Upgrading My $1 Mossberg 500

Years ago I won a Mossberg 500A 12 gauge shotgun in a raffle held by a local police department auxiliary. The entry fee was $1 and I paid it with change in my pocket. The shotgun was in a woodland camo and came with both a 18.5″ improved cylinder barrel and a 20″ barrel with rifle sights. This shotgun sat in a box for years until just recently when I decided to upgrade it for a home defense shotgun.

My first step was taking it apart (thank you YouTube!) and giving it a deep cleaning. The barrel had a bit of rust on the outside of it so with a mix of sandpaper and rust remover I cleaned it up. I used Birchwood Casey’s Gun Scrubber Synthetic Safe Cleaner on all the parts to remove dirt, fouling, and old grease. I then scrubbed the bore of the barrel until it shone like a mirror.

My next steps were to decide if I wanted to replace the follower, to add a picatinny rail, to add a red dot sight, whether to make it compatible with mini-shells, and to upgrade the follower spring. Once I decided to upgrade the stock Mossberg follower I had a number of choices to make. Delrin plastic or aluminum? Lime green or any number of anodized options? It came down to the lime green Delrin  follower from S&J Hardware and the aluminum anodized one from NDZ Performance. I eventually decided on the S&J follower because it seemed “slicker”. If I was also going to replace the thumb safety, I might have gone with a NDZ combo package. However, the existing safety seems perfectly adequate.

S&J Hardware Delrin follower – picture from their website.

I had planned to replace the existing spring with a Wolff Extra Power magazine spring. Indeed, I actually bought one. However, it was so strong that it was near impossible to get it installed. I finally gave up and stayed with the stock spring. I may eventually switch but I think the stock spring will work for now.

The brass bead on the 18.5″ barrel would have been perfectly adequate. I had toyed with adding the XS Sights big dot sight but decided a red dot would work better in the long run. I got a UTG picatinny rail from Amazon along with a certified refurbished Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight. I have used the Bushnell sight on a Ruger 10/22 and on an AR-15 pistol. I was concerned whether it would hold up to the shock of a shotgun round but was assured in an email from Bushnell that it would do fine with 2.75″ shells.

As I intend to give 1 3/4″ mini-shells a try, I bought an OPSol Miniclip 2.0 Flex directly from OPSol Texas. Every review, written and video, agreed that the OPSol Miniclip was the way to go. The Miniclip is a little rubber doo-dad that can be slipped in and out of the shotgun to let the mini-shells feed.

After going to all the trouble to update the internals of the Mossberg 500, it would have been a shame to ignore the exterior. Remember I had to sand some rust off the barrel. I went back and forth on a number of camo patterns and eventually settled on a modified tiger stripe. It would be easy to do using spray paint and blue painters tape.

I had planned to just use black and olive drab for the tiger stripe pattern. I decided to modify it a bit by using a light olive as an accent to the black stripes. These were done using a pair of fishnet pantry hose, more blue tape, and the lighter olive spray paint.

 As you can see in pictures below, I think it came out nicely. I did go over the finished paint job with two coats of a matte finish sealer.

And a closer detail picture of the modified tiger stripe camo.

The blue tape is, obviously, still on the safety and the pump rails. I want to let the sealer cure overnight before removing it.

All that is left to do is mount the picatinny rail and red dot as well as reassemble the internals of the shotgun. That and to take it to the range for testing!

This was a fun project that didn’t cost that much money. Everything all told was less than $100 and will make this old Mossberg 500 much improved.


4 thoughts on “Upgrading My $1 Mossberg 500”

  1. I did a fun camo on an M-14 stock by walking out to the local maple tree and grabbing some leaves. Laid them on the stock and hit it with the spray. I liked it better than tape because I got the leaf pattern but it was a bit fuzzy. Tape comes across as too sharp for a camo pattern IMO.

  2. I won a Belgium Browning BAR in 7mm Remington Mag. at a Civil Air Patrol Gun show in Grant's Pass, Oregon in 1988 with two 1 dollar tickets.
    Somebody did a fine job of picking out a beauty of a stock on it.
    I don't think I'll be doing a rattle can job on it. The gun has gotten me some nice game over the years.
    But I do have a few Far'rms with plastic stocks, that could use a bit of spray paint and creativity. I'll get to that just as soon as I'm done with the 45 or 90 other little projects I want/need to do.

    1. I don't think I'd be painting a Belgium Browning BAR either! However, the Mossberg that I won was used and had plastic stocks. I understand about the multitude of other projects!

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