Gun Review: Mossberg’s 590 Shockwave Shotgun, Completely Legal and Totally Bad@ss

Strict federal regulations have kept the most coveted and ‘eye-candy’ scatterguns of all shapes and sizes out of the hands of many Americans.

Mossberg wanted to find a solution to this problem. Giving consumers the ability to own one without having to file a bunch of National Firearms Act (NFA) paperwork.

Their 590 Shockwave is a 14″ barrel shotgun. Completely legal and totally badass.

Here is a portion of the review on the shotgun by B. Gil Horman in the American Rifleman discussing the legalities of it:

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Other guns fall under the auspices of the NFA. NFA-regulated firearms include machine guns, short-barrel rifles (SBR) and short-barrel shotguns (SBS). Taking legal possession of an NFA item involves the purchase of special tax stamps, a healthy stack of ATF mandated paperwork, finger prints, photographs and a long waiting period of six months or more. Once you possess an NFA firearm (if you live in a state that allows them), strict rules must be adhered to in regard to transportation, transfers and storage. All in all, buying an NFA firearm is an expensive and time-consuming hassle.

But which shotguns are considered Short-Barrel Shotguns (SBS)? According to the ATF website, an NFA regulated shotgun is:

(1) a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;
(2) a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length;

This means a receiver fitted with a shoulder stock and an 18″ or longer barrel when it’s built at the factory is considered by the ATF to be a “shotgun.”

Shortening a shotgun’s barrel to less than 18″ changes its legal qualification to Short-Barrel Shotgun, making it an NFA-regulated item that requires a $200 tax stamp and all of that lovely ATF paperwork. If a shotgun’s shoulder stock is removed and replaced with a pistol grip resulting in an overall length less than 26″ (even if the barrel is 18″ or longer) the shotgun’s legal status changes to Any Other Weapon (AOW). An AOW requires a $5 tax stamp instead of a $200 stamp, but the paperwork and process remain the same.

How then does the Mossberg 590 Shockwave, with its 14″ barrel, qualify as a non-NFA item? Due to the manufacturing process used to build the gun, it doesn’t fall under the prevue of NFA regulations. Instead, the definitions that apply are found in the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). Under these regulations the Shockwave is legally considered a “firearm,” not a shotgun.

If, at the factory, a brand-new receiver is fitted with a pistol grip first instead of a shoulder stock, it’s considered a Pistol Grip Only (PGO) firearm. If the overall length of that firearm, with the pistol grip and barrel installed, is greater than 26″, then the barrel can legally be shorter than 18″. In the case of the 14″ barrel Mossberg 590 Shockwave, the Raptor bird’s head grip gives the gun an overall length of 26.32″. That makes it a firearm.

The key to enjoying a firearm like the Shockwave is to keep a few more things in mind. Although the federal government says it’s a gun that can be purchased by qualified buyers over the age of 18, some states have regulations in place banning it and other guns like it. As always, check your local regulations before ordering one.

Remember that this gun’s legally defined firearm status is wholly dependent on its external dimensions and features. If you make modifications to the gun, including the addition of a shoulder stock or reduction of its overall length to less than 26″, you’re back in NFA territory. Once you own a Shockwave, don’t monkey with it unless you complete the required NFA paperwork first.

Now please, wipe the saliva from your mouth. Yes finally, a short barreled shotgun is legal to purchase without all that hefty paperwork.

If you want to get your hands on one of these, do it quick.

The Mossberg 590 Shockwave is going to be in high demand.


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