Bolt Actions?


April 4, 2013, 06:26 AM
For my sisters 23rd birthday her boyfriend got her a new 20 gauge mossberg 500. To celebrate I invited the both of them and my mother for a few rounds of sporting clays. I've been shooting with my sisters bf before but we always used my benelli and I always womped him.

To even up the odd this time he suggested we used his gun. He pulls out a 12 gauge bolt action that was pre serial number, a twist-to-adjust choke, and a 3 round mag. All he knew about it was that it could be bought from montgomery ward back in the day.

I had a freakin blast! The action started to gum up towards the end of its hundred shell day but otherwise worked flawlessly. Since then I've been keeping an eye open for one but the few that I've seen have been beat.

What do you guys know about the bolt action shotguns? What models were good and what were crap?

Oh and he beat me that round, but only by one bird. ;)

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April 4, 2013, 07:03 AM
I have a Glenfield model 50, the Marlin goose gun's little brother (32" barrel)
You really can't go wrong with any of them IMO. I paid a hundred bucks for mine a couple years ago, should still be in that range.

April 4, 2013, 11:05 AM
You can get a brand new one from Savage for under $500 bucks, in what ever gauge you like, you can even get em with rifled slug barrel, check em out..................

April 4, 2013, 11:24 AM
I have one.
In 1973 I bought a 20 gauge bolt action shotgun with that same choke setup from K-Mart which the store branded name was Westernfield but was truely a Mossberg 385K.
I did an awful lot of hunting with that shotgun and kept the magazine loaded with #3 Buckshot while it was in the house.
Unfortunately it along with several other well made firearms was stolen from me in a home burglary many years later.
I looked at several over the years as a replacement but never could find one that was not beat to hell and rusted up so I always passed on them.
Then a year or two ago I found one that was super clean and bought it right away.
Even better this one had a much lower serial number than my original so I called Mossberg to find out what year it was made in and it turned out to be May of 1969.
By the way Mossberg referred to that adjustable choke as a C-Lect choke.
Actually it works pretty good for what it is.

April 4, 2013, 06:01 PM
You can get a brand new one from Savage for under $500 bucks, in what ever gauge you like, you can even get em with rifled slug barrel, check em out..................
Cheapest I see is the 212 for $645. I didn't have that much fun.

Plus it's synthetic, a big no no for me with my shotguns.

April 4, 2013, 06:12 PM
Used bolt action shotguns turn up used pretty regularly, but as you note they're usually pretty beat. In my experience they're usually missing the magazine too. If you see a nice one it may still have a reasonable price though, keep looking!

April 4, 2013, 06:35 PM
Bolt action shotguns have always been the ugly step child of the shotgun world. But they were a inexspensive repeater when you wanted more than a single shot. Lots are out there for a good price but many have been scrapped. I don,t remember which manufactrers were involved but there was a 20+ year recall on some of the Sears brands. If you sent in the bolt you got 75.00. Only B/A shotgun I have at the moment is a little Mossberg 183 3 shot .410. Looks like a .22 rifle but with allot more BANG.

April 4, 2013, 06:42 PM
rduchateau,if it's a bolt you really want get on Gun Broker and find a Mossberg 385 in 20 or a 395 in 12 gauge.
Wood stocks and they had no recall issues like another make did.
Very solid shotguns.

April 4, 2013, 10:58 PM
Cheapest I see is the 212 for $645. I didn't have that much fun.

Plus it's synthetic, a big no no for me with my shotguns.
That is MSRP, you can get em for $450 bucks at Wal-Marts..............

Tolkachi Robotnik
April 4, 2013, 11:18 PM
They were at one time less than a hundred dollars, especially used. People that owned them often did little maintenance, but they would work a long time with that regime. One of my uncles hunted with a man that had one in 20 gauge that once decided his needed lubrication for the first time in years, so dropped a few drops of oil off his motorcar dipstick onto the bolt to free it up so it would cycle. Worked good then! It was a pretty rusty gun, he did not bother to cover the exterior any, with anything, ever.

I would bet with a light coat of ATF they would work fine for several hundred rounds per day.

April 5, 2013, 12:12 AM
Had one of the Sears 12 ga. inherited from my FIL. It always did its job. I got the recall and put the money towards a used Browning pump. The Browning is a better, more versatile gun but I sometimes miss the bolt action. If I found a decent one in 410 I'd go for it.

Funny thing: it was my only shotgun for years and I used it for trap. I was shooting against guys with multi-thousand dollar guns but many of them started out with bolt shotguns as kids since it was the only thing they could afford. Quite a few asked to try some clay targets with it and always had a smile afterwards.


Pete D.
April 5, 2013, 08:19 AM
I have a Mossberg 185k 20 gauge. I bought it from a friend two years ago for 100 dollars. Shot Trap with it a few times. Worked just fine. The bolt works quite smoothly. For the field, I carry one in the chamber and one in the magazine. With a bit of practice, it is possible to flick the bolt opened and closed about as quickly as you can cycle a pump gun.

April 6, 2013, 03:14 AM
I have a Mossberg (Marked O.F. Mossberg and Sons) 16 gauge with the polychoke, just leaning against the wall, waiting for a stock to be put on it ... or sold. Not sure what the hell I am going to do with it.

April 6, 2013, 10:02 AM
This one here cost me $50 bucks.................Its a .410.

April 6, 2013, 10:35 AM
Check Gunbroker. I bought a .410 with an adjustable choke, in really good shape on there for $80. Great little squirrel and rabbit gun!

April 6, 2013, 10:49 AM
My $20 bolt shotgun I recently cut down and refinished. This is a 1950s era H&R Gamester I bought at a police auction back in the 1980s. Someone had cut the choke off and buggered the end of the barrel though it was still 26" long. I cut it to 18". Stock finish is a couple coats of polyurathane over the natural wood. Metal is multiple coats of black ceramic engine paint baked on in a gas grill on my patio.



April 6, 2013, 06:21 PM
It seems that everyone that has a bolt action shotgun really enjoys em.

April 6, 2013, 10:09 PM
It seems that everyone that has a bolt action shotgun really enjoys em.

October 18, 2013, 11:13 PM
There are still alot of them out there! JC HIGGINS, Mossberg,Marlin, Savage, etc. They are good training guns!!! And ones with clect chokes are multi-purpose.

October 18, 2013, 11:30 PM
Many of us started out with a single shot or bolt action shotgun for hunting. At least if you were taught right! It made us skilled shots, If you missed, you often times came up empty. I myself passed this along to my kids and many others over the yrs. There are a great many advantages to bolts; for one you can shoot 50 bmg bullets reloaded into them. You cant from a pump or auto, the shell is to long with the 50 bmg bullet in it! Now as for hunting; they are great for goose,duck, etc. If you deer hunt shotgun; then a bolt-action with a rifled barrel can give you 150 yrd shot.... A good old mossberg 185, 385, 485 thats 20 gauge is a good all around gun to start a young hunter with. Anyway good luck, I hope to hear what one you bought!

October 19, 2013, 05:34 AM
Nice job Mac66. Looks like there is still a lot of fun in that gun. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, bolt action shotguns were the rabbit and pheasant guns of the day for most of my hunting buddies. Having one of those was deluxe as a few of us were only using single shot break action guns which could be purchased easily for $25.00 used.

October 19, 2013, 08:21 AM
I think I know where a lot of those old boltguns are ending up.
Next time your local TV news station covers one of those police "buy backs", pay close attention as the camera sweeps across the pile of guns on the table. You'll always see some of those oldtime bolt-action shotguns.
Always! :banghead:

October 19, 2013, 08:59 AM
Have a bolt action mossberg .410 with an internal 3 shot magazine. Excellent for slug and 000 buchshot applications. Also very light weight for carry in the field.

October 19, 2013, 09:37 AM
I have never imagined that. One is somewhat handicapped with a pump.

October 19, 2013, 10:36 PM
I have a 410 and a 12. In fact I've been thinking about selling them to make room in the safe. Very fun guns but I've outgrown them.


October 19, 2013, 11:26 PM
I have a 20 gauge that my dad bought me for Christmas around 1965. It's a model 180 from Coast to Coast stores. Aw, the good old days of walking into a hardware store and buying a gun the same way as a hammer or something.

Jim K
October 19, 2013, 11:29 PM
Caution: If you should choose to buy a bolt shotgun (why?) make sure it has a working magazine. Do NOT count on buying the gun cheap and then finding a magazine. Original mags are long gone (many were lost or bent up trying to "fix" them). The repros available cost $30-50 and are not very reliable.

So a bolt action shotgun without the original working magazine might not be as good a buy as it appears to be.


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