With modern technologies and advancements, we see more products that are multipurpose. There are knives with gutting blades that swing over to become skinning ones. Clothing with multiple layers can be taken away or added depending on conditions, including pants with legs that zip off to make them shorts. There have been developments toward multipurpose rifles in the gun world, with interchangeable barrels and forestock. They have been popular and offer everything from plinking to predators or big game hunting with the same primary platform. Some even offer single-shot shotgun or muzzleloader barrels. They don’t provide a platform change, an adjustment in length-of-pull, or fit and feel.
We buy specialty shotguns for hunting upland game birds and waterfowl or shooting trap, skeet, or sporting clays. There is some overlap, but if you show up at the skeet club with your favorite pump gun, you usually generate a few cocked eyebrows. Furthermore, the pump gun may work for defense, but it is far from a quick, shoot-from-the-hip defender. Can one shotgun provide the performance and utility that some specialty or specific guns could?
The short answer is yes. Mossberg has developed its FLEX system, allowing users to interchange buttstocks, foregrips,and barrels. The system provides an incredible amount of flexibility, where the shotgun gets its name.
The Mossberg FLEX 500 system allows the shotgun owner to change stocks and components on the same gun platform to cover everything from slug hunting, waterfowl and upland birds, home defense, and tactical presentations. The system is easy to use and well put together—I’ve used it with the various components and liked how the gun performed in different applications.
Rifled Shotgun Barrel
I got the gun for a spring bear hunt and put the black synthetic stock on it. I adjusted the length of pull within the butt by pushing a button and sliding the recoil pad end back until it was the perfect length. I was shooting Hornady Lite sabot slugs with reduced recoil. In most bear hunting circles, my choices of gun and ammunition would be considered diminutive. I topped the shotgun with a Swarovski Z6 1-6 X 24 with an illuminated reticle to round out the hunting equipment. It is an excellent scope for quickly acquiring a target in tight quarters. When I sighted the gun, I was surprised it grouped right around one inch at 100 yards. It shot a textbook cloverleaf. I have some centrefire guns that don’t shoot that well, but to be fair, I’d have to put better optics on them for an accurate comparison.
I used the camouflage butt and forestock with the smoothbore barrel for pheasant hunting in the fall. The barrel is threaded for interchangeable chokes, and it worked extremely well to collect a few roosters and Hungarian partridge. A release button on the side of the forestock allows it to be removed and replaced with different options.
Adjustable for Multiple Shooters
I purchased some 20-gauge steel shot, and my wife used the gun to hunt waterfowl. We adjusted the stock and length of pull to fit her, and it made a world of difference. She shot a triple on giant Canada geese that tipped the Toledo at close to 35 pounds. Later in the day, she changed choke tubes and shot three ruffed grouse with lead shot.
Although the FLEX 500 is available in 20 and 12 gauge, I like the managed recoil, fast target acquisition, dependability, reliability, and stopping power of the often overlooked 20 gauge. The gun proved itself many times over regarding hunting applications, but I knew it had more to offer. I took a friend bear hunting and put the pistol grip on the shotgun to use it for defense if we had to do any tracking.
I cannot help but remember reading Peter Hathaway Capstick’s recounts of tracking wounded leopards in Africa. Capstick wore a football helmet and catcher’s chest protector with groin extension for self-defense and close encounters and carried a pump shotgun. I did not wear the extra paraphernalia but was confident the shotgun would provide the stopping power I needed if required. The old smoothbore packs a tremendous punch at close range, allows you to acquire the target quickly with a single bead on the end of the barrel, and operates without failure when it counts the most.
The Mossberg FLEX 500 is a straightforward pump-action shotgun fed from a 5-round tubular magazine. It’s designed to be tough and can take much abuse and continue working. The barrel removes easily by loosening the screw at the end of the magazine tube. The bolt in the Model 500 uses a single locking lug that cams upwards into a matching hole in the barrel extension. The gun has a sliding safety on the rear curve of the receiver. A bolt release button is located behind the trigger guard, and it juts from the left rear. The twin action bars run the action smoothly and prevent it from binding when torqued or operated hard and fast to load the next round.
The innovative FLEX system is a tool-less locking system that is easy to use, providing more options than Inspector Gadget had up his sleeve. FLEX components are designed to be removed and remounted in seconds. Accessories includethree recoil pad widths and railed standard and camouflage forend.
A lug in the rear of the receiver allows different buttstocks to be attached or removed quickly and easily. A locking pin holds the stock to the lug and has a horseshoe-shaped slide to grasp. You pull up on the horseshoe and rotate it 90 degrees to release the pin, allowing you to pull the stock off the lug. To attach a buttstock, push onto the lug, rotate the locking pin, and push it down into place. The stocks fit tight and solid with zero play. They proved to withstand heavy recoil and never loosened or moved at all.
The straight or hunting buttstocks are available in short, medium, and long sizes. Mossberg offers different sizes of FLEX recoil pads that can be quickly changed out to accommodate shooters or different thicknesses of clothing worn by the same user. Push release buttons on the bottom end of the buttstock where the recoil pad lifts up and off. Different pads can then be slid on and locked in place.
Everyone in my family played with the assortment of buttstocks and recoil pads to find the most comfortable fit. It has proven to be a great youth gun and functioned without flaw for me as a full-framed shooter.
Tactical models come standard with tri-rail forends that provide accessory touchpad accommodation. A Picatinny rail offers more flexibility to customize how you need to use the shotgun. The buttstock is simplified with a tubular extension to change the length of pull.
The Mossberg FLEX 500 pump-action offers dependability. The system is genuinely adaptable and provides diverse hunting and tactical accessories, including pistol grips, buttstocks, forends, and recoil pads. Different barrels and chokes make the gun more diverse for many applications. You can purchase the FLEX 500 as a hunting model or tactical unit. Add the components you want or need to get the most from your shotgun or make it useable for several shooters. Mossberg has even made special gun cases allowing you to store the extra components no matter where you travel.
Looking at modern firearms, the Mossberg FLEX 500 offers so many choices for a hunter to change the shotgun configuration for a multitude of situations quickly. The standard camouflaged buttstock and foregrip are ideal for hunting from a stand. The pistol grip can quickly be swapped for the buttstock for defense situations. The tactical components could be used for defense or tracking. You can attach a flashlight or other components to the Picatinny rail. The natural beauty of the shotgun is its reliability if faced with tense situations and the incredible knockdown power it provides. As for hunting, it gets the job done when those unique opportunities finally present themselves.
The FLEX system can now configure accessories on Mossberg 500, 590, or Maverick 88. Go to www.mossberg.com/flex-select/ to see options.
Federal Premium Shotshell Options
Federal produces four shotgun ammunition or shotshell categories for hunting, with 21 products under Waterfowl, Slug & Buckshot, Turkey, and Upland. There is a shotshell for any hunting with a smoothbore., from value-driven to premium performance. Check out the entire line of products at federalpremium.com.