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Friday, March 25, 2011

The 'Short-Block' Maverick 88

At Sarge's Roll Call and The Sixgun Journal, we have always been about 'working guns'. We're also very much about getting the most gun for your money. Most of my Gun and Pawn Shop cruising is done with those concepts in mind. It was just such a foray that produced an excellent working shotgun.

One of my favorite haunts is Muttly's Gun & Pawn of Knob Noster, MO. The manager, Joe Slater, is a first class guy and a number of the guns featured on this site were bought or traded from him. So while picking up my Charter Arms Undercover, I asked Joe to keep his eye peeled for a used 12 gauge Mossberg 500. Joe mentioned that he had the back half of a Maverick 88, which came in without a barrel. He got into it right and shortly thereafter, so did I.

For those unfamiliar with the Maverick 88, it is a product of Mossberg Arms. The Maverick is essentially a Mossberg 500A with a few cost-saving measures implemented to keep the price down. The essential difference between them is that the Maverick features a crossbolt safety mounted ahead of the trigger, whereas the 500's safety sits atop the receiver for easy access by left-handed shooters. An excellent, photo-rich review of the 8-shot Maverick can also be found here.

So what to do with my back-half of a shotgun? Well first, I inspected its action components. It was not only sound- it had hardly been fired at all. I'm guessing the original owner moved at some point and the OEM barrel got lost, but whatever they case I needed another one. I originally intended to slap an 18 ½“ barrel on it, but after pricing around I discovered I could buy a 20” bead sighted barrel and 7-shot mag tube direct from Mossberg, for very little more money. The deal was done and while waiting for delivery, I gave the OEM tube a few shots of PB Blaster. I'd read Internet tales of woe from several others who swapped out mag tubes, finding the OEM component quite difficult to remove. 

When the barrel & mag tube arrived three weeks later, changing out mags tubes was accomplished without grief. The 7-shot tube came with the proper spring and the OEM shell follower was simply re-used for the conversion. I was relieved to discover that follower was made of metal instead of plastic.

The finished product appears below; it is essentially an 8-shot Maverick with the 'field' style forearm.

The first outing proved the gun reliable, feeding and ejecting field loads as fast as they could be cycled, from the hip.  Deliberate shooting produced some really good results with 2 ¾” Super-X slugs and 00 Buck; so good, in fact, I thought they were a fluke. Today, it proved otherwise, keeping all nine pellets of 00 in the chest of a B27 at a measured 25 yards- and all but two of those in the 7 ring. I can't tell you how many police shotguns I've fired over the years and most of them won't do this. My 870 Special Purpose, with the improved cylinder tube installed, still wouldn't pattern 00 buck this well. I was also elated to discover that the bead-sighted barrel was regulated perfectly for Super-X slugs.

And just to make sure THAT wasn't a fluke, I fired another Super-X slug from 50 yards. That shot is highlighted in red.

These are splendid results from a 'price point' shotgun.

Comparisons are inevitable and fortunately, I've had a number of Mossberg 500's and 590's through my hands.

My first thought is that Mossberg's barrels are getting better. I bought a half-dozen 590-A1's for a little Sheriff's Dept., 20 years ago, and spent an afternoon zeroing them at 50 yards with 2 3/4" Super X slugs. None of them shot a bit better than this shotgun- and none of them would pattern as well with buckshot.

Second, the actions on Mossberg's pumps have gotten better. This 88 don't rattle much and I'm convinced it has a shorter stroke--and cycles faster--than the 870's I've become so accustomed to.

At six pounds, the 88 is light for an 8-shot 12 Gauge shotgun. This is a two edged sword. It makes the Maverick handle much better than a $225.00 shotgun should. When fired with high-brass shells, you can certainly tell when it goes off.

Finally- Mossberg is flat stocking them better these days. Those damn 590's all had a sharp mould line down the top of the stock and in 15 minutes I looked like I'd been boxing with Sugar Ray Leonard. The synthetic stock on this Maverick 88 is smooth and when mounted, the bead appears precisely centered on the sighting plane for an instant hit on anything unfortunate enough to be behind it. The forend falls under the leading hand and feels good to it. These are superbly thought-out, practical shotguns.

There are a couple of things about the 88 that run contrary to my tastes. While they've become common, I do not like plastic trigger housings. I had durability concerns about these, somewhat allayed by the fact that problems with them seem to be few. The recoil pad could be better, but this is an easy fix. The safety on the Maverick is small, slick and just might be easy to miss under stress. I expect that sooner or later, an enterprising individual will offer a 'big button' replacement. There are lots of these guns in circulation and a market almost certainly exists.

The Maverick is a well-engineered shotgun from a major manufacturer, at a price that's hard to beat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My only beef with the mossys are that they use an aluminum reciever instead of a steel one like remington does. Not an issue if you're buying a bunch of throw away guns as a government agency, but a big deal if you want to by one gun to last a lifetime of abuse.

Thanks for the great site!

Friday, July 22, 2011 1:03:00 PM  
Blogger Euwill said...

I understand your concern with the Aluminium reciever. Had I not been gifted my Mav 88 (slug barrel), I would have passed on it. I kept it around for HD to free up my bird gun so I didn't have to screw with chokes. I used the rifle as a beater gun for a self defense course and found that it was not at all fragile. By all rights, if it were, I would have cracked the receiver. It dawned on me the all the modern mil-spec rifles are using aluminium receivers. I used Mossbergs for watch standing in the military and never had an issue with them being weak. Aluminium receivers have proven themselves to me. I won't be surprised to see a polymer receiver shotgun on the market soon.

Friday, November 30, 2012 12:09:00 AM  

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