October 27, 2021

Mossberg 535 ATS Review

Mossberg 535 ATS

A Surprising Mistake

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Before purchasing a firearm people typically ask questions on Facebook or forums hoping to get some good information. When I went to purchase the Mossberg 535 I did just that after I wasn’t able to find a conclusive answer on the rest of the internet. I asked a simple question “Can this shotgun take standard 500 series furniture?”

Well… I got told yes a few times and the reality was…it couldn’t. I should have contacted the furniture manufacture beforehand to ask but as they say…hindsight is 20/20. Initially I was a little displeased with the purchase, but I have grown to love the bang stick quite a bit.

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Shotgun Overview

When you get the Mossberg 535 ATS it will come in a cardboard box with a lock, a manual, 2 additional chokes (improved cylinder and full), and the tool to change the chokes. It came without a choke installed and wood furniture. Now for some of the general specifications with the variant that I purchased.

Ribbed Barrel Length: 28 inches
Overal Length: 48.25 inches
Weight: 6.8 pounds
Finish: Blued barrel/receiver, nickel bolt
Caliber: 12 gauge, 2.75”- 3.5”
Capacity: 6

The Review

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When I got the Mossberg 535 it was sort of a rush order, we had just figured out that a family of squirrels had dug their way into our walls, and none of the no-kill methods worked on getting them gone. So, I decided it was time to escalate the situation and went and bought the Mossberg 535 at Wal-Mart since they didn’t have a standard 500 in stock. Within a week all the squirrels had been properly evicted.  After that, it hadn’t been cleaned until I hit 200 shells through it. Since then it has been the most neglected firearm of them all as it only gets cleaned when I feel like cleaning it.

When it comes to ergonomics with the reliable budget shotguns, you can easily tell which one you will enjoy more by the location of the safety and slide release. I liked that the 500 series had the safety up top on the backside of the receiver which made the controls completely ambidextrous, I also liked where the slide stop was (left side and behind trigger).

If you aren’t a fan of this layout, I would suggest looking into either the Winchester SXP series or the older Remington 870s (pre-Freedom Group). That said, I have found that the Mossberg 535 was a quick learn, but getting use to the sight system on the 28” barrel was a bit difficult for me. I’m near sighted so that didn’t help any. The action wasn’t the smoothest when I first brought it home, but after a few hundred shells it got a lot better. Let’s be honest though, with the reputation of the 500 series and the price…is a gritty action really something to gripe about?

As we move to how it shoots, I can see where shooting a 12ga for some would be difficult, and it is something you have to take the time to learn how to do well. Shotgunning is really an art-form, especially when it comes to reloading them quickly (which I cannot do), and getting follow-up shots off with reliable accuracy. The 535 (sounds like a jet name doesn’t it?) has been almost completely reliable for me.

I’ve put close to a thousand shells through it of various brands from birdshot to 1-oz slugs. The only real issues have been a couple of light primer strikes and the pump getting stuck. The light primer strikes always happened after I’ve finished cleaning and lubricating the gun. The pump getting stuck… I’m not sure what caused that. I experienced with slugs, buckshot, and birdshot. I haven’t had it happen in the last 100 or so shells, so maybe it’s a “breaking in” type of thing.

Now the big question…. Can I recommend the 535? Well…despite how much I admire this shotgun for what it is, I wouldn’t. It isn’t the standard 500, there isn’t much aftermarket support, and the replacement barrels are expensive (about as expensive as the shotgun was). Again, not recommending it has nothing to do with the performance of the gun  or the value of the gun.

It has everything to do with the fact that I can barely change a thing on it if I wanted to. If you’re looking for a dedicated hunting shotgun though with a classic look and a 28″ barrel… you would be hard pressed to find a better shotgun.

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*This review is the direct opinion of TacCat and not that of the team members of the Liberty First Foundation*


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