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Mossberg 535 Feed Failure and Aftermarket Sights
My New Predator Shotgun
As a struggling predator hunter, I wanted a shotgun that was more suitable for the sport. I know that a new shotgun is not going to magically turn me into a successful hunter any more than new golf clubs will turn me into Tiger Woods. But as any gun owner can attest, any excuse will do to justify buying a new gun.
After much pondering and research, I decided on the Mossberg 535 Turkey Gun. I found one locally, laid down my money and just like that I had a new predator gun. I chose the Mossberg because of the pistol grip, tactical stock (adjustable length), short barrel, interchangeable choke tubes, camo, fiber optic sights, light weight, and price.
A tactical case is needed for this shotgun due to the tactical stock.
As with all new guns, I was excited to bring it home, look at it, take it apart, clean and lube it, and just get a feel for it in general. That excitement was stifled somewhat however by a problem that I discovered when I got it home.
That was eight months ago and I like the gun now but let me tell you what it took to get to that point and maybe save you the same trouble. I don't want to dissuade you from the Mossberg, it's a good gun now that it's running. With some proper information beforehand, you can avoid the same problems that I had.
The first problem I found was that it would not reliably feed shells out of the magazine tube. I had to slam the fore-end pretty hard to get it to feed. Upon closer examination I discovered that the cartridge stop did not move aside far enough to release a shell out of the magazine tube. Some internet researched revealed that I was only one of many to have this problem with the 535. Some posts on the forums suggested filing or bending the cartridge stop and slide rails. Well, rather than send it back I decided to file and bend the parts carefully and I was able to get it to feed properly. It bothered me however that after these "modifications" the cartridge stop had very little contact with the shell and still did not move very far and the action was not as smooth. I was concerned that under heavy recoil a shell might get past the cartridge stop and jam things up. And, this is a new gun, why do I have to do amateur gunsmithing to get it to work? But at least it worked for now until I figured out what to do.
A Better Solution
I called Mossberg and told them what was going on with the cartridge stop. They told me that they’d send new parts and would include a shipping label so I could ship the fore-arm assembly back to them at no cost to me. They sent a new fore-end assembly with rails, and a cartridge stop. The fore-end assembly isn’t easily disassembled so they sent the whole unit rather than just the rails. That worked out perfectly because the replacement came without the fore-arm strap which I didn’t like anyway but I also didn't like the ugly holes it left if it was removed. I received the parts quickly and the feed problem and fore-arm strap problem were both solved. The cartridge stop now moved much farther so the rim on a shell cleared it easily. The action was also much smoother. Not like that of a Remington 870 of course, but good for a Mossberg.
Great! Now let's go shoot it!
Oh, But That's Not All!
Then……..I took it out and put a few rounds through it. This uncovered more problems.
The factory sights sit very low on the rib. This forced me to get so low on the stock that my cheekbone took quite a bit of abuse from the stock during recoil. I wasn’t concerned with this a great deal because in predator hunting, five or six shots in one day is a great day. Most of my outings consist of zero to two shots.
More bothersome was the fact that it shot a foot high and a foot to the right at 25 yards. The results were very similar with many combinations of choke tubes, shot sizes, shell lengths and brands. At 50 yards it’s double that of course and this shotgun is designed to be effective out to 60 or 70 yards so imagine the compensation required at that distance! Also, the patterns with the factory turkey choke tube were terrible. They didn't even deserve to be called patterns.
I brought it back to the dealer and he sent the barrel to Mossberg. That left me with a new gun that I can’t shoot! Mossberg sent a new barrel and that fixed part of the problem. Shooting revealed that the windage was now okay but it still shot a foot high or more at 25 yards. Again with many combinations of choke tubes, shot sizes, shell lengths and brands. So…what are my options?
After thinking about my options, I decided to try a set of after-market adjustable sights and a Carlson’s Dead Coyote choke tube. The sights that looked to be the most promising was a pair of Tru-Glo Pro-Series Magnum Gobble-Dot sights. I contacted Tru-Glo and they assured me that there was enough adjustment to get it sighted-in. I bought a set and took some measurements of the factory sights and determined about how much higher the front sight had to be than the rear sight. I installed the Tru-Glo’s and adjusted them so the front sight was higher than the rear sight by the previously guesstimated amount.
Also, the swivel stud that Mossberg includes with the 535 doesn’t fit so I had to buy an Uncle Mike’s Sling Swivel Cap Set. Paired with a lightweight nylon sling it’s light and easy to carry in the field.
Let's Try This Again!
I then took it out to shoot it and Bingo! What a difference. The point of impact was slightly off but a few minor sight adjustments took care of that and a few shots later it was hitting where it should. An additional benefit is that the TruGlo sights are higher than the factory sights. This meant my cheek bone didn’t have to take as much abuse because just my cheek was on the stock, not my cheekbone.
With 3-1/2” 12 Ga. Dead Coyote shells and the Dead Coyote choke tube I average 10 pellets (17%) in a 12”circle, and 32 pellets (57%) in a 24” circle at 50 yards. There are 56 ‘T’ pellets in the 3-1/2” Dead Coyote load.
So all in all it cost me some time, frustration and extra cash but after all that, I really do like the gun; it was worth it to stick to it and get it running properly. With that said however, Mossberg could stand some improvement in quality control.
If you buy a Mossberg 500 series, work the action and make sure that the cartridge stop moves far enough to allow a fresh shell to pass when you bring the fore-arm rearwards. You could even bring a dummy round to check it before you buy. Please let the sales clerk know what you are doing and why you are doing it.
You can't know how it will shoot until you buy it of course but you do have options if it shoots too far from point-of-aim with the factory sights. A red dot sight may be a good option too and one that I considered. Ultimately though I chose to keep it simple.
Now, I just need to find those coyotes.