Survival Shotgun Part 8: Mossberg M500SP Loadout

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By Mr. Smashy •  4 min read

To close out the epic Survival Shotgun series Mr. Smashy was gracious enough to give us a full rundown of his personal survival shotgun, complete with lots of pictures, gear recommendations, load ideas, and training tips. Feel free to be jealous.

Mr. Smashy’s Survival Shotgun

My primary survival shotgun is a Mossberg 500, specifically the M500 Special Purpose. I chose Mossberg because it was cheaper and the safety is located on the tang (my wife is left handed). The Remington safety is not as ambidextrous.


I swapped out the factory magazine spring and follower for a Wilson Combat hi-viz follower and extra power magazine spring.

The pump was replaced with a SureFire weapon light that has been upgraded with the LED bulb. I have a two point sling made by Jones Tactical, mounted to a Specter Gear Side Sling Mount Plate and a Specter Gear 6 Shell Buttstock Shotshell Holder.

The buttstock has been swapped from the factory part to a Houge Overmolded 12″ length of pull. Essentially this gives me the most compact shotgun possible while still maintaining ammunition options. I chose to go short because I expect the shotgun to be a CQB weapon.

Ammo and Parts

I understand that shotguns are not rifles; the maximum effective range of a shotgun, using slugs, is about 80-100 yards. I stock a reserve of Federal LE reduced recoil buckshot and slugs, some cheaper imported reduced recoil buckshot that is nickel plated to reduced shot deformation, cheap bulk pack #8 sport loads, breaching slugs, and less lethal rounds.

I have a list of known wear parts, which have spares, and I perform preventative maintenance on the gun to check these parts whenever it’s used. I’m also setup to reload for 20 gauge, so I can make my own sport, hunting and, if need be, defensive loads. I hope to expand that capability to 12 gauge soon.

Dummy Shells

Another highly recommended accessory I use often is a set of dummy shells. These are necessary to practice loading and reloading the shotgun safely. Reloading should be something you can do quickly and proficiently from your on-gun location (sidesaddle or buttstock holder).

There are a variety of dummy rounds available, but my favorite are “Action Proving Dummies” available from Brownells. They are basically a shell loaded with lead shot but without powder and a primer. The feel and weight is 100% correct, they are very durable, and the price is right. There are alternatives available but I have found these to be the best for my needs.


You should also learn how to “select slug”, for times when buckshot is too short range or you need the extra accuracy or penetration of a slug.

Another good drill is called the “Ball and Dummy” drill, where you load a dummy into your magazine tube substituting one round with the rest being normal loads. You can use this drill to observe recoil avoidance (bucking or flinching), and also use it to train for a failure to fire.

Your Survival Shotgun

So what can you take away from all this? Hopefully you can find a shotgun, ammunition, and accessories that fit your needs and budget, and build the skills to make an adaptable weapon system. As long as you train and understand the shotgun’s limitations and it’s strengths, it will find a solid place in your survival toolkit.

To See the Complete set of pictures you can check out mr. smashy’s Flickr Collection.

Mr. Smashy

Mr. Smashy has been shooting competitively for more than 15 years. Scouted from a junior club rifle team for the state team, he has won state championships in several events over his years. Mr. Smashy currently competes in NRA Highpower, USPSC, Action Pistol, among others. Mr. Smashy has excellent knowledge of US service rifles, reloading, and marksmanship. Read his full interview here.