First Shots: Maverick 88 12 Gauge Shotgun

Mossberg Maverick 88 at USPSA 3 Gun
Using the Maverick 88 in a local 3 Gun match

BLUF: The Maverick 88 is a stellar shotgun for under $200. It has remained reliable when other, higher end guns have failed. I wouldn’t hesitate to trust my life to this gun.

When I decided to try 3 Gun I needed to find a shotgun that wasn’t my 30” barreled Winchester 1300. Being a poor E-3 in the Air Force, I decided to go with a cheap option from a reputable company instead of the high dollar, semi-custom jobs everyone online was recommending. A few days before my first match I walked into the gun shop and grabbed a Maverick 88 in twelve gauge equipped with an 18” cylinder bore barrel. I slapped a TacStar side saddle and an Allen buttstock shell holder on my new boomstick for a total on board shell count of 16+1 and headed to the range.

Long story short, an 18” cylinder bore barrel is NOT what you want when trying to knock down steel at 20 yards with birdshot. After pumping every shell on my gun at the same target, I also learned that there are maximum times on a 3 Gun stage. As soon as I was back in Wi-Fi range I ordered a 24” replacement barrel (the Maverick takes most Mossberg 500 parts) and screwed in a modified choke. A little longer barrel and a little tighter pattern made all the difference, as I never again had trouble taking out either steel or paper foes. Despite the issues with the 18” barrel with birdshot, I am able to consistently make solid hits with various loads of 00 buck out to 25 yards. What works (or doesn’t) in competition, is not always a direct reflection of defensive use.

Gun Snobbery Has No Place When Something Flat Works.

It may come as a surprise to some readers, but I have had more than one person poke fun at me for my little Maverick 88 shotgun that only cost $180 before tax. Apparently, I was about a thousand dollars short of having an effective firearm, according to some of my fellow competitors. I tend to disagree. At every match I attended, someone in my squad would have their shotgun break, and for some reason, those people would always end up using my Maverick. It’s kinda nice when the guy who’s been talking trash on your gun has his super slick Benelli fall apart in his hands and then get forced to use the same gun he claimed was garbage as it runs circles around the rotting corpse of his prized shotty.

Who knew that they let Airmen use guns?
Federal Powershok seems to keep the tightest groups at 25 yards


Initial Impressions:

My Maverick has had over 600 rounds of various birdshot, 50 slugs, and 100 rounds of 00 buck fired through (all 2-3/4 variety) with zero malfunctions of any sort. The only issue I’ve faced with this gun was the magazine tube developing some surface rust while sitting in my safe (Maybe I need a dehumidifier like the Snap Safe rods at Brownells). I assume I grabbed it while moving things around and never wiped the area down afterwards. Not a functional problem, but something to watch out for.

Your options to customize this are limited. The forend is pinned to the action bars, making it impossible to change without getting new bars as well (Action bars at Brownells). The receiver is not tapped, making it difficult to attach an optic. The magazine tube does not accept extensions, leaving you with a fixed capacity. You are also stuck with a cross-bolt style safety, opposed to the tang mounted on the Mossberg 500 series. On the plus side, the action release is located behind the trigger guard, allowing you to retain your firing grip. The shell elevator remains in the up position when the action is closed, which makes reloading incredibly fast and easy, unlike competitive options from Winchester or Remington; although this does leave more room for dirt and debris to work its way into the gun.

The furniture is bland. The finish is nothing to write home about. The action is far from the smoothest I’ve felt. I have owned nicer shotguns, the Mossberg 930 JM Pro, and Beretta 1301 Tactical being two examples, all of which have since been sold or traded away. The Maverick, however, has earned itself a permanent place in my arsenal.

You can find your own Mossberg Model 88 at Brownells or learn more about the shotgun on the Mossberg Model 88 product page on the Mossberg website.

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About Daniel Reedy 389 Articles
Daniel holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has received training from Craig Douglas, Tom Givens, and Steve Fisher among others. He also has experience competing in USPSA, CAS, 3 Gun, and Steel Challenge. In his free time Daniel enjoys petting puppies and reading the Constitution. His work is also published by AmmoLand, Recoil Concealment, and Air Force Times. Daniel has also written and edited for The Kommando Blog.

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