The Mossberg Maverick 88 pump-action. It’s versatile and tough
Richard Faulks and Adam Cope try out the Mossberg Maverick 88 pump-action and are taken with its versatility and no-nonsense toughness. Perfect for a gamekeeper
Mossberg Maverick 88
Price as reviewed: £450
There are sound reasons for owning a Mossberg Maverick 88 shotgun, especially if you’re involved in gamekeeping and pest control. It will never replace your game or clay gun, but if you need a reliable tool to keep with you on your rounds as a keeper, or for pigeon shooting or wildfowling, this may suit you.
No frills with the Mossberg Maverick 88
I’m possibly not this gun’s target audience, though I did enjoy shooting it. I shoot clays and pigeons regularly, plus the odd game day and my over-and-under is a gun I happily use for all. I guess this gun is aimed at shooters who need a ‘no frills’ and reliable gun that they can take around with them in their vehicle and not be too precious about – for example, a gamekeeper. With this in mind, I thought I’d get the views of gamekeeper Adam Cope, who many of you will recognise from his articles in Sporting Gun.
Adam and I took a walk in the woods at his shoot to look for a pigeon, rabbit or squirrel to test the gun out. We shot Hull Superfast 29g No 6 cartridges, which is the cartridge I use for most of my live game shooting and is one I know and trust. Adam’s first thoughts on the gun when he picked it up were that it was light and would be easy to carry around all day if need be.
It weighs in at 7lb and there seems to be a fixing point on the underside of the stock to screw in a sling swivel, which might make sense. We both thought that the slim comb on the plastic textured stock may have helped the fit and a thicker butt pad would be an easy adjustment to make to alter the length of the stock.
Adam said: “It comes up a treat and fits me OK. It’s a perfect workday and vermin gun. It pumps with ease and the action is very smooth straight out of the box.
The safety catch is stiff to operate, which is good as you can’t knock it off by accident. It feels right when you hold the gun; the stock feels strong and difficult to scratch. The weight and balance feels good – I thought it may be a little nose heavy, but it feels fine.”
We both thought that this may be because placing your hand on the fore-end, which operates the cycling of the next cartridge, automatically puts your hand out further than we’d normally have it on any other gun.
When I asked Adam about comparisons with his semi-auto, he said: “It’s a bit harder to shoot because you have to remember to pump after each shot, but I guess you’ll soon get used to that. You shouldn’t have to worry about it jamming up as much as the semi-auto and lighter cartridges won’t be a problem, as you’re not relying on inertia to cycle the next load. My semi-auto has problems with 65mm loads and this shouldn’t. I’d buy one.
“I could easily carry it around all day and it’s chambered for up to 3in Magnum cartridges and proofed for steel, which is all I’ll ever need. It looks like good value for money and would be hard to wear out. It’s the perfect work tool, really, and you wouldn’t have to worry too much about it.”
I agree with Adam. It’s not pretending to be anything other than a robust, functional tool for people who need a gun that’s reliable and solid. You soon get used to having to cycle the next cartridge yourself and the ‘Rambo’ sound effect is strangely pleasing. The safety catch is a functional cross-bolt style like many semi-autos.
Being a left-hander, I find the positioning of the safety behind and above the trigger in the trigger-guard a little difficult, but it’s fine and will work well for right-handers. The pump release is well positioned and easy to use. Loading the gun is easy and will be familiar to any semi-auto user out there.
The stock was a little short for both of us, but the positioning of your hands on the gun is dictated by having to place your forward hand on the pump mechanism and this seems to change the geometry of the way you shoot, and neither of us seemed to struggle mounting it.
The gun we tested came with a 26in barrel with a ventilated narrow rib and a blued finish. There is a good-sized white bead at the end of the barrel and a small brass bead mid-barrel to help align the gun correctly.
I’m not going to say that the trigger pull was crisp and precise; there was a little creep before the cartridge was fired, but for a gun at this price point you can’t expect too much, and I’m sure the mechanism will last a lifetime and the trigger pull won’t bother many gamekeepers.
The felt recoil was a little more than with my over-and-under, but some of this will be accounted for by the light weight of the Mossberg – the rubber recoil pad kept the recoil at a manageable level.
There don’t seem to be any shims or extender pads available to adjust the cast and length of pull but, as Adam and I found, this strangely didn’t seem to matter to either of us. The stock has no cast on it but it is a practical textured and tough stock that is quite narrow along the comb.
The balance feels fine when it’s in your hands and when we fired at some squirrel dreys, the pellet impacts were where we both aimed them.
Everything about this gun shouts utility. There’s nothing decorative or fancy about it. There are no markings except for the serial number. It’s possible to buy one of the Turkish made semi-autos for similar money, but I don’t think this is quite in the same marketplace as a semi.
It’s quite a specifically purposed and versatile gun. If this is what you need for your work and reliability, durability and the ability to shoot cartridges from subsonics to 3in Magnum cartridges in steel is important to you, then this will do it all.
The gun we tested came with one modified multichoke tube and that’s possibly all you’ll need for the type of work this gun is designed for. There are no left-hand eject versions, so for the one in 10 of us who are left-handed you’ll just have to decide whether that is a problem for you.
I had a chat with Andy Norris of Viking Arms who imports Mossbergs and he summed the Maverick 88 up: “It’s a workhorse, something you can chuck around in the Land Rover. Like a dog, you can hose it down when you get back from the foreshore and then all you have to do is spray it with oil and put it in the gun safe (no oil necessary for dogs) – that’s why the American military choose it. It’s kit to be used. It’s a functional tool. It does what it says on the tin.
- Model Mossberg Maverick 88
- Bore 12-bore only
- Warranty Two years
- Weight 7lb
- Barrel length 26in
- Ejector Right hand only
- Choke One modified supplied
- Chamber length 3in Magnum proofed for steel FAC options available
- Cost £450 RRP
Perfect for a gamekeeper