Back before the colors of Flat Dark Earth, Ranger Green, Coyote, camouflage du jour, etc., all the cool kids used Scorched Earth, commonly called black.

I was as cool (guilty?) as everyone else and I clearly remember the day I replaced the walnut stock on my Remington 870 with black plastic.

As I have become older—I like to refer to it as seasoned—my tastes have returned to appreciating stocks, both long guns and handguns, made from a nice piece of wood. I must not be alone in this thought process, because when I attended the 2019 SHOT Show I saw many firearms that have not worn wood for some time. One of these was the Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde.


One reason why synthetic stocks have become popular with manufacturers is that it’s easier and less expensive to injection mold a stock than it is to machine a stock from wood.


Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde is a rugged shotgun with a total capacity of nine shells (8+1).


The Mossberg 590A1 Retrograde’s stock is made from dark walnut and has pressed checking in the pistol grip area. The matching forend is Mossberg’s “cob” style, that ensure the user’s hand will not slip while cycling the action.


The Mossberg 590A1 is a rugged, combat-proven 12-gauge shotgun. In fact, it is the only pump action shotgun to pass MilSpec 3443E.

It shotgun has a 20-inch, heavy-walled cylinder-bore barrel that is capable of firing 2¾- or 3-inch shells. The 590A1 has a corrosion-resistant Parkerized finish with a total capacity of nine rounds. It features dual extractors, positive steel-to-steel lockup, twin action bars, and an anti-jam elevator that ensures smooth operation.



Rear sight is fully adjustable. Tang-mounted safety is easily manipulated by either hand.


Front sight has fluorescent orange insert.


Front sling swivel is mounted on magazine tube’s cleanout knob. Bayonet lug is brazed onto the magazine tube.


One of the most renowned attributes of Mossberg shotguns is the top tang-mounted safety on the top of the receiver. It is vastly more ergonomic than safeties on most shotguns, provides for ambidextrous operation, and can be operated even when the shooter is wearing gloves. The slide release, located behind the trigger guard, can also be operated with either hand.

The fully adjustable rear sight is protected by wings. The front sight sits on a serrated ramp with a fluorescent orange insert. There is a sling stud located at the rear of the stock. The front sling stud is installed in the magazine cleanout tube’s retaining knob.

If you’re feeling froggy after Rambo X (or whatever the movie number is up to), there is a bayonet lug brazed to the magazine tube that will take the M16’s (M7 or M9) bayonet. Along with the ventilated handguard, it does look cool.

If the shotgun is fired with the bayonet fixed, however, it has been reported that the lug will shear off. With that said, why in the wide, wide world of sports would you want to go with the pokey thing in the first place if you have ammo available?

Speaking of ammo availability, the 590A1 with its eight-plus-one capacity already has more ammo on tap than 99% of shotguns with the Aguila 1¾-inch Minishells. Each buckshot shell has 11 #4 buck pellets.

These shells have two perceived drawbacks. The first is that they don’t pattern very well at distance. This is generally true, but in my testing with the 590A1 Retrograde all eleven pellets went into the head of a standard IPSC target at thirty feet—perfectly acceptable accuracy for defending your castle.

The second, and more important drawback, is that the Minishells don’t function reliably in most shotguns. A device called the OPSol Mini-Clip will solve the functioning problem and transform the shotty into a “high-capacity” firearm.




OPSol Mini-Clip allows reliable functioning with Aguila Minishells and increases capacity from 8+1 to 12+1.


I have one in my home-defense Mossberg 590A1, and it increases the overall capacity using the Minishell from 8+1 to 12+1 for a total of 165 .24-caliber projectiles on tap. The device installs and removes in seconds. The OPSol Mini-Clip runs about $15.00.

No truer statement was ever made than “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” The tradeoff for that longer barrel and more capacity than most shotguns results in a firearm that is muzzle heavy. No big deal if the shotgun is used for home-defense or taken out of a squad car for a relatively short period of time. If being used in a three-day, course such as the Gunsite 260, that muzzle heaviness will become a very big deal for most folks.

I mentioned earlier that a machined wood stock costs more to manufacture. With that in mind expect to pay about $150.00 more than a synthetic stocked 590A1. Opinions vary, but to me it’s worth it.

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