View Full Version : Help with shotgun selection

April 8, 2011, 01:42 AM
I am looking for a shotgun. I have never shot one before, but own and have experience with pistols. I have always wanted to go clay shooting and have decided to not put it off any longer. I am also wanting to get a home defense shotgun but, from what I understand would need a different barrel length. I have done a little research and have been told I need a gas operated (semi auto?) instead of a pump. The reason is that I have had extensive back surgery and have several rods, pins, and screws in my spine. I was told the recoil from a pump may cause me to twist which would be a major problem. I am looking to spend around $400-$600. Like I said I have no experience so I don't know if the price range is unrealistic or not. Any recommendations would be welcomed.

April 8, 2011, 06:28 AM
Welcome to the forum.

First of all, any shotgun could be used for home defense. Shorter barreled-guns are more maneuverable, but you can use the same ammo (buckshot preferably) from a regular shotgun.

You are correct, a gas-operated semi-auto will generally have less jarring recoil that other gun. But given the condition you described of your back/spine, you'll probably want to take other precautions as well, such as buying low-recoil loads (the boxes will actually say "low recoil"). Buying a replacement recoil pad can also help a lot in some cases.

Given your needs, your concerns, and your budget, I'd suggest a Mossberg 930, which is a 12-gauge gas semi-auto around $400-500 that is considered by many to be a good value.

In you want to try low recoil ammo, Winchester WinLite or Winchester AA Low-Recoil shells are some of the lightest loads available. Remington STS managed-recoil ammo will have a little more oomph, but still be lighter than most 12-gauge loads.
***HOWEVER, very light loads sometimes don't cycle well in semi-autos, so hopefully someone who has experience shooting these in a semi-auto will tell you if these will work for you or not.

For a little extra cushion, you might also consider a Limbsaver recoil pad (item#10200 fits the Mossberg 930). They run about $30-40. In your situation, it may be worth it. I have two Limbsaver pads and like them very well.

Good luck

Edited to add: defense barrels can be bought separately for the Mossberg 930 if you ever decide you want one. Switching barrels is fast and easy, so one gun could serve multiple purposes.

April 8, 2011, 08:30 AM
Also you could try the knoxx comp stocks ( am I thinking of the right brand?). From what I understand they could reduce recoil buy up to 60%-90%. I've never tried one before though.

April 8, 2011, 09:01 AM
For the $$$ can't beat the Mossberg 930. As reliable as a semi-auto shotgun gets.

Will Beararms
April 8, 2011, 09:09 AM
I guide duck hunters. I can tell you know with your back issues, to go with a 20 gauge. They tend to come from the factory in the 26" barrel configuration which will cover all your needs from home defense to quail to clays. The 3" 20 in a high velocity steel shot or polymer matrix non-toxic load like Bismuth or Hevi-Shot Classic Doubles is more than sufficient for ducks at decoying ranges.

I suggest you look at the Benelli M2 20 Gauge 26", The Beretta 3901 12 gauge in 28" or the Browning Silver Hunter in 20 Gauge in 26".

All of the above mentioned weapons are heirloom quality with proper maintenance. The Beretta 39XX/391 series has very, very low recoil and there are still AL391 Urika's to be had NIB in 20 gauge. If I narrowed it down to one shotgun for you, it would be the Beretta AL391 Urika 20 Gauge with a 26" barrel. Bud's has them in stock right now.

[After further thought, I advise you to stay with the 20 gauge. In addition to lower felt recoil, they are much lighter and easier to handle. I will more than likely gravitate to the 20 within the next season or so.]

April 8, 2011, 10:07 AM
Be careful of the low recoil loads in an auto. Some of them are labeled that they should not be used in autoloaders due to the insufficient force generated to work the action. I have in my hand a box of Winchester AA's (AA12FL8) that carries the label text "USE in break open and pump shotguns only. Do NOT use in semi-automatic shotguns as the load may not function the firearm's action."

I'm sure lighter loads are available for autos, just not as light.

April 8, 2011, 02:43 PM
The military has an automatic shotgun that has almost no recoil even though it chambers a very heavy load; 3 1/2" shells. It absorbs all the recoil internally, maybe there is a civilian semi-auto that can do that? If so it won't be in the price range you mentioned.

I have serious back problems too and limit the use of my shot guns, for just that reason. I do a lot of rifle shooting instead. My Henry lever action .22 lr is loads of fun, my CZ 527 american chambers a .223 rem. It is a great target shooter and hunting rifle(critters smaller then a white tail) and my Henry bigboy .357 is a great hunting rifle and none have any serious kick; even the 357 big boy has only about 3 1/2 pounds of recoil. Shot guns may not be a wise option for you, better check with your Doc.

April 8, 2011, 03:06 PM
I'm glad lawnboy was able to clarify that Winchester low recoil loads aren't suitable for semi-autos. The Remington Managed-Recoil loads are a little hotter, so those might still work. Not sure though.

...I suggest you look at the Benelli M2 20 Gauge 26", The Beretta 3901 12 gauge in 28" or the Browning Silver Hunter in 20 Gauge in 26"....

...After further thought, I advise you to stay with the 20 gauge. In addition to lower felt recoil, they are much lighter and easier to handle. I will more than likely gravitate to the 20 within the next season or so.
I considered suggesting a 20-gauge a well. One reason I didn't is that I don't know of any particularly good 20-gauge guns in the $400-600 price range listed by the original poster.

The Brownings, Benellis, and Berettas will likely be about $800 at the cheap end and closer to $1,200 when you get into higher end models.

Also, there is nothing magical about a 20-gauge that makes it kick less. 20-gauges typically have less recoil because they are shooting lighter loads. However, if you drop the weight of the gun too much, the recoil level comes right back up.

The 20-gauge Browning, Benelli, and Beretta have listed weights of 6.3, 5.8, and 5.9 pounds respectively. If you were to shoot the same payload from a 6-pound 20-gauge and a 7.5-pound 12-gauge, the 20-gauge will have 25% more recoil.

...IF, 12-guage Remington Managed Recoil loads cycled in an auto, those are essentially 20-gauge loads in a 12-gauge gun...

Even if those weren't an option, standard 1 oz loads out of the 7.5 lb. 12-gauge will still have marginally less recoil than standard 7/8 oz loads out of a 6 lb. 20-gauge.

Regarding the knoxx compstock that CLC mentioned, they are available for Remington 870s and Mossberg 500s (both pumps). I believe they are intended more for tactical weapons and turkey and deer hunting. The grip angle may not be ideal for wing shooting, and the heft of the stock may change gun balance a bit. Still, they do reduce recoil very well. I have one on a mossberg 500 and it tames 3" turkey shells and slugs pretty well, and makes target loads very easy to shoot. I don't know if it reduces as much recoil as they claim, but it certainly reduces it as much as any semi-auto I've shot. The compstock runs about $120 in addition to the $200-300 you'd pay for the gun.

April 8, 2011, 03:55 PM
To add to idek -

a 7.5# 12, firing a 1oz load @1200 has 15.73 lb/ft of recoil
a 6.5# 20, firing a 7/8 load @1200 has 14.27 lb/ft of recoil

The heavier the gun coupled with the lightest load gives the lowest ACTUAL recoil. Add a gas action and a good recoil pad or system on the butt stock and the PERCEIVED recoil will feel less