Whether you're looking for a 12-gauge shotgun for hunting or home defense , Mossberg has you covered with the 940 Pro Turkey and 940 Pro Tactical.
One of my favorite quotes from classic American literature references shotguns: “… but if there is a law at all, it should be to keep people from the use of smooth-bores. A body never knows where his lead will fly, when he pulls the trigger of one of them uncertain firearms.” These words were spoken by James Fenimore Cooper’s fictional character Natty Bumppo, aka Hawkeye, from the Leatherstocking Tales.
For those who do not completely understand the shotgun, let me educate you: Shotguns throw a pattern of bullets—pellets—and those individual pellets never land in the same place. This causes shotgun shooters to spend hours doing something called “patterning.” This is arguably a waste of time because all they’re really doing is trying to predict the unpredictable.
I learned this at about age 5 when my father first took me squirrel hunting. He gave me a break-action shotgun, and one morning I fired a box of shells at squirrels. On the way back to camp, I asked if I could borrow Grandpa’s pump .22 LR rifle for our next squirrel hunt. I did, and I’ve hardly looked at a shotgun seriously since.
It’s not so much that I don’t like shotguns; I just don’t have a real need for a shotgun. Ironically, during my law enforcement days, I received a lot of tactical shotgun training. And while I think there are some excellent applications for a shotgun in law enforcement and in combat, those days are long behind me. I don’t wing shoot. If I turkey hunt, I do it in West Virginia where I can use anything I want—and for home defense, I feel the carbine is a better option. Moreover, until now, I’ve never seen a shotgun that I really liked.
With all that in mind, maybe you’ll take what I’m about to tell you with more than a grain of salt. I’ve found two shotguns I really like. They just happen to be the same shotgun wearing a different uniform. Now, before I go any further, let me say that this isn’t the common “they sent me a shotgun to test, it’s wonderful, and you should go buy it” kind of article.
This is more of a story of discovery.
How it Happened
It started when my son became afflicted with the disease of turkey hunting. He’s an accomplished videographer, and he and a friend decided they were going to record their passion with a camera and share their exploits on social media. Like with many endeavors, life and work get in the way of grandiose ideas, and my son ended up with so many clients he could barely carve out enough time to just go turkey hunting, much less film it.
At any rate, for their endeavor to have added appeal, they reached out to Mossberg and requested the loan of one of their new 940 Pro Turkey shotguns. When it came in, my son brought it by and unboxed it. I was immediately smitten with its light heft and compactness. Not only that but this shotgun came from the factory with a neat little space carved out of the top of the receiver where a reflex sight could be mounted. This, of course, is a fantastic idea and makes you wonder why it took so long to happen.
Shortly after opening day, a friend was visiting from New York. (Yes, I’m friends with some Yankees, if they don’t intend to stay when they come to visit.) My son and his buddy took him turkey hunting, and he used the new Mossberg to whack a big gobbler at about 35 yards. (My son did get that on film.) A few days later, my boy convinced me to go turkey hunting with him, and after way more walking than I thought was necessary, he snuck up on a big 3-year-old tom and shot him in the face with the Mossberg.
Though I had little interest in turkey hunting with this shotgun, I began to lust for it as a home defense—tactical—weapon. It was, after all, a short, light, semi-automatic that came out of the box ready to go for a reflex sight. Then, I discovered that Mossberg offers a 940 Pro Tactical version of this shotgun. And, unusual for tactical shotguns, it accepts interchangeable choke tubes. I reached out to the media relations representative at Mossberg who knew my disdain for scatterguns and, to their astonishment, requested one to give it a try.
Both shotguns feature the unique Mossberg self-draining stock that comes with inserts that’ll allow you to adjust the stock’s length of pull, drop and cast. Both also have the receiver machined to accept any compact reflex sight that matches the J-point footprint. The receivers are also drilled and tapped, and a fiber-optic front sight is standard. The “Pro” designation means both shotguns have an updated, clean-running gas system with corrosion-resistant internal parts. An enlarged and beveled loading port, a quick-empty magazine release button, a cocked indicator, interchangeable chokes, and an oversized operating handle are all standard as well.
Now for the differences. Just like the 940 Pro Tactical, the 940 Pro Turkey comes with an 18.5-inch barrel, but a 24-inch barreled version is also available. The 940 Pro Tactical comes in flat black and both 940 Pro Turkey shotguns have a Mossy Oak Greenleaf camo finish. The Turkey models also have a ventilated rib on the barrel and a 4+1 capacity. The 940 Pro Tactical has a 7+1 capacity and a barrel/magazine tube clamp that’s M-Lok compatible.
Both have a rear sling swivel stud, and on the Tactical version, the front stud is integral to the barrel clamp. With the Turkey version, the front stud is part of the magazine tube cap. The Tactical version has a larger action release button and weighs 7.5 pounds. The 24-inch Turkey version weighs the same, but the 18.5-inch 940 Pro Turkey is noticeably lighter than both.
In addition to the turkey slaying my son orchestrated with the 940 Pro Turkey, over the course of several months we’ve shot both shotguns a lot, with a lot of different loads. Everything we’ve fed both shotguns they digested without fail. In addition to testing a wide range of 2¾ and 3-inch loads, we did a lot of that “patterning” with five different choke tubes.
Since both shotguns had the same length barrel, their performance on target was as identical as two shotguns could be. I’m not one to count pellets; it’s relatively easy to just look at the patterns and make a reasonable conclusion about in the field performance. At 25 yards, Federal’s excellent Home Defense 00-buck load printed a pattern out of the 940 Pro Tactical with the cylinder bore choke that was about fist size. Off-hand, rifled slugs grouped similarly. At that same distance, Federal’s Force X2 00-buck load patterned at about 12 inches.
Using a Federal #5 shot load, I tested the Mossberg full, modified and improved cylinder Accu-Choke tubes in the 940 Pro Tactical. At 25 yards, the full choke pattern was about 10 inches in diameter, the modified choke pattern was about 14 inches, and the improved cylinder choke patterned at about 16 inches. Keep in mind, this is all out of an 18.5-inch barrel.
The Mossberg X-Factor XX full-choke tube and a Carlson Long Beard XR choke tube were tested at 25 yards using the 940 Pro Turkey shotgun and #7-9 Federal TSS loads. Both patterns were about 8 inches with good coverage … but with the Carlson choke, the pattern was a bit denser in the center.
The One Shotgun For Everything
Shotguns, just like rifles, can be very specialized. True shotgunners will have a different shotgun for every need they can imagine. I’m not a true shotgunner. My interest in shotguns is much more from the general-purpose angle. If I’m going to have a shotgun, I’m going to have one shotgun that I can use to effectively do the most things with.
I’ve been at this shooting thing for a long time, and to date, I’ve not seen a better general-purpose shotgun option than the 940 Pro Tactical. It’s best configured for self-defense, but with the interchangeable choke system, you can use it for damn near anything you want. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in what might be the ultimate, lightweight, compact and most versatile turkey shotgun available, the 940 Pro Turkey is the way to go. It seems to be doing its job nicely for my son, and soon you should be able to order the longer barrel and switch between them as needed.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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