The most useful weapon you’ll ever own is a shotgun. Shotguns do not magically hit every target, and their recoil is not (or does not necessarily have to be) so violent that it will knock you off your feet, unlike what you may see on television. Even so, not every shotgun is equally appropriate for every shooter or circumstance. You’ll be prepared to select a shotgun that will work when necessary and be comfortable to fire with a little research and planning.
The big, smooth bore of a shotgun, which enables it to shoot a variety of various payloads, is essential to its adaptability. Depending on the range and type of target you are shooting at, shotshells may contain a single, huge slug or many (500+) smaller pellets that are intended to be delivered in a small pattern or a broader spread. Shotguns, like anything else, can be a little addictive. You may desire a range of characteristics when purchasing your first shotgun so that it can be utilized effectively for self-defense, hunting, and target shooting. Similarly, if you are interested in a shotgun for a certain use, you should take care to choose a model that is especially appropriate for that use. Here is a road map to set you on the proper course.
What To Consider When Choosing the Best Shotgun
When shopping for a new shotgun, there are several factors to consider. The following section will outline those considerations and help you find the best shotgun for your needs.
Before deciding on which model is right for you, think about how you intend to use it and what features would be helpful.
- Long-range shooting: For long-range shots, a pump action or semi-automatic shotgun with a large barrel (12+ inches) and an extended magazine (20+ rounds) might work. These guns have longer barrels than standard shotguns, allowing them to shoot farther while also packing more shells into each firing session.
- Short-range shooting: If you want to keep things close to home, a traditional single shot shotgun may work better. They’re smaller, lighter, and less powerful than semi-auto/pump action models, but they can still put plenty of pellets in a small area.
The majority of shotguns sold today are made from steel alloys because metal is strong and lightweight. However, some wooden handles (particularly ash) and plastic parts (such as the butt plate) do make their way into many modern day shotguns. While these materials don’t detract from the quality of the gun itself, they can affect its weight and balance. A heavy or cumbersome firearm won’t necessarily result in a good game hunt, but it could cause unnecessary fatigue.
A shotgun’s barrel determines its power and range; larger barrels mean greater power and distance. Most manufacturers measure shotgun barrels in inches, though some round up and some down. Regardless of measurement method, a 12-inch barrel means a much bigger gun than one with a 10-inch barrel. In general, a 14-inch barrel is considered optimal since it allows the shooter to maintain control at both short and long ranges. Some high-end competition models feature 16-inch barrels, though these guns tend to be very expensive.
If a gun feels comfortable in your hand, then it should weigh something. Even if you manage to get away without holding the trigger down, having a full swing with a fully loaded gun can tire out your arm. Weighted triggers and hammers add stability and improve grip comfort. However, weight isn’t always necessary. Lightweight polymer pistols fit comfortably in hands that aren’t fatigued, and they don’t require swinging a heavy piece of iron around. On the other end of the spectrum, a double barreled shotgun can weigh 30 pounds or more and that’s before adding any ammo.
How far you plan to carry your shotgun depends on where you’ll be using it and whether you prefer a light or a heavy weapon.
- Light length: This includes most common 12-gauge shotguns, such as the popular Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 series. They typically weigh between 3 and 4 lbs., stand between 15 and 18 inches tall, and usually have a 26-inch overall length.
- Heavy length: While not as common, there are also heavier 12-gauge shotguns that exceed 5 lbs., stand over 28 inches tall, and have a 34-inch overall length.
Whether your grip is wet or dry makes little difference when your palms start burning after only a few minutes of pumping a shotgun. Dry grips, especially those made from wood, feel like sandpaper against your skin, while rubberized areas provide a sure hold even in water. Fortunately, there are plenty of synthetic options nowadays, including molded ergonomic shapes that conform to your individual hand size and shape. Whether your hands are large or small, fat or thin, has no bearing on the effectiveness of a good grip.
As mentioned earlier, pumpskins contain toxic chemicals that can irritate skin and lungs. To avoid this issue, look for products labeled organic or eco-friendly. These terms refer to the fact that the chemical composition of organic cotton and soybean fibers doesn’t leach into the environment during wear. Another important safety consideration is the design of the trigger guard. Many shotgun triggers have a button that requires pressing before pulling the trigger. This prevents accidental activation when the gun is stored or being cleaned.
Types Of Shotguns
Shotguns are designed for a range of applications, and the same goes for shotguns. Before you pull the trigger on your next purchase, make sure the gun you want fits the type of shooting you plan to do.
A single-bore shotgun is any firearm with one barrel that fires in succession without reloading. This kind of shotgun has been around as long as there have been hunters who needed something fast to respond to game animals such as quail or pheasants that were running away from them. These guns typically have shorter barrels than other kinds of shotguns so they can be held more easily while being fired quickly.
The lack of an extended stock makes these firearms easier to carry and use when walking through rough terrain because it keeps your center of gravity low compared to other shotguns. Single-bore shotguns also tend to have lighter bodies due to not having a need for extra weight in order to stabilize the weapon during firing.
A double-bore shotgun is any firearm with two barrels that fire simultaneously without reloading. This kind of shotgun has become increasingly popular over the years since its introduction. It’s used by individuals who enjoy target practice as well as those who hunt big game like deer or turkey. The benefit of this design is increased firepower at the expense of carrying an additional round of ammunition.
This kind of shotgun tends to be larger and heavier due to the addition of a second barrel. However, if you weigh your pack before heading out into the field, you may be able to accommodate both the gear and the ammo.
A quadruple-bore shotgun is any firearm with four barrels that fire simultaneously without reloading. This kind of shotgun has been around for ages but recently started making waves again. It’s used by people who enjoy target practice as well as those who hunt big game like deer or turkey. The benefit of this design is increased firepower at the expense of carrying an additional round of ammunition.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
We started by looking through Amazon, many professional periodicals, and other online merchants to find products that had the highest ratings and were the most sought after. We restricted our search to only include shotguns that had been bought or shipped from a reliable retailer (not one of the many drop shippers who will sell you a used shotgun at a discount).
The following step was to reduce the number of options by sorting them in descending order of price. Because the topic at hand is a hunting shotgun, we limited our selection to only those models that fell within a price range that would allow a hunter to buy them brand new.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shotguns
What is the difference between a shotgun and rifle?
The main difference between the two is simply how many rounds are in your magazine, not counting any ammunition you carry. With most rifles, you can only carry five or less rounds in your magazine at one time.
How do I mount a shotgun to my wall?
Depending on the type of mounting hardware used, either screw it into a plate mounted onto the floor or bolt it directly to the ground. Make sure you have an adequate support structure in place before doing so as this could be dangerous if you fall while trying to draw a fire mission.
Can you use a shotgun with gloves on?
Yes, some shotguns are specifically designed for use with gloves. However, most require you to remove them before shooting, meaning that standard gun cleaning protocols must be followed to keep your weapon ready for action at all times.