When a person decides they want to purchase a shotgun, they usually come down to two choices. The Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870. If you asked 100 different shotgun fans which one they prefer, you’re going to be pretty close to a 50/50 split. They are both excellent guns and you really can’t make a bad decision between the two. That being said, there are some differences that I’ll try to make clear.
Mossberg 500: Top-mounted
Remington 870: Located on trigger guard
The Remington 870 uses a standard cross-bolt safety similar to those found on most BB guns. You press the button to the right to put it on safe and press it to the left to fire.
The Mossberg 500 uses a sliding safety which is placed on the top of the receiver. You slide the button forward to fire and slide it back or towards you to put the safety on. Typically, left handed users prefer the Mossberg 500 design. The top-mounted design is also easier to visually determine if the firearm safety is on. You can glance at the button while in firing position. With the Remington 870, you can not see the safety while in firing position.
The Mossberg 500 safety is made of plastic and has been known to break. A very common upgrade is to replace the standard plastic safety with an upgraded steel safety.
Mossberg 500: Located near the rear of the trigger guard
Remington 870: Located near the front of trigger guard
The Mossberg 500′s slide release is found to the rear of the trigger guard. The Remington 870′s slide release is found near the front of the trigger guard. Unless you have really long fingers, you cannot reach the slide release on the Remington 870 without removing your hand from firing position. With the Mossberg 500, you can actuate the release with the middle finger of your dominate hand. Left handed shooters will have no difficulty reaching the Mossberg’s slide release.
Mossberg 500: Aluminum
Remington 870: Steel
The Remington 870 has a steel receiver. The Mossberg 500 has an aluminum receiver. Steel is stronger than aluminum, but it also weighs more. The Mossberg 500 is a lighter gun as a result which makes it easier to use and carry for extended periods of time. According to my research, the use of aluminum has not caused any issues with strength and/or longevity with the Mossberg 500.
Mossberg 500: Plastic trigger guard
Remington 870: Aluminum trigger guard
The Remington 870 utilizes a steel trigger guard. The Mossberg 500 utilizes a plastic trigger guard.
Although not often necessary, the Mossberg 500 trigger guard can be updated to steel with aftermarket parts.
Mossberg 500: Fits flush on bottom of the bolt
Remington 870: Fits flush with bottom of the receiver
The Remington 870 uses a shell lifter that is in the constant down position. Because of this, it’s easy to get your fingers pinched when inserting shells into the magazine. To raise the shell lifter, you have to retract the slide. The Mossberg 500 is the exact opposite. It uses a shell lifter that is in the constant up position. This makes loaded shells under duress easier.
Mossberg 500: Dual
Remington 870: Single
The extractor is the part in a firearm that removes fired ammunition. When you cycle the gun’s action, the extractor removes the spent casing from the firing chamber. In my opinion, two is better than one.
Drilled & Tapped
Mossberg 500: Yes
Remington 870: No
If a firearm is drilled and tapped it means it’s ready to accept accessories (tactical rails, optics, etc…) without further modification. At TacticalRail.com, we find this a huge plus if you’re looking to customize your firearm. That being said, the Remington 870 can be drilled and tapped, it’s just not a factory feature.
Just to reiterate what I said at the beginning of this article, both of these firearms are great shotguns. Hopefully the differences I listed above will help you find the shotgun that best meets your needs.
Personally, I decided to go with the Mossberg 500.
The location of the safety and slide release were my deciding factors. They just seem to be in a more natural position. I also like that the Mossberg 500 is still the only shotgun to meet Mil-Spec 3443E. This specification covers the requirements, examinations and tests for three types and two classes, of manually operated, slide action, hammerless, 12 gage riot-type shotguns.