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.
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.
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.
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.
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.