Mossberg 590 Shockwave Review: The 12-Gauge Pocket Powerhouse


Have you ever wanted a short barreled shotgun, but hesitated to pay the $200 NFA tax stamp and wait months for your permission slip from the BATFE? Is waiting too hard, and the tax too expensive? For many, that’s the case. And it’s understandable.

While I don’t necessarily agree with that attitude towards the process, the fact is that many casual shooters avoid shotguns with barrels-less-than-eighteen-inches because of the cost and paperwork hassle. But what if there was a way around these roadblocks?
Now with Mossberg’s latest 590 creation, the Shockwave, your short-barreled dreams can come true with a minimum of hassle, thanks to a relatively obscure definition in the law: “Firearms”.


  • Gauge: 12
  • Capacity: Six 2 ¾” Shells
  • Barrel Type: Heavy-Walled
  • Barrel Length: 14″
  • Sight: Bead
  • Choke: Open Cylinder
  • Barrel Finish: Matte Blued
  • Weight: 5.25 Pounds
  • Length: 26.37”

Wait, Aren’t They All Firearms?

What do you call a gun with a minimum overall length of 26”, but doesn’t have a buttstock? Is it a rifle, or a pistol… or something else? Well, according to the BATFE, it’s a “firearm”. But only in light of the Gun Control Act, and not the NFA. Here’s a link to the letter, but the short version is that because the Shockwave meets these standards…

  • Receiver that has never had a shoulder stock attached.
  • Overall length exceeding 26”.
  • “Bird’s head” grip, instead of a stock.
  • 14” barrel.
  • Pump action.

…it’s not regulated under the NFA. If that makes your head hurt, go read the letter. It’ll all either be clearer, or muddier.
I appreciate when manufacturers make it easier to get fun guns out to the general public. And that’s exactly what Mossberg has done with the 590 Shockwave, by making it meet the definition of “firearm”.
The Mossberg 590 Shockwave may be viewed by the BATFE as “just a firearm”, but in my eyes it is one impressive little shotgun.

The Mossberg Shockwave Raptor Bird’s Head Grip

With the specialized Shockwave Technologies Raptor Bird’s Head pistol grip installed, the 590 Shockwave meets the magical overall length specified by Federal laws, measuring in at a handy 26.37 inches.
The grip may look a bit odd, but it really does help to tame the recoil. This is a good time to mention that since the Shockwave is considered a “firearm”, the Bird’s Head pistol grip may not be replaced with a buttstock or more traditional pistol grip. Doing so would change the classification to a Short Barrel Shotgun or an AOW, both of which are regulated by the BATFE and require NFA tax stamps.

The Hunt for the Mossberg Shockwave

As a connoisseur of combat shotguns, I immediately knew I was going to purchase the Shockwave when I heard about Mossberg’s short-barreled plans.
Even with the recent downturn in the firearms market, the Shockwave is one of 2017’s most difficult to find firearms so far. Many distributors are backordered several months. Luckily, my local dealer let me know they had received one. I immediately told him I would take it.
The little gun never even made it to the showroom floor.

Range Time With The Mossberg 590 Shockwave

Just as I expected, the Mossberg 590 Shockwave performed flawlessly. It’s pretty hard to mess up the reliability of a pump shotgun, especially if Mossberg makes it.
I’ll just say it: Mossberg has definitely hit a homerun with this one. However, I do want to note that the Shockwave is not for everyone. The recoil is definitely stout, but manageable. Like I mentioned above, I actually feel like the recoil is less harsh when compared to my 18 inch Mossberg Cruiser with a traditional pistol grip with the same loads.
Accuracy was comparable to the longer 18 inch version. I shot 100 rounds of various loadings ranging from 1 buckshot , 00 buckshot , #4 buckshot and even 1oz Slugs. Doing some sort of 1,000 round test like I did with the Chiappa PAK-9 pistol would be sort of pointless, because the Shockwave is based on the bomb-proof and proven 590 action.
Due to its design, the Shockwave pretty much has to be fired from the mid section or hip. This makes aiming a little difficult, but it’s easy to get the hang of with a little practice.



Mossberg 590 Shockwave Accuracy

This firearm is obviously designed for short range or close quarters. I did most of my testing at 15 yards, which I consider to be a practical distance for testing different loads at home-defense distances.
The Shockwave patterned well, in spite of the short barrel. After testing various loads I brought to the range, the Federal Premium Law Enforcement 00 buck with the flight control wad performed the best. It patterned well at 15 yards, and had less felt recoil than some of the other loads.

I did not test any Aquila Minishells in the Mossberg Shockwave during this range trip. I have used them in the past, and they are a neat way to increase the low 6-round capacity of the gun. Reliability can be tricky with the mini shotshells, and to address these potential problems a Texas company called OPSol has developed an insert that enables the mini shells to feed properly.
It’s fast becoming a must-have add on to the Shockwave. People are loving this little gun, and more ammo always makes things better.


Mossberg Shockwave Legal Issues

The Shockwave, as one of the first “firearms” available to the general public, carries with it some inevitable legal jargon. While legal according to the Federal BATFE, you will want to research your own State laws and local regulations to confirm whether or not it is legal in your particular locale.
The BATFE has released an official letter to Mossberg pertaining to the Shockwave, which is a great place to start. It can be viewed here: BATFE Mossberg Shockwave letter.

Final Thoughts On The Mossberg 590 Shockwave

The Shockwave is definitely a niche gun, and certainly not my first recommendation for a home defense weapon. In that role, an 18” barrel paired with a traditional shoulder stock is a more practical choice, if you’re set on “the gauge” for your home defense needs.
That being said: I do see the Shockwave’s utility in places where space is limited. It would make a fantastic car or truck gun, and tough to beat for someone who spends time in a RV or travel trailer. The amount of firepower in such small package is simply hard to beat.
I personally bought this gun as more of a “fun gun” for use at the range, but it has found a home that I didn’t expect: My lawn mower. I live in a rural area and usually come across at least one rattlesnake while mowing the acreage at the house, so I have designated my Shockwave as my Snake/Mower gun of choice. If you are in the market for a hassle-free short shotgun, I recommend you give the Mossberg Shockwave a close look.



Leave a Reply