Gun Digest

Mossberg & Sons: Enduring Blue-Collar Innovation

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Mossberg & Sons has grown to one of the world's foremost firearms manufacturers by pursuing one simple goal: putting quality firearms within reach of every shooter.

Every gun company has an aura about it. Some pinch pennies, while others insist you wear a dinner jacket before you handle their guns. O. F. Mossberg & Sons’ aura is neither.

Beginning in 1919, firearm production consisted of a four-barreled, .22-caliber handgun known as the “Brownie.” Following the success of the Brownie, .22-caliber rifles, shotguns and rifle scopes were also developed, spawning a period of diversification within the sporting goods market. 

“From day one, the Mossberg philosophy was to design its products with the working class in mind,” said Mossberg’s Linda Powell. “Mossberg was a visionary from a marketing perspective, because the working class has always outnumbered the ‘high social’ class. From the Brownie to the Model 500 pump-action shotguns to today’s centerfire rifles and pistols, look at the sheer numbers of Mossberg firearms that have been made available to, and affordable for, the general public.”

The Mossberg ‘Aura’

I discovered Mossberg’s “aura” as a lawn mower-funded teenager in the late 1980s. A Mossberg was a firearm I could obtain—and did: a Model 500 shotgun. It wasn’t cheap, yet anyone could afford one with a little effort. Once you got one, however, regardless of your tax bracket, you were proud of it. Why? Because you felt the value in every dollar you’d spent in the functionality and quality of the gun, from the buttstock to the muzzle. Mossberg didn’t waste its design and engineering time (or its customers’ money) on the extravagant. It still doesn’t.

My shotgun always worked … every, single time. Like any good hunting dog, my Model 500 was still ready for any adventure, and it always “barked” when it needed to. It wore its hunting-earned scratches and nicks as mechanical tattoos of pride. Every time I took to the woods with my Mossberg, I walked with the boyhood swagger of confidence—which can only come from hunting with your very best friend. This is O.F. Mossberg & Sons’ long-standing aura.

It’s been that way since Mossberg first opened its doors in 1919.

Mossberg understands loyalty because, in the beginning, that, along with O.F. Mossberg’s tinkering genius, is all it had.

Oscar Frederick Mossberg and his two sons, Iver and Harold, founded O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. in 1919. The company has remained a family-owned business to this day and is the oldest family-owned firearms manufacturer in America. 

According to Powell, “In the early years, it was difficult for the company to keep financially afloat. The young company received assistance from family, friends and a small group of investors. Mossberg demonstrated its loyalty to those individuals by buying back their stock and, in some cases, hiring those individuals. If you helped Mossberg, you were never forgotten. This mindset remains today, and many current and former employees sound a recurring theme: To work for the Mossbergs is like being part of an extended family.”

More Mossberg:

Friend. Family. Firearms.

There’s a term we all know and understand: It isn’t just blood that can make a family.

“The Mossberg family wants everyone to be able to enjoy the traditions of hunting and our shooting sports,” Powell pointed out. “Mossberg’s success over the years has been driven by the company’s vision to produce high-quality firearms at an affordable price.”

Indeed, like family, Mossberg has done more than simply build guns so people all over the world can enjoy hunting and shooting. It’s also built relationships with everyone and has provided everything a hunter or shooter needs to learn, experience and sustain hunting and shooting for generations.

O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. is the largest pump-action shotgun manufacturer in the world … leading the way with more than 100 design and utility patents to its credit and standing as the first ISO 9001 certified long-gun manufacturer.

Powell continued, “Providing the firearms to enjoy those traditions is central to the business, but Mossberg goes beyond by supporting numerous organizations within the industry to promote firearms safety, education, conservation and the preservation of our Second Amendment rights.”

Creativity and Balance

Mossberg is more than just one of your most loyal, capable firearms friends, though. As history has shown, it might also be your most creative.

How creative? According to Mossberg, it stands as the first IOS 9001 certified long-gun manufacturer and has more than 100 design patents to its credit. Mossberg is also recognized for many “firsts” in history, such as its rifle telescope and unique mounting system; a 3.5-inch, 12-gauge shotgun; a cable lock device for safe firearms storage; an integral scope mount (cantilever); a dual-comb stock (which allows for a high or low comb height with the use of an insert); a muzzle-loading conversion barrel for the 500 pump-action; and the first bolt-action rifle to accept and reliably feed on AR-style magazines. In addition, the Mossberg 500 platform is the only pump-action shotgun to pass the U.S. military’s mil-spec tests and is in use by all five branches of the U.S. military.

But being creative takes more than brains—it also takes courage.

In Mossberg: More Gun for the Money, written by Victor and Cheryl Havlin, Alan Mossberg explains how Mossberg did both.

Quality, durability and dependability are hallmarks of the Mossberg reputation. Since 1979, Mossberg shotguns are the only pump-action shotguns purchased by the U.S. government that meet or exceed rigorous mil-spec and NIJ (National Institute of Justice) requirements. 

“It’s a question of balance, really,” he explained. “On the one hand, reducing risks so that we can stay competitive and maintain profitability. On the other hand, you have to take risks so that you can grow, develop new products, serve new markets. The key is knowing which risks to take and which risks to eliminate.”

Adaptability Is Key

Nevertheless, one risk Mossberg has never taken is to rest on its laurels.

“As a company with vision, Mossberg is always looking ahead, knowing that there will be external pressures—production challenges, such as those with the recent surge due to COVID-19; changes in the way the company markets and sells; and legislative issues,” Powell pointed out. “However, with the company’s steadfast approach to safety, quality, value and continued improvement, Mossberg has been able to survive those external pressures for decades and is recognized as an innovative leader in the firearms industry.”

Regardless of the times, one thing that’s always remained the same has been what to expect when you buy a Mossberg.

“When someone chooses a Mossberg firearm, they should be confident they’re purchasing a feature-rich, well-built firearm that will provide years of reliable service,” Powell explained. “And also knowing that Mossberg is never content with the status quo but is always keeping a constant eye on innovation in the design and manufacturing of our firearms.”

How has Mossberg been able to establish and maintain itself as a firearms industry innovator? According to Powell, it’s all about Mossberg’s adaptability.

The Mossberg Patriot centerfire bolt-action rifle is just one of many innovative firearms that fit Mossberg’s reputation of manufacturing high-value guns.

“One area in which the company excels is in its ability to incorporate a design change within weeks or even a new product at a more rapid pace than competitors. Oscar, Iver and Harold were all involved in designing improvements and their next firearm—always keeping an ear to the ground for changes in consumer preferences and industry developments. That same level of engineering and manufacturing efficiency continues today.”

Powell expanded on her words by describing Mossberg’s approach to meetings.

“During weekly meetings that include team employees from every department within the company, new products are discussed, as well as improvements that might be incorporated into existing product lines.

“An example, from a few years ago: Iver Mossberg brought up the idea of adding an adjustable stock to our 464 lever-action and a tactical-style forend. The following week at the team meeting, one of the engineers brought in a mock-up of our lever-action with a six-position adjustable stock, as well as the forend that Iver had described. Just a few weeks later, a group of Mossberg employees was out in the field, testing what would become our 464 SPX lever-action.

“More recently, at a media event at which we previewed the MC1sc—Mossberg’s first handgun in nearly 100 years—Mossberg engineers and executives listened to the comments from the media attendees. Then, a year later, we invited back the same group of media people to unveil the MC2c pistol … which incorporated a number of their recommendations.”

Steadfast Company Philosophy

Today, O.F. Mossberg & Sons continues to grow. Why? It’s clearly about more than just making guns.

The MC1sc is another innovation from Mossberg. It’s received rave reviews from the firearms industry and customers alike. Many people think this was Mossberg’s first handgun, but handguns helped build Mossberg.

Powell pointed out that “the key to Mossberg’s continued success lies with its core management team, implementing lean manufacturing and the ‘Kaizen’ philosophy (teamwork, personal discipline, improved morale, quality circles and suggestions for improvement). And, never losing focus of the vision Oscar Mossberg had for the company: innovative new products, awareness of improvement to proven products, pride in craftsmanship and delivering reliable, high-quality firearms to the working class.”

For more information on Mossberg & Sons, please visit

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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