In my years of law enforcement, I never went without a shotgun, and it was always a pump-action.
The thought process in my esteemed career for so long has been relegated to trashing semi-auto guns as unreliable.
If you want to destroy a gun’s chances in law enforcement (most markets I imagine), simply call it unreliable.
No one wants to imagine a scenario where they pull the trigger in a desperately justified situation only to have nothing happen. Worse still, the gun malfunctions and you are stuck with an expensive impact tool.
Thankfully, I have just enough rebellion within me to cast these old reservations to the side and test standards out for myself.
After all, things can change. Can’t they?
Hang on as I go through everything you ever wanted to know about the Mossberg 930 SPX Tactical shotgun!
Semi Vs. Pump
The 930 Tactical 8-shot SPX is a rather long name that gives us some clues as to the intended use. The first stop, of course, is that it is a gas-operated, semi-auto shotgun.
What does this mean?
It’s the kind of shotgun you load up by putting multiple shells in the magazine (tube). Once you rack the charging handle, you can pull the trigger and fire repeatedly without doing anything else. The shotgun harnesses the gas from the shell to cycle the action.
There are also inertia driven semi-autos, but that’s a different article.
Pump guns require you to cycle the gun—pulling the handle back ejects the spent shell and loads a fresh one—every time you fire, until empty. Historically, pump guns have a better reputation for feeding and shooting reliably.
Tactical Vs. Hunting
The moniker “tactical” is in this name and it’s a doozy. What does “tactical” mean? It depends on who you ask, but to me, it’s pretty specific.
I like features that enable me to smoothly operate the gun (training and familiarity are givens) efficiently and effectively in high-stress situations.
For example, this shotgun has a pistol grip. I like it for maneuvering the still relatively long gun. The controls are large, particularly the charging handle and bolt release.
This is important because things go to hell when your heart rate gets high in exciting situations (like a shooting). We lose fine motor control around 115-120 beats per minute though training—if present—factors heavily.
The bolt release button and charging handle are quite robust on this gun. The knurled handle isn’t ridiculous but it is designed with gripping and ripping in mind.
By way of comparison, think about the relatively smooth and recessed (think snag-free) controls on a hunting shotgun.
This is because geese aren’t armed and coming for you. These items are of incredible importance as they directly affect how reloads go.
Some other nice tactical features are the Picatinny rail on the receiver, allowing you to mount whatever close engagement optic you might prefer.
Additionally, the ghost ring sights (with fiber optic) were an extremely nice touch. From the first glance, pulling this gun out of the box, it was ready for a mortal engagement and I do not say that lightly.
Show Vs. Go
I would not be worth my salt were I to simply be wooed by tactical features. Nay good reader, I headed to the range with a veritable cornucopia of shotgun shells to test how the gun might perform.
I had read varying experiences amongst different users with various Mossberg 930 models, but I placed all this aside with my reptilian/law enforcement reservations about semis, donned my science cap, and started shooting.
I had the 930 for several months and took it to the range five times.
Some of the features sang out as soon as I started loading. Turning the shotgun over on its side, it seemed loading was optimized. Dropping a shell into the open chamber, I cleared my hand and hit the large bolt release button allowing it to slam home.
Simply sliding the next shell in, pushing the elevator down, then forcing the follower down the tube, felt smooth. In fact, it felt like it was built to run fast if I could muster the acumen.
Mounting the shotgun to my shoulder everything felt comfortable, the ergonomics felt good. The pistol grip was perfect for my wrist, having a good angle and three large finger grooves.
The forend had a semi-grippy texture and its length offered multiple options for hand placement due to shooter size or position, meaning shooters could choke up closer to the receiver or stretch out as they saw fit.
I did not know how much punishment I would be putting myself through during the testing of this gun so I decided to pace myself.
Some 12-gauge shells aren’t so bad, while others are absolute shoulder busters. I used a wide array of offerings, wanting to test reliability as well as the feel of the gun.
I started with multiple loads of bird shot shooting 2 ¾ inch 8s and 9s with no real surprises. Everything fed, fired, and cleared nicely. The impact of these shots was minimal.
However, I moved up to 3-inch magnums in #4 shot and found myself smarting after a couple magazines of these. Plus, the barrel started to heat up pretty significantly.
Regardless, the shells ran great. Incidentally, magazine capacity for the 930 I tested is 7+1 for 2 ¾-inch shells, 6+1 for 3-inch. I then proceeded to a few different brands of buckshot and eventually ran some rifled slugs.
These hit pretty hard but the damage downrange was impressive. I repeated this a few times before upgrading the gun.
I really wanted a light on the gun and could not find an option that replaced the forend with an integrated weapon-light version (like I’ve seen for the ubiquitous Remington 870).
Mesa Tactical had a magazine clamp that fits between the barrel and magazine tube. It has a QD mount on one side and a Picatinny rail on the other. I was happy to install this and stuck a Streamlight TLR-1 on the pic-rail.
While I wouldn’t call this solution perfect as far as ergonomics go, it was a lot better than what I started with. I added a sling and went back to the range.
There may be gun writers out there that have all the answers. I’m not one of them.
During my fourth trip to the range I was blasting away with the 930 when the Mesa Tactical forend clamp went flying. I suspect the 3-inch magnums may have had something to do with it, but more than likely it was user error.
I reached out to the company and got the torque settings (11-inch pounds is the official answer, so 13 is even better) and returned to the range somewhat humbled.
I shot like a man possessed, only setting the gun down long enough to open a new box. I liked how the sling allowed me to hang the gun and work on my reloads. I really started to wonder how long it would be before I experienced some kind of issue.
I realized I had surpassed 300 rounds and hadn’t even cleaned the Mossberg. I had heard gas guns could be finicky or temperamental—not this one. The dual-gas vent system was solid.
I measured the trigger on a Lyman Digital Gauge and it averaged 4.6 pounds. There was roughly 1mm of creep, a slight build, then a snap. Reset was a little longer but gave a mild click I could feel.
Overall, it was great. Perhaps most importantly, if called upon to do so, I could get 8 rounds downrange in under 2 seconds. That is a frightening amount of firepower in a short amount of time. The trigger works well.
I walked out to 50 yards and shot for accuracy, very pleased at how I was able to use the fiber-optic sights to empty a mag in my man-sized target. I was continually impressed with the accuracy, but more importantly, the reliability of the gun.
Through 350 shotgun shells of varying brands and size, I had no malfunctions.
The Scientific Method
I remembered I had set off with the notion semi-auto shotguns were not reliable and deemed to challenge that.
About halfway through I thought I might want to clean the gun and give it a fair shake. Because I had not experienced the slightest issue, I persevered instead.
When the smoke cleared, I had fired off a shoulder-blistering amount of shells without a single malfunction. The Mossberg 930 Tactical 8-shot SPX chewed them up and kept spitting them out.
I had to admit, were I still out on the road today, I’d be comfortable trading up the pump gun for this shooter.
By The Numbers
I have to guess I’d run into some issues at some point. Few firearms are made to withstand complete neglect. I feel like 350 shells without a cleaning is outstanding. I shot quality brands like Remington, Winchester, and Federal, but I used a wide array of loads of various power.
Some people don’t like pistol grip shotguns and I get it. When learning to shoot long distance, I was taught to use a relaxed grip with my trigger hand. It applies to shotguns too.
I genuinely like the ergonomics of this gun and I think most people would be able to use it fairly well.
There are versions of the 930 Tactical with a more normal grip, if that’s what you’re into.
Some folks think a shotgun sprays like a ruptured firehose but this is not the case. Being able to hit center mass on a man-sized target at 50-yards was easy with this gun. It could probably do even better.
Here I’m a little disappointed. It seems like there are more versions of the 930 out there than you can shake a stick at.
However, a shotgun, especially one designated for tactical scenarios, should be able to accept a flashlight, and maybe a sling. Thanks to the folks at Mesa Tactical, you can do both.
The MSRP on this shotgun (specifically, the 930 Tactical – 8 Shot SPX – Pistol Grip in tan) is $1,078.00. I found a few online that were a couple of hundred dollars cheaper but took note that it wasn’t by much.
I don’t feel there is a great deal of overvalue like you sometimes see when there is a huge disparity between MSRP and actual market pricing.
This shotgun is accurate, powerful, and reliable.
At $1,000 plus you might be tempted to stop and weigh out your options. That’s a lot of cheddar. But the Mossberg 930 SPX Tactical is super reliable, ergonomically decent with its various models, and accurate. It really depends on what role you have in mind. To my estimation, this gun is designed for tactical applications.
I could easily envision it in service with a SWAT team but it could also serve as a terrifying home defender.
With a street price in the 800s, this is a lean mean shell flinging machine.
Thanks to Liberty Firearms Institute for handling my transfers.
What do you think about Semi Vs. Pump? Maybe you’d take an O/U or S/S instead? Let us know in the comments! For more awesome semi-auto shotties, take a look at the Best Semi-Automatic Shotguns [Buyer’s Guide]!