Mossberg 930 SPX 12 Gauge Shotgun Review

Special purpose tactical shotgun for today’s LE world — everything an operator needs!

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The shotgun has been a mainstay of LE for well over a century. In the earliest of days, it was a weapon that gave lawmen the upper hand in cases where drovers and other travelers would be armed only with pistols. Even in the days of the birdshot these early guns employed, the spreading pattern of shot was quite deadly at close ranges. Back then guns were limited to a two-shot capacity. The design of these weapons naturally progressed throughout the years to lever actions, pump, and eventually, semi-automatics.

mossberg2A number of firearms instructors and other pundits declare that the shotgun is obsolete. They have concluded that the tactical rifle has supplanted the shotgun due to its compact size, high capacity and the potential for surgical accuracy. While it’s difficult to find fault with this logic, there are a number arguments to be made in favor of the shotgun.

First, a shotgun is an extremely versatile weapon given the array of different loads it’s capable of firing including 00 Buck, slugs, sabots, incendiary rounds and less-lethal projectiles. Next, at close ranges, while a rifle certainly doesn’t lack potency, a shotgun blasting 9 to 15 pellets of spreading 00 Buck is devastating on a level unlike any other weapon.

Lastly, many agencies’ policies prevent officers from carrying rifles. For these officers, a shotgun doesn’t exactly leave them poorly armed. The shotgun can be pressed into service and fired like a rifle with the use of slugs, delivering impressive accuracy and hard-hitting stopping power by a skilled shooter. While effective range for slugs may be 125 yards at the outer envelope, few police shootings will occur at longer ranges, especially in urban environments.

Gun Details
Cognizant that some lawmen still want and need shotguns in today’s era, Mossberg has modernized their tactical line, the apex of which is their 930 Special Purpose shotgun. The 930 SPX (Special Purpose with extended magazine tube) comprises an autoloader with a black synthetic stock and forend, an 18.5-inch cylinder-bore barrel, ghost ring sights, and an integral Picatinny rail atop the receiver.

The 930 SPX receiver is made of forged aluminum alloy for high strength and reduced weight with a matte black finish. The rear sight is an LPA ghost ring, and the factory-installed Picatinny rail allows for quick attachment of a vast array of optics to augment the sights. Mossberg’s familiar thumb safety allows for ambidextrous operation.

The barrel and bolt are machined from extrusions of steel in 12-inch lengths, cut to the proper dimensions and machined to their final respective forms. Fixed into a sight tower atop the barrel is a wing-protected fiber optic front sight. Underneath the barrel resides a 7-round capacity extended magazine tube.

The gun was developed for use with 12 gauge, 2¾-inch chamber, and factory loaded shells, driven by a simple, reliable, easy to maintain gas system. A black synthetic stock offers a traditional look. A recoil pad is mounted on the buttstock.

A sling on a tactical shotgun is an absolute must, and a weapon-mounted light isn’t far behind. Any of you who are working cops know that after the threat has been dealt with, we often have to go “hands on” with a suspect. Worse yet, when the gun is no longer appropriate, sometimes the confrontation degenerates into a physical fight. Should these situations present themselves, (and they will) if you don’t have a sling to secure the long gun, you’re going to be in trouble in a jiffy.

Back when I started on the job, there were fewer options for mounting a light on a long gun, and to compound the problem, most of us used department-issued scatterguns. Consequently, using the shotgun in low light usually amounted to holding a foot-and-a-half long, heavy flashlight alongside the forend with the weak hand. It was a daunting task.

Finding a sling was the easy part. I ordered one of BlackHawk’s shotgun shell slings. Constructed of heavy ballistic nylon, the BlackHawk sling is fully adjustable, attaches by way of heavy steel spring hooks, and holds 15 shells.

Next came mounting it. While the 930 SPX had a mounting point under the rear of the stock, there was none up front. I learned that while Mossberg was working toward a solution for this model, they currently had no forward mounting hardware. A call to L&M Mounts was in order. They have been in the business of long gun mounting solutions for tactical lights and lasers for years. They had both a Double Ring mount that attached to the magazine tube and the light, and a 3-Rail Shotgun mount with Picatinny rails: one below and one on each side.

The Picatinny mount was more interesting since we could then use it to mount a light and the sling. The mount slid onto the magazine tube and was secured via a hex-head set screw.

A powerful 80 lumen 3-watt Luxeon LED weapon light from Insight Technology was selected along with a recently discontinued SSL-1 (now replaced by an improved version going by the designation WX150). Both instantly snapped onto the L&M Picatinny. We mounted the light on the side rail, the left side of the tube, which allowed manipulation of the paddle switches on the tail cap of the light with the support-hand thumb.

A call to Brownells led us to a Midwest Industries’ MCTAR 06 sling adaptor, which we attached to the bottom rail of our L&M mount. The MCTAR 06 is styled like the Mil-Spec AR15/M16 forward sling mount. This was an easy and effective attachment point for our BlackHawk sling. Now, we were in business.

Shooting Impressions
The day we had an opportunity to make it to the range for our tests was partly cloudy and about 65 degrees, almost perfect for shooting, however, we suffered from 25 to 30 mph wind gusts. Fortunately, these blasts of air were mostly at our backs, but the reader should still make some allowance for the effects upon accuracy.

We first fired some single shots of 00 Buckshot at 7 yards, simply to see how the gun would pattern with the loads. Most impressive with this test was Federal’s Power Shok 00 Buckshot, which punched a pattern in the paper substantially smaller than the size of my fist. After being followed by four more rounds, the pattern still was barely larger, at 3 inches. We tried this test also with five rounds of Remington’s 8-pellet Tac-8 00 Buck, and wound up with a pattern of 8.25 inches. Five rounds of Winchester’s Ranger load in 00 Buck rendered a 5.25-inch pattern.

Moving back to 15 yards, we repeated the five-shot tests, resulting in an 8.25-inch pattern from the Federal, 10.38 inches from the Remington, and 13.63 inches from the Winchester.

Our reserve of ammo on this occasion didn’t include slugs from Remington, but we did have 1-ounce loads from Federal and Winchester, which we tested by firing five-round groups from 50 yards. The Federal Tactical gave a group of 7 inches (which would have been about 2.5 inches smaller had the author not thrown a flier) while the Winchester Ranger shot a 7.31-inch pattern. All testing was done from a freestanding position.

We noted early on in our shooting with the 00 Buckshot that the gun seemed to be impacting high and to the right. Fortunately, the elevation and windage-adjustable rear sight made for easy correction.

The slugs seemed to impact much higher than the buckshot. Though we had the sights regulated where we wanted them for buckshot, the gun seemed to need a slightly low hold with slugs at 50 yards to impact where we wanted.

The gun handled and pointed well, and recoil was noticeably less than any pump shotgun. The checkering on the black synthetic forend and pistol grip afforded the shooter a good, sure grasp. Either thumb can easily operate Mossberg’s safety, mounted at the top-rear of the receiver. The charging handle of the bolt is slick in its action, and I reached over the top of the receiver to operate it with my left/non-dominant hand, because I prefer to keep a master grip on the weapon with my gun hand at all times. I did the same with the bolt release, which is located under the ejection port. This presented no real difficulty, though it might to some shooters.

After accuracy testing, we set up steel pepper-poppers and hammered at them with 1-ounce slugs from 20 yards, then moved in to 15 yards to fire at them with 00 Buckshot. The ghost ring rear and optic fiber front sights were conducive to quickly attaining a sight picture while moving from one target to the next, and the pepper-popper drills were easily the most fun of our testing.

The Mossberg ran smooth as silk, with no malfunctions of any load tried. The only problem we encountered was that the rounds were difficult to push into the magazine tube if one round was “combat-loaded” in the chamber first. This would only become a factor if one were to select a slug, for instance, and chamber it before loading other rounds behind it. Otherwise, with the bolt forward, the rounds tended to load smoothly into the magazine tube.

Final Notes
The Mossberg 930 SPX was a pleasure to shoot and handle. It demonstrated good accuracy, superb reliability, simple operation, and shouldered and pointed quite naturally. Its appearance is quite subdued in all black, and all business. The sights are quick and effective, and have the additional advantage of easy adjustment. We found the gun to be robust and reliable, familiar and easy to operate, fairly light for a tactical shotgun of this kind, and priced to sell.


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  • Al SImon

    The reason the Mossberg 930SPX shot high with slugs is your barrel has too short of a front sight. They replaced my barrel with a new model on which the front sight is better than a quarter inch higher.

  • William Sheffield

    The shot gun has a specific role to play in todays LE and Military role.
    I use the 535 with extended magazine tube under it and a heat sheld is included.
    This new model looks good. One problem as mentioned was the need for a good light on it for work done in low light conditions.
    Would I trade my pump action for an auto loader.
    Answer is no. Many a time just the sound of someone working the action will stop a fight right there.
    The pump action does not care what round you feed it.
    Less than lethal or full power loads all work just fine.
    The 500 series was fine with 18″ cylinder bore but the 535 in full military dress with heat shield is an impressive weapon.
    It only lacked the ability to attach a good light to it for low light conditions.
    This is and always will be a close quarters weapon. That is the tactical reason for it.
    You need the right tool for the given task.
    Unless you are 7 to 10 yards out from the target a hostage would also catch a stray round of buck shot.
    I would not count on a semi auto when I had the pump action available to me.
    Just the sound of a law enforment officer working the action of a 12 gauge shot gun can be enough to make the threat rethink his position and stand down. You lose that with any auto.
    Now you must engage the target or yell your command to the threat and that may place you and others at a higher risk than just working the pump action that you know will work no matter what round you have just placed in the chamber.
    A pump action does not care how much pressure is used in a round to cycle.
    And with some practice is just as fast as any auto loader.
    Less moving parts to worry about.
    And in LE you are responsible for every piece of shot you let loose.
    Just some thoughts from one of many.
    You need the right tool for the job.

  • David Orth

    Al, unless I’m mistaken I believe the point of aim is HIGHER with a shortened front sight, not LOWER as the muzzle would be pointing higher with a short front sight and lower with a long front sight.

    Not a big deal either way though with an adjustable rear sight.

  • http://www.dataattack.com jason

    I bought a new spx.
    Jammed the very first round.
    Sent it back to mossberg.
    When I got it back, it jammed the very first round again.
    For Sale-
    Mossberg auto.
    Only fired twice….

    Thanks for returning my calls Mossberg.
    Have a crappy day-

  • MKC

    Having carried a shot in the Miliatry and LE it’s my opinion that the “Semi-Auto, Mil-Spec” 12 guage is best suited for Close Combat of the Miliatry Type!

    As Benelli found out with their M3 “convertible”, common LE application requires adhering to the K.I.S.S. principle. I’ve seen too many problems with the semi-auto on the range with your average operator. It’s not weapon rather the operator and issuer given typical amount of training, range time and “desire” to learn.

    As a “left shoulder” shooter, I too preferred the tag mounted safety, however place a stock with a pistol grip (also a necessity in my view) on the weapon and you take away it’s advantages.

    Now I’m carrying an 870 Tactical. I wish Remington would someday get the message that the action release located forward of the trigger does present potential problems when “indexing” the trigger finger along a hedge row or along main street row.

    I do adhere the “shock effect” of a pump action and like the option of less lethal super sock’s, However, if we are going to restrict issue of “less lethal” munitions to those who carry “Orange Guns” maybe I’ll start taking a closer look at semi-autos.

  • Michael

    Get real you snobbish buttholes! I have also owned pump actions security shotguns and agree they are very reliable. But gas operated guns have been around for many, many decades. With proper care they will feed thousands of rounds reliably… Sorry to burst your bubble. Please feel free to go cry…….

  • JFS

    jason;

    If you are firing too low of brass the gun will not cycle correctly. If the gun is not assembled correctly it will short stroke as well.

    My advise would be to disassemble it clean it up and make sure the parts that make connection with the gas piston are in the correct order. If not the gun will fie, but not eject spent shells.

    The 930′s are awesome semi-auto shotguns! But with having a semi auto whatever, there is a lot more that can go wrong with them if you do not know them in side and out.

  • josh

    i bought 930 spx from Dicks Sporting goods. CLEANED IT EXTREMELY WELL 3 TIMES VEFORE TAKING TO RANGE !!!! VERY IMPORTANT. Mossberg ships these guns all over the world and there is a lot of anti corrosion/ protectant when they ship these out of the factory. mine performed flawlessly. lube it up nicely and keep it clean…. its a sweet shotgun. nothing comes close $PRICe for performance!!! TRUST ME YOU WILL love the 930 SPX

  • OWNER

    My 930 spx will not reliably chamber the first round if fully loaded with 7 2.75 inch shells in the magazine, i guess the spring has to much pressure when fully loaded. I have found that 6 rounds or less is 99% reliable. This sucks for having that extra round loaded to start with. But as i have read others have said that when shot the full racking pressure is enough for the gun to chamber that round. It was %100 reliable at the range it just seems to stick here when the actions is worked manually and at slow speeds. I have shot 200 rounds and not a single problem even fuly loaded. In reality 5 rounds of buckshot in the mag and the leather ammo holder i built to hold six more that is on the rear stock should make me more than prepared for almost anything. (I MUST SAY I HAVE WRITTEN MOSSBERG OVER TWO WEEKS AGO AN EMAIL AND NOT A SINGLE WORD BACK FROM THEM YET OR A PHONE CALL ETC.)

  • OWNER

    update mossberg replied with some customer service wish me luck

  • OWNER

    update mossberg has replied and offered customer service, wish me luck

  • Steve Weed

    Not a single failure huh? Wish I could even come close to saying that about mine!

  • Matt Heritage

    Im sorry but I don’t understand… Why would you waste time writing about the weapons ability to group slugs, when in the same paragraph you say that you were at 50 yards shooting FREEHAND?!?! To be honest, I stopped reading after this paragraph. To waste your time measuring a group of 5 rounds shot freehand is like me wasting my time reading about it.

  • supergun

    Got one.