View Full Version : Best clay O/U for $2k - $3k (new or used)

August 29, 2009, 10:09 PM
I am looking into purchasing an over/under 12 ga. for the various clay sports. I intend to use it equally between skeet, trap and sporting clays. I realize that there is no "one gun" that does everything perfectly, but would like to find one that can do each fairly well, and hopefully rely on my own skills to cover up the lack of the gun's single sport specialization. I have been shooting for over 30 years, but mostly handgun, and tactical rifles, and would like to branch out into these aforementioned areas (clays). That being said, I have 2 questions;

1) What 12 ga. O/U would you recommend for this application? My budget is 2 - 3k, possibly a little more, but it would have to be a sweet deal.

2) Would it be better to buy new or used, considering that it might be possible to buy something slightly used that would otherwise be out of my price range?

I have read various threads and looked up what limited reviews I could find, but it seems to me that I really don't know where to start in considering which gun to purchase. Any helpful hints or suggestions based on experiance will be greatly appreciated.

August 29, 2009, 11:20 PM
Three to four grand shopping spree. Here goes.

1. A Ponsness Warren reloader used.
2. An early BT-99 for trap.
3. A slightly used SKB (885)/Browning(Citori)/Beretta(whatever).

I think you can, if you shop wisely, make it in around 3600$.

Your set up for Skeet, Trap, and Sporting Clays.

August 30, 2009, 07:47 AM
A Browning XS Skeet with adjustible comb is an excellent place to start. Great Value. 30" or 32" tubes, your preference. I am confident one can be found for your budget.

I am sure Big Jim will chime in soon with the details.

It is always about fit. Therefore, other reasonable gun you may want to consider:

Winchester 101 Pigeon Grade
Beretta 686 or so
Benelli Supersport or Sport II if you want a semi-auto

August 30, 2009, 09:30 AM
In your price range, especially used, there are Brownings, Berettas, SKB, Cesar Guerini, possibly a Blaser or Zoli. All are good, but all tend to fit slightly differently. Get the one that fits you the best, or at least the closest, as that will really help your shooting

August 30, 2009, 10:16 AM
Good to see you around Waterengineer ...

For my money the most versatile shotguns made - with the most adjustability built in - is a parallel comb gun with an adjustable comb. For me that is the Browning XS Skeet model, with the adj comb - retailing new for around $2,750 these days.

Its available in 28" or 30" barrels / and I would go with a 12ga ( but is available in 20ga ) and by special dealers orders only in 28ga and .410.

Its not a great Trap gun / I go to a Browning XT with 32" barrels for Trap - with extra weight / Trap has less barrel movement left to right - so its a better Trap gun.

But the XS Skeet is my primary Skeet, Sporting Clays and field bird hunting gun / and will retain its value long term, if you don't like it.

August 30, 2009, 01:45 PM
Thanks guys, very helpful info so far. I had been looking at both Browning and Berretta as they were the two brands that friends of mine seemed to recommend the most.

On the Browning side, how does the XS Skeet and the XS Special differ? Also, for an all-arounder, is a 30" bbl preferable to a 28" or a 32"?

August 30, 2009, 02:05 PM
Not that I swing on dust birds... I prefer no longer than 28 for a general field gun... could be that I am only 5'8" making the 30-32 seem far too long to swing balanced in my hands/arms...

August 30, 2009, 02:12 PM
if you go on trapshooters.com, a lot of trappers suggest that if you want a "1 gun" for all disciplines, a O/U trap gun is the way to go. A lot of skeet and sporting clay shooters are going to high rib guns. I use a high rib sporting clays gun (not as high as a trap gun but still considerably higher than most of the flat rub guns out there).

Given your location and the clubs around where you live, you have to ask yourself, what clay games will you mostly shoot, based on what the club offers . Most folks I know start off with trap/wobble trap and/or skeet then they try sporting clays and get hooked on that game and never go back to trap/skeet games.

It also depends on if you like a heavy gun vs a lighter weight gun, whether your physical attributes prefer a meaty gun like the Browning or the slimness of the Beretta.

Used vs. new: I would always look for used(e.g. lightly shot, maybe 1000 or 2000 rounds through the gun) if you are just starting out and if you are unsure of you will get hooked on the clay games for the long haul.

brands: Browning and Beretta saturate the market....Zoli is a very good brand (Antonio Zoli, a bridge between the mass market brands and the upper higher end guns) and you can find a used one for around $3000.....SKB is good as well......for Blaser, I have never seen a used one for around $3k, most used ones go for around $4k.

August 30, 2009, 02:13 PM
oh forgot to say....32" all the way..

August 30, 2009, 02:44 PM

Yes, there are some technical differences between the XS Skeet and the XS Special. They are hard to discern from the website or the paper catalog. The most significant difference and the one which will change how it points (and where it shoots) is the height of the rib vent.

Also, I see you are more or less in my neighbor hood. Shoot me a personal message with some contact info and perhaps we can shoot. I'm somewhat north of you but wee have a couple of nice ranges up this way.

Jim, yes, I am around, but as you know I am spending more time at the other website because there is less emphasis on black guns. I do check in here occasionally - just to make a few replies on things I am interested in and to make sure some of my frienda are still here.

Jim, I hope you are feeling OK. I'm send a personal message in a day or three.

August 31, 2009, 09:08 AM
Personally, as far as barrel lengths go, I go with 30 or 32, especially on targets - helps me with NOT stopping my swing. Again though, try to shoot some of the various models and barrel lengths and find the one that suits you the best.

You might also want to check out shotgunworld.com - they have not only sections specific to each target game, but also individual sections dedicated to many of the brands where you can ask questions about each.

August 31, 2009, 11:07 AM
Besides the rib differences - the finish on the guns are different / the wood on the XS special tends to be a little more "plain" and it has a satin oil finish on it - that isn't particulary tough.

XS Skeet is only available in 28" or 30".

XS Specail is only available in 30" or 32" / and its about 8 oz heavier.

I prefer the XS Skeet in 30" as a general purpose gun - and at around 8 1/2 lbs for Skeet, Sporting and field hunting / for Trap only I go to a 32" barrel and a gun around 9 1/2 to 10 lbs.

August 31, 2009, 11:17 AM
I have been shooting skeet and trap for over twenty five years with two Ruger O/U's. One in 12, and one in 20 gauge. Mine are Red Labels, but you can get fancier models if you desire.

I have found them to be absolutely reliable and they have some special features as well.

Ruger uses two hammars instead of a rebounding hammar, so that if a shell miss fires you can still fire the other barrel.

The safeties automatically go on whenever the gun is opened, but that can be disabled if one desires.

The barrel spacers are removable if one desires.

The receivers are stainless steel.

Screw in chokes.

There are a lot of shotguns out there. I see people paying a lot of money for guns that give nothing but trouble weekly, and I have never had a problem with either Ruger. I shoot every week, and usually several rounds.

August 31, 2009, 11:46 AM
Cooper - glad you're having good luck with your Rugers; however, I did not with mine - I really wanted to like that 28 gauge, but after the third trip back to Ruger to get fixed in about 6 months, it went bye bye. They seem to be a hit or miss gun - they either work well, or are always breaking - no middle ground.

Dave McC
September 1, 2009, 08:12 AM
When I did this a few years back, I went with the Beretta White Onyx Sporter with 32" barrels.

No regrets.

It's busted 8-10 thousand clays, had nigh zero probs, and a new one will run you about $2K.

I did replace the interchangeable pads with a Limbsaver, but that's minor.


October 6, 2009, 12:30 AM
There are skeet guns for skeet and trap guns for trap. But the sporting gun is by far the most versatile. Light and long, but easy to swing, any type of designated sporting gun is a very versatile clays gun. Look at a Browning Cynergy Sporting or a used Caesar Guerini Summit Sporting. Great guns.

October 21, 2009, 07:24 AM
Since you are in FL, I would suggest you take a trip North & visit John Woolley at Amelia Island Shooting Sports. Great instructor with a very nice gun room filled with Caesar Guerini (great for the money), Zoli (an even better gun-better balanced but a little more expensive, and many more new & used. He also has a "try-gun" to measure length of pull, cast etc, so he can make sure your new gun will actually fit you.

Good shooting to you-

October 21, 2009, 08:09 AM
Christian - any idea what Wooley charges for a fitting?

October 23, 2009, 07:40 PM
Hey there oneounceload:

John's lessons run $150 per hour, so I am guessing probably $150. But I am not certain.

Usually if you book lessons, first time out he checks your eye dominance then your gun fit. If you are just coming to sporting clays, the nice thing is, he will monitor your gun fit as your style changes and your mount becomes more consistent.

All the best-
www.claysportsonline.com (http://www.claysportsonline.com)

October 23, 2009, 11:07 PM
Pick up a B-gun (Browning, Beretta - whatever fits your fancy) 2nd hand. If you manage to wear it out I will personally send you a dollar. O/Us are still popular and my favorite - though the AL391 in 12ga has throngs of fans...

I wouldn't bother with a press unless you're going to consistantly shoot competitively. I loaded 28ga and .410 because I shot 3 bores at skeet (20ga in 12ga events, 20 in 20, 28 in 28, 410 in 410) and 20ga was cheap enough at the time it was barely worth handloading where I was due to shipping on shot.

Spend a grand on ammo, maybe a lesson and rounds at the range :) If I had it to do over again? I'd have traded the first O/U I had for a few thousand rounds of 12ga and a few full punch cards for the range. Some quality time behind the old 870 shooting every weekend would have been FAR better for my game than a fancy gun. I bought the fancy gun though - and several since.

They're pretty. I've sold them all and bought new, and sold again.

I still have the 870 though.

It's like this - would Billy Joel or Ray Charles sound good on an old upright piano? YEAH! Would they sound better on a perfectly tuned, top-quality grand? YEAH! The gun will always be there to get. The man with the talent's what's important :)