Every year I get together with some college friends to shoot and hog hunt. It is always fun to catch up with them and check out the new gear they have acquired since our last trip. This year, I got to try out a couple of shotguns. A Benelli M4 and a Beretta 1301. These were both a ton of fun and they made me want a compact shotgun of my own.
I didn’t want to drop the type of cash needed to get a Benelli or Beretta, so I searched for cheaper options. I came across the Mossberg Maverick 88 Security and, with a $230 price tag, it seemed like the perfect way to have some scattergun fun without breaking the bank.
Mossberg has many offerings in their Maverick series of shotguns including two security models. One with an 18.5″ barrel and the other with a 20″ barrel. I chose the 20″ option because I prefer its 7-round tubular magazine capacity over the 5-round capacity offered by the 18.5″ model.
The manual of arms does not change much from one pump-action shotgun to another. If you know how one works, you will be able to shoot most of them with just two primary considerations.
First, you need to locate the safety. On the Maverick 88, the cross-bolt safety is located in front of the trigger guard. I prefer a cross-bolt safety to be behind the trigger but it was not hard to get used to this one.
Second, locate the action release. This button is pressed if the action needs to be opened after the action has become locked (when unloading the gun for example). This lever is located behind the trigger guard on the left side. I believe this is the perfect location. Unlike other shotguns that put the action release in front of the trigger guard, you do not have to completely change the grip of your right hand to manipulate it.
The recoil of this 12ga is heavy but manageable. With this gun weighing only 6.5 pounds, I expected it to beat me up a bit more but I was pleasantly surprised. The generous rubber butt pad is probably what helped the most.
This shotgun features dual action bars which are believed to prevent the bolt from binding in the receiver. Plenty of shotguns use only a single action bar without issue but the 88’s action is fairly smooth so there may be something to using two.
I shot a variety of 2 ¾” and 3” ammunition without issue. Birdshot, buckshot, turkey loads, and slugs all ran reliably. It shot well enough that I decided to load up some slugs and use it to fill an antlerless tag.
Even though I’ve made good shots with slugs out to 60 yards at the range, I feel more comfortable with shots under 40 yards in the field. To give myself the best chance at a close shot, I headed to a stand in the middle of thick timber where does will regularly be within 30 yards.
But, before I reached the stand, I spotted a deer in the woods to my left. I froze and crouched down where I stood. I watched as the deer made its way through the thicket moving from my left to right. After only a few moments it cleared the underbrush and saw me crouching completely exposed in the middle of the path only thirty yards away. The deer froze, but it was too late. I had already raised my gun and lined up the shot. The 12ga slug hit hard and dropped the deer where it stood.
A shotgun will not soon replace any of my rifles as my go-to deer gun but it was a rewarding experience to take a deer with a shotgun at least once. If for no other reason than to experience the type of 1970s hunting depicted in my uncle’s stories.
The trigger is a bit heavy at 7 pounds. It has a few millimeters of take-up before hitting a soft wall that gives just a little before it breaks. The reset is relatively short.
The black synthetic stock has a solid feel. This is appreciated especially when many cheap synthetic stocks are on the flimsy side. The stock also features a recess for a screw-in sling stud so one can be easily added if desired.
I can’t speak to the long-term reliability of this gun but my experience up to this point has been nothing but good. It is well-balanced, cycles reliably and, for only $230, the build quality is exceptional. So, If you are looking for a cheap pump-action shotgun, the Maverick 88 Security may be right for you. Head over to Mossberg’s website to learn more and find a dealer near you.