only four houses on it. Three homes are owned by year-around owners, one lives 95 miles away and comes up from Chicago twice a month. In January, one neighbor heads for N’Orleans, and February 1, the next one heads for Florida. I’m here alone. Believe me, I want the most effective BADDA-BING. I can accurately pop off two, three, four BOOMS, if the situation scenario would demand.

      Now, for those who happen to be coupled with a dimunitive person of the gentler persuasion, I would absolutely, unequivacably suggest the 20 Gauge version. Number 4 shot will do proper DAMAGE on said invading perp, yet will NOT over-penetrate interior or exterior walls.

      Reply

    • wr

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      Thanks for reading.

      Pretty certain I said slugs past 15 yards——–

      As for over penetration– when has it actually occurred?
      Most of the time the firearm is aimed slightly downward toward the felon. If the shot hits the felon, there is little danger of overpenetration. so don’t miss. Don’t use too little gun.

      Reply

    • Bo

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      Let me discuss each point as you laid them out.

      1. “Pretty certain I said slugs past 15 yards——–“
      Pretty certain I said none of the cops I have talked to over the last 40 plus years even thought 12 ga loaded with slugs or 00 buck was a good idea for home defense because of the over-penetration and spread of the buckshot causing collateral damage, again leading to possible prison time for the shooter. To a man, they recommended 20 ga. People are more accurate when they are not afraid of the gun they are shooting.

      2. “As for over penetration– when has it actually occurred?”
      You’re kidding, right?
      Run that topic through a search online and become informed. In Oklahoma over the last 40 plus years, there have been multiple incidents related by several news outlets that handgun (9mm and other) rounds penetrated walls and injured officers as well as innocent civilians. Multiple children in OK have been killed by 9’s in drive-by shootings while they were in in bed asleep over the last 5 years or so.
      Now, I could be mistaken, but since the 9mm is not exactly renowned for excessive penetration, tell me how a 12 ga slug will not exceed what a 9 can do. If it doesn’t, just get a 9 for home defense and you are covered.

      Multiple cops told me about the danger of slugs for home defense when asked and not for giggles. Several cops I know verified the risk of over penetration is entirely too real, in their experience. Again, I got my information from multiple cops in multiple jurisdictions who had been involved in shootings. For them, it was been there, seen that.

      3. “Most of the time the firearm is aimed slightly downward toward the felon. “
      Where do you get your data? Frequently, in a shooting, there are bullet holes from floor to ceiling from a shooter who is unprepared for the conflict. There are some police officers that fit that bill, too. I am five foot six; if I shoot down, most likely the round will deflect off the slab and go God knows where. I am not going to aim for his feet or his toes; if he is a six footer or taller, his center of mass would dictate anything BUT a shot pointed anything remotely removed from an upward trajectory, in other words aiming slightly to significantly upwards..

      There was a Police shooting in a well-known all night restaurant in Oklahoma City about 15-20 years ago. There were 40+ rounds fired by multiple officers, all at close range, and only about half the rounds struck their target. The man attempted to draw down on the several officers who approached him. He died in his attempt. (Two thumbs up) There were bullet holes all over the place, floor to ceiling.

      4. “If the shot hits the felon, there is little danger of overpenetration.”
      This sounds like someone who has never seen a person hit with a 12 ga slug. (I have, btw, multiple times, and they can, and do, go all the way through.) A slug will over-penetrate after hitting a human unless it is Andre the Giant; but, if it is in the house, it can through a bunch of walls even after hitting the target and kill an innocent person behind him or in the next room; and 00 buck will spread in a pattern that just killed the kids in the room behind the target; do your homework and you can find the data. I have known cops who can say, been there, seen that.

      5. … so don’t miss.”
      To say “don’t miss” demonstrates that you do not have any real idea what happens in a firefight. See point number 3. The Police Policy Studies Council ran a report on Officer-Related Shootings; and the hit-ratio showed that in New York City, from 1990 to 2000 the mean score for officer hits in those shootouts was 15 % . The lowest percentage was 9%, the highest was 25%. Why don’t you go to NYC and tell them don’t miss? And you have the nerve to say don’t miss.

      There was a police officer in Oklahoma City in the last few weeks or so ago who fired multiple times at a suspect and NO ONE was injured. If the police can’t do it, how do you expect a civilian to do it?

      I touched on that when I said “when the SHTF and weapons are drawn, your world changes; your reality changes in that moment; time will seem to stand still and you become hyper-aware. Much of your “Knowledge” goes out the window when the fight for survival becomes all or nothing. And nothing in your world will ever be the same again.” When the adrenaline kicks in, you lose all perspective as far as time and space; when it is all over, you will not remember how many rounds you fired or how that magazine or those shell casings ended up where they did. Been shown true in more than 90% of Police shootings.

      6. “Don’t use too little gun.”
      Now, I would agree the gun was too little if someone was betting their life on a .22 LR. But, otherwise, this is the most unreasonable and irresponsible statement in this article. You sound just like Joe Biden when he recommended using a 12 instead of an AR (it’s true, he did. Look it up here https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-iba-1&hsimp=yhs-1&hspart=iba&p=joe+biden+12+gauge#id=6&vid=3cb0f4a0d5226f8956b3d8009556e69b&action=click ) He found himself roundly ridiculed by the shooting community for that comment and all the YouTube videos began circulating the internet.

      Speaking of YouTube, watch the videos of girls getting knocked over, some with broken noses or collarbones from shooting a 12? They will cower in a corner rather than shoot that thing again. There is an overwhelming percentage of the population who cannot handle what you seem to think is enough gun. And you are shaming them for that. For that, shame on you.

      There is such a thing as too much gun and that is any weapon that the shooter is afraid of. I got that from multiple Firearms Instructors. As I said, accuracy goes out the window when people are afraid of the weapon they are shooting. That was why a friend, who was one of those Police Firearms Instructors, told me to get my wife a 20 ga and load it with #4 shot for inside the house. It creates a devastating hole unless the perp is wearing body armor or wearing really thick clothing; but it will knock him down, allowing another shot or shooting until the tube is empty; oh, and my neighbor stays safe.

      For me, I shoot a 1911 in .45 ACP with a light frangible load. I also shoot a Smith Classic Hunter in .44 Magnum. Those are my preferences,, (one for self-defense, one for hunting) but I will not arrogantly condescend to those people who only shoot 9’s because that is what they can handle. Anyone who shames another shooter for not being able to shoot a ‘big enough’ gun (read, your preference) will never have my respect.

      Reply

    • That Deaf SOB

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      Bo, I’m also a combat vet. I also spent 14 years as an EMT in Brooklyn. I like you, I know what gunshot wounds look like and I know what it feels like, emotionally, to deal with that. I also know, quite well, what it’s like to be shot at and to return fire in an enclosed area. Will 00 or slugs from a 12ga penetrate walls and be a hazard to innocents? Sure, nobody here is denying that. You’re preaching to the choir there bud, but that does not rule out a pump shotty as a good home defense weapon. Not everyone lives in a dense urban area. Not everyone lives with other people. My buddy who lives alone in a house out in the middle of several hundred acres of farmland keeps one in his bedroom next to his bed, and coach gun by the front door. He could shoot a cannon off in his house and not endanger anyone. No one gun is ever a solution to every need, but a shotty comes the closest to this with the wide array of ammo loads, gauges, and configurations. Choose the right load and gauge for your environment and purpose and you’ll generally minimize the danger to innocents around you, even below that of most other firearm choices.

      And most of the LEOs that I associate with are smart enough to realize that the vast majority of the general public have no firearms training or experience at all and are thus unprepared to fire ANY firearm, not just a 12 gauge.

      Reply

    • Bo

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      I love shotguns, but I have a 20 for a house gun that my wife can use and she is not afraid to use it. It is loaded with #4 shot per the recommendation of a cop friend of mine who was the Firearms Instructor for his Department.
      In Oklahoma, Texas, and on up to the Dakotas, the number of people who have no firearms training is significantly more than in places like NY. When I was growing up in Nebraska, half the kids in my high school had a gun rack in their truck with their choice of weapon in it. How times have changed.

      Reply

    • Bo

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      That was supposed to read “the number of people who have no firearms training is significantly less than in places like NY.”

      Reply

    • That Deaf SOB

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      My wife is an Immigration Officer who grew up in northern Idaho. She’s not a little gal either, by any means. 12 gauge pump suits both of us just fine sir.

      Reply

  • That Deaf SOB

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    I prefer the older Mossberg 500 Cruiser, which back then had a metal trigger group, not plastic, wood stock, 20″ barrel, 7+1 capacity, and sold for under $200 when I bought it in 1983. I later had it ported and added a polychoke to it, making it into my “everything” gun that was good for small game up to two-legged predators. Wish I still had it but my third or fourth wife got it in the divorce. Don’t remember which.

    Reply

  • Bob Blackthorne

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    I bought a Mossberg 500 “Persuader” 5 years ago. It has the 20 inch barrel, and is in 12 gauge, with 7 + 1 capacity or 6 + 1 in the 3 inch ammo.
    It is smooth, simple, reliable good looking, and makes that very scary Ratchet, Ratchet sound that all bad boys know and instantly fear before LEAVING in a speedy run. I’m in a very rural area and law officers are that “minutes away” when seconds count. This Mossberg is the best weapon ever for defending one’s home and family.

    Reply

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