Not all firearm accessories have to be flashy, “revolutionary,” or pricey to be a valuable addition to a gun. The Extended Action Release from Shoten Armory is exactly that: an add-on that makes a Mossberg shotgun easier to operate.
The Extended release solves a problem faced by many Mossberg 500 users (as well as other Mossberg pump guns) who have a pistol grip installed on their shotgun. The actions of those guns have the slide release—the little tab that lets the shooter operate the slide when the breech is locked—on the left side of the receiver, just behind the trigger.
With a standard stock on the Mossberg, it’s fairly easy for a shooter with hands of any size to access the release with the middle finger of the trigger hand, without moving your hand off the grip, and you maintain complete control of the shotgun while doing so.
(For those not familiar with how a pump shotgun works: When a round is chambered, or if the action is empty and cycled and the internal hammer is cocked, the slide locks. This prevents the shooter from accidentally opening the breech or cycling the firearm when a round is chambered. If you want to work the action in order to unload the gun without pulling the trigger, you have to trip the slide release lever, which unlocks the slide, allowing it to move and cycle the action.)
The location of the release, along with the top tang safety, actually makes the factory-stocked 500 somewhat ambidextrous. However, when thousands of Mossberg shotgun owners began installing aftermarket pistol-grip stocks on their guns in order to increase their versatility and capability for tactical applications and for hunting purposes, a couple of problems became apparent.
With a pistol grip installed, it was no longer possible to activate the slide release without moving the trigger hand off of the grip itself. The grip also prevents the shooter from easily manipulating the safety without moving the shooting hand, unless the shooter has extremely long thumbs.
Most Mossberg owners simply get used to reaching around the trigger guard to trip the release. And even though Mossberg now offers plenty of models that ship with pistol grips, it hasn’t changed the location of the controls on the Model 500, 535, 590, or 835. It’s a particular annoyance for shooters with very small hands, for obvious reasons.
Michael Levy at Shoten Armory decided it was a problem that needed a solution. His product is extraordinarily simple. He started with a Mossberg factory slide release lever, and even though it’s just a little exposed tab, the part is actually fairly large, squiggling its way through the receiver and the trigger assembly.
Levy created his extension by welding pieces of metal onto the factory component until he achieved the proper angle and shape to extend the slide release lever, so that a shooter can manipulate it with the thumb of the trigger hand without moving from the shooting position. The levers Shoten sells are based on these prototypes and machined from one solid piece of metal.
There are three models to choose from, with varying lengths available for shooters with different sized hands. Levy will also modify the angle of the lever to accomodate various aftermarket grips and stocks.
You can order the $45 part and install it yourself. Really, you can. Levy has a video (below) that shows you just how to do it, and other than a couple of punches, you don’t even need any special tools. But seeing the maze of levers and springs inside the trigger assembly sent me right to my gunsmith.
Is an awkwardly located release lever really that big of a problem—big enough to warrant a $45 part and a couple trips to the gun shop, plus labor costs? For me it was, especially because my Mossberg is a hunting gun and I had it done mostly for safety reasons.
The addition makes me feel like I have more control over the operation of my firearm. When I took my 535 with its newly installed extended lever on a turkey hunt earlier this month, it was an advantage every time I used it.
When hunting with a partner, especially sitting in a two-person blind or hiking single file through heavy brush, you’re often maneuvering your firearm in tight spaces. Reaching around the trigger guard with slightly numb, gloved hands to trip the release to unload before climbing over a fence, or after downing a bird, or when running into other hunters in the field, seems unnecessarily unsafe now that I have the extended release.
Yes, you should confirm that the safety is ON before you even start the unloading procedure, but mistakes happen. Maybe you thought it was on when it wasn’t. Maybe a piece of your glove was in the slot and it didn’t click home all the way. No matter—you should never, ever depend on a manual safety anyway. With gloved hands, cold hands, wet hands, or even temperate hands on a sunny day, it’s all too easy to touch that trigger while wrapping a hand around to open the action.
The extended release eliminates all that. The release also makes it easier to swap out a round, if you need to.
My hunting buddy’s first question when I showed it to him was, “You think it’ll get caught on things?” It was something I’d certainly thought about. But after two days of eight-hour hunting sessions, slinging the shotgun with decoy bags, a pack, and other things with straps and such while hiking through brush and streams, it didn’t snag once, nor did it snag on anything while moving it around in our little pop-up blind.
Unloading my gun with shaking hands after I took a shot, with my friend literally two inches away from me, I felt much safer with the lever than I would have without it.
The biggest drawback to the lever? If you have a Mossberg set up on which you routinely change out the stock for different applications, the extended lever likely won’t function well, or will protrude too far with a straight stock installed. But for a dedicated tactical or home defense shotgun or a dedicated turkey gun, the Shoten Armory Extended Action Release is a great accessory that ups the speed of operation and safety quotient of most any Mossberg pump with a pistol grip.
Drop Mr. Levy a line through his site here, and he’ll get you set up with what you need.