Mossberg Maverick 88 Cruiser Shotguns
Tough, reliable and effective — all at a sticker price south of 250 bucks
Mossberg’s affordable line of Maverick 88 pump-action shotguns now includes thwo new Cruiser models, which come factory equipped with pistol grips instead of the usual butt stocks. The new Maverick 88 Cruisers include the 5+1 round 12 gauge tested here (18.5” Cylinder bore barrel), a 7+1 round 12 gauge (20” Cylinder bore barrel) and a 5+1 round 20 gauge (18.5” Cylinder bore barrel), all priced at a sticker-smashing $245.
While Cruiser-style, pistol-grip shotguns are light and handy, they really have only one purpose—personal defense. But, when you need the level of stowable/packable power that only a 12-gauge loaded with 3” 00 buckshot can provide, they are the option. And, assuming you’ve practiced enough to perfect your firing technique, they can be a brutally-effective option. My personal shotgunning these days revolves around clay target competition, and upland bird and turkey hunting, so I have a decided preference for shotguns with butt stocks, as a buttstock is, without question, an invaluable asset for accurate, aimed fire. That said, the missing 10-12 inches in overall length is also an asset in the close quarters of a hallway or within the cabin of a vehicle.
Known for their toughness, reliability and extreme affordability, Mossberg Maverick 88 shotguns are the perfect platform for your personal porch-sweeping duties. The new Cruiser version provides extreme maneuverability in close quarters defensive encounters, and the unorthodox shooting position it forces you into is still suited to hitting and incapacitating aggressor(s) with high-velocity buckshot loads, although it’s less well suited to the more precise aiming requirements of rifled slugs. Both the 12- and 20-gauge Maverick 88 Cruiser models have 3-inch chambers, but that’s more of an advantage in 12-gauge, where the pellet count in 3-inch, .33-caliber, 00 Buck is an impressive 15. In 20-gauge, 00 Buck is a poor fit, so smaller diameter #3 or #4 Buck is the norm. A very good reason to go with one of the 12-gauge models. A smaller statured, more recoil-sensitive shooter would be the only case for the 20-gauge model in my opinion.
If you’re not familiar with Mossberg’s Maverick 88 family of shotguns, let us provide you with some insight. Designed to be inexpensive, utility pump guns, they are reliable, smooth operating, pump-actions with dual extractors, twin-action bars, positive steel-to-steel lock-up, anti-jam elevators and cross-bolt safeties located at the front of the trigger guard. Trigger guards are polymer, as are the corncob-style forends and checkered pistols grips on the Cruisers. All Maverick 88s can be field stripped with the simple removal of one pin, and they are fully-compatible and interchangeable with all Mossberg 500 accessory stocks and barrels within the same gauge and capacity. All Maverick 88 Cruiser metalwork is semi-gloss blued, with a brass bead front sight and no rear sight. Unlike the Mossberg 500/590 family, the receiver top is not drilled and tapped for optics mounts because this is a no-nonsense, no frills, get-the-job-done-reliably defensive tool, and one of the reasons it sticker’s for under $250. Another area the Maverick 88 differs is its cross-bolt safety sitting just forward of the triggerguard, which takes the place of the serrated, receiver-mounted safety switch on the 500/590. Due to its ease-of-use, we do like the latter safety mechanism more, but again, the Maverick 88’s MSRP makes it a more-than-fair tradeoff.
Our 12-gauge evaluation model was a factory virgin, to which we added nothing. We would strongly consider adding a side-saddle shell holder for added ammo at the ready, but outside of, that not much else is needed to make a pump-action shotgun do its job more effectively.
Speaking of doing its job, the Maverick 88 did it very well during testing, feeding, extracting and ejecting everything we fed it. After all, it is a proven pump-action design, and if going bang each and every time you pull the trigger is one of your overriding concerns, it doesn’t get much more reliable than this right here. As one might expect, recoil energy applied to your firing hand is substantial with hotter loads, and as mentioned before, aimed fire can be a challenge without practice, but adding a buttstock would be quick and inexpensive if these concerns override the benefits of having a compact footprint.
See the 2020 On Target Editors’ Choice Award-winning Maverick 88 Cruisers at your firearms retailer, or for more information contact O. F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc.; Tel: (203) 230-5300; Web: www.mossberg.com—Bill Battles