View Full Version : Defense/Hunting Shotgun Question

January 26, 2011, 08:43 PM
Hi Everyone, I'm completely new to these forums, but have been immensely enjoying them, catching up, over the last few days.

Anyways, I'm in the market of buying a new shotgun. I own handguns, but have virtually no experience in the shotgun world. After a fair amount of research I'm leaning heavily towards a Benelli SuperNova. However, I'm stumped on what length barrel to buy. I understand the tactical, 18", makes the most sense for home defense purposes, but how do these fair in the field? If I decide to start hunting or clay shooting will I have screwed myself over unless I buy a 26-28" model? Any input is much appreciated.

Can you change barrels out easily (both physically and cost efficiently) on a Benelli?

Thanks in advance!

January 26, 2011, 08:49 PM
Hi - I don't have experience with the Benelli guns, so I can't tell you for sure about swapping out the barrels, but most tactical shotguns have longer magazines and hunting barrels don't usually swap onto them because of the extra tube.

You won't do much fowling with an 18" barrel, you -might- be able to use it as a slug gun, but at the end of the day it's not going to be ideal. I don't know what your local laws are, but everywhere I've hunted has had a 3 round mag limit for shotgun hunting, so you'd probably also need to plug the tube.

Best bet is to either get a hunting length gun and a shorter barrel to swap or to get two guns, in my opinion.

January 26, 2011, 08:52 PM
You will want the 26 or 28 for clays and birds on the wings - the swing dynamics suck for a short barrel, and you need that for shots where swing and follow-through is crucial

January 26, 2011, 09:06 PM
Thanks for the responses. Buying two guns seems to be the option many suggest. An 870 or Mossberg 500 are a little cheaper, but recent reviews of the 870 seem to suggest the quality is not what it used to be. Does this seem to be accurate?

I guess for home defense you can't really go wrong with the tactical models. And to answer a previous question, I live in Los Angeles...so the gun laws are a little more strict than most of the country.

Capt. Charlie
January 26, 2011, 10:11 PM
This is more suited to our shotguns forum.

Moving there.....

January 27, 2011, 01:48 AM
Having one shotgun is like trying to play an entire round of golf with a putter.

A lot of shotgun barrels are interchangeable. Check out a Remingiton 870, or a Mossberg 500 with different barrels

Dave McC
January 27, 2011, 09:09 AM
The problems associated with newer Remington pumps, especially 870 Expresses are way overblown, IMO.

I've handled and shot 25-30 at the range in the last couple years. All worked perfectly, none showed any signs of rust.

January 27, 2011, 09:38 AM
Right now the "fastest" pump action is a Mossberg 500 and they sell "combo kits" cheap with two barrels - a long sporting barrel and a short self defense barrel. If you get an 870 I would get a Police Grade. The Browning BPS is a good gun and for around $400.00 you can get two H&R Pardner Pumps, one sporting and one "Protector" which are highly rated and are imported by Remington and are 870 clones. For a little more $$$ you can get a Mossberg 930 semi-auto which is a fantastic value - as reliable as a semi-auto can get. With any of these you can't go wrong.

January 27, 2011, 11:40 AM
Greetings Paul, and welcome to the shotgun forum.

Research is great, but there is no substitute for actual trigger time. You didn't mention where in El Lay you're located; but, before you make any decisions, check out Triple-B Clays (626-579-5201) in El Monte or Prado Olympic Shooting Park (909-597-4794) in Chino Hills for some actual hands-on experience. You might even run into TheKlawMan getting acclimated to his new Remington.

January 27, 2011, 12:09 PM
I hope I am getting acclimated. Shooting better (starting to hit the bird) but ouch! If PMajor is going to be out by Prado he is welcome to shoot my 18" 870 Express and may wan't to compare it to a rental 870 with a long barrel.

As for the problems, I have none. No rust, but I wipe it down with a light coar of remoil. I have never had a shell jamb in the chamber, but I cleaned it before I shot and got one with a smooth chamber. I did have issues with loading the 5th and 6th shell into the mag until I learned how to assemble the 2 round extension so the follower spring didn't bind. I have never had a failure to fire or eject. The only jamb I ever had was when I was messing around to see what would happen if I tried to pust a 7th round into that 6 round mag.

I am not sure if Triple B permits short barrels, but you can call them. I have yet to go there but may give it a try if they will let me shoot.

If you get a short barrel, check to see if the ranges near you allow them. Pradom does but I believe many clubs do not.

As for swapping barrels with a defensse gun, it isn't that difficult with a Remington 870 but is a problem with one of the Mossbergs. I suspect it may be a problem with some other makes. LIke was pointed out, the problem is with longer magazine tubes on the defense or tactical models of some makes.
Some will tell you that there is not long barrel for the Mossberg with the long mag, but there is one available from Maverick. The problem is the placement of the barrel lug.

On the 870, the barrel lug is not problem and you can switch barrels easily, but I would get a regular mag cap and follower spring and not use the extension with the long barrel.

You may want to consider getting two shotguns. Just the extra barrel can run as much or more than a used Stevens just put up for sale on this forum for $175. (Right now I am trying to find a used 28" Remington barrel.) You could get something like that for HD and get a Remington 28" and not have to be switching barrels.

January 27, 2011, 12:32 PM
To optimize your potential on clay targets - you really need to consider a 28" barrel on a pump or semi-auto ( and in terms of overall length of the gun / it will be roughly equivalent to an Over Under with 30" barrels ). The receiver on the pump and semi-auto are about 2" longer than an O/U.

Shooting clays is very different from shooting slugs or whatever in a defensive situation - mostly because the targets are moving. The longer barrel makes for a longer sight plane - and it makes executing the shot for clays a lot easier. Shorter barreled guns - have a tendancy to swing way to quickly / vs smoothly ...and on clay targets you want "smooth" and a controlled follow thru motion.

All pump guns are easy and quick to change barrels - takes a minute at the most. But extra barrels can cost you as much as another gun.

There is a lot of discussion on the forum of how effective a pump gun is on clay targets / speed / economy of motion, etc ...

Many of us started on pump guns ....but today I shoot clays with an O/U - and for the most part on upland birds, I hunt with the same O/U I shoot for clays.

Its very similar to the variety of discussions on handguns 3", vs 4" vs 5" barrels ....and controls, etc .... there is a lot to it. Personally my primary defensive handgun is a 1911 in 5" ....because I shoot it way better than most any 3" or most 4" barreled guns....( but that is what suits me ). You have to pick what suits you the best.

January 27, 2011, 01:45 PM
One item not mentioned that I have seen is the ability to use chokes. Most short barrel HD guns have none and are open cylinder, which means their shot pattern quickly spreads and makes it difficult to shoot clay. I will let the others describe that in more detail if they wish as I am still figuring that out.

January 27, 2011, 02:57 PM
You mentioned the Mossberg 500 in you post above. I just inherited a Mossburg 500 in 20 ga from my father-in-law. He bought it new a few years ago and hardly even used it because of his bad health. This gun is one of the combination units they offer and has the 26" barrel with modified choke and the 18.5" barrel cylinder bore. I know this is an entry level gun but I like the combination and the barrels are a snap to change back and forth. I see now, from the Mossberg web site, that they do not offer this 20 ga combo. Now they offer a 12 ga combo. The 12 ga combo has the 28" and 18.5" barrel. The longer barrel has the interchangable choke design allowing the use of several different choke variations. Do your homework and get the gun that works for you.

January 27, 2011, 03:04 PM
Savage 350 COMBO 12GA 28/18.5

Good combo pack, my wife hasn't used the 28" for birds yet, but its a nice HD gun with the 18.5".


January 27, 2011, 04:05 PM
KlawMan is right ....to really make a gun versatile .... having screw in chokes makes a big difference.

Now some of us on here - change them often ....some guys don't ( OneOunce..) ....but in general, the idea of a shotgun for hunting birds or on clay targets is you want a 30" pattern / at the kill range of the target.

So on Trap singles ( you stand at the 16 yd line / but you killing the bird as it moves away from you at around 35 yards ) ....so most of us would go to a Modified choke. We would also leave it at Modified from 16 - 20 yard line. From 21 - 25 yard lines on a Trap field most of us would go to an Improved Modified / and at 26 and 27 yard lines go to a Full choke .... ( and I can hear the Trap shooters screaming at me, real men, shoot Trap with 7 1/2's and with Full chokes ...) .... :D

For Skeet - most of us shoot Skeet chokes ( birds are a lot closer ...)

For Sporting Clays - it depends ....and personally, on a Sporting Course, I carry a fishing tackle box - with 6 chokes and 2 in my O/U - so I have 2 Skeet, 2 Imp Cyclinder, 2 Modified, 1 Improved Modified and 1 Full ....

If you don't have changeable screw in chokes - you can loosen the pattern up a little /or tighten it up a little by varying your loads from 1oz of 9's / to 1 1/8 oz of 7 1/2's ...and altering the velocity of the load from 1150 fps - 1300 fps ....

When I shoot a single barrel gun ( pump or semi-auto for sporting clays) I will often go to an Imp Cyclinder or Modified and alter the order of the shells a little ( with 9's, or 7 1/2's ...) ....

But yes, for a more versatile gun - go to a gun that has screw in chokes ...:D

January 27, 2011, 04:38 PM
Cary. As I almost bought the 12 gauge Mossberg combinatioin package I am pretty sure that the 28 inch barrel has a fixed modified choked barrel. As I got different stories from different people at Big 5 sporting Goods stores, I asked someone who seemed to know a bit better fo what he spoke and he checked. He said it didn't take scew in chokes and the barrel was stamped with an "M" that meant it had a fixed modified choke. This doesn't mean that a different chain or even a different Big 5 couldn't be selling a slightly differetn package.

Paul. I have yet to get my carcass out to one, but there is a place called Bass Pro that had a pretty good price on the basic 870 with a 28 inch barrel that took choke tubes. (The last guy I shot with had one from there, which I think he got for Xmas, and he was using a Birely (sp?) choke that I guess some prefer.

Here is a link to the Bass Pro in Rancho Cucamonga. The price is $40 less than what I paid at Big 5 for a 7 shot 18", which was $350. but with a $30 rebate. http://www.basspro.com/Hunting-Firearms-Shotguns/_/N-1z0weqv/No-50 It may not be worth the drive for you and you may do better near your home, but the one thing I found was everyone tries to sell you what they carry and not what you want.

January 27, 2011, 05:35 PM
The Mossberg web site lists item # 54169 as having the 28" barrel and having the Accu-set choke. If you go down to the bottom of the specification page it defines Accu-set as a three choke package (full, modified, & improved). If I understand correctly it says it comes with three different screw in chokes. If all that is true that looks even better. Take a look on this page about half way down in the combo guns.


ACCU-SET: Includes full, modified and improved cylinder choke tubes.

As I stated the gun I inherited (20 ga combo) came with the modified choke installed in the barrel. I picked the gun up after my father-in-law passed and went through his gun closet to empty it out. I didn't find any more choke tubes so I don't think mine came with the three tubes as the one above looks to have. I also checked the original box the gun came in as well.
Correct me if I am wrong but I based my statement on the information from the Mossberg web site.:)

January 27, 2011, 05:38 PM
Now some of us on here - change them often ....some guys don't ( OneOunce..)


I change them once in a while - depending on where I shoot, but once I get there, I rarely change chokes - I find it better to change ammo

3/4 oz 12 gauge loads for everything 40 - 45 yards and under, 1oz or 1-1/8 oz for everything over that distance.

For sporting, typically an open and distance choke for most courses, select the barrel accordingly.

For HD, Cylinder bore is just fine - for hunting or clays a Modified will do the job 90% of the time IF you do your part, but Jim is correct, choke tubes will give you some more options.

January 27, 2011, 06:40 PM
and I paid for 8 or 10 chokes for every shotgun I own .....and I'm going to use them .......:cool:

Sorry for picking on you OneOunce -- couldn't resist...well I could have,,, but I didn't....:D

January 27, 2011, 08:04 PM
Hi Cary. I am just saying what the Mossberg 500 combination package sold by Big 5 includes. This is not a particular model listed on the Mossberg sight, to my understanding, buy a special offering made up for Big 5 and some of the other large retailers (such as Dick's in certain states). Just like a particular vacuum cleaner form Hoover can only be bought at Costco. As for what you inherited I am sure it is what you say it is and that its a great gun.

January 28, 2011, 09:11 AM
I agree with you on that TKM. Some of these large companies have enough buying power to order packages the way they want them. They can offer a package that is unique to their store.

January 28, 2011, 10:44 AM
Yeah, the Dicks in my area was where my mom bought my dad's Rem 1187, it had the screw in chokes but only came with one. (I think Mod, but not really important) I mentioned it to the guy working at their gun counter and he nodded and said Dicks sells them like that so they can sell the other chokes to you later.

I as going through the same process as the OP last year and picked the Mossberg 500 combo package.

28" with Accu-set chokes and 18.5" cylinder bore barrels. Haven't made it out to the range with the long barrel yet, but shot some with the short barrel. Was able to hit a 8" target at 75 yards with the 2 slugs I shot last time i was out.

I put a cheap ammo sleeve on the buttstock, and just last week attacked a rail and light to the mag tube for home defense use. I can put pics of that set up on here tonight if anyone's interested.

January 28, 2011, 11:39 AM
So rburch your gun did come with the three choke tubes as mentioned on the Mossberg web site (full, modified, & improved)?

January 28, 2011, 12:47 PM
Cary. Rburch said it came with one choke, but what was offered at my local store or at his isn't what is importnat. Check what you are getting and physically look at the choke to make sure it unscrews. Different stores, different deals, different times.

My Bad. Actually, he said his Dad's came with the one chome but the package he got came with "chokes" like you said.

January 28, 2011, 04:07 PM
Wow. I've gotten a lot of good info from this. I've also realized I have a lot more things to consider before buying haha.

Oh, to Zippy and TheKlawMan I've never heard of the ranges you guys mentioned. I live in Pasadena so neither is too far. The only outdoor range I've been to is the Angeles Outdoor Range.

January 30, 2011, 04:53 PM
Yeah guys sorry if it was a little confusing.

My dad's 1187 from dicks came with just 1 choke.

My Mossburg 500 from a local gunshop came with 3 chokes.

Mom picked Dicks cause the gun was about $30 cheaper there than the local shop. Out of curiosity I checked, the local shop's came with 3 chokes.

The missing chokes and a choke wrench cost us about $50.

Moral of the story is check the details on what you're buying