Mossberg’s, new line of Retrograde shotguns has been a breath\of fresh air in the shotgun market place… or is that breath of old air? These days, saturated in the market are all the lines of blacked out tactical shotguns commonly utilized as home defense, or for some, reenacting your favorite John Wick scenes whilst the wife goes out for errands. On the other hand, we have a packed market consisting of all the hunting lines, with either traditional furniture or grassy camouflage synthetics. Sounds like the market is pretty well covered, but then Mossberg dropped a bomb on us.
The Winchester 1897 trench gun, known as the M97, or just “trench gun” was the “tacticool” shotgun before the gun bunnies and tactical larpers coined the term that is dedicated to a niche genre of social media. (A genre, made up of airsofters, who grew up, moved out of the parent’s house, and are now allowed to have real guns and then there’s the veterans who can’t let go the glory days in full battle rattle who don their old gear for a sweet selfie in an effort to inform their civilian neighbors know what’s up, but with a beard now… and hat with a rolled-up bill. It’s ok, I can say all that because I fall into both categories myself.) Ok, back to where I was going initially. For some of us, the synthetics have lost their appeal. We’ve grow’d up a bit. Earned a respect for the classics such as the M97, and maybe even grow’d up a little more and started a small collection of older, period specific pieces. As collectors, we tend to protect the relics, only to display them, or pull them out of the safe for our buddies to drool on, then put them back in and collect dust. For some of us, something like the M97 is just unobtainable. This is where the Retrograde line-up steps in. While the 590A1 has been around for decades, this new Retro-refresh finds its place paying a little homage to the M97, with the modern feels and reliability. It looks like a classic, feels indestructible, and you can mistreat it with all kinds of bad intentions without the worry of ruining a classic. It invokes a whole ‘nother emotion. Literally, holding the Retrograde next to the tactical synthetic, I can feel the difference in energy… or the that’s the power lines hissing above me, either way you get what I’m saying. Rather sweeping the house for pretend Russian invaders disguised as my kid’s stuffed animal army, I find myself doing death charges towards pumpkins and watermelons. I made sure not only to get the M7 bayonet for it, but also an M1907 adjustable leather sling as well. Really ties the whole thing together.
She heavy boys, weighing in at 7lbs unloaded, with an 8+1 capacity, 20” heavy walled Mil-Spec 3443E, (a test, which involved 3,000 full powered rounds of buckshot, that only Mossberg passed), 3” chamber, parkerized finish, heat shield, ghost ring site, beautiful dark walnut furniture, smells like oiled up freedom with a pump action sound that speaks, “Wrong house mother f—-r!” Did I mention there’s a bayonet lug too? Never-mind a good old fashioned butt-stroke when you run out of ammo, we got pig sticker on the end of this thing. How that works out in a written statement to the authorities after a home invasion, I don’t know, but it’s still an option regardless. For those who might be confused by this bayonet option, lift a large piece of fruit above your head by the bayonet, and pull the trigger. You’ll catch on real quick. Again, she heavy though, and most all the weight feels like it rests in your left shoulder for right-handed shooters. Don’t go expecting to shoot clays all day with this thing, or trek on long bugout hikes. Now, this isn’t the first shotty to pass 7lbs, however, it just feels slower on the draw when compared to the Remingtons, Brownings, or Mossberg’s other hunting lineups. (No, I get it, it’s not designed to be a hunting rig) I love the ghost ring site for clays, it kinda reminds me what a red dot was before red dots, however the pro’s seem to not care too much for them as far as dove hunting and the like adventures.
Performance. Acquiring targets for home defense like situations, I give it 4.0/4.0 The ghost ring with the bright, and very thick front blade allows for fast acquisition. (you’ll feel the barrel’s weight going room to room though) The racking of the pump will definitely take some breaking in. I give the pump action a 3.0. Despite everything I’ve read about the reliability of the 590s, I have had issues with jamming on my older models. This 590A1 feels dry no matter how much I oil it. Not so much so it turns me off from it, just gives it a much grittier or unrefined feel. Patterns, it’s a 20” bore barrel, patterns are pretty much what they are, nothing special. Don’t expect to be able to chase down loose clays right before they hit the grass. Trigger, nothing to write home about, 3.0. Weight, I give a 3.5, enough to absorb some kick, light enough to wield around for a little bit. Looks, cause they do matter, I give a 5.0/4.0! I love what this shotgun is saying to everyone with the bayonet lug! Real world hunting. When I go turkey hunting, I’m not much of a camper. I’ll monitor their traffic for a few days, then I go legging it pretending I’m on patrol. During this first test hunt, I elected to cut straight across my hay field. Must have thought I was pheasant hunting however, in less than 10 steps in, I startle 3 turkeys who take flight, and with a quick draw, cheek press, glimpse down the ghost ring, we have our first bird of the season. Prior to this hunt there was no practicing with it, I did this intentionally. I didn’t want to learn how natural this Retrograde really was through practice and familiarization. I wanted to take it on the hunt first, to see where this shotgun rested, and natural it was. With no muscle memory, the first draw was fluid and balanced. The weight of the barrel did not encourage an over correction, the ghost ring was very natural feeling as if I had drawn this shotty a hundred times before. I never even bothered looking for my front blade and when it came time to pull the trigger, I never felt its weight. The whole scenario was automatic, like I was just along for show.
Who is it for? It’s not the cheapest home defense gun, nor is it the most efficient with its weight, but it’ll definitely do the trick with its 20” barrel, making it short enough to maneuver tight spaces. It’s not really a collectible, nor really a modern tactical, as it doesn’t have any mounting rails as sold from factory. You can’t change out chokes for hunting. So, really, I’d say it’s for someone who has all their other needs covered, who has a little expendable income, and just wants a shotty for making killer social media videos and something to show off to the boys.