Mossberg 500 vs 590

Mossberg 500 vs 590: Best for Home Defense


Mathew R Reed
March 4, 2022

Mossberg shotguns are easily one of the most famous firearms on the planet, and with over 10 million Mossberg 500’s sold, you can find them just about anywhere. With the overall success of this firearm, there have come many more iterations. One of these is the Mossberg 590. You may have even seen these two models sitting next to each other on the shelf at the store, so what are the differences between the two?

About the Mossberg 500 Shotgun

Originally designed in 1960, the Mossberg 500 was made to be a basic hunting shotgun. Soon after its introduction, however, many shooters realized its potential as a perfect option for things such as home defense, sporting competitions, and tactical applications. Since then, the Mossberg 500 has seen use in over 19 countries around the world from Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Poland, and here in the United States. 

From military and police use to hunting turkeys, ducks, and deer, the Mossberg 500 has held its own to become so renowned. It is a pump-action shotgun that is available in 12, 20, or 410 gauge. What made this shotgun so incredibly popular is things such as its simple yet effective design, ease of use, and operational safety that make this gun perfect for anyone, especially beginners. Even someone who has never operated a shotgun before can quickly learn with a Mossberg 500. 

It is available in many different finishes and configurations, giving it even more versatility. This includes things like the 500 TriRail Tactical. This variant has an adjustable stock like you would see on a military rifle, which can also hold an additional 5 shells. You also have the Mossberg 500 Flex, which is another variant that features the tool-less locking system that makes switching out parts even easier. You already have a wide range of customization options with the 500, but this system helps you change things out without the need for any tools. Regardless of the variant, there is no denying the fact that the Mossberg 500 is one of the most well-made shotguns in the world. 

About the Mossberg 590 Shotgun

Thanks to the great success of the Mossberg 500, the Mossberg 590 was created to be a more refined version that has a great round capacity and more tactical applications. While the 590 has fewer customization options, it does have a few different variants to again make it an ideal choice when it comes to military or police use. Of course, the 590 can also be used for any home defense or hunting applications a well, making it a solid shotgun that takes full advantage of the 500’s excellent design and function. 

There is also the 590A1, which was designed with even more tactical innovations in mind. This makes it quite a bit different from a standard 590, as it comes equipped with changes such as an all-metal trigger guard, safety button, and a heavier walled barrel. This solves the problem of the cracking polymer guards that previous models suffered from. All of these changes, as well as a parkerized finish, allow the 590A1 to be mil-spec and see more use in the army and navy. 

When comparing the two, the 500 and 590 are overall very similar and the 590 tools what the 500 does well and improved upon it. Of course, you can still expect the same ease of use that made the 500 famous. Everything from the simple pump action design to the manual safety, this shotgun can be used by anyone. 

Main Differences

So what are the main differences between the 500 and the 590? While incredibly similar, it can be hard to distinguish what actually sets them apart. The biggest difference can be seen in the magazine tube design. While the 500 sports a closed muzzle threaded end that locks the barrel in place, the 590 tubular magazine can open which can be used to increase shell capacity. 

The trigger guard was made of steel to alleviate the cracking notorious on the polymer ones of the 500 series. All of these, along with the parkerized finish, make it up to spec for military use in the army and the navy. All in all, the 590 is a solid shotgun that takes advantage of its predecessor’s features while being more rugged for tactical operations.

Which Mossberg Model is Best for Home Defense?

Both of these models can easily be used effectively for home defense, but is one better than the other? Because the 590 has been designed with tactical applications in mind, it can hold more shells and is better suited for close-range incidents due to its shorter barrel options. If you are looking for a purely defensive weapon to protect your home, then the Mossberg 590 may be the better option. Between the two, however, both are excellent options as they stand above other firearms in terms of their ease of use and excellent safeties for beginners. 

Just a tip, if you want a cool looking shotgun that’s not your typical black and brown color, make sure to check out the Mossberg Mariner 500 and 590 models with its beautiful marinecote finish.

Check out the other shotguns you can consider for home defense.

Final Thoughts

The biggest difference between the Mossberg 500 and the 590 is in the magazine tube, but both shotguns are incredibly popular options for hunting, competition, and home defense. Now that you know the key differences between the 500 and 590, as well as a few other variations of both models, you can confidentiality choose the right option for you and your needs! 


How many shells does a Mossberg 500 hold?

A basic Mossberg 500 will hold 5 shells in the magazine as well as one in the chamber, making for a total of 6 shells in the gun at one time. 

How many shells does a Mossberg 590 hold?

A basic Mossberg 590 will hold 8 rounds in the magazine as well as one in the chamber, making for a total of 9 shots in the gun at one time. 

Are Mossberg 500 and 590 barrels the same?

Barrels for both the Mossberg 500 and 590 are very similar, but they are generally not interchangeable due to slightly different design features. 

Can you change the barrel on a Mossberg 590?

Yes, you can change out the barrel on a Mossberg 590 with the proper knowledge and tools. 

Are Mossberg 500 and 590 Parts Interchangeable? 

Because the 500 and 590 are so similar, most of the parts are actually interchangeable. For example, all Mossberg shotguns are able to utilize the same stocks. However, things such as the magazine tubes and barrels are not interchangeable between the two due to the design changes between both models. 


Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.