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Good starter shotgun for sporting clays?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by tuj, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. tuj

    tuj Well-Known Member

    Hi fellow shooters!

    I just recently got invited to a sporting clays tournament. I've never shot skeet before and don't own a shotgun, but I'd like to give it a try. Not looking to spend a ton since I don't know if I'll like it or not.

    A bonus would be a gun that could be used for HD as well, but primarily focused on getting a decent gun for skeet. So I'd consider an OU, autoloader, or even a pump.

    Thoughts? I'll buy new or used.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Don't confuse Sporting Clays with Skeet.
    Two different games.

    You can start with a basic pump shotgun like a Remington 870 Wingmaster with a 28" vent rib barrel and learn to do well at Sporting Clays with it.

    You can buy a short HD barrel as a spare and change them in about half a minute.


    IMO: You probably don't want an O/U for HD as it isn't safe to leave it setting around loaded.
    You can leave a pump or auto with the magazine loaded and chamber empty and make it ready as you grab it up.

  3. tuj

    tuj Well-Known Member

    Cool thanks for the info; I was under the impression sporting clays and skeet were the same game. I'll look at the 870.

    Do you need a choke to do well at sporting clays?
  4. Teachu2

    Teachu2 Well-Known Member

    For an inexpensive first shotgun, you'd be hard pressed to beat the value of a Mossberg 500 combo pump. These usually have a 28" vent rib barrel and a 18.5" plain barrel. Often in the $300 range new.

    Next step up, to me, is a Beretta 3901 semi-auto. About $700 new. Available with 26" and 28" VR barrels with choke tubes. Great all-around shotgun.

    Ask around - maybe you can borrow a gun!
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

  6. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Pump guns are typically poor choices for games with doubles, that would be skeet, sporting clays, FITASC, bunker, box pigeons, etc.
    Better to go with a good semi versus a cheap over under
  7. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Well-Known Member

    Many sporting clays facilities offer guns for rent. I would check on that before shelling out the money to buy a gun. Better yet, team up with one or two other shooters, rent different guns and swap them around. If the club allows it of course.
  8. kbbailey

    kbbailey Well-Known Member

    Your best bet imho is to borrow a 'real' sporting clays gun to shoot. Because you're gonna like it. What's not to like??
  9. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Well-Known Member

    Makes sense! Why invest money into something you might not like. Plus you don`t know much about the sport.
  10. bodam

    bodam Well-Known Member

    Don't buy a pump for clays. I just got into clay shooting myself and got some help in buying my first clays gun.

    The basics are either an o/u or semi that is set up for clays. Do not make the mistake of thinking that any shotgun is set up for a clays gun. Sure, you can shoot anything, but a true clays gun, is set up a little differently.

    The basics that were told to me were that you MUST shoulder the gun to see the fit. The gun should be level with your eye when you shoulder it each time. If it is not, move on the to the next gun, that one does not fit you. You shouldn't have to make adjustments to get the rib level when you sight it. If you have to do that, you miss one of the clays.

    I ended up buying a Browning Citori. I wanted the Beretta silver pigeon, but it just didn't fit me as well.

    And make sure it is a clays gun, not sporting or skeet. Extended choke tubes make it easier to change, but when you are starting out, you probably won't mess with them much. I know I don't. But they look cool, so I had to buy a set.

    Of course this all depends on your budget. I got gun, case and chokes out the door for $1,700
  11. UnderTheGun

    UnderTheGun Active Member

    I shot my first rounds of skeet with an 870. Did pretty well and think it's a great way to start out for a good price. After that I bought a Beretta A400 since a buddy takes me duck hunting several times a month.

    Where and when are you going to shoot? I'm planning to go to Am Shooting Center this Saturday with a buddy from work (sporting clays). If we go, you are welcome to join us. I'll bring my 870 for you to try and you can shoot the Beretta as well if you'd like.
  12. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    This doesn't really make much sense - both sporting clays and skeet ARE clay games - the others being trap, international skeet, international trap (aka "bunker") FITASC and Helice

    What makes better sense is that you want a target gun and not a field gun - the stock dimensions tend to be different, the field guns weigh about 1 pound less (means more recoil) and a field gun may have some obnoxious features like an automatic safety - nothing like hearing "lost bird" because you forgot to take the safety off before calling for the bird.... ;)
  13. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Well-Known Member

    As a beginner, just about any shotgun will do just fine. Figure out after a year or so if you really like the sport before investing in something that is expensive or a more specalized firearm. Personally I started with a Mossberg pump becuase that is what I owned and it had two barrels (one for HD and one for birds/clay). The Remington 870s are fine as well. I have seen plenty of folks who do just fine with a pump and a fixed choke barrel on a pump. If you take some shotgun training, you will learn that you can rack the pump about just as fast as it takes for the muzzel to drop from recoil of the first shot.

    Also, the local places where I go, we often do just a single bird in the air (it's easier and we still miss enough where we don't need to make it harder by having two birds in the air at the same time) so in this case, a pump is also just fine.
  14. Hapworth

    Hapworth Well-Known Member

    I echo the 870 suggestions since you are starting out. It's a small investment to determine if you like clay games, and a fine piece to use if you do like them but only casually.

    The ability for the 870 to do double-duty as HD with an easy barrel swap is the main selling point, to me. And the clays get you better at racking the shotgun under pressure and gaining quick target acquisition than the range does, so it's fun and useful, too.
  15. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    For a beginner....most any pump gun, with a 26" or 28" barrel and changeable screw in chokes is ok, to go out and get some experience with - in a 12ga or a 20ga...

    Long term - for sporting clays or Skeet...no, a pump gun is not your best option...

    An 870 is fine / although I prefer the Browning BPS Hunter model - as a better long term alternative / and new in my area they're under $ 600.


    I like the BPS for a number of reasons...its a smoother action, it ejects out of the bottom, safety is on top of the tang - easy to reach even with light gloves on...and its cast neutral ( so ok for lefties or right handed shooters).
    Personally, I use the same gun for Skeet, Sporting Clays and for hunting upland birds....so I like an O/U at about 8 1/2 lbs and 30" barrels ( my choice is a Citori XS Skeet model with the adj comb / for Trap specifically, I go to a longer and heavier gun - an O/U with 32" barrels and around 10lbs....but "Trap" gun(Citori XT Trap is the gun I like) but it is too clumsy for the faster games of Skeet or Sporting clays .


    but that gun is a $3,000 gun these days ...and while it will fit 99.9% of the shooters, which is critical on shotguns ...and its a gun that you'll have for 3 generations...don't go down that path yet until you find out if you like these games.
    A semi-auto is fine....guns like a Browning Silver hunter, maybe a used Browning gold semi-auto in 12ga, some of the Beretta models....or the gun I prefer, if I want to shoot a semi-auto is the Benelli Super Sport..but again you're into about $ 1,900..../ or maybe the Vinchi model....


    but there are a lot of used guns out there..../ ask your buddies if you can borrow a gun from one of them.....shoot a few hundred targets before you buy a gun / maybe rent a gun ..../ most of us that shoot these games, have lots of guns. In a sporting clays tournament ...sometimes there are 2 shooting stations for one station ....but in general, its not a problem for 2 guys to shoot one gun. Just buy your buddy a few boxes of shells ...and have some fun.
  16. Deer_Freak

    Deer_Freak Member.

    I would look at a Mossberg 500 combo. If you must buy a gun to shoot sporting clays one time. Personally I would borrow a gun. For just one day 2 men can shoot the same gun. I shot skeet and sporting clays both for the first year or so with a pump. I ended up shooting skeet at a very high level with a pump. There is no need to spend $1200 on a nice citori to let it gather dust for the next 20 years. I do own a citori now but I knew I was going to be shooting skeet/sporting clays for the rest of my days.

    Don't listen to the naysayers that say you can't shoot doubles with a pump. A friend I shoot with quite often can throw six skeet in the air and bust them all before they hit the ground with a maverick 88. Either you have the gift or you don't. Some people buy guns trying to give themselves the gift but it aint happening. Having the proper choke for the course is more important than a fancy gun.
  17. bodam

    bodam Well-Known Member

    OP, American Shooting Center does rent guns.
  18. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    In shotguns ....there are guys that have talent....but its more about whether a gun "Fits" you or not....

    because with a shotgun - your eye is the rear sight....so if a gun "Fits" you - then its Point of Impact - is where you look. If it doesn't "Fit" you --- the POI maybe be off a foot or more - high, low, or left or right....at 21 yds...let alone at 40 yds...

    and if you look at shotguns - they all have different specs for drop at comb, drop at heel, and length of pull ...and while experienced shooters will know exactly what stock dimensions it take to "fit" them ...a lot of shooters, go thru a lot of guns before they get this figured out...

    If you get serious about shooting clays...10 boxes a week or so / or where you're shooting 12,000 or more shells a year....then durabilty of the gun becomes an issue as well..../ some O/U's like the target grade Browning Citori's will easily last 500,000 to a million shells.../ and a lot of the less expensive O/U's out there ...won't come anywhere close to 100,000 shells...

    picking a gun isn't about nice wood....its about what "Fits" ...and good steel - and good internal parts..../ but none of this matters to a new shooter...

    Another point...for someone to say, buy a Citori ...is not telling you anything valuable ...there are 36 models of the Citori today ...( and while I own about a dozen Citori's --- only 3 or 4 of the 36 current models fit me personally .../ a gun like the 625 or 725 series, nice guns, but they do not fit me - will beat the daylights out of me because they have too much drop at comb and heel...and its not just because I'm 6'5" and 290 lbs...its about the dimensions from the shoulder to your face...and 1/4" is a big difference...


    Parallel comb shotguns ....like the Citori XS Skeet models, XT Trap model or the XS Special ....are the only models that have parallel combs...not that any gun - with a comb pad, maybe an adjustable jones pad on the recoil pad...won't work to adjust it so I can shoot it ....but the XS Skeet models, right out of the box will fit me.

    Because they're parallel combs....vs angled combs....it means if I shoot in a T shirt in summer....or a sweater, wind breaker, and vest in winter...even thought the thickness of my clothes causes my face to move up or back on the comb maybe 1/2" ...my point of impact, on a parallel comb gun, will not change. On an angled comb gun ...it'll change big time....

    Grade 1 stocks ( very plain ) vs grade IV stocks (some nice burl in them ) will certainly affect the price...but picking a "Citori" is about knowing which of the Citori models will fit you ....and if a Citori fits you ....then its likely none of the Berettas will fit you - or vice versa....they're subtly very different ...and they feel way different to an experienced shooter.

    The response that said the guy with the Maverick can hit 6 targets in the air at once...means the Maverick fits that guy ..../ but I know the gun, and I'd be lucky to hit a broad butt bull - in the rear end at 15 yds with that gun...it doesn't mean its a bad gun / its a bad gun for me ! But at the same time, if you think that Maverick is going to hold up thru 100,000 shells ...?? I'd be real suspicious - maybe it will, but I'm betting not...

    Shotguns 11-10-08 001.jpg
    My XS Skeet models ( a 12ga, 20ga, 28ga and a .410 ) ....all of them, when this photo was taken are well over 250,000 shells ...the 12ga is well over 500,000 shells....

    Shotguns  Browning XT's  017.jpg
    a pair of my Citori XT Trap guns...one with a GraCoil system on it ...and I don't shoot much Trap ( I find it boring ) ....but both of these guns are well over 100,000 shells...
  19. kbbailey

    kbbailey Well-Known Member

    ....hey that's my game. I guess you must have a .98- .99 average then??
  20. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    Yes, I find Trap singles pretty boring....and I don't shoot Registered targets anymore...but my average ( 16 yds singles ) is only in the mid 90's ( 95 - 96 )..../ I'm not pretending to be a Trap shooter....or any kind of a big time shooter.../ I'm just a recreational shooter...shooting about 8 - 10 boxes a week is all..( but I don't shoot in the heavy weather either anymore ).

    but to each his own..../ I'd much rather shoot Skeet or Sporting Clays.../ and in Skeet - most of the time, I shoot a 28ga ( cheaper to reload / just as effective ) ....but my scores in skeet are about the same ( 95 - 96 avg )...its rare anymore ( 3 or 4 times a yr is all ) when I run a clean round and break 100 straight.

    Bad eyes have finally caught up to me....I'll leave the 98's + avg to you young studs...:D
    I might start shooting a little more Continental Trap ...or Bunker Trap ....for something different.../ but again, just for fun.

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