Confession time: I love shotguns.
There is just something about delivering what’s best described as a ‘payload of lead’ with each pull of the trigger. Plus, the shotgun just so happens to be the most versatile weapon in my armory, and I assume in most armories.
With a single 12 gauge pump gun I can hunt deer, birds, and bear. I can defend my home or shoot skeet. A shotgun is a do-it-all kind of weapon, as long as it’s at close range.
One of my favorite modern pump action shotguns is the Mossberg 590, and the 500 series in general. The Mossberg 500 series and I go back a long, long ways. Over years of use I’ve gathered a few upgrades I know and love.
These are all items I own and have spent significant time with. Only one is what I’d describe as new to me, but we’ll get there soon. So let’s get started.
Best Mossberg 500 Upgrades
1. Knoxx Breachersgrip Gen III
In most cases pistol grip only shotguns suck. They are painful to shoot, difficult to control, and filly very niche roles. Very few work well, one being the Knoxx Breachersgrip Gen III from Blackhawk Industries.
The Knoxx Breachersgrip works with the 590, the 500, and the Mossberg Shockwave.
The Shockwave is an odd gun legally. I won’t dive into the legal details, but it must remain over 26 inches to be a non NFA item. This traditionally means you have to use included the included Shockwave Raptor grip.
I made a big bet when I got the Blackhawk Knoxx Breachersgrip Gen III. I saw it had an odd extension and was really counting on it resulting in an overall length of 26 inches to keep the Shockwave NFA free.
(To my ATF agents and forum lawyers I just attached a Mossberg 18.5 inch barrel I had on the gun before installing the grip. I don’t even joke about NFA violations.)
The Breachersgrip is a recoil reducing pistol grip designed for short shotguns used in breaching operations. I just wanted a comfortable upgrade to my mini hand cannon. The Breachersgrip greatly reduces felt recoil and makes PGO shotguns comfortable.
I have put some nasty rounds through guns with this grip, including those powerful PDX buck and ball slugs. I felt almost nothing. It turned a 12 gauge powerhouse into something closer to a 45 ACP from a 1911.
It’s a modern and comfortable option for handling a mini 12 gauge. It’s sling ready and a lot more comfortable than I ever imagined. Knoxx and Blackhawk have made what’s likely the only traditional pistol grip that’s actually comfortable.
Recoil reduction is important for more than keeping your wrists from aching. With this grip I can confidently aim the shotgun, I don’t flinch when I shoot, and I can shoot faster and more efficient with it.
The Breachersgrip is great for replacing standard Mossberg JIC pistol grips, or those found on cruiser models. Most importantly the Breachersgrip from Knoxx and Blackhawk is one way to tame the Shockwave.
Check out more of our favorite grips (including recoil reducing ones) in Best Mossberg 500/590 Stocks.
2. Magpul MOE Shotgun Forend
Magpul SGA furniture is fantastic for shotguns, and like most Magpul gear it’s extremely high quality and modular. The Magpul SGA Mossberg 500/590 MOE pump allows you to add stuff only where you need it.
You can attach M-LOK or MOE accessories directly to the pump, or you can attach rails to accommodate any accessory that mounts to picatinny rails. This allows the easy mounting of lights, lasers, and even chainsaw grips.
The pump doesn’t overlap the receiver so it doesn’t interfere with side saddles if you want one. The pump is textured and ribbed for a sure grip. Also, it looks cool as hell.
To mount it to a short barreled shotgun or firearm you have two options.
Option 1 is to Dremel the pump to fit the short action tube. It’s easy, but takes a bit of time and the necessary tools.
Option 2 is an adapter from Hogue. This makes the Magpul MOE Shotgun pump compatible with shorter action tubes.
And don’t forget some M-LOK Rails to mount your favorite accessories.
3. Magpul M-LOK Vertical Grip
If you are rocking a Magpul forend, a Magpul M-LOK vertical grip is the perfect addition. Why, you may ask? Because with a vert grip you are a lot less likely to short stroke the shotgun.
You get a really solid grip and a stable platform. If you want to be really effective with 12 gauge shotguns you need to learn to mitigate recoil. The best method I’ve found is the push pull method, pushing forward with the firing hand and pulling rearward with the pump hand.
It’s a lot easier to pull on a vertical grip without worrying about your hand slipping. Since the M-LOK grip mounts directly to the Magpul pump it’s not going to slide off the pump either.
On Mossberg 500/590s with pistol grips a vert grips adds a lot of control to the gun. It makes it easier to aim, and helps prevent getting an eye full of shotgun. If you start running a shotgun hard and fast the likelihood of your hand slipping is real and those barrels are short.
If your hand goes in front of the barrel near the time you pull the trigger… Well, it won’t be pleasant.
4. XS Big Dot Front Sight
Night sights can make a big difference in your low light shooting performance. If you’re like me and still rely on the boom stick for home defense you want to see your sights not matter what.
The XS Big Dot front sight is a combination day and night sight that replaces your teeny tiny bead. It’s a massive, high visibility front sight that’s easy to see regardless of the time of day.
At night it glows bright and you’ll have no issue getting that rock solid front sight focus. The XS Big Dot is a must have even if you rock an optic. It stands high enough to co witness with my chosen optic and optic rail.
By itself it’s an outstanding sight. The fact that it co-witnesses with my red dot is just icing on the cake. It’s not limited to tactical applications either. This would be great for hunters, since a lot of hunting takes place in low light conditions.
5. Ergo Tactical Stock Adapter
The Mossberg 500’s aftermarket is quite large, but it’s nowhere near as large as the AR-15’s. Some of the best stocks and pistol grips I’ve ever used came from ARs, and the ability to adapt them to my favorite pump shotgun was a godsend.
The Ergo stock adapter is just that. This small and affordable little piece of gear allows me to easily add my chosen AR 15 pistol grip, buffer tube and stock to my Mossberg 500 and 590. This was one of my all time favorite buys. I love being able to toss my Magpul AR grip and carbine stock on my shotgun.
It attaches in about a minute and you instantly access to a multitude of system options, including the ability to add a brace to a Mossberg Shockwave. It’s also affordable, which is always nice.
What do you think of being able to add an AR-15 onto your 500?
6. LaserLyte Center Mass Laser
Lasers are a great addition for most defensive guns. They offer defensive shooters just one more option when it comes to aiming their gun. The main issue a lot of shooters run into is having trouble finding the dot.
With the LaserLyte Center Mass laser you aren’t left looking for the dot. The Center Mass target throws a 9 dot laser in a circular pattern. This mass of lasers is perfect for a shotgun because it’s designed for close quarters shooting.
It’s not directly dialed into an actual shotgun pattern. I’m not trying to make the claim that each dot will be directly where a pellet lands. Instead it gives you a rough idea of your spread will be at particular ranges.
The pattern grows 1 inch per yard and with modern shotgun ammunition that’s actually a bit wider than what a realistic pattern will result in. It does give you a massive, easy to see laser pattern that’s perfect for home defense.
This particular center mass laser uses a pressure pad for its on and off switch. Its perfect when mounted to a M-LOK shotgun pump. When combined with rock solid sights this laser is just one more aiming option for close quarters combat.
7. Meopta Meosight III
The Meopta Meosight III is my go to miniature red dot optic for my guns. I have two of them so far and will likely have another in the future. They are a great miniature red dot, and mini red dots are perfect for shotguns.
Miniature red dots give you a lower profile, lighter weight option for close quarters shooting. Since the shotgun is the king of close quarters they are quite compatible. The Mossberg series of shotguns are almost always tapped and drilled for a scope mount.
Installing a scope mount is easy and there are plenty out there. I went with a simple Monstrum Tactical model. The Meopta Meosight III attaches via a QD mount and is pretty simple to use.
It has two modes, a manual adjustment and an automatic adjustment.
In automatic mode it automatically adjusts to the external light conditions becoming brighter and dimmer when necessary.
The manual mode allows you to easily cycle through 8 different brightness settings. The optic uses a single button for all its controls. This does mean if you miss your favorite manual setting you have to go through all of them again.
Two of my favorite features of this optic aren’t even related to it’s optical performance, but its logistical performance. First, the battery is changed via the side. There is no need to dismount the optic to swap batteries. Second, adjustments are easy to make, but secure. You can lock the adjustment tabs down with a small flat head screwdriver. This makes it so nothing moves, even on the fiercest recoiling of guns.
The optic is small, lightweight, but offers a bright, but clear dot. It also cowitness perfectly with my XS Big Dot front sight.
I mention close quarters all the time, but this is a great tool on a Mossberg used for skeet shooting or hunting. Skeet shooting is slowly being infiltrated by minature red dots. Burris is even producing something they call the speed bead that uses a miniature red dot for sport shooting.
8. Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling
When it comes to sling selection for any weapon, I’m pretty damned biased. I like my Vickers Blue Force Gear slings. I own a standard issue, an AK limited edition, a Vickers One sling, and even one of the rare Vickers Medic slings.
The two point Vicker Tactical sling from Blue Force Gear is my all time favorite sling. What makes it interesting is the rapid adjustment tab. A quick pull rearward or forward of this tab tightens and loosens the sling.
This allows it to be tightened down when climbing, crawling or running and then bam, instantly loosened for shooting and maneuvering. The quick adjustment tab allows for easy adjustment and control over your weapon.
While its traditionally found on a carbine there is nothing stopping it from being an excellent Mossberg 500 sling. This is another tool that’s not isolated to tactical use. It’s perfect for hunting.
I love it for climbing a tree stand. I can tighten the sling around my back and work my way up without the gun banging and clanging as I climb.
9. Opsol Mini Clip
The Opsol Mini Clip is one of the coolest little gadgets you can add to a Mossberg 500 series shotgun.
The Opsol mini clip is a drop in, drop out upgrade that allows you to reliably use those Aguila mini shells.
Those mini shells don’t always run super reliably in shotguns, but this adapter makes them run like a dream in the Mossberg 500. In a standard 5 shot tube you can load 9 rounds of the Aguila mini shells.
This is the best 15 bucks I’ve ever spent on a shotgun, especially for those shooting Mossberg Shockwaves.
10. Hornady RAPiD Safe Shotgun Safe
Okay, so this isn’t an upgrade, but it is my personal choice for securing my self defense shotgun. It’s a really cool system that’s quick and modern.
You have three different options for opening this safe. The first is your traditional key and lock option, which is great in case the power goes out and batteries die.
The second method is through a 4 or 6 digit combination. The combination keys are 1 through 4 and are illuminated.
The third is my favorite, the RFID keys. The RFID keys are little round chips that are outfitted with adhesive to mount to almost anything. They can attach to your phone, to a keychain, or whatever you want.
There is also an included wristband that has a built in RFID chip. The idea is you wear the wristband while sleeping and if something goes bump in the night you have the key automatically on hand.
Once the combo or RFID key is entered the safe jumps opened. And I mean jumps! You have instant access to your gun and your ready to bump back. It does offer limited security to your gun, and shouldn’t be used for long term storage.
One other downside is you can’t mount an optic and store your shotgun. While the trigger is exposed the design of the safe makes it so the weapon must be stored with the action opened. This means it’s nice and safe.
I still lock my shotgun up in an actual safe when I leave home. Small safes are easily stolen. This safe will keep kids, nosy guests, and other casual folk’s hands off my shotgun, though.
Mossberg 500 Forever
The Mossberg 500 platform is well proven, dependable and as evidenced above almost endlessly upgradeable. You can tune and customize a Mossberg 500 almost as much as you can an AR 15.
These are my favorite upgrades, but I want to know yours. Are you a fanboy of the Mossberg 500 like me? If so what improvements have you made? Or are you a bigger fan of the steel receiver 870? If so tell us why?