Our testing protocol was so comprehensive, it lead to a design change.
By Dan Kidder
I have tested and reviewed a lot of guns. Some are brand new to the market and some are tried and true. Never have I spent as much time or energy testing a new gun than I have on the new Mossberg MC1SC.
I first saw the MC1SC with everyone else in the industry in January at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trades (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas. Being a huge fan of my Mossberg shotguns, I was excited that this 100-year-old, "Made in America", family-owned business was offering their first pistol since their first gun a century ago. Additionally, it featured some innovative design characteristics that made it a truly unique offering to the pistol market, rather than a tweak to an already proven design, like so many new offerings. Its unique Safe Takedown System, with a simple press of a button on the backplate that allowed the plate to be removed and the striker assembly to slip out and the slide to then be removed, gave it an edginess that made it interesting, useful, and innovative.
Like most of the media present at Range Day at SHOT, I fired five shots, filmed a quick Instagram video and went on my merry way. Unlike many writers and bloggers present, I never write a review based just on five shots at the range. I have a strict testing and review protocol with a variety of ammo, running the gun through various tests. This can only be done at home under very controlled and stringent parameters. I requested a Testing and Evaluation gun (T&E) and within a few weeks, the gun was waiting for me at the Cedar City, Utah Sportsman’s Warehouse to pick up and start testing. Unfortunately, the record-breaking snowy winter, a national speaking tour, and only having an outdoor range further delayed testing until early April.
To test this pistol, we put a variety of target and defensive rounds through it in varying weights and power factors. Starting with Colt Competition, 124 grain FMJ National Match, then Colt Defense 124 JHP, both from DoubleTap, then 115 grain FMJ polymer coated Syntech from American Eagle, 147 grain FMJs from Aguila, then onto the +P loads with some HST 124 grain from Federal, DoubleTap 124 grain +P Controlled Expansion, and finally DoubleTap +P loaded with 115 grain Barnes Tac-XP solid copper bullets. We then used some weak sauce bulk, reloaded 115 grain copper-coated ammo picked up at a gun show, with no pedigree and no clue as to where it was loaded.
Once I was able to get the gun to the range for testing, it handled a wide variety of ammunition, from weak sauce range loads to heavy +P ammunition, with a single exception. The 124 grain +P DoubleTap Controlled Expansion made the gun come apart. It seemed that the very quick disassembly mechanism that made the gun unique was now its Achilles heel. At least with this one single load. The issue was repeated multiple times and videoed. Houston, we have a problem.
This is where most testing would end and I even wrote an article detailing the failure. But in an effort to be fair, I took to the Interwebs to see if anyone else had experienced this failure. Not a single mention anywhere in any of the forums. To provide Mossberg a chance to explain, fix, diagnose, or ignore the issue (how they handled it would be their choice) I forwarded the video and article to Linda Powell, a veritable icon in the shooting sports industry and my media contact.
I received an immediate response. Mossberg was more than concerned. They wanted more information. They ordered several thousand rounds of the same ammunition from DoubleTap and could not repeat the failure. They wanted to know if perhaps it was the way I was holding the gun. The video showed that I use the standard two-handed, thumbs-forward shooting grip that the majority of competitive shooters use. I posited that perhaps the lower air pressure of my range at 6,000 feet was a factor over their testing at almost sea level in Connecticut. Perhaps I got a bad gun, slightly out of specification. The gun was shipped back and within the week, I had a replacement from Mossberg. Testing resulted in the same issue on the new gun. Mossberg still could not replicate the issue.
Many companies could have just ended the conversation right there. Nobody else had this issue. They couldn’t replicate the issue. Why spend any more time chasing a problem that wasn’t really a problem with anyone else? But Mossberg isn’t just any company.
I received a call from Richard Kirk, O.F. Mossberg’s Director of Marketing. He told me that the highest executives from Mossberg had viewed the video. They wanted to know if I would be willing to fly out to their factory in North Haven, CT to work with their engineers to try to replicate the problem. The NRA Show was just around the corner, so it was three weeks later and I was winging my way across the country from Utah to Connecticut to pay them a visit.
Once I arrived in Connecticut, I was treated like visiting royalty. They had arranged a driver to take me an hour away to the hotel where I was greeted by Powell. The next morning, we drove to Mossberg’s well-established factory. Check out next month’s Sportsman’s News to read about this factory and the history of Mossberg.
We met for a bit with Kirk and then Mossberg’s team of designers and engineers and then headed out for a tour of the facility. Once that was completed, it was time to get down to brass tacks and get to testing. Heading to their indoor testing range, they broke out the original gun I had tested and the offending ammunition they had ordered. After 550 rounds of the stout +P loads and a blistered trigger finger, I was unable to replicate the failure with the original gun or any other of the MC1SC's they had me try. That left a bad batch of ammo or the questionable theory of the air pressure difference as the only two viable options. Still, most companies would have called it a day at this point.
I spent the next day making my way from Connecticut to Las Vegas, from where I had flown, and then driving the two-and-a-half hours home to Utah thinking about what the issues could be. The engineers back in North Haven were also wracking their brains. This journey was far from over. Little did we know it was an outside error that was a contributing factor to our confounding inability to replicate the failure. Even when you think you have calculated all of the variables; an unforeseen spanner can be tossed by a chimp out of left field.
When I returned home, I sent the few remaining rounds of the DoubleTap ammo to Mossberg for testing. Lee Cavanaugh, Mossberg’s Senior Design Engineer sent me 800 rounds of their batch of ammo. Additionally, their engineering team had looked over the design and found two very minor areas that could be modified to increase the tolerance of the design. They sent me a replacement backplate and a different striker assembly with these modifications. My work was far from over. After firing 760 of the 800 rounds through the gun with the standard configuration, replacement backplate, replacement striker, and the modified backplate and striker together, I could not repeat the problem. This could mean nothing other than I originally had a bad batch of ammunition. Or did it?
And now for that wrench wielding monkey. When we fired the ammunition through a chronograph, Mossberg in Connecticut and me in Utah, we got very different results. The initial ammunition I was testing was coming in much faster than the batch that Mossberg had purchased. We assumed that I had a bad batch of ammunition and that was almost that. Fortunately, DoubleTap ammunition is just down the road from my office and I headed down to the factory to talk through the issue with Rhett McNett. He told me the ammunition was loaded to SAAMI specifications and the speeds we were showing from the initial batch of ammunition I tested were right where they were supposed to be. The speeds that Mossberg was getting were just at the bottom edge of the +P threshold, but far lower than they should be. They did correspond exactly to speeds of a special load they had created for an online retailer that was softer than standard +P.
A little digging and looking into the batch numbers and it was discovered that Mossberg had inadvertently been shipped this special load instead of the standard load that I was using. I had the right ammunition, Mossberg had the wrong ammunition and that was why they couldn’t replicate the result. None of that helped solve the original issue of the gun coming apart with this readily available self-defense load. Back to the drawing board.
Rhett had their guys load me a new batch of the ammunition and I headed to the range. He also got the right stuff sent to Mossberg. After running the ammo through the gun with the modified striker assembly and backplate, not a single malfunction resulted. Mossberg reported the same outcome. Whatever issue was there was a result of the tolerances on those two parts and it only manifested on this one, very specific and specialized load of ammunition.
So why do I share all of this information with you? First, perhaps from an overabundance of hubris. Or, as I like to call it, pride in our process. The Sportsman’s News team has over 100 years of combined outdoor experience. We spend over 1,000 man-days a year in the field, testing gear and giving our readers the most thorough and complete information so you, as the consumer, can make the most informed buying decision. We may never have as many views or followers as the latest YouTube sensation or Instagram star who regurgitates the press release statistics and that is because we are more concerned with being informers rather than influencers. We don’t care about influencing your decision. We want to inform you so you can make your own choices.
The second reason I share all of this is because Mossberg made a choice. They could have done as many other companies we have worked with and just turned a blind eye to the issue, written it off as an acceptable risk, and gone about churning out a defective product. Not only did they not choose that path, they went to great effort, expense, and risk to solve the problem. To me, that speaks volumes to the reputation of this family-owned business. I own many Mossberg products and they have never let me down in the years I have used them. Now I know why. They stand behind their products and their customers and go to extreme lengths to ensure that they are providing a quality product they can be proud to make and to use. Problems occur with every company and what sets them apart is how they correct the issue. Mossberg has demonstrated that they will do whatever it takes to fix any issue. After 100 years, they have shown they take great pride in their ‘Made in America’ commitment to excellence.
So now for the press release techs, features, and specifications. On the surface, the pistol is superior in every way to its nearest rival, the Glock 43. It has actual steel sights, an 18-degree off-square grip angle, no obnoxious trigger guard undercut, great texturing on the grip, all-steel recoil rod, and a flat trigger that provides excellent feedback and breaks at right around 4.7 pounds on our test gun, but Mossberg says they come from the factory set between 5- and 6-pounds. All of this comes in a subcompact package. It comes with two Mossberg clear polymer magazines, one with an extended grip baseplate holding seven rounds and one flush-fit that holds 6-rounds. It will also accept Glock 43 magazines and they sell for around the same price. This will give you a steel magazine insert if you are concerned with the plastic of the Mossberg magazines, but will limit you to 6-rounds. It also means that you can use some of the 12-round aftermarket magazines designed for the Glock.
The biggest selling point of the Mossberg MC1SC is that it can be rapidly dissembled without pulling the trigger by depressing a button on the striker backplate and sliding it off, then pulling out the striker and slightly pulling the slide back to release the slide lock and then pulling the entire slide assembly off the front. This is a huge selling point for this compact pistol as it is a safer method of disassembly, since the trigger doesn’t need to be pulled.
- Safe Takedown System ensures no trigger pull required during disassembly.
- Mossberg signature multi-angle slide serrations for positive slide manipulation.
- Standard snag-free dovetail white three-dot sights for easier target acquisition, windage adjustment and after-market customization.
- Stainless steel slide with upgraded Diamond-Like Carbon Coating.
- 3.4″ barrel with upgraded Diamond-Like Carbon Coating.
- Extended trigger guard for easy access.
- Mossberg flat-profile trigger with integrated blade safety.
- Reversible magazine release.
- Aggressive signature Mossberg grip texturing.
- Palm swell and grip angle provide superior ergonomics.
- Glass-reinforced polymer frame for enhanced durability.
- Mossberg Clear-Count polymer 6-round flush-fit and 7-round extended magazines offer low friction and high wear-resistance.
At just 22 ounces fully loaded and less than one-inch thick, the Mossberg MC1SC is a great choice for concealed carry. Its easy-to-manipulate controls, small size, light weight, and overall ergonomics make it a great fit for a variety of shooters. I have large hands and it works for me as well as for those with more diminutive digits. Based upon the extensive testing, modification, and follow-through, as well as the design and features, I highly endorse this pistol for those seeking a simple and reliable self defense pistol. There are few guns I can personally attest have been this thoroughly tested.