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Old August 23, 2011, 09:14 AM   #1
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Would you put a short stock on 12 ga or .. .

I'm looking for a shotgun for my son and my wife to shoot, and for a second shotgun for the colleciton. Neither has shot before, so I don't know if it will "take" with either of them. Right now I have a nice wood A390ST and have enjoyed shooting it. My son held that gun and it was clearly too big for him (and he said it felt a bit heavy).

Neither wife nor son have shot before, and I don't know if they will pick it up.

Ordinarily, if I knew either of them would be shooting with me, I'd pull the trigger on a decent 20 ga semi- auto, minimally the Mossbert sa-20 as a starter knowing I would be eventually be gettting a 12 ga (my son is 12 and growing like a weed).

I'm looking at a walmart 390 right now. It's obviously got a black synthetic stock. The price seems good, and I think I can get a shorter stock from Beretta for around $50, so the cost would be around what I can get a new Mossberg sa-20.

I also like the idea of having a shotgun with synthetic stock so I can take it out in the rain without worrying about the wood, or take it hunting if I end up doing any of that as well. it would also serve as a backup shotgun for me - and one that I am quite familiar with.

the downside is that even as a soft shooting 12 ga, it's still a 12 ga. I don't know if the weight or kick will turn LOML off from shooting.

What would you do - get the 12 ga and put a shorter stock on it, or buy a 20 ga and know that it will be obsolete in a short amount of time?
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Old August 23, 2011, 10:22 AM   #2
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I guess - depending on my budget ....I'd probably pick up a couple of guns / maybe even used I would have some guns that either of them could shoot...

I have a 20ga Benelli Super Sport - 6.2 lbs, 28" barrel, LOP is adjustable with changeable butt pads that snap on and off.

I've also picked up a couple of good serviceable used O/U's - Browning lightning models ...older guns ...with the older Invector choke systems ...26" and 28" barrels ...and in 12ga and 20ga ( I paid about $ 600 each for them ) - cleaned them up / refinished the stocks...( they are guns I intend to pass on to one of the grandkids down the road ...) but a minimal investment for a good long term gun ...and I could always sell them if the kids get too big/or if noone wants them.

and I have a 28ga Browning XS Skeet O/U as well - 30" barrels ...( but its a competition gun that I shoot / but I let the younger grandkids shoot it as well ). A 28ga standard load is 3/4 oz of shot ...and I could download a 20ga to 3/4 oz ...and some guys are even doing that with a 12ga too...

Upper body strength vs weight of the gun is a big deal for a new shooter - and I'd make sure I'd have a gun they could swing without getting tired for 25 shells. Recoil is also a big deal ...and whether I had a 12ga or 20ga for them ...I'd load some shells in a 12ga down to 7/8 oz and 1150 fps ...( which is similar to a 20ga standard load ) and in a heavier gun, a lb of weight will reduce recoil 15% or so. So picking a shell is a big deal ...but start first with a gun weight that works / and a length that works ....but every kid is different ( my boys at 13 were 6' tall / some of my grandkids at 13 are only 5'6" ) and young kids can be skinny one year / and develop some muscle in a yr it changes quickly.

Many gas operated semi-autos are just too heavy for young shooters ...but there are some "youth" guns out just have to look / or the Benelli Super Sport is a very good gun - but today new they're in the $ 1875 price range I might look for some of the older O/U's or a used Remington 11-87 or Rem 1100 .../ and invest in a couple of MEC Grabber reloaders - one in 12ga and one in 20ga so I could do whatever I needed....

My point is ....I'd rather invest in a long term gun / that I might shoot down the road ...or a nice gun, that I could give to one of the kids when they turn 18 or something as a gift ....vs a short term throw away gun ...( the used Browning O/U's - their entry level O/U used I bought for $ 600 - are now worth $900 probably / the 20ga Super Sport I bought new was $ 1200 and used is now worth $ 1500 probably ...and I wouldn't mess with changing stocks so much stand alone guns../ there are a lot of good values out there ...but I'd stay with guns that at least have strong resale value. Some kids will want to get into shooting / some won't care ....( we have 4 kids - 2 like to shoot , 2 don't care --- and 10 grandkids ....only 1 is really into it and he's 19 and pretty busy with school)...and every family is different .../ and they may come back to it in 15 or 20 yrs too ...who knows...

Last edited by BigJimP; August 23, 2011 at 10:39 AM.
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Old August 23, 2011, 11:05 AM   #3
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I'm looking at a walmart 390 right now. It's obviously got a black synthetic stock. The price seems good, and I think I can get a shorter stock from Beretta for around $50
Best bet - too many think a 20 is softer shooting than a 12 - in most cases it is NOT - it usually is more harsher due to the lighter gun weight

Get the 12 and shoot VERY light target loads after making the sure the gun FITS
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Old August 23, 2011, 11:19 AM   #4
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For economy, a youth stock for your existing gun makes sense. I'm with Oneounceload, stay with light loads in a 12-ga over a 20-ga gun. For a youth or small shooter, Beretta has quite a deal with their 3901 Target RL. It's specially priced to encourage young competitive shooters.
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Old August 23, 2011, 12:13 PM   #5
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Why would a 20 ga. become "obsolete?"
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Old August 23, 2011, 02:30 PM   #6
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We had a lady in my dept. that could not shoulder a standard 870p 12ga. She was only about 4' 10 and about 90lbs. We only shoot 00 buck and 1oz slugs. (mandated by state law) What we had to do was cut down a stock by taking about 2.5" off the length of the stock. Then she could qualify.

As was said before use the light target loads in a 12ga and maybe even think about a separate youth stock til your son gets big enough to use the regular stock. Just my$.02 worth.
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Old August 23, 2011, 02:48 PM   #7
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Youth model 20 gauge, stock fit alleviates a lot of recoil bite if the gun can be held properly. I have everything from .410 to 10 gauge and love them all. I have been shooting for 6 decades and the 20 is my most used shotgun. I take deer and turkey with 2 3/4" shells and I have yet to face anything where I needed a 3" or larger shell, if I ever do I want my rifle or 12 gauge in my hands but I am in country where the biggest critters are feral hogs, black bear and white tail deer, 20 is plenty.
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Old August 23, 2011, 03:00 PM   #8
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A used remington 1100 12 ga and cut down the stock, shoot light 1oz loads. If shooting skeet start at station 7 low house and learn it before any others
then add high house the station 1. You would be supprised how heavy a gun a kid can handle if it is ballanced. If it seems too heavy try adding weight to the stock which will make the barrel seem lighter you could also pick up a old extra barrel for the 1100 and have it shortened to 18.5 inches it would be cyl choke and will crush skeet targets the auto will reduce recoil more than a o/u or pump now if you realy want nice get a 1100 28ga sporting gun Randy
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Old August 23, 2011, 06:56 PM   #9
Lee Lapin
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Depending on the shooter, a youth model 20 gauge might be a better way to go. I'd let the shooter decide if I were you. A while back I did a basic 'Defensive Shotgun 101' class for one of my nieces. I laid out a table full of guns for her to try. The one she chose, after shooting several, was an 870 Express Youth Model in 20 gauge. It happened there was an identically configured 12 gauge Express on the table that she had also shot - 21" vent rib barrel, 13" LOP stock. When I asked her why she chose the 20, she said it was just easier for her to handle. She shot a good bit of buckshot and slugs out of the little gun with no complaints, and took it home with her as a gift when she left.

My wife on the other hand shoots exactly the same 'house guns' I do, with the same buckshot and slug loads. She's about 5'4", and I'm about 6'2". The house guns here all wear 12.5" LOP stocks with premium recoil pads installed. None of them have magazine extensions or anything that adds weight out in front of the support hand. All have 18 - 20" barrels and long field type forearms as opposed to the short law enforcement forearms.

The important thing is that the gun HAS to fit the shooter to be comfortable for them. If more than one person is going to shoot the same gun, the gun should fit the smaller person. It's easier to adapt to a too-short stock than a too-long one - the biggest thing that's necessary to do is put the shooting hand thumb over on the trigger finger knuckle to avoid abrupt contact with the nose.

Find a place that offers rentals if no one you know has a youth size gun, if you want to do your experimentation with guns you didn't have to buy. But whatever you do to get a gun that fits your family shooters is a worthwhile investment IMHO.



ETA - the Remington 11-87 youth gun in 20 gauge has gotten a good bit of positive attention from several smaller statured shooters - see . Ask moderator pax here about it, she did an article for Women and Guns on it a while back.
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Old August 24, 2011, 07:47 AM   #10
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Perhaps a trip to the gun club this weekend with my son and let him give a 12 and a 20 a try. The only trick will be finding the time
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Old August 24, 2011, 09:26 AM   #11
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I know it isn't as inexpensive, but I really like my Knoxx Spec Ops stock. It collapses to being shorter than most youth stocks and absorbs recoil nicely.
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