At the beginning of January, Mossberg announced the newest addition to their product lineup. To the surprise of many, it wasn’t a shotgun. Instead, it was the MC1sc – a subcompact 9mm pistol designed for concealed carry. Almost instantly, the Internet erupted in calls for the company to #stayinyourlane, which is the new battle cry for people to stick to what they know and stop meddling in affairs about which they know nothing.

mossberg 500 shotgun
This year, O.F. Mossberg celebrates its 100th anniversary. 10 millionth pump-action 500 shotgun in 2013 (bottom). Mossberg

Ironically, it is those keyboard warriors who should, in fact, #stayinyourlane.

In 1919, a 53-year-old Swedish immigrant named Oscar Mossberg teamed up with his two sons, Harold and Iver, to create O. F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc. Their goal was to create durable and reliable firearms that the average working class man could afford. Their first product was the Mossberg Brownie, which was a .22-caliber, four-shot pistol.

Wait, what? Go ahead and re-read that last line again. I’ll wait………

Got it? OK, good. Yep, that’s right. Mossberg’s first foray into the firearms field was a pistol, not a shotgun.

Brownie Basics

mossberg brownie pistol
A vintage Mossberg Brownie pistol on display at SHOT Show 2019. Logan Metesh

The Mossberg Brownie featured a 2.5” barrel (four of them actually), was only 4.5” long overall, weighed only 10 oz., and cost just $5, postpaid anywhere in the U.S.

The pistol featured four barrels that were fired sequentially when the double-action-only trigger released the rotating firing pin. The gun’s function is similar to that of the Unique “palm-squeezer” pistol manufactured by the Shattuck Company. The similarity is no accident: Oscar Mossberg worked for Shattuck and actually filed the patent for the design in 1905.

When production ceased in 1932, approximately 32,000 Brownies had been made during the pistol’s 13-year run. That’s hardly insignificant, yet the Brownie is largely forgotten.

A New Direction

It would be 87 years before the company made another handgun. Instead, Mossberg turned its focus to long arms. By the time Oscar, the patriarch, passed away in 1937, his company had produced more than two dozen different models of bolt-action rifles and shotguns.

vintage photo of three men
Harold, Oscar, and Iver Mossberg. Mossberg

Business was good, even during the Great Depression. At a time when tens of thousands of people had lost everything and unemployment hit 25 percent nationwide, Mossberg had sold more than a million firearms and scopes and employed more than 300 people.

The War Years

Like all good and patriotic companies, Mossberg lent a hand during World War II. They had government contracts for tooling gauges, training rifles, machine gun parts, Lend-Lease arms, and even a sub-contract for the British Lee-Enfield rifle.

Allied soldiers became familiar with the Mossberg name during their time in the service. It was this name recognition that helped the company to really boom after the war was over.

A Household Name

Innovation continued at Mossberg. They created grooved receivers, thumb-operated safeties, hinged peep sights, and other industry firsts. It was during the post-war years that thousands of gun owners came to really know and trust their products, paving the way for generations of brand loyalty.

Game-Changer: Model 500

rack of mossberg shotguns
A rack of Mossberg 500 shotguns. Logan Metesh

In 1961, the company introduced a firearm that would come to define their brand: the Model 500 pump-action shotgun. Production began on Aug. 1 and dealers started getting deliveries by early October. The most appealing feature was the top-mounted (or top tang) safety, which was in a location naturally and easily accessible by the shooter’s thumb whether the shooter was right handed or a lefty.

The now-iconic 12-gauge hit the market with a price of $73.50 and “features galore.” Shooters could choose from six different barrel configurations in lengths from 26” to 30” chambered for 2.75” or 3” Magnum shells.

In constant production for almost 60 years, it has been Mossberg’s most successful offering ever. In 2013, the model hit an incredible milestone: the 10 millionth gun rolled off the line. That’s 10 million shotguns in 52 years—or, to put it a different way, that’s 4,000 shotguns a week for more than half a century!

For more on the history of Mossberg and the Model 500, go here.

The Road to 100

Over the years, Mossberg has introduced a wide variety of firearms and industry “firsts,” such as the first 12-gauge 3.5-inch shotgun with the 835 Ulti-Mag introduced in the early 1980s; the first bolt-action rifle to reliably feed from AR-style magazines with the MVP rifle; the first range-finding scope; and the only pump-action shotgun ever to meet all U.S. Military Mil-Spec 3443 requirements with the Mossberg 590A1, just to name a few.

mossberg 835 shotgun
The Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag was introduced in the late 1980s and was the first shotgun to fire 3.5” magnum shotgun shells—one of the company’s many innovations over the years. Mossberg

Today, the company also offers a wide variety of rifles—rimfire, centerfire, bolt-action, lever-action, autoloading ARs, and youth options abound.

In 2017, they introduced the 590 Shockwave, which sports a bird’s head pistol grip and a 14.375” barrel on a 590 action—and yet, due to the language in the NFA, it isn’t technically a shotgun. Instead, it is classified simply as a “firearm” because it was never designed to be fired from the shoulder with a traditional stock. That means it can’t be a short-barreled shotgun and people can buy it without getting a tax stamp—and buy it they have.

Since its introduction, the Shockwave has grown into an entire line of 11 guns (at the moment), with variants now available in 12 and 20 gauge and .410 bore with various finishes and even as a box-magazine-fed version with the 590M Shockwave. This year, Mossberg introduced the Nighstick a Shockwave outfitted with old school wooden furniture and a leather handstrap.

Centenarian Status

In 2019, the company officially turned 100, and has a lot to celebrate. It is the 6th largest firearms manufacturer in the US and can claim more than 100 patents. Staying true to their spirit of innovation and refusing to rest on their laurels, close to 70 new products hit the market this year. Shotguns and rifles in various calibers and configurations make up the majority of the new products, but one really stands out – the MC1sc pistol.

mossberg mc1sc pistol
The new MC1sc pistol was introduced at SHOT Show 2019. Logan Metesh

The MC1sc is a subcompact pistol that marks the company’s return to its roots after 100 years of success and three years of specific product design. Chambered in 9mm and equipped with a 3.4″ barrel, it weighs 19 oz. unloaded and is 6.25″ long overall. Each pistol ships with two “Clear-Count” single-stack magazines (one 6-round and one 7-round) constructed of transparent polymer that allows for quick at-a-glance assessment of the number and type of rounds loaded.

The new, patent-pending Mossberg STS (Safe Takedown System), which does not require the user to pull the trigger to disassemble for routine cleaning or maintenance, is one of the gun’s key features.

mossberg pistol with gold inlays
A special run of 1,000 embellished MC1sc pistols with gold inlays and engraving have been made for collectors. Mossberg

Some of the other new products introduced for the centennial pay homage to the company’s past. The Retrograde Series features the two most iconic police and military pump-action shotguns, the 500 and 590A1, built to today’s standards, but with the retro look and feel of a walnut stock and matching corncob forend, much like the aforementioned Nightstick model, also introduced this year.

The Next 100 Years

So, what does the next century hold for Mossberg? Linda Powell, Mossberg’s Director of Media Relations, summed it up perfectly:

“We intend to continue listening to our customers in delivering durable, dependable and innovative firearms to the market. In essence, continuing the Mossberg tradition.”