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Old December 27, 2020, 03:11 PM   #1
Pistoler0
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Advice on a do it all shot-gun

Hello all,

my situation is that I am limited by budget and by agreement with spouse to ONE firearm of each category: one pistol, one bolt action rifle, I recently convinced her that I also needed a semi-auto rifle/carbine, and lastly one shot-gun. I do not own a shot-gun yet, I am starting to do a bit of research on them.

I would anticipate that I would use this shot-gun mostly for shooting turkeys, birds and small game, and also for trap/skeet and competition. I do know that shotguns are good self-defense tools, but I got other tools for that and so this role is less important to me.

I think that I have decided that 12 ga and pump action would be most versatile and most reliable/lowest maintenance, but I have serveral questions:
- what barrel length? 24" 26" 28" 30" ?
- what choke type?
- lastly: what brand model?

Budget would be < $1000 hopefully < $600.

I have researched the Mossberg 500, but then there is the 535, 590, and the 835. I just do not understand what the differences between these is and Google is not much help to me because I do not understand the intricacies of shot-gunning.

And there is the Remington 870 and the IAC Hawk 892 which is a super cheap but good quality Chinese clone.

And I lusted over the Kel-tec KSG 25 because it looks like a fun toy, but apparently it is not very reliable and has a tendency for short stroking failures.

Finally, I don't anticipate I'd be a dedicated shot-gunner, pistol shooting is what I enjoy most. I just want to have ONE shotgun in my collection so I don't miss out on outings with friends and acquaintances who are shotgun shooters.

Any help? Whatever guidance you can give would be much appreciated.
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Old December 27, 2020, 04:10 PM   #2
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Look for a used Benelli to meet your price restrictions. I’ve owned dozens of shotguns and I’ve used them for hunting, skeet, sporting clays, and trap. Benelli makes several models but I’d suggest one of the Montefeltros or Super 90s. The excel for hunting and work very well for casual target shooting. I’ve never seen one wear out. They also hold their value very, very well.
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Old December 27, 2020, 04:53 PM   #3
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Only one shotgun for "everything" and having all the features you cited? I'd choose a 12 gauge Browning BPS pump gun, having a 3 1/2" chamber, 28" long barrel, with interchangeable chokes and a "Dura Coat" camo finish. It comes with bases for swivels, a tang safety, a recoil pad, a steel receiver and bottom ejection.
If you know the gun will be used mostly for upland game and/or self-defense, I'd opt for a 26" long barrel; if waterfowl and/or trap-shooting is your main agenda, a longer barrel might be a better option. For deer or turkey hunting, either length has its advantages and disadvantages-which, really, is true for just about any shooting venue you are engaged in.
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Old December 27, 2020, 05:27 PM   #4
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The 12 ga pump is cheap and versatile. Barrels are interchangeable, as are screw in choke tubes, so you can equip for anything from CQB to high flying geese.

It has one drawback, you have to PUMP the SOB.
I have seen people with the skill to shoot Skeet and Trap doubles, but it is something you have to work at.
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Old December 27, 2020, 07:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
I would anticipate that I would use this shot-gun mostly for shooting turkeys, birds and small game, and also for trap/skeet and competition. I do know that shotguns are good self-defense tools, but I got other tools for that and so this role is less important to me.
Taking HD out of the equation, I would up the budget for a Beretta 12 gauge semi. The Xplor Unico (green receiver) is a 7# 3.5" gas gun that is awesome.
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Old December 27, 2020, 08:15 PM   #6
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I think pump guns are ideal for multiple roles. I'd look for a used Remington 870 or Mossberg 500, and get multiple barrels. I have a Mossy 500 with 4 barrels, does everything I need it to, multiple roles.
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Old December 27, 2020, 08:15 PM   #7
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The first gun I ever owned was a shotgun, a Mossberg 500 in 12 gauge with 28" barrel and modified choke. And thus began my hatred of shotguns.

There is no such thing as a shotgun to do it all. They are specific to the task at hand. It seemed every time I turned around I wanted another shotgun for another task. But I limited myself to only one and turned to centerfire rifles. Why does a shotgun need a 30" barrel? Try carrying it though a thick woods one time and you'll learn to hate it.

For what you want go with either a pump or auto. Reason for this is you can change the barrel for each different task. Go with screw in chokes too.
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Old December 27, 2020, 08:40 PM   #8
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I grew up in the South. We love our shotguns. Almost sacred firearms. If the Gun Gods came down and said all I could have is a 12ga would not bother me a bit.
The OP is all across the spectrum from shooting squirrel to trap and skeet competition. Only a very green hunter in my area will go through the woods of thick brush and swamps with a 28" barrel. I guess you do hate them.
I am not sure the OP should even buy a shotgun based on what he wants. If anything, I think he should buy a single shot or Mossberg 88 and work his way up. Sounds like anything he buys will just sit in the closet.
If you own a shotgun, just like anything else. Expect to spend time with it, shoot often and get to know chokes and patterns. There is a learning curve and it can get expensive. If you want to spend the time getting to know them, you will find them fantastic firearms.
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Old December 28, 2020, 12:24 AM   #9
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Some form of an all camo Turkey gun is what I would suggest you buy with a 20 to 24 inch barrel. Mossberg 500 or variants are very reliable and will serve your needs with a 5+1 capacity in standard hunting guns without the plug. Most other shotgun brands are 4+1 without the extension. 24 inch may be your best compromise length for wing shooting and home defense but a 20 or 22 inch with vent rib will be OK and good for HD. 26" would be the absolute longest for an all purpose gun but cumbersome in the HD role. I have a 20 inch Remington 870 HD and it's really nose heavy at 6+1 mag and not really a good choice for all purpose shotgun. The Mossberg does not have the floppy loading gate of the Remington and is lighter with the aluminum receiver and ambidextrous with the top safety. Benelli and other high dollar guns may be fine but if you are putting together a basic armament, just get a tried and true pumper that can fire bean bag rounds, rubber buck, etc. Make sure to get an IC or MOD choke for the HD role and don't shoot slugs through tight chokes..

https://www.gunbroker.com/item/887939523

https://www.gunbroker.com/item/887326253
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Old December 28, 2020, 02:33 AM   #10
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Nothing wrong with a mossberg 500 and a 28 inch barrel and screw in chokes but you should go fondle some and see what you like. I started and still have a mossberg 500. Actually 2 or 3 depending on who you ask. But I also run a browning citori for upland game and a Mossberg 935 for ducks, geese, turkeys...

They all have their roll but if you have $600-1000 to play with why stop at a $275 shotgun.
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Old December 28, 2020, 02:41 AM   #11
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In my opinion there are only three shotguns worth mentioning with your requirements:

1. Mossberg 500 Classic
2. Reminton 870 WINGMASTER (not the cheap "express")
3. Ithaca Model 37.

Your only shotgun should be rock solid, trouble free, wildly popular and hold resale value like a champ. All three have that covered.

If in a hurry buying new, the Mossberg is a strong budget-conscious choice. I'd get the 500 Classic (wood and blued steel) in a slightly nicer look package that will hold it's value strongly. The safety is on the tang, like an over and under. Some people can't abide that.

Remington may be out of business, yet I would buy any not-abused Wingmaster with confidence. Parts and service are not a problem. Rock solid, classic. A little nicer, a little smoother, a little lighter... I would rather have a nice used Wingmaster than brand new Mossberg.

Ithaca. Model 37 started sales around 1937. JM Browning design, and they are STILL making them. This ejects out the bottom, so is the choice for left-handers and people that pick up their littered shells in the field. Easier to find em! Harder to find, custom shop options, I like the roll engraving and checkering. They don't call it the "Model 37 Ultralight" for nothing, my 30" barrel Model 37 weighs 6.25 pounds on the postal scale.

1. For a first shotgun I would recommend buying from a shop that has a real gunsmith on staff and a salesman that can help you get a decent fit. Fit is crucial if you are not the "average man". Even so, you may need minor stock adjustments. One doesn't "Aim" a shotgun, you mount it and look at your target and where you want the shot to go. Your cheek, welded to the stock, forms the rear sight. If the cheek weld isn't right you will never hit what you want and never figure out why that is. Ask some of the clay games guys where they would buy from.

2. You want screw in chokes and a special Turkey choke, although FULL will sorta do it if you don't try to shoot out past about 35-40 yards. A fixed choke of Modified will basically do it all, but up close and out far... say you go bunny hunting you'll want Cylinder and late season pheasants Full or even Turkey and turkeys.. well, you know.

I like classic wood and blued steel. I don't care for painted or black plastic. I once saw a pal hunt for his gun for 10 minutes because he set it in some leaves and went back in the woods to "unload". He came back and could not find his shotgun. We knew about where it was, it just took 10 minutes to find it.

Weight- for a field gun, you want it under 7 pounds if you are walking long ways. It's an old generalization I found true. The Mossberg is going to be a bit heavy, but nothing like the camo Benelli turkey/duck pump gun I once had. It was like carrying a railroad tie around. Yes, it absorbed recoil and yes it had fiber optic sights on it, but it was so heavy I came to loath it. I just took my Ithaca instead. I sold that heavy clunky Benelli to a duck hunter, and that's fine. He's sitting in a boat, not hiking all day.

Barrel length- remember, the receiver of your pump gun is a couple inches longer than an over and under, so a 28" pump swings like a 30" over and under. I am shorter stature so like 26" but 28" is nice too. Much shorter and your swing becomes jerky, follow through stinks, and you are quick but miss a lot.

You COULD have a lot of shotguns, but a classic pump gun CAN do it all.
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Old December 28, 2020, 06:05 AM   #12
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Old December 28, 2020, 06:17 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by stinkeypete View Post
In my opinion there are only three shotguns worth mentioning with your requirements:

1. Mossberg 500 Classic
2. Reminton 870 WINGMASTER (not the cheap "express")
3. Ithaca Model 37.

You COULD have a lot of shotguns, but a classic pump gun CAN do it all.
^^^..what he said. All very good information.
I shot trap for years with an 870 Wingmaster. I hated the safety on that gun, the slide release and the loading gate, but the darn thing pointed and swung nicely so I kept her. I moved, sold the 870, bought the Mossberg 500 instead which corrected the things I didnt like on the 870, but doesn't fit me as well, and therefore I'm far less accurate with. But, I'm running Magpul furniture in it now (removed/retired the wood while it was still in excellent condition), and I keep her at the ready with an 18 inch security barrel. I also have 24 inch slug barrel, and 28 inch vent rib with choke tubes for trap/clays. Lastly, I bought a cheap, import 20 inch barrel that takes same choke tubes, bought it on a whim, never used it. Might make good turkey barrel if I choke it right.
The point is...with multiple barrels, I don't feel undergunned, it's versatile, barrels are affordable and (usually) easy to find.
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Old December 28, 2020, 07:11 AM   #14
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do you own one pair of shoes?
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Old December 28, 2020, 11:03 AM   #15
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I still say why limit yourself to a pump. My choice would be a Remington 1100. You can an assortment of barrels with screw in chokes.

Tried my best to never own more ten 1 shotgun and I did ok for a long time. Eventually I wanted to shoot skeet and ended up buying a browning o/u and kept the moss berg 500 for emergencies.

But I would like to have an 1100.
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Old December 28, 2020, 05:05 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by stuckinthe60s View Post
do you own one pair of shoes?
LOL!

I'm gonnu tell this one to my wife, except I will change it to a brassiere!
I'll report back on the result if I am still alive.
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Old December 28, 2020, 05:41 PM   #17
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One gun for each category? Does the bra go well with her PANTS [ or your skirt ]? Such an agreement a man would never make !!!
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Old December 28, 2020, 05:46 PM   #18
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Does the bra go well with [your skirt ]? Such an agreement a man would never make !!!
How did you know I am Scottish?
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Old December 28, 2020, 09:53 PM   #19
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Nothing wrong with an 1100 for a hunting shotgun, clay shotgun and even for HD if that's what you have, but finding one used or new with a shorter 22 or 24" do it all barrel would be a challenge and I'm not a fan of hacking a long barrel since the choke is important for shotguns if you plan to hunt. Nothing wrong with a "classic" wood stock mossberg. There are a lot of Mossberg 2 barrel sets out there in several choices. A 26 or 28 makes a good field gun but a lousy HD gun. The 18 inch security barrels are great for HD, but poor for wing shooting at any distance. An 18/26 inch combo classic may be your best do all bang for your buck. Make sure the action bars attach to metal in the hand guard. I was watching a video and on the cheapest mossbergs with plastic stocks, there are pins holding the action bars directly to the pump handle and the guy had a failure. Tisk, Tisk Mossberg! Something to look for as the basic design is solid. Don't forget the Browning BPS special field or youth models with 22 inch barrels and screw in chokes. They don't balance and swing and well as longer barrel guns but they are solid and well made.
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Old December 28, 2020, 10:13 PM   #20
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Except a 22 or 24 inch barrel isn't a do-it-all barrel length; at least not if you intend to do things well.
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Old December 29, 2020, 06:21 PM   #21
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Exactly. ^^^
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Old December 29, 2020, 06:27 PM   #22
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I could get by just fine with a 12 gauge 1100 26" BBL with screw in chokes. If I just had to have a shorter barrel, they're as common as dirt.
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Old December 29, 2020, 07:32 PM   #23
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I could get by just fine with a 12 gauge 1100 26" BBL with screw in chokes. If I just had to have a shorter barrel, they're as common as dirt.
yeah, I'm leaning towards the 26" barrel
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Old December 30, 2020, 01:36 AM   #24
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Do-all

I think the OP is on the right track with a pump. A manually operated repeater, theoretically, a GOOD pump should be 100% reliable and less finicky than an autoloader.

In my book that leaves two choices, the Rem 870 family, and the Mossbergs.
-The Rem 870 family has two branches, the 870 Wingmaster, and the 870 Express. The Wingmaster has a longer history and is seen as their flagship pump. Early guns were blued steel and walnut, with fixed shokes, and did not have choke tubes, although that feature was added eventually. (more on that later). The 870 Express cuts some corners in wood and finish and some internals, and is more of a recent pricepoint gun. Many believe the Wingmaster is better constructed/fitted and the better gun of the two and I'm inclined to agree.

The Mossberg family has several models as noted. The Moss 500 is their bread and butter gun and has been around a long time.
Early guns had fixed chokes. and again, tubes came later. Early Moss 500's were 2-3/4" chambered, then 3" when the bigger shell hit the market. The Moss 535 is essentially a Moss 500 that has been adapted to chamber and fire the even bigger 12 gauge 3.5" shell. The Moss 835 is similar, but w/ added features to allow the firing of the big 3.5" shell more comfortably. If you are not a dedicated waterfowl or turkey hunter, you will not need the 3.5" chamber in your shotgun and can nix the 535/835 from your choices. Truth is, you likely don't need the 3" shell either. The Moss 590 is a a dedicated SD/HD/LE shotgun, a beefed Moss 500 up for rugged use. I am not aware that it is available in any barrel length except short 18.5-20" versions intended for SD, and I believe all use an extended 7-8 shot magazine.

Barrels- Sporting versions of the Rem and Moss come with interchangeable barrels and all sporting guns now have choke tubes. Choke tubes are metal cylinders of varying constriction that thread into the muzzle of the gun and effect the size of the shot pattern, or cloud, as it travels to the target. Though criticized earlier, an acceptable length for a GP pump shotgun barrel is 28". The 24" barrels are handier, but are thought to be a bit of a compromise when shooting at flying game due to a shorter sight plane and lighter weight, effecting swing. My old Remington has a matched set of 26" barrels, with fixed chokes, and I see it as ideal, but I do not think Rem offers a 26" barrel and their future as a gunmaker is now unknown.

Given the murky feature of Remington, I'd get a Mossberg 500 w/ 28" barrel and 3 choke tubes (IC, Mod and extra/ turkey full). Standard 2-3/4"* 1 oz* 12 ga lead shot shells with #5 or #6 lead shot will solve about all your sporting shotgun needs for starts. If the world ever gets sane again, a short slug tube can be had for around $100 bucks and buckshot or slugs for deer or SD. should you want one.
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Old December 30, 2020, 04:05 PM   #25
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As much as I love my Wingmaster, (and the express that works just as well) it's not the best choice for skeet or other competitive shooting games.
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