Fortify Your Image in the Field With Mossberg’s Black Label Over/Under

When it comes to wingshooting, some hunters prefer inexpensive shotguns they can bang around in the field without any worry about the impact on their wallet. Mossberg gives those folks something new to consider: a premium-finished over/under with an MSRP of $1,135.00.

Within the Gold Reserve series is the subdued Black Label series, a feature-rich 12- or 20-gauge that exhibits a polished blue receiver that’s a canvas for very fine acanthus scroll laser-applied engraving complimented by a satin-finished Grade A satin-finished walnut. The Black Label is a variation on Mossberg’s Gold Reserve series that offers similar features as the Black Label but with a coin-finished receiver. 

Mossberg Gold Reserve

Of the Gold Reserve Series, the Mossberg Black Label had a stronger draw for me. I have a personal preference for understated blued receivers along the lines of an entry-level Perazzi or Blaser F3. The only thing that makes it better is matching blued engraving that adds a higher level of interest to the subdued presentation.

Like the Gold Reserve Silver Series, the Mossberg Black Label offshoot shows quality assembly through tight wood-to-metal finishes, assorted inletting and well-executed laser checkering. Mossberg has turned to its Turkish partner Kahn Arms for manufacturing of the break-open shotguns. If you’ve  been following that market it has become readily apparent over the years that Turkish shotguns have dramatically improved in quality – even bumping up against or surpassing the inexpensive shotguns from Italy. 


In 2021, we evaluated Mossberg’s Gold Reserve Sporting  in 12 gauge. An otherwise fine alternative in the sub-$1,000 category was marred by a trigger with a tough seven-pound pull. And although the cosmetics were of a high quality for the affordability of a Turkish shotgun, the challenging trigger only emphasized the nagging bugaboo of shotguns made in Turkey even with their state-of-the-art factories: demanding triggers. For the most part, especially compared to the Italians, Turkish manufacturers have not figured out how to consistently make enjoyable triggers for inexpensive shotguns. Of course expectations should correlate with price; but with the repercussions of social media Turkey’s shotgun industry should recognize a new shotgun that’s difficult to shoot at any price is always a disappointment. 


This time, our Mossberg Gold Reserve over/under was the Black Label in 20 gauge. Out of the box, the shotgun assembled easily. During our rounds of 5-Stand proved smooth to open and close. In fact, a push of the tang-mounted level caused the barrels to simply drop open – a real bonus in budget-minded shotguns.

The boxlock had gloss monobloc 30-inch barrels with five chokes in popular constrictions. The barrels had three-inch chambers. The mid-rib and top rib were vented to provide better balance and generally overall handling. A single metal bead at the muzzles suggested that the shotgun was designed for field use. The barrels were held tight in place by an underlug at the bottom of the action activated by a top lever. This is a set-up time-proven for decades of durability. The Schnabel forend, with its black hardware, snapped onto the barrels with a gap-free, snug fit and locked in place with a crisp latch.


Given the build-quality of the Mossberg Gold Reserve Black Label, the shotgun could easily become part of the family lore as “grandpa’s old shotgun.” Its heirloom presence hinted at generations of fireside reminiscences involving the shotgun.

We shot the Mossberg Gold Reserve Black Label during the summer. With birds off the table, we took the shotgun to our local club, The Ranges at Oakfield in Shotgun Life’s hometown of Thomasville, Georgia. We opted for the covered 5-Stand against the blistering Southern sun instead of the club’s skeet and trap fields. The 5-Stand can be notoriously difficult given the level of experience in Southwest Georgia’s quail country and that local clays-shooting teams practice there frequently. A few lollipop targets remain confidence builders, but generally it’s the number of long crossers that make you wonder if maybe knitting is more your style.


The shotgun’s ergonomics and fit and measured well for the average guy. The gun fell into place where it should. The 14-inch length of pull was near-perfect for winter hunting clothes, although in a polo shirt the shotgun felt a tad short. At 6¼ pounds, the 20 gauge was easy to shoot, with its balance point slightly forward of the hinge pins. Loading Nobel Sport Italia (NSI) shells packed with 1-ounce of #7½ shot rated at 1250 feet per second, the recoil stung my cheek but there was no felt recoil to shoulder. Of course it’s possible my face wasn’t tight on the stock. In terms of swingability and target acquisition, the shotgun was a nimble performer and good shooting partner.

Except for the trigger. 

With a pull of about 8½ pounds, it exceeded what might be considered a safe and comfortable wight of let’s say six pounds maximum for a field gun. At first, the triggers were so hard I kept jerking the gun down to gain leverage when I pulled it, especially on the second shot. That meant I could hit a fast quartering rabbit, a high chandelle or the overhead that required quick spot shooting. But in terms of using any of the accepted shooting methods such as swing-through, sustained lead or maintained lead where break-point timing is more critical, that heavy trigger, in addition to a smidgeon of trigger creep, required some special accommodations. Basically, the Mossberg Gold Reserve Black Label shouldered and swung well, but once you hit the breakpoint, the real work started. 

It’s important to remember that shooting a shotgun is a subjective experience. Some folks might not have a problem with the trigger, compared to me who is accustomed to a 3½ pound trigger on my clays over/under. 

The Mossberg Gold Reserve Black Label amps up a premium look in a shotgun that, in real-world shopping, could be purchased for between $900 to $1,000. Generally, the shotgun is worth the money. The obvious question is whether or not that single imperfection really matters to you.

Irwin Greenstein is the Publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at

Helpful resources:

The Gold Reserve Black Label page on the Mossberg web site



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