A Refined Autoloader

Mossberg’s 930 Pro-Series Is The Right Tool For Many Jobs

Holt smokes a clay with the new Mossberg 930 Sporting.

When you want to build a no-holds-barred competition firearm, go ask the leading competitors, right? That’s exactly what Mossberg has done to give us a complete family of high-performance autoloaders for 3-gun matches, clays competitions and waterfowl hunting. It’s a fascinating story in the annals of firearms development.

The story begins when Mossberg wanted to develop a competition-ready autoloader for tactical and 3-gun type matches. As an outside consultant, the firm chose none other than Jerry Miculek, holder of 100-plus shooting titles. Miculek, whose record-setting, shooting feats with revolvers, shotguns and rifles will stand in the record book a long, long time, is not only a professional shooter, but also a gunsmith who is continuously modifying and fine-tuning his own firearms for the rigors of competition.

With the exception of combat, nothing is harder and more abusive to firearms than challenging match scenarios and long strings of continuous shooting. Powder, lead and plastic fouling build up in the gas system. Heat breaks down vital lubricants. Internal parts are cycled at a grueling pace, wear out faster and can break down at the most inopportune moments. Competition is simply tough on firearms and the competitors who shoot them.

What Mossberg asked Miculek to do was to transform their existing Model 930 autoloader in the line into a competition-ready, professional level shotgun. What was done to achieve this goal is revealing.

Ash’s well-considered stock proportions fit Holt perfectly at trap. The gun comes with
enough adjustment spacers to fit the size of just about anyone whether right- or left-handed.

One of the major improvements was achieved through the use of internal and external coatings. The gas piston, piston rings, magazine tube, hammer, sear, return spring plunger and return spring tube were treated with a boron nitride-based coating providing high corrosion resistance, natural lubricity and wear resistance while creating a surface inhospitable to dirt and fouling. Not only did the coating protect high-speed working parts it kept those parts running cooler, and when the gun was broken down for cleaning, much of the fouling could simply be wiped away.

Miculek has built a reputation on speed. The loading, firing, extraction and ejection cycles of the firearms he performs with have to be smooth and fast with a minimum of friction and resistance. Working with Mossberg, Miculek recommended the shell stop, bolt slide and elevator receive additional final finishing to minimize friction and accelerate the functions they perform. The loading gate was also beveled for faster, easier loading.

The end result is today’s Mossberg’s 930 JM Pro-Series of tactical models with extended magazines, consisting of two 10-shot models with 24-inch barrels and 22-inch barreled 9-shooters—all competition ready, right out of the Mossberg box.

Having developed the basic, high-performance Model 930 platform, Mossberg turned to another talented professional to assist them in refining the platform into a competitive sporting clays model. That professional was Gil Ash, who, with his wife Vicki Ash, operate the OSP (Optimum Shotgun Performance) School and maintain a remarkable, instructional website called the “OSP Knowledge Vault” as well as holding workshops throughout the country.

As an instructor, Gil is often called upon to give a student advice about the absolute importance of good gun fit for shotgunning success. I’ve watched Gil at work. He doesn’t use a try gun. He just talks the student through a series of little checks, many of which, everyone can make by looking at their mount and eye position in a mirror.

When it came to working with Mossberg on a sporting clays model, Gil focused initially on the stocking issue. He wanted a stock fitting a right- or left-handed shooter without having to worry about cast. His solution was a stock thinner at the top and thicker toward the rear and adjustable for drop. It works for me, and the proportions seem to work well for several other shooters I’ve handed the clays model to.

The Sporting model comes with extended, finger-friendly, Skeet, Improved Cylinder
and Modified tubes by Briley. The 28-inch barrel is ported and features a 3/8-inch VR.

shotgun barrel

The height of the comb is adjustable with the shims provided. The laser-cut checkering
patterns on the Sporting model are as good looking as they are functional.

Gil Ash minimized the need for cast adjustments with an inspired buttstock design slightly wider on both sides.

Mossberg doesn’t share any drop specifications, but they do supply four additional stock shims of 0.125, 0.250, 0.375 inch in rise and 0.250 in drop. My measurements indicate the drop as received from the factory is approximately 1.5 inches at the nose and 2.5 inches at the heel with a length-of-pull of 14 inches. Even shooting trap, the stock works for me as received. Ash has done a great job of overall stock design.

The ported barrel is 28 inches long with a 3/8-inch ventilated rib. The HIVIZ front sight is supplied with 9 LitePipes in 3 colors (white, red and green) and 3 shapes of varied height. A really nice touch to the gun is a set of finger-friendly, extended choke tubes by Briley in S, IC and M with the constriction marked clearly in big letters on the outside of the tube.

Much to my surprise there was a gift packaged along with the choke tube case—a free 60-day trial subscription to the Ash’s OSP’s Knowledge Vault, featuring 1,500+ videos and hundreds of articles, books and blogs of shotgunning techniques and problem solving. Believe me, access to the OSP videos illustrating leads and break points are worth paying for, even if you don’t get them for free.

And the trigger? Ah, what a trigger. The 2-stage pull averaged 4 pounds, 11 ounces on my Lyman electronic gauge. It was as crisp as a breaking glass rod, and the locktime super fast.

The third chapter to the Mossberg Pro-Series story is their Pro-Series family of waterfowl shotguns. There’s a Model 930 with a 3-inch chamber and a Model 935 with a 3.5-inch chamber. Both models incorporate all the internal upgrades of the former Pro-Series models with the addition of a stainless steel recoil spring and are cloaked in Mossy Oak’s Shadow Grass camouflage pattern.

If you’re looking for a high performance shotgun for tactical, clays or waterfowling purposes, Mossberg’s Pro-Series deserves a very close look. These are impressive guns and priced right.

GUNS February 2017 cover

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