Lets talk cheap single shots that do everything...


January 31, 2013, 10:18 AM
I'm wanting a cheap lightweight do all shotgun. I have some pump guns, but I was thinking about taking up some turkey hunting and maybe some other bird hunting sports. I kinda want something light weight and a single sounds like a great idea. I like H&Rs fine, but nothing really caught my fancy as I wanted something with the ability to screw in a choke, but didn't want a $300 H&R.

Anyways, I'm thinking what's a good, light do all, single shot shotgun?

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January 31, 2013, 11:01 AM
There's not many of the really cheap single-shots that take a screw-in choke. IMHO though the beauty of a single shot is in its simplicity. If you want things like screw-in chokes you're getting to where you might as well get a cheap pump gun.

Personally I'd opt for an NEF (H&R) Pardner 12ga with a modified choke as a "do-all" gun.

I've found modified to pattern the best with 00-buck, and when using steel shot modified is my optimal choke. For turkey hunting modified isn't the best, but it certainly will work.

My NEF is an old 20ga full-choke. I got it when I was 8 years old back in 1989. I killed my first deer with it, and still occasionally use it for squirrel hunting. IMHO, they're a great buy. Back then Wal-mart sold them for $89. No clue what they go for now but I'm guessing it can't be more than $150 or so.

Fred Fuller
January 31, 2013, 11:12 AM
Light weight shotgun = kick like a mule with heavy loads.

No such thing as a free lunch ... borrow one and try it out before you spend your own money.

January 31, 2013, 11:33 AM
+1 on the try one out first.
If you are recoil sensitive, the weight difference might put you past your tolerance level. It also depends on what type of shooting you are going to do. All day shooting in shirt sleeves can get pretty bad, but just a couple of rounds for hunting purposes should be no problem. I've not ever fired a 10gauge, but with 12 gauge even in a light single shot it takes several rounds before the recoil starts to become a problem. YMMV

January 31, 2013, 11:51 AM
My NEF is an old 20ga full-choke. I got it when I was 8 years old back in 1989.
My 5th grade Christmas gift. Kicks harder than a 12ga.

I bought a old truck several years ago to us as a farm truck / woods truck. It had a NEF 12ga behind the seat. Called the old owner and asked if he would take $40 for it. Got a beater truck and a beater shotgun for $840 plus new rear end. :)

January 31, 2013, 01:27 PM
I had a NEF "Turkey" model with a 3 1/2" chamber that would throw a heck of a pattern at 40 yards. I can't imagine an elephant gun kicking any harder than that thing with 3 1/2" magnum turkey loads. It was my go-to early season squirrel gun as well. I gave it to a friend who was just getting into hunting and took him turkey hunting a few times. I'm seriously thinking about getting another. I loved that gun.

rio nueces
January 31, 2013, 02:11 PM
I often find very good, late model NEF singles for $60 or less at pawn shops.

January 31, 2013, 03:47 PM
I'm familiar with the recoil of the singles. My brother and I shared one when we were kids. He has that gun now. It didn't have a screw in choke. I don't want a pump gun, because I'm looking for lightweight.... and I have a couple of pump guns anyways.

evan price
January 31, 2013, 04:01 PM
You could get it Polychoked I guess.

January 31, 2013, 04:14 PM
I found an H&R 12 single at a garage sale last summer and paid $17 for it since it was missing the stock. I bought a stock and a .357 mag barrel off a friend for $30.



I then bought a 20 ga. bbl for it for about $40.


I then cut the barrels down to 18", added a butt stock pouch to hold the shells and it is now my pack away truck gun. Kicks like a mule with the 12 ga bbl.


January 31, 2013, 05:21 PM
Neat setup Mac66.

January 31, 2013, 06:18 PM
I bet it does Mac! Great find and buy all the way around

January 31, 2013, 09:11 PM
My 'do everything' gun started life as an older 20ga youth model. Black painted stock and nickle plated frame. I left the paint alone but I had the barrel cut back and had it threaded for choke tubes. Then I had a set of Remington rifle sights mounted. It's a Short, Light, UTility shotgun. I just call it the S.L.UT. for short.

I started to build one in 12ga. After I shortened it and shot it (before I did anything else) I decided that it kicked too darn hard with heavy buck or slug loads. I sold it to a guy tougher than me. I think he sold it, too!

Seeing Mac's makes me want to try it again.

February 1, 2013, 07:58 AM
The Rossi Turkey Gun is a single that comes with a cylinder choke and an extra-full turkey choke. I put a "Kick Killer" gel recoil pad (made by Action Products in Hagerstown, MD) on it to help manage the recoil. Just yesterday my new Williams Fire Sight parts came in the mail and I installed them on the Rossi - an orange front fiber optic and a ghost aperture rear receiver sight with green inserts. The receiver base is their "Ace in the Hole" model with an integral 1913 rail in case I want to put a red dot on it.

February 1, 2013, 09:26 AM
i,m not much on single shot shotguns, but when a gun shop went tango uniform i went to look over the inventory and picked up this H&R topper deluxe classic 12ga 3" mag. it takes win, browning invicta and mossberg chokes and has a walnut checkered stock,vent rib and recoil pad. i put sling studes on it and will use it for my run and gun turkey shotgun( i will darken the nickle reciever with a magic marker). now the good part 128.00 out the door. eastbank.

February 1, 2013, 10:00 AM
I like my single shot h&r 12 modified choke. It's a fun gun to take out to the range and a good general hunting gun. I have tried a .22lr chamber adapter in it too. It adds to the functionality of the gun. Its nowhere near as nice as having an actual .22 rifle but it is quite useable at short to medium distances. im pretty dangerous at 20 yards. (to small game) i imagine that if i ever get into trapping, this will be a good gun to carry to dispatch things in traps that need to be dispatched. if youve ever wanted one of those over under .410/.22 combo guns, i would recommend going this way instead. 12ga is all around a better option when using shot. The main drawback I've learned is that without proper sights its harder to aim. i can reliably hit a three inch circle at 20 yards, which isn't really brag worthy with a proper .22, but it will reliably hit small animals. There are other adapters as well to let you shoot different pistol rounds as well as a 20 gauge and 16 gauge adapters. I really don't see the point of 16 gauge anymore, but I may pick up a 20 gauge adapter just to have different ammo options.

The shotgun does kick hard. When I first got it I went out to the range with a frien of mine and neither one of us could believe how hard it kicked even with low brass target loads. At first I thought it was because I hadn't shot a 12ga in a while, but after a few trips out I was bruised up pretty bad. I picked up one of those rubber slip over covers from Walmart and the problem is solved.

loose noose
February 1, 2013, 11:58 AM
I've got a 20 ga. single shot Iver Johnson, I bought with my paper route money brand new for $25.00 back in 1958. Still have that gun, shot my first whitetail deer with it, as well as partridge, rabbits, squirrel, pheasant, ducks, It was an all around gun. recently I put a recoil pad on it, refinished the stock, had the reciever sand blasted and nickel plated, and shot some trap with it for old time sakes. Still shoots just fine.:D

February 1, 2013, 02:21 PM
I might be careful about that short barrel on a Shotgun frame. I may be getting a little too skittish, but NFA is nothing to run afoul of. I believe this is the reason NEF won't mount certain barrels on shotgun frames. That and pressure issues. It does look cool though!

February 1, 2013, 03:10 PM
EMC45, appreciate the concern but there are no NFA worries here.

The frame is neither a rifle or shotgun until you put a barrel on it. Putting a rifle barrel on a frame makes it a rifle, thus 16" rifle bbls are allowed. Putting a shotgun bbl on it makes it a shotgun with a minimal 18" bbl allowed.

The reason NEF/H&R won't mount some barrels is because pre 1987 frames were made out of cast iron. Post 87 frames with steel frames. You can put most pistol calibers and low pressure rifle calibers (30-30, 35 rem, 45-70 etc) on the iron frames. You have to use the steel frames for everything else.

here's an article I wrote on single shot guns


February 2, 2013, 03:28 AM
Shoot one in 10 gauge then you will understand recoil. A 3 1/2 inch turkey load will almost ring your bell but it will surely ring the turkeys. For an all around gun I'd still chose the 12 for the availability of different ammo.


February 2, 2013, 06:30 AM
I got a Old Ithaca in 410 For my 7th birthday and I got a 20 gauge 2 years ago for 50 bucks. I love them.

February 2, 2013, 10:42 AM
First the 10 ga. H&R weighs over 9lbs recoil is stout but no where near as bad as any 3 1/2 in 12 ga load I have shot. The light weight of the singleshot is what makes it perfect for a utility gun. It is light enough to carry all day quick and easy to swich from shot to buck to slugs breaks down to the length of the barrel. A gun made to carry all day and shoot a couple times for aquiring dinner .
Second contrary to what the gun and ammo makers would have you to believe turkeys are not armor plated rocket scientist. If you can't get a turkey close enough to kill with #6 shot hi brass shells in a 12 modified choke you need work on your calling not a bigger gun.
Third. H&R 12 ga synthetic stock 3 1/2 in turkey load :what: don't want a turkey that bad

Hand loaded 1-1/4 to 1-3/8 oz loads out of my H&R 10 ga are down right mellow
Todays ammo make choke selection less important I have a old H&R slug gun Remington slugs shoot 4" groups at 50 yards regular ammo works great for busting bunnies in thickets swith to federal pairiestorm flitecontrol ammo it throws a solid modified choke pattern swith to blackcloud steel and I get decent full choke patterns
Yes these shell are expensive but for a utility gun A box of #6 pairiestorm will last all winter long and the black cloud ammo can be found in late spring on the clearance rack The last 2 boxes I bought were 75% off

Bud Tugly
February 2, 2013, 01:42 PM
IMO it's hard to beat a 20 gauge single shot with modified choke as a do-everything rambling around gun. Nice and light to carry all day and capable of taking down just about anything in North America with the right load.

For most hunting situations one shot is all you ever need anyway, and if you put a butt cuff on it you'll find you can reload for follow-up shots suprisingly fast with a bit of practice. If you're going to be a lot of shooting then if you stick with standard (7/8 ounce) loads the recoil is tolerable.

The recoil gets pretty fierce with 3" shells, but for the occasional shot at live game (like a deer or a turkey) it's doable.

February 2, 2013, 10:49 PM
I want one, not even sure why, but I do. I keep telling my wife that we need one in .410 or 20 gauge so the kids will have something to learn on when they're old enough.

February 3, 2013, 05:13 PM
I have a H&R 20 ga full choke as well it's a real fun gun.
In high school my freinds and I would sometime only take out the single shots on hunts even though we had pump guns too. It sure is a fun way to hunt.

February 3, 2013, 06:42 PM
I had a 20 gauge NEF pardner a few years ago. I got it new from a friend for $40; whoever lived in his house before him just left it in the closet - still in its box.

I got it as a lark, so I could abuse it for some fun. No matter what I did to the thing (some pretty horrendous stuff) it just kept shooting, and shooting well.

I cut the barrel down to 18" and kept it as a truck gun for a while before I finally sold it.

Wish I still had it - I need another one for a project I've got going. I've been reading some old Police Riot Control books from the 70's, and they show Savage / Stevens single shots that were adapted as gas guns / less lethal munitions launchers. The muzzle devices they used were very simplistic designs, so I'm itching to make one up for myself. The NEF should adapt very well to the same configuration.

February 6, 2013, 05:09 PM
I shot a Topper, Jr in 20 gauge growing up. Was scared to shoot Mossberg 500 and Remington 870...and then found out they recoiled *less*. :D


February 6, 2013, 05:31 PM
Have you checked out the Topper Deluxe model? It's the regular 12 gauge Topper except with a recoil pad and screw in choke. Not sure of price but i can't imagine it being a whole lot more than the basic Topper.

February 6, 2013, 06:35 PM

I like the looks of that strap-on butt cuff! I have tried several brands of the elastic version and have not been pleased with any of them. Who is the maker on that one?

Ron in Texas

February 6, 2013, 08:11 PM
I've got an old hardware store single shot 20 gauge. Lightweight, easy recoil, dead nuts accurate with a groove and bead. I pop gophers in my yard on the run at 20 yards with it. I've considered having it threaded for chokes, but it does what it does and does it well, so I've opted not to mess with it. Cost me all of $80.

February 6, 2013, 08:17 PM
my first shotgun was my brother's hand me down Stevens 20 ga. with the stock cut to fit him and me when I could hold it up.
He was a duck hunter so he had a ton of nitro mag #4s and 3" #6's.
When they went to all steel, guess who got the ammo? Me.
Dad wouldn't buy new ammo, so all I ever shot be it rabbit or squirrels was Nitro Mag #4s or 3" #6s.

I learned to line them up between my fingers, and bust one off, break it down and throw one in. I could clear a tree full of squirrels easily. Then I graduated to a pump, but it wasn't the same as that old Stevens.

That single 20 Stevens had the tightest full choke of any full choke I had ever seen. At 25-35 yards you'd get a pattern of a basket ball.

I think for the price of a new single you'd be better off with a Maverick pump. Mine eats anything and keeps on running. All for the cost of $150.

February 6, 2013, 08:28 PM
I recently picked up a used NEF 12 gauge with modified choke. Went shooting with a friend and busted 3 clays with it and decided that was enough. I'm going to keep it for when I want something light and that I don't care about to take into the woods, but I have little interest in shooting it "for fun" anymore.

February 6, 2013, 08:30 PM
My first shotgun as a single shot Ithaca Model 66 Super Single. Was 12 gauge with full choke, will handle anything you can throw at it. They're not expensive and built like a tank.

February 7, 2013, 07:30 PM
Mac66, I'd be curious to know where you managed to find barrels to fit that shotty? I've got a 20 ga. springfield model 1929 that'd be neat to be able to put different barrels on, but I'm guessing that wouldn't be feasible to do starting with the 20 ga. platform versus the 12 ga.?

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