Shotgun questions ...


May 15, 2005, 02:28 PM
I'm looking to get a shotgun for my daughter, primarily for home defense, but she also might be interested in bird hunting someday since her biggest interest in life is training dogs.

I want to get her a 12 gauge because it is the most versatile and ammo is so common but not sure if she can handle the recoil. She fired a few rounds from a neighbor's side by side yesterday and I'm still awaiting word from her as to whether she thinks a 12g is okay...

Meanwhile, I looked at a Mossberg 500 combo Friday that came with both 28" and 20" barrels, for just a few dollars more than most of the other pumps. Looks like an extra barrel would be at least $125 if bought separately.

One thing that has me confused about the Mossberg 500 (since I don't know that much about shotguns), is that it seems to have an interlock that keeps the pump from being operated until the trigger is pulled. So how the heck to you unload the chamber without firing it ????? :confused: This question didn't occur to me until after I left the store and was on the way home (home is ~40 miles from town).

Also, what is the recommended shot size for general home defense?

Any other suggestions and ideas are welcome. :)

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May 15, 2005, 02:38 PM
So how the heck to you unload the chamber without firing it ?????

There is a slide release.

May 15, 2005, 02:59 PM
There is a slide release.
Um, okay ... didn't see that. I guess the manual covers all that after you buy one.

I know the Rem 870 has a little release thingie by the trigger guard that you have to press to load the first round. I was thinking that I read on THR somewhere that the Mossy was considered a little better because you didn't have to do that in order to rack a shell into the chamber at oh-dark-thirty.

May 15, 2005, 04:52 PM
All pump shotguns that I have seen have a slide release that works if the gun is already cocked. The Mossbergs do not have a shell latch gate that the 870 does that sometimes catches your finger when loading. I just bought a Mossberg 590 and have several 870's, and although the 870 is a better made gun, I wouldn't hesitate to use the Mossberg for most things.

Also, if she isn't a larger girl, you may want to look into a 20 gauge. I don't think there would be any appreciable difference in home defence between a 12 and a 20.

May 15, 2005, 05:20 PM
Best kept secret - Is a 1100 20 ga.

Oh btw I think Preacherman just happens to have one for sale (tho' I really wish he would keep it...hint hint.. gonna be sorrrrrry....)

You didn't give daughters age, or if pixie or adult. No matter, these work for all sizes , both genders, newbie or seasoned shooter.

May 16, 2005, 07:17 AM
It'll do 95% of what a 12 will do, in a lighter package, with less recoil.

May 16, 2005, 07:26 AM
For less recoil use an auto shotgun.Stick to 12 Ga since the 20 Ga are often lighter so you lose the advantage in a 20. Use the reduced recoil buckshot loads for HD.They are available from the major makers and have shown to be very effective and most can handle the recoil .

May 16, 2005, 10:26 AM
sm: daughter will be 19 next month. She's not real big (~ 5-4 ?) but pretty strong and active (tosses hay bales around, etc). But I think recoil is more of a psychological thing anyway - it either bothers a person or it doesn't. Her first reaction was that she could probably use a 12 gauge for defense but would not want to shoot it a lot.

Decisions ... decisions ... :confused:
12 gauge or 20?
pump or semi-auto? (or double or single shot?)

Which is the best pump (870 vs 500)?
Which is the best semi-auto?

(talking everyday models here, not something fancy)

Need to consider use-ability as well as quality manufacture - she probably won't be shooting ten thousand rounds out of it.

Also, the Mossy 500 that I looked at came with a rubber (web type) butt cushion. Seems like that would make a big difference in the felt recoil.

May 16, 2005, 11:54 AM

Permission to speak freely Sir.

In my experience around the Skeet field, with new shooters. The 20 ga , in 1100, The Beretta 303, 390/391 Browning Gold allowed the new shooter to break just as many targets without "percieved recoil". Men or women, young or older, new or seasoned -some seasoned shooters, with some neck, shoulder, or other problems needed to change to something "softer".

I am fully aware of 5' 4" ladies, my ex was that height, I dated her back when she and I were 19. Country girl, and tossing hay bales, carrying bushels - Just what a girl did. :)

Here is the Reality - a used 1100 can be found for less monies than a new one. These are more popular and have been around for a awhile. Parts / Service if need - readily available.

Some folks "graduate" (for lack of a better term) and choose to sell these to get a O/U and tube sets. Some want a newer gun, in 12 ga as they have learned Correct Basic Fundamentals using the 1100, and want the versatility the 12 ga offers. Be it for more load offererings, say for duck hunting. Or simply because - because.

Everyone kicks themselves for getting rid of that 1100 in 20 ga. It totes in the field for upland hunting, with slugs for deer, and will still break clays all day long.

Yes some even use the screw in chokes and shoot Trap ( my old pard run 'em with Beretta 303 from the 21 yd line often) . I shot a LOT of 5 stand with a 20 ga.

Now for Sporting clays and Trap - the 12 is best. IF she wants to compete, serious like the 12 is the way to go. For having fun and learning, she will be fine with a 20. Atttitude and understanding the principles - even if out of range and all, she will be a better shooter.

I know too many folks with a old 1100 20 ga , with a fixed choked "Skeet" bbl at 26" , that not only take quail, doves, but use for HD, and many have taken deer with slugs.

Another advantage to a wood stocked one is the ability to shorten the stock, and tweak the gun fit - as you know I am big on gun fit to shooter. I'm thinking she will need about 13" -13 1/4" LOP.

Pachmyer Deacelaraor Recoil , will tame even more. many ladies shot my set up and being as ladies are built different than men - my guns were more friendly to their build. Some had more chest than others.

I shot from low gun , my Toe and Heel were rounded, the inside of recoil bad rounded more smooth). I didn't want to impede my mounting. For ladies this assists with 1) not impeding the mount since they are built different - some more than others. 2) Even with a premount gun, sometimes one does not get it mounted quite right - this contouring, did not hurt the ladies physique quite as much.

Another truism, I believe in, and have gotten folks to try, and they do is...IN HD a Big guy can shoot a smaller gun and get away with it. A Smaller lady cannot always shoot that 12 ga, with mag extension, side saddle and such.

IN fact she may just get turned of the idea of a SG for HD if that is all there is.

IIRC you have room and can shoot on your property, borrow a 1100 in 20 ga and with target loads just go out and plink at hay bales, and not be surprised if that 19 y/o gives you that "head nod and wink" ladies do , and know that look. :D

Main deal is gun fit to shooter, less percieve recoil as they learn the correct basic fundamentals, they have fun, and they hit targets.

May 16, 2005, 12:13 PM
thanks, sm :)

We have a place to shoot (live on 40 acres) but I'm not sure where to borrow various shotguns.

I guess I'll have to go back to town and go pawnshop trolling ... I need to get something by about 6-05 if she is going to be able to take it with her to Michigan.

I'm even thinking of getting one of those NEF single shots in 20 gauge just so she has something to lean by her bed. Cheap enough that I can get her something better later on.

May 16, 2005, 12:25 PM

I am not familar as to why daughter is going to Michigan.
Feel free to PM me if you need to discuss or I may be of assistance off-line.

I bought my Mom a NEF 20 youth model with fixed Mod choke. I'll have to look up the exact model # . This one came with a real nice recoil pad. This one patterns better than many shotguns that have more monies tied up in getting them to pattern, or buying various chokes to get a decent pattern.

Folks shot moms and I lost count as to how many folks bought one like hers for truck guns, for their daughters, moms to have a HD gun, or as one to have in a hidden for backup and whatever.

With target loads, a lot of practice can be done with less percieved recoil. Even tho the gun is light and the Rule of 96 applied, some #3 buckshot or even slugs are "not that bad" - once the correct form is learned.

Hence the reason I don't suggest the single shots in anything bigger that 20 ga.

IIRC about a C note. Even if you find a used 1100 later, never hurts to have a backup 20 ga, hidden somewheres.

Feel free to contact me If I may be assistance Sir.



May 18, 2005, 04:18 PM

What dfaugh said.

My 11 year old, 5'2" daughter (yep, we grow 'em tall in the Scout family) has a Mossy 20ga Bantam. It came with 2 bbls. One 22" field and a 20" slug bbl with rifle sights. It's got a shorter LOP (12" or 12 1/2" IIRC). I think I got the combo set for around $275. She has outshot me at trap :eek: :eek: and can take doubles pretty consistently. She's used it to hunt turkeys and it'll be going out this fall after pheasants. That slug barrel will make a good HD tube when she's finally old enough to leave home. :( :(

Here's two I found on GA. (http://) (http://)

I don't have the current catalog, but I'm sure you could order a nice combo through your local shop or FFL and get it in time to get some practice in before she heads out to Michigan.

May 18, 2005, 05:34 PM
That slug barrel will make a good HD tube when she's finally old enough to leave home.
She's leaving home in about 3 weeks - over a week of which she will be gone with her mother and sister on a post-graduation trip.

Actually, she is pretty much already gone, as she has spent the last couple nights with some friends anyway.

I guess I'll leave it up to her between the 12 and 20 gauge <sigh>

May 19, 2005, 12:47 AM
Yeah, really it comes down to what she wants, no matter what we all suggest.

I got the Mossy 500 for my first shotgun for the versatility and price.

Theoretically, the Rem 870 is built better than the Mossy (steel receiver). But I expect either to outlast anyone who buys one new.

I too would suggest an aftermarket recoil pad if one intends to use the gun a lot. I use a Past shoulder pad often, but something attached to the gun won't be left behind when you want it.

Shotguns are a lot of fun. I haven't shot a 20 gauge, but if 12 is fun then 20 should be more so!

1911 guy
May 19, 2005, 03:21 AM
Yeah, I shoot a 12 and the 12 has more loads available, but if you're talking about a somewhat petite woman, forget the "looks good on paper" stuff and get her something she will actually shoot. I went through all this when my wife decided to start shooting. Look at youth models, too. The weight can be compensated for by putting a little something in the buttstock or using reduced recoil loads. Make sure she's in on the decision, too. She'll take to it better if she gets the idea she had something to do with picking it. Unless she's an experienced shooter, do not under any circumstances get her an outoloader of any ilk. The probability of malfunction is too high as she will roll with the recoil much more than an experienced hand.

Fred Fuller
May 19, 2005, 09:18 AM
There's lots of arguments back and forth about who can handle what as far as shotgun bore size goes. Fact is, a light 20 ga. with heavy loads will kick _more_ than some 12 gauges that heft a bit heavier.

Best bet is to let her shoot a variety of guns and see what she likes best. In general gas guns will beat her up less than manually operated ones, if recoil is a big issue. And note that while it is pretty easy and cheap to make a light gun weigh more, it is more difficult and expensive to shave the ounces off a heavyweight.

For an interim gun, while the search is mounted for what she thinks is perfect, I suggest a Remington 870 Youth Model in 20 ga. The Express version is available in good used condition in these parts for less than $200, and the 21" barrel and short stock make it perfect for smaller statured shooters. There are two of these in the collection here, and they are much appreciated by the youthful or more petite shooters we help train. They are near perfect for HD as issued, and will serve perfectly well for sporting duties also. In fact she might well decide she doesn't need anything different once she gets some trigger time with it.


May 19, 2005, 12:04 PM
Thanks, Lee :) I think I will check into that youth model 870. Even if the stock was too short, she could add a slip on recoil pad to add back some length and soften the punch. I think I even have one lying around somewhere, if it would fit.

If I can't find a youth 870, I may just get her an NEF single shot 20g for now.

Unless she's an experienced shooter, do not under any circumstances get her an outoloader of any ilk. The probability of malfunction is too high as she will roll with the recoil much more than an experienced hand.
1911 guy: that surprises me - I have observed "limp wristing" with SA pistols(pretty much a given with some folks) but I never imagined someone "limp shouldering" a long gun. She has fired my Saiga before and didn't have any trouble with that.

May 19, 2005, 12:54 PM
I have no problem with a Pump action in youth size, like the 870. Like learning to shoot with revolver in DA, the shooter often becomes a better shooter if later they transition to a semi, O/U or SxS.

There is a "rhythm" and pump shooters often DO NOT miss the same targets a semi, O/U or SxS shooter does . Yes I am dead serious. Brister, Misseldine and others have noted and written the same observations. It has to do with picking up that second birds angle of flight, speed, and the shooter reaquiring the target, instead of shooting 1) the first targets path 2) shooting in desperation to hit the second bird. Applies to stationary targets as well.

A Quality gas gun can be just as reliable with loadings. The problem I most saw/ see are the same ones I see with folks with really nice handguns and semi rifles- they spend the monies for the firearm, and use inferior ammo. Of course the blame is then on the Gun Mfg, the Gunsmith who built it, or the ammo company.

Other most common deal is folks messing with a gas gun and goofing it up. Too short a bbl messes with dwell. Then mess with the ports and the gun will not shoot any other ammo except what now the ports have been opend to -the dwell is now set for that loading. Too tight a sidesaddle...list goes on.

Yes a 20 ga size frame ( weight) can be more sharper in recoil than a 12 bore . WE again get back to the Rule of 96. Ratio of gun weight to payload. 1 oz of shot out of a lighter gun ( 20 ga) will recoil more than in a 12 ga.

The gas gun spreads the recoil curve over a different time...this "curve" if you will is what lessens felt recoil.

The best kept secret - that 1100 20 ga left bone stock and with quality ammo will run. I and others have tens of thousands of rds thru these. WE shoot from the hip...and they run - always. We shoot 'em one handed, - they run always.

Tallpine, if you can let her try before you buy. Another way to cheat [ ain't cheating if it works - called ingenuity then] is to buy an Express Combo , comes with a 26" or 28" long tube and a shorter rifle sighted smoothbore tube.

No disrepect ( and don't sic her on me :p ) Sounds like your daughter is a healthy country girl as we say in the South. Learning with light loads for Correct Basics and then Federal slugs or 9 pellet 00 buck will suit her fine. These loading seem to work in most of the Express guns ( including mine) as far as off the shelf ammo found locally.

May 19, 2005, 01:26 PM
Ok, I'm a little stupid here ...

What is the difference between an 870 and an 870 Express? (I was assuming the Express came with a shorter barrel)

Unfortunately, not much time left for her to try anything out. I was going to get her a 22 rifle since that is what she is used to, then I found out she would prefer a shotgun (not the best communication going on here). They are leaving Monday to visit some out of state relatives and friends, and then a few days after they get back she is leaving home.

May 19, 2005, 01:42 PM
My wife is about 5'3" and is not as active as she use to, but not afraid of hard work. I picked up an 1100 20ga youth from wally world for about $424 and we both have squeezed more fun out of that gun that all my others combined. Add to it, some #3 shells, or slugs and my wife is more than ready to repel borders. Don't get her something she won't shoot.

1100 youth, it's not just for kids, ya know.

May 19, 2005, 02:07 PM

You ain't stupid.

Your baby girl is going to the big city with Momma...worried is what you ought to be. :D Besides the fact you are losing some valuable help around the farm.

870 Express is the plain vanilla version. Same gun, just park'd type finish on receiver and bbl, plain wood. The Express runs about $199 at Academy Sports around here - forget what the combo ( long bbl and rifle sighted shorter tube) runs.

Just not as pretty or finished out as the Wingmaster, which had much nicer wood and the blue you are used to seeing on shotguns. WM is smoother out of the box, they run about $468 here at Academy Sports.

I can just imagine the "preparations" going on at your place. Momma doing what t Mommas do, baby sister being a baby sister, the 19 y/o being a 19 y/o. are just the daddy with the wallet, checkbook and CCs. Oh and you and dogs are supposed to take out the trash. :D

I raised 3 sibs,Later I was a stepdad for a little bit. I know it ain't the same - I did have that "daddy role" / hubby role for a bit. I empathize.

I have yet to figure out why a stepson ( her son) needed 2 sets of underwear for each day at band camp. And do you really think I ever saw that $50 for "emergencies only" ever again? She never saw her $20 for emergencies either.

He made out like a bandit, mom and I ate Tunafish and PB&J ( kidding)

[What you do though is go to Cracker Barrel and neither adult has cash *ahem* , let the 15 y/o pay for dinner ;) ]

We might have been dumb old adults - we were not entirely stupid.

Fred Fuller
May 19, 2005, 02:22 PM
That 20 ga. 1100 youth model at wallyworld is a good deal, all right, and they are great shotguns too. I once built up a 3-gun shotgun for a friend who lost his left hand in an industrial accident based on that gun- he almost didn't get it back when i got through with it! Of course, a lot of that had to do with cutting down an E-Z Loader to fit the smaller frame...

That might be a good choice for her, all right, but it is more of an investment. But if she doesn't like it, you won't have to look far to find someone who will, I assure you. See for details-


May 19, 2005, 04:10 PM
sm: the girls are twins; both graduate from HS on Saturday

The other girl already has her own Ruger revolver ;) She is going to go work on a ranch this summer. Already is, as a matter of fact - she has been staying out there the last week or so helping with the AI of ~1000 heifers.

The proposed shotgun is for the one moving to MI
( <21 && MI && handguns != good idea )

And yeah, you are right in that I pretty much just pay the bills :rolleyes:

May 19, 2005, 04:45 PM
Tallpine - Gotcha!

PM being sent to you. :D

1911 guy
May 22, 2005, 01:30 AM
Tall Pine, some of the new autos are recoil operated, just like the handguns you were thinking about. The failure to eject/feed is caused by the same thing, letting the whole gun, not just the bolt, travel. Not a problem for an experienced or hefty shooter, but possible for the inexperienced or slight built. A neighbor has a Benelli he can malfunction on command. Not the guns fault, no slam on Benelli.

May 22, 2005, 01:56 AM
Just my two cents worth: I agree with everyone that is saying youth model 20 gauge. Browse this if you want to, it's got good information straight from the proverbial horse's mouth.
(FYI, the slide release is the little gray blur directly behind the trigger guard)

I personally would avoid any single/double shot anything for HD. Takes too long to reload. In a SHTF situation I don't want to be the one taking my jolly sweet time trying to fumble with a break action.

May 25, 2005, 04:16 AM
Thanks, Lee I think I will check into that youth model 870. Even if the stock was too short, she could add a slip on recoil pad to add back some length and soften the punch. I think I even have one lying around somewhere, if it would fit.

I'm 5'10" and my Model 870 Youth Express is definately not too short for me. It's just that much handier than the full size model. Then, I'm a huge fan of a stubby shotgun and I absolutely hate the long clunky models.

It looks like she'll be passing through this area on the way to Michigan. I'd be happy to meet her and let her try out my Remington as much as she'd like. :) No I'm not a dirty old man, just a bit older than her actually. :uhoh: Let me know. ;)

FWIW, I was shooting a 12 gauge model 870 Wingmaster when I was a 6th grader with no trouble. I've also watched a 5'0" 100lb girl bust clays with an 870 Marine Magnum 12ga. without having any problem whatsoever. Light target loads, yes, but she definately could handle the gun fine. She also could fire a .45ACP quite easily.

With practice a pump can be fired as quickly, if not quicker, than an autoloader, which is fairly impressive. I wouldn't hesitate to buy either an 870 or 1100 though, both fine weapons.

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