I am naturally a shotgunner. A shotgun was my first firearm, a 410 Remington 870 when I was 8 years old. I’ve used shotguns for hunting, for trap shooting, and was one of the few people in my platoon who knew how to operate a pump shotgun. I am always looking to add to my shotgun collection, which currently includes, pump actions, double barrels, single shots, and even a bolt action shotgun. What my collection didn’t have was a semi-auto shotgun. The Mossberg 930 SPX seemed to fit all the needs I have in a tactical shotgun, and it just happened to be semi-auto. I haven’t had a lot of experience with semi-automatic shotguns, but the Mossberg called my name.
Mossberg 930 Features
The Mossberg 930 SPX is capable of firing both 2 ¾ and 3 inch rounds. The SPX holds 7 rounds in the tube and is fitted with a Choate extended magazine tube. The main weakness of a shotgun is the low ammunition capacity, so every extra round can help up to a point. When you go beyond 7 to 8 rounds you start adding a lot of additional weight to the front of the weapon. It is my belief that shotguns should be kept as light as possible. The reason being is that close range is what the shotgun is designed for, and speed is critical for being successful at close range.
The barrel is 18.5 inches in length, which is just about as short as you can legally go. My model has a standard stock, which I prefer for shotguns. Other models do have a dedicated pistol grip. The shotgun also comes with a complete set of LPA sights. This was a major selling point for me. I do believe that a shotgun can benefit from a set of sights, especially if you ever have to do slug work. The front sight is a bright orange fiber optic, easy to see, and easy to use. The shotgun has a picatinny rail that allows the easy mounting of a red dot. The safety is the standard Mossberg rear tang that is ambidextrous, and extremely easy to manipulate with the thumb.
The shotgun weighs 7.75 pounds unloaded so it’s not the lightest shotgun, but not exactly a boat anchor either. The shotgun comes with black polymer furniture and a textured foregrip. I’ve only made two changes to the shotgun, the first was adding a six round side shell carrier. This makes it easy to carry a reload if something goes bump in the night. I’ve also added a large Choate combat charging handle. It’s bigger, and can be engaged with the palm, side of the hand due to its square design.
Reliability and shooting
Semi-auto shotguns have a bad rap when it comes to reliability. Many believe that you have to spend a lot of money on a high end shotgun to have a reliable model. The Mossberg definitely breaks that stereotype. I’ve ran every brand of buck and birdshot I could through with great success. The only thing I’ve had issue with was reduced recoil loads, which is expected when it comes to semi-auto shotguns, which is one of their weaknesses.
I’ve gone through at least three hundred birdshot rounds without any issue, This includes the cheap Federal brand made for Wal Mart. Buckshot brands ranged from Federal, Remington, Suprema, and Spartan. I’ve ran slugs from both Winchester and Federal flawlessly.
The gun holds an average pattern, and is typical of what you can expect from a cylinder bore. At 25 yards you can put all 9 pellets into the chest of an E-type silhouette target. Shooting buckshot is actually pretty pleasant, due to the reduced recoil of the semi-auto system. The fiber optic front sight makes it easy to get on target with round after round of buckshot. Controlled pairs are not only possible but easy to do with this shotgun and your average load of buckshot. Obviously, the recoil increases a bit with 3-inch magnums, but it never feels like a punishment.
The addition of proper sights makes it easy to engage targets at 50 yards and possibly beyond with slugs. Again you have reduced recoil with slugs, but unless you are using reduced recoil slugs you are still going to feel the recoil. I would say it’s unpleasant, but not punishing. You standard Federal slugs have moderate recoil, and the Winchester PDX rounds are where it gets unpleasant. The PDX is similar to a buck and ball load, and is loaded with one massive slug and three pellets of 00 buckshot, and they have some serious oomph to them.
The Mossberg 930 SPX and semi auto shotguns, in general, have a few advantages over a pump, and a few disadvantages. First off the rate of fire is increased dramatically. A skilled pump gunner can come close to the rate of fire a semi-auto can, but only after years of training and experience. Next, there is a reduction of felt recoil, which makes that rapid shots accurate and easy to make. The weapon could be used with an injured arm or hand. While you’ll suffer reduced accuracy you won’t have to pump the weapon. If your arm or hand is so injured it cannot aid in supporting the weapon it can be fired from a chicken wing position.
Disadvantages include the reliability of a pump gun. The semi-auto will always be a little less reliable than the pump action if they are of comparable quality. A pump action is fast to do a combat reload from empty, meaning loading a round directly into the chamber and getting it into action. The 930 SPX does lock on empty, and to close the chamber you have to push a small button directly under the chamber. You either have to change your grip, or be fast enough to press the button and move your hard as the charging handle rushes forward.
I recently shot the qualification course for the Protective Force the Department of Energy employs. (I plan to write an article on the shoot as well.) The course is short, and all timed, including combat reloads, and rounds to the magazine tube. I ran it side by side with a pump and the 930 SPX and my time was cut by significantly in all three strings of fire.
Overall I love the Mossberg 930 SPX and have found it to function flawlessly with everything besides low recoil rounds. This is a big weapon, as most 12 gauge shotguns are, but it handles beautifully. Recoil is low, quality is top notch from the LPA sights to the Choate magazine extension. Mossberg spared nothing in the production of this shotgun. It’s also affordable, with a street price right around 650 dollars, it’s really hard to beat at this price point. It’s an American made Mossberg, backed by a good warranty as well. The Mossberg 930 SPX lets you bump back when things go bump in the night.