My oldest recollections of Mossberg are centered around my dad's old Model 183 D-B .410 bolt-action shotgun. It had a pistol-grip buttstock, and part of the trigger guard extended down the grip to give it something sort of like finger grooves. It also had an internal three-round magazine and a screw-on (not screw-in) Full choke. When I was a kid, before I had my own gun, he would let me take it hunting, and I always thought it was kind of funny looking. But I sure liked the way it worked on the Bobwhite quail, rabbits, and squirrels that ran amok on my grandparents' farm and in the surrounding timber. I like the looks of Mossberg's new Silver Reserve II over-under shotgun a whole lot more, and it's just as good of a performer as that old Model 183 — undoubtedly even better.
The Silver Reserve II is a boxlock over-under (there is also a Silver Reserve II side-by-side shotgun, but we're not covering that one here). The over-under has a single trigger, a tang-mounted safety/barrel selector, a fine-line-checkered black walnut forearm, and a black walnut buttstock with rubber recoil pad. It's made in Turkey, and it's being offered in 12, 20, 28 gauges, and .410 Bore. Available barrel lengths include 32, 30, 28, and 26 inches. Receiver finish is polished silver with scroll engraving; barrels are blued and come with ventilated ribs and front bead sights. Chambers and bores are chrome plated. All versions come with a set of five screw-in choke tubes.
Shooting Times got a hold of a 12-gauge Sporting configuration gun for this report, but there's also a Field model. The main differences between the Sporting and the Field configurations are the ribs (widths and heights) and the choke tube constrictions. The 12, 20, and 28-gauge Field guns come with flush choke tubes in Cylinder (C), Improved Cylinder (I-C), Modified (M), Improved-Modified (I-M), and Full (F). The .410 Field has fixed M and F chokes. There are also two-gauge Field Combo versions in 12/20 gauge and 20/28 gauge with 26-inch barrels. Suggested retail prices range from $693 to $1,042.
The Sporting O/U is available in 12 gauge and features 28-, 30-, or 32-inch trap-style ported barrels with vent rib and dual bead sights (fiber-optic front bead). The extended choke tubes have silver finishes and knurled grips in Skeet, I-C, M, I-M, and F. There's an optional adjustable-comb buttstock. Suggested retail prices range from $851 to $1,145.
Our in-house professional photographer, Mike Anschuetz (shown in the accompanying photo), is a budding wingshooter. He has some real potential there, too, because he beat all the InterMedia Outdoors editors and contributors in an informal shotgun match at a recent editorial roundtable. The prize was a Mossberg shotgun, and Anschuetz picked the 12-gauge Silver Reserve II Sporting version with 28-inch barrels and raised-comb buttstock. It's the one shown in our photographs.
I pulled him in on this report because he's been hitting the skeet range way more often than I have these days, and I wanted to get his thoughts on how the new O/U performs. He says he shot as good with it the first time out as he does with his regular gun — a semi-automatic Browning. He thinks the Silver Reserve II is easy to get comfortable with, and he especially likes the selector lever. The gun just has a good heavy feel, and he likes the extended chokes. The barrel ports seem to help manage recoil.
His only complaints are with the trigger and the metal finish. He calls it "price-point" finish and wishes that it was more polished. He says the trigger is too heavy for his tastes, but all in all, he likes the gun and thinks it's more of an intermediate-level gun rather than an entry-level one.
I like the Silver Reserve II as is. It has many features that my personal favorite O/U has, including a single trigger, vent rib with dual bead sights, and walnut stock. I've come to know — through far too many missed shots on upland birds — that I shoot a lightweight 28-gauge gun way better than a 12 or even a 20. So even though I like this 12-gauge Sporting version, I'll hold off buying a Silver Reserve II until I can get my hands on a small-gauge gun. Maybe I'll go for the .410 version in honor of that old bolt-action Mossberg I used when I was a kid.