Mossberg Maverick 88 Review

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By Dennis Howard •  11 min read

For shoppers on a budget: How do you take arguably the most popular pump shotgun on the market and cut the price in half (or better) without compromising quality or reliability?

Mossberg Maverick 88 Review

You follow Mossberg’s plan and introduce a model that is like the stripped-down version of a sports car. The Maverick 88 line from Mossberg is the barebones version of the Mossberg 500 at a price almost anyone can afford.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the value you get for your money with the Maverick 88 line by breaking down:

Mossberg Maverick 88 with 5 round tube capacity

O.F. Mossberg and Sons are the manufacturers of the Mossberg Maverick line of pump-action shotguns. These low-cost shotguns are manufactured in Eagle Pass, TX using parts that are mostly made in Mexico. However, for all practical purposes, the Mossberg Maverick 88 is identical to the Mossberg 500 shotguns. In fact, most parts are interchangeable between the 500 and Maverick 88 except for the trigger assembly.

Nothing is quite like a pump shotgun for many uses. Pump-action shotguns are versatile and reliable firearms for hunting, target shooting, and home defense. The actions are simple to use and understand. If you need a reliable and easy-to-use shotgun for home protection, the Mossberg Maverick 88 is a great choice. Nothing makes quite a statement like the sound of a pump-action shotgun being racked in the dark.

My Take on the Mossberg Maverick 88 Line

From the standpoint of a long-time hunter, the Maverick 88 line of pump-action shotguns are excellent examples of a working man’s firearm, especially when you consider the price. In most cases, you can source a new Maverick 88 shotgun for less than $200. For those of us who are budget constrained, this puts a high-quality pump-action shotgun well within our financial abilities. I am not saying that the Mossberg Maverick 88 shotguns are the end-all and be-all of pump shotguns. These shotguns do have their limitations and drawbacks.

Reliability – A Critical Factor

First off, some of the most reliable shotguns available are pump-action shotguns. You can’t get much simpler in design than the working parts of a pump shotgun. From the standpoint of reliability, the Mossberg Maverick 88 is a standout. These shotguns are based on the well-respected Mossberg 500 design. The twin action bars ensure easy and smooth pump operations and dual extractors on the bolt provide positive ejection of the spent cartridges.

Mossberg Maverick 88 with twin action bars for store pick up

Safety – Protecting You and Others

Unlike the Mossberg 500 which has that well-known tang mounted safety selector, the Maverick 88 line of shotguns has a cross-bolt safety mounted on the trigger guard. Push the little button one direction and the firing mechanism is blocked, push it the other way and the gun is ready to fire. Simple, straightforward, but easy to accidentally change and not easily visible to check the status of the gun.

Most other shotguns feature the same sort of safety. There are no grip safety, internal safeties, or easily visible status indicators. In the area of shooting safety, these kinds of safeties are better than nothing, but not as good as they could be. I rate the safety mechanism on the Maverick 88 as so-so.

Maintenance – Ensuring Things Work When They Need to Work

For me, cleaning guns is like a Zen thing. It is calming, peaceful, and relaxing. The smell of solvents and oil is like aromatherapy. However, many shooters don’t share my feelings. For them, cleaning their firearms is a chore they would avoid if at all possible.

Fortunately, cleaning the Mossberg Maverick 88 typically doesn’t involve a lot of hard work. A good swab with a bore snake or other tool, a little solvent and some oil are all that are required. For the most part, the other operating parts don’t get exposed to the residue from shooting, so they don’t need more than a swab and some lubrication to keep the parts working together smoothly. All in all, I give the Maverick 88 top marks for easy cleaning and maintenance.

Breakdown – Getting to the Internals

Unfortunately, anything with moving parts will need to be disassembled, cleaned, and repaired at some point. Unfortunately, the Maverick 88 is not a quick and easy takedown. There are more complicated rifles, shotguns, and pistols to disassemble. On a scale of 1 to 10 in the range of difficulty, I have to give the Mossberg Maverick 88 an 8 on the scale difficulty. It takes tools, time, and patience to fully disassemble these shotguns and much the same to reassemble them.

The process can be so daunting that I routinely recommend that anyone with a pump-action shotgun of any kind that needs an internal repair employ a competent gunsmith to perform the work. The action may be simple in theory, but the internal workings can be complicated in practice.

Accessories and After Market Add-ons

Since we are talking about a basic bare-bones shotgun platform, it stands to reason that most shooters will want to personalize their firearms. The Mossberg Maverick 88 provides a great opportunity to enhance the features of these shotguns. The availability of aftermarket parts and accessories is excellent.

Since the basic design shared many attributes with the Mossberg 500, many aftermarket parts made for the 500 lines of shotguns will interchange with the Maverick 88. You should be cautious about the compatibility of some parts to ensure your shotgun’s safety. If you are one of those shooters who delight in accessorizing and enhancing your shotgun, the Maverick 88 is a great choice for the foundation of your shotgun build.

Sights and Optics

In general, I find the sights and optics mounting support a little weak on the Maverick 88 shotguns. This is to be expected from what is intended to be an economy shotgun. However, a little more attention to these critical components would have been nice and wouldn’t have added a ton of extra expense.

There are aftermarket replacement sights for the Maverick 88 line of shotguns. Whether you need to upgrade the sights is a purely personal matter. If you want to mount an optic such as a red dot, you must have the receiver tapped and drilled for the mounts. This usually requires the services of a good gunsmith.

Choosing the Best Mossberg Maverick 88

If you decide that a Maverick 88 is in your future, there are some considerations to be made. Mossberg offers several variations on the basic Maverick 88 line that are suited for different situations and needs. Taking a look at the Mossberg Maverick 88 line of pump-action shotguns can give you a better understanding when it comes time to make your decision.

The Mossberg Maverick 88 Line

The Mossberg 88 is a baseline pump-action shotgun at a budget price. However, it is not without its different variations aimed at unique niches in the shotgun market. Each variation is purposed for specific shooters which makes the Mossberg Maverick 88 such an attractive firearm in some circumstances.

Each Maverick 88 shotgun has some basic features that cross the whole line. Among these basic features include:

Some models may have enhancements based on their intended use. Except for the trigger and safety system, the other parts of the Maverick 88 and the Model 500 are fully interchangeable.

Maverick 88 All Purpose

The Mossberg Maverick 88 All Purpose is Mossberg’s vision of what anyone shopping for a pump-action shotgun will want in 20 or 12 gauge. These shotguns are useful for almost any shooting sport such as hunting, clays or target shooting, or a home defense shotgun. You can choose from a 28-inch or 26-inch barrel length.

Mossberg Maverick 88 All Purpose for purchase from firearm dealers and bass pro shops

Unlike some other models of the Maverick 88, the All-Purpose model includes a vent rib on the barrel. Dual bead sights, a modified tube, and a choice of synthetic stocks in black or camouflage complete the package. If you want a shotgun for a variety of activities including the ability to serve for home defense, the All-Purpose Maverick 88 is a great choice.

Maverick 88 Youth – All-Purpose

Introducing a child or grandchild to shotgun shooting is one of the great rewards in life. Mossberg understands the importance of giving a beginning youth shooter the best experience available. Mossberg takes into consideration the different needs of youth shooters in the Youth All-Purpose line of Maverick 88 shotguns.

The Mossberg Maverick 88 Youth with long barrel length

Specifically, the Youth models of the Maverick 88 are shorter overall than a standard pump-action shotgun. A shorter length of pull makes fitting the Youth shotguns to a smaller frame much easier. Keeping the overall length shorter makes handling the shotgun easier and less tiring in the field.

The Maverick Youth model is fitted with a 22-inch barrel and has a 12-inch length of pull. The overall length is 39.75 inches. In every other aspect, the Mossberg Youth Maverick 88 includes all the basic features.

Maverick 88 – Slug

Many states require the use of a shotgun and slugs when hunting deer. This makes the Maverick 88 Slug model very attractive for many hunters in these areas. The low cost of the Mossberg Maverick shotguns makes it possible for many hunters to have a dedicated deer hunting shotgun in their gun safe.

The Maverick 8 Slug gun is ready for action in the field. You can get a version with a 24-inch cylinder bore barrel or a 24-inch rifled slug barrel. The rifled option is a great addition for hunting deer in heavily wooded or brushy locations. The Slug variation of the Maverick 88 also includes adjustable rifle sights instead of bead sights.

Mossberg Maverick 88 steel barrels with adjustable rifle sights and anti jam elevator

Mossberg 88 – Security/Field Combo

Anyone who needs both a home security shotgun and a great field gun for hunting should consider the Mossberg Maverick 88 Security/Field Combo. This combo kit comes complete with an 18.5 -inch improved cylinder bore suitable for slugs and a 28-inch modified bore for all the upland and waterfowl game birds you can handle. The Maverick 88 can go from doing security duty to a choice bird gun in a few seconds.

Security model Maverick 88 from Mossberg with pistol grip

You don’t need to invest in two shotguns. Adding an extra barrel makes much more sense and keeps the cost of the Maverick 88 combo kit under $300. The combo kit from Mossberg includes all the standard features of any Maverick 88 security shotgun plus the versatility to meet the needs of the majority of hunters. You get the second barrel and a pistol grip.

Maverick 88 – Security

Look in many police cars around the U.S. and you will probably see a Maverick 88 in a security rack. Two of the most desired features, when a PD is looking at a duty firearm, are dependability and cost. Mossberg has certainly met the qualifications in both categories with the Maverick 88 Security model. If you want a home defense shotgun, why not trust what the professionals trust?

Maverick 88 Security model with optional sling, shell holder, and flashlight

The Mossberg Maverick 88 Security package comes in two flavors. You can find an 18.5-inch barrel length that offers an ammo capacity of 5+1. Select the 20-inch barrel model, and you get a magazine tube extension that pushes your ammo capacity to 7+1. These models in the Maverick line come standard with an improved cylinder bore suitable for slugs or buckshot loads.

Maverick 88 – Security with Top Folding Stock

Space can be a problem for some people. A full-length shotgun, even a security style with an 18.5-inch barrel can pose problems. Mossberg anticipated this issue and introduced the Maverick 88 Security model with a top fold over stock. When folded over the top of the shotgun, the ATI folding stock reduces the length of the gun by about 14-inches and adds a pistol grip.

Maverick 88 Security with top folding stock and pistol grip in tune with applicable laws

The great thing about this folding stock is its versatility. The stock is quick and easy to unfold or fold and gives a definite click when the locking mechanism sets. The Maverick 88 shotgun is still fully functional with the stock folded. This shorter length makes navigating in tight spaces a breeze and allows the shotgun to be stored out of sight until needed.

My Final Thoughts on the Mossberg Maverick 88 Shotgun

This is no shotgun made for bait and switch promotions. These Mossberg shotguns feature the same quality and high standards that have come to reflect the Mossberg name. Mossberg refers to the Maverick 88 as a working man’s shotgun. You won’t get a fancy finish, a flashy wooden stock, or other add-ons that contribute nothing to a shotgun’s capabilities. What you will get is a well-equipped shotgun that will serve you for years in almost any capacity you want.

I am a big fan of Mossberg shotguns and rifles. The specifications on these shotguns are well-engineered to be a firearm that you can use for many years and pass on to the next generation of shooters in your family.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.