Let’s take a break from politics as we start the new year and do something fun! Like, how about converting a plain jane Mossberg Maverick 88 shotgun into a more practical home defense weapon? Yeah, let’s do that!
I purchased my Maverick 88 about 8-9 years ago from Academy for $149.99 if I recall correctly. As you can see if you click the link above, it has risen to $189.99 this year. There is absolutely nothing special about this shotgun (well, except that it is made in Maverick County, Texas!). It is a cheap, very functional home defense shotgun. Click here for a quick review of the shotgun. This is what mine looked like before I started the conversion.
Like I said, plain jane. I wanted a little better control, a little faster pump action, and at a minimum, a light.
There aren’t a lot of options out there for a full conversion for the Maverick 88 shotgun. I chose the New Generation Stealth Black Maverick 88 12 Gauge Tactical Shotgun Conversion Kit from Ultimate Arms Gear. It comes complete with everything i\I wanted, plus a laser and shell holder that I didn’t necessarily want but for the price of the kit went with it. This is what I received for $138.99 shipped:
- Adjustable stock
- Pistol grip
- Action slide with rails on three sides
- Forend grip with compartment to hold extra batteries or cleaning supplies
- Flashlight with mounting kit for rails
- Laser with mounting kit for rails
- Shell holder
Here is what it didn’t come with: DIRECTIONS for the action slide installation, the most difficult part of the conversion. More on that in a bit.
I ordered the kit on December 15th and it arrived on December 28th via USPS. That is pretty slow but I wasn’t in a hurry so it didn’t matter. Unfortunately the kit was dumped into a box in separate pieces and filled with styrofoam peanuts, which made it difficult to remove everything. I ended up dumping the entire box on the floor and finally found everything. Couldn’t they have put everything in a ziplock bag or something? So far I wasn’t that impressed with the service from Ultimate Arms Gear.
Okay, let’s do the conversion. The stock was simple but you will need a “special” tool, a 1/4″ ball end allen wrench. I suppose you could do it without that tool but there is a high probability you will strip out the end of the nut if you don’t. To remove the original stock, remove the two Phillips head screws holding the butt plate. Then take a 1/2″ socket on at least a 7″ extension and remove the main bolt holding the stock in place. Here is what you will see:
Installing the new stock and pistol grip is easy, simply place the assembly on the back end of the shotgun and use the ball end allen wrench I mentioned earlier to tighten it down.
Now the hard part, installing the new action slide. Why Ultimate Arms Gear doesn’t include instructions is baffling. Thankfully, I found a YouTube video that walked me through the process. No way I could have done this conversion without the video. The video is called Mossberg Maverick 88: Field Strip Disassembly & Reassembly by GunsGearNFreedom.
Thank you GunsGearNFreedom! Ultimate Arms Gear should also thank you. Bunches.
Time to attach the rest of the accessories. The forward grip is simple, you simply unscrew the bottom until the unit slides onto the rail, position it where you want it and tighten it down. The flashlight and laser use allen screws to do the same.
Here is the final look with laser and flashlight installed on the side rails.
Now for a couple of problem areas with the kit in general. First, the flashlight that I received does not match the description given on the Ultimate Arms Gear website. It is supposed to be 5.25″ long and use 2 CR123 batteries. The flashlight I received is less than 4″ long and uses only 1 CR123 battery. My keychain penlight puts out more light.
The shell holder did not come with any way to attach it to the stock and is therefore useless. The laser does work but the threads on the battery compartment closure are not very well defined and it is very, very difficult to close.
I have emailed Ultimate Arms Gear about these problems and will update upon hearing from them.
After putting the shotgun in the case, I decided I really didn’t like the flashlight and laser mounted on the sides. I removed the laser completely and mounted the flashlight under the shotgun, in front of the forward grip. This is a very nice location as I can turn the flashlight on and off with a slight movement of my index finger. I like this position much better.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the conversion and now have a more practical home defense weapon. The stock gives me an extra inch or so of pull, which helps when you are my size. And when it is collapsed my wife can use it much easier than before. The new action slide and forward grip make chambering rounds much faster. I’m certain that Ultimate Arms Gear will replace the flashlight with a better one and that will be a tremendous improvement. As for the laser, I think I’ll find another use for it as I don’t see a need for it on this shotgun.
If you are thinking about upgrading your budget shotgun, I say go for it!
UPDATE 1/5/16: So far no luck in getting Ultimate Arms Gear to replace the flashlight or send mounting screws for the shell holder. After they didn’t respond to my email, I called them and spoke to “Ozzie”. He insisted that I received the correct flashlight because that is the “only one they sell”. I had him read the description and he told me that they had sent only one battery because it is “the size of two”. Nonsense, I know what a CR123 battery is. I even sent him a picture of the flashlight received but he says someone “on the other side” receives those emails and he doesn’t know anything about it. We ended the call with him saying that if he finds the email and the picture is different from what is listed on their website he will send out a replacement and screws for the holder. Terrible customer service thus far.