The new 12-gauge semiautomatic 930 Pro-Series Sporting shotgun was designed to be the ultimate sporting clays gun, but perhaps the most significant thing about it is the way it was designed.
Mossberg's designers and engineers didn't just whip up a fancier version of an existing model and call it the "new super-duper clays gun."
Instead, they started with the solid 930 platform and reworked it to be as "perfect" as it could be — with help from some renowned sporting clays experts.
Working with Mossberg, Gil and Vicki Ash, owners of the Optimum Shotgun Performance Shooting School, laid the groundwork for the new gun.
Gil is no shrinking violet, and if you don't want to know his opinion on something, don't ask. Well, Mossberg asked, and the result is a gun with a slew of subtle design features that synergistically contribute to the its superb "shootability."
For example, the shape of the buttstock, the curve of the pistol grip, and the length of pull were all designed to keep the shooter's hands and face positioned in the right places to put shot on the target.
The drop is calculated so that the shooter doesn't have to plaster his or her cheek to the stock as firmly as with some straighter designs. It all works together.
If you want to fiddle with drop, or cast-off or cast-on, the 930 Pro-Series Sporting comes with a shim set Mossberg calls the "Stock Drop Spacer" system that allows the shooter to customize these dimensions to his or her individual needs.
Even the tang safety is specially designed to help the shooter. When I first saw the 930 Pro-Series Sporting, I wondered why they used such a big, ugly safety button. I learned later that Gil designed it that way intentionally to force the shooter to keep his or her thumb and fingers positioned correctly so as to hit clay targets better.
A soft, squishy, 1-inch-thick recoil pad cuts shooter fatigue, and the efficient gas-operated action stretches recoil out to make it seem lighter. All in all, the 7-pound, 13-ounce 930 Pro-Series Sporting is a soft-shooting gun. Heft and balance seem about right for me, and the gun swings smoothly.
The 930 Pro-Series Sporting has a 28-inch ported barrel with a sleek ventilated rib. The barrel also has a 3-inch chamber, and the gun handles all 2¾- and 3-inch loads without adjustment.
Here's an interesting tidbit: In their testing, Mossberg engineers found that all shells seemed to pattern better in the 3-inch chamber, a happy coincidence. The bore diameter is about 0.730 inch. In my tests, all the 1-ounce loads at 950 fps and 7/8-ounce loads registering 1,000 fps worked 100 percent.
The front sight is from HiViz, and several interchangeable LitePipes of different colors and shapes are supplied, allowing the user to pick the one that best suits his or her needs. (I like the smaller white LitePipe, but to each his own.) If you'd like to mount a red-dot sight or scope, the receiver is drilled and tapped for a scope base.
Three newly designed custom Briley extended choke tubes are provided. Skeet, Improved Cylinder, and Modified should cover the majority of sporting clays and field use, and other constrictions are available from several vendors.
I got an Extra-Full turkey tube from Mossberg, just in case I got caught in a turkey blind. A choke tube wrench does not come with the 930 Pro-Series Sporting, but a special "conical" wrench for the Briley tubes is available from Briley. I have one, and it works like a charm.
Internal parts are coated with a tungsten Cerakote for wear resistance, and the gas piston is boron-nitride coated to resist corrosion and fouling. Mossberg recommends cleaning the 930 Pro-Series Sporting about every 500 rounds. Magazine capacity is four 2¾-inch shells; a plug is provided to cut the capacity to two shells. The length of pull is 14 inches.
The receiver is finished with a tough, matte gray Cerakote that is laser engraved with company and model names. My gun's gold-plated trigger is excellent, breaking crisply at 5.5 pounds, and there is a cocking indicator in the front of the trigger guard, which is a nice touch. The bolt handle is a little larger than most field guns and is easy to grasp and use without being obtrusive.
The wood on my gun has impressive dark streaks of grain and plenty of figure. The stock and forearm are European walnut and are made by Benelli in Italy. They have extensive stippling instead of checkering.
It looks great and offers the shooter a firm grip. The stippling on the forearm is shaped in a graceful "horseshoe" pattern that surrounds the Mossberg name laser engraved on the bottom. A large "M" is engraved on the bottom of the pistol grip. Overall, the "handle" on this gun looks and feels great.
The new 930 Pro-Series Sporting has just about every tweak you could ask for in a sporting gun. It is specifically designed to break clays, consistently and with ease.
So the important thing is how it shoots. To this end, it succeeds admirably. In a word: great.
I found that out last August when Mossberg invited a group of writers to the American Shooting Center in George Bush Park in Houston, Texas, for a roll-out introduction. This mind-boggling, 563-acre center has state-of-the-art ranges for all manner of rifle, pistol, and shotgun shooting.
Instructors Gil and Vicki Ash were there to share some of their shooting expertise with us, and after an introductory presentation, we were divided into two groups. I was in Gil's. Before we picked up our test guns, he outlined his criteria for shooting success. The principles were simple and straightforward.
"It is critical," Gil stressed, "to get the gun going the same speed as the target and to know where your gun is pointing relative to the target at all times." Gil refers to this as the "threshold concept."
"Don't look at the gun," Gil said. "Just look at the target." If Gil caught a shooter looking at the side of the gun, the barrel, or the front sight, he'd chide, "Ain't that a pretty gun?"
He pointed out that an important feature built into the 930 Pro-Series Sporting is the design of the buttstock. It is shaped so that the shooter doesn't have to plaster his cheek down hard on the comb of the stock to achieve hits.
This lessens the face pounding that eventually degrades the ability to hit consistently. Mossberg's Dave Miles told us that from the factory the 930 Pro-Series Sporting's stock is set to shoot about 50/50, maybe a little higher, and that this seems to suit the majority of shooters.
"The idea," Gil said, "is to bring the gun up to the face, not to bring the face down to the stock. Just a nice, gentle mount. See the bird, shoot the bird."
That approach seemed to work for me. In a short time the 930 Pro-Series Sporting and I were plastering clays at various ranges out to 60 yards with 1-ounce loads through the Improved Cylinder choke tube. I later applied the criteria with the 930 Pro-Series Sporting at a local skeet range with gratifying success.
An important extra benefit that comes with the purchase of a 930 Pro-Series Sporting is a free 60-day subscription to Gil's "Knowledge Vault." This on-line tutorial has hours of Gil's instruction along with hundreds of hunting videos that show how to approach various shots on the range and in the field and how to hit them consistently.
It's a tremendous learning opportunity and a big timesaver. It's the next best thing to having Gil look over your shoulder and coach as you shoot.
Although the 930 Pro-Series Sporting comes only in 12 gauge and was designed from the ground up as the ultimate sporting clays gun, it is immediately apparent that it also would be terrific on game birds in the field.
I have shot the 930 Pro-Series Sporting extensively and can report that it is about the best-shooting semiauto I've ever fired. And I've shot a lot of other semiautomatic shotguns.
All in all, I couldn't be more impressed with the 930 Pro-Series Sporting. It seems to be a natural shooter and does everything it's supposed to. Anyone in the market for a high-quality, all-around autoloader should give the new Mossberg 930 Pro-Series Sporting a look.