View Full Version : Help buying my first shotgun...

White Rabbit
August 6, 2000, 12:25 AM
Hello all,

Looking to get my first shotgun and after some brief research online I've found I'm in over my head. I need it to be easy in the recoil department because my wife will use it too. It's primary function will be for informal target clays on the farm but my wife has mentioned competitive shooting at sometime in the future. I would also like to hunt with it too.

So what do I need? 20 guage or 12 guage? Should I get an autoloader? What about gas operated vs. recoil operated? What about O/U style? Do O/U's kick more than autoloaders? I'm a little nervous about 12 guages for my wife's sake because my dad's old 16 guage Stevens single shot kicks like a bloody mule. But I've heard autoloaders were easier on the shoulder - is that true?

What are the pros and cons to all these. And also we are kinda' on a budget. I'd say $600 - $700 is the cap. My wife won't go for a gun that's more than a house payment. To be honest I've always wanted an O/U but I doubt it's in our budget.

Thanks for all the help. Very much appreciate anything you can tell me.


--Question everything, or believe anything.--

Dave McC
August 6, 2000, 07:12 AM
Lots of territory to cover here, but let's try...

First, there's hundreds of choices. SOME autos have the rep of being a little easier on kick than other types. Those autos also tend to be heavier(not necessarily bad)and not inexpensive. Some are ammo finicky.

O/Us are quite often used in the clay games, and tend to be quite expensive. I suggest one for later, not a first shotgun.

Also, the chances of a shotgun stock fitting you both properly is about the same as hitting the lottery.

Here's my advice...

Get out to a range that offers novice classes and take some lessons, BOTH of you. Find a shotgun that fits here and that she likes,and get it. One possibility, the Remington 1100 in 20 ga.Used, you'll have enough change to get lots of ammo, range time, and maybe even a down payment on another shotgun.

Once you've gotten her shotgun, get a decent smith to set it up just for her. Proper length stock, with correct drop and so on. Once she knows proper form and has a gun that fits her, she'll learn and enjoy doing it.

THEN, you work on getting yours. You'll be able to use hers in a HD situation,if needed.

And, the big reason that old single 16 hurt is simple. Those were built too light for the load.A 16 should weigh around 6 lbs and that one probably ran 5 1/2 or less.

You and yours should start off with the lightest loads you can find. Here's where getting stuff at a gun shop instead of Wally World pays,the staff at the gun shop can help you find the right load.

Lots of old threads here about the various things you've asked, so research a little and then ask anything not covered..

Hope this helps...

August 6, 2000, 07:48 AM
I agree with Dave on the choice of a used 1100. A 12 ga. in that same gun using AA Trap loads is also very easy on the recoil as my wife will attest.


Donnez-moi la liberté, ou donnez-moi la mort!

August 6, 2000, 08:58 AM
I'll leave the advise as to the specifics to the experts here. There are many here that are far more knowledgable about scatterguns than I am.
However, I would like to comment in the gause choice. The hardest kicking shotgun I ever fired was one of those old utilitarian, generic named 16 gauge single barrels from the early 40's. On the other hand one of the smoothest, most "shoulder friendly" shotguns I ever fired was my step-mothers Brownig Sweet Sixteen. With light loads the 12 will kick little more than a 20.


Gary H
August 6, 2000, 09:17 AM
Use your search function to look for various posts. Perhaps the 1100/20guage is the place to start. I suspect that you can tame a light load 12 guage. You might look to other modification should your wife find your choice to be a bit much to handle. You will know this when she mentions "divorce" just after shooting the shotgun. I don't know if it is available for the 1100, but I'm considering the purchase of the Hogue CompStock for my 870. You can customize the length of the Compstock to fit your wife and you don't need a gunsmith, or a saw to do so. It has mechanical inners that are suppose to drastically reduce recoil. Here is the only post that I have found regarding hands on experience:

Also, do a search on vang. He claims to reduce felt recoil through modification of the barrel. Of course, you can save your money if your unmodified 1100 fits and shoots well with your wife at the helm. I just sent my 870 barrel to Vang and upon shooting it I will decide on my next modification, if any. I think that my best modification is my shooting skills.

White Rabbit
August 6, 2000, 11:09 AM
Hi again,

Just wanted to thank you all for the replies. I think you may be right about the shotgun fitting us both I should have thought of that anyway since we each have our own rifles.

Also, we're not new to guns in the least. We both actively shoot rifles and handguns. We just somehow ignored shotguns all these years.

So here's a couple more questions. First, are autoloaders sensitive to "light" target loads? I mean is there such a thing as a load that's so light it prevents the gun from cycling? Or will any load labled "target" load do the job (like Federal Top Gun)?

Next question is about O/U's... do they kick more than autoloaders? That is to say is their a "built-in" mechanisim in an autoloader that somewhat reduces the recoil?

The reason I ask is because our local shop has a Charles Daly Field Hunter O/U in 12 guage with IC and M chokes for $679.00 plus tax. This seemed pretty reasonable for an O/U and it looked and felt pretty solid. After discussing this with my wife she seems to think an autoloader will be better for her but I still want an O/U if possible. She'll certainly get hers first but is the Daly Field Hunter a pretty good gun for the price? Are they reliable?


Thanks for all the help.


--Question everything, or believe anything.--

Dave McC
August 6, 2000, 12:12 PM
WR, some autos are ammo sensitive, some can be 'Set" for either light or heavy loads by adjusting some parts in the recoil or gas system. Others do OK with anything. I THINK the 1100 requires "Setting".

While there's a bit of a fashion in these things,I know a few fairly fervent O/U fans. None to my knowledge has a modern Daly. At one time or another, the guns have been made in Prussia, Japan, Spain, and possibly other places. The original Prussian Daly was a SXS and very well made. The others don't have the same repute, tho I can't recall much complaining.

Some inexpensive O/Us handle and shoot like their expensive brethren, the difference is oft longevity.

Bam Bam
August 6, 2000, 02:13 PM
Have you considered the Franchi 48 AL autoloader in 12 or 20 ga? This gun has a good reputation. What about the Browning Gold or Win X2?

Don't get a cheap O/U. This is a case of getting what you pay for. The best inexpensive O/U may be the Beretta Silver Essential for about $800. For the money I think you will be happier with a good autoloader.

August 6, 2000, 04:35 PM
I've handled a couple of Daly's and don't care for them. In your price range, you can either get a very cheap over/under or you can buy one of the better autoloaders. I'd go auto and if you like shotgunning get into an over/under later. I've gone through a number of guns over the years and it's always easy to sell a Remington 1100 often for not much less than you paid for it. Cheap over/unders are not as popular for resale.

Gas operated autoloaders are softer shooting than over/unders because some of the recoil is taken up working the action and more importantly the recoil impulse is spread over a longer time. I'm not aware of any way to set an 1100.

It sounds to me like you really want an over/under and I can't blame you for that. I would hold out though for a better gun than the Daly. Look around and see what other shooters are using to shoot clays and try as many guns as you can before you buy.

Incidentally, a chap I met today shooting skeet had a brand new Remington 1100 in 20 gauge it was a very nice gun. If I were in the market for a 20 autoloader it or the Beretta A391 would be my top choices.

White Rabbit
August 7, 2000, 07:37 PM

Autoloader it is. In that spirit, we went to the store today and "tried on" a few for size. We told the nice chap what we were looking for and he showed us a dozen or so autoloaders from low to high end. My wife was unimpressed with the prices. However she did find a shotgun that she liked and seemed to fit her well. It was the Mossberg 9200 Crown Grade Bantam. It's a rather plain Jane looking gun but the fellow said it would get the job done.

After a bit more looking on our part, he then made an offer to us. He'd sell me the 9200 Crown Grade full size and my wife the Bantam for $800.00 (plus tax). Both are brand new and he was going to through in a box of target shells for each of us too. I think they both came with two or three choke tubes as well.

Now this sounded like a pretty good deal to me and I almost said ok. But, I really don't know that much about Mossberg and their quality. I was also concerned that the Bantam, with it's smallish 22" barrel would be somewhat of a handicap compared to the 28" barrel on the fullsize. Still the gun fit her quite well and she manipulated it with ease. She liked it anyway and was a bit disappointed when I told him we'd think about it and let him know in a day or two.

So what do you guys think? Would these make good first shotguns for two enthusiastic newbies? What about the 22" Bantam barrel, is it sufficient?

Thanks again for the help,


PS: I did a search for "9200" on this board but it didn't seem to be much help. Lots of talk on the "jungle gun" and the "a1" but not much on the two models I mentioned above. I can't seem to locate any independent reviews.

--Question everything, or believe anything.--

Al Thompson
August 8, 2000, 08:31 PM
Mr. Rabbit - my first hand experiance is about 4 years out of date - but - the Mossberg automatics had a high return rate. I cannot recommend them.

IMHO, the 870 Youth gun in 20 ga is the premier Ladies pump. The LT - 1100 in 20 is the ticket for an autoloader. I "think" the Franchi is as good, but have only one friend who owns one.

If you have a discount chain around, the 870 Youth model seems to be about $280 or there abouts. I would get one for the lady and save for a different one for your self. You may find that a 870 Express in 12 ga works for you. Our wally world has them for $250)

The idea is that your wife will have her own gun (she may let you borrow it) and acheive good gun handling skills. And as bro Dave points out, that is 95% of the battle.

Take the savings and buy shells - lots of shells. Shoot them and buy more. Practice makes perfect or so I'm told...