An Excellent New Tom Wrecker From Mossberg – The Mossberg 500 Turkey

A 22-inch barrel turkey killer as reliable as the day is long that doubles as a great truck and home-defense shotgun, Mossberg’s new-for-2023 500 Turkey 20-gauge is worth a test drive.

by Jace Bauserman

My first-ever shotgun was a wood-stock Mossberg 500, and I melted the barrel down. From trap to skeet to ducks to upland, it was a tank, and I loved it. 

Recently, I got my hands on Mossberg’s new-for-2023 500 Turkey in a 20-gauge bore. I planned to tote the shotgun on a few turkey excursions. Based on its specs and what I read about the shooter on Mossberg’s website, it seemed the shotgun’s overall length of 41 inches and under-14-inch LOP (length of pull) would fit my 11-year-old-son, Brody, who would be chasing spring thunder chickens for the first time. It should be noted that the LOP is fixed, and there is no adjusting it. I would have liked to see Mossberg go with a slightly smaller stock profile. 

First Impressions

The first thing that jumped out at me was how sexy the shotgun looked, fully cloaked in Mossy Oak’s Greenleaf. The only black on the shotgun is that of the extended X-Factor Ported Choke, recoil pad, safety button, slides, trigger, and trigger guard. The rest of the gun is cloaked in camo and looks fantastic. 

Undoubtedly, the shotgun’s eye appeal will get plenty of looks. The second I pulled the Mossberg 500 Turkey from its box, Brody looked at it and said, “Dad, that thing is sick.” 

The gun’s 22-inch barrel and compact build mounted swiftly. The shotgun felt maneuverable, and after depressing the action-release button, the slides were smooth, and the action fell open and exposed the inner chamber. Brody could also manipulate the shotgun fine, and it didn’t weigh him down. 

There were no noticeable nicks, dings, or dents, and I applaud Mossy Oak’s Optic-Ready (Shield RMSc pattern) mount and the triangular-shaped Front FO sight. One glance at this shotgun, and you know exactly what it was created for. 

The vent rib is a nice touch, and as with most pump-action shotguns, the barrel fell into place, and final barrel attachment was screwing down the forend-cap screw, which, like the synthetic stock, is fitted with a stationary swivel for sling attachment. 

Send It

I wanted to give the 500 Turkey a little dance but didn’t want to burn Fiocchi’s Golden Turkey TSS just to get familiar with the shotgun’s fit, feel, and overall shooting experience. For this, I went with Fiocchi’s Dove & Quail Field Dynamics.

Another benefit of using Fiocchi’s Dove & Quail was that due to the reduced recoil of these 2-3/4-inch, 7/8-ounce shotshells, they allowed Brody the chance to shoot the shotgun multiple times without being beaten up. 

Fiocchi’s Gold Turkey TSS in 20-gauge packs a punch, and when you fire one, your shoulder knows it. There is no reason when teaching a youth shooter how to handle and adequately fire a shotgun to use heavy loads that will beat them up. 

I’m an old-school turkey hunter, and while I have zero issues with a red-dot optic, I stayed with the standard FO sight. Not a gun I’d want to use as a clay buster or a wing shooter because of the shorter barrel; this gun feels balanced against the shoulder, and from a seated position, is easy to swing right or left, and is highly maneuverable. 

Another reason I went without the red-dot was for my youngster — I wanted his first turkey to be shot with a standard fiber-optic front beat sight. 

The trigger is a tad heavier than I’d like, but trigger preference is highly personal. When Brody practiced with the gun, he told me, “Dad, I like the trigger, and I don’t have to pull it too hard, and the gun goes off.” 

With Fiocchi’s 2-3/4-inch 7/8-ounce #7.5 shotshells, the Mossberg 500 Turkey produced mild recoil, and the slide and action proved incredibly smooth. I could hold my cheek weld on the synthetic stock and make rapid follow-up shots on paper. That stayed the same throughout testing, and Brody had no issue staying on the gun, making a shot on paper, and then making a quick follow-up shot.

I was also impressed with the operation and functionality of the slides and action when the gun got dirty. When an 11-year-old totes a shotgun around a sandy river bottom for a few days, it will get dirty, and this shotgun easily handles the sand, dirt, and grime. 

The safety is stiff, which I like, and is mounted on top of the action directly above the action-release button. I like that the safety button is long and gridded, which makes it easy to find and operate, and an exposed red dot when the safety is pushed forward lets the shooter know the gun is hot. 

The Mossberg 500 Turkey cycles shotshells as fast as I could manipulate the slide, and reloading the 5+1 internal magazine was super simple. 

Pattern It

I’m not often lucky enough to find a shotgun, choke, and load that lines up to create a turkey-killing trio. Usually, I end up swapping chokes, changing loads, etc., but the Mossberg 500, when paired with 3-inch Fiocchi Golden Turkey TSS #9s, proved an exception to this rule. 

At 30 yards, the 1-3/8-ounce #9 payload put more pellets in the head and neck of my homemade turkey target than I could count. At 50 yards, I had to rest my bead on top of the head of the target but still managed to get 19 pellets in the kill zone — more than enough to cream a big old longbeard. I was overly impressed with the stock X-Factor Ported Tube and the choke easily threaded in and out of the shotgun. 

When you shoot loads like Fiochhi’s Golden Turkey TSS, even in 20-gauge, you know it when you pull the trigger. The recoil is quite extensive, but the payoff is well worth it. Over the years, I’ve killed my share of tom turkeys with this ammo, which pulverizes them. And, being the shotgun weighs a mere 6.75 pounds, you can bank on the shoulder, taking some of the abuse. 

How much abuse, exactly? Not terrible. My 11-year-old is 80 pounds soaking wet, and while he wasn’t in love with  having to practice a couple of times with these specific loads, when his moment-of-truth was presented, he settled his FO bead on the 26-yard turkey and executed like a champ. 

Tote It

At 6.75 pounds and 41.24 inches long, this shotgun is a joy to tote around the woods. I also recommend it as a good truck gun. It’s durable and compact and can be abused. Of course, with a barrel length of 22 inches and built on a reliable pump-action, the shotgun doubles as a home defense weapon. 

Brody carried the gun (no sling) for over three miles during his turkey hunt and never complained about weight or length, and because he could control the gun, the muzzle was always pointed in a safe direction.

Clean It

Cleaning the firearm takes minutes. Open the action and check to make sure the gun is unloaded. Next, turn the black forend screw counter-clockwise and remove the barrel. A pin in the mid-portion of the action dumps the trigger unit, and you’re set to go. Using Real Avid’s Gun Boss Pro – Universal Gun Cleaning Kit, I had the inside of the barrel, chamber, and action looking new in no time. 

Final Thoughts

For $644, you get a hell of a turkey gun that doubles as a truck gun and a home-defense firearm. The shotgun is reliable as the day is long — I experienced zero jams or malfunctions over a two-week testing period. I credit the gun’s guts — dual extractors, steel-to-steel lockup, and an anti-jam elevator. 

This is a highly versatile shotgun that almost any shooter, regardless of frame size, can handle, and it will remain part of my shooting arsenal and be a shotgun that I pass on to my kids. 

Mossberg 500 Turkey Specifications

  • Gauge: 20
  • Action: pump
  • Chamber: 3 inch
  • Barrel Type: Vent Rib
  • Barrel Length: 22 inches
  • Barrel Finish: Mossy Oak Greenleaf
  • Choke: X-Factor Ported Tube
  • Magazine Capacity: 5+1
  • Length: 41.25 inches
  • Length of Pull: 13.87 inches
  • Sights: Front FO; Optic Ready
  • Stock: Synthetic Mossy Oak Greenleaf
  • Weight: 6.75 lbs
  • MSRP: $644


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