By Steve Gash
Mossberg makes a diverse line of rifles, including AR types, bolt actions and lever actions. But shotguns have really been Mossberg's bread and butter for decades, and here we find pumps, over-unders, side-by-sides and a plethora of semi-autos that collectively provide a specific model for just about any shooting sport. One of the newest and most adaptable models in Mossberg's shotgun line is the Mossberg 930 JM Pro Series 12-gauge semiauto. It represents quality and value.
The Mossberg 930 is a soft-recoiling, gas-operated gun that has earned a solid reputation for reliability. There are almost a dozen specialized Model 930 configurations, so the line is really a complete family of autoloaders.
All 930s are 12 gauge and have 3-inch chambers, but the similarities end there. An almost bewildering amount of features allows the buyer to create a "custom" gun to suit his or her needs right off the rack but at a "production" price. Versions for competition, turkey, waterfowl, big game, and general field use are available.
The 930 handles all 2 3/4- and 3-inch shells with no adjustment whatsoever, and the gas system bleeds off excess gases so the gun will function without undue stress on the action. All in all, it's a clever engineering setup. All 930 receivers are drilled and tapped, so the addition or removal of an optic sight is a snap. It's a nice touch. The guns also come with what Mossberg calls the "Stock Drop Spacer" system that allows the user to easily and quickly alter the drop and/or cast of the buttstock to fit the shooter and sight system.
I count 18 different versions of the 930 in Mossberg's catalog, including five "special-purpose models" that are meant primarily for home and self-defense. These guns are equipped with 18.5-inch, Cylinder-bore barrels, although the Home Security/Field Combo model comes with a 28-inch barrel and Accu-Set choke tubes.
With a total of 11 hunting models for waterfowl, turkey, or upland shooting, the 930 covers all major hunting disciplines. Stocks available include traditional walnut or synthetics in black or with various camo patterns. With 24- and 28-inch ported barrels and an array of choke tubes, you can just about have it your way.
Mossberg 930 JM Pro Series Tactical Class
The iteration of 930 reviewed here is the JM Pro-Series Tactical Class, a specialized version set up for popular 3-Gun competition. I was fortunate to have not one but three of these 930s to check out. This "tactical" version is packed with functional features that make it a delight to shoot.
The highly specialized Mossberg 930 JM Pro didn't come about by a bunch of gun geeks just sticking goodies on a shotgun and calling it "special." Instead, a team of Mossberg engineers sat down with noted competition shooter Jerry Miculek and posed a simple question: "If you could have anything and everything you want in a 3-Gun competition shotgun, what would it be?" The result is the Mossberg 930 JM Pro Series.
I looked at the Mossberg 930 JM Pro from three angles: 3-Gun competition, hunting and duty and home defense. While it's specifically designed for 3-Gun competition, there's no reason it can't be used on a clays range, plus you can certainly terrorize the webfoots and other feathered critters with it, too. The "tactical" aspects of the Mossberg 930 JM Pro are not lost on law enforcement, either, as police officers can outfit their 930s with all sorts of add-on goodies.
From the factory, the Mossberg 930 JM Pro has a 22-inch barrel that comes with a set of three Accu-Set tubes, including Improved Cylinder, Modified, and Full tubes. The barrel has a ventilated rib and a fiber-optic front bead. The receiver is drilled and tapped for optics mounts. The magazine holds eight rounds, and the gas-operated action functions with 2 3/4- and 3-inch shells with no adjustment.
The triggers of my samples were nice and crisp at 4 pounds, and the model has an overtravel stop that makes the trigger feel lighter. The gun weighs in at 7.75 pounds and balances quite nicely at its midpoint.
All this is interesting, but the proof is in the shooting, so shoot it I did. I gathered up a bunch of ammo as diverse as the wind. They ranged from my wimp loads with 7/8 ounce of shot poking along at 1,149 fps to full-house 1 3/4-ounce magnums. There were 1- and 1 1/8-ounce skeet loads, 2 3/4-inch duck loads, and 3-inch Magnum factory turkey loads, plus some ancient reloads of dubious heritage I had previously nominated to the NRHS (National Register of Historic Stuff). Some were even paper-cased.
I diligently tried to make the Mossberg 930 JM Pro jam, but I failed miserably. Be it 2 3/4 or 3 inches, factory or leftover reloads, it didn't matter. The 930 gobbled them up and spit them out without a whimper.
Next, I tried the Mossberg 930 JM Pro on clay targets from a tire-mounted trap, and when I pointed the gun correctly, the target was smoked with the IC tube. The balance and pointability made it easy to shoot well. And the short but nearly equal-length barrel and magazine somehow made the swing seem perfectly normal, not muzzle heavy as I first thought it would be. Importantly, the gun "hit where I looked." The drop and length of pull seemed to be, as Goldilocks would say, "Just right," but I could have easily adjusted it with the spacer system parts.
Now about that extended magazine tube. With a capacity of eight 2 3/4-inch shells, it isn't going to cut it as a bird gun. For most game, you're going to need a magazine plug, since you don't want to run afoul of the local Greenies. None is supplied with the Mossberg 930 JM Pro, but making one takes about 10 minutes. Just get a section of 5/8-inch wooden dowel, whack off exactly 16.5 inches of it and bevel the ends. Remember, the magazine spring is contained only by the magazine cap, so remove the cap carefully and feed your custom-made plug down through the outstretched spring. Carefully stuff the spring back down into the tube, replace the cap. This cuts the magazine capacity to two (of either length shell), and you're all set for a day afield.
However, in the spring season for light geese (blues and snows), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "Conservation Order" clearly states that you can hunt with an "unplugged gun." Can you imagine attacking a flock of hundreds (or thousands) of snow geese with a Mossberg 930 JM Pro stuffed with nine rounds of Winchester Blind Side ammo loaded with high-velocity HEX Steel Shot?
Mossberg also supplies extended, ported tubes individually or in a Pro Factor Hunt Pac that includes Improved Cylinder, Modified, and XX-Full tubes. The latter is intended for turkeys, as the instructions caution that it's not for use with buckshot, slugs, or steel shot. In addition, other manufacturers also offer specialized aftermarket tubes for the Mossberg 930 JM Pro.
I don't shoot 3-Gun, but my shooting buddies Jerry Gray and his son Eric do, and they pointed out the nuances of their 930s. Both are well pleased with their guns' performances and recommend them highly. Jerry has mounted a C-More sight and a side-saddle ammo carrier on his gun, while Eric uses his pretty much box-stock.
I asked them if they had had any problems with their 930s. "If you don't push a shell into the magazine all the way until it is caught by the shell latch, it will sometimes slip back under the carrier and jam," Jerry said. Then you have to invert the gun and quickly work the action. This chambers the recalcitrant round, and all's well with the world. Jerry said this is merely "operator error" and not really a big problem, except that it eats time in a match when you're on the clock. One other minor thing was that the metal magazine follower that came in the gun sometimes would hang up inside the magazine tube. Replacing it with a slick orange polymer follower solved that in a jiffy.
Detective Jens Barclay, my friend and a police SWAT-team member, uses his 930 in 3-Gun competition and also carries it in the trunk of his patrol car for duty use. He has tricked out his gun with various add-on goodies, such as a laser, a light and an optical sight. These embellishments are easily accomplished by the installation of a quad rail like that made by Black Aces Tactical.
A word of warning to would-be tinkerers out there. Mossberg sells a wide variety of aftermarket barrels for the 930, but barrel switching on the Mossberg 930 JM Pro is not recommended. It involves more than just removing the magazine cap and swapping barrels; it requires buying and changing some parts that make it impractical. Besides, the Mossberg 930 JM Pro is offered in so many economical configurations that it's easy to have more than one for various hunting scenarios.
The Mossberg 930 JM Pro is an impressive shotgun. Versatile, reliable and affordable, it's the latest in the evolution of quality shotguns from Mossberg.