The ultimate survival gun? Maybe. Here’s one from Mossberg that’s designed to be there for you “just in case…” KEEP READING
by Major Pandemic
When you think of the ultimate survival gun you should think of the versatility, durability, and power of a proven 12 gauge shotgun. Available shotshells run the gamut from slugs capable of downing any North American game, fletched long-range defensive rounds, door-breaching rounds, signal flares, heavy goose and turkey loads, light-recoiling clays loads, and the standard variety of buckshoot, BB, pellets, and many more.
12ga. shot shells are also among the easiest and most forgiving to reload and can be even reloaded using black powder. If you were faced with having only one gun for survival, most any survival expert will tell you that a 12ga. will serve you better than any other type of firearm.
This was the thinking behind the Mossberg JIC — Just In Case — series. The series features Mossberg’s 500 line originally packaged in waterproof, floating, bury-able tubes which provided protection. The newer JIC II series takes the concept a step further by offering a Cordura pack-based carry solution.
FIT & FEEL
The JIC II version is packaged in a more user-friendly format than the giant tubes on the previous models. Mossberg found that people loved the ready-to-shoot concept of the original JIC watertight tube, but were also asking for a more compact and discreet soft-cased version as. Mossberg worked with 5.11 (a top tactical clothing and accessories manufacturer) to come up with a simple case design which was durable, light, and as small as possible. The result was the Cordura JIC II case which holds the Mossberg 500 in disassembled state, and houses assembly tools, a gun lock, and provides plenty of room for ammo.
What makes this and the other JIC kits cool, convenient, and unique is a shotgun and storage solution wrapped into one. In this kit, the insanely popular 500 Series Cruiser shotgun which features a pistol grip and 18.5-in. barrel reduces the overall size of an average Mossberg shotgun to just under 29 inches.
From a features perspective, I was a little confused when my Mossberg JIC II arrived, as it differed a bit from the pictures I ordered from and even from Mossberg’s own website. The end result was that all the pictures show a model a bit different than what I received. Mossberg’s picture shows an included sling and attached loop forend sling, but the model I received included neither, which was a bit of a bummer.
The case itself is designed to hold the barrel, action, and pistol grip securely via Velcro straps in a disassembled state, and provides a pocket for the takedown pistol grip bolt, washer, and hex wrench. With the case packed, it measures a very compact 22x9x2 which can be easily slipped under a seat, secured to a pack via the rear Velcro loops, or carried via the included shoulder strap. The disassembled action with the pistol grip removed just barely fits in the pack, which indicates to me that Mossberg was making every effort to reduce carried size.
The Mossberg 500 should, at this point, need no review, but for those that are not familiar with this slick-cycling shotgun, it features twin action bars for positive functioning, 5+1 shot capacity (with 2-3/4-in. shells), 18.5-in. barrel, pistol grip, and sling swivel studs. The shotgun can handle up to 3-in. magnum shells if you dare, and is finished with matte phosphate.
This version of the 500 Cruiser is less frilly version than some of the versions Mossberg now makes; this one is tipped only a simple bead sight. Ergonomically, the Mossberg 500s differ from other brands in the position of the safety and slide release. The slide release is located next to the thumb versus forward of the trigger guard, and the safety is a thumb-operated tang mounted for ambidextrous use, versus being located behind the trigger guard. The receiver is made from mil-spec aluminum and has a polymer trigger guard. It may not be fancy, but the 500 Series is light, simple to use, and is a proven design that works every single time.
Assembly from the case is pretty quick and very simple. Unzip the full-length, lockable zippers to fully open the case, un-velcro the receiver, barrel, and pistol grip, and remove the grip’s bolt, washer, and hex wrench from the little internal pocket. Press the slide release and move the action to half open and insert the barrel and then tighten the thumbscrew until tight (about seven turns) to secure the barrel. Install the pistol grip with the included bolt, washer, and hex wrench and the gun is ready to shoot! In total, you can have the entire shotgun together in about a minute.
Pump shotguns all work about the same way: load shells by pushing them into the magazine, press the slide release, rack the action to chamber the first round and release the safety, if necessary, to shoot. Once a round is fired, the slide action automatically unlocks and the shooter can rack-cycle the action again to shoot again and again. It could not be more simple.
The pistol-grip version has its sizing, maneuverability, and weight advantages, and the pistol grip even mitigates a fair amount of recoil. The downside it that the pistol grip does take a little practice for accurate shots while managing the recoil at eye level. Shooters need to assure a safe recoil zone is maintained for eye level shooting or you may find the backside of your fist smacking you in the face.
Hot buckshot and slug rounds generate a fair amount of recoil; however, firing the JIC II Cruiser was manageable for both hip and line-of-sight shooting. For new shooters, shotgun recoil takes a while to adjust to. It just just takes practice.
I was pretty impressed that even with Hornady Zombie Max 00 Buckshot loads at 25 yards, I was able to easily destroy a 20oz Coke bottle with eye level shots over and over again. These rounds usually group in the 2-3-in. range at that distance so a fair amount of accuracy was required. Turkey loads make it easy to hit just about anything at 25 yards with the Improved Cylinder choke of this barrel. My prefered shooting grip was a solid two-hand pistol grip when shooting for accuracy off hand. For less-stationary defensive shots I used a “pushing” forend grip and “pulling” trigger-hand grip to manage recoil.
Dropping the shotgun down on the bench, I found it pretty easy to keep all my slugs in a 2-3-in. circle at 25-yards, but to be honest, 6-rounds of slugs and I decided that I was done with that experiment. Slugs are a bit brutal to shoot in any pistol-grip-style pump-action shotgun.
Thankfully Mossberg did not adorn the JIC II case also with the household name of “Mossberg” otherwise it would be obvious what the case carried. The prominent JIC II logo can be clandestinely recolored with a black sharpie or by removing the stitching for those who require a more subdued case look.
This is a compact little kit that goes together quickly and takes up very little room and provided all the functionality of the well-refined and time-tested Mossberg action. Slip a 50-round shot shell bandolier sling into the case with a variety of buckshot, slug, bird shot, flare, and BB rounds and you can cover about any need which may arise.
The 12 guage shotgun is the ultimate survival firearm. It’s also great for home defense, and for around $350 on the street, this shotgun remains one of the best deals in firearms. The JIC II kit just makes it that much easier to take a great shotgun along, you know… “Just in Case.”
[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. Click HERE to learn more.]