Maverick 88 Security Pump Shotgun by Mossberg

A Lot of 12 Gauge Bang for the Buck!

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Let me put this right up front. You don't need to spend a huge chunk of money to get a reliable and accurate 12 gauge tactical pump shotgun for home or property defense-and one that is made in America to boot! The shotgun I'm referring to is the Maverick 88 Pump Shotgun by Mossberg.

Anyone who owns a home on any substantial piece of property-a half acre and up-especially if that property is in a rural setting, needs a 12 or 20 gauge pump shotgun as part of their basic battery of firearms. While of course anyone can benefit from the ownership of a 12 gauge pump, I've found it to be of particular use in a country setting-mainly because there are more likely to be encounters with unwanted animals-a task for which a 12 gauge pump shotgun in eminently suited. And a 12 gauge pump is particularly indispensable in places like Alaska, or even in bear country in the lower 48.

I recently received a sample Maverick 88 for testing. Maverick Arms is a corporate affiliate of Mossberg, with a 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility located in Eagle Pass, Texas. This was happy news for me because I made the assumption that a shotgun in this price range could only be made in places like Turkey or China. Sometimes it is great to be wrong!

Tactical shotguns also do not have to be equipped with rails and pistol grips and red dot sights and magazine tubes that extend to the end of the barrel to be an effective. Not long ago, I saw an M4 style AR15 carbine that was festooned (rarely get to use that word) with every imaginable type of gadget that could be stuck on a quad rail equipped AR, and then some. Lights, lasers, vertical foregrip, optics and more optics had turned a once handy fighting weapon into a monstrosity. By the time the owner could get all the gear turned on in an emergency, the fight would be over-and guess who the loser would be? Unfortunately, some people do the same thing to shotguns.

While the Maverick 88 Security Pump not tricked out, it is not bare bones-it has everything a fighting shotgun needs and nothing more. The Maverick 88 features:

  • Black synthetic stocks with rubber recoil pad
  • Matte black finish throughout
  • Six round capacity with 2 3/4 inch shells
  • 3 inch Magnum chamber
  • 18.5 inch smooth Cylinder Bore barrel which takes shot and slug loads equally well
  • 7 pound weight
  • A simple, easy to use brass bead front sight
  • A crossbolt type safety mounted in the front of the triggerguard, rather than the standard tang mounted Mossberg type safety
  • Slide release mounted at the rear of the trigger guard

While it may seem like you need or want a lot of extra features in a tactical shotgun consider this. Even now, most law enforcement shotguns that still ride in police cruisers in the U.S. don't have optics, lights or lasers mounted on them. Most likely have bead sights like the Maverick 88 while others might have rifle sights. The point is that the Maverick 88 is set up like the majority of pump shotguns that I carried and used as a cop for 31 of my 38 years in law enforcement-except it has a larger magazine capacity.

I took the Maverick 88 to the range with a buddy of mine who, while being new to various forms of shooting, is enthusiastic and wants to shoot pretty much ANYTHING I can come up with. As it turned out he had a blast (yes pun intended) with the Maverick as it was his first time shooting a 12 gauge shotgun.

I went to one of friend's backyard range to test the Maverick 88 with both shot and slug loads. We did most of our test firing at 25 feet. I put the Maverick 88 together for the first time, out of the box, at the range without additional lubrication. Assembly requires simply sliding the barrel "ring" over the magazine tube, and tightening it down with the magazine tube nut. You are then ready to rock.

The first load I tested was one I used in my 2011 book Gun Digest Tactical Shotguns. The 2 3/4 inch Remington HD Ultimate Home Defense BB shot load is one of several no longer in production specialty rounds maximized for home defense. It patterned tightly and performed well in my previous tests-BB shot is an excellent home defense load with lower than buckshot penetration risks.

I had forgotten in the intervening 7 years since I tested the Remington HD load for my book that these babies kicked pretty solidly. The BB shot payload weighed 1 1/4 ounces and was zipping out of the barrel at 1250 fps. I was quickly reminded of the recoil as soon as I pulled the trigger. "Mommy!" I thought when I lit off the first round. I wasn't sure if it was just being wimpy or not. I fired the remaining three rounds and looked for something a bit less stout in my supply of shells to continue the test with.

Fortunately, my two favorite 12-gauge combat loads were in the box-Remington's 8 pellet Managed Recoil 00 buckshot load-THE tightest patterning 12 gauge buckshot round I have ever used; and Remington's Managed Recoil one ounce rifled slug. The test was about to become more enjoyable.

I lit off four of the 8 pellet Managed recoil buckshot rounds, and the difference in recoil was incredible. All rounds landed dead center in the silhouette target and I enjoyed firing the shots. Three inch magnum shells are really not needed in most home defense situations-with the exception being grizzly bear defense. 2 3/4 shells will handle 99% of the tasks asked of them. It was then time for my buddy to shoot.

He started out with four of the 8 pellet loads and had a huge smile on his face after firing because they all hit in the target center and also because launching the right 12 gauge rounds is fun stuff. I wanted to verify that it wasn't just me who found the Remington Home Defense loads objectionable compared to the other Remington Managed Recoil loads. I loaded up a single Home Defense load, followed by 3 rounds of the Managed Recoil rifled slugs. My buddy fired off the three slugs with no problem, then touched off the Home Defense load. "Ow" he exclaimed as he too noted a distinct difference in recoil. I felt vindicated in not feeling like I needed a bigger recoil pad and/or a recoil reduction system added to the 88-but I do have to admit that as I've gotten older, recoil has become less fun. Still in all its amazing what an additional quarter ounce of payload weight and an additional 50 FPS of velocity will do in terms of increasing shotgun recoil.

The Maverick 88 cycled smoothly with the three different loads, as expected of a Mossberg related product. It handled and pointed well. In other words, it did everything that one could expect of it.

The price for the Maverick 88 Security Pump-especially now-is nothing short of amazing. It is currently available on sale at Vance's as a Field and Security combo-meaning a 28 inch vent rib barrel is included for clay pigeons or bird hunting. The price is an unbelievable $219.99, while the MSRP for just the Security Gun alone is $231-which is still remarkable in and of itself.

If you are looking for a fine shotgun with a great deal of versatility at an unbelievable price, look no further than the Maverick 88 by Mossberg. Learn more at