I’ve long looked to Mossberg as a proven manufacturer of auto-loading and pump-action shotguns. In particular, ones built for personal defense and multi-gun competition have caught my eye. This newest semi-auto, the 12 gauge 940 Pro Tactical comes on the heels of the 590S pump — another versatile platform offered in a traditional shoulder-mounted shotgun and pistol grip variant called the Shockwave. Although the 940 lacks the pump gun’s ability to fire 1¾-inch “shorty” shotshells, the Pro Tactical combines several noteworthy features in a no-nonsense, personal-defense package.
The first Mossberg 940 was the JM Pro Competition, promoted by professional shooter Jerry Miculek. A couple of hunting versions followed. The latest is this tactical model which can also serve as a competition gun. The 940 series utilizes a redesigned gas system that includes a new piston and sleeve that rides over the magazine tube, so the gun runs cleaner and more reliably.
The 940 models are based upon the 930 series offering some improvements. For example, the 930 could not be adjusted for length of pull, only drop and cast. You can add or remove spacers in the 940 to lengthen or shorten stock fit. Also, the turkey and tactical 940 variants are set up to mount a Shield RSMc-style, red-dot reflex sight. As a result, the Pro Tactical and the other 940 models are some of the most user-friendly shotguns Mossberg has built to date.
- Gauge: 12
- Action: Gas-operated semi-auto
- Chamber: 3-inch
- Capacity: 7+1 (2¾-inch shotshells)
- Barrel length: 18.5 inches
- Overall length: 37.5 inches
- Trigger pull: 4.5 pounds
- Weight: 7.5 pounds
- LOP: Adjustable (12.5–14.25 inches)
- Stock: Black synthetic
- Barrel finish: Matte blue
- Sights: Fiber-optic front, Shield RSMc-style optic-ready
- Choke: Accu-Choke system (Cylinder Bore tube installed)
940 Tactical Features
The 940 Pro Tactical is drilled and tapped for a low-profile Shield RSMc micro-dot reflex sight at the rear of the receiver. Mossberg’s recommendation seems to be a Holosun HE407K-GR. It is small, yet easy to see the target through when you mount the gun.
The Holosun has a 6 MOA green dot, 1X magnification, and 1 MOA click adjustments. It runs on CR1632 batteries and turns on when you pick up the gun and shuts off automatically when the gun is at rest. You may not have time, or may not be able, to find the ‘On’ switch in an emergency. If you choose to shoot the 940 Pro without an optic, it does have a red fiber-optic front bead to use as a reference point for target acquisition.
Everything about the 940 Pro is built for ease of use. That’s important for a defensive gun that a shooter may have to operate under duress and in the dark. The oversize bolt handle and oversize bolt release button are readily accessible and simple to manipulate. If you don’t want to leave a round in the chamber due to safety concerns, 940 Pro makes racking a 2¾ or 3-inch load from the magazine tube quick and easy.
Mossberg’s tang-mounted safety also allows the shooter to click the gun off safe quickly, no matter the circumstance. When you are in a high-stress situation, it’s quicker to have the safety at the tip of your thumb, so your trigger finger can stay closer to the trigger.
A tip in the manual recommended turning the gun upside down for loading. Doing so made loading the seven-round magazine a breeze. Mossberg made the loading gate larger making it easier to load multiple rounds in a hurry, something competition shooters are sure to appreciate.
The 7/8-inch recoil pad did a good job of taming recoil. Included with the 940 is a set of inserts to adjust the length of pull from 12.5 to 14.25 inches. Forend and stock are synthetic and finished in tactical basic black. The pistol grip and forend are textured to allow for a firm grasp, should your hands become wet or sweaty.
To allow the gun to cycle shotshells reliably, Mossberg applied a nickel-boron coating to the gas piston, magazine tube, hammer, and sear. There is also a buffer tube that slides over the outside of the magazine tube to keep moisture and carbon buildup to a minimum. The recoil spring of the 940 Pro slides over the magazine tube. This is an upgrade from the 930 and 935 series shotguns that used a gas-operated pusher system in which two metal rods pushed the bolt backward when you pulled the trigger.
I did not adjust the Holosun between shooting slugs and the two buckshot offerings. I wanted to see how all three loads performed at the same zero. That said, a few clicks to the left would have put the nine-pellet 00 Federal payload dead center on the target. Whatever load you choose, be sure to pattern it, and adjust the optic for optimal results.
Accuracy and Handling
When shooting the Mossberg 940 Pro Tactical, I went through a mix of 2¼ and 2½-inch birdshot in 6 and 7½ pellet sizes. Based on a 10-yard range, any of those rounds would play havoc with an intruder even when shot through the cylinder bore choke tube that was in the gun when I got it. Shooting 00 Buckshot and slugs, it was more evident what an effective household defender this gun would be.
Throughout the test, I shot several boxes of 2¾-inch target loads and five packs of slugs and buckshot without malfunction. I mixed in a full magazine of 3-inch loads. The gun never failed to cycle.
I’ll be honest, I don’t tolerate the kick from a 12-gauge very well anymore, but squeezing off two or three rounds in rapid succession was relatively easy, and I was still in control of the gun after doing so. You young bucks may be smirking at me as you read this, but the two visitors — arthritis and bursitis — that seem to have come to stay, have made a big difference in my shooting life.
That said, the 940 weighs 7.5 pounds unloaded, but it’s only 37.5 inches long. It’s well-balanced and handles easily. Shooting slugs and buckshot was tolerable and with target loads, the younger shooters who were evaluating the gun along with me called it soft shooting.
The trigger pull on the 940 Pro was right at 4.5 pounds and reasonably clean. Nothing about the trigger would get in your way when shooting the gun for home defense, and I suspect it would work fine during competition as well.
In addition to a home gun, the 940 Pro would work well as a truck or boat gun. In a pinch, it would make for a pretty decent skeet gun as well. The optic-readiness of the 940 is the strongest feature of the gun, followed by the ergonomics, and size of the controls and loading port. Along with the improvements embodied in the 940 Pro comes a price tag many of us would not have considered paying for a Mossberg semi-auto a decade ago.
However, the new, cleaner-running gas system in the 940 Pro series brings added reliability and makes the gun worth its price tag, which you may find a little north of $1,000. Many of us wouldn’t blink an eye at paying that kind of money for a home-defense handgun. There are some good arguments for using a shotgun for that role instead of a handgun, and the JM 940 Pro tactical is among the front runners.