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Old October 17, 2008, 04:47 PM   #1
dm1333
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Your thoughts on a light 20 gauge upland bird gun

I have been debating a double or semi auto in 20 to use for quail when I am back in CA next year. I like the Franchi 48 AL but the $750 price tag made me flinch! (I just bought a new Jeep and 5 years of payments) The Charles Daly semi was also nice and light but I have some doubts about reliability and customer service. CZ makes a nice double that is pretty spendy.

The Stoeger that I handled seemed heavy, are there any brands or models I should be considering? I would like to keep the gun at about 6 pounds. Any lighter than that and it doesn't seem to swing well, heavier than about 7 pounds means I may as well bring my Stevens 311 in 16 ga. What used models should I keep an eye out for? The light weight of the Franchi and cheap shells compared to a 16 would be nice, but I am also going to be shelling out $600 a month or so for grad school courses and I'm having a hard time justifying that.

Don
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Old October 17, 2008, 06:18 PM   #2
BigJimP
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Most 12 or 20ga / field style guns - will be in 7 1/2 lb range - especially with a typical 26" or 28" barrel. Target style guns - will generally be even heavier. You may find one that is a little lighter - if it has a 22" barrel option.

There is a Browning pump in 20ga/they called an upland special or a micro - but I think even those guns with 22" barrels were still 6 3/4 lb to almost 7 lbs. A BPS 20ga will meet your budget, around $ 500, and thats a nice gun for the money/a high quality gun - that will last you a long time.

Browning did make some superlight O/U's - they called them the "feather" or the "lightning feather" and they had a 20ga with a 26" barrel around 6 lbs. The Citori Lightening / and its predecessors - used to come in 4 or 5 configurations - it's their entry level field style gun - but still retailing for about $ 1,500 new these days. But you might find a used one under $1,000.
Depending on the model - they will vary from 6 lbs - 7 1/2 lbs.


A 6 lb gun - generally is a gun for a young shooter / shorter length of pull, etc - so it may not fit you right. Personally, even on my 28ga hunting gun, I like a 30" barrel - and 7 1/2 lbs is about right for me - and in an O/U its my favorite quail gun ( but I like a 20ga with the same dimensions ).

I'm not a big fan of gas operated semi-autos / but Browning and Beretta have some 20ga semi-autos with 26" barrels that will be right around 6 lbs - 6 1/2 lbs - but you're in the $1,000 price range again on a new gun.

Benelli also offers some nice 20ga semi-autos / the one I like is the super sport ( not the super sport II ) and its a hair over 6 lbs - but its retailing in my area new for about $ 1750. Benelli is a real nice gun / especially if it has the comfort tech stock recoil system in it - Cordoba model, M2 model, etc and some of them are available for around $ 1,000 - and I know the M2 in a 20ga version is under 6 lbs and I believe had an option of a 24 or 26" barrel. The Super Sport model is only available in a 28" barrel right now.

Benelli system is an inertia system vs gas operated like Beretta / so in a wood stock Benelli will be probably 25% more recoil than a gas gun / but in the synthetic stocks that have the comfort tech system in them, its probably a little less recoil than a gas gun. The plus for me on the Benelli system - they shoot a lot cleaner than a gas gun, and I think they cycle the 2nd or 3rd shell a lot faster.

But with your budget - other than a good pump gun, like the Browning BPS 20ga - I can't recommend any of the guns you looked at under $1,000 as good long term guns. If you can get up around $1,000 Beretta, Browning, Reminton will have some gas gun options for you / Benelli has the M2 20ga option for you. To get a decent long term O/U - Beretta or Browning are good solid guns - but its going to put you in the $1,500 price range / unless you want go go used. If $ 750 is where you are (and we all have budgets) - and you don't want a 20ga pump gun / I would recommend you focus on some good used semi-autos or a used Browning or Beretta O/U out there. I'm seeing more good used guns than ever in paws shops, or good used gun dealers and at the gun shows - but there is a lot of junk out there too - so you have to educate yourself on how to check a used gun to make sure you don't have a nightmare on your hands.

Good luck on your search / no matter what - have fun with the process.

With all the options on ammo out there / there isn't anything magical about a 20ga / you can make a 12ga ( with a 7/8 oz load ) perform balistically just like a 20ga. 7/8 oz of 8's at 1200 fps hits exactly as hard out of a 20ga or a 12 ga - there is no difference - and 7/8 oz is 7/8 oz ( no difference in the pellet count ). I like the 20ga / but if I travel - sometimes I will take my Benelli super sport 12ga semi-auto - so I only have to carry one gun / and use it for everything - Skeet, Trap, Sporting Clays, some Quail - just by varying my loads ( from 1 1/8 oz - clear down to 7/8 oz ). It wasn't that easy to do 20 years ago / but its real easy to do these days.

Remember - in terms of recoil - the lighter the gun, the more recoil you will get for any given load as well.
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Old October 17, 2008, 07:05 PM   #3
Dave McC
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The Franchi AL 48 is a classic upland gun with a long history of happy owners. There's used ones out there. They last forever. About $300-400 IF you can find them.

Other good choices that will last you a lifetime include pumps like the 870 in 20 gauge. The worked over Youth model here runs 6 lbs 2 oz with its full length stock and 21" barrel. It's a nice quail gun, good for doves and so on. Price new is less than $300.

The Mossberg and Winchester equivalents are also good. Prices in that range, weight a little less.
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Old October 18, 2008, 11:39 AM   #4
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dm1333

Can't give you much advice on a 20 auto, We have a 1100 in 20 gauge for dear Brenda and she seems to enjoy it.

The 20 Ga I have is a Red Label and unless you find a VERY good deal, it will eat up more than you have for a budget.

I wanted to comment on the 870 special field model of 870 that I purchased this year. It is very light weight, has a 24" barrel, and feels like a 20 gauge. I used light 7 1/2 shells and found it very pleasing in regard to recoil. You might take a look at one of these. The straight European stock takes a bit of getting use to!

Good Luck & Be Safe
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Old October 18, 2008, 12:13 PM   #5
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Not to highjack but.........

Bigjim:

We have been having a little running conversation on the Super Sport. I two nights ago I was in the local Bass Pro Shop and Gander Mountain Sports.

They were each asking $1,799 for a Super Sport!

By my recollection that is a price increase of about $150 over two weeks ago.

I guess Benelli has a good thing and wants to cash in. Although, a little of the increase can be from recent exchange rate differences.

None-the-less I was surprised at the increase.

To the original poster:

Bottom line is a quality gun costs money. Do not compromise on quality. Wait, save your nickles and get what you really want, when you can. You will be happier.
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Old October 18, 2008, 12:29 PM   #6
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SA-20

I just bought my wife a Mossberg SA-20 semi-auto. It seems to be pretty nice. She needed a new rabbit gun 'cause the 12GA is gettin too much for her. Mossberg has always made a good tough workhorse with the 500 and I hope this will be just as tough. For $430 i figgered it'll work OK. She will shoot it tomorrow and I bet she'll be as happy as havin' stew in the pot.
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Old October 18, 2008, 05:55 PM   #7
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Super Sport Benelli - I see the prices are up a lot / I think I paid about $ 1450 for my 12ga Super Sport about 2 years ago. I think most of it is the exchange rate - but no way to know for sure.

I can tell you this though - the 2 buddies that I influenced to buy them - sure like them. One of them bought a 2nd one as a college graduation present for his son this June. I know its expensive, but its a lot of gun for the money.

A note on "light guns" - when you get below 7 1/2 - 8 lbs on a shotgun, I find there is a tendancy to yank the swing short vs follow thru to complete the shot. A light gun can be a liability / because it swings too quickly. That's why I lean towards an 8 1/2 lb gun for quicker games like Skeet, Sporting and in the field hunting ( but I'm 6'5" and 280 ) - for a young shooter, 7 lbs is about right - but its a little too light for most adults.
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Old October 18, 2008, 09:06 PM   #8
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upland 20ga.

If you are at all open to a pump gun, seeing as the O/Us and semis are mostly too heavy or over budget, there is the Benelli Nova - not every one's cup of tea because of the synthetic stock. I have one and it's a fine gun. 20 ga. 6.5 pounds, under $500.
Used Gun: Not a twenty gauge, but a fine, light semi - about six pounds - is the old Winchester Model 59, if you can find one on the used gun racks, the last one that I saw was well under $500. I'm sorry now that I didn't buy it; I may go back and see if it's still there.
Pete

Last edited by darkgael; October 21, 2008 at 05:35 AM.
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Old October 19, 2008, 12:15 AM   #9
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Skb 200e

While at Cabela's two weeks ago I found two SKB 200Es. If you are doing a lot of walking while quail hunting you do not want an 8 pound gun. These SXS SKBs if you can find them are preferred by the guys that run dogs at our local hunting preserve. Both of the SKBs were twentys and was priced at $600 and $650.
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Old October 19, 2008, 12:37 AM   #10
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Skb 200e

While at Cabela's two weeks ago I found two SKB 200Es. If you are doing a lot of walking while quail hunting you do not want an 8 pound gun. These SXS SKBs if you can find them are preferred by the guys that run dogs at our local hunting preserve. Both of the SKBs were twentys and was priced at $600 and $650.
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Old October 19, 2008, 12:45 AM   #11
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I'm looking at the Browning BPS Upland for similar reasons, I think it's worth a look. 6lb plus, for about $500 with screw in chokes.

I was looking for a Remington Special Field but they have been discountinued and the barrels are not interchangeble with the rest of the 870 line as I understand it so I let that idea go.

The Red Label is a great gun in 20 but will run around $1k.
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Old October 19, 2008, 05:29 PM   #12
dm1333
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Benelli Nova

HMMMMMMMMMMMM, I might have to look for one.

What about the Mossberg SA 20? I'm about to do a search here but does anybody have any input?
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Old October 19, 2008, 06:27 PM   #13
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I had a Nova in 12ga. It rattled so bad I was scared to even touch it in the duck blind and it was even more useless as a turkey gun. Upland birds might not be too much of a problem though.

As far as the Charles Daly, I have had one for a couple of years now without any problems. Great little gun.
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Old October 20, 2008, 09:08 AM   #14
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I have a Franchi "Black Magic" AL48 20 gauge. It has an English stock and weighs about six pounds. I think the barrel is 24 or 25 inches. It is my favorite shotgun. It would be worth a look if you can find one used.
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Old October 20, 2008, 10:28 AM   #15
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Smitty has one. I think his nickname is Smitty-in-ct. Do a search and find his reviews on the Mossberg 20 gauge semi.
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Old October 20, 2008, 10:54 AM   #16
.357 mag
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I had a Nova in 12ga. It rattled so bad I was scared to even touch it in the duck blind and it was even more useless as a turkey gun. Upland birds might not be too much of a problem though.

As far as the Charles Daly, I have had one for a couple of years now without any problems. Great little gun.
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Thats the other way around for me. The feel of the daly is great. The problem was is that I only felt the gun for about 1 week out of 9 month. It was in the shop getting fixed.

The Nova's I have ( I have three) go everywhere with me. I've shot many turkey, ducks, geese, doves,peasants, and rabbits with them and that zero problems.

Check out the 20 Nova. I know you said auto or o/u but the nova is a great gun of the money.

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Old October 20, 2008, 04:52 PM   #17
dm1333
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I've read the review by Smitty. My local gun guy today talked to one of his wholesalers, who mentioned I might want to look at the Weatherby SA-08. I'm about to do a little research on that gun here and on Shotgunworld.
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Old October 20, 2008, 05:02 PM   #18
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The Remington 1100 in a 20 ga. is worth taking a look at. Might be able to find a nice used one at a reasonable price.

Nice gun with soft recoil and a well proven design that's been around for years.
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Old October 20, 2008, 08:36 PM   #19
dm1333
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I just got back from a store with a huge selection of used guns, no Remington 1100 there but they do have a Miroku and an SKB. I had to take a cell phone call but am going to call there tomorrow and find out which model Miroku and SKB and do some more research. I may also go the store with the Franchi and see how much they will take as a downpayment and how long I have to pay the gun off.
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Old October 21, 2008, 01:28 AM   #20
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I would be tempted to look for a used Ithaca model 37 Ultrafeatherlight. It's a relatively limited production model with an aluminum receiver. Yes, its a pump gun, but with a very smooth action, bottom feeding and ejection, and about 6 lbs or a little less. Very easy to carry, fast to put in action and to swing.
I have seen them on auction sites for reasonable prices.... less than $500.
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Old October 21, 2008, 05:46 AM   #21
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Ithaca 37

I have a 12ga. Ithaca 37 Featherweight. If I could keep only one shotgun (or one gun) that'd be the one. Like the Nova 20, it comes in at six and a half pounds (12 ga.). I'd love to find one in 20 gauge.
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Old October 21, 2008, 04:07 PM   #22
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I have the SA-20 and I am completely happy with it. It's just now up over about 150 rds, so not really fully tested yet, but absolutely no failures at all! It's a clone of one of the Beretta 300 series. It's in the Mossberg International line, made in Turkey for Mossberg. It's under 7 lbs in the 28" VR barrel, (5) choke tubes. It comes with shim plates to adjust the stcok too. It only comes in Black synthetic and matte black finish currently though. The manufacturers website shows the same models under their name with rifled slug barrels, hope they import some barrels soon!

Not sure, but you may find that the Weathery is the SAME gun? There was some initial speculation that the S&W new line, also made in Turkey is the same gun,but it seems to be slightly different and the report on these forums was that it isn't. I know S&W charges a little more for theirs than Mossberg (around $500) I paid under $385 out the door for mine last spring. I was considering the Charles Daly semi auto but had more negative reports than positive, so I opted to take a chance on the Mossberg. The Silver Reserves seem to be a fairly sturdy gun, made in Turkey also. I know the Turks are making some fine quality guns these days and more and more domestic manufacturers seem to be going to them for supply.
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Old October 21, 2008, 06:59 PM   #23
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Buymore, you are absolutely correct. The Turks have the same high tech CNC computerized machining that other countries have. Labor is cheap. Metal is high quality and plentiful.

There is a lot of difference in the Stoeger 2000 made in 2001 and the New Models made with CNC tooling. Much more accurate machining. I have one of each and though they look similar outside, the machining on the New Models are so much better.

I'm sure that all the other brands made in Turkey are improving as they switch over to CNC tooling.
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Old October 22, 2008, 12:23 AM   #24
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I have an Ithaca Model 37 Featherweight in 20ga. I love it for upland game. It is one of the lightest shotguns I have ever put my hands on. Even as light as they are, they still handle the recoil quite well. I can only think of two drawbacks to it... 1) 2 3/4" chamber only, and 2) fixed choke (mod.).

The chamber size doesn't bother me when talking about upland game, but for waterfowl a 3" chamber sure would be nice. 2 3/4" shells in steel are kind of hard to come by.

The fixed choke is fine in most cases for upland. If I were to take it after waterfowl, I would want the interchangeable chokes for the different loads.

The Ithaca 37s sell very quickly in Utah when you can find them. People like them and simply don't want to part ways with them. I had a mod 37 in 12ga when I was young and a sexy Browning BPS with a 3" chamber and interchangeable chokes caught my eye. In a moment of weakness, I betrayed my Ithaca and chose to team up with the Browning. I won't part with my 20ga (sorry darkgael) and am keeping an eye out for a good used 12ga Featherweight at a reasonable price.
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Old October 23, 2008, 09:55 PM   #25
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My wife really liked the Mossberg over-under we bought last year. We bought matching 12 and 20. She knocked down several doves with it this year. They are made in turkey. I think they are similar, if not the same thing as the Huglu. I've known folks that have owned Huglus that liked them. The barrels seemed tighter than most. But nice shotguns.
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