There are many slugs-only areas of the country and in them Mossberg’s 930 Slugster has earned an enviable reputation for comfortable shooting and solid accuracy. Equip it with an accessory smoothbore barrel and the Slugster has all the versatility needed for essentially all shotgun disciplines.
Regardless of configuration, the 930 also has a reputation for reliability that’s so good, professional shooters such as Jerry Miculek and Duck Commander Phil Robertson rely on Model 930s not only to earn their livings, but also put their names — and thus, their reputations — on respective models. The level of reliably really sinks in when you learn Miculek can fire six shots, on target, from his 930 in .76 second. Granted, he’s a phenomenon, but you wouldn’t think a gas-operated semi-auto shotgun could even physically function six times in 3/4 of one second. All of that reliability, versatility and performance is made in America at a price that threatens the question of whether to buy a pump or semi-auto, domestic or import.
Mossberg’s Director of Marketing Dave Miles sums up the 930 as a “fast-shooting, great gas-operated system that helps tame recoil.” Miles also touts the accuracy of the Slugster’s fully rifled barrel, and notes the flexibility provided by the several replacement barrels Mossberg offers. “You don’t need to put your favorite semi-auto away when deer season ends,” says Miles. “Just change out the barrel and you’re ready to start upland hunting, turkey, shoot clays or defend your home,” he adds.
One of the Slugster’s features that make the barrel change-out so practical is that the rifled barrel comes with a cantilevered scope mount attached directly to it. “[All] 930 hunting receivers are drilled and tapped for a Picatinny rail mount,” notes Miles. “However, the best method for mounting a scope on a deer shotgun is to use a cantilevered barrel like the 930 Slugster with the integral scope base from Mossberg.” The cantilever configuration eliminates any possibility of inaccuracy induced by play between the barrel and receiver, and also eliminates the need to remove the scope for wingshooting and then sight back in again when returning to the slug barrel. The gun comes with a Monte Carlo stock to ensure proper eye position when using a scope and an iron-sighted barrel for shooters who prefer a more traditional approach.
Feature-wise, there’s a lot to like, and they’re all practical. Mossberg’s signature tang safety is perfectly located and equally accessible to right-or left-handed shooters and its serrations provide great thumb purchase when pushing it either on or off. Another safety feature is the cocking indicator inside the trigger guard. This silver pin protrudes when the gun is cocked, providing both visual and tactile evidence of the gun’s condition.
For unloading, Mossberg has designed a clever magazine quick-unload feature so you don’t have to cycle every shell through the chamber. Instead, simply depress the lifter and press the bolt release. This clears the shell stop from the shell rims ejecting them from the magazine. If you have nimble little fingers and can hold the lifter up without blocking the shells, you can empty the entire magazine at once, but more practical is to control the action and empty the tube one shell at a time and then unload the shell from the chamber.
Shotguns, particularly when shooting some of the hot-stepping 3-inch slugs, can kick pretty hard, but helping to tame recoil on the Slugster are a generous ventilated recoil pad and barrel vents toward the muzzle. The vents don’t actually work like a conventional muzzle brake; instead they divert gas upward reducing muzzle rise and the recoil experience that causes.
Further reducing recoil (and wear and tear on the gun) is the self-regulating gas system. When you fire a shell, gas bleeds off through barrel ports and into the gas block. That gas presses back against the piston inside the forearm pushing it and a part Mossberg calls the “pusher” back much like a pump-action shotgun. Any gas pressure that exceeds what’s needed to work the action is vented through the gap between the barrel and forend.
All that degree of recoil management translates into significant shooter comfort.
“The most common response we hear from people about the 930 is that it is extremely comfortable to shoot,” says Miles. “The recoil impulse is short, comfortable and very fast. The bolt stays closed during firing, is driven back quickly when the gases reach the piston and closes just as quickly. With few moving parts, the gun offers great accuracy as well as quick follow-up shots when needed.”
I had previously used this 930 Slugster to test Lightfield’s new LBBB slugs, so I knew that fitted with Nikon’s 2-7x Prostaff slug scope it was capable of really good accuracy. Recommended by Lightfield, I’ve started sighting in slug guns 2 ¾ inches high at 50 yards. Even the fastest slugs are slow by rifle bullet standards and they shed velocity quickly, so just a little crosswind can cause sight-in errors at longer range.
Miles cautioned me early on that it was imperative to use the right ammunition, so I tried a variety of slugs just to see how imperative it really was.
“Most manufacturers offer ammunition specifically designed for either shooting a slug from a smooth bore or for a rifled barrel,” he said. “Using the right kind of ammo will make all the difference when it comes to accuracy.”
I’d like to think most shooters know different loads shoot differently, and I know you can’t shoot spin-stabilized slugs through a smoothbore. That said, I wasn’t prepared for how significant a difference the right ammo makes when it came to shooting slugs designed for a smoothbore through a rifled bore.
The first slugs I tried were Kent’s Five Star. These are full-bore Brenneke-style slugs that are drag-stabilized so they’re suitable for smoothbore slug guns. While Brenneke says you can also shoot their slugs through a rifled bore, Kent makes no claim either way. I didn’t find them a good choice with the 930. It was obvious from the holes in the target that, while they were shooting decent groups, they were hitting the target exactly sideways. Your experience might differ, but I suspect it’s a matter of the spin induced from the rifling canceling the drag-stabilizing effect leaving the entire slug unstable in flight. Use these slugs in a smoothbore slug gun.
Next up was Estate High Velocity Rifled Slug, which is a classic Foster-style “pumpkin ball” load. This type of slug is stabilized by having the bulk of its weight toward its front like a badminton shuttlecock. Like the Kent, this type of slug is suitable for smoothbores, and like the Kent, didn’t shoot well in the 930’s rifled barrel. Some shots hit as much as a foot apart from each other at 50 yards.
After fooling around with those two loads it was time to get down to business and use slugs designed for, or that I knew from experience shot well from rifled bores. The first was Hornady’s Custom Lite. This 2 3/4-inch load shoots a saboted 300-grain .50-caliber FTX bullet at a muzzle velocity of 1,575 fps. It must be used with a rifled bore and its average accuracy at 50 yards from the 930 was 1.34 inches.
Since the Lightfield LBBB had shot so well before in this Mossberg, I tried their 3-inch Hybred Elite slugs. These heavy kickers send a 546-grain slug downrange at a muzzle velocity of 1,730 fps and averaged 1.3 inch groups. The tightest group was a single, ragged, sub-one inch hole fired with the Lightfields.
One of the things I think aided with accurate shooting was the 930’s trigger. Usually shotgun triggers are “slapped” so there’s not the attention given to them as you have on rifles. When you’re shooting slugs, however, you have to squeeze and follow through just like you do with a rifle and a good trigger can make a lot of difference. The 930’s trigger really surprised me then by not only being smooth and crisp, but by also breaking at 5.4 pounds, which is almost half of some rack-grade AR-15s I recently shot.
Recoil was as mild as many others have claimed and you can count me as one of those who’s surprised at how comfortable the 930 is to shoot, even with the heavy 3-inch Lightfields.
Mossberg is positioning the 930 Slugster for experienced hunters who want rifle-like accuracy from their deer, bear or hog gun, but are not allowed to use a centerfire rifle in the area where they hunt. If this gun is representative, then it delivers the goods. If you base your slug gun decision on reliability, performance, versatility and price, then I would say the 930 is a great gun for all seasons.