View Full Version : Military Issue Mossberg ??

February 23, 2001, 03:11 PM
Howdy folks,

I've scoured every shotgun thread posted over the past year so I'm pretty sure this question is not too redundant. BTW, I really enjoy and appreciate all the sharing of first-hand life experiences (and BS) that all of you have posted here (and places like Frugal's).

I recently picked up a Mossberg 12 gauge at a gun show here in Colorado. I was ready to jump on a 590 GR for $400 when I came across another piece with a tag that read "Military Issue". It had a clip from a gun mag (Am Rifleman ?) where someone wrote in asking to clarify what the U.S. military actually used. The article explained the heavy barrel, metal parts, etc and the US serial numbers. I checked the barrel and the numbers against the $400 models at other tables and this was indeed a different animal. I paid an extra $75 despite the lack of GR sights.

I assumed (apparently incorrectly) that only military issued guns had this setup. After looking closer at Mossberg.com it seems that these features are readily available as the 590A1. But, as mentioned in the article, my gun does have different markings than the others I saw at the show. The manual and the markings say 500 MILS. Some detailed photos are linked below.

BTW, I got a shotgun just because I didn't have one - no specific need. So here is my list of assumptions and questions - please correct me (gently) if I am way off-base.

1). This gun is mechanically the same as the 590A1 (except for missing sights).

2). This US-serial number gun is indeed different than the 590A1 as far as collectability (mil-issue vs mil-spec only).

3). The heavy 20-in barrel helps tame recoil compared to lighter or shorter barrels. (how much compared to other options Vang, etc ?) This is the only shotgun I've ever fired. Haven't tried buck or slugs yet.

4). How much would it cost to have GR sights put on considering that the receiver is untapped ? Any cautions, recommendations, cheaper to replace the barrel, etc ? (BTW, I've read all the pro's and con's of GR sights on shotguns so we don't have to cover that here - I like 'em).

5). IF this gun had any collectors value, would modifying it be a mistake ? Ex. adding sights, cutting down barrel, etc. It's too late to leave it NIB.

thanks in advance for your advice,



February 23, 2001, 03:38 PM
Hmmm, not sure about all the other questions but as far as the GR sights goes, I believe Mossberg has them available on their website for around $60. Although the barrel is not set up for the front sight, the reciever should already be tapped for the rear sight, every Mossberg I've seen is but yours may be different. Getting the front sight to stick is more difficult, probably best left to a gunsmith or you could get a new barrel.

Hope this helps.

February 23, 2001, 11:49 PM
First of all, very nice gunyou got.
This is what I know about the Mossbergs.
The 590A1 is the Mossberg the military uses. The 590A1 is a slightly modified 590. Differences are a thicker barrel, a metal saftey button, and a metal trigger guard. I have a new 590A1 and the best way to tell is to look on the left side of the gun. I will clearly say "M590A1". Here is a pic of mine.


cuerno de chivo
February 24, 2001, 01:17 AM
AFIK there were military Mossbergs before the 590A1.

February 24, 2001, 01:31 AM

What you have is a 500USA. These were made for the military several years ago and the over-run was sold on the civilian market. The wholesale price was just about $300 2 to 3 years ago. There never were many made as they were replaced with the 590-A1. Bob Swanson advertised them in the Gun List for $395 in 1997

I had one for about a year and found that it handled better then the 590-A1 with the 20" barrel and just as well as the 590-A1 with a 18.5" barrel.

I don't remember if the receiver was drilled and tapped for Mossberg ghost ring sights. I think mine was not. If you want GS sights, it would be cheaper to buy a spare 18.5" 590-A1 barrel with the factory front sight already installed and put a Mossberg rear sight on your receiver.
Take a look at the top of your receiver. It will be obvious if it is drilled and tapped.

Although the 500USA is not very common, I doubt that they will ever have much collectors value. Except for a few very old handguns and some of their old .22 rifles, there has never been much interest in Mossberg firearms.

Did you get the white G.I. manual with it? If not, I may still have a few kicking around. Let me know.

February 24, 2001, 11:19 PM
Thanks everyone -

It did come with a white 16 pg manual.
Cover reads as follows:
Manual 500 MILS & 500M MILS

Shotgun, 12-GA. RIOT
PER MIL - S - 3443E

Operation and Maintenance Manual

Does this sound like the manuals that you have ?
DML : You said "it handled better then the 590-A1 with the 20" barrel" - How is mine different than the 590-A1 with the 20" barrel ?

Another curiosity - even though the receiver is marked "500 MILS" - the photos in the manual show the 500 MILS with a wood stock and a take-down screw - it shows the 500M MILS with a synthetic stock and the magazine cap / swivel - which of course is what I have.

I don't see the heavy barrels listed on Mossberg.com.
Have you seen them priced somewhere else ?

The receiver is definitely NOT tapped so this work would be required regardless of any barrel choices.
Any ideas on how much that might run ?

Also, is this matte finish "parkerized" ?
Who the hell is Parker ?

thanks again to all,


Clayton Hufford
February 25, 2001, 12:00 PM
The gun you have is the actual contract model for the military. The 500MILS has been issued since 1978, except with a wood stock. The Marine Corps has since issued models with ghost ring sights and 20" barrels with 9-shot capacity. There are several variations, and every contract differs slightly, i.e. longer barrels, shorter barrels, sights, no sights. All are basically the same, however. The current M590A1 is the same as your 500MILS - heavy barrel, aluminum trigger guard and safety. I have both guns. The 590A1 w/18.5" barrel and bead sight can be had for around $300.

February 27, 2001, 03:34 AM

You have the correct manual.

Actually, the 500MILS is more a 590 then a 500. I don't know why it was called a 500.

The 590-A1 with a 20" barrel has a full length magazine tube and a 2nd mounting ring with a bayonet lug. All this make it very muzzle heavy.

I think a set of ghost ring sights from Mossberg runs about $50. Mounting the rear sight requires drilling and tapping 3 holes. An average price for this kind of work is $15 per hole in my area. You can probably get it done cheaper, but you usually get what you pay for and often less.

The front sight is another story. It has to be silver soldered, which will destroy the finish on the end of your barrel and unless you are into ugly, will require refinishing. I won't even tell you what I get for this kind of work. That's why I mentioned getting an extra 18.5"
590-A1 barrel with the sight already on it. You may be able to order one from Mossberg. Check their web site.

If you want more info, e-mail me.

February 28, 2001, 10:50 AM
Nice find