View Full Version : What is the toughest 12 gauge semi?

October 20, 2001, 08:48 AM
Rem 11-87, Benelli M1, Browning, or something else?

What I am wondering about is which would take the most abuse in the field and still keep working, or if something did break you could fix it without being a gunsmith or carrying a full set of spare parts with you.

October 20, 2001, 11:29 AM
The only one I've used extensively is the 11-87 and I love it.

It can be field stripped with no tools, provided your fingers will fit down the mag tube to turn the retainer plug.

I have heard alot about these not being able to take alot of shots, but mine hasn't failed me in its 8 years.

October 20, 2001, 01:03 PM
Benelli by a country mile. Take one apart and see how few moving pieces it has. No little rubber rings or tiny metal bits like the 11-87 or the Beretta semis.

The Remingtons and Berettas have their advantages but if toughness it the standard Benelli is the winner.

October 20, 2001, 02:29 PM
Benelli's might lose by a country mile. :rolleyes: Check out the Tactical Forums, seems many departments and others with experience are divesting themselves of the Benelli's because their aluminum receivers can't take the abuse of dynamic entry or getting banged, dropped and tossed around in the field.

Apparently, the aluminum receiver has a tendency to get bent/warped thereby rendering this pricey import into a big stick. I initially admired the Benellis; however, I've never exactly been keen on their less than beefy build. Now I know why my gut instinct was telling me to avoid them.

Yes, I've fired around a dozen owned by friends / acquaintances, but I'll take my Remington 11-87. I've had NO problems with mine. And banging it around won't destroy it. However, my choice for the toughest SG is an 870 pump. If you want a "qualified" opinion, call Louis Awerbuck at the Yavapai Firearms Academy here in Arizona. Louie will give you advice.

October 20, 2001, 02:35 PM
It never saw "combat" but my dad's A-5 was dropped, kicked, drug through mud and dirt, left unattended and uncleaned for years. The only time it ever didn't go "bang" when it was supposed to was with a dead round which wouldn't fire in 3 different guns. I would be perfectly happy going into combat with a Browning A-5, if I HAD to use an auto. My 1st choice is an 870!

October 20, 2001, 02:39 PM
Have used one for both upland game and sporting for many years without problems. :)

October 20, 2001, 08:25 PM
Agreed that the 870 is the toughest shotgun period. It's my choice for those challenging situations.

My concern with the 11-87 and the Beretta are the links that after heavy use will eventually crack. I've owned both the Remington and Beretta and believe both need regular cleaning, lubrication and, in the case of the Remington, replacement of small parts (o-rings) to keep them running efficiently.

The Benelli's I've used seem to tolerate dirt, grime, dunking in water better than the rest. I was not aware of the frame problems. Is this unique to Benellis or is it a risk in other guns with aluminum frames such as the Beretta semis and Winchester pumps?

October 20, 2001, 09:53 PM
I dunno, but I think that one would really need to whack a Benelli (or other shotgun with an aluminum receiver) hard to break or otherwise cause it to become unusable. Most shotguns, even those with steel receivers, could be taken out of commission with enough abuse.

October 20, 2001, 11:35 PM
I love my new Benelli Super Black Eagle (Camo). Time will tell about it.

I loved my Mossberg 9200. I wish you could still get them. It was tough as nails and always shot when you pulled the trigger.

I never owned a Remington. I always felt they were overpriced due to their name. (this from a guy who just bought a Benelli!!)

I could never afford a Browning (until recently, but went with the Benelli because I didn't want to scratch up a Browning).

The Winchester I had was a POS. It wouldn't drop anything unless you were shooting around a corner. I swear that barrel was bent. And, the darn thing would fail to feed the 3rd round EVERY STINKIN' TIME!!! 'smiths couldn't get it right so it wound up as a main beam in a Crappie House.

Will Beararms
October 21, 2001, 12:10 AM
The most durable semi-auto shotgun IMHO? Easy: Browning Auto 5. Unfortunately, it's not made anymore but there are some still out there NIB.

Oddly enough on TFL, in most cases the most expensive brands seem to be the only choice worth making. In my experience the Benelli is a wonderful upland game weapon or clay bird tool. When it comes to the flooded timber duck hunt, the song changes. I have seen four Benelli's bite the dust due to the recoil mechanism rusting up due to water exposure and condensation. It can be remedied with a $140.00 surecycle kit from Mack's Prairie wings in Stuttgart, AR. I can't see the logic in spending $1,200 on a shotgun and then having to retrofit it with a surecyle.

Another strange phenomen on TFL is the frame/receiver cracking issue. Whether it be handguns or shotguns, frames made of aluminum just seem to have fissures. Funny thing, this is my 30th year of hunting and I've yet to see an aluminum frame crack on a shotgun. Where I grew up, we take alumimum, paint it green, put a motor behind it and bust stumps through swamps.

You are good to go with a premium brand like remington, beretta, benelli or browning. Any semi-auto scatter gun will have small parts failure--------------period----------if you shoot them frequently. I have an 870 to augment my beretta 390 and browning auto 5.

Beretta is my fave but its a handling thing more than a durability thing.

October 21, 2001, 01:38 AM

The Benelli issue is not so much of a cracking issue. PJR, the problem is a warping issue due to the aluminum receiver. This is more likely in any aluminum framed SG. As far as the level of abuse necessary to cause this problem, apparently its not as much as one might think. Sure, any gun can be destroyed. Give me any long arm or HG and a brick wall and I'll show you two halves of a long arm and quite possibly a pile of parts in the case of most HGs.

Let me say this, take a Benelli Super 90 M3 and a Remington 11-87 or 870. Stand about 10' from a pine tree with heavy bark and hold the SG at each end and toss it with moderate force against the tree 3 times. Don't slam it, just toss it as though you're tossing a basket ball to a friend after a game. I'm confident a Remington with its steel receiver will continue to function. I have no confidence the Benelli will. This of course is my opinion and speculation based upon what those who are in a position to know have said.

As far as the 11-87's "weak" o-ring issue. How many of you have needed to replace one or have known anyone to have one replaced due to failure? After how many rounds? I know of not a single case where one had to be replaced due to failure. This is not to say that I wouldn't replace it periodically as a precaution, or at least have a few on hand.

Understand, I'm not suggesting all Non-Remingtons are junk, but I do believe that as of right now, Rem's. are the toughest available. I must side with Will Beararms any gun will wear out. I've worn out my first Sig P-226.

Danny 45, you're right, Winchester's SGs are pure unadulterated BS. I had one around 12 years ago and had nothing but problems w/ it. I've seen NO model or quality changes in Winnies since then. What ever happened to the Winchester 1897? Too expensive to manufacture they say. I say bull, charge what they must. That 1897 was probably the best all-around SG ever designed. I have my grandfather's original. What a gun... :D


PJR, one last question. Benellis dont need to be regularly cleaned? Does this hold true if you continue to use it in the semi-auto mode or just the pump mode? (Assuming as S90 M3). I haven't "regularly" cleaned my 11-87, but it does need cleaning after a few trips to the range/field. In my experience any firearm does. Don't get me wrong I don't hate Benellis. Sure, they look bad-ass, I just wouldn't choose one for anything more than hunting.

October 21, 2001, 02:09 AM

Another thread to consider: go to tacticalforums.com, perform a search for Benelli in the "Real World" section and view "Benelli Experiences." ;)

October 21, 2001, 02:22 PM
I'd like to think my Berreta M1201 is a pretty tough semi. Before I owned it, Pomona SWAT in California had the gun. I'm sure they put it through some pretty tough work considering the city.

George Hill also recommends the Charles Daly.

Fred Hansen
October 21, 2001, 03:13 PM
My FN Browning A-5 12 ga. has been going bang since 1956. My FN A-5 Sweet 16 has been going bang since 1957. In my Dad's hands they have collectively killed around 3 dozen deer. In my hands a couple dozen. I'm not much of a bird hunter but got a couple dozen of them too. The 12 has had more time afield than the 16, but between them they have seen practically everything but desert conditions. Never had a problem that wasn't the fault of the Goofus behind the trigger. Only work ever performed on either one was an aftermarket thin-wall choke on the 12.

"When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans ..."
Bill Clinton, 1994


October 21, 2001, 04:38 PM
Desert Rat:

My 11-87 went out of service after an o-ring went south at about 5 thousand rounds. The rear link came apart around 9 thousand IIRC and it was a bugger to fix. The Remington was the most sensitive about keeping clean. My Beretta wasn't as bad but it would get sluggish if you didn't clean it after 500 rounds or so.

Now, I am shooting clay targets and put a lot of rounds through I admit. Shooting on a lot of squads I've seen Remingtons pack it in and Berettas fail to function. I've never seen a Benelli not function but I will admit they are not as frequently seen in the target games.

In the duck blinds in freezing rain just about any gun can have problems. I've seen fewer with the guys shooting Benellis compared to the other semis with the possible exception of the Auto 5.

I do agree that I wouldn't choose one for anything other than hunting. In fact, after owning a couple I don't use them for anything. Over/under for clays, sxs for upland and pump guns (870 of course) for everything else -- waterfowl, deer, turkey and when things go bump in the night.

I'll give tactical forums a look.

October 21, 2001, 05:32 PM

Interesting. What variant of 11-87 did you have? What was the year of manufacture? Do you still own your 11-87, or did you have to retire it? Yes, you do fire alot of rounds and I'm glad you posted your experiences.

October 21, 2001, 09:29 PM
Good Posts.

What I am looking for is a camp/cabin SG that would be used on deer & bears with slugs and on varmints/small game with buck or birdshot.

Would not be doing any real wingshooting. I want a repeater or I would use a double or single. I have owned a pump for couple of years and personally really prefer autos to pumps.

Regular cleaning isn't an issue, I doubt that I would put more than 5 to 10 rounds thru the SG at a time when in the field.

What type of action does the Charles Daly SG use? The Browning A5 is long recoil type of action IIRC. To those who feel Browning is better I am wondering if there is some mechanical reason (ie fewer parts, fewer small/weak parts)?

October 21, 2001, 10:19 PM
Desert Rat

It was an 11-87 Sporting Clays and I don't recall the year of manufacture. I bought it new in 1994 and owned it for three years. The gun has since been traded. At the time I was shooting about 4 thousand rounds per year at the various target games. Sounds like a lot until you think that 100 rounds per week is over 5 thousand and 100 a week isn't that much for a clay target shooter.

October 21, 2001, 10:55 PM
I think most of the guys refering to the A-5's dependibility are going on pure experience. In 30 years of hunting I have NEVER seen an A-5 jam or malfunction. Can not say that about any other auto shot gun. Have seen 1100's, 11-87's, S&W's, Beretta's all jam or malfunction for one reason or another. In fairness haven't hunted beside any Benelli's.

My choice is Remington 870 or Browning BPS. If it's "gotta" be an auto it'll be an A-5!

October 22, 2001, 08:24 AM
I would look for a well-maintained used Browning A-5 if reliability were my criterion.

October 22, 2001, 01:02 PM
Winchester's semi has no rings or small parts like Benelli. Cheaper too.


Fred Hansen
October 22, 2001, 02:05 PM
I mentioned the A-5 because neither of mine have ever broken down. One is 45 years old, and the other is 44 years old. A degree in rocket-science isn't required to take it apart to clean it either. I clean my A-5's about 4 times a year on average, and I shoot them at least once a month.

BTW The jmb in my user name? In honor of John Moses Browning, American, Patriot, and Genius.:cool:

October 22, 2001, 09:56 PM
Browning Auto 5 all the way..Why would you consider anything else? this shotgun will never jam, and it will go up in value from day one, no Benneli will do that! Oh yeah, the Brownings actually look nice and have a quality fit, finnish, and feel. If you absolutly can't afford one, try a Remington Model 11, or even an 11-48..

October 23, 2001, 02:13 AM
So what would be a typical price for a Browning A5? And would I be commiting a sin if I got rifle sights put on it (for slugs)? Or can you get slug barrels for it?

October 23, 2001, 08:37 AM
They have a slug bbl for the A5. I think it's called a buck special. Rifle sights, the whole schmear.