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Old October 23, 2012, 07:03 PM   #4
BigJimP
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2005
Posts: 11,340
Barrel length ...
a. A 26" is about as short as you want to go on a pump gun - for any kind of flying targets. If you go any shorter ...guns get "whippy" and that's not a good thing in shotguns on flying targets - you want smooth and a good followthru. A 26" barrel on a pump or semi-auto makes the gun about the same overall length as an Over Under with 28" barrels - because the receiver portion on a pump or semi-auto are longer than the receiver on an O/U. So 26" is ok, if it feels good to you. But today's trends in barrel length for Skeet, sporting clays, etc is longer barrels ...30" or 32" in Over Unders / and 30" in pump and semi-autos. But trends don't matter -what matters is what feels good to you. I'm 6'5" and 290 lbs ...and a 26" barrel to me feels really short and whippy... my buddy is 5'9" and 180 lbs and 26" on a pump feels pretty good to him. I primarily shoot O/U's with 30" barrels for general clays - and an O/U with 32" barrels for Trap. Weight is also a factor in this stuff....I like a gun for Skeet, Sporting clays in the 8.5 lb range ...but for Trap ( less left to right barrel movement ) I like a 10 lb gun. MY buddy likes to go a little shorter on his primary O/U for Skeet at 28" but he likes it heavier than I do at around 9lbs....

So its some combination of all this ....but 26" is ok / 28" is more common on pump guns as a good all around gun.

b. You don't need a fighting shotgun for "Defense"...and I don't buy into the idea that you need a shotgun for defense. Even with an 18" barrel - they're a little clumsy unless you train with them a lot ( at least weekly). I would recommend you stay with your handguns as Defensive or Tactical guns. A shotgun with a 26" or 28" barrel is fine for "Defense" .../ but if I hear a bump in the night...as I'm calling 911 - I'm grabbing my 1911 or one of my S&W .357 mag revolvers...as I investigate things. The last think I want in my hands is a shotgun - even with an 18" barrel. Now, I may want it there as a 2nd option ...but nor for my primary Defense.

Best value doesn't mean the cheapest....
a. I'm not an 870 fan, never have been, unless you are willing to get into the Wingmaster level of quality. However, for my money, the Browning BPS is a little higher quality pump gun than the Wingmaster. Wingmaster fans will disagree with me - but honestly both the Wingmaster and the BPS are solid guns. 870 Express options..and Maverick...etc...are not terrible guns / but if you shop the used market - they are also guns that do not hold their value. But there are guys on here - with a lot of experience - that think highly of the 870 Express. Personally, I think the Mossberg, Mavericks, etc are a significant step down in quality ...even below the 870 Express. But I compare all pump guns to the Browning BPS.

b. Best Value in a pump gun to me ....Browning BPS Hunter model in a 26" or 28" barrel in a 12ga. Actions are "glass smooth"...and its a gun, that at least in my case, I still have 34 yrs after I bought one in 12ga and a few yrs later in a 20ga. BPS Hunter - new in box is around $ 600 ...and they're on sale in a few places this time of year. For what its worth ...as a 1st gun for my grandkids ...and my 2 boys when they were about 14 was a BPS Hunter model 28" in 12ga.....so besides the 2 that are mine, I've bought about 8 of them so far...and I'll still buy them if I need 1 or 2 more...

Notes...

Beretta does not make a pump gun....their subsidiary Benelli does make one its the Nova. Its a solid gun as well.

Best fighting shotgun out there...in my opinion...is the Benelli M-4 Semi Auto but you're up in the $ 1,750 price range....but if you really want a tactical shotgun someday, put that one on your short list.

good luck / and take the stress out !! .. and have fun with the process...and try and shoot some different pump guns at your local range. A lot of us have pump guns in our safes - that we don't shoot a lot / ask around - see if someone will let you testfire their guns a little ( buy them an extra box of shells as a thank you or something )...

Don't feel like you're the only one dealing with this stuff...a lot of new shooters go thru this stuff...I have a 58 yr old buddy that's going thru all of it right now on a "sporting clays gun"...and while he's finally settled on a Browning Citori, XS Skeet model, 12ga, 30" barrels ...in my area, out the door with tax, etc that's a $ 3,300 gun...so today, he picked me up and we went up and bought a very clean but used Browning BPS Hunter model, on sale, at a buddy's shop for about $ 500....and it'll give him another gun for his teenagers to shoot ...and let his wife adjust to his $3,300 decision .../ so even us older guys struggle with this stuff too ....

Relax and have fun with it ....( send me a Private message me, If I can talk you off the ledge...???) especially if I've confused you on any issues.

Last edited by BigJimP; October 23, 2012 at 07:30 PM.
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