Mossberg 930 Waterfowl semi-auto shotgun.
I pulled up at the Wylye Valley Shooting ground with no idea what had been delivered, and so I headed into the clubhouse to see what Santa, or rather David at York Guns, had sent me.
It was a Mossberg 930 Waterfowl semi-auto in Advantage Camo.
On lifting it from the box it became immediately apparent the stock and fore-end were made from some sort of plastic or resin and not wood, which made it quite light.
After generally looking it over, I proceeded to mount it, expecting it to have the usual semi-auto traits of having a slightly low comb and being very front heavy…
But no, for me at least it was just about spot on. Now that?s a definite first for me, so we were off to a good start.
The gun comes as standard with a bright orange safety chamber plug, one of those things you often see sticking out of a modern semi-auto these days, to show the gun is safe and not loaded.
A very nice touch I must say. From a coach?s point of view it?s a must-have on a shooting ground, as so many auto users still don?t know how to carry their guns with a safety consideration towards others, and it can make everyone uneasy at times!
As I have said the stock and fore-end were made from a very robust plastic, as were some of the internal parts working the recycling system on the gun.
It has to be said though, this is no ordinary plastic, it?s extremely tough and well up to the job it was meant for.
The fore-end unfortunately has a little movement at the rear where it connects to the action and needs a slightly thicker spacer than is supplied.
Take the fore-end off and it?s the usual piston, metal 0 ring, spring, magazine etc ? as with most other gas operated semi auto?s ? all pretty standard, but well made parts, which are very easy to clean.
This puts the gun well up there in my book.
The gun is equipped with a self-regulating dual-gas vent and excess gas is vented up and out of the top of the fore-end quite neatly and out of harm?s way.
The action is made from an alloy and is the housing for another pretty standard tried and tested well-made bolt assembly? so why change a good thing.
On top of the action is a more American feature of four drilled and tapped holes for scope mounts to be fitted if need be.
The trigger assembly can be dropped out by just popping out the two black pins on the outside of the action wall so the whole thing can be cleaned after a lot of use on the marshes/foreshore etc.
Two other very unusual features appear on this gun beside the scope mount holes.
One is the position of the safety catch, which is not where you would expect it to be on an auto, which is down by the trigger ? but up on top where they are found on side-by-sides and over-unders.
Now that feature I must say I really like, and in my opinion it should be more widely used.
The other even more unusual feature is the little metal pin, not unlike the firing pin poking through the face of a gun.
It sticks out of the trigger guard towards your trigger finger indicating that the gun/bolt is cocked and therefore ?live?.
However, I have to say I?m still unsure as to the usefulness of this feature, as the gun should always be regarded as cocked.
A close inspection of the barrel revealed that it was a 3 inch chambered, steel-proofed unit, that is ported near the muzzles, a very good idea on a 28 inch single-barrelled gun, expected to shoot 3 inch magnum cartridges as part of its everyday life.
The porting will help with reducing the recoil and muzzle flip on such heavy loads and so make it easier to get onto the next goose or duck a little quicker ? as well as make things a little more comfortable.
The rib is a nice 10mm rib giving a far better sight plane in my opinion than a narrower one.
The front bead is a 15mm red day-glow type bead and can be seen very easily when mounted, which should help a little with cross-eye dominance as well.
Multi chokes as standard on this gun and it comes with 3 x Accu chokes (1/4, 1/2 and full) together with a steel key to tighten or release them from the barrel.
The stock is pretty straight forward, again in this hard plastic/resin material and is a typical semi-auto in that it?s set up with little cast and a 14 inch length of pull, so can be used by a left-hander.
However the gun is also provided with 8 spacers and shims so you can adjust it to make the gun fit just about anyone.
There?s a black, 20mm medium-soft butt pad to take up a lot of the recoil, and believe me it really does the job quite well.
A welcome accessory with the gun is a free gunlock. Basically a pad lock and steel cable, but very welcome never the less.
HOW DOES IT SHOOT?
I have to say this gun mounted surprisingly well on me, and several other shooters who tried it, every time.
The big black 20mm butt pad never caught my clothing once and the stock was very comfortable and a good shape ? giving it excellent handling characteristics.
True the gun was very slightly front heavy, but, I for one, like that in a 3 inch magnum Fowler.
The trigger pulls were clean and crisp for a semi-auto, as they can often be a bit ?mushy? on this type of gun.
Using my minimal movement technique I was able to get onto clays without any bother at all, making for a very comfortable and relaxed shooting experience.
The felt recoil was minimal, even with 3 inch magnums, which for me, as anyone who knows me will tell you, is frankly amazing!
But apart from a bit of a hic-up at first, which was down to someone putting the metal O ring in the wrong way round, causing the gun not to recycle very well, the gun actually grew on me very rapidly ? none of the usual negatives were anywhere to be seen in worrying quantities.
The half/modified choke was absolutely murdering clays at 60yds and totally smoking them at 30yds using an assortment of 28gram cartridges.
One issue was that I noticed this gun needs a lot of gas to recycle ? so needed some quite punchy cartridges to get it to recycle faultlessly.
The soft 28g Hull Comp X and anything lighter, like a 24gram or 21 gram, it just refused to take. But then this is a full-blown wildfowler made to shoot the big loads, so no real quibble there.
When out on pest control duties one sunny afternoon, I used it on crows and pigeons with just about every game, and fowling cartridge I could lay my hands on, it performed faultlessly, no matter what type or order I put the cartridges through.
Now I?m not going to tell a lie, as I?ve said this series of reviews are to be brutally honest, and I have to say that I thought this gun would be far too sluggish and unbalanced and have lots of problems with recoil.
But by the end of my time with this gun, I?d completely reversed my opinion of it.
I really hate recoil and suffer badly from it, so I was very surprised by this gun?s low recoil and decent handling, as it made the gun a real joy to shoot.
Would I buy one? Do you know what, I very possibly would.
It?s great value for money ? but look around there?s always somebody interested in doing a deal.
I would like to thank Mr David Thompson of York Guns for supplying the gun and Mr Ian Stones at Wylye Valley Shooting Ground for letting me use his fabulous ground for the clay shooting. Also Hull Cartridges for supplying the cartridges during the review process.
– 12-bore, 3? magnum supersteel
– 28? Vent rib, ported barrel
– Accu multi choke x3
– Approx weight 7¾ lb
Mossberg 930 Waterfowl
£659 in black / £775 in camo