$2,400.00 for a beginners Sporting Clays gun??!!


March 4, 2006, 12:49 AM
Guess my first mistake was to tell the "gunstore guy" I had very little knowledge of shotguns. I wanted recommendations for my first sporting clays gun. He simply told me this. "You'll spend around $2,400.00 or so for a nice O/U". I said I'm sure I could. But wouldn't a rank novice be a little better off with something less extravagant? "You won't bust clay, you'll get discouraged and quit." I thanked him and left a bit disappointed. Does this mean all you people claiming success and fun with "regular" shotguns are fibbin' or what?

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March 4, 2006, 12:57 AM
$100.00 Winchester 1200 pump gave me 18 out of 25 my first round of Trap. I'm now up to a $300.00 Baikal Trap gun and have broken 25 but not regularly. It aint' the gun and anyone who says it is has some issues somewhere.

March 4, 2006, 01:00 AM
Pure and utter bull spittle. I started bustign clays with my wife's single-shot Brazillian knockoff that she paid $200 for! It's also a .223 rifle with a barrel swap.

I picked up a almost new Remington 870 Wingmaster for my birthday this year, the Missus found it on a used rack for $199.95 + tax... Sure, its from 1967, but aside from a few scratchs on the stock it looks like it came of the new rack last week.

I realize that there are some wonderful high-end guns out there... but for $2,400 that shotgun better have a targeting system by NORAD that tracks the clays from fifteen orbiting satelites, directs the flight of each shot pellet, and a 100% money back guarentee that I'd never miss. ;)

Honestly, if you spend more that $300, including gun, tax, ammo, cleaning kit, and parking you've spent too much.

March 4, 2006, 01:50 AM
$2400 is a little too steep. :what:

If you want a dedicated, well made, Browing, Winchester, Beretta or Ruger though, you might be spending more than $1000 for it. Of course, this would be for an O/U model.

Take a look at the semi-auto models if you want to save even more cash. Take a look at the Remington 1100 sporting or the Beretta 391 Sporting and you should be able to walk away for about $800.

March 4, 2006, 04:32 AM
I'm quite happy with my 870.

March 4, 2006, 05:33 AM
Many top sporting clay shooters are running semi-autos with 30-32" barrels right now. The Beretta 391 Parallel Target model being one I see the most. Still about $1100, but a far cry from $2400. Nothing wrong with a good Remington 1100, Win SX2, or Browning Gold. Pumps can get you started with very little money involved, a nice 870 Wingmaster for a few hundred dollars. The most important thing is to have the gun fit you when you buy it, more important than in rifles.

With Sporting clays, you need to walk before you run. Get down your basics on a skeet and a trap range where you know what to expect of targets. This will get you a feel of how to break different target presentations. Good luck on whatever you decide. :)

March 4, 2006, 07:45 AM
heh. i heard much the same thing one day while wandering around at dick's... "you really need an o/u that costs at least $2000. anything else isn't worth it." after the customer left - clearly not inclined to buy a darn thing from that guy - i just laughed and said, "that's why i like pump actions." then the clerk then started telling me i need a lifetime membership in the nra :confused:

March 4, 2006, 08:08 AM
If "gun store guys" could just wrap their arms around consultation sales their numbers would sky rocket. It seems to me that most of these clerks are there for the employee discount.:)

Dave McCracken
March 4, 2006, 10:00 AM
Clays guns come in several price levels.

Seitz,Ljutic Alfermann, etc make Single Barrel Trap guns costing up to $15K.

Kolar, Perazzi and Kreighoff make O/Us in that range as well as SBTs.

Beretta and Browning make not so fancy O/Us starting at about $1800.

They also make autos running $1K, +/-.

Remington makes the 1100 auto, which has been in the hands of many HOF shooters when they won. The 1100 needs some parts like O rings replaced regularly.

Remington also makes the 870, which has a LOT of value for the money.

All of the above will handle a steady diet of shells for a long time without major surgery, though PM is needed.

I paid about $400 for my 870TB, a trap grade with pretty lumber and a death ray to clays when I do my part.

There's tons of shotguns for sale at your local ranges, oft shot little and for much less than new.

Very few shotguns of this quality ever get shot out. One gets a couple lifetimes of service for a small investment.All of these are mechanical Methuselahs.

Get the fit right. That's way more important.

Get one, BA/UU/R and have fun.....

March 4, 2006, 10:10 AM
Are you serious about clay target shooting or going out just to enjoy an outing? If the later then bring what ya got and enjoy yourself.

If you're seriously wanting to get into the game buy the very best gun you can afford. A Browning 525 or Beretta 682E isn't cheap but they are worth the price in durability and reliability. Among the semi-autos the Beretta 391 is the top gun with the Browning semis a close second place.

You can shave off dollars by buying a good used gun and they are often the best deals around. But I've seen untold number of guys show up at the club with their Baikals or their Condors only to become frustrated and give up the sport or come back with a better gun. Put the money into a good gun. You won't regret it.

Chris Rhines
March 4, 2006, 10:12 AM
There is a certain amount of logic to the salesman's statement.

Permit a small digression. My Dad plays a pretty fair classical guitar. Once upon a time, we were chatting about the best guitar for a beginner to buy. He told me, "Whatever you do, don't buy one of those $150 Taiwanese knockoffs that all the discount stores are selling. They'll sound horrible, and be much harder to play. You'll get frustrated with it in a matter of weeks, and when you quite playing you won't be able to sell it. Spend about $600-700 for your first guitar. You'll have at least a chance of being able to learn to play on it, you'll have a nice instrument that you'll want to take out and play, and if you do decide to sell it, you can turn it over for $400-500 and be no worse off than if you started out with the cheap one."

That said, I learned how to shoot clays with a 20ga. 870.

That said again, I don't really shoot clays anymore.

It's a question worthy of further discussion.

- Chris

Tiny in Ohio
March 4, 2006, 10:33 AM
I am very lucky in that my grandfather left me a Citori O/U. I was taking my Mossberg 500 out to shoot trap, as I did not want anything to happen to the Citori. So it sat in the safe for 8 years. I just took it out for the 1st time since I have had it last week, and the difference in busted clays is amazing. I believe in this sport, it is not necessary to have to most expensive firearm on the course, but it does make a difference. There is a tremendous gap in the quality of a Citori to a Mossberg, and I know that. But there is something to be said for using a quality firearm to bust clays, and if you are going to be out there you might as well enjoy it as much as possible.

March 4, 2006, 10:36 AM
A used Remington 870 Wingmaster was my first gun for Trap and Skeet. IIRC the gun was $225 OTD. After my first day shooting I bought a 30" light contour RemChoke barrel and later I added a custom stock. So I've probably got $400-$450 in it now and I've shot a 23 with it from the 16 yard line. The nice thing is that I could change out the barrel and use it for HD. $2400 is a bit much for a first clays gun.

March 4, 2006, 11:12 AM
"You won't bust clay, you'll get discouraged and quit."

hahaha. Yeah, get the most expensive stuff, it'll make any newbie an instant expert.

March 4, 2006, 12:07 PM
Get a good pump gun to begin with. When you really start to love it, you'll want a better gun, and then you can decide. However, I regularly shoot with people who still use pumps, and they shoot 22-25 consistently. I started with a Wincherster 1300 and now want an O/U. I'm looking at the Rugers because they are a little cheaper than Browning, Beretta, etc. The CZ is supposed to be a nice gun too, for the money.

March 4, 2006, 03:54 PM
Get a good pump gun to begin with.
That's good advice if the game is trap singles. For the other games however you have enough to worry about without having to remember to pump the action on a close and fast true pair.

Don't get me wrong. I started with an 870, have always owned at least one 870 (usually more) and still take my pump gun out for fun. But if breaking targets is the objective then get your last gun first, have it fitted to you, take some instruction and then BAUUR.

March 4, 2006, 05:42 PM
Honestly, if you spend more that $300, including gun, tax, ammo, cleaning kit, and parking you've spent too much.

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion but IMHO, that advice is just as bad as the "You have to spend $2400" advice. There is no minimum or maximum amount a new person (or anybody else for that matter) should or needs to spend on any firearm.

Personally, I think this whole thing is being looked at from the wrong direction. The question should not be "How much $ should a newbie spend on thier first SG for clays?" but "What is the best SG for clays given a budget of $?"

You can never waste money on a quality firearm. A quality firearm will always bring more satisfaction, both in use and general ownership. They will also generally hold or increase in value better then a lower quality firearm will. Note, I am talking about quality, not price and I am not recommending you spend $2400 or any specific $ amount on your first SG.

Nobody knows your financial situation better then you. You need to determine how much you have and are willing to spend on your first SG. Once you determine a budget, then come back and ask for suggestions based off of your budget and intended use.

As has already been noted, an 870 is a quality firearm that can be found for $200-$300 on the used market and can be used effectively for most clay games. That said, semi-autos and O\U do offer some useful advantages and if your budget allows, there is nothing wrong with starting off with one of those either.

Just my $.02

March 4, 2006, 06:10 PM
....good stuff, thanks

Big Mike
March 4, 2006, 06:19 PM
Tell him you'll take two! :)

March 4, 2006, 06:23 PM
At the age of 14 and my first time firing a 12 guage. I managed to get all but 2 claey's in my first session. With a used 870 wingmaster and modified choke. I beat both my father and uncle who are ex-veteran's.:) buyer beware with gunstore clerk's. Some of the biggest a...'s of the sale's industry are in fact, gunstore clerks. I stopped going to one local store because of this reason. They're alot of good one's but you need to shop around.

Shell Shucker
March 4, 2006, 10:45 PM
I would recommend an auto or O/U (decent quality, does not need to be top dollar) for new shooters playing games that require shooting PAIRS. The reason is that these guns allow a newbe shooter to concentrate on the targets rather than working the gun. Shotgunning is all about focusing on the target! That being said a pump is more of an experts tool than a beginners (shooting pairs), kind of like the .410....

March 4, 2006, 11:31 PM
I shoot 5-stand with an 870 Express. But the pump is a real handicap when shooting pairs. That doesn't stop me from hitting both, and it's good practice for shucking fast and with finesse. If you can REALLY use a pump, you can use it to shoot pairs, and vice versa. All these people who talk about short-shucking just haven't practiced. With ammo that feeds well in the gun, and a little oil, it's never let me down. But I'd be lying if I said I could score the same as with a double gun.

I shot trap with the thing, too. A pump that fits you will shoot singles trap as well as anything. But I recently got a BT-99. If I get a gun all modified to be perfect for singles trap, I figure it should be a trap gun, not a hunting beater like the Express.

My recommendation would be a semiauto that fits you. If an 1100 fits you, a used 12 Gauge with 28" barrels ought to get you into the sport, and there will be no good reason to buy a new gun for a while. Buy a high-buck gun when and only when you've done enough shooting to know exactly what you want!

Note that a full-length field gun works great for Sporting Clays or 5-stand. Field guns may not be the best for trap, and skeet favors shorter guns, but a regular old 28" 1100, 11-87, Beretta 39x, or similar run-of-the-mill semiauto will work well for SC. Same goes for a 686 or other common double gun.

If you get into the sport and you have the money, you may well want a $2400 gun (or, sickeningly, a $12000 gun) one day. But at least you will know which one you want. You can buy the wrong $2400 gun and wish you'd laid down a few hundred for a used 1100 or 390 instead.

Good luck and have fun!

March 4, 2006, 11:56 PM
What is needed is a serious self-assesment of where your skill level lies and what you want to do with it.

If you just want to shoot the occasional round of clay birds with some friends for a good time, then an over-and-under that costs four figures probably isn't the best choice.

I only dabble in clays, so my Franchi 612, which I paid less than $600 for, works just fine. For where my skill level lies, the extra cost of a dedicated clay gun would be lost on me. Also, since I'm not super serious about developing my skill, I doubt I'd be able to utilize the competitive advantages of such a gun the way a serious shooter would.

And in any event, if I were to suddenly take clays as seriously as I take Bullseye, my main cost concern wouldn't be the gun, but the ammo. Even with a .22 pistol, I know I've spent more on ammo for the gun than what I paid for it.

In the end, it comes down to two things:
1) Be honest about what you want to do.
2) Buy the highest quality you can afford that lets you match #1.

March 5, 2006, 01:54 AM
That's about like saying that a $100 pen will make you a better writer than a 20 cent pen. It's not about the pen, it's about the words you write.

It's not the tool, it's the skill. As long as it's not something so cheap or badly made that it doesn't shoot where you aim it, or is ergonomically just BAD in how it works...

March 5, 2006, 02:48 AM
Just imagine the hottest woman with whom you ever had sex. Then imagine the nastiest woman with whom you ever had sex. The difference is about what it's like shooting clays with something like one of Browning's Citori models versus something like a Remington M1100!


March 5, 2006, 07:02 AM
That's about like saying that a $100 pen will make you a better writer than a 20 cent pen.
A 100 dollar pen will feel better in the hand, the ink will flow more smoothly, it won't skip and you won't have to force the nib against the paper. Your brilliant literary inspiration will not be lost for all time when the cheap pen lets you down.

The result is that you'll want to write more and you'll write better. You won't be endlessly searching for another, better pen with which to write if you start off with a good one first.

Just like shotguns.;)

March 5, 2006, 08:09 AM
There's a WORLD of difference between trap and sporting clays, and between hunting and sporting clays. I have an 870 that I've used for years for ducks, deer...you name it

Started sporting clays with it and averaged maybe mid 50's. I worked part-time in a gun store and as pay, I got a Weatherby Orion SC model. Score instantly jumped to the 70's.

One day I went to the range by myself and shot in a team with 3 other guys. All had O/U's, one a Browning with a recoil reducing butt plate. I started asking the guy about it. He offered to let me shoot it on two stations. I ran 20 straight.

Can you dig a ditch with a shovel? Yeah, it'll work. A backhoe is a lot easier. Anyone who says a pump works as well for sporting clays hasn't used a good O/U.

Guys that say a $250 Mossberg is just as good as an O/U (at least for sporting clays) are in total denial. Also, if you save your hulls it's a BIG no-no to scrounge around on the ground looking for your empties. You look like a terrier sniffing for a rat, and you hold up your squad and everyone else on the range.

Do you need a $2,400 gun. No way, but you do look better when you miss.


Dave McCracken
March 5, 2006, 08:57 AM
Friday, I shot trap doubles with the Geezer Squad. Only 4 of us showed, due to the cold and wind, but we had a great time.

The shotguns used were a Beretta O/U, a Winchester 21, one of Doug Kelly's pretty little 20 gauge Parkers and my 870TB.

We didn't keep score, but everyone said I was high gun. Hit 40-42/50. Not a record, but a nice round for the conditions.

Pairs can be shot with a pump. It's not the ideal tool but it can be made to work.

I do find an 870 too slow for a second shot at International Trap, but there's lots of doubles shooters that don't get two off either at those hypersonic targets.

March 5, 2006, 09:13 AM
the nastiest woman with whom you ever had sex...is about what it's like shooting clays with something like one of Browning's Citori models

At least that's what I think of shooting a Citori. Bulky receiver with insufficient swing and nice triggers. I know many do not agree; I just know what it feels like to me. That's the point: gun fit is personal and individual.

A Cynergy, on the other hand, or my BT for trap...

If a gun doesn't fit, you'll want to quit. A $2400 gun that doesn't fit right or feel right to you won't feel half as good as an 1100 that does. And if an 1100 doesn't fit or feel right, another gun will be a lot better for you.

If someone tells you that their new $10,000 gun is what made their score jump 50%, in all likelihood that gun just fits them a lot better than the gun they had previously.

If someone tells you that their new high-end gun really helps them hit those couple of pesky targets they had a hard time with, and they are now winning matches that eluded them before, then you know three things:

1. Both guns fit, and the shooter knows about shotgun fit.
2. They're good enough at shooting to make a fair comparison.
3. They have a realistic view of what the gun does, vs. what the shooter does.

March 5, 2006, 10:22 AM
Several years ago I casually shot skeet with a shotgun I already owned and had hunted with. Then I shot sporting clays one time and had so much fun, I knew I would come back for more.
so...I went shopping with cash in hand.
I bought a new Beretta 390 Sporting for $525. It fits me, it looks good and functions perfectly, I shoot it pretty well, and I've got money left over for cases of ammo and club memberships. I've shot with folks and guns worth alot more money, but I've never felt under-equiped.
If all I had was a pump, I would shoot it without shame. An auto or a O/U is probably a better choice and there are plenty of new and used guns out there for well under a thousand bucks.

March 5, 2006, 10:52 AM
I had just the opposite experience! I live a few hours away from Reno and called all the gun stores there to see if they had any SKB 85TSS 12ga for sale. Only one place did, Sage Hill, but I decided that I was going to look around at Sportsman's Warehouse just for kicks. I had my mind set on the SKB, it just had so many things going for it: incredibly strong action/receiver, adjustable comb, lengthened forcing cones (like it mattered to me but I did notice that the only other factory guns with that cost a LOT more), schnabel foreend, and in a sporting clays model for about $1800.

I went to S. Warehouse and told the gun counter guy I had about $2000 and wanted to buy an O/U for use in Sporting Clays and Skeet. He pulls out the cheapest Remington 11/87 and hands it to me! So here I am with a lot of money to spend and he's trying to sell me the cheapest auto they have! I looked at some cheap Berettas and Brownings that didn't fit me that well and hopped on over to Sage Hill. The guy there gave me $50 off for coming in to see it and I knew it was right for me. I just passed the 2k round mark in it since I bought it in Augus and I am really happy with it.

March 5, 2006, 12:34 PM
the nastiest woman with whom you ever had sex...is about what it's like shooting clays with something like one of Browning's Citori models

At least that's what I think of shooting a Citori. Bulky receiver with insufficient swing and nice triggers. I know many do not agree; I just know what it feels like to me. That's the point: gun fit is personal and individual.

I was going to say the same thing ArmedBear, but I am glad you were the one to rephrase the quote. I would much prefer an 1100, one of the most winningest clay guns ever.

March 5, 2006, 01:18 PM
Just observed a round of SC at my club, (Rio Salado Sportsmans Club). Their new SC layout is VERY nice. I'm going to rent some different models over the next few weeks. I'm leaning toward the Beretta 3901 citizen. Time will tell.

redneck2, the point about empty hulls is a good one. I live in the Arizona desert. Digging around the bush is a bad idea. We have diamondback rattlers as thick as your arm here.

March 5, 2006, 01:29 PM
I starteed playing clays with a Baretta A-303 Upland that cost about 450 new, and then upgraded to a 26" Browning Citori Upland Hunter for 999.99 only because I hate to shag brass. Clays is supposed to simulate actual hunting, who actually hunts with a fully raced out $2500 O/U??? A fine english double yes, but a pimped out O/U, I don't think so.

March 5, 2006, 01:34 PM
while it IS true that a $2400 gun will probably fit you better and handle better, there is NOTHING wrong with spending $500 max on a remington 1100, 870, or 350(i think? it's an O/U) it will probably suit you fine.

Keep in mind i don't know much about sporting clays but i DO know the gunshop owner was trying to screw you BADLY...

oh, and you can modify, chop, saw, rasp, and glue stuff on to/off of a cheap gun (ex.: change length of pull, comb height, balance [by adding lead weights], weight, grip texture...) to make it feel and handle as good or better as a $2400 gun. and you probably won't feel as bad doing it.


March 5, 2006, 06:04 PM
Guys here keep comparing trap to sporting clays. Whole different program.

With trap, you take one shot. Gun fit is everything (assuming you throw a decent pattern)

On clays, you have report and true pairs. Sometimes there is a significant difference in the distance to the two birds. The ability to have two different chokes can make a big difference. Also, using a pump and having to recover from the recoil, pull down on the next bird, shuck in a new round, establish a lead and then fire is a big hindrance.

Can it be done?? Sure. Will you do better with a double? Probably. I sure as hell wouldn't spend a lot until I knew I was really interested. Once you are, there's a reason that 90% of the guys use doubles.

This shows an overall of my Weatherby

This is the recoil reducer. Note that the buttplate is adjustable for offset and drop.

March 5, 2006, 06:11 PM
I bust clays at Trap, 5-stand and sporting clays with a shorty 18" barreled fixed choke (mod. and full) hammerless IGA Stoeger Coach-Gun... it cost me a whoppin' $175.00 brandy new, out the door... I am not a great shotgun shot, but I routinely go 20 or so outta 25 in trap, and occasionally make a 25 out of 25...

$2400.00 to start? that guy is NUTS...

March 5, 2006, 09:20 PM
Some of you dudes have pretty low standards. I'd hate to see your girlfriends/wives!:neener:


March 5, 2006, 10:32 PM
That's cold. Funny, but cold.

I say spend the money, you can't take it with you. :evil:


March 6, 2006, 12:35 AM
Absolutely, particularly with some courses, a double with two different chokes is an advantage.

But to START with, before you are comfortably competent and you're down to trying to add a few last points to your alreday high score, an auto with a choke somewhere between Modified and Full, depending on the average range, will hit what you are pointing at.

And fit does matter. Balance and C/G do matter. Swing does matter. That's true if you're shooting trap, doves, or SC. A gun that doesn't fit will be frustrating, no matter what you spend on it. Each shotgun use does favor a different gun setup, though.

BUT-- If you get a good semiauto field gun, you can do a lot of fun SC shooting, learn a lot, and eventually have a much better understanding of what you want as your ultimate gun. And you'll still have a useful semiauto field gun. If you get the wrong high-end O/U SC gun first off, you'll have nothing but a used gun you'll be trying to sell for a fair amount less than you paid for it.

March 6, 2006, 02:29 AM
WOW! - I looked at this thread and said to myself " that guy must shop were I shop " :eek:

I recently had the same experiance, "I'm looking for a trap gun", "here's a nice one" (don't mind the $2800 price tag) "look how pretty that gun is"...

I ended up buying a S&W 1000, semi-auto, has interchageable chokes, nice scroll work done to it, few nicks, but a very good looking gun, nice light feel to it, good balance, good feel, $250 on consinement, out the door under $300

btw, my Grandfather has the same gun, had it since the 80's fired more rounds than "he can even think to count", he said.

I started to shoot a little trap, consider it like golf, there's some mannly class to it to the way I see it, as a USMC Engineer & Tactical Weapons Instructor, I love to destroy and hear big bangs. I wasn't about to lay out $2800 on a shotgun that didn't have lights, lasers, extended tube, pistol grip... for $2800 it should have been belt feed, you know what I mean?

But hey, give these guys credit, they had a couple of O/U in there for over $24k, they were pretty... undescribeablely pretty, but not my stile, so to each his own.

March 6, 2006, 08:26 AM
Figured I'd drop my $.02 in.

Here's what I spent to shoot trap:

Remington 870 Express Magnum from Wallyworld: $238
Monte carlo stock from eBay: $35
Morgan pad from Brownells (adjustment and comfort): $30?

Last Thursday I shot a 23, 23, and 24 from the 16. :)

Seriously, IMHO there is NO better value in shotgunning than the 870. I asked this a while back and Dave and the crew chimed in. The gun currently is a bit mutant looking (the foregrip and the stock colors don't match, the morgan pad hasn't been ground down to match the stock) but it sure as heck shoots! :D

March 6, 2006, 08:41 AM
They want to sell you what they have, not so much as what you need or want.

Yeah, they all go bang, but what really matters is how the gun fits you. Is the length of pull alright ? Is the comb high enough ? Does the gun point well, of does it need to have cast on / cast off adjusted ?

Some adjustments, like Length Of Pull or Comb Height can be easily taken care of but to correct the cast you'll have to go to a competent gunsmith who can steam bend the stock for you.

INMHO pumps are ok if you will be hunting also if not go with one of the entry level O/U's. $300.00 to $600.00 if new, $200.00 to $400.00 used.

Now go have fun and make some dust !:D

March 6, 2006, 08:41 AM
Remington did/does make a version of the 870 specically for Trap. I've got an older 870TB Wingmaster that is technically a "trap" gun. It's a bit heavier than your standard 870 and the trigger is "quick". For shooting singles, an 870 can definitely get the job done.

However, (you knew that was coming didn't you? :neener: ) for shooting doubles, a pump gun, IMHO is more for the experienced shooter than the beginner. There's a reason you don't see the "big dogs" shooting pump guns in competition. An O/U or semi is so much easier to shoot with as your follow through to the second bird is much more simplified if all you have to do is follow the bird and pull the trigger. Having to pump in the middle can be distracting, especially if you need to lower your gun to pump it. :)

I will tell you though, that once you starting shooting an O/U, you'll start collecting them. :what:

March 6, 2006, 09:19 AM
The gun can make a difference but, it's the shooter not the gun.

I know guys that can take a run of the mill 1100 and whoop up on the average shooter using a high dollar Krieghoff. Point being, a great gun can make a great shooter a better shooter but isn't going to make a poor shooter good.

March 8, 2006, 05:34 PM
I've only shot clays once, and it was with a buddy's 11-87. I had a great time and bought an 870 to shoot more. I'm concerned about going from a semi-automatic to a pump.

I'll let you after this weekend when the 870 is put into practice.

March 9, 2006, 11:37 AM
Stoeger makes an inexpensive SXS and O/U that would serve as a good starter gun. My fried AZDryHeat has one, and absolutely loves it in every way. I am also happy with the SXS Stoeger I bought recently. For what its worth...


March 10, 2006, 01:35 PM
Jim M

How much do you want to spend? How much are you willing to spend?

What appeals to you - O/U, SxS, Semi?

Do you have a strange attraction to a certain brand or model (like many of us do)?

Answer these questions and and it will be much easier for you to pick a sporting clays gun.

March 10, 2006, 04:50 PM
"You'll get discouraged and quit"

Tell you what, if I had to spend $2,400 to get into clays, I'd be discouraged and quit before I even started. That's ridiculous.

March 10, 2006, 04:55 PM
That's retarded, don't listen to the store guy.

Buy a Baikal over/under and IF you get really hard-core into the sport, then spend more on something nicer. If you are like me, you might actually be perfectly content with the Baikals despite their cheap price.

Don't shell out large amounts of money on any hobby until you are more involved with it and have proven to yourself that you are comitted to it.

March 10, 2006, 10:17 PM
Well of course you don't need to spend $2400 for a beginner's Sporting Clays gun. On the other hand, I agree with the poster who said that a pump is probably the worst choice for a beginner, even though it's the cheapest option.
The way I look at it, if you can easily afford a $2400 gun, and want one, then why not? Why should a beginner not have a really nice gun if that's what he wants? Why should a beginner fly fisherman not buy a Scott, Loomis or Winston rod? They are a joy to use and you can "grow into them" so to speak. The same can be said for a quality shotgun. For some people there is pleasure derived from owning a fine piece of equipment along with the pleasure derived from the sport itself.

March 12, 2006, 11:38 PM
Under $600 (as low as $450 used): Remington 11-87 Sportsman (or used 1100) 12 gauge. Notice Sportsman (basic field model), not Sporting. You don't need and overbored barrel (but you should get the longest available, probably 28") and you are better off if you can interchange chokes with any other Remington 12 gauge shotguns that you have or will buy in the future. Get an Express Upgrade Kit for 12 gauge (includes IC and Full choke, Speed Wrench, and bottle of Rem Oil.

Under $1200 (as low as $850 used): Browning Gold Sporting Clays 12 gauge. If this fits you, it will be your favorite shotgun. It is very reliable and takes the kick out of even 1300 fps 1 1/8 oz Sporting Clays loads (you might try Handicap Trap 1250-1290 fps - plenty enough power and you might shoot an occasional round of Trap).

$1400: Benelli Supersport. Comes with all the chokes you need and extra shims (in case you need to change the stock fit). Absolutely reliable with Trap and Sporting Clays loads, probably also medium field loads once broken in. Requires less cleaning than gas-operated guns, but slightly more felt recoil. Because of the cost, I would recommend it only if the Remington and Brownings do not fit. Get the gun shop to put in the proper shim (you should be able to shoulder the gun with your eyes closed and have the front bead aligned with the rib when you open them).
Schennberg.com (http://www.schennberg.com)

March 12, 2006, 11:52 PM
you know, the guy I talked to at the gun shop said it was nice to see some one step up and use an 870 express amongst the high dollar shotguns- I got a almost brand new used one for 169.00 plus tax- looks like new, and can't beat the price. It is NOT the gun, it IS the shooter!

March 13, 2006, 08:33 AM
Great suggestions Richard, Thank you.

March 14, 2006, 02:05 PM
I bought a shotgun off of the current world champ (Army team). It was his starter gun which earned him a lot of top finishes. A Beretta Whitewing. About a grand or so. (The one he shoots now is about 9K)

March 14, 2006, 02:25 PM
Note that for not much more than the price of a Sportsman plus the Express Upgrade Kit, you can get an 11-87 Premier.

The Premier is a nice polished blue, not the rust-prone Express matte finish, and has a nice checkered walnut stock. It is lighter and better balanced (the Sportsman is a bit overweight for a given barrel length). It is available with a 26", 28" or 30" barrel, and it comes with an ivory front bead and a mid bead, as well as the set of 3 chokes you'd have to pay extra for with the Sportsman.

Street price for the Sportsman plus choke set is around $600. The Premier can be had for just over $700. Both prices are for new guns from retail dealers. Used guns are cheaper, of course.

The Sportsman is simply a heavy, rust-prone bad deal. I would avoid it, though I really like Remingtons in general. Buy the Premier instead.

I have an 870 Express, BTW. It's rust-prone, but otherwise it makes a decent substitute for a Wingmaster and I don't care if I drop it in the dirt. But my 28" Express was HALF the price of a 28" Wingmaster, and though it's heavier, the pump gun is lighter to start with than the 1187 so it's less of a big deal.

If the Sportsman cost $400, it'd be worth it, but to save $100-125, it's not. The Premier is just a much nicer gun by every possible measure.

March 14, 2006, 03:26 PM
I'd agree with the used Remington 1100 in 28" bbl.
Great shooting gun that's won championships in all types of clay sports.

Even if you buy a different type of shotgun later on, for whatever reason, keep the 1100 as your "everything" shotgun by changing bbls, stocks, etc, etc...slug gun to wingshooting. :)

March 14, 2006, 03:51 PM
"A Beretta Whitewing. About a grand or so. (The one he shoots now is about 9K)"

I'd still rather have the $9k gun. Or a $90K gun. I wouldn't get rid of my $199 and $328 guns if I got one, but the expensive guns I've seen are nice. I suppose it's all about what we can afford. One man's pocket change is another man's annual income.


March 14, 2006, 04:00 PM
One thing's for sure. When I break $1000 it's not on an autoloader.

Some of the most expensive guns I've seen, handled or shot have been single shots. My most expensive gun is a single shot.

I have a question, though. What does a Cynergy Sporting do that a Field doesn't? Similar in all apparent ways except for the porting, which some do and some don't like.

There are some "sporting" models that I just don't "get." Is the word "Sporting" worth $500-1000? Or are there internal differences?

March 14, 2006, 04:39 PM
As near as I can tell from doing a lot of reading and listening, you get extended choke tubes and usually better wood and engraving. And maybe a slightly different rib and a 'sporting' recoil pad.

If they'd throw in a finely tuned trigger they'd have something.


March 14, 2006, 06:31 PM
My first trap gun i bought in 77 or 78. Remington 870 TC. I still have it. Paid 300.00 for it and i still break 19 to 23 consistently. I stand next to guys that have paid incredible money for thier guns and don't shoot much better. I am there just to have fun, remember that's what it's all about.

March 14, 2006, 06:48 PM
I am there just to have fun, remember that's what it's all about.

True. It's not like your trap score is a matter of life and death.

It's a lot more important than that.

March 14, 2006, 07:32 PM
My first trap gun i bought in 77 or 78. Remington 870 TC. I still have it.

He didn't ask about trap. Have you EVER shot sporting clays???

Damn, sporting clays is a whole different program. For the "trap guys"..

do your trap birds cross (oh wait, you only shoot one)

do you shoot doubles (oh wait, you only shoot one)

do you ever shoot birds bouncing across the ground...or straight up, coming at you, two at a time, overhead, crossing in ??

A pump gun is total crap for shooting sporting clays. I've got an 870 that I've used for years for deer, ducks, geese, turkeys, crows, etc. But it isn't a sporting clays gun

Keep in mind i don't know much about sporting clays
speaks for itself

a pump will work if you want to screw around and don't care what your score is. An automatic will be better because you can get back on target quicker (if you don't want your hulls). If you're serious, get an O/U

March 14, 2006, 08:59 PM
Is a quality O/U a better way to go for Sporting Clays? -- YES

Is a $2400 gun necessary for a first Clays gun? -- NO

Can you shoot Sporting Clays with an 870? -- YES, I don't but I see guys shooting 5 Stand with pumps and autos every time I go out.

I started shooting both Trap and Skeet with a field grade 870. I took my first pair of Skeet at station 7 my second weekend out using an IC choke and 9 shot. Trap singles is definitely easier, but doubles can be done and you don't need Dave's extensive range time to do it.

If you decide to try SC with a pump, you can vary your shot pattern by varying your load. #7.5 shot should pattern tighter than #9 shot -- try it.

But then I use an 870 at clay games as practice for using an 870 for real. I don't see clay games as an end, but as a means to an end. I don't worry much about scores other than whether I'm improving with whatever gun I decide to use. If your sole goal is a high score. . . okay, I bought a Browning O/U too, 525 Sporting, fit me like a glove :)

Dave McCracken
March 14, 2006, 09:17 PM
Redneck2, Bill Mayer is the 8 time Ohio SC champ.

He uses,gasp, an 870.

A fellow named Steve Cameron from the Midwest turns up in the stats. He shot his way to Master Class with an 870 he spray painted black.

It can be done. It takes proficiency, committment and elbow grease.

I'm not in that League, But I was High Gun last time the Geezer Squad shot trap doubles. Other guns on the line included B guns, a model 21 and a Parker.

The only game I've tried where I thought a pump was a great disadvantage was International or Bunker Trap. Getting off the allowed second shot while the bird is in range is difficult.

But sporting pairs are doable. Oft better than with an auto.

Michael McIntosh, who writes for Shooting Sportsman, mentions in an article about myths that Bang.....Bang.... Bang was an auto and bangbangbang was a pump. He quotes Jim Carmichael as saying a good hand with a pump sounds like he's operating a chainsaw.

Shooting with a buddy for a couple decades showed both of us that an 870 was faster for a second shot than an A-5.

Too bad you don't live closer......

March 15, 2006, 12:58 AM
do you ever shoot birds bouncing across the ground...or straight up, coming at you, two at a time, overhead, crossing in ??

Yes, as a matter of fact. With an 870 Express. As long as I avoid really crappy ammo that sticks in the chamber, and use a little oil where it matters, doubles are no problem. Neither are second shots on rabbits, etc.

I've also shot trap doubles with it. Score is right there with the guys with double guns. Ability, not the gun, makes the difference. The guys who have had better scores are better shots.

A pump does complicate things, and you only get 2 shots anyway, so if I BUY a gun for SC it'll be an O/U. Not a semiauto, not another pump.

There's nothing keeping me from enjoying myself and getting hunting practice with the pump, though. It's the best way to learn to use work the action instinctively, quickly, without moving the gun.

March 15, 2006, 08:08 AM
I love my 870. An 870 was the first shotgun I every owned and I've always owned one. I broke my first clay target with an 870. I know some clay shooters who can shoot them and embarass everyone else, sometimes even I can. My 870 fills a far more important role than just breaking targets. It fills the larder and gives comfort when things go bump in the night.

It is however the WRONG choice for a beginner at sporting clays or skeet and that's what this thread is about, the best choice for a beginner. Why make it harder for them than it needs to be?

If you get into clay target shooting you'll soon find the cost of the gun is the least of your expenses once you start considering your shell and target costs.

The best gun for a new shooter is either an o/u or a semi-auto. If money is tight then find a good used one from one of the major makers. Clay target shooters are fickle and frequently switch guns and there are usually lots of good ones at excellent prices around for the asking. A good used o/u can be bought, shot and then sold for what you have in it if it's kept in reasonable condition.

Nicky Santoro
March 15, 2006, 12:43 PM
" It aint' the gun and anyone who says it is has some issues somewhere.
-Tim- "

That's for sure. Some years back we were shooting some clays informally up at the cabin and my one BIL, hereafter to be known as "sack of crap" and shooting a high end O/U of some repute, blamed me and my "POS" Trius trap because my other BIL, hereafter to be known as "good shooter" beat his ass like a brass gong in a Thai restaurant using a Mossberg 12 gauge bolt gun with an adjustable choke.

March 15, 2006, 12:55 PM
PJR, agreed.

Except about the good cheap O/U's. Perhaps you can clue me in to where you find them.

Yes, a 99% condition Ljutic or Perazzi for under $5000 is a good deal for what it is. But that doesn't help me at the moment...

March 15, 2006, 06:44 PM
Except about the good cheap O/U's. Perhaps you can clue me in to where you find them.
I never said anything about cheap but they are good value. I've owned several used o/us including a couple of Berettas, a Krieghoff and two Winchester 101s including a three barrel set. They were shot extensively and sold for what I had in them and in a couple of cases a small profit.

Let say a shooter shoots 5,000 targets a year which is not very much for an active clay shooter. Even at a modest $7.00 per round ($3.00 for targets and $4.00 for shells) that's $1,400 per year. After two years of relatively moderate shooting he has spent more on targets and shells than the $2,400 that started this thread. On a per shot basis the gun quickly becomes the cheapest part of the equation and scrimping on the cost of the gun doesn't make sense.

March 15, 2006, 06:46 PM
Where do you shoot for $3 a round?

I want to go there.

March 15, 2006, 07:40 PM
Where do you shoot for $3 a round?

I want to go there.
Yeah, me too. But I thought I'd use very low numbers to help make the point. For me a round is closer to 9 dollars with $4 for targets and $5 for shells. At that rate 5,000 targets is $1,800 per annum.

I also shoot 10,000 per year or so. I concluded long ago that if I was going to spend that much shooting I'd want something very good with which to do it.;)

March 15, 2006, 07:51 PM
The place I joined a couple of months ago just raised their rates to 3.50.

But... trap and skeet only. No SC.

OTOH, those voice actuated whizbang wobble machines are like nothing I remember from the Dark Ages.

March 15, 2006, 07:56 PM
won't claim to be an expert but will pass on some of my own $ lessons learned in shotgunning. First, a $2400 or even $10,000 shotgun will not necessarily make you shoot any better than a $300 gun. The secret ( beyond consistant trigger and patterns) is mostly in fit of the gun to the shooter. If teh gun doesn't fit you JUST right, your fighting the gun. ( Remember your eye is the rear sight. ) I've owned 4 breakopen shotguns in the 4 figure range and STILL to this day have to admit that my best score were accomplished with a $500 Berretta 391 semi auto. The great thing about the Berretas ( besides their value:price ratio) is that they have that great stock shimming system that gives you a custom fit in 30 miniutes of tinkering.

If I had to vote for one gun for sporting clays, I'd vote for the Berretta (or similar systemed Binelli). Less $, better fit and less recoil due to it's operating mode.

p.s. I found a slight disadvantage with pmps for SC as some of the pairs required ULTRA FAST second shots and I'd stumble with that second round. Nothing more practice wouldn't have helped with I guess, I just found teh semi to fix the issue out of the box.

March 17, 2006, 11:07 PM
Iím a big advocate of making sure the gun fits the guy pulling the trigger. I see a lot of guys that have a gun that they canít properly stand behind. I had to add ĺĒ to the stock of my Browning and work on the comb before it fit. I also bought a used 391 that had a 40 mm shim in it that was a real problem for me. I got a headache the first two times I shot it. I put in the 45 mm and now love it.

Iíve also seen duct tape turn a piece of junk into a thing of beauty for some.

Ask a friend at the range to help you. Heck come to the range I shoot at; you can shoot mine.

March 18, 2006, 02:08 PM
You can get a pretty decent shotgun for $2400, a nice O/U with some engraving, it will point and balance well. I tried O/U''s a while back and went back to a HK Red Lion Sporting, however I also like the Beretta's and Rem 1100 or 11-xx series.

I think a $200 pump is a huge mistake, as a beginner you have enough to learn without shucking shells in the middle of it. If it's a sporting gun spend the extra money and get one with the right drop on the stock and a wide rib, you'll break more clays and have more fun.

Yes you can also spend several hundred dollars more getting the stock fit to you, and once you are hitting in the mid 70's it's worthwhile. In the meantime go to the patterning board to learn how the gun you choose shoots, and practice mounting it thousands of time to get it the same every time. After you've shot for a while then you can add adjustable comb and butt plate, they can be refitted so no need to worry about it right away.

Just my opinion, others may vary.

March 19, 2006, 03:54 AM
I agree with the browningguy, a pump is a disadvantage... but I'm not saying you need to go out and spend the $2800 on an o/u or buy a brand new Beretta semi-auto for $1140, like I was told to do.

I picked up a used S&W 1000 less than $300 out the door, came with what I was told to look for, wide rib, light, well balanced, has 3 chokes that screw out with no tools, has some nice wood and engraveing on the reciever... it's a pretty gun for the money. But the fact is that it shoots, and fits nice.

I don't think I'd want to be out there with a pump gun, there's just some times were an auto or o/u is the right gun. A pump shotgun is a working gun, in my opinion, duck, turkey, deer hunting, breaching doors; were you need the dependability. For clays, phesant, grouse and dove, you have that bit of class were you aren't getting dirty and nothings going to attack you (you hope) little less grunt involved.

March 19, 2006, 10:55 AM
There will always be guys who look down on pumps for shooting clay. A pump is only a disadvantage at Trap if it doesn't fit. Making a good pump fit is a whole lot cheaper than you may think.

A guy can definitely use a pump shooting Skeet doubles, I've done it and it's great practice. It takes longer to swing the gun to the next bird than it does to rack the slide; there's no disadvantage if you practice even a little bit. Rack while you're swinging and the gun is ready before your on target.

I've never shot SC or 5 Stand, but the only disadvantage I see is that of having only one choke. One of these days I'll put a Mod choke in my 870 and give it a try just to see why it can't be done.

Folks are forever imposing artificial limitations on things they do.

March 19, 2006, 11:39 AM
Jim M,

Go find a nice Remington 1100, get some instruction so you don't start off with crappy habits, and have some fun. There is a fairly steep learning curve to all this so keep with it and don't get discouraged. I understand one CAN use a pump. One CAN be very proficient with a pump. I just don't see adding difficulty when it is not needed. A Remington 1100 is not to expensive, not complicated, and it is a runnin' machine.


P. S. - This thread is not a Pump vs Autoloader vs O/U, it was about someone trying to get a newbee for more money than he needed to spend, or so I thought.

March 19, 2006, 12:11 PM
A Rem 1100 shares the same major limitation as a pump, that of having only one choke. Unless the shooter is suffering from a serious injury or disability, racking a pump is not at all difficult to learn. Rem 1100 is a good gun though, just more $$$$ than an 870.

I agree that this shouldn't be about pumps vs autos vs O/U's. Heck, I have one of the $2400 Browning O/U's, it's a great gun, but definitely not a necessity for shooting any clay game.

March 19, 2006, 02:10 PM
Well, I did it now. Just bought a new Beretta AL 390. Payed $575.00 out the door. Are there better shotguns? I imagine there are, plenty. Are there worse? I suppose that's true too. All I can say is this . It felt right. And as soon as it stops raining (I'm not complaining, we're desperate for it here) we plan on starting a long, enjoyable time blasting evil orange Frisbees. :D Thanks to each and every one of you for your insights and recommendations.

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