Shotguns are an iconic American defensive tool. While we might hear about the Peacemaker or Winchester as the guns that “won the West,” shotguns were even more prevalent among pioneer households. Useful for bringing game to the table, the shotgun hanging on the cabin wall was always ready to defend hearth and home.
Today, I would venture to guess there are millions of shotguns stashed in safes, in closets or under the bed, ready to be pressed into service defending the fort. And why not? In a home-defense situation, there is hardly a better tool. Whether loaded with bird shot, buckshot or slugs, the defensive shotgun is a devastatingly effective weapon.
A couple of years ago, Mossberg brought pro shooters Jerry and Lena Miculek to Gunsite to introduce its new series of semi-automatic shotguns, starting with the JM 940 Pro. That gun, created with input from the Miculeks, is designed to be a fast-handling and reliable competitive shotgun, and watching Jerry and Lena run these guns was a thing to behold.
But, while at Gunsite, the folks from Mossberg briefed us on future models in the 940 series and asked for input on a tactical version. Among other suggestions, we asked that it be optic-ready and have an adjustable length of pull by means of buttstock spacers. I’m happy to report that when Mossberg returned with the 940 Tactical Pro, it had these requested features and more.
Let’s start with the spacers. These allow you to adjust rise or drop of the stock and cast (that being angling the stock slightly left or right). There is also a thin and thick recoil pad along with the stock spacers. Out of the box, the length of pull (the distance from the trigger to the middle of the buttstock) measures 14.25 inches and is adjustable down to 12.5 inches. A cylinder bore choke tube is installed in the threaded muzzle, sling swivel studs are located fore and aft and M-Lok accessories like tactical lights can be installed on the barrel band.
The sliding-thumb safety is located on the top/rear of the receiver, exactly where a shotgun safety should be. The safety has grooves with slightly sharp edges that allow good purchase and shouldn’t be a problem with casual use; however, if you’re going to do a lot of shooting, like in a Gunsite class, you’ll quickly realize those sharp edges need attention.
Gas-piston operated semi-auto shotguns were once notorious for being unreliable or unable to handle the huge variety of ammunition available. The 940 has none of these issues, and, in my testing, operated quickly and smoothly with every load I tried. Additionally, Mossberg recommends cleaning after firing 1,500 rounds, a number the average defensive homeowner is unlikely to reach in a lifetime of use. Still, if the time comes, the owner’s manual has detailed instructions and Mossberg has an excellent video covering this on their website. Takedown is a bit complicated at first, so I urge you to read the manual and spend the 30 minutes watching the video.
While the top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for installing a rail, just aft of that, you’ll find a cover plate. Removing it allows for the installation of optical-dot sights. I chose to install the Holosun HE507K-GR, and I couldn’t be happier with it. With a green 2 minute of angle (MOA) dot, a 30 MOA circle, or a combination of both, it is perfect for a combat shotgun. The sight goes to sleep when the gun is at rest and wakes up when it is moved. And, with a battery life running in tens of thousands of hours, you won’t have to worry about losing power.
I took the gun to a couple of classes I was teaching and had the students shoot it with loads from birdshot up to various buckshot brands provided by Hornady and Federal. Favorable comments on the gun included the trigger pull, stock spacers and its light weight.
Throughout this shooting and my own testing, the 940 has digested every load and run without a single issue. With a capacity of seven rounds in the magazine tube, the 940 Tactical has enough ammo on board to handle just about every imaginable home-defense situation, especially if you add a buttstock shell carrier.
At Gunsite, we recommend patterning your shotgun with the load you intend to use for defensive purposes. In our experience, every gun will shoot differently with every load, and every load will become unstable at a certain distance, so you need to try different loads and see how they shoot in your gun; for example, here’s a pattern-size comparison between two premium 00 loads fired in my test 940, with its cylinder bore choke tube.
Hornady Critical Defense,
8-pellet, muzzle velocity of 1,600 feet per second:
7 yards: 3.75 in.
10 yards: 7.5 in.
15 yards: 6.5 in.
25 yards: 19 in.
Federal Premium Law Enforcement, 9-pellet, muzzle velocity of 1,145 feet per second:
7 yards: 2 in.
10 yards: 3 in.
15 yards: 3.75 in.
25 yards: 3.75 in.
Once you handle and shoot the 940 Tactical shotgun, I suspect you’ll be like the folks I’ve shown it to who then asked where they can buy one. Mossberg has a winner here. I’m keeping this one.