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By Dustin Vaughn Warncke, Mac & Prowler Pro Staff

When gun talk comes up in conversation, I often tell folks that we are in the “Golden Age” of guns. There is not another time in our rich history of firearms and ammunition that we have had so many innovations of the past combined with the awesome technology available now which provides manufactures the ability to push the envelope on what can be done with firepower, ballistics, and more in our current day and age. 

That all being said, one of my favorite shotguns from the past and present is the Mossberg 500 and 835 Pump in 12 gauge. Most gun writers will agree that this shotgun holds its own against other venerable shotguns like the Remengtion 870 Pump. Prior to owning the Mossberg 835, my father gave me a Mossberg 185K in 20 gauge equipped with the antiquated version of Mossberg’s threaded screw-type adjustable choke, allowing a shooter to move from Improved Cylinder to Modified and Full Choke setting with just a couple of turns of the choke adjuster at the muzzle. This shotgun is an older bolt-action shotgun produced during the 1950’s and 1960’s and is a great small game shotgun that I have used for a many squirrel and rabbit hunts. The technology in interchangeable chokes has come a long way since this gun was produced but it is still neat to have something unique to a lot of other old shotguns out there. Sometimes, just for grins, I sometimes even take than shotgun along with my 835 Pump to go dove hunting just to what people say when they see me wing shooting with a bolt action shotgun! That usually leads to a fun conversation and a contrast to what everyone else is using in the field.

Obviously the Mossberg 835, which sports a 2 ¾, 3”, or 3 ½” magnum shell capability, is a versatile shotgun for any need and this magnum version has been around for quite some time. I have used my venerable “Viking Grade” Model, which dawns a light green synthetic stock, for dove and turkey hunting along with shooting trap, sporting clays, and skeet. I even once switched the barrel to a rifled slug barrel for deer hunting on Fort Hood in a shotgun only/black power area. And that is the joy of owning a shotgun: Versatility in many forms for many applications! Like an AR rifle platform, its kind of like playing with “adult Legos” if you want to change the purpose or use of your shotgun. 

Most folks will identify Mossberg firearms with mainly producing shotguns and that used to be the case for the most part. Of those, the Mossberg 935, a camo clad semi-auto 3 ½” magnum is one of our favorite picks of their shotgun line-up. An EOTec Sight easily mounts on this gun and is an excellent choice for shotgun hunting for coyotes and other four-legged varmints. Our choice for ammo with this set-up is the 3 ½ magnum“#4 Buckshot by Winchester. The 935 model shotgun is one of the many lines of firearms Mossberg produces now and the pace they are setting in the firearms industry is nothing short of incredible.

The relatively new FLEX shotgun is an interchangeable platform that is very modular, much like a shotgun already is, but even more so. Based off the 500/590 model platform, it allows versatility never seen before in shotguns without a trip to the gunsmith. You can change stocks, forearms, and even recoil pads to go from a hunting shotgun to a tactical set-up in just minutes. One shotgun, lots of applications and options. I like it! This idea has existed for many years in the single-shot rifle/shotgun world but I have never seen a gun manufacture do this well with a shotgun platform. 
For young or beginning shooters, the 702 Semi-Auto and 802 Bolt-Action Pinkster in .22LR is one of my favorite picks for anyone looking for a new .22 rifle. The Bolt Action 817 in .17HMR is also a great consideration in the rimfire realm for small game. My dad has been looking for a gun like this for the crow population on his farm in Oklahoma and this would fit the build perfectly. 

TOP VALUE PICK!: The 100 ATR (All-Terrain Rifle) caught my attention when it first came out as it was one of the lower priced rifles on the market. The fit and finish for the price is remarkable and a great entry level gun for a beginning hunter. If had not found a passion for collecting and hunting with military surplus rifles when I seriously started hunting after college, this would have been one of my first “big boy” rifles. First available in just .270 and 30-06, the ATR 100 is now also available in .243 and .308 calibers as well. This is one of the first rifles I recommend to hunters and gun enthusiast just starting out in the high-power rifle world.

The 464 Lever Action rifle is another neat rifle, available in either wood or synthetic/tactical versions. Not only is the lever action gun an old-fashioned standby, you can get the 464 SPX version with a black synthetic 6-position adjustable stock. It is a fresh new look for an old-school 30-30 favorite. 

A predator hunting rifle that caught my eye and makes some new strides in the world of firearms is the MVP (Mossberg Varmint Predator) Rifle, which is one of the first bolt action rifles that will accept standard AR-15 magazines. That alone is a cool idea and I am happy to see someone take the challenge of combining a bolt action rifle with AR magazines. This is a good varmint gun choice as it is chambered in .223 and has a unique and very attractive laminate/wood stock I think most folks will find appealing. 

There are many more rifles and shotguns Mossberg produces but the ones I showcased here are among my favorites. After the SHOT Show this year, I am even more of a believer that we are in a great place in the world of firearms and the pace with which we are heading into the future. With the quality, value, and innovations that companies like Mossberg are making in the shooting sports and hunting community, I am more excited about the future of our sport and industry than ever before. To learn more about Mossberg Rifles and Shotguns, visit them online at or see their link on our Partner Page on our website.  

Dustin Vaughn Warncke is an avid hunter, outdoor industry consultant, and Pro-Staff for Mac & Prowler and several  outdoor industry product and guide service businesses. E-mail Dustin at 
or visit Warncke Enterprises at

Mossberg Firearms: The Golden Age of Shotguns and Rifles