Shooting the Mossberg Gold Reserve Sporting Over/Under
In January 2021, Mossberg International decided to add affordable break-open shotguns to their portfolio of black and camo pump and semi-autos by announcing a decidedly attractive line of shotguns in distinctive Silver Reserve and Gold Reserve Sporting models.
With prices ranging from approximately $600 for the Silver Reserve to $1,200 for the Gold Reserve Super Sport, the shotguns made in Turkey by Kahn/Kayhan and imported by Mossberg find themselves in a space jam-packed with off-brand shotguns.
Based on our experience shooting a 12-gauge Mossberg Gold Reserve Sporting, we think that Mossberg has a bit more to learn about the over/under market, although the actual guns mostly met expectations at the price points.
Our Gold Reserve Sporting had bright-blued, 30-inch barrels with a vented rib and fiber-optic front bead. The brushed bright receiver with rounded bottom edges was adorned with 100-percent coverage of fine Acanthus scroll, brushed satin top strap and trigger guard. Mossberg rated the Turkish walnut quality as Grade A for the utilitarian graining and hue of the satin. In terms of appearance, clearly the emphasis was placed laser engraving impressive for its class.
The Gold Reserve Sporting arrived with five extended chokes: cylinder, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and full with key-type wrench, all in a plastic case.
The Silver Reserve line-up, by comparison, is the field version of the guns. The lower price point gets you 28-inch barrels with flush-mounted chokes, a receiver with only the Mossberg logo and a companion model in black synthetic.
For younger and smaller shooters, the Silver Reserves are offered in youth models.
Both the Silver Reserve and Gold Reserve Sporting over/unders are sold in all standard gauges, except that the Gold Reserve Sporting isn’t available in 28 gauge. Instead, Mossberg rounds out the Gold Reserve Selection with a blued version of the laser-engraved receiver plus a Super Sport model with adjustable comb and recoil pad.
But here’s the rub with the Gold Reserve Sporting: it doesn’t scale up particularly well from the field models of the Silver Reserve. For example, while you may not expect a mid-bead on the Silver Reserve for hunting, Mossberg thinks that clays shooters won’t either since the Gold Reserves simply don’t have one. Mid-beads play an important role in clays shooting by helping set up the shot before calling pull.
Likewise, a heavy seven-pound trigger on a field gun is nearly counter-productive since on the outside you’re looking at a break of five pounds. On a clays gun, like the one we shot, a seven-pound trigger is score death. Bear in mind that sporting guns made by the likes of Krieghoff, Blaser and Perazzi have a trigger pull of about 3½ pounds. Of course, they cost 10 times more, but even for a $1,000 clays gun you’d assume it would enable you to shoot well. Think about it this way: the seven-pound trigger pull on the Gold Reserve Sporting is as heavy as the gun itself. Good luck at sporting clays or skeet doubles, because I found myself flinching a fair amount on sporting clays because of the shotgun’s pull. I’m a big believer that you could eventually adjust to most shortcomings in a sporting gun and with that in mind, compensating for the pull was tricky because the trigger also had some creep in it.
The inside of the forend showed a sloppy finish where it met the iron, although the fit of forend inlet surpassed other shotguns in the segment, as did the wood-to-metal fit throughout the shotgun. The forend latch was plain, in stark contrast to the laser-engraved fine acanthus scroll with gold accents on the matte silver receiver and the ornamental adornments on the top lever and strap that featured an integrated barrel selector and safety.
Although, for a new shotgun, it opened easily, closing the gun required some muscle. As most folks would expect, that should ease up with use.
The Gold Reserve Sporting relied on the proven monobloc structure with an underlug lockup that has bosses on the side plus a lump that was accepted into the floor of the receiver – all suggesting that the shotgun should remain tight and true for quite a while.
On the sporting clays course, it took a few stations to acclimate to the seven-pound trigger before I could tame the flinch. The shotgun shouldered well and once mounted swung smoothly as you’d expect from a balance point two inches in front of the hinge pins. The target sight picture was excellent, but the heavy trigger proved an obstacle in optimizing the clear target views as you wrestled with the gun to make the shot. Our 1-ounce, #7½ shells consistently ejected without a hitch.
The tough trigger and lack of a mid-bead marred an otherwise very nice sporting shotgun that showed good build quality and handling.
Irwin Greenstein is the publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at email@example.com.