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Mossberg Shockwave Review: How Is It Legal?

The Mossberg 590 Shockwave is not legally a shotgun, but it is still an awesome defensive and fun range gun.Read our review to see if it's right for you.

Do you want a short barreled shotgun (SBS) without all the NFA paperwork, the excessive 200 dollar tax stamp, and the monumental wait time?  

I can help.  Kind of.

Not really me, but Mossberg.  And it’s not really a shotgun, so it’s not an SBS.  It’s also not an NFA weapon.  I’ve basically lied to you.

Kind of.

What I’m talking about today is the Mossberg 590 Shockwave ($449)…a 12 gauge pump action firearm.

Editor's Pick Not-A-Shotgun
at Palmetto State Armory

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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It’s not a shotgun, although it really looks like one.  In fact the Mossberg 590 Shockwave is literally only classified as a firearm.  The Shockwave is a fairly unique firearm…and a fairly freaking cool one to boot. 

Table of Contents


Mossberg 590 Shockwave

So how is it not a shotgun?

So if you judge a shotgun as a weapon that fires shot then you’re right…it’s a shotgun.  However, the U.S. Government does not classify shotguns in that manner.  

Don’t ask me why, just remember the ATF once turned all shoe strings into machine guns.

So under U.S Law, a shotgun is a weapon designed or redesigned to be fired from the shoulder.

 If a gun is never designed to be fired from the shoulder or was never redesigned to be fired from the shoulder it is not a shotgun.

 If it is not a shotgun it cannot be a short barreled shotgun.

technically correct

Because the Shockwave never had a stock to allow it to be fired from the shoulder it is not a shotgun.  It’s also over 26 inches long, which ensures it does not fall into the separate NFA category known as AOWs.

So it becomes a firearm.  Nothing more, nothing less.

If you want to know more, just check out the ATF’s letter to Mossberg about the Shockwave.

This is the federal ruling, some states have their own odd definitions.  So in some states this may be a short barreled shotgun, check your state laws.  Surprisingly, this is illegal in Texas.

What’s not surprising is the Governor of Texas just signed a bill making them legal, so before the end of the year Texans will be allowed to own the Mossberg 590 Shockwave.

welcome to texas
I never thought Texas would be the one lagging behind on the ability to own cool guns, but here we are.

So What is the Shockwave?

The Shockwave is a 12 gauge firearm that is 26.5 inches in length.  It’s built as a Mossberg 590 with a 14 inch barrel and a 5 round tubular magazine.  

The end result of this combination is a NFA free 14 inch barrel twelve gauge.

This is a very compact and powerful weapon.  Since technically it’s not a shotgun I am not going to be referring to it as a shotgun.  

Instead we’ll stick with scattergun.  

Why’s it called the “Shockwave”?

What’s interesting is the grip of the weapon, which is where the Shockwave title comes from.  Mossberg 590 Shockwaves are outfitted with the Shockwave Raptor grip.

mossberg 590 shockwave grip
Mossberg 590 Shockwave Raptor Grip

This semi pistol grip makes it so the overall length of the weapon is over 26 inches.  

You cannot install a standard 90 degree pistol grip unless it has some kind of extension to keep the overall length 26 inches or more.

Grip It and Rip It

The Shockwave grip isn’t just a gimmicky grip to produce a short scattergun.  The grip itself is superior to  any pistol grip only option I’ve ever used.

Normally firing any serious load from a PGO shotgun is just downright painful.  Fortunately, you can also purchase the Shockwave Technologies Raptor Grip ($24.95) for the Mossberg 500 and Maverick 88, making it a good option for any pistol-grip shotgun.

mossberg shockwave grip
This is much, much more comfortable and accurate than a regular pistol grip.

The Shockwave Raptor grip is much more comfortable when firing standard buckshot loads.  It doesn’t shoot back into your wrist painfully like a normal PGO shotgun.

Instead the recoil is more or less pushed upwards instead of rearward.

The Shockwave Raptor Grip is vastly superior to the any other pistol grip I’ve ever handled.

Handling a 12 Gauge Firearm

Inevitably the first few questions people start asking about the Shockwave are about how to shoot it and how it handles.

A lot of folks get the idea that these weapons can only be fired from the hip.  That is simply not true.

The Raptor grip does an amazing job at deterring recoil from coming straight back, however it’s still not wise to hold it right in front of your face.  You’ll want to extend it out well in front of your face.

When I say the Raptor grip is good at reducing recoil I mean it’s relative to pistol grip shotguns.  The recoil is still stout, just much better than the standard pistol grips.

The scattergun wants to recoil upwards and it’s good to use that energy to manipulate the pump. This isn’t a weapon you intend to fire fast, the lack of a stock makes it difficult if not impossible.

Reduced recoil buckshot like this Fiocchi Law Enforcement Reduced Recoil 12 Gauge ($64.00)  is a bit better if you want to rapid fire, and the Aguila mini shells are by far the easiest to rapid fire.

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Prices accurate at time of writing

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Ultimately if putting tons of lead downrange is your goal for a shotgun invest in a full sized tactical semi auto model.

Let it be said, this gun is super fun to shoot, and challenging to shoot well.  I like to think I’m an experienced shotgunner, but this bad boy put me in my place.

The lack of a stock does make it a less than stable platform.

You really have to put in some range time to master this bad boy to engage targets rapidly and effectively.

Rapidly being relative to the platform itself.  The lack of a stock and 12 gauge recoil ensures you need to understand the fundamentals of handling a powerful firearm.

This is not a weapon for inexperienced shooters.  A lot of idiots think it’s okay to hand new shooters powerful hand cannons and laugh at the recoil.

This is both dumb and unsafe.  The same could be said with handing an inexperienced shooter this gun with any kind of buckshot or slugs.

New, or inexperienced shooters in general shoot stick to the Aguila mini shells, or cheapo light weight birdshot until they understand how to handle the weapon.

Aguila minishell
Aguila minishell and Fiocchi ammo with the Shockwave

 The mini shells function well with Mossbergs, and the addition of the Opsol Mini Clip ($15.00)  makes them function perfectly.

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Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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This all being said, the gun performs as designed.  The pump powerfully ejects shells from the weapon, and reliably feeds round after round.  

The Shockwave comes equipped with a simple bead sight, but it tapped for a scope rail.

As you can see I’ve outfitted mine with a Meosight 3 red dot sight ($399.00), and replaced the standard bead with an XS Big Dot ($52.31) shotgun sight.  

meopta meosight
Meopta Meosight and XS Big Dot
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Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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While a standard bead is okay, you really need a cheek weld to effectively use one as designed.

The stockless nature suits itself much better to a red dot sight and the XS massive front sight is infinitely easier to use as an iron sight.  

With the red dot sight and Aguila mini slugs I was able to hit man sized targets in the chest area at 35 yards with the red dot sight.

The trigger itself is pretty standard for a shotgun.  Lightweight, a short pull, with a bit of grit and overtravel.

However, it is a shotgun so such things are only important when it’s bad.

The Rundown on the Shockwave

As you’d imagine the Mossberg 590 Shockwave is a very well made scattergun.  The 590 series is trusted by the USMC as their combat shotgun, and yours truly was issued one for a very short period of time.  

I really like Mossberg shotguns and have always held them in high regard.

The 590 Shockwave is no different, except it’s not a shotgun…technically.  The 590 Shockwave’s safety is placed on top of the receiver and is a sliding tang.  

It’s ambidextrous and works perfect with the Raptor grip.

The Shockwave also features dual extractors, and twin action bars.  This ensures reliable operation when pumping the gun.  

mossberg 590
The Mossberg 590 Shockwave is built just as well as it’s larger cousin.

The elevator is the standard anti jam model designed for military use.

The Shockwave has a front sling swivel, but no rear sling swivel.  This things begs for a one point sling on it.

The Mossberg 590 comes equipped with a forend that features a strap to keep your hand in place.  I don’t necessarily like this design, and found the screws recoiling backwards into my hand.  

This eventually become quite painful as it broke the skin.

I’ve since replaced my pump with a Magpul variant I modified to fit the weapon.  The standard Magpul pump DOES NOT fit the Shockwave.  You either need to modify the pump, or purchase an adapter from Hogue.

The Limitations of the Shockwave

If you purchase a Mossberg 590 Shockwave you need to approach it understanding its limitations.  

Without a stock the platform is nowhere near as stable as a shotgun.  The Pistol grip only configuration has severe limitations.

You won’t keep the max effective range of an average shotgun, and even with slugs you are limited to under 50 yards to be effective.  

590 a1
Though it’s based on a gun that can easily reach out to 100 yards with the right ammo, the 590 Shockwave is going to be for close-range engagements only.

Reloading is also more difficult since you are left holding a 5.35 pound gun with one hand.  With a stock you can still maintain two points of contact to reload.

Being able to reload the shotgun is essential to effectively using it in any kind of competition our tactical application.

We’ve already discussed the higher levels of recoil, but I’ll mention it one more time.  

This gun kicks.  Hard.  Be ready.

Shockwave Advantages

The small platform does offer a few advantages.  First and foremost, it’s much more compact and maneuverable. It’s almost as maneuverable as a handgun inside a building.

It offers helluva lot more firepower than a pistol too.  There is something to be said about using a similar platform used by the U.S. Marshals.

The U.S. Marshals used heavily modified Remington 870s called Witness Protection shotguns.  They featured 12 inch barrels and very similar grips.  

The U.S. Marshals seemed to like the guns when escorting witnesses to and fro.

shotgun newsweek
Photos Courtesy of Newsweek and Tactical Life

I’d imagine the movement portion being extremely dangerous and the best time to strike for would be hitmen.  A small scattergun would be a powerhouse inside a vehicle.

However, I doubt many of us reading this will ever be in that situation.

Gettin’ Shocked

The Mossberg 590 Shockwave is another one of those fantastic discoveries in the hideous nature of confusing gun laws.  

It’s not really taking advantage of a loophole, but it’s a convenient means to obtain a powerful and compact firearm.

Ultimately if your goal is a defensive weapon I’d suggest a Mossberg 590 standard or even better the 590A1.  Or check out our complete list of the Best Tactical Shotguns.

The addition of a stock provides you with a much more stable, easier to reload, and easier to aim and fire weapon.

If you want a fun gun or a range toy, or if you are protecting witnesses from gangsters the 590 Shockwave is for you.

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So what do you think of the 590 Shockwave? Let us know by dropping a review below!

Mossberg 590 Shockwave

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17 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Allan Shepherd

    Does it handel the short shell ok

    May 24, 2021 12:56 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    "A lot of idiots think it’s okay to hand new shooters powerful hand cannons and laugh at the recoil."

    Indeed. The trouble is those idiots are not just reckless randoms, they are gun instructors at gun fairs. Two incidents come to mind but they are not the only ones: Charles Vacca managed to get himself killed whilst trying to get a 9-year-old-girl to fire an UZI, and 8-year-old-boy Christopher Bizilj killed himself with an UZI whilst being supervised by an unqualified 15-year-old "instructor" at a Massachusetts gun fair.

    If those are the "pros" what the hell are the amateurs like?

    April 16, 2020 10:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have the 20 ga Shockwave. It is fun to shoot and the 20 ga is easier to handle. Plenty of ammo options. I upgraded the grip with leather cover adding additional control. Put sling with extra ammo and now I am ready. Excellent stash gun as a backup. I paid 350 for mine, but have seen them used for 250. They aren't for everyone, but if you've shot a pistol gripped version then this is a suitable compliment.

    November 28, 2019 4:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Thanks for your opinion as I am considering the same gun for home protection. What company makes hand leather grips and slings if I may ask .

      October 2, 2022 3:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Well, I purchased the 20 gauge Shockwave for practical home defense use, relative to my needs. Live in a modular home with narrow hallway so manuverability was important; didn’t want to bang door frames and walls with a longer barrel and stock. I know I must practice alot to be effective in hitting the threat with this firearm.

    September 24, 2018 8:46 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jeepers Creepers

    I love my 12 gauge Shockwave so much I bought a second one. I set up one as full tactical and the other is set up as a truck/bear gun. With the right ammunition, it's a very accurate weapon. I can hit my target with a 3" Magnum 1 1/4oz slug at 50 yards by using just the bead sight it came with. The only changes made were adding Talon Raptor Grip Wrap (textured) to the birdshead raptor grip and taped the strap ends with Duck wrap-fix tape. I put on the Black Aces Tactical full quad rail made for the 590 Shockwave. This addition is very lightweight yet added the nessessary front end weight to make recoil with heavy loads much easier. Never had any issues with "raptor bite" or recoil from 3" shells. I find this firearm to be very versatile and lightweight with very little cons. I can easily hold it in my left hand and in perfect position to load all 6 shells with right hand within 8 seconds. With a little training (use dummy shells) anyone can get this weapon down pat. It's a hand cannon that is very accurate and a hellofa lot of fun to shoot!

    April 8, 2018 6:38 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Sung Hong

    You know, as much as I love meme's, sometimes people of your trusted site will not use them to review the guns. Also, what is the difference between this black one and the silver Marinecode one? Answer, now.

    February 11, 2018 11:34 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jeepers Creepers

      The difference between the Marinecoat Shockwave is the Cerakote finish put on. They have a few versions...the Marinecoat,the stainless Cerakote and the FDE Cerakote one. The black finish is actually called Matte blued. They even have a "Breacher" version.

      April 8, 2018 6:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have a shockwave in 12 gauge and it’s awesome! Incredibly satisfying and easy to shoot(even with one hand and I’m a little guy). Really couldn’t be happier with the firearm, these things are fun.

    January 8, 2018 8:57 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Love my 20 ga Shockwave. Have had it less than a week, and everything from old cat carriers to pie pans, are no match! Took me 12 minutes, with my CWP and fill out my info.. Got more guns than safe will hold, but couldn’t pass this up. Only paid 319.00! At Simpson’s in SC, Men’s Night Christmas Sale! 20ga doesn’t kick ass hard on your thumb and forefinger and still packs enough punch.

    December 10, 2017 10:06 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Should I assume it's not available for Californians not wanting to break the law or is that a stupid question?

    June 22, 2017 5:47 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      StuntMan Mike

      I don't think so Ralph. I'd have to research more, but I believe Ca considers any gun that shoots a shotgun shell, a "shotgun". And barrel length is probably an issue as well

      June 23, 2017 8:15 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Go with my rule...if it seems really fun...you probably can't have it in CA :-(

      June 26, 2017 1:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve bees

    So would this be a three day wait or just one? In IL home of the taxed and patient person.

    June 22, 2017 4:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Think you'll ever write up a guide or film a video showing how you modified the Magpul forearm?

    June 16, 2017 2:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Travis Pike

      That's not a bad idea, but it does involve a dremel and some patience. The Hogue adapter is likely the easiest way

      June 17, 2017 8:32 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      S Howard

      Please? I ordered the Magpul grip and the hogue adapter based on this review not expecting to get out the Dremel. The hogue adapter is thicker than the internals of the grip. Barely..

      September 15, 2017 12:35 pm
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