Author Topic: Choosing a shotgun?  (Read 10313 times)

Offline InquiringMind

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Choosing a shotgun?
« on: August 26, 2014, 07:44:42 AM »
I'm looking to get my first shotgun, but I'm not sure how to choose one.

Here are my considerations:
- I want to practice by shooting clays
- I've never hunted, but I would like to start with small game and/or upland bird hunting
- Nothing too big and heavy so my fiance can handle it
- Common enough that I can easily find parts/capable gunsmith
- <$450, preferably new
- I don't think I want it for deer hunting
- I don't need it for home defense

Basically, I want the most versatile option and I don't need anything fancy. Given all that, I'm currently looking at either the Remington 870 Express or the Mossberg 500.

Are there others I should consider? 12ga or 20ga? I'd prefer a wood stock, but is that really much worse than synthetic in the field?

Thanks!
- InquiringMind

Offline desmond11

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2014, 08:36:23 AM »
The Remington and the Mossberg are two great guns.I would try to get some range time with both guns and see witch one fits you better. I own the 870 myself and am happy with my purchase.I don't think you can go wrong with either one.happy hunting!

Offline Carl

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2014, 08:54:53 AM »
Both good choices,the pump is great with feeding shells and though not "BEST" for many things,it is adaptable to most forms of shooting. Parts and add-on accessories are about equal for both as is popularity.I have both and also Smith and Wesson that you have to look at to tell it is not an 870...I give the top rating to the Mossy 500 as it's pump/feed system has always looked stronger and better balanced to me...But either is a great choice.

Offline Mortblanc

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2014, 10:41:53 AM »
I own both.  Each has its advantages.

Add on parts are available for both at an alarming rate and one can get in way over their head very quickly.

Since you want a general purpose shotgun for shooting clays I would suggest the Remington.  Keep in mind that what you use on the sporting clays range will also put you in good condition for most shotgun hunting applications.

 The Remington has a steel receiver and has more heft than the Mossberg and that counts when you start shooting multiple boxes of ammo in a session at the range.  I shoot trap and skeet and it is not unusual to shoot three or four rounds and the extra pound or two of weight soaks up the recoil and is not a negative factor if you are not carrying the shotgun around in the woods all day.

Make sure you get a barrel of sufficient length and equipped with the interchangeable Rem-chokes.  None of this "riot gun" crap for a general purpose shotgun.  To effectively manage a shot column you need some choke in the barrel.  Riot gun barrels seldom give more that 25-30% pattern.  I have 5 cylinder bore barrels and have patterned them all, 33% is the best any of them give, so they are useless on the clays range or in the hunting field.  Choke gives one a more dense and even pattern rather than the spotty open choke pattern that is filled with holes that clay pigeons or live game can escape through.

The extra length of a field barrel will also aid in swing and accuracy.

The Remington also has another advantage.  It can be equipped with an extended magazine tube without changing out the barrel.  There are also a host of used barrels available cheaply if one desires to have one barrel for the field and another, shorter barrel, for use in home defense.

Offline chesco_rich61

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2014, 11:31:37 AM »
I own both guns in twelve and twenty gauge. I prefer the browning BPS I hunt with in 20 gauge.  First shotgun i bought on my own got a deal at 200 dollars.  Light in the hand carry it all day in the field hunting pheasants with out a sling.  I would use either gun the biggest thing to do is go and shoulder a lot of guns.  Used firearms can be a good deal as long as you break them down to check for barrel pitting and built up debris, most are barely fired.  I looked for two weeks and saw a lot of guns I also got a feel for a lot of them, what I liked and what I didn't.   I choose on ascetics and it felt good in my hands.  I prefer mossberg over the remington only because I shoot a 590a1 at work and just more comfortable with it.  This video gives some pros and cons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuxCLivZ-Vk

Offline Zeus

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2014, 11:44:44 AM »
Personally I wouldn't buy a Remington anything after the 1990's. Their quality has diminished drastically in my opinion. An old Wingmaster would be a good way to go on the cheap with excellent build quality over the Express model 870. Mossy 500 good to go as well. Had both, like both. Kept my Benelli Supe Nova for my pump gun. Kel Tec KSG for home defense.

Offline InquiringMind

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2014, 01:04:27 PM »
Thanks for all the good info. You've given me a bunch to think about.

Brand preferences aside, how do you choose between:
- 12ga or 20ga (or something else?)
- Longer or shorter barrel
- Synthetic or wood stock

And what should you look for in interchangeable chokes?

Offline Ranger Dave

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2014, 01:41:11 PM »
I would suggest 20ga since you want your other half to shoot also.

RD

Offline Blue Sky

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2014, 01:48:02 PM »
Not knowing much about shotguns at the time, I asked some internet friends and due to my very bad shoulders and I was looking for a "home defense" as well as a practice shotgun, they recommended and I bought a Mossberg 500 .410 pump action with a wooden stock. I did however, have trouble finding ammo for a while but when I bought it, I also bought a case of ammo so no problem.  My shotgun safety class instructor told me not to expect to hit any clays with it but I did - 14 out of 20 first time out.  Not too heavy, easy to use, load, etc and the price is reasonable.

Offline Carl

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2014, 01:59:01 PM »
Thanks for all the good info. You've given me a bunch to think about.

Brand preferences aside, how do you choose between:
- 12ga or 20ga (or something else?)
- Longer or shorter barrel
- Synthetic or wood stock

And what should you look for in interchangeable chokes?

12 or 20 ? 12 has the edge on availability of shells and COST of shells available. Recoil is much the same in either,in fact many "low recoil" shells are available for 12 gauge. Reloading costs are to close to worry.

I prefer a 24 to 26 inch barrel for hunting due to the feel as I swing on a bird (I don't shoot clay as no matter how you cook it ,it tastes like MUD)

The current synthetic stocks are as tough ,or tougher than wood ,Though the look of wood is my preference...a hunting/work gun is NOT for looking at...you may find the balance of weight with a synthetic stock is a bit more forward than a wood stock and this can interfere with swing and follow thru wile bird hunting.

My current preferred combo is a synthetic stock 12 Gauge with a 4 shell holder on the butt-stock (weight balances more to rear) and a 24 inch Modified choke ...not the BEST for every use but acceptable performance and remember that steel shot does not perform like lead in chokes. A shot DIVERTER may be a benefit for hunting as it spreads shot in a usable string.

Offline lostprepper

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2014, 02:18:02 PM »
You can buy shorter and longer barrels for either the 870 or the 500. I own the 500 and have an 18.5" (home defense) and a 28" (field barrel), the extra barrel was $160 shipped to my door. Oh and they make various barrels like slug or field. So if you buy a security shotgun and purchase a longer barrel afterwards, make sure you are not buying the slug barrel since you want to shoot skeet.

Most of the people I work with prefer the Rem. 870 over the 500. From what I have been told it is easier to work on, and the Mossberg 500's feed ramp doesn't allow for mini-shells if that is something you are interested in.

To address the gauge issue, 20GA will be easier on the arm and IMO will be just as effective as the 12GA. I think it is easier to find accessories for both in 12GA than in the other variations.

Offline 11steve11

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2014, 02:26:06 PM »
I purchased both of these shotguns last year in 12ga and agree with much of these posts.
To add a few extra items to consider and the results:

>The Mossberg may be broken down completely and re-assembled by the owner, the Remington needs a smith to work on some parts like the ejector.

>Both were around $300 brand new in the box, however I got 2 barrels and 2 chokes with the Mossberg.  The clamp that held the barrels together at the store clamps a flashlight real good too.

>We considered 20ga and 410. 12ga rounds could be found seemingly anywhere (hardware stores too) by the pallets even when I couldn't find any other rifle, handgun or shot gun sizes. AND they were $5 a box for dove loads with no limit.  I also find that the guys I work with that reload shotshells use 12ga.

>We also considered alot of the aftermarket stuff to make the guns really cool.  I have a flashlight mounted on the Mossberg security barrel - unremarkable I know.
 
>Shooting them side by side at the range I found myself reaching for the Mossberg 500 more than the Remington.  Problem was I was having to share it with 2 girls who were having a great time shooting those clays too.

>If I was to do it over again, I'd buy 2 Mossbergs 500's, one with 2 barrels.  The Remington is beautiful with the wood stock and is a great firearm, we just find the Mossberg better.

Offline goofyshooter

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2014, 02:50:07 PM »
I own a 500 and an 870. Both inexpensive, I gotta go with the 500, I like the safety better, easier for a left handed shooter.

Offline DrJohn

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2014, 07:37:56 PM »
Remington 11-87 in 20 gauge.  This is a semi auto shottie and that combined with the smaller shells will allow longer shooting sessions for you, and allow the significant other to handle it.  It's a great hunter and clay sport gun, light enough to carry in the field all day. Accepts rem chokes.

Offline Tyler Durden

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2014, 08:55:26 PM »
I second the 11-87 in 20 gauge.  Or an 1100.  I strongly suggest you don't buy new.  I have been hunting small game, upland birds, water foul, and deer with shotguns for 24 years now and have never purchased a new one.  They last forever and you don't really have to worry about whether or not the barrel was taken care of properly or worn out, etc.  You'll save $ and it will still outlast you.  You can walk into any good gun store and find a rack full of used Remington 870's, 11-87's, and 1100's for a good price.  They are simple to work on and parts abound.  Even a 12 gauge, if you buy 2-3/4 inch shells, can be managed by almost anyone.  Barrel length is a mix of personal preference and circumstance.  If you hunt grouse and small game in the woods, shorter is better, but even for foul, the current trend is toward shorter barrels.  I personally prefer long for pheasants, ducks and geese.  My go to is a Browning A-5 with a 30 inch barrel (I once saw one with a 32, but didn't have the funds.  Would have been perfect!) 

Offline InquiringMind

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2014, 02:40:09 PM »
Once again, thanks for all the good info. Figured I'd write a brief follow-up.

Based on what I read on this forum, elsewhere online, and input from friends, I decided to consider only 12ga. It seems to offer the most versatility, and you can use lighter loads if recoil is a problem. I didn't hear anything actually bad about either the Mossberg 500 or the Remington 870, so I figured it would be a matter of personal preference at that point. So yesterday we went to Cabela's to check them out. That place was hoppin' and their inventory was a bit low, so they didn't have any plain Jane varieties of either. Instead, we got to handle the Mossberg 535 ATS Field/Deer Combo and the Remington 870 Express Super Magnum with laminate stock. Both felt good. There's nothing quite as satisfying as the sound and feel of pumping a shotgun. My fiancé made an indecent joke about that, and maybe there's a grain a truth to it. Don't know, but thought you might get a kick out of it, too.

At any rate, we both preferred the Mossberg for a few reasons. As many have pointed out, the placement of the release and the safety are in much more ergonomic locations. You don't even need to change your hand position to use those controls. Also, the solid hardwood stock had better fit, finish, and feel than the Remington's laminate. Whether or not it will matter much in use, my fiancé prefer's the two-bead sight on the Mossberg compared to the 1-bead on the Remington. And I know this goes against my initial set of 'requirements', but one of the deal breakers was the deer/field combo. The Mossberg 535 accepts up to 3 1/2" shells and it comes with two barrels: a smooth bore for shot and a rifled bore for slugs. And with all the deals and coupons I lined up, it came in at under $350 new. At a price like that, the 'versatility' requirement wins out.

Once I get it out to the range a few times I'll close the loop to let you know how it works out.

Offline Carl

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2014, 02:53:32 PM »
Just remember...you don't wait till you are face to face with the 'bump in the night' to jack the slide and load the shotgun,the only ones who do that and live are because of bad scripting and worse acting.

Offline DrJohn

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2014, 03:11:55 PM »
Also understand that a pump gun is not the best for sporting clays...  Better a semi or over under.

Offline SwitchThrottle

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2014, 04:07:00 PM »
Go to a store where they dont freak when you shoulder one.  Look down the barrel.  Line up the beads on a target (spot on the wall or something not a person).  Thats your sight picture.  Now, lower it. Close your eyes. Shoulder it with your eyes closed.  Now open your eyes.  Without moving your head, are the beads lined up and on target?  If you have to move your head to get the sight picture, repeat with a different shotgun.  When you find one that shoulders naturally and you like the balance and controls, thats your gun.

For me it was the Benelli and Mossbergs, with the Mossberg winning out in the controls aspect.  My 835 does everything I could ever want.  7.5lbs with the LPA trigger and 24" ported barrel. 

If you are recoil shy, and want a 12ga, get a ported barrel, and get a limbsaver pad.  For a little more reduction, load a bunch of shot into the buttstock.

Offline InquiringMind

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2014, 05:35:13 PM »
Just remember...you don't wait till you are face to face with the 'bump in the night' to jack the slide and load the shotgun,the only ones who do that and live are because of bad scripting and worse acting.

Don't worry, Carl, I've got a 9mm, pepper spray, and a SureFire for that.


Also understand that a pump gun is not the best for sporting clays...  Better a semi or over under.

Since I'm looking for a 'Jack of all trades' shotgun, it seemed a pump would have the broadest use. If I get really into sporting clays, that may warrant another purchase in the future.


Go to a store where they dont freak when you shoulder one.  Look down the barrel.  Line up the beads on a target (spot on the wall or something not a person).  Thats your sight picture.  Now, lower it. Close your eyes. Shoulder it with your eyes closed.  Now open your eyes.  Without moving your head, are the beads lined up and on target?  If you have to move your head to get the sight picture, repeat with a different shotgun.  When you find one that shoulders naturally and you like the balance and controls, thats your gun.

We didn't do exactly that, but we both found the Mossberg to be a very natural fit. I'm excited to get out there and shoot!

Offline chesco_rich61

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2014, 05:59:35 PM »
I'm glad you made a purchase and are happy.  The best thing you can do is use to really find out if you like it. 

Offline Carl

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2014, 06:26:56 PM »
The DIE HARD lookin' guy is right ,it will become an extension of you and take care of all targets ,almost without thought.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Choosing a shotgun?
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2014, 07:39:29 PM »
Both are great guns - I like mossberg for the safety placement, dual slide arms and non-finger pinchy ramp.

I have a 500 with a Hogue stock - really helps with recoil. I also put in a wolf feed tube spring and polymer hi vis follower.