In this article, we will compare two legends of the American shotgun industry, the Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500. Both have sold tens of millions globally and have been in continuous production for decades.
They have enjoyed enduring popularity for good reason, including their design and effectiveness which has been proven in the field and in combat.
So what makes one better than the other?
What is a Remington 870?
The Remington 870 is a pump-action shotgun manufactured by Remington Arms Company and designed in 1950. It became popular in the 70s and has enjoyed great success since then, with the ten millionth model produced in 2009.
The Remington 870 has a bottom-loading, side-ejecting receiver, a tubular magazine under the barrel and a plug for hunting, which allows three shells instead of six.
The Remington 870’s action, receiver, fire control group, safety catch, and slide release catch are similar to those of the Remington 7600 series pump-action centerfire rifles and carbines.
Remington 870 Models
The Remington 870 comes in several variants, three of which are discussed below. These variants are meant for different purposes, like tactical uses, hunting game, or home defense.
Remington has designed these models for functionality, cost, and aesthetics, and many are frequently further modified by their owners.
The models we’ll be looking at here are the classic 870 Wingmaster, the 870 DM, and the 870 Express.
Remington 870 Wingmaster
The Remington Wingmaster is the classic version of the 870. It sticks to the original design of the first Remington 870 and comes in 12-gauge 2 3/4" and 3", 20 and 28 gauge, and .410 bore.
The stock and forend both have a satin finish and the woodwork is American walnut. The receiver and barrel are blued and polished, and the barrel and choke are both customizable.
Remington 870 DM
This version differs from the others because of it’s detachable magazine system. The fire mechanisms are designed from scratch and available with three and six-round magazines. It has the fastest response time of any pump shotgun and is well-suited for home defense.
Remington 870 Express
The Remington 870 Express is a less expensive variant than the Wingmaster. It comes with the Standard Express finish on the barrel and receiver, as well as a 26" or 28" vent-rib, bead-sighted barrel.
It shoots both 2 ¾" and 3" shells, and is offered in .410, and 12-/20-gauge. Generally, this model has lower-end parts compare to the Wingmaster, including plastic trigger guards, weaker springs, a MIM (metal injection molded) extractor, and a magazine cap retention system that uses a plastic plunger forcing itself against the magazine cap to secure the barrel.
The magazine has dimples that must be removed before a magazine extension can be installed. The Express has non-reflective black matte metalwork and a no-frills hardwood stock and forend.
What is the Mossberg 500?
The Model 500 series is designed to be easy to clean while also withstanding harsh conditions. It is based on a design by Carl Benson and was introduced in 1960.
Since 1970, it has featured the double action bar design for reliable pump action. Its magazine tube is located below the barrel, which is screwed into the receiver.
Barrels are interchangeable and can be removed without tools. The slide release is located to the left rear of the trigger guard, and the safety is located on the upper rear of the receiver.
Different models offer different sight options, from a simple bead sight, to a receiver mounted ghost ring, or even an integrated base for a telescopic sight.
The Model 500s use lightweight aluminum instead of steel, and the trigger housing and safety button are made of plastic to minimize cost.
Mossberg 500 Models
The Mossberg 500 is available in three main variants, and each of them bring something different to the table.
There is a hunting model, one designed for law enforcement, another for tactical, and a Flex model that is ideal for swapping out parts.
Let’s take a look at the hunting, tactical and Flex variants of the Mossberg 500 and what they offer.
Mossberg 500 Hunting
This model features a variety of useful qualities pertaining to hunting. It has dual extractors, positive steel to steel lockup, twin action bars, and an anti-jam elevator to ensure smooth operation.
The top-mounted safety allows ambidextrous use, and some models offer the revolutionary Lightning Pump Action (LPA) adjustable trigger for added control.
Mossberg 500 Flex
The FLEX LTS model is perfect for individuals looking for a system that allows them to easily switch from one shooting application to another at a moment's notice.
It’s compatible with various hunting and tactical accessories including pistol grips, butt-stocks, forends, and recoil pads.
The TLS (Tool-less Locking System) consists of three connectors that allow users to switch these parts and accessories.
Mossberg 500 Tactical
This rugged model is designed for military, police and law enforcement usage. It features dual extractors, positive steel-to-steel lockup, twin action bars, and an anti-jam elevator to ensure smooth operation.
The top-mounted safety facilitates ambidextrous operation and other special features increase suitability for low and no-light conditions. These include Center Mass Laser equipped models, tri-railed forends to favor accessory lights and lasers, and adjustable stocks for rapid adjustment of length of pull. It also works with a broad range of accessory barrels.
Remington 870 vs Mossberg 500 - Similarities and Differences
Now that you know the different kinds of Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 models, it’s time to look at the similarities and differences between the two.
Mossberg 500 vs Remington 870 Differences
The placement of the triggers is different for both manufacturers. While the Mossberg 500’s ambidextrous safety is located at the top of the receiver, the Remington’s safety is located behind the trigger in the rear of the trigger guard and favors right-handed shooters.
The Mossberg 500’s aluminum receiver makes it lighter, but the Remington 870 uses a steel receiver, making it a bit heavier. This increased mass means less felt recoil, which is suitable in a home defense shotgun.
Depending on the Mossberg 500 model, the magazine capacity is 6+1 or 8+1, while the 870’s magazine capacity is 4+1 or 6+1.
The Mossberg’s Flex model allows users to quickly swap out parts of the 500 for hunting or tactical usage without any tools.
A traditional stock can be replaced with a pistol grip, or a traditional fore-end can be swapped for one with a tactical light.
The Remington 870 has an edge in power with Express models that accept larger 3½-inch shells for greater payload, power, and range.
The Remington 870 uses a classic shell lifter that needs to be pushed up to load a round, whereas the Mossberg uses a shell lifter that stays in the raised position. This feature makes it easier to load and beginner-friendly.
Mossberg 500 vs Remington 870 Similarities
Both the Mossberg and Remington were designed for use with interchangeable barrels. The Remington’s barrel can be replaced by loosening and/or removing the magazine cap, while the Mossberg’s barrel can be replaced after loosening the magazine nut.
Each model uses dual-action bars for a smoother and more reliable pump action. With this, the bolt of both shotguns lock in the rear of the barrel and do not use the receiver.
Both guns disassemble in a similar fashion and their trigger groups are easily taken out for cleaning by removing the trigger housing pin(s).
Both shotguns use tubular magazines that can be plugged to abide by hunting laws or removed to have extra round capacity for home defense.
Both are available in 12 or 20-gauge. In the 12-gauge option, they both accept 2¾ and 3-inch shells.
The final similarity with the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 is the vast number of aftermarket parts that allow the user to customize these shotguns to better suit its needs.
Top Pick Between Remington 870 vs Mossberg 500
When deciding which of these guns is better, it makes sense to figure out whether one gun is more suitable for you. Keep in mind your budget, your shooting needs, and your personal preferences when choosing one.
In general, the Remington 870 is $100-$150 more expensive than the Mossberg 500.
The 870’s pump action is smoother, but the Mossberg’s reloading system is faster and easier. Both guns have comparable effective ranges, but Remington’s steel receiver gives it an edge in longevity and toughness.
The Mossberg is made for rough and rigorous use, so it is the best gun for dirty and muddy conditions like hunting and skeet shooting.
So there we have it. We’ve covered the differences and similarities of both legendary shotguns and discussed why you might choose one over another.
While you really can’t go wrong with either gun, the Remington 870 is slightly more expensive and built from more costly and durable materials.
The Mossberg is lighter, easier to load, and the Flex option makes swapping accessories a breeze.
Consider your shooting preferences and needs when selecting the gun. The Flex is great for people who plan to use the gun in multiple situations such as hunting and home defense.