Throwback Thursday—Is the Mossberg Maverick 88 Shotgun a Good Value?

Black Mossberg Maverick 88 focused on the barrel on a medium gray-to-light gray background

The Mossberg 500 series is one of the most popular pump-action shotguns of all time. The Maverick’s popularity is largely based on its extraordinary value compared to other offerings in the market segment.

The Maverick 88 series is made in Eagle Pass, Maverick County in the great state of Texas. It was developed and manufactured to compete with imported, low-priced slide-action shotguns in the late ’80s.

This particular example, an 88 Security Model, was purchased for use as a new gun owner’s home defense weapon back in the mid ’90s. It has fired many rounds over its 15-year lifespan and has served as the owner’s bird gun, primary defense gun and even as a competition shotgun on occasion. A simple buttstock cuff and light with clamp are the only modifications.

There is nothing fancy about a 12 gauge slide-action shotgun set up for defensive purposes. The Maverick 88 is no different.
With a 6-shot capacity and barrel availability, the only practical difference in this model from its big brother, the Mossberg 500A, is the Maverick’s crossbolt safety.

The sight is a gold bead and the stock and forearm are black synthetic. You’ll find the crossbolt safety and action lock lever intuitive and easy to manipulate. Loading the magazine or through the ejection port is equally easy and instinctive. The 18.5-inch barrel patterns as you would expect from a cylinder bore.

Maverick 88 – Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Crossbolt safety

Maverick 88 – Cons

  • Forend is not easily replaceable
  • Fixed capacity

The Maverick forearm incorporates twin action bars. You can easily see the Maverick 88’s captive barrel bolt shared with the Mossberg 500. This bolt makes interchangeable barrels a snap, although it limits the magazine capacity to factory levels. The bolt features dual extractors while the trigger guard assembly is polymer.

The Maverick 88 Security is a terrific value to anyone looking for a first shotgun or an inexpensive defensive arm. The Maverick 88 Field is an equally exceptional value for those looking for a bird or slug gun.

Maverick 88 Security
Action Pump action
Barrel Length 18.5 inches
Caliber 12 gauge
Sights Brass bead front
Stock or Grip Black synthetic
Capacity 6

Ever fired a Mossberg Maverick 88? How did it compare to your expectations? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

This article originally published on October 6, 2009.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (54)

  1. Hi, New to shotguns. Always had handguns for shooting fun and home defense. Just purchased the Mossberg Maverick 88. I plan to do all the right things to get familiar and to practice with it. With these crazy times, I cannot just go to a range, so need to hire a private guy for $75/hr. Worth it to me right now.

    My question is about a laser sight. I friend of mine who is very experienced with shotguns suggested I get a laser sight for the Maverick 88. Is that possible? Thanks for all the great comments in this forum.

  2. Hi: can I put a sigth to my Maverick 88 in order to improve its accuracy when I shoot with slugs? In that case, could you please recommend me which can I use for that purpose?

  3. I went into my local gun store just to look around (because that’s fun). I’ve shot guns before and am knowledgeable with a couple handguns but not a shotgun. I never owned a gun until I got my 12g Mossberg Maverick 88. I asked the guy at the counter for an inexpensive, good quality shotgun that’ll be perfect for home defense. He showed me the Maverick 88 and for $230 after tax with plenty of shells and a carry bag, I was sold. As my first gun I was a little nervous having it in the house but after I learned how to use it and shot over 30 rounds through it, I am very confident with it. I have become dead on accurate with it shooting slugs at 14 yards. This was one of those purchases I won’t regret that I’ll have for a life time. I got the piece of wood limiting ammo capacity taken out of it and I plan on just adding a sling to it when I get the opportunity. I keep the gun loaded with only three 00 buckshots in it to try and keep more life in the spring and 3 buckshots is plenty for where I live. Hope this helps anyone. Overall, great shotgun

    1. You sure can!! That’s all I shoot thru mine. Home defense trained with slugs and 00 buck thru an 18.5″ barrel.

  4. Bought a Mossberg 88 a few years ago equipped with a pistol grip. Put a barrel, mag clamp to rig a sling. Tried out some Italian made loads with a solid lead slug and 3 buck shot. Talk about an alley cleaner, one BIG hole and 3 smaller in about 10 inches at 20 feet. That’s the distance to my front hall from my bed room where I keep the 88 next to my bed,,,by the way, I’m a light sleeper.

  5. The 88 is inexpensive and reliable. The only gripe I have is the fore grip, there is too much play on it. Additionally, the slide lever release is not ambidextrous. Besides that she is a beauty.

  6. Inexpensive does not always mean cheap, and as for the Maverick the quality, effeciency of purpose are as reliable as any shotgun costing 10x’s the Maverick.
    It is like buying a good quality brand name tool at a sale price you know you can pay more but why should you when what you get does the job.

  7. Got mine a few months ago in 12 gauge, shot about 40 slugs, modded it with a pistol grip and collapsible stock combo, and I absolutely love this thing. This is a great shotgun to own if you never owned a gun before, and also want a cheap gun for under $300 without sacrificing quality. And it’s made by Mossberg and it’s a Mossie 500 w/ less features, so how can you go wrong?

  8. Got mine last month for $195.00 + tax – [Mossberg] Maverick 88 Security 8-Shot Shotgun, it’s an 8-Shot, though, 7 in the tube/1 in the chamber. Put 75 through it in the range, it’s pretty much an all round shotgun that worked well, shot well and wasn’t disappointed about any aspects about it. Will be mine forever.

  9. Don’t see why not – it is a pretty much ‘all around’ shotgun. It has the dual bar action so it is going to be smooth and reliable, it’s not particularly light, nor is it particularly heavy.

    You used to be able to get a combo (I haven’t checked in years) in the 88 that had 2 barrels included: one an 18.5 in barrel for home defense, etc.; and a, eh, I think 28″, for field use. I think it has been mentioned earlier in this comments section.

    Maverick 88 Security – 18.5 inch, non-vent rib barrel
    Maverick 88 Field – 28 inch vent-rib barrel
    Fact is, just check this site, it lists all the different barrel lengths and options:

    Personally, as I get a little more long in tooth, I have come to prefer the 20 ga for most applications: roughly 3/4 the payload with have the recoil. Follow up shots much quicker, more accurate, even if equipped with the Spec-ops felt recoil stocks. I’ll qualify that, however, anticipating your question by saying ‘NO, I don’t mean Grizzly bears!’

  10. Thanks for your well thought out answer. Something to think about. Nice to hear the Maverick 88 is not trash. Always wanted to shoot “skeet”. Wonder if the 88 would be suitable?

    1. I shot a 23/25 on the trap line with my Mav 88 a couple of weeks ago using 2 3/4 #8 Remington shells. My wife then went over to the skeet houses with it and did quite well. When we got home and cleaned the Maverick up, the light went back on the barrel and it went back to being a home defense gun. I love my 88 and I got it from a local pawn shop for $100, so certainly not trash.

    2. I just got one. The Deer Slayer. It’s for home defense and I think I’m going to like it. (I do now) The safety is stiff. How can I smooth it up? Just keep working it breaking it in?

    3. The 88 is very suitable for shooting skeet.I actually shoot skeet with the 18.5 barrel and do well with #6 shot….Good day and happy shooting.

  11. I would feel comfortable (well, as comfortable as one can feel when a bear is threatening you) with the Maverick 88 using 2.75 in slugs. Most of the videos I have seen involving law enforcement responding to bear calls in Alaska show the majority of them carrying shotguns.

    As for ‘why not…just scare the hell out of the intruder.(?)’ with a blank? Well, first of all, if he has a firearm he may well return fire, even more so if he realizes you are shooting blanks, or blanks followed by hot rounds; if he does realize you don’t have live rounds in your weapon, he will probably take it away from you, if he doesn’t realize they are blanks and thinks you are trying to kill him he will probably keep firing until he has incapacitated you while you shoot blanks at him. I’ll concede that having a 12 gauge fired in the same small area that I am occupying would indeed get my attention, and you could MAYBE get the bluff in and hold me at gunpoint while the authorities came. BUT, and this is a big butt – what if you DON’T get in the bluff? What happens to you, your family and loved ones? What happens when you have now placed a perfectly good pump shotgun in the hands of a previously unarmed criminal?

    If you stick with your plan for an “audio deterrent” I suggest you make a high quality recording of a 12 gauge being shot several times in succession, invest in a high quality sound system and speakers, and have it set up so you can trigger it by remote control as you and your loved ones flee out the back.

    Good Luck!

  12. Recently bought Maverick 88 for protection against Grizzly Bears on trip to Alaska. Poor advice. Did not take Shotgun to Alaska. Saw Grizzly Bears from Car or Tour Bus. Comment by Old Alaska Bear Hunter “A shotgun will just piss the bear off more”.

    Now using Maverick 88 for Home Security. Scared of it. Probably just club the Bandit with it. Confused about Legality of using Lethal Force. Why not take the buckshot out and just scare the hell out of the bandit?

    Old Man Living Alone.

  13. i bought a mossberg model 590 quite a few years ago ( before y2K) ands i must say it is simply a fantastic “all round” gun. it sports 9 shots (1 +8) and i have 5 on the stock and another 5 on the side of the reciever. BRING IT ON….im ready. with the bayonet on the front it is very IMPOSING indeed. mossberg makes a great gun, i just hope they arent “soldoff” and the quality drops… god bless the u.S.A…..:)

  14. I purchased the larger shell capacity Maverick 88 as well at the Wannamacher in Tulsa, Ok for a ridiculously cheap price at close of the day. Replaced the stock with a recoil reducing collapsible version due to my smaller stature with a light and a sling it is my go to gun for home defense. Have busted clays and pheasant as well. Very happy with my purchase.

  15. I just bought a Maverick 88 today with an 8+1 capacity sleeve, and my LGS had plenty of them, so I don’t know what is up with the capacity being fixed.

    I have not shot it yet, but it looks and feels great. I prefer a straight forward, no frills, combat style gun, and this one seems perfect for personal/home defense. Exactly what I was looking for, and at $269, I could not pass it up.

  16. Bought my home defense 18.5″ barrel brand new a couple months ago. Already put a lot of shells through it. It’s a great gun for the price. Mine is a 6+1, I haven’t seen any 7+1 88’s. My roommate bought the 88 with the longer barrel, and it actually holds only 4+1. Mag tube is shorter on his. They’re both 88 12ga, though. Anyways, great gun for the price.

  17. 8-shot 88’s are as plentiful as the 500’s and 590’s, so i don’t know where the idea they were limited to only six shots came from.

  18. I meant that it had ‘rifle’ sites.

    Somewhere in my history I picked up the term ‘field sites’ instead of rifle sites. I’m not sure where or when as I’ve been around and have had a lot of influences. But I thought that referring to the rifle sites as field sites might be bothering some as it does me.(doesn’t stop me from inadvertently calling them that though), so I thought clarification was in order.

    But a maverick will do for you just fine! No worries.

  19. I had a maverick shotgun in the early 1990’s and I loved it. It came with a deer barrel and a long barrel, don’t remember the lengths or if the deer barrel was rifled. The safety was a bit noisey when you’re trying to be stealthy but I usually just kept my gloved hand over it while actuating to muffle the click. I got many a meal with it, and I hunted a lot back then. Field sites on the slug barrel got me heart shots on deer many times. Never used the long barrel much. I use a Mossberg 500 now. Would be happy with either one!

  20. I recently bought my second Maverick 88 12 gauge. I bought for the price and am happy with the purchase. Because it was only around two hundred and something dollars I am not too worried about overusing it. I have been able to practice reloads and on point pump action very often without being concerned I will wear it out. Being able to practice pumping the shotgun while staying on target without worrying that I am going to break the thing has allowed me to keep practicing often. The only thing don’t like about it is the loose feeling on the fore grip, although I can replace this for cheap.

  21. You’re right – that’s exactly what I thought. We had been discussing safeties and I thought you had mis-‘spoken’ and referred to it incorrectly. That was why I was so incredulous about the inability to reach the ‘safety’. My bad.

  22. I’m confused – you can reach the trigger with you trigger finger, but you CAN’T reach the safety that is maybe 1/2-3/4 inch directly in front of it? You mean the grip is too thick for you to reach the safety, is that what the problem is?

    1. I’m assuming you’re responding to my previous comment?? I was speaking about the BOLT RELEASE not the safety. The safety is just above, and in front of the trigger and is easily reachable. The bolt release is BEHIND the trigger guard and is blocked by pistol grip style stocks. If the action is racked forward, there are two ways to unlock the action to load the next round. 1) Pull the trigger – not always the best choice. 2) Press the release button – always harmless, The ATI stock has a notch molded in it just to clear the release button but it still blocks easy access to it.

  23. Seriously? If you can’t remember which way a crossbolt safety goes, you aren’t spending nearly enough time with your weapon. Regardless, if you have to stop and think about which way the ‘bullets go’ before you move the safety, you don’t need to be carrying a firearm. You’d be in a real quandary with a Glock or any of the plethora of weapons which have no manual safeties. Good luck!

    1. um lol, the crossbolt safety is a saftety goes behind the trigger instead of on top of the receiver like the 500 model ,it’s like a remington saftey , easy to use , right next to trigger finger so fast to put on or off safe ,and has served remington for near 75 yrs lol so i have to go with my man texasputins observation , you need to spend way more time getting to know and how to use to your self t on modern shotguns especially, or you will get hurt at some point .Get familar with any firearm man or leave them to the people are. Just common sense man .

    2. Tex and Damian, I have to agree with Miles and both of you are making assumptions about him that may not be true. I am a deputy sheriff and I carry a Glock 22 on duty and a model 27 off. I also carry a Mossberg 590A1 as well as in M-16 in my patrol car. We qualify with them regularly and I am very familiar with all of these firearms and many others. The Mossberg, despite the popularity of 870s, etc., with crossbolt safeties is the superior shotgun and I believe that Miles’ very point was that with the Mossberg, the position of the safety is intuitive. Fine motor skills deteriorate quickly under stress and trying to remember which way the safety goes (i.e. crossbolt) could be a difference maker. With the Mossberg, you do not have to train with it to become familiar and that is a distinct advantage since MOST people who buy shotguns for home defense simply do NOT train with them. An ugly and unfortunate fact, but a fact just the same.

    3. Mike, you seem to being saying that the cross bolt safety is the superior method (“The Mossberg, despite the popularity of 870s, etc., with crossbolt safeties is the superior shotgun…”). Is that what you meant? If not, then we just have to agree to disagree – that is why they have horse races, after all, is it not? To me, only having to move the trigger finger – and nothing else – allows the shooter to engage much more rapidly and securely, whereas the top mounted style requires you to release your grip, push the safety forward, and reestablish your grip. [I am speaking of using a weapon with a pistol grip, to put this in context, for those who have not read all posts.]

    4. Tex, there should have been a comma after the phrase, “with crossbolt safeties”. If it had been there I think it would have been clear, or at least clearer, that I thought the Model 500 safety is the better choice. I know that others disagree and that is okay just as everyone does not prefer chocolate over vanilla ice cream. And I see your point about a model with a pistol grip. I do have a Model 500 with a pistol grip for my personal vehicle and I do not have a problem operating the safety but my hands may be a little larger.

  24. I’ll stay with the Mossberg 500 due to the safety because I do not view the crossbolt safety as a positive feature, as noted above. On the 500 the safety slides forward (where the pellets go) when you want to shoot and to the rear to engage the safety. Very easy to remember. On a crossbolt safety, is it on to the left or to the right? Hard to forget when under stress which costs time and, possibly, a lot more. Pay the extra for the Model 500.

  25. I have purchased 9 Mossberg shotguns in the last 25 years – 5 were 88’s – 3 for gifts and the other two are my trunk guns. I also own a 500 12GA, 500C 20 GA and a 590 Mariner 12GA. Mossberg doesn’t make any bad guns, but for the money, IMO, you cannot beat the 88. In 25 years you may see where the difference in price went, but up till then (and probably still) the 88 will get the job done. Spend the money on ammo to practice or get a Knox stock. Also consider that the cross bolt safety lends itself much more readily to a pistol grip than does the top safety if you intend to add after market stock w/ pistol grip.

  26. I own a 88, and a Remington 1187 autoloader. The maverick has a 4 inch longer barrel, and does just as good a job as knocking birds out of the sky as my 1187.

  27. I bought an 88 a few years ago after an exhaustive online search for reviews. I could not find one person who gave it a negative review, which totally shocked me. After owning mine, I understand why. It’s accurate, goes bang every time I pull the trigger (except when I forget the safety), and has an attractive price point.

  28. I love the Mavericks. I was able to purchase a slug model with sights and rifled barrel for less than the price of a rifled barrel for my 870.It shoots 3 inch groups at 100 yards with iron sights at the range and so far has taken 5 bucks and 3 does in the field. I can’t ask for more than that! The only modifications I have made to it is an ATI 6 position collapsible stock.

  29. The 88 is a solid gun, but I prefer the Pardner for a budget gun. It’s cheaper, has a steel receiver that I’ve read uses better steel than 870, and is fully customizable with 870 parts (except barrel) .

    If the 88 had the same controls as the 500 that might change my mind. The 590 is my choice for HD and I don’t hunt. The Pardner is my trunk gun.

  30. Shoot skeet and trap with my model 88. Nothing better than beating someone and their $2k+ shotgun. Just my cheap 88 guys must not be the shotgun.

  31. The Maverick 88 has been my home defense shotgun for many years. Add-ons include Knox Spec-Ops stock, extra shell holder, heat shield, ghost ring sight and flash light. Can’t be beat for the price. Very reliable pump shotgun.

    1. Check out ATI gunstocks, the make many accessories for Mavericks. Prices are very reasonable.

    2. Be careful with any pistol grip style stocks. I bought an ATI collapsible stock with a pistol grip but quickly removed it. The molded pistol grip is right up against the back of the trigger guard and prevented me from reaching the bolt release with my trigger hand. On a factory 88 I can use my middle finger of my right hand (I’m right handed) to reach under the back of the trigger guard to the bolt release without moving my grip or taking the gun off target. With the ATI stock, to operate the bolt release I had to either take my left hand off the fore end or twist the gun over to reach it with my right thumb. Either way is an odd and unnatural manipulation and moves the gun off target. I learned all this while taking a Defensive Shotgun class which quickly highlighted the drawbacks to that style stock.I later cut the factory stock almost 2″ and reinstalled the butt pad to shorten the LOP to get the gun up quickly. One thing that the class DID demonstrate was how a good a gun the 88 really is. No malfunctions at all through 160 rounds, and with a Mossberg 18″ barrel and Rio 9 pellet 00 Buck it pattered beautifully, even getting praise from Tom Givens, our instructor.

    3. Uh, ‘Cheaper than Dirt’ come to mind almost immediately, for some reason. ‘Sportsman’s Guide’ has a fair selection, as do ‘Brownell’s’, ‘Amazon’, ‘Ebay’, ‘Natchez Shooting Supplies’ – the list is long. Do some searching online, or recruit someone to do it for you if you are not computer savvy, but be sure to read as many reviews of products, and dealer, as p88ossible. Good luck!

  32. Got to love this gun the model 88 is great and nicely priced academy has it on sale now for 159.99 w/ tax 180 something lots of attachments and modifications great gun all around

  33. yeah man thats exactly what i did. this gun freakin rocks. got it as a present when i was 16 and its been the most versatile, affordable, and reliable gun ive ever had

  34. To remove the magazine limiter: Unload the gun, then loosen the screw at the front end of the magazine. Pull the barrel straight off. When you look inside that screw hole, you should see the butt end of the magazine limiter down in there. It’s a wooden dowel rod about 8″-9″ long with rubber washers around each end. If you can’t pull it out with needle nose pliers, just start loading shells into the magazine until you push it out of the screw hole. Then reassemble the gun, and you will be able to make use of the full length of the magazine.

  35. Question: I purchased a Maverick 88 with a 20″ bbl and what should be an 8 shot tube magazine in Texas a while back. I still have the weapon, but don’t use it often. I just realized it will only accept 4 shells vice the 8. I assume a mag limiter was installed. Any suggestions on how to inspect and remove it?

  36. That is a great piece and you can take fixed capacity off the “Cons” list since Brownells manufactures and sells an 8 shot extension kit for it, but you must use there 20″ barrel with it
    SKU #:078-000-162.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.