Advice Needed: Shotguns

After doing some clay shooting with Countertop this weekend, it got me thinking two things:

  1. I suck at skeet.
  2. I think it’s high time I got myself a decent shotgun.

I would have been lucky to hit a fourth of the clays on the skeet range. I did 21 out of 25 on the wobble trap range. Skeet is a lot more difficult than other clay sports.As for the shotgun, I currently have a Mossberg 835 pump action, which I’ve generally found adequate for the few times I would go shoot clay birds. I never got out much to shoot at clays, but not because I don’t enjoy it, rather because there are few places in my area where you can shoot clay birds that aren’t private clubs. Well, now I’m in a private club that has a really good skeet and trap range.

So what should I get? I’m looking to move away from pump. I’m not sure semi-auto is the way I want to go either. So that leaves side-by-side and over-under shotguns. The only problem is, that class of shotgun will generally push you over the $2000 dollar mark if you want anything halfway decent, and I’m not sure I would use it enough to justify the cost.

I’ve always been partial to the look of side-by-sides myself, though, I suspect for clay shooting the over-under configuration is probably better. Any thoughts on that? I’ve also noticed that CZ makes shotguns at what seem to be bargain prices, but I don’t know much about the quality. I know CZ pistols are low cost and high quality, so I’m hoping their shotguns are similar. I have my eye on these:

  1. CZ SXS Ringneck
  2. CZ O/U Canvasback

I’ve also been considering these models from Charles Daly:

  1. Model 306 Side-by-Side
  2. Model 106 O/U

If anyone has any experience with these or can offer advice it would be appreciated. Also consider that I’m not about to spend $4000 bucks on a shotgun. I don’t envision myself getting serious enough about the shotgun sports to justify a ton of money being spent, but I would like to have something that’s a bit nicer than your bargain basement pump shotgun when I do want to shoot some clay birds, which should be more often now that I have the opportunity.

9 thoughts on “Advice Needed: Shotguns”

  1. As an alternative you could look for the older browning superposed o/u guns. they were made by FN in belgium for browning and are top of the crop working guns (in grade I) and are a decent price. if you spend some time looking at gun shows or on gunbroker they can be had for the price of some of the guns you listed. A came across a few in a collection i bought and they are some of the best o/u i have shot.

  2. I’ve always used my father-in-law’s ruger O/U, but that is probably out of your price range (it is certainly out of mine…) I know you can get a basic model starting around $1200 though. I’ve seen Charles Daly O/Us for as low as $500.

    I always felt O/Us were better for accuracy sports, whereas SxS shotguns were better for scaring the boyfriends of teenage daughters.

    I generally think semi-autos are worthless, except for duck hunting… I’d never keep one for home defense or clays. They are just too awkward to operate, IMHO. At the same time, I wouldn’t take an O/U or SxS out in the field… too much extra weight :)

    My buddy used his pump and could consistently hit three clays with three rounds, so that is probably just a matter of practice. Any shotgun you have will hit clays, it is just a matter of getting good at it. My wife picked up that Ruger, though, and was hitting over half the clays she shot at… the second time she ever held a shotgun.

    You may also want to consider a used gun, since they are generally just as good as a new gun, but they cost a lot less. Try all the local gun and pawn shops first, then look online. If you get a less expensive gun, don’t worry about swapable chokes and such either… its a waste of time and money. If you ever start competing, then upgrade. I will mention, however, that my father-in-law always kept his O/U with improved choke on top, and full on bottom, for any of the sports where the clay is moving away from you.

  3. Thanks for the advise. I wouldn’t pretend that a decent O/U or SXS is going to make me a fantastic clay shooter overnight. One look at what Tom Knapp can do with a pump action shows me that it’s not the gun that’s the limitation.

    My desire for an O/U is just to have something that looks nice, shoots nice, and will be something I can be happy with for a while.

  4. Your choice depends on the condition of your joints.

    When you are younger and your joints work well, an O/U can be gripped more firmly to give a precise accurate swing. You want to lock up as many joints as possible for stability and reliability.

    If you begin to have joint problems as you age and don’t have free range of motion, it becomes hard to swing an O/U smoothly, because there are places your shoulder joints just don’t go. Then the S/S begins to work better because it’s easier to balance more or less on your fingertips so that you can use wrist and finger joints to compensate for hitches in hte movement of your shoulder joints.

    I gave my old Browning Superposed guns to my son last year when I finally decided I would never be able to shoot them well again.

  5. Might also take a look at some of the SPR models by Remington. The SPR 310 is an OU that looks pretty nice with a MSRP of $553 according to the price sheet. IIRC the SPR models are made in Russia.

    I have an SPR combo rifle/shotgun. The walnut very nice as is the fit and finish. Shoots well both in SG/Rifle modes.


  6. Get a Bennelli super eagle 12 ga. semi auto. Great for everything. Birds, clays, home defense. Rugged, reliable, flawless operation. About 1200 bucks. If you are determined to get an o/u, get a used browning citori with choke tubes. Should be able to get a good one for a grand.

  7. Next time your down, you can try my semi auto (it works very reliably when I keep it clean and use good ammo). Also, you should read Bob Brister’s Shotgunning: The Art and the Science. Your more than welcome to borrow my copy, if you promise to return it. It has a very good chapter on O/U vs SxS. I will say that when I shot at the CSF event a few weeks ago, the really good shooters all has SxS’s

    I’ve got one you can try too. Its an old Spanish 12 gauge. Don’t have an O/U though would like one. My brother got one – I think its a Stoeger or something – for $450 or so. They sell them at Dicks.

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