You pick it. I'll buy it.


January 6, 2003, 07:49 PM
Here's the scenario. I'm getting ready to buy my first shotgun. And I'm looking for a basic workhorse (A 500 / 870 type deal).

If one of you could take me to the store and point out the things to consider, what would you have me look for in a shotgun as far as fit, handling, balance, and craftsmanship are concerned.

In other words. Why would you pick it?

By the way -- money is a concern so please don't try to buy your long-lusted Beretta o/u on my credit card. :p

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January 6, 2003, 08:07 PM
Where in Southern California?

January 6, 2003, 08:08 PM
Have you done much shotgun shooting?

If I were you I would mine the archives over at the firing line. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge on the subject.

For me it is pretty simple. If I can mount the shotgun naturally with my eyes closed and head straight up and open them to be looking right down the barrel without moving my head I can shoot that shotgun well. Mount is 1) raise the gun 2) stock to face with butt off the shoulder at least 1/2" 3) slide the shotgun STRAIGHT back into your shoulder. DO NOT buy a shotgun that you need to bend your neck to get down to the stock, it is THE most common mistake in shotgunners IMO. If the point of the heel digs into your shoulder when you pull it hard in it will hurt if you shoot it. You want the butt in at least 75% contact with your shoulder. I wish I could explain it better in type. I have shot enough that it is kinda second nature to me.

January 6, 2003, 08:21 PM
HSMITH : good description!!
Exactly what I do, eyes closed, gun to face...

To add after fit, how you going to use it? BBL length, 28" for clays I personally like, extra bbl in shorter length 18.5 ~21" good for HD

And yes you get to carry the case(s) of ammo your going to buy to the truck. I'll tote the shotgun.

January 6, 2003, 09:26 PM
Assuming we're talking pump guns, handle a few, rack a few slides. See what jumps out atcha. I started off with 870s, went to a 500 and a 590, now am back to 870s. Good guns. Long poven. The Winchesters will be a bit lighter. Somethign to keep in mind if you plan on shooting heavy buckshot and slugs. Weight helps keep recoil down.

Dave McCracken
January 7, 2003, 05:31 AM
Stick with the Big Four and you cannot go wrong.

Ithaca 37, Winchester 1300, Mossberg 500 and Remington 870, the Big Four have all been around for decades, are very reliable, rugged, and with the minor exception of the 37, widely available for less than $300. Used, much less sometimes.

The 37 and 870 will last longer under heavy use than the alloy framed 500 and 1300, but even these will outlast most shotgunners.

All save the 37 are available as combos from the factory, and extra barrels are there for all.

For use with heavy loads, the slightly heavier 870 may be best, and it does have more aftermarket stuff than the rest combined.

Here's basically what I'd look for in a B/F pumpgun, new or used....

First and foremost, fit! The test given earlier in this thread will give a clue, use will confirm.
Pump guns are easy to get to fit, shimming and establishing the best LOP isn't hard to do nor expensive.

Second, sights one can use for the mission(s).

Third, a trigger of less than 4 lbs if possible, and clean.

Fourth, for a GP shotgun used for both recreation and defense, sling studs. These can be added easily on wood stocks, less so on plastic.

I'd prefer 3" capability for versatility, but a good 2 3/4" chambered gun at a good price is OK. 3 1/2" chambers are overkill, and not a good idea very often.


Will Beararms
January 7, 2003, 11:45 AM
If I were right handed, here's what I would do:

Pump - Ithaca Model 37 - hands down, the finest pump out there

Auto - Beretta 391 - hands down, the finest gas operated semi-auto out there.

January 7, 2003, 12:35 PM
No one asked Amadeus whether he wants to go trap shooting or protect his home. That will make a big difference, yes???

Also, Where in So. Cal?

January 7, 2003, 04:21 PM
As I said -- I'm looking for a workhorse. HD/Trap/Skeet.

I know what I think I want. But I was curious how everyone else goes about chosing their shotguns. You know -- at that moment in the store when you pick up a gun, fondle it, and say, "Yes. This one." What's generally the deciding factor.

I was also wondering how to determine the "fit" of a gun. It's different in handgunning. I know how to chose a pistol. But shotguns are nearly foreign to me. I've fired perhaps no more than a box of shells in my entire life.

As for where in Souther CA. -- Somewhere in the bowels of Orange County.

January 7, 2003, 04:34 PM
It seems that the 870 has the greatest number of aftermarket barrels out there, so it's likely to give you the best deals on different barrel lengths down the road or in a package -- i.e. 18.5" for home defense, 28" for skeet/ducks, rifled for deer. Of course you could also just eventually buy a different gun for each use.:)

As Ledbetter mentioned, it might help if you let us know your intended use.

You can't go wrong with Ithaca, Remington or Winchester. With Mossberg, I'd personally upgrade to a 590 or 835 rather than a 500. There are a lot of happy 500 owners outh there. My bias is only based on the number of 500s I've seen at gun shots that have broken safeties -- which I've been told is a pretty easy replacement part.

A 3.5" gun is typically more spendy and only worthwhile if you plan on goose or turkey hunting. And then not even really necessary, but a fun little option to test your shoulder once in a while.

Personal opinion:
-Ithaca 37 is classy
-870 is a classic
-Benelli Nova is the funky newcomer -- built to manufacture cheaply, but a solid gun
-500/590 or 1300 will do

January 7, 2003, 05:00 PM
Don't you believe any of these lies!!! :D

A WINCHESTER DEFENDER 1300 tops them all!!


Alright get the 870 then :(


January 7, 2003, 05:00 PM
Because I want to try a variety of different uses, I will probably go with an 870.

Of course, my dream gun is a Beretta o/u. That'll come some day.

Thanks for all the guidance.

January 7, 2003, 05:03 PM
Okay. Now let's just wait a minute. I'm still an impressionable newbie. Why do I want a 1300 over all the others?

Sell me on it.

January 7, 2003, 05:32 PM

...oh damn they all come in black....


'coz I bought one and I don't want to be the only one on here that did. :(


Dave McCracken
January 7, 2003, 07:05 PM
HS, the 1300's a darn good shotgun, you have no need to get defensive about your defensive choice, heh,heh...

Here's what I don't like about the 870....

QC at Big Green has dropped like a paralyzed buzzard. It can be avoided by buying used, or carefully picking a non lemon new gun and changing the safety, grinding out dimples,etc, or spending the extra bucks and getting the MM or Police versions.

The other prob is after a while one tires of swapping barrels and realizes that a decent used 870 is but a few dollars more. Thus one starts down the slippery slope of multiple 870s.

Counting the kid's 20 gauge Express, there's 5 here, and I'm looking at adding a few ASAP.

January 7, 2003, 07:23 PM
What is the "MM" version?

Al Thompson
January 7, 2003, 07:30 PM
Marine Magnum - an 870 with a satin nickle finish.

HS/LD, I have a 1300 and 870. Nothing wrong with either, just more options and durability with the 870.

January 7, 2003, 07:31 PM
Asked earlier the purpose, ok we see now HD, and clay games.

FIT may determine your purpose is what we're alluding to. Using criteria above whether in a store - or IMO - visit a range that rents, public skeet/trap clubs, go with a buddy at a private range. People can help with fit THEN shoot said gun and see how well fit really is...shooting before you buy is good. So you find a gun that fits, know per Dave that used gun that fits may be the smart way to go. Money saved on gun-buy ammo.

ME, I've said before, drop on a 870 too low, I have to build up comb with moleskin. Target/Trap 870 stock -real close-almost.
Most 1300's fit me off the rack...yes even among same guns...there can be a bit of difference.

I shot a friends $35K me perfect, 50 straight with ease a- Live Pigeon gun. Shot the matching other $40K 4bbl set in 28 ga, ran'em again...know what? If it breaks-Its broke, didn't bust any better than any other gun will. OK you get style points perhaps

January 7, 2003, 08:02 PM

Me thinks I had better find a dictionary of Shotgun terminology.

Either that or stick to handguns.

Dave McCracken
January 7, 2003, 08:17 PM
Don't give up yet on shotguns, a few words of explanation....

Drop, the distance from the top of the stock as it is held for shooting to a line parallel with the barrel taken from the top of the receiver.Drop is sometimes measured from the heel(top part of the butt), sometimes from where the face touches.

Comb, that top of the stock. The part your cheek should be pressing.

Length or Pull, or LOP, is taken as the distance from the center of the trigger(if two triggers, the front one) to the center of the butt.

Pitch, the angle of the butt plate or pad as related to the center line of the bore. 90 degrees is regarded as Neutral Pitch, more or less as positive or negative pitch.


Brian Williams
January 7, 2003, 11:22 PM
Ithaca 37 M&P
prefer pre disconnector version

January 8, 2003, 03:44 PM
You know, Mossberg sells a combination Model 500 (pump) that comes with two barrels, short for home defense and long for clays, and retails for well under $300. I see them on sale at sporting goods stores for less than $250.

You could do a lot worse than his for your first shotgun. If you like clays enough, you will want a better gun soon enough. Then you can dedicate the 500 to home defense duty.

Just my opinion for a first shotgun purchase for multiple uses.

January 10, 2003, 09:11 PM
Get back to basics.
870, 26" bbl
Buy various choke tubes.

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