View Full Version : first shotgun

October 25, 2011, 11:14 AM
Hi gents. Good forum. At the ripe old age of 42 I am looking to purchase my first shotgun. I recently went sporting clay shooting a few times and absolutely loved it. I used a loaner Remington semi 12 ga and really enjoyed shooting it. I've only shot a few times and used a pump once before (no idea of make, or even i it was 12 or 20 gauge!). Prior to that it was shooting at squirrels with a .22 when I was 16 years old...so it's been a while.

I'm also looking to try some upland game hunting (particularly pheasant, which is quite yummy).

Recognizing that I need to try various guns to gauge fit, but also that I'm new, not sure how much I will be able to get out, want a versatile and reliable gun, and don't want to spend too much on my first, I was thinking of getting a pump 12 ga like a Benelli Supernova. The person I shot clays with last time, who gave me lessons, sort of poo-poo'ed pumps and recommended I get a semi, but I'm the kind of guy who feels you should learn to drive stick before automatic. And the pricetag is attractive. I figure if I really get into it, THEN I'll spend a couple of thousand on a good semi auto or maybe an O/U.

Any thoughts? Thanks!

October 25, 2011, 12:01 PM
Remington 870 pump, or 1100 auto would be my choice but I'm a Remington guy :D

October 25, 2011, 12:15 PM
I started duck hunting 35 years ago with a pump gun, so it's second nature to me to pump for a second shot, kind of like driving a stick. If you can pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time, you can figure out a pump. I have a 20 gauge Nova, that is a nice little gun, much more lively than the 12 gauge. You might consider a 20 gauge, and add a 12 gauge semi or O/U later. Mark

October 25, 2011, 12:24 PM
Well I think I can pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time, but I'm not going to try, because I'd hate to find out I can't. :)
Forgive my ignorance, but wouldn't a 20 gauge give me less versatility? I'd like a gun where I can perhaps try turkey or duck hunting, something that's a real "all arounder" so I can try different hunting and clay sports with it. I figured since I felt pretty comfortable with a 12 ga, that's what I'd go with, but I haven't thought about a 20 ga.

October 25, 2011, 12:41 PM
You mentioned Sporting Clays and pheasant hunting. A 20 gauge would work well for these. If you want to do trap, skeet, sporting clays, turkey hunting, duck hunting, and upland bird hunting, then we need to reconsider. I would compare using one gun for all of those like trying to do all your wrenching with an 8" crescent wrench. You will probably get it done, but it's not the best choice. You may want to start out with a 12 gauge pump, but you will soon want to replace it with something more appropriate to the task. Then, do you keep the pump, or sell it to get another gun? A12 gauge pump really isn't the best tool for any of the options. A light 20 gauge might fill a niche, and you could keep it for upland hunting. Very few shotgunners only own one gun. Mark

October 25, 2011, 12:45 PM
Thanks Mark I appreciate it. Is the 20 a little better suited for upland just because it's lighter? Or is the amount of pellets you're hitting the bird with better suited for birds that size?

October 25, 2011, 12:47 PM
The 12 is definitely more versatile than the 20. If you want a softer shooting gun than the 12, you can shoot 12 gauge shells with light loads mimicking a 20. The 12 may even shoot softer, if it weighs more than the 20.

Depending on what you use it for, you may not want the livelier gun. I vote going with a 12 gauge pump and then deciding what you want in a good semi, which can easily cost 3 to 5 times what you will pay for a pump.

October 25, 2011, 12:49 PM
Mainly it's a lighter, more lively in the hands, when you swing on a bird. Some people would also consider it more sporting, not overkill. When hunting it's 90% walking and carrying, and 10% shooting. Shooting sports, it's the other way around. You want a heavier gun to absorb the recoil of many shots. I also have a 12 gauge Nova, that is a tank. Its' a great duck/goose gun, but I wouldn't consider using it for pheasant. Mark

October 25, 2011, 12:55 PM
Thanks. I shot clays for about 2 hours last time and the recoil pain didn't bother me too much, but yeah that sucker was feeling pretty heavy by hour #2. Guess I'll reconsider. Thanks again for the advice.

October 25, 2011, 01:06 PM
Where the "pooh-pooh"ing of the pump comes from for sporting is with the necessity to work the action for your second shot. Many folks, especially new ones, cannot keep the gun smoothly on the target line, thus dropping birds they might have normally hit using a semi, O/U, or even a SxS.

You didn't say what your budget is, but you can find a lot of good semi's without the need to drop a few thousand for your first one - think USED -

No matter what type of gun, get the target version IF your focus is mostly targets with some pheasant thrown in. Target models tend to be somewhat heavier to help mitigate the recoil. OTOH, if your plan is more walking for birds with a little clays once in a while, the field version will be your friend

Note there are various stock versions as well, especially in the target models

October 25, 2011, 01:09 PM
The 12 gauge is much more versitile. I've always owned remingtons and ithacas being from upstate ny. However new ithacas are a little pricey for what they are and well new remingtons are not what they used to be as we all know. I just bought my first winchester shotgun and I love it! Winchester makes the fastest shotguns in the world. They are reasonably priced as well. You might also look at the browning BPS. Bad things about these guns...foreign made.:rolleyes:

October 25, 2011, 01:25 PM
This will not be an easy decision! I'm a bit leery about buying a used semi from what I've read, but I also see Cabela's has some decent guns on sale once in a while so I will consider that too when my FID comes in (hopefully) in the next couple of weeks.

October 25, 2011, 02:18 PM
If you want more of a challenge, load your 12 gauge with 7/8 ounces of shot. I hear you on holding the gun for too long, but you get used to it. Your musculature simply needs to adjust. Even BigJim can usually shoot a couple of rounds.

I like the "challenge" of shooting 7/8 ounce loads in my 12 gauge as it gives me another excuse for low scores.

As for buying used on line, I don't know, but ask around your club and check online for sale notices, such as the ones on the firing line and shotgunworld, for a deal from a private party who may be local to you.

October 25, 2011, 02:23 PM

Your scores should be going UP from shooting 7/8oz loads as the lighter recoil will not take its toll on you after several rounds. I break 55 yards sporting targets with 7/8oz load

It ain't the arrow, it's the Indian...;)

October 25, 2011, 02:31 PM
ha, take it outside gents!

actually, i'm a competitive weightlifter, and my shoulder was still burning from holding up the barrel for a few hours!

October 25, 2011, 03:18 PM
A heavy gun will get to your arms after a while, but it isn't as bad as the bruising your shoulder gets (nor as long-term in the damage department)

Those of us who have been shooting targets for a while know that HEAVY gun plus LIGHT load = LOW recoil and more time shooting, with less possibility of nerve/tissue damage in the shoulder area

When the Olympics went to 24 gram loads, (basically 7/8), after the whining subsided, they found their scores were going UP.......;)

October 25, 2011, 03:41 PM
i'm not too worried about the shoulder. like i said last time i just got a lasting bruise. i already have some nerve damage from the time I blew out my bicep in that arm, and had it reattached.

October 25, 2011, 04:33 PM
Your scores should be going UP from shooting 7/8oz loads as the lighter recoil will not take its toll on you after several rounds. I break 55 yards sporting targets with 7/8oz load

It ain't the arrow, it's the Indian...

Don't spoil my excuses, oneounce. My fragile ego needs needs each and every one.

October 25, 2011, 04:43 PM
i'm not too worried about the shoulder. like i said last time i just got a lasting bruise. i already have some nerve damage from the time I blew out my bicep in that arm, and had it reattached.

That is another big plus for a semi auto or shooting 7/8 loads.:( Some people who shoot a lot over the years have to have shoulder surgery. Just don't buy anything expensive and get something used that is easily resold with little loss. If you go the 7/8 route, it can be expesive unless you reload.

October 25, 2011, 05:08 PM
I would recommend an autoloader, second-hand quality piece.
Great stuff available in the $500-$600 range.
Gas-operated guns absorb more recoil than intertia-driven, and certainly more than a pump(no absorption!)
I'm better at field shooting than I am at clays, and I love my transition from 12ga to 20ga.
I am shooting a Browning Silver Hunter, 20ga autoloader.
Light, quick, and the pheasants don't realize I'm only shooting 20ga.
I have no desire to shoot waterfowl, so no penalty there.
I find that fit is more important than the payload, and this Browning and I are in love with each other.
Winchester SX2 and SX3 are very similar.
Contact your local shotgun club for ideas and people are always trading.

Dave McC
October 25, 2011, 06:07 PM
Bruce Buck, AKA The Technoid, ahs soem advice that's cogent here.

Get a name brand gas gun.

Have it fitted to you.

Shoot it for at least a year.

At that point, you'll have an idea of what works for you and proceed accordingly.

In your shoes, try an 1100 with wood furniture,easier to get fitted.

While the Berettas may last longer, do seals and springs on an 1100 and it will last long enough....

October 25, 2011, 07:10 PM
And in talking with Bruce - he loves his 391 Urika2 - to the point he is working on shooting it without cleaning until it fails - since he logs every shot he takes with every gun, he told me last week he has well over 10,000 through the 391 with ZERO maintenance - now to add - he has had some after market parts installed to help clean the piston area - but Dave's mentioning about shooting a gun for a year is sage - no matter the gun

October 25, 2011, 10:48 PM
Stoeger Condor O/U. Excellent shotgun for $300-$400 new.


October 26, 2011, 09:14 AM
i dont know anything about Stoegers. That's really a decent gun in that price range?

October 26, 2011, 09:38 AM

October 26, 2011, 09:43 AM
Not really - the Stoeger of days gone by (as in decades and decades), is not the same as the named company of today. While owned by Beretta, and there are some similarities in certain models, the quality is not the same - hence the cheap price point

October 26, 2011, 09:43 AM
i couldnt imagine a decent O/U costing that little. i read up a little about Stoeger and will pass on that one.

October 26, 2011, 12:49 PM
went over to Army/Navy store nearby to check out what they had used, per your suggestions. Found some I really liked.

Browning A5 26" $600. This gun actually had the best fit and feel of all that I tried. Nice looking, but the action looked a little funky. Anyone know about these guns?
Remington 1187 28" $575. I also really liked the fit and feel of this gun.
Remington 1100 28" $600. Meh, this one felt OK, but not as good as the 1187.
Winchester SX3 NEW $960. I wanted to try a couple of new guns I've never held before, and I liked this one a lot. Probably a bit more than I want to spend, but nice gun and I believe this is a pretty good deal.
Benelli SBE2 $?? Sweet, sweet gun. The used was about $1100 I think.

Browning Citori O/U 20 gauge $850. I have to say I was tempted by this one.

Any thoughts on these guns? I like that this store offers 30 day complete money back on used guns and 1 year parts and labor.

October 26, 2011, 12:57 PM
BTW i realize the A5 is potentially an old gun. I didn't check the manufacture year, but this one was definitely at least a few decades old. So I guess I'm just wondering if it's worth buying a semi auto that old.

October 26, 2011, 01:15 PM
Of those I would buy the 1187. The Citori is probably a good buy also but if you are going to shoot clays as a beginner the 20 is going to be a handicap.

I shoot a Citori 12 for most clays. I have a benelli super sport in 20. A really nice gun but there is no way I can hit the long sporting clay shots with it that the Citori will get.

October 26, 2011, 01:16 PM
Remington semis (1187 & 1100) are good guns, if they haven't been abused or neglected. Both are probably $100 overpriced. I would look at the Citori 20 gauge again. Does it have choke tubes? Length of barrels? I have an older Citori 20 gauge with Invector tubes and 28" barrels, that is probably my favorite 20 gauge. Price sounds fair if the gun has choke tubes and hasn't been abused or neglected. Mark

October 26, 2011, 01:21 PM
The A5 is more of a collectable than a shooter. Not real versatile for shooting different kinds of shells. You change barrels instead of choke tubes. Could be a standard or a magnum. It's kind of like buying Model 12s or old Winchester lever actions. Don't want to get into that game if you don't know what you are doing. Mark

October 26, 2011, 01:26 PM
given that i'm new to shotguns, i'm not going to be able to tell how badly the guns have been abused. I can say that they looked pretty clean and the action and barrels looked pretty spotless. And the place seemed to have a decent warranty. I can buy the gun, put a few hundred shells through it and if I don't like it, can return it within a month

I think the citori was 26", but i didnt write it down. Neat gun, but yes the place I have gone I shoot sporting clays does throw some really tough 60 yard shots. Of course, I wouldn't be able to hit those with a stinger missile given how new I am., but why handicap myself with the 20 gauge.

I'm starting to think a used semi is the way to go. I'm taking a bit of a chance on it not being ideal, but if I can talk them down to $500 or so, I'm not taking a bath if it is a ****ty gun. It's less than I'd pay for a good quality new pump.

BTW the A5 was a nice looking gun, my favorite of all of them appearance-wise.

October 26, 2011, 01:28 PM
BTW I don't know how old the 11-87 was but given that the new ones fire 3.5" shells, can I assume an older one will as well?

October 26, 2011, 01:29 PM
PS I didnt ask if the Citori had choke tubes

October 26, 2011, 01:47 PM
You might want to check out your local gun shop and check out their used shotguns.

I bought a browning bps 12 ga. there for about 275 out the door and I've never had a jam in the thing. Its really reliable and can't say enough about it.

October 26, 2011, 01:48 PM
That's what I did today.

PS they had a couple of BPS there for the same price, I think one for $250.

October 26, 2011, 01:50 PM
The 11-87 was introduced in 1987 as a semiauto that would shoot 3" shells, which the 1100 wouldn't (unless it was a magnum). The later 11-87s that would also shoot 3 1/2" shells had some issues, and I would steer clear of those. You should be able to get a clean 3" 1187 for around $500. Have them take the barrel off and look at the gas system, under the barrel. If it isn't all carboned up, you should be OK, given with their warranty. Mark

October 26, 2011, 01:52 PM
Good tips thanks Mark.

October 27, 2011, 07:10 AM
Well I'm probably be shot for this, But, The Stoeger M3500 I got new for $539 and is capable of cycling 7/8 oz loads in 2 3/4" all the way up to 3 1/2" SuperMags! It waighs 7 1/2 pounds and from most of the descussions I've read there has been very few issues! Its very versital, comes with 5 chokes including Extra Full Turkey Choke! If you add the included recoil reducer it adds 11oz's but at first leave it out, a scope mount (for the occasional slug)plus the reciever is already drilled for the mount! For what you are planing to use it for, it might fit your needs and is a simple 3 piece gun that breaks down easy for cleaning! Check on Y-Tube and search the differant guns your concidering and read the testimonials! I know the Stoeger is not an American gun, but neither are most Fords! aka Mazda! Dodge aka Mitzubishi! (some of them) Good Luck!!!

October 27, 2011, 07:14 AM
I get the sense most guns aren't built here. And even for American made cars, you never know how many parts are being imported. I'll check it out.

I get my firearms purchaser card on Wednesday (the detective handling it for me has been pretty cool), so I'm hoping to make my decision in the next week or so. Right now I'm leaning towards a used 11-87. And if I decide to go with a new gun, the WInchester SX3 is a couple hunded off at the gun store by me.

October 27, 2011, 09:03 AM
You know I'm seeing that Remington is offering a $75 rebate on it's new 1187's. Given the $675 price tag, it seems worthwhile to just buy one new, so with a net cost of $600 before taxes, that isn't much more than the used I was looking at.

The ones I saw online were 3" chamber, so do they not make the 3.5" chamber 1187's that I heard are troublesome?


October 28, 2011, 08:50 AM
Looks like I'll be getting a Beretta 3901 synthetic. Great deal for an all-around entry 12 gauge.