View Full Version : Wanting a good entry level shotgun..

The Meatman
July 2, 2008, 05:05 PM
I went today and looked at some shotguns, and I was wondering if I could get some opinions on good entry level shotguns. Also for Skeet shooting is an over/under better than a pump? I fell in love a Browning 12ga. pump, but then they have a gorgeous Mossberg 12ga. over/under. The Browning is $479, and the Mossberg is $489. Both are 26" barrels. I await the expert opinions. Thanks guys.

July 2, 2008, 05:35 PM
Do I understand you correctly that the main purpose is targets?? and that around $500 is your budget??

IMO, a GOOD O/U or semi will do you better than a pump, especially for the second target acquisition - but in your budget parameters, you're better off, again IMO, with a good quality used gun...more than likely a semi from Beretta or Browning.......again, I'm talking a target gun, not a turkey/deer/hd/clays/bird do it all gun.....there's no such thing

good luck in your quest

July 2, 2008, 06:04 PM
Shotguns don't come in one size fits all - because the rear sight on a shotgun is your eye as your face rests on the comb of the gun. If you raise or lower the comb the point of impact goes up or down as well - and its important that a shotgun hit where you are looking.

In general a good pump is around $ 500 ( and the Browning BPS is one of the best in my opinion ). A good semi-auto is around $1,000 - $ 1750 and there are a lot of good used guns out there. The "B" guns Browning and Beretta give you a lot of gun for the money but most of their more versatile guns, with a lot of adjustability, are about $ 2,500 - with the Browning XS Skeet model, with an adjustable comb, one of the most adjustable and most versatile out there.

If $500 is your budget - a Browning BPS will probably fit your needs - I still have the same BPS I bought in the early 70's. Its good for left and right handers, it usually has neutral cast left and right - ejects out of the bottom - but in order to have that gun "fit" me, I had to add an adhesive pad on top of the comb - but that just depends on your dimensions shoulder to cheek bone, etc. For 90% of us / a stock gun like the BPS doesn't fit us very well - but for $ 50 that can be changed with a pad.

My 2 cents worth - on the most adjustable guns - the Benelli Super sport semi-auto with the comfort tech recoil system in it / the optional comb insert - but its retailing in my area for about $ 1,650 new. But it comes with 5 chokes so its virtually complete. The other is the Browning XS Skeet model Over Under with the adj comb - new they are around $2,500 but there are some used around. I would stay with a 12ga for a 1st gun / you can load them heavy or light and play every game out there / hunt virtually anything. My primary travel gun is the Benelli super sport 30" barrel in 12ga - shoot skeet, trap, sporting clays, hunt some quail, whatever. For the last 2 weeks I used it as a training gun for a couple of young shooters in the family - and it worked real well with 1 oz loads in it.

Unless you're really in a hurry to have your own gun - you really need to talk to a lot of guys around your local clubs. 1 gun for everything may not be perfect / I like longer and heavier guns for Trap 32" O/U's / 30" O/U's for skeet, sporting and field shooting / 30" barrel on a semi-auto ...but that's just me. Have some fun in your search - but the BPS is a very good gun if it fits you well.

The Meatman
July 2, 2008, 07:07 PM
good info so far guys, I appreciate it alot. I used to have a Mossberg model 500, and right now I have a Remington 870 express in a 20ga (which is truly my son's gun.) So this one is for me, and will probably be the only one I'll buy (I'm waiting to inherit my dad's (from his dad) Ithica over/under.)

July 2, 2008, 08:46 PM
I just bought a new in the box Beretta AL390 at Bass Pro for 599.00. 28" barrel, 3 chokes, adjustable stock (synthetic). Promptly took it out to the range and shot my best round of sporting clays ever. Granted, it is not as adjustable as a gun with an adjustable cheek piece and recoil pad, but for most folks of average build, it is adequate. I also, about a month ago bought an A390 with 30" barrel at a local gun shot for $450.00, walnut stock. The gun is in perfect shape, but the stock had a couple of long scratches, which saved me a few bucks.

A buddy of mine informed me today that Academy has the Beretta 3901 Citizen (essentially the same gun as the AL390) for $599.00.

Bass Pro also has the Winchester SX2, walnut, on sale for $599.00.

Point being, you do not have to spend $1000.00+ to get a really good quality, reliable shotgun, that will serve you perfectly on the skeet range.

July 3, 2008, 01:46 PM
There is some relationship between price and quality - especially long term durability. My grandfather was a duck and bird hunter for 30 years and I doubt seriously, although he limited most every day he went out, that he ever shot more than 10 boxes a year thru his guns.

In clay target games - 10 boxes a week is pretty average.

A good pump gun, like the Browning BPS, is a good long term gun, very high quality for about $ 500 but shooting 10 boxes a week thru it will cause some wear - and probably some rebuild in 5 - 10 years. A Browning XS Skeet with an adj comb has a lot more adjustability than a BPS - so it will fit more shooters - but at $ 2,959 list price / or about $ 2,750 for a street price that might be more than you want to spend - but it is one of the best deals out there that gives you a whole lot of gun for the money - and a gun that will fire 10 boxes a week - for a solid 20 years - with at the most replacing some firing pins and a few springs. There are certainly some good used guns out there - and they are always a good buy when you find a good one. There are cheaper guns out there too - but a $ 500 Over Under isn't going to hold up to 10 boxes a week for more than a few years. Semi-autos are a little different - many of the gas guns - Beretta, Browning, Remington, etc will run an awful long time - and there are great deals out there for around
$ 1,000 - and the Benelli super sport is a very versatile gun for about $ 1700 list right now. Price and quality aren't always about fancy wood - sometimes its about the quality of the steel - and the amount of adjustability in the gun. A BPS at $500 is still a great gun for the money. A Beretta semi-auto can be a good buy - but they have a lot of drop at the comb and at the heel ( for me that means they shoot about a foot low at 25 yards ) - so its a good gun / but why would I want to spend $1,000 on a gun that shoots a foot low for me - when I could spend that money on a gun that has more adjustability, like the Benelli super sport, that will hit exactly where I look. It isn't about the money - its about the fit - and whether you might be spending money on a gun that doesn't fit - and how much will it cost to make it fit - so it hits where you are looking.

I'm not saying you have to spend $ 2,500 - but I do know that a gun like the Browning XS Skeet model with the adj comb can be adjusted to fit virtually anyone.

The Meatman
July 3, 2008, 07:06 PM
We will probably be one of those 10 boxes a month (maybe) type of shooter. I am considering a Stoeger 2000 right now, and possibly a Browning pump. This is going to be a fun gun, for occasional use. Thanks for the advice so far.

July 4, 2008, 07:05 AM
Let me preface my remarks by saying that I am not an expert and I am new (2 years or so ) to shotgunning and shotgun sports.

1) If you plan on clay games which require follow up shots then you will want semi-auto or O/U. These games can be played and played quite well with a pump but you will have to deal with one more thing taking away your concentration from the bird while trying to learn a new sport. There is a guy who comes to the club I shoot at with a 20ga pump Browning and bests most of the shooters there when he comes. It is quite an impressive display so it can be done.

2) Perhaps the most important is gun fit. If it does not fit it will not shoot well for you. As stated above you can have a gun fit to you but the closer you start to a good fit the better you will be.

Stay away from the cheap O/U shotguns. Or go really cheap. I had a bad experience with the SR Mossberg line you are refering to. The club has a couple Stoegers though that seem to preform flawlessly under the most adverse conditions. The upperend O/U are great but expensive and if you plan on keeping it then they are worth the investment.

Used semi-s of good quality should be easy to find in your price range and will present your best value (if you spend a little time and find a good one). They will increase in value or at least hold value for when and if you decide to trade up.
As you have seen you will be able to get a good pump in your price range and it would be hard to beat the Browning.

Most importantly is if you have a local club then get out there and shoot some different types of guns. Once the folks get to know you and see you trying and sticking with it, they will offer to help and chances to try different guns will arise. Some clubs have club guns you can use while you make your decision. This is what I should have done.

I went out and bought a pump and showed up one Sunday AM to strange looks (lets just say that tactical shotguns are not the best for clay games). The guys made me feel right at home and I had a great time. After a few weeks using the club gun a couple of times I decided to go with the SR Mossberg O/U as most were shooting O/U. Big mistake due to a lack of quality. I finally settled on a Browning O/U after shooting ones that belonged to my new Sunday A.M. friends.

Whatever you do just make sure that you have fun while you do it. I still occasionally show up with that tactical pump shotgun on a Sunday a.m. just to have some fun.;)

July 4, 2008, 03:45 PM
My choice is a Remington 1100 (not one of the NEW model 1100's.....but a good "like-new" older 2 3/4" chambered gun. You can easily find good ones for under $450 and then you can also find different barrels for a decent price too! I see fixed choke 12g barrels selling for under $75 most of the time. I bought a Remington Sportsman 12 (an 1100 without the fancy engravings) for just under $300 with a smoothbore slug barrel, then I purchased a LIKE-NEW use Hastings vent rib removable choke barrel for another $100 on Gunbroker. You have to be patient for the "good" deals, but they do come along. I bought another Sportsman 12 semi auto a month ago with a VR fixed MODIFIED choke for a grand total of $242 shipped and transferred off Auctionarms.com. Remington made several models in an economy version "Sportsman", so you have to look at the pics and see which one it is. They made a Sportsman 11 (Model 11) Sportsman 48, Sportsman 58 and another Sportsman 12 (which is an 870) The best part is that if you do need parts, they will be easy to locate and easy to find a smith if you can't repair yourself!

July 4, 2008, 11:27 PM
turkey/deer/hd/clays/bird do it all gun.....there's no such thing

Rem. 870 + barells = do it all gun

July 5, 2008, 12:37 AM
Rem. 870 + barells = do it all gun

Gotta agree. Is it a perfect clays gun? No. Is it a perfect hunting gun? Pretty near. Is it a perfect HD gun? It is my choice. I have 3 of them.

Point is, if you need one all around gun it is a pretty darned good choice (as is the Mossberg). If you are going to shoot skeet, or sporting clays, or trap 2 or 3 times a year, it will suffice.

If you are going to shoot clay games on a daily or weekly basis, there are certainly better choices.

But, for $279.00, a reliable shotgun that will do just about anything and last a lifetime is a pretty good deal.

July 5, 2008, 07:16 AM
T-Ray is right on. I would find a good used or new pump gun from a major manufacturer (Remington, Winchester, or Mossberg) and get a long barrel with interchangeable chokes and a shorter barrel if I wanted it to be an HD gun. If you have friends with different brands of guns try them out-the 870 is great but the Winchester may fit you better (mine does). Don't get hung up on which one lasts longer. Unless you are a competitive shooter any of them will be here when you are gone. There isn't much you can't do with a 12 guage pump.

July 5, 2008, 08:04 AM
Have to agree with buymore on the Remington 1100. Good solid design that's been around for some time. Lots of different barrels available in the unlikely event the 'standard' with choke tubes isn't sufficient. Affordable. Very common guns at the trap club. Would be a good choice.

July 5, 2008, 10:59 AM
go to a club shoot and look at the guns. most guys will gladly brag about their tools. You will see lots of 1100 in every configuration. Nice thing about an 1100 is you won't be afraid to drag it out in the field during hunting seasons. You may be able to buy a goos used Beretta or Browning, but if you want to swap out barrels you'll have a hard time finding them and they will be rather expensive. Remington barrels can be expensive also.....but you can find bargains more often than not. I see good deals at gunshows and flea markets all the time (under $100) All the parts are still available and easily obtained NEW or USED. They made it in .410, 28g, 20g, 16g and 12g, so your options are out there. 12 gauges are the most available and most reasonable on pricing. Check you pawn shops....I bought my last Sportsman 12 (1100 version) from SuperPawn on AuctionArms.com. The other Pawn dealer on Gunbroker BestLoan (I think?) always has some listed too. They may look beat, but you can get good deals on them and re-condition them to look like new. Stocks are available wood and synthetic. I bought a Ramline set for under $50 shipped NEW IN THE Package. It actually is fairly nice. I shot a round of 25 last week and it fits me well and handles well for a cheap stock set. I personally wanted a stock that I don't have to worry about getting ruined in the weather. There are some beautiful pieces of wood out there on 110's though! Good luck.

The Meatman
July 5, 2008, 12:47 PM
There's a place here in Alabama that has about 25 used A5's and I may go invest in one of those. He also has some used 1100's and a bunch of other used shotguns. I really think I want an autoloader, it's just going to come down to which one jumps out at me and won't let go. I am seriously loving the A5 though.

The Meatman
July 5, 2008, 06:32 PM
My wife and I went out today and I put a Browning Gold 28" 12ga on hold. The price is $649, and the gun looks new. It fits wonderfully (at least it feels like it does) and I fell in love with it as soon as I held it. Opinions? Thoughts? Thanks for the great input so far, you've all educated me quite well in my search.

July 7, 2008, 07:36 PM
10 boxes a month seems to be pretty reasonable. The Browning Gold will do what you want it to, as long as it fits you and you take the time to get to know the gun's mount, aim point, and break point.

You've gotten some pretty good advice so far, on O/U's, autos and pumps. For skeet, a lot depends on the club where you shoot, and whether you choose to reload shells or not. If you reload and want to keep your hulls, some clubs' rules mandate that if a shell hits the ground, it belongs to the club. This makes pumps and autos a problem on skeet, because it's tough to shoot skeet with a shell catcher (not impossible, but tough). As a result, the O/U is probably the way to go. If you don't reload and don't mind losing the hulls--shoot whatever you want. You're there to have fun, right?

I shoot trap (for now) with a pump, although I've used doubles and an autoloader. For reliability, consider that Vic Reinders put over 608,000 rounds through a Remington Model 31 pump (and Reinders was repeat national champion). Any shotgun can require parts, repairs, or extra attention over time, but this old story is why I shoot two 31's: One with a poly-choke on Modified, and one with a Cutts with a Full tube. I get a lot of chuckles and elbow-digging and smart remarks from the four-figure gun crowd when I uncase the old howitzer-nose, but they get awfully nervous when I shoot the same 22 or 23 that they did. The guy at my club who shoots 25's routinely is nice and says "nice shooting!" regardless of what you carry.

Neither model 31 cost me more than $250 used. If I had decided to stop at one, I could have had $250 to buy shot ($50), powder ($20), primers ($40), wads ($10) and 15 boxes of nice, Winchester AA trap loads at $8 a box.

Get what fits you, and get what will bring you joy, and you'll rarely regret the decision.

July 7, 2008, 09:15 PM
The Mossberg might be good for clays, but it doesn't have the ejectors so bird hunting sucks with it. My buddy and I went out and he had the Mossberg OU and I had a Benelli semi. He was couldn't keep up with me.

I also shoot some trap with a Camo Benelli Nova pump, it does real well and they are around $300. You might also look at a Remington 870.

I prefer the 26 inch barrels.

The Meatman
July 7, 2008, 10:24 PM
A good friend of mine put it best when he said "Never settle, get what you want." I REALLY want the Browning, and that's what I'm going with. This is one of those, "I only need one, so I'll buy one that will last" kind of purchases. I have the extra cash, so it's now or never. Even the wife says I should go ahead and get what I want. Can you believe that? Makes me wonder how long I get to keep it before I have to buy myself another shotgun (like I need another 9mm now that the wife has claimed mine.) Thanks for the great advice everyone, window shopping is alot of fun when you have some information!