Shotgun Recommendations

I have a buddy at work looking for a good deal on an over/under for his son.  He wants to take his son dove hunting this season, but he wants to buy it now so he has time to practice a bit before the opener.  I was wondering if we had anything up for sale in the group, or if you knew of any stores that might have something going on or coming up?
We presently don’t have any O/U for sale on the FCS Guns and Accessories web page.
Depending on his son’s size, I highly recommend a semiauto over an O/U for the following reasons:

  1. Piston operated semiautos kick substantially less.  Part of the gas going down the barrel goes down two holes in the magazine tube, which pushes a new shell out and operates the bolt to eject the spent hull and chamber a new round.  The result is a longer recoil action which feels more like a gentle push than a sharp jolt.  This is especially true for heavier duck and goose loads.
  2. O/U’s are not as safe for hunting (they’re designed for clay target shooting).  The breach has to be opened, even if only one round has been fired.  This results in a partly loaded gun possibly being aimed towards others.  In other words, I only recommend that hunters experienced with O/U’s use them for hunting.
  3. He will probably appreciate the third shell that a semiauto or pump offers.  Many times I’ve missed a dove, for example, on my first two shots and then nailed it on the third.
  4. O/Us are usually very pretty guns – often with fancy wood and scrollwork.  It would be a shame to have such a pretty gun beat up in a duck blind or scratched up hunting dove in mesquites.
  5. O/Us cost twice as much for chokes as you have to buy two improved cylinder, two modified, etc., if the gun doesn’t come with them.
O/Us are better balanced, shorter (which is an advantage for shorter folks), and have the advantage of having one choke in one barrel and another choke in the other barrel.  For example, many are set up to shoot the first shot with an improved cylinder choke, and then the follow-up shot will be with a modified choke (when the bird is now further away).  However, most hunters, especially, keep the same chokes in both barrels.

Around 8/1 – 8/15 just about every sporting goods store will start to run shotguns on sale for dove season, but most will be semiautos and pumps.  I also highly recommend Texas Gun Trader.  I’ve sold 10 guns on that website in a little over a year, without a hitch.

Feel free to have him call or email me.
I’m kicking around the idea of getting an auto-loader shotgun.  Is there a particular time of year the stores put them on sale that you know of?  I’m trying to figure out if I need to try and figure out which one is a good fit for me sooner than later.  Any ideas?
Typically stores will run sales about two weeks before dove season starts and about two – four weeks before Christmas.  However, you can find deals year-round at places like https://texasguntrader.comwww.gunbroker.com, and www.gunsamerica.com.
When you go on the FCS sporting clays shoot at Capital Clays ask guys if you can shoot their guns.  It will give you a good feel for the different brands and features.  I’ll be happy to let you shoot my Browning Maxus or Browning Gold (whichever I decide to bring), if I’m there.  They are excellent guns.
Here is an article that I wrote on the subject – Choosing a Shotgun for Birds and Clays.  Your biggest decision will be whether to go with a piston operated gun or a recoil-operated gun.
The former has the advantage that some of the expelled gases are forced into the magazine and operate the piston, through two holes in the barrel.  This causes the recoil to be more spread out and results in a softer felt kick.  Their disadvantage is the piston needs regular (around every 100 shells or so) cleaning or the piston can get fowled and fail to eject a shell or chamber a new one.
A recoil-operated gun has no piston so it kicks like a pump or double-barrel gun.  They also have the advantage that they don’t have to be cleaned nearly as often.  Their disadvantage is you will feel more recoil with heavy dove loads and heavier.  I haven’t updated the article in over 11 years, so be aware that there are newer models available.

There is a gun show this weekend and I would like to pick up a shotgun that would be good for the clay shoots and bird shoots the club hosts.  But I have no idea what to get and could use some advice.   It needs to be a gun both I and my 12 year old son can use.  And not too expensive.

I wrote an article on the subject titled Choosing a Shotgun for Birds and Clays.  I last revised it in 2007, so all of the manufacturers have added new guns or revised existing ones.  For example, Browning now offers the Maxus, which is an upgraded Gold.

As your son is not a full-grown man yet it will probably be difficult for him to shoot a regular sized 12 gauge (unless he’s bigger than normal, a boy really can’t handle a 12 gauge until around age 15).

The problem with youth models is after two or three years they’re worthless (as boys outgrow them) and then you’ll be stuck with a gun that few people are in the market for.  Also, it will be hard for you to shoot a youth model as it has a shorter stock.

Consider a Remington 1187 LW (lightweight) or 1100 LW (they only come in 20 gauge).  The barrel is normal length (26 or 28 inches) but the gun is lighter because of an alloy receiver and mahogany or composite stock.  The Premier is much better (steel, fit, etc.) than the Sportsman.  You can get a used one for around $450.

CZ 712’s are lighter than average 12 gauges if you can find one, due to an alloy receiver.

I don’t recommend Benelli’s, Franchi’s, or Stoeger’s for boys (inertia/recoil) operated as they kick more than gas/piston operated guns.  The exception is the Franchi 720, which is gas/piston operated.

The Beretta A300 Outlander, Browning Maxus, Gold, and Silver, and Winchester Super X4 and Super X3 are fine guns but are probably out of your price range.

I recommend McBride’s Guns for used guns.  Although you’re going to have a harder time finding a used 20 gauge.

You might have to settle for seeing how new 20 gauges fit him at McBride’s and then finding a used one on www.texasguntrader.com or  www.gunbroker.com.  I have sold nine guns on Texas Gun Trader and have bought six guns and sold three on Gunbroker without a problem.  If you buy a gun online, it must be received a Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealer.  I use my son, Ryan, Leander.  He only charges $20 to receive a gun.  He is a lot cheaper than the Austin boys.

A standard game/target load in 20 gauge with 7/8 ounce shot only has 1/8 ounce shot (12.5%) less than a standard 12 gauge game/target load with 1 ounce shot.  That translates to 50 less #8 shot (350 instead of 400).  So with game/target loads, you’re not losing that much firepower with a 20 gauge.  However, it cannot keep up with the 12 gauge with the magnum loads for ducks/geese/turkey/deer/hogs.

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