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Unread 12-16-2013, 06:52 AM   #1
Monkeybomber
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12 Gauge Buying Advice

Alright everyone, gonna ask for your help here in advice for buying a 12 gauge shotgun.

I'm buying this gun because I go skeet shooting with friends about 10-12 times a year and I'm tired of using their guns. I've settled on 12 gauge because it seems to be the most common ammo/ cheapest ammo. I've shot a couple different types of shotguns, and I'm reasonably sure I want a semi-auto just because I think it's the most versatile of all types. Beyond that, I'm really not sure what criteria to evalute each gun on, so I'm looking to you guys for help. What brands should I avoid? What are the problems with used guns to look for? What trigger locks/action locks are best? Is a pump a lot more reliable than a semi-auto? I'll the first to admit I don't know that much about guns, just enough to be dangerous. So all advice is appreciated.



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Unread 12-16-2013, 06:53 AM   #2
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Unread 12-16-2013, 08:30 AM   #3
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Im not a huge shotgun guy, but have a few. Ive been on a few hunts in bad weather with people who used semis that failed to function. Cold and wet temds to gum things up and they ended up carrying a big stick. It could be a cleaning issue since their guns worked when it was warm and dry. A pump isnt as sensitive, if things gum up you just use more force (within reason) and worst case youre a little bit slower. I usualy carry an o/u when i hunt, no issues there.
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Unread 12-16-2013, 08:46 AM   #4
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Good to hear you're taking the plunge. The gauge kind of depends on what you plan to do with it. For skeet shooting a 20 or a 12 are the most common. A 12 will put a bit more lead out there, but it really shouldn't make a difference since with skeet/trap everybody should be using the same choke.

If reliability is what you are looking for then I would recommend a pump. With pump you will need to manually rack the pump slide to eject the spent shell and reload the next round. Its all up to the shooter how quick it happens.

There are two styles of semi automatic shotguns; Inertia and gas driven. With gas driven systems there is a small tubein the end of the barrel that captures some of the expanding gasses. The tube runs back to the bolt and drives back the bolt to eject the spent shell and reload the new round. In inertia guns it is similar, but instead of capturing the gases, it uses the force of the round being shot through a system of springs to capture the energy, eject and reload.

Semi's are referred to as less reliable because of the complex systems used to eject and reload. Because there are so many moving parts it becomes very important to not "over oil" these guns. The oil will college dust and soot from the gasses and will get gummy if too much oil is used. They need to be cleaned often and thoroughly. In cold weather the viscocity of the oil will become less and the gun may fail to reload properly after each shot. This is called a sticky action.

The pump will get sticky as well, but since its the shooter who is racking the action manually it can be overcome with just a bit more force applied. You need to clean pumps too, but they are simpler and less finicky.

Don't get me wrong, semis are great, but will require more work. In good weather with a properly cleaned gun, they can eject/reload faster than a pump (depending on experience). They will also kick less due to the capturing of energy to reload the gun.

Personally, I use my gun as a utility gun. This means it gets used for skeet, sporting clays, upland bird, duck, turkey and deer hunting. I like my pump because with the cold Michigan winters I know its not going to get sticky. Plus its easy to swap out barrels and chokes easily depending on what I am using it for that day.

If a pump is what you are looking for then you really can't go wrong with a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500. For semi's I'd look at the Benelli, Beretta or Browning models (too many to list and they change/improve features just about every year).

If you are just looking to use it for skeet/trap/sporting clay and not for hunting, then I'd look at Over Unders. They are ultra simple and easily some of the best shooting guns out there for those sports. That is if you have the cash. I hope this helps.
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Unread 12-16-2013, 08:48 AM   #5
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If all your doing is skeet shooting, look at an over-under shotgun. There are alot of them out there just for skeet shooting. Happy blasting!
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Unread 12-16-2013, 09:12 AM   #6
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If it were up to me, I'd go with a pump. Much cheaper and more reliable than a semi. The only reason why I would want a semi for is if I shoot multiple skeet in one throw. Over under's are cool too. But I couldn't see much use for them other than skeet. I'd be reloading way too much. If you decide to go with a pump, Go with a remington 870 or mossberg 500. They're the best, most dependable pumps in america. Mossy's are more user friendly because of the safety and slide release locations. But Rem's have much better fit and finish and just feel tougher. But both are unbreakable. I have a 28" 870 magnum. Great for skeet shooting. Long barrel for skeet and hunting, short barrel for home defense.
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Unread 12-16-2013, 10:08 AM   #7
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Mossberg 930. It's semi-auto. There's nothing unreliable about it. Can still be used for hunting turkey and deer. Can still be used for home defense.
Can be used for 3-gun competition, if you get into that.
They even have a version endorsed by Jerry Miculek that is tweaked for 3-gun (JM Pro).

I think you'll be much happier with a semi-auto than a pump, since your primary motivation seems to be shooting clays.

http://www.mossberg.com/products/sho...g/mossberg-930
http://www.mossberg.com/products/sho...tactical-class
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Unread 12-16-2013, 11:59 AM   #8
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I have a Browning semi. There are some types of ammo it won't shoot but as long as you get the right ammo it never has issues. I have never had it in real harsh conditions.
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Unread 12-16-2013, 12:54 PM   #9
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Give a choice, oddly, I don't care for auto shottys.

I see two ways to go: either a good pump shotty (Rem 870/Winchester 1200-1300-1400/Mossy 500-590) or a good side-by-side.

Granted, my thinking is heavily coloured through my historical use - limited hunting, typically home defense or military use.

Advantage to a pump? It likes abuse, it's easy to check to see if it's loaded, load variations aren't generally a problem, and more rounds in the magazine.
Disadvantages? Single firing mechanism, most are picky about shell overall length.

Advantage to a SxS? Easier to load than an O/U in a hurry, does NOT care about load length (as long as it's under the chamber max length, typically 3",) and you've usually got "two guns in one" if you get a double-trigger setup (left barrel breaks a hammer spring? Just use the right until you can get it fixed.)
Disadvantages? Only two rounds, and you have to know where the barrels are "registered" (should say in the literature, but usually ~40y.)

A side-by-side gives you more options for availability, but still stick with something fairly well-known. A good test before you plonk down your dosh for a SxS? Strip the barrels down to just that assembly (other metal parts okeh,) hang them in a loop of string with one hand, and "ring" them with a plastic or wooden screwdriver handle in the other. If the barrels are soldered tight, it will ring like a bell; if they're not, you'll just get a "thud" out of them. If they're not, don't buy it - one of the first things you'll have to do is get the barrels resoldered, which is not cheap! (And it's a pain to find a guy who can do it properly these days - the last one I knew that could do a good job of it retired 25 years ago, and died 18 years ago.)

But, a well-built SxS or pump will last you pretty much forever, with only minor parts replacements (mainly springs.)
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Unread 12-16-2013, 04:46 PM   #10
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if you go pump..i can't say anything bad about my winchester 1200 and the 1300

The 1200 sits more than the newer 1300..mostly because its just old and still a very nice looking gun,,i bought it for 110.00 at a pawn shop about 12 years ago..

I bought a 1300 for my daughter to hunt..she lost interest and left the gun here...the 1300 has been in harsh winter conditions in central Pa and Delaware and never let me down once...i also like it because its called a "speed pump"..it has a much shorter throw on the pump then the 1200 does..and these guns are cheap to buy too..if i remeber correctly when i bought it about 6 years ago or so..i only paid 210.00 brand new

I've never had a real reason for a semi-auto shotgun..so can't give you any expereince with any of the models
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Unread 12-17-2013, 05:25 AM   #11
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Thanks to all for your replies. I've shot both a remington 870 and a remington 1100 before in mildly cold weather (mid 30's) and I'd never had a problem with either, but I'd also say that both guns were cleaned throughly and never had more than 200 rounds put through them between cleans, which may account for that.

There are two styles of semi automatic shotguns; Inertia and gas driven. With gas driven systems there is a small tubein the end of the barrel that captures some of the expanding gasses. The tube runs back to the bolt and drives back the bolt to eject the spent shell and reload the new round. In inertia guns it is similar, but instead of capturing the gases, it uses the force of the round being shot through a system of springs to capture the energy, eject and reload.
Which style do you think is better? Any particular models which stand out?

Personally, I use my gun as a utility gun. This means it gets used for skeet, sporting clays, upland bird, duck, turkey and deer hunting. I like my pump because with the cold Michigan winters I know its not going to get sticky. Plus its easy to swap out barrels and chokes easily depending on what I am using it for that day.

Is it more difficult to swap a barellel on a semi than a pump action gun? I'd always figured that they'd be roughly equivalent given that I viewed the barellel as a separate component from the loading system. I also figured the choke was the same for a semi/ pump.

I see two ways to go: either a good pump shotty (Rem 870/Winchester 1200-1300-1400/Mossy 500-590) or a good side-by-side.
5-90: I can def see the advantage of a OU or a SxS, I've shot a beretta stone onyx and that gun was fantastic. My two principle reasons for staying away from a doubles barellel gun are (1) I feel that the doubles are generally more expensive to get because they're generally adorned with artwork/inlays, which raises the cost without adding really anything of value. Is it possible to get a more 'working mans' double barellel? I'm really looking for an all around utility shotgun which I can use for deer hunting, skeet shooting, and possibly home defense, which leads to my second point...(2) the limited capacity. Though I view it as unlikely, in a home defense situation/ or hunting I'd rather have more than 2 rounds available (though thats just instinct speaking, i have no idea in practice)

Ironworker- whats the principle difference between the R870 and the R1200/R1300?

And last question. There is a gun store around here which generally seems to be buying/ refurbishing older guns. They are all gunsmiths, and offer lifetime warranties on their guns. I haven't read the fine print yet, so I don't know what the warranty applies to. They seem to know their stuff, but I'm just a little skeptical. Does this seem kosher to you guys?
Cheers all, thanks for putting up with my relative lack of knowledge.
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Unread 12-17-2013, 06:10 AM   #12
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my absolute favorite scatter gun is an old single shot, break action, New England 12ga i was given by my old man. i can get 2 shots off at a clay most of the time. the gun is dirt cheap, easy to operate, i have literally shot hundreds of rounds through it in a day without a single malfunction, and it's extremely easy to clean. i'm no pro trap shooter by any means, if you spend enough time with a gun it'll tell you when to shoot as it becomes muscle memory.

as far as a pump, im going to have to say mossburg 500. mostly because i am extremely familiar with the weapon, it is very reliable, and has a large aftermarket support.
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Unread 12-17-2013, 11:09 AM   #13
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Unread 12-17-2013, 11:18 AM   #14
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Beyond that, I'm really not sure what criteria to evalute each gun on, so I'm looking to you guys for help.
Things to consider:
How well you can shoulder and bring the shotgun to aim
Weight
Length of pull
Barrel length
Choke options
Caliber/gauge
Capacity
Bore size
Interchangeable barrels
Warranty
Stock material
Smoothness of action
Fit & finish
Serviceability

Unless you are on a really tight budget, go with a semi-auto. It'll reduce some of the recoil, and not having to pump or break open is just oh so nice.
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Unread 12-17-2013, 11:57 AM   #15
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I do a lot of shooting when I go home to Indiana. For Skeet my Remington Spartan is my go to gun. I've used my 870 express and have broken a lot of birds with that also. The 870 is easier to mode (I keep a FBI barrel on it with extended magazine for home protection when not at the range). Getting a little off topic, but my favorite skeet shooting is still muzzle loading.
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