Bourjaily: Me & My Mossberg

The guns of O.F. Mossberg, New Haven, CT, are beloved by many and scorned by others. People love them and hate them for the same reason: they're cheap. I hear them called "Mossjunks," "Mossturds" and worse by haters. I call the Mossberg 835 in this picture "my turkey gun." I can find no reason at all to dislike it, nor to switch to something more glamorous and expensive.

My 835 doesn't receive the epic abuse meted out to waterfowl guns but it has never failed, even on a couple of occasions when bad initial shooting on my part required fast pumping and a hail of lead to finish the job. It has killed turkeys from 12 steps to 50 yards. With a barrel bored to 10 gauge dimensions, it patterns turkey loads extremely well, its favorites being Winchester's 3-inch Xtended Range 6s.

The receiver is tapped for a scope base, and I had one of Nikon's fine Turkey Pro scopes on it for a while. Recently I replaced the scope with an Aimpoint 9000 that costs more than the gun. Complete with red dot and sling, the whole rig weighs just 8 pounds, and the 20-inch barrel doesn't catch on branches as I hike through the woods. It does have a flabby 6 pound trigger and fragile fiber optic sights, but that's the end of its shortcomings

Since the picture was taken, I've put on one of Mossberg's Dual Comb stocks on my gun. The Dual Comb was the first factory stock I know of to offer an insert to raise the comb for scope use. That brings up another, often overlooked, point. Mossberg may be known for inexpensive guns, but they are innovators. The 835 was the first factory overbored gun. The 835's little brother, the Model 500 pump, was the first shotgun available with a factory fully rifled slug barrel or an accessory muzzleloader barrel.

Inexpensive, innovative, reliable, and with an ambidextrous safety to boot, what's not to like? I hunt with other turkey guns sometimes, but when I need an edge (and frankly, that's most days) the 835 is the gun I carry.