Review: Mossberg 500 with RAM Arms “Sledgehammer” package

The battle-tested and time-proven Mossberg 500 is arguably the most trusted pump shotgun for tactical/home defense situations. Right out of the box the black shotgun can do what’s needed whether dealing with a home intruder or the zombie apocalypse and with the large aftermarket, it can be taken even further. RAM Arms took that to the fullest extent with their “Sledgehammer” tactical defense package added onto the Mossberg.

The selection and number of after-market modifications available for the Mossberg 500 is staggering. Choosing through the wide selection of integrated flashlights, reflex sights, stocks and such typically means trial and error often at great expense. RAM Arms went through all the trouble of trying out and range testing a myriad of components when designing the Sledgehammer.

RAM Arms told The Typical Shooter that several different stocks, rail systems, shotshell holders, flashlight and reflex sights were tried and tested before the standard Sledgehammer package was decided upon.

The Unboxing

The shotgun comes in hard plastic case with foam padding and a cut-out for the TacStar side-saddle shotshell holder. The Firefield micro-dot reflex site came packaged in its original box probably to insure safe arrival through shipping. 

The package included a cable-style gun lock, the original Mossberg warranty and manual, a magazine plug, a Firefield micro reflex site and the assembled custom shotgun. On the shotgun is an Advanced Technology Inc (ATI) adjustable buttsock with padded and ergonomically formed pistol grip, the TacStar 6-shell side-sadlle shotshell holder, a receiver mounted weaver/picatinny rail and the Insight/L3 (EoTech) integrated forend flashlight.

The Mossberg 500 “Persuader” Shotgun

The base shotgun RAM Arms used in their custom build is the venerable Mossberg 500 12 gauge Persuader model. Made in the North Haven, Connecticut, the Mossberg 500 is an American-made sweetheart. Buyers can buy this package knowing they are support United States manufacturers and the makers of one of the most trusted shotguns in the world.

Specifications

  • 12 gauge cylinder choke 18.5″ barrel
  • Fires both 2 3/4″ or 3″ magnum shells (3″ chamber)
  • Holds five rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber (5+1 capacity)
  • Pump action

When asked why the pump was chosen instead of a 930 or similar semi-auto, RAM Arms told The Typical Shooter  that pumps will cycle no matter how long they’ve been set aside. A litte dust, too much oil, cold or hot, these guns will perform. Another reason given was that a pump offers the owner a non-lethal option for dealing with a home invader – racking a 12 gauge pump shotgun doesn’t sound like anything else in the world. It is the one sound that by itself can back an intruder out of the door.

The only downside to the Mossberg 500 is its top-tang safety. Nit-picking here for sure on an otherwise perfect platform as the safety is not difficult to operate and doesn’t reset on its own. Certainly not a big enough hit to keep anyone from owning one of the best defense shotguns on the market.

Component Break-down

ATI Talon Adjustable Stock for Mossberg 500

This is one of the best stocks for the Mossberg 500, 590 and Maverick 88 pump shotguns we’ve seen.

The Scorpion recoil pad is comfortable and keeps the butt firmly planted against the shooter. It is a multi-positional stock that adjusts length of pull for just about any shooter or situation using a lever system found on many tactical rifles like the AR-15.

Additionally, the cheek rest is adjustable for drop at comb allowing the shooter to set the shotgun so that a good cheek weld means being right on the sights.

A pleasant surprise was the pistol grip that is integrated into the stock. Not only is it ergonomically molded to keep firm control of the weapon, but the back side of the grip is also padded which aids in handling the stiff recoil that firing 3″ magnum 1400fps+ defense rounds produces.

TacStar Receiver Mounted 6-Shell Sidesaddle Shotshell holder

The shotshell holder is at first indistinguishable from others on the market. As a sidesadlle-style holder it is mounted to the side of the shotgun and as the others it holds 12 gauge shotshells. Looking closer we find some details that separate the TacStar design from other and shows that RAM Arms put some real thought into selecting this one over alternatives.

First, the holder isn’t simply screwed or glued to the side of the receiver. The trigger pin of the shotshell holder is replaced with a bolt that pins the holder through the receiver in a very secure fashion. On the holder side, a steel baseplate receives the bolt in insure a secure hold. If that weren’t enough, another screw replaces the action screw to also secure the baseplate to the receiver. This holder isn’t going anywhere.

Second, the molding on the shotshell holder is well-thought. When placing shotshells in the top of the holder, the brass of the shotshell hangs on the top of the shotshell holder making for easy top removal. If you push shells in from the bottom, the brass does not hang which securely holds shells placed in this manner and leave a good portion of the plastic end of the shell exposed on the top. If you routinely place your buckshot in from the top and slugs from the bottom this will allow you to feel which shells are where even in the dead of night by running your fingers across the top of holder and pushing or pulling the type of round needed for the situation.

Insight Integrated Forend Light for the Mossberg 500

The integrated forend flashlight is easily the star of this package. Unlike other offerings, the flashlight feels like part of the shotgun. As L3/Insight is also the manufacturer of the famed EoTech holographic weapon sights for the military, the quality is as expected – very high.

Built into the flashlight are two pressure pads, one on each side of the forend. Strategically placed, these pads are exactly where your fingers would be for normal operation of the shotgun. The pads activate the three functions of the flashlight using different touches so there are no complicated controls to deal with in the dark of night.

The flashlight is a bright 120 lumen, three-function tactical flashlight. By simply pressing the pad and releasing it, the flashlight operates flawlessly in a momentary on capacity allowing the shooter to use the light only when needed. Pressing the pad twice and releasing will put the light in constant on mode and hitting the pad twice and holding on the second press will activate the flashlight’s strobe function.

The forend also has an on-off power switch to prevent activation when it is not desired.

The flashlight uses highly-available CR123 batteries for an estimated 2 hours of constant on time.

Firefield Micro-Reflex Sight

Mounted on the included weaver/Picatinny rail is the Firefield micro-reflex sight.

While you don’t aim a shotgun, pointing one requires some sense of where the barrel is. Finding a small bead on a black barrel in a dark hallway will be slow at best and maybe impossible in very dark situations. The addition of a small dot sight allows the shooter to know where the gun is pointed without using the flashlight which would give away his or her position.

The Firefield FF26001 micro-reflex sight is zeroed using the familiar windage and elevation settings. These are managed using the included sighting tools and works as expected.

The Firefield sight also comes equipped with set screws for the sighting adjustments. Once the sight is zeroed, tighten the set screws using the included tool and those settings aren’t going to move even under the heaviest recoil.

The sight comes with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

Testing

We joined RAM Arms on the range to do some testing of the Mossberg 500 with the Sledgehammer package. Spending an afternoon shooting a combination of 3″ slugs, buckshot and 2 3/4″ lower recoil rounds gave us a feel for how the gun handles in a wide variety of situations.

The dot sight was easy to see in full light and put the shot center of mass and the Insight forend was very comfortable to operate. The gun pointed and shot very well and didn’t punish us as badly as we expected firing heavy rounds through a pump.

The weight of the gun was a bit more than we’d expected from a small pump, but that along with the amazing stock from Advanced Technology Inc made the recoil very manageable.

The short barrel and full collapsed stock made it very easy to maneuver around the tactical range that RAM Arms had set up. Getting into and out of covered positions or shooting left or right handed all felt very comfortable.

Overall Impressions

We’re impressed. This is everything you’d need on a shotgun to respond to a bump in the night. The micro-dot sight and flashlight give the gun high-speed aiming and visibility in the worst of seeing conditions. The stock and pistol grip make the gun fit the shooter in every way imaginable making for a very easy-to-handle firearm.

Full Specifications (click links if you’d like to find out where to get the components)

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