Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag 12 Gauge Shotgun Review

        It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my first 12 gauge shotgun would be my first review on Fowl Attraction. Let's face it though, 15 years of using this weapon for various applications in a variety of conditions, I have a lot of experience with this particular firearm. So, without hesitation, lets get to it!
Synthetic Black Waterfowl

 Mossberg came out with the 835 Ulti-Mag in 1988 as an answer for a do-it-all shotgun that was capable of handling 3 1/2 magnum loads as well as 2 3/4" and 3" loads all through the same gun without any modification while reducing the felt recoil. They achieved this by overboring the barrel to the inner dimensions of a 10 gauge, and adding 8 ports to each side at the end of the barrel. This was not only done to reduce recoil but to minimize muzzle jump to help you stay on target.

Wood Waterfowl
   The receiver is made of an aluminum alloy, which is high strength and low maintenance while it's competition, The Remington 870 Express Magnum is made of steel, and the Remington 887 Nitro Mag, Winchester SXP Waterfowl, Benelli Nova, Benelli Supernova, and Stoeger P350 are made of a high grade polymer.
 Mossberg describes all inner components, especially the bolt as robust, which was designed specifically for the longer bodied shells.

     Some select newer 835 Ulti-mags come equipped with what Mossberg calls L.P.A. (Lightening Pump Action) adjustable trigger system which I do not currently have any experience with.

      Currently, coming up on 2012, Mossberg still carries the 835 Ulti-Mag in a variety of special purpose variations, especially for Turkey hunting. I will explain that a little later in this review.

     As there are so many variations of this shotgun, I am only able to speak in reference to the synthetic matte black waterfowl version.

Point of Use
Waterfowl Camo
    The Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag can be used for a variety of uses from shooting skeet, upland game, waterfowl, turkey, and even deer hunting. Although this particular shotgun doesn't currently offer a version with an 18" barrel, you could use this shotgun for home defense as well.

   Since this shotgun is primarily a hunting gun, designed around 3 1/2" loads, it is naturally geared towards turkey and geese hunting with the ability to take ducks, and pheasants; and with the right barrel, even deer.

Waterfowl Fly Away 
Ergonomics/Ease of Use
   To me, the Mossberg 835 is very comfortable and very natural to point and shoot; although, that has been my primary shotgun for 15 years, so I might be a little biased.

   The length of pull is 14.5" which is the longest length of pull on any of the shotguns mentioned earlier in this review, but still very comfortable to shoulder.

    The safety is on the top of the receiver towards the stock which makes the weapon very fast to shoulder, get on target, and be ready to fire with only a flick of the thumb. To me, it's less movement, and less movement equals faster first shots. The trigger feels about the same as the Remington 887 Nitro Mag, which in my opinion is decent.
Turkey Thug

   The action release lever is located behind the trigger guard assembly which is where I prefer it to be rather than at the front of the trigger guard like the 887 Nitro Mag or to the side of the front of the trigger guard like the Benellis.

    The 835 has quite a bit of forearm rattle, which makes the pump action feel cheap and clunky. I believe this to be due to the forearm not being as long as it's competitors which doesn't give the metal slides attached to the forearm as much rigidity. Also, on further inspection, it looks to me as if the receiving channels for the metal slides to be bigger than what is needed allowing for more play.

Tactical Turkey
    The 835 is surprisingly a bit on the heavy side in terms of weight at 7 3/4 lbs when compared to it's competitors. The lightest of the 835's competition is the new Winchester SXP Waterfowl weighing in at 6 lbs 14 Oz. and the heaviest believe it or not is the Benelli Nova and Supernova weighing it at 8 lbs.


Thumbhole Turkey

 Here in Utah, while hunting waterfowl, your only allowed up to three shells (1 in the chamber, 2 in the magazine tube) being loaded in the gun at any time, which all of the shotguns mentioned in this review including the 835 allow with the plug. In other uses for this shotgun you could remove the plug and put more shells in the magazine.

Because the barrel is overbored, you should NEVER use slugs in this gun unless you have and are using the slug barrel. A slug shot out of an overbored barrel can and will create an obstruction and could cause serious injury to the gun, including death to the shooter. Slug barrels will be talked about a little later in this review.

    I've been using this shotgun as a primary bird gun for 15 years, and I have killed many of pheasants, a  turkey, a few ducks, rabbits, and squirrels with it along with 1,000's of clay pigeons and I wouldn't of continued to use it for this long without it being accurate. I've shot clays at about 40 yards with it time and time again.

    The Mossberg 835 has been around for 23 years now, and in various configurations ranging from waterfowl guns to turkey and even deer guns. Time tells the truth of how good a product is, and with 23 years under it's belt the 835 is still very much alive and thriving today.

   I have read a few reviews where this gun has had some issues with the firing pin, loose stocks, failure to feeds, and failure to ejects. I have not had any problems with the firing pin, a loose stock, or failure to feed. I have however had less than a handful of failure to ejects in the same session. My guess is that the FTEs were due to the firearm being dirty, and functioned flawlessly after the 2-3 times.

Camo Turkey

You may notice as you look around at sporting goods stores, gun stores, and websites that you will find alot more parts and accessories for the much more popular Mossberg 500 and 590 series over the 835 series, but there still are quite a few out there!
There are barrels out there designed specifically for slugs, that either come in a combo gun kit such as the turkey/deer combo or you can buy the slug barrel separate. These barrels are usually less than $200.00 which when comparing to other barrels for other shotguns makes  this a very affordable do-it-all shotgun.
There are several chokes available on the market also for this series of shotgun, and they can range from $20.00 to $60.00. If interested, I would check out Mossberg's Accessory section on their website.

What's included in the box?
The 835 Ulti-mag comes with 2 chokes: Modified and Full, and a choke wrench along with cable lock and keys, and an instruction manual.

Currently, as of December of 2011, the Mossberg 835 12 Ga. Ulti-Mag with a 28" barrel, synthetic stock, and matte black finish sells for around $350.00, which is the cheapest out of it's competitors. The Remington 870 Express Super Magnum and the Remington 887 Nitro Mag are a close second at about $360.00. The Benelli Nova is at $400.00 while the Benelli Supernova is priced at $460.00. The Winchester SXP Waterfowl is so new that I am not currently able to obtain a price on it, although I am sure it is more expensive since all of the prices so far have been for blued/matte black finish and synthetic black stocks and the SXP Waterfowl looks like it will only come out in camo.

As for other variations of this great valued shotgun, please check prices at your local gun store or at Impact Guns.

Track Record
Turkey/Waterfowl Combo

As for the track record, I pretty much already covered this. The model has been around for 23 years now, and is still in production with many variations available. There have been some reports of problems with this model of shotgun, however the only problems I've experienced with it has been an episode of FTEs (Failure to Ejects) but with some cleaning, that has subsided and the gun functions flawlessly since.

If you're looking for a good all purpose shotgun, that is budget friendly, with the ability to shoot 3 1/2" loads, I would definitely look into purchasing this shotgun.

****Please note that the shotgun reviewed in this review is a Synthetic Black Waterfowl model with the 28" barrel. All other pictures are just variations of the Mossberg 835 available****


  1. Pulled it out of the box and took it hunting only to find out that it would not chamber shells. Every pump sent the unfired shell from the magazine tube out the bottom. Still no fix 3 months later. I own 5 Mossberg shotguns. Very disappointed.

  2. Looks interesting, ill be sure to check it out. Cheap property in Turkey

  3. I find the 835's weight just fine, well I am 6'3" and I have a muscular built so this gun works perfect for me. I also find it really reliable

  4. Dose anyone know where I can find a turkey choke for this gun. All I seem to be finding are one for the accu mag.

  5. Dose anyone know where I can find a turkey choke for this gun. All I seem to be finding are one for the accu mag.