View Full Version : Recommendations for a "starter" for Sporting Clays

February 9, 2008, 11:26 PM
I was at a benefit auction recently and came home with a package for a Sporting Clays club. Most of my firearms experience is handguns and I don't have much shotgunning experience. I've got a nice 20 gauge Zabala SxS I picked up at an auction cheap a few years ago and I'm wondering if that would be a good "starter" for Sporting Clays?

Thanks for your opinions! :)

February 10, 2008, 11:30 AM
Most sporting clay shooters don't use SxS shotguns. Don't ask me why, but I don't see them much on the range I shoot at. You mostly see auto's and O/U shotguns. You didn't say whether your SxS had choke tubes in it or not. Fixed chokes, especially if they were full would also be a big factor when shooting sporting clays. You are usually looking for improved cylinder, skeet or at least modified chokes. If you're SxS has that you are good to go.

If not, what I might suggest is this. Give the range a call and see if they have any guns to rent. A lot of ranges do, I know mine does. As a matter of fact that's how I got started. If they do they will be setup for sporting clays.

I hope you enjoy your trip to the sporting clay range. You might just get hooked on it and end up buying another shotgun.


February 10, 2008, 11:42 AM
Thanks for the tips, Jim. I'll contact the range about rentals.

February 10, 2008, 11:54 AM
No problem at all. I hope you enjoy your trip to the sporting clay range. If you were in the Columbus Ohio area I would go with you and let you use my shotgun. Let us know how it turns out for you.


February 10, 2008, 01:06 PM
Will do, although my trip to the range will wait until we have temps in positive numbers - lol ;)

February 11, 2008, 02:31 PM
Side by Sides have some interesting issues on sight picture - and point of impact on the barrels may be a little different. But the real reason you don't see a lot of side by sides is fit - traditionally they are a little lighter, shorter length of pull and they don't have much adjustability.

The best starter gun I would recommend is probably a semi-auto. Most of them have a fair amount of adjustability - some have adjustable combs - in general they have lighter felt recoil. There are a lot of guns out there from $1,000 - $1,500 and a good example is the Benelli super sport - carbon fibre stock, built in comfort tech recoil system, quite a bit of adjustability and it comes with 5 chokes. 28" and 30" barrels are common on guns used in the field or for sporting clays.

Over unders are fine - my personal favorite is the Browning XS Skeet in a 30" barrel. It has an adj comb - moderate high rib - about 8 lbs - good versatile gun but you're into the $ 2,350 price range ( list is about $ 2,850 I think ).

You don't need a gun that says "sporting clays" on it. A lot of shooters these days have gone to pre-mounting their gun, or a high gun, on sporting clays. One of the professional shooters, Bobby Fowler Jr, has developed a unique pre-mount high gun technique and he's pretty sucessful with it. But you can use any gun you want - although 12ga's are common - unless the shoot is specific to one gague like 20, 28 or .410 . There are some shooters that use a 20ga for 12ga events - although personally I don't care for it.

In my sporting clays bag - for a typical 100 bird shoot - I'll carry 6 boxes of shells 4 of 1oz of 8's / 1 of 1oz of 9's / 1 of 1 1/8 oz of 7 1/2's . I usually carry a full set of chokes 2 skeet, 2 IC, 2 Mod, 2 Imp Mod, 2 Full but a couple of IC's and a couple of Mods will get you thru most courses pretty well.

February 11, 2008, 09:55 PM
I'd take a serious look at the Stoeger and Franchi I-12 lines. They come in various price ranges, and most have a 28" barrel which comes in handy for the farther sporting clays shots. You can get synthetic, camo synthetic or Walnut in the Franchi line and spend anywhere from $700ish - $1400.00. The Stoegers are even less, but all are owned by Benelli. My Franchi has an adjustable comb, and is recoil operated, as is the benelli, and Stoeger. It also has a factory installed Gel Pad that really knocks down the recoil. It came w/ 5 choke tubes full, imp mod, mod, imp cyl, and skeet.

February 12, 2008, 08:51 AM
A gently used 870 or 1100 would serve you well for decades with a minimal initial investment. At least if you decide you don't like sporting clays you don't have $1500 in a gun you won't use. If you decide you LOVE sporting clays and you want a dedicated SC gun, you can upgrade later and either keep the 870/1100 or use it to help fund the purcase of the new gun. That's what I did.


Smitty in CT
February 12, 2008, 10:23 AM
Mossberg 930....

Great gun, very reliable, can be bought for around $450 and compares well to guns costing twice as much.

February 13, 2008, 08:27 PM
Thanks guys, I really appreciate your viewpoints. We've got a new gun dealer in our area that has some good used shotguns in stock (Stoeger Condor, 870 Trap, Benelli), plus the manager is active in local / state shotgunning events. It looks like I may be able to get some lessons and make a selection there. :D

February 14, 2008, 09:18 PM
The Remmy 1100 and 11-87 are 2 of the "softest" shooting shotguns you will find, and if you plan on shooting the high speed SC loads available, you'll appreciate the extra recoil reduction. My favorite clay load is all green; RP Premier hull, RP 209P primer, RXP 12 wad, 21.0 gr. Green Dot, 8 point crimp for 1255 with 1 1/8 oz. shot. Simply powders the clay birds.

February 15, 2008, 08:41 AM
CZ makes some nice O/Us for not alot of money. But if you want an auto, you can't go wrong with an 1100.

February 15, 2008, 08:10 PM
Judging by the enthusiasm all of you show for shotgunning, I think I'm going to really enjoy this sport! ;)

February 15, 2008, 08:53 PM
New to shotgunning are we? Another one bites the dust. Better than poking holes in a piece of paper..

But Real men use a .410 for all their shotgunning::D:D:D

February 15, 2008, 09:26 PM
Mossberg 930....

Great gun, very reliable, can be bought for around $450 and compares well to guns costing twice as much.

Smitty might be a bit biased - I recognize him from the mossberg forum on shotgunworld.com :)

However - I do agree with him 100%

For a recreational clay shooter, you really can't beat the 930. Reliably cycles light 2 3/4" shells, shoots straight, fits most people well (you should shoulder one to be sure) and is reasonably easy on the shoulder. I really like mine.

Try one before you buy something costing 2x as much. :)

February 15, 2008, 11:12 PM

You're right, my handguns outnumber my shotguns about 6 to 1. 4 shotguns and 22 handguns are currently in the safe.

Right now I've only got a folding stock Mossberg Persuader for Home Defense, a single barrel Excel 12g I bought to kill a rabid skunk that attacked my dogs when I bought my acreage , the 20g Zabala SxS I thought was a good deal for $125 at an auction & a Stevens single barrel .410 I bought for my kids when they were younger. I take them out to go "boom" for fun a few times a year but I've never been involved in any real sporting or hunting with them.

After reading some of the responses and talking to an old friend I haven't seen lately, I'm starting to look forward to Pheasant season, too - lol :cool: