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Old October 23, 2012, 02:01 PM   #1
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Several more Shotgun questions, trying to decide

Been doing a lot of research, and much of that constitutes what I'm reading off you guys in this forum and other places, too, of course. Still on the fence. It's not so much that I mind spending extra money, as I don't, but I want to be 10 percent sure I'm getting exactly what I'm looking for and getting the best quality I can FOR THE PRICE I'm paying whether that be $800, $500, $300, whatever. I am reading things, for example, about Maverick, how it is pretty much a Mossberg but at a lower price, so why pay extra for a name? Same thing about say Stevens compared to Remingtons. Of course, everybody has an opinion, just want to get the best quality made product for the right price before I purchase. I'd prefer to buy American if I can, YES, absolutely, but for now I'm just sticking to bang for the buck. I have a Glock, so I just want what fits the bill, period. It was much easier buying handguns; this decision is a little different as the options are many.

How much of it is brand loyalty, how much of it is proven quality over time, etc.? And when did Winchester take a dive? Seems like some still love them, but everybody seems to be in agreeance about their modern offerings. Here is what I've learned so far.

My neighbor hunts a lot and is very proficient with a 26 inch barrel. First question, is this about as low as you want to go to hit skeet, hunt, etc? I ask because I handled his gun, and it felt good in my arms to hold, liked the feel? He said he can handle home defense with the same barrel, but the consensus seems to be shorter barrel (18) is best, and I can see that in my case being a novice with this type gun.

Secondly, is it half crazy to be considering one of the "off" brands like Maverick or Stevens when it seems that may be very comparable to their name-brand competitors at a fraction of the price? Again, if I could read something to simply substantiate that these guns are far below the others in quality, handling, etc., it'd be a no-brainer decision, (I won't buy a Kia for this very reason, damn the price) but it seems from research that many seem to LOVE these guns and even more enjoy the fact that they saved money while getting them, the proverbial cherry on top.

I have been leaning towards a Remington 870 for many reasons, but then you see the Wingmasters, which were what Remington used to be until they came up with the Express to cut costs, are far more expensive now, and that some seem to hate the Express. You also hear when people tell stories of having their Remington for "30" years or being given by their grandpa, it's a WINGMASTER!! Kind of worries me a little, you know. The Mossbergs seem good for the money, but the Maverick is the SAME thing it seems just about but only CHEAPER to purchase. I really like the Benellis, the Berettas, the Brownings, but there are SOO many choices in this realm with so many features. It's kind of mind boggling at this point.

I've been going to gun stores, asking the best questions I can, and trying to find out which features I need. I want something that I can use for home defense but may get into hunting at some point and don't want to keep buying shotgun after shotgun or the wife may banish me to the garage to live. At the same time, I WILL if that gets me the gun I want with the features I want. Some prefer beaded sights. Others say for home defense you MUST have ghost rings, etc. Again, just mind boggling.

If someone breaks in my house, I used to think my .357 revolver and .40 Glock were enough, but some seem to think a shotgun trumps these options, and I can see the merit of that argument, so I plan on continuing to pursue the shotgun as an option. I've asked and know you guys have provided many great responses to my questions. Just on the fence and not sure which direction to go. I think pawn shops are leading me purposely one way, and I think that new gun shops are leading me another. The only thing I can say with 100 percent certainty that I have gleaned from every single person I've talked to is that, "Remingtons hold their values better than Mossbergs", and I even question that to an extent as Mossberg makes some really nice models here it does seem. Maddening!! Help!! LOL!!
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Old October 23, 2012, 02:57 PM   #2
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You can take my opinion for what it's worth as someone who was where you are now some months ago. I tried the Mossbergs, the Remingtons, the Mavericks, and one you didn't mention, the low end Weatherby. I had pretty much settled on the Weatherby, but by chance a Browning BPS crossed my path. Used, but NIB, for a little more. I snapped it up, and it ranks among the best choices I've made. The ergonomics are night and day difference from the others you've mentioned. The action is so much faster that there is no comparison. The action is so smooth that even for a noob like me it doesn't alter the path of your swing. In short, it makes me better because it's that much better. The others are perfectly adequate tools, more than capable of meeting your needs. Once you pick up a piece of the gun makers art like mine( engraved and everything, geez), you'll WANT it so bad you won't be able to help yourself One more thing, it is absolutely stunning to me how fast I can empty the magazine on the gun accurately into multiple targets. I can't imagine wanting anything different in my hands in a home defense situation.
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Old October 23, 2012, 06:08 PM   #3
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I always say use what you are most effective with....if you are good at throwing rocks....throw them. If not find a good firearm...and its best to get something comfortable
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Old October 23, 2012, 07:03 PM   #4
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Barrel length ...
a. A 26" is about as short as you want to go on a pump gun - for any kind of flying targets. If you go any shorter ...guns get "whippy" and that's not a good thing in shotguns on flying targets - you want smooth and a good followthru. A 26" barrel on a pump or semi-auto makes the gun about the same overall length as an Over Under with 28" barrels - because the receiver portion on a pump or semi-auto are longer than the receiver on an O/U. So 26" is ok, if it feels good to you. But today's trends in barrel length for Skeet, sporting clays, etc is longer barrels ...30" or 32" in Over Unders / and 30" in pump and semi-autos. But trends don't matter -what matters is what feels good to you. I'm 6'5" and 290 lbs ...and a 26" barrel to me feels really short and whippy... my buddy is 5'9" and 180 lbs and 26" on a pump feels pretty good to him. I primarily shoot O/U's with 30" barrels for general clays - and an O/U with 32" barrels for Trap. Weight is also a factor in this stuff....I like a gun for Skeet, Sporting clays in the 8.5 lb range ...but for Trap ( less left to right barrel movement ) I like a 10 lb gun. MY buddy likes to go a little shorter on his primary O/U for Skeet at 28" but he likes it heavier than I do at around 9lbs....

So its some combination of all this ....but 26" is ok / 28" is more common on pump guns as a good all around gun.

b. You don't need a fighting shotgun for "Defense"...and I don't buy into the idea that you need a shotgun for defense. Even with an 18" barrel - they're a little clumsy unless you train with them a lot ( at least weekly). I would recommend you stay with your handguns as Defensive or Tactical guns. A shotgun with a 26" or 28" barrel is fine for "Defense" .../ but if I hear a bump in the I'm calling 911 - I'm grabbing my 1911 or one of my S&W .357 mag I investigate things. The last think I want in my hands is a shotgun - even with an 18" barrel. Now, I may want it there as a 2nd option ...but nor for my primary Defense.

Best value doesn't mean the cheapest....
a. I'm not an 870 fan, never have been, unless you are willing to get into the Wingmaster level of quality. However, for my money, the Browning BPS is a little higher quality pump gun than the Wingmaster. Wingmaster fans will disagree with me - but honestly both the Wingmaster and the BPS are solid guns. 870 Express options..and Maverick...etc...are not terrible guns / but if you shop the used market - they are also guns that do not hold their value. But there are guys on here - with a lot of experience - that think highly of the 870 Express. Personally, I think the Mossberg, Mavericks, etc are a significant step down in quality ...even below the 870 Express. But I compare all pump guns to the Browning BPS.

b. Best Value in a pump gun to me ....Browning BPS Hunter model in a 26" or 28" barrel in a 12ga. Actions are "glass smooth"...and its a gun, that at least in my case, I still have 34 yrs after I bought one in 12ga and a few yrs later in a 20ga. BPS Hunter - new in box is around $ 600 ...and they're on sale in a few places this time of year. For what its worth a 1st gun for my grandkids ...and my 2 boys when they were about 14 was a BPS Hunter model 28" in besides the 2 that are mine, I've bought about 8 of them so far...and I'll still buy them if I need 1 or 2 more...


Beretta does not make a pump gun....their subsidiary Benelli does make one its the Nova. Its a solid gun as well.

Best fighting shotgun out my the Benelli M-4 Semi Auto but you're up in the $ 1,750 price range....but if you really want a tactical shotgun someday, put that one on your short list.

good luck / and take the stress out !! .. and have fun with the process...and try and shoot some different pump guns at your local range. A lot of us have pump guns in our safes - that we don't shoot a lot / ask around - see if someone will let you testfire their guns a little ( buy them an extra box of shells as a thank you or something )...

Don't feel like you're the only one dealing with this stuff...a lot of new shooters go thru this stuff...I have a 58 yr old buddy that's going thru all of it right now on a "sporting clays gun"...and while he's finally settled on a Browning Citori, XS Skeet model, 12ga, 30" barrels my area, out the door with tax, etc that's a $ 3,300 today, he picked me up and we went up and bought a very clean but used Browning BPS Hunter model, on sale, at a buddy's shop for about $ 500....and it'll give him another gun for his teenagers to shoot ...and let his wife adjust to his $3,300 decision .../ so even us older guys struggle with this stuff too ....

Relax and have fun with it ....( send me a Private message me, If I can talk you off the ledge...???) especially if I've confused you on any issues.

Last edited by BigJimP; October 23, 2012 at 07:30 PM.
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Old October 23, 2012, 08:41 PM   #5
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BigJim, I can see a lot of pros in using a handgun for defense but I think you might mention one a shotgun has over the handgun; intimidation. Take a civil unrest situation or a simple criminal intusion. I would think that anyone in their right mind is going to avoid messing with any armed homeowner (the problem being that many are not in their right mind), but moreso if they find themselves looking at the business end of a 12 gauge. Perhaps the ideal solution is both, but given a choice of only one and given my defense plan (stay put upstairs and wait for police) I choose the shotgun.
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Old October 24, 2012, 01:19 AM   #6
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OP, I think you may be making this decision more complicated than it is.

Typically a Mossberg500 and Rem870 are the most common and reliable brands within a reasonable price range. there are the lower-priced SG's like the Maverick, and higher-dollar ones like Benelli M4 etc.

For the most part if you stick with a well-known and reliable model you should be ok. So just pick one you like that is within your budget and go from there.
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Old October 24, 2012, 05:55 AM   #7
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You are way overthinking this.
I do think a 26" barrel is about as short as you want to go to try to shoot flying targets. Good explanation above.
I also have a handgun as the first line of home defense - which is a whole different animal than tactical in my opinion. My 28" barrel shotgun will work as back up if it ever gets to that.
Remington, Mossberg, or Browning are all fine. The ergonomics are very different - safety, how you load, etc., so see which one YOU prefer. I wouldn't lose a second of sleep over any of them being reliable. It doesn't bother me, but the BPS is not American made; Japan. Also fewer options available, and I don't like that one HAS to reload through the magazine, unlike the Mossberg and Remington. But, I had 3 BPSs and not one ever hiccuped, and I do think they are as well designed as any.
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Old October 24, 2012, 06:46 AM   #8
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You are overthinking this. Go buy an 870 Express with a 26" barrel. It will come with a modified tube. Buy another IC tube and you are good to go for an all around shotgun for the least money possible. If you want to turkey hunt add an extra full choke. I have some full choke tubes, but they never get used. The IC tubes are in the gun 90% of the time.
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Old October 24, 2012, 09:58 AM   #9
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Appreciate the great responses and input from all of you!!
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Old October 24, 2012, 10:05 AM   #10
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It really does depend on what you want to use the shotgun for and how important features and country of origin are to you. For example, I am shopping for an upland game gun and have narrowed it down to a 20 gauge (New) Ithaca 37 or a Browning BPS. I am drawn more to the Ithaca because it is 100% made in the US, comes with a nice recoil pad, receiver engraving, 3 chokes, and decent wood compared to more of the entry level models.
If country of origin is important to you, do not be fooled by the Made in the USA tags on the Mossbergs. While great guns for the price the are more assembled in the US with a few US made parts.
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Old October 24, 2012, 12:21 PM   #11
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Just a note on reloading a Browning BPS ... don't have to go thru the magazine to reload them ...if you roll the gun over can drop a shell into the receiver and load it directly into the chamber ( I've done it thousands of times )...its 2nd nature once you've done it a few hundred times.

Ok, 3 more notes:

1. I agree with the intimidation factor that Klawman brought up ....if the intruder can see you / racking the shotgun is intimidating...and we used to think the sound of a shotgun racking was pretty intimidating in the 1970's when we were taught to do it tactically.../ but times have changed a little and the law enforcement officers I talk to - no longer use a shotgun as a primary tool for clearing a warehouse after a break in / or a personal home if they get a break in call...these days, they tend to leave them in their cruisers - and go to handguns.

2. I don't know there is one gun ....that is an absolute must have when it comes to personal home depends on what you train with, what you can shoot well, how fast your residence is likely to get police support, etc....I can make an argument that you should use the gun you shoot the very best ( for me, that's a 1911 ) for defense, If I lived on a rural street a mile or more from my neighbors, I might think a rifle is mandatory ..or maybe a shotgun...

3. Read what experts like Masaad Ayoob and others say about Defense and Tactical shooting....( there seems to be a lot of discusson among many experts on average range of confrontation being no more than 15 Feet - some even say about 9 Feet ) a shotgun your best option, probably not.

But each of us has to make our own choices in this stuff...there is no - one answer to all situations.

I will also tell you - that my youngest son is now about 35 yrs old...been shooting with me, since he was 7 or 8 ...and shotguns since he was about 10...and all of his buddies went thru this "tactical shotgun" issue in the last 4 or 5 yrs ...most of them buying either 870's or Mossbergs ...with 18" barrels or whatever was legal.../ and to a man, what they all realized is - these guns in that configuration are not that much fun to shoot ! They are especially not fun to shoot with slugs or OO Buck too much / and while most of them trained a little with them, when the guns were new ( maybe 5 boxes or so ) ....none of those guys have fired those tactical shotguns in the last 4 yrs .../ they have all turned to other shotguns for clays and bird hunting ( semi-autos, pumps in 28" barrels ) or Over Unders in 28" or 30" barrels ...because they're all "Fun" to shoot....

You can accomplish the same thing with 2 barrels - one for defense / one for flying targets.../ or just go with one gun with a 26" or 28" barrel and use it for Defense if it ever comes up .....most of us, will not ever draw or need a weapon for Defense....not that we shouldn't train tactically ...but its a heck of a lot more fun to train with 4 or 5 boxes of ammo in my handguns every week ...than it would be with a tactical my opinion !

Last edited by BigJimP; October 24, 2012 at 12:36 PM.
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