Practical Tactical: Mossberg 940
My boss had called me into his office several weeks ago.
“Can you shoot slugs?”
“Well, yeah,” I said “but I usually just pour salt on ’em. It’s easier on the tomato plants.” He stared at me for a while, no doubt again wondering what the hell was wrong with me and just how high the office pool on that was now. What had prompted the question was the fact that there was an opportunity to shoot Mossberg’s new tactical version of its vaunted 940 Pro shotgun at Gunsite Academy, but he knew I’d been dealing with a partially torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder. Factoring in the date and hoping for an elusive alchemy of anti-inflammatories, a pain-blocking shot and character, I agreed to go.
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The idea of such get-togethers is to have assorted members of the firearm press assemble at Gunsite, distribute samples of the new gun to them and then to have the journalists wring them out by performing drills under the tutelage of Academy instructors. It efficiently familiarizes the writers with the firearm, demonstrates the firearm’s capabilities, and also provides some insight into state-of the-art firearm tactics.
Mossberg’s 940 Pro Tactical is the fighting version of the 940 Pro the company introduced two years ago. The first iteration of that gun was the 940 JM Pro, a 3-Gun-optimized semi-automatic incorporating tweaks from Jerry Miculek. That rousing success was followed by waterfowl and turkey versions of the gun. At last, we now have a pure fighter.
The 940 Pro Tactical has a laundry list of desirable features. However, they may all take a backseat to its true innovation—a receiver cut to accommodate a mini red-dot sight.
Granted, this is nothing new in pistols. In fact, most new handguns that have come off the drawing board in the last couple of years have had versions cut to readily mount a reflex sight, the model of sight dependent on the cut and what, if any, plates were available to fit what sight. This, though, is the first shotgun to come from the factory so equipped. Specifically, the Mossberg is cut for the popular Shield RMSc footprint and Mossberg has found the Holosun 507K to be an ideal match, due to its fit, circle-dot reticle and impressive toughness. Sure, shotguns now are commonly offered drilled and tapped to mount a scope base, but those bases typically raise the sight a bit, compromising cheek weld and thus rapid, accurate shooting. The first time you shoulder the red-dot-equipped gun and instantly, effortlessly achieve an ideal sight picture, you wonder why MRDS-ready shotguns didn’t precede MRDS-ready pistols.
While being “optic ready” is huge, there are many other reasons to like the 940 Pro Tactical. First, it is fundamentally tactical, through-and-through. It’s basically a synthetic-stocked, semi-automatic scattergun with an 18.5-inch barrel and extended magazine tube, but the details elevate it to another level of practicality. These include a fiber-optic front sight that will co-witness with the low-mounted MRDS, Accu-Choke-threaded barrel, seven-round extended magazine, barrel/magazine brace with M-Lok slots and a reversible sling swivel stud, oversize bolt handle and a wrist-mounted safety button that’s easy to see and actuate.
One of the most unexpected but appreciated details is stock fit. Though the gun fit me well coming out of the box, an assortment of spacers and shims is included to tailor the length-of-pull, drop and cast to the particular shooter. Polymer furniture and clever design has thankfully moved us into a new age. The idea that the gun you grab in the middle of the night will mount perfectly to your shoulder (should it come to that) with your eye aligning precisely with the sight as you achieve cheek weld should make anyone sleep better.
Internally, the 940 Pro Tactical boasts nickel-boron-coated parts and a new gas system touted run with everything from 2 3/4-inch birdshot to 3-inch slugs. The system is non-adjustable, making such a design objective a pretty tall order. In addition to being versatile, the new system is claimed to be relatively low maintenance, requiring cleaning only every 1,500 rounds, a considerable improvement over the line’s predecessor, the 930.
Other improvements include further Miculek tweaks. Jerry modifies Lena Miculek’s competition shotgun, so Mossberg engineers took note and implemented as many of his enhancements as possible. For example, they measured the expanded loading port on Lena’s gun and similarly expanded and beveled the loading port on the production guns, helpful even for those of us who don’t quad load.
We ran the 940 Pro Tactical through every drill I knew and several I didn’t. We engaged both paper and steel targets with birdshot, buckshot and slugs. It immediately revealed its merit in a number of areas. First, it’s lightweight with a slender fore-end and wrist. Twelve-gauge shotguns can intimidate some shooters, making them feel like they’re hanging on for dear life. Not this gun. You can dominate it; grip it tightly, snap it to the shoulder, lean into it, take the light jolt and get the barrel back down fast. Add to this the facts that it has a very good trigger by tactical-shotgun standards and a simple manual-of-arms, and is about the softest-shooting shotgun I’ve handled, and the gun has a comforting, hard-to-quantify user friendliness.
We practiced carrying mixed loads and having to change loads in the midst of an engagement. If you were loaded with buckshot, but suddenly needed a precise shot or to smash through a barrier, you learned to make space in the magazine if none was there by firing or cranking out the chambered shell and getting the slug into the magazine and cranking the bolt handle again to bring the slug on tap. We learned to instantly replace each fired round with a fresh one while keeping the gun mounted (a process eased by the lengthened and beveled loading port). We chose a method of getting a single round into the chamber, either over the receiver or under, in either case pressing the large but beveled and unobtrusive bolt release. The gun just “makes sense.” Of course, you should read and thoroughly understand the manual; what I’m saying is there is a simple, straight-forward logic to the gun’s operation.
I’ve always owned and have recently tested only pump-action tactical shotguns, so maybe I forgot the difference bleeding off a little gas can make to recoil. All I know for sure is that after three days of continual shooting, my partially torn rotator cuff didn’t become a fully torn rotator cuff. It didn’t tickle, but it felt no worse than it had been.
Gunsite has a seemingly endless series of ranges set up with every scenario you can imagine. On the Urban Scrambler, you’ll have to knock down pepper-poppers while standing, kneeling behind cover, or prone. Later, you’ll have to take out a metallic “bad guy” with a head shot with buckshot even though he’s holding a “hostage” whose head is mere inches from his own. In other places, you have to walk a rocky creek bed, engaging poppers as you encounter them. Finally, at the Scrambler, you’ll load with rifled slugs and plug away at targets from 96 to 130 yards distant—with a shotgun. There were seven of them. It took me all of eight shots.
In between such feats, we shot clays with impressive efficiency, the circle-dot of the 507Ks offering a surprisingly effective sight picture on the fast-moving orange disks. We also competed in one-on-one contests, seeing who could knock down assorted steel targets the fastest. The much-anticipated shoot house-clearing was, as always, enervating, but fun, with the 940 Pro Tactical handling well within the confines of the structure.
The only glitch we experienced with the Mossberg was that it was unreliable with No. 7 1/2 birdshot (obtained because that’s what was most readily available), which begs the question: So what? Birdshot is never advisable in any tactical situation unless you’re assailed by an angry covey of quail (Bobwhite Supremacists?). With everything with which it will realistically be loaded (buckshot and slugs), the 940 Pro Tactical is as sure as death and taxes.
Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more surprises, here’s what might be the best one: Mossberg has given the 940 Pro Tactical an MSRP of $1,154, which likely translates to a street price below $1,000 (red-dot sight not included).
The list of 940 Pro Tactical virtues is long and impressive. The company has taken the base gun and, rather than just chopping the barrel, painting the gun black and calling it “tactical,” really done its homework and included all the little things that make it ideal for its intended use. Moreover, beyond merely adding extant enhancements, Mossberg innovated with an MRDS-cut, a far more significant development than it first seems. I think this will be the first of many tactical scatterguns so modified. All things considered, I believe the 940 Pro Tactical establishes a new benchmark for mid-priced semi-automatic tactical shotguns.
Article by DANIEL T. MCELRATH