What happens when you take two new shotgun models by Mossberg to an upland bird hunting Mecca? The bag gets filled with pheasant, chukar, quail and Hungarian partridge; and there are a lot of crunched sporting clays targets along the way.
Talk about having fun with a gun! Actually the fun was with two different guns, but I digress.
As a brand, Mossberg is expanding in a number of areas it has not focused on very much historically. Centerfire rifles is one area and sporting-specific shotguns is another.
To check out the new 930 Pro-Series Sporting shotgun and SA-20 in the International line, Mossberg’s Linda Powell and Dave Miles joined scribes Jim Casada, Wayne Van Zwoll, John Parker and the author at Hidden Hills Ranch in Oregon.
First was a sporting clays session in which the sporting model really showed its stuff. Mossberg did its homework on this gun, and it shows. Both the weight and weight distribution contribute to controlled swings that result in broken targets.
Companies like Mossberg are big enough and technologically mature enough to be able to take full advantage of high tech manufacturing and of high tech metal treatment, coatings and finishes.
This reality shows through in the new 930 Pro-Series Sporting gun. Mossberg has taken a proven gas-operated semi-auto shotgun action and made it even more durable at a high performance level.
The action cycles with a distinct quickness that is more remindful of a good over/under than a typical auto. It is more than just a feel. It actually enhances target hits.
Heck, the model was designed in collaboration with acclaimed shotgunning instructor Gil Ash. Gil and Vicki Ash’s tips and techniques appear in every issue of SAFARI Magazine.
What Mossberg has done is to take its 930 gas-operated semi-auto design that has made a big name for itself in the tactical arena and outfit it as a full-on sporting clays gun. Whether it was engaging single or double target presentations, or a multi-hundred-target flurry that made barrels hot and the sky peppered with powder from crushed clays, this new gun delivered the goods.
“Competition-ready features include a beveled loading gate, premium Pro-Series coatings and finishing, Cerakote-finished receiver, Briley chokes and HiViz TriComp sight,” Mossberg reports.
The walnut stock includes Mossberg’s Stock Drop System of drop-at-comb adjustment shims for customized fits; boron nitride coated gas piston, piston rings, magazine tube, hammer and sear. Those coatings help prevent corrosion and make it easier to clean.
“The shell stop, bolt slide and elevator receive additional finishing to reduce friction for faster follow-up shots,” Mossberg added.
Sure enough, this gun blasted through sporting clays targets and took on live birds with aplomb – nary a hiccup for anyone at anytime.
Specifications include: 12 gauge with 3-inch chamber, 5-round capacity and 28-inch ported ventilated rib barrel. Length of pull is 14 inches and overall length is 48 ½ inches. Weight is 7 ¾ pounds. It comes with an extended Briley choke tube set (skeet, improved cylinder and modified). MSRP is $1,029.
Put all of that together, and the result is a quick-handling shotgun that points and swings both smoothly and intuitively. Translate that to mean long strings of hammered targets from all angles. I used the improved cylinder choke tube for the whole course – worked great with the one-ounce No. 8 Fiocchi ammo used.
The Mossberg International SA-20 shotgun line includes a variety of configurations designed to handle everything from hunting and home security to recreational shooting.
New for this year and the configuration used on the Highland Hills hunt is the SA-20 All-Purpose Field Walnut model that sports a 26-inch blued barrel with screw-in chokes, gloss walnut stock and forend.
Put bluntly, this is one heck of nice, light, fast-handling hunting gun.
The gas-operated semi-auto handles both 2 ¾ and 3-inch shells, has a bead front sight and comes with a Sport Set of choke tubes (full, improved modified, modified, improved cylinder and cylinder). Length of pull is 14 inches and overall length is 46 ½ inches. MSRP is $654.
The SA-20 worked well on the sporting clays course, but for me, the real test would be bagging live upland birds. We’re talking game gun here. Some in the group used the Sporting 12-gauge for upland birds, and those guns worked fine. I just didn’t want to carry extra weight in the field for several miles each day, so when it came to shooting things with feathers, I opted for the svelte SA-20 with modified choke. Ammo was Estate 2 ¾-inch shells with 7/8-ounce of No. 6 shot going out at 1,200 feet per second – worked great.
Most Mossberg guns are made in the USA, but some are imported. When it comes to their shotguns, the easiest way to tell one type from another at a glance is to see where the manual safety is. If it is atop the rear of the receiver (accessible from right or left side), then it’s American-made. If it is a crossbolt safety at the rear of the trigger guard, it’s an International model.
Both the 930 and SA-20 exhibited traits that are delicious when it comes to semi-autos. Dynamically, the actions cycle both smoothly and quickly. This means quick follow-up shots are no more difficult than imagining them and then completing them.
However, the trigger pulls on both (and especially the 930) were impressive. Pull weight, when coupled with let-off, was crisp and clean in much the same way that better break-open guns are. Not all semi-autos are this way (some of their triggers are hard to pull, others are mushy). Mossberg has figured out this dynamic, and it matters.
For more information on these and other Mossberg guns, visit www.mossberg.com.--Steve Comus