After an immensely popular first section which covered the basics of handguns, the Proud Boy’s Guide to Building Your Arsenal is back. This time, Darrel Arnold is discussing shot guns. If you agree, let us know…and we’re sure you’ll let us know if you disagree.
Boy was there some hefty discussion on the last piece!
Shotguns are versatile weapons and can be used for home defense, and are popular in shooting sports such as Trap and Skeet. Shotguns are also excellent for bird and small game hunting. Nothing hones your ability to track and shoot a moving target like practicing skeet shooting and the same principles can be easily applied to rifles or handguns.
That’s not to mention the exhilaration you feel when watching a perfectly placed shotgun blast vaporize a clay target into a cloud of smoke or watching a game birds fall from the sky in a storm of feathers. Shotguns tend to have the most lenient legal restrictions (compared to handguns/rifles) and are cheap enough that you can pick up something very decent for a couple hundred dollars.
Let’s not get cute; if this is your first shotgun, you want a 12 gauge. It’s going to have the cheapest and easiest to find ammunition and while it’s not the largest gauge in existence, it still packs a mighty wallop.
Stopping power will rely heavily on the type of “shot” or pellets that are in the shotgun shell.
Like gauge – the lower the shot measure, the larger the pellets. For example: 7,8, and 9 shot are used commonly for small bird hunting while #00 (pronounced “double-aught”) is considered “buckshot” and is large enough to kill a deer or similar game [read: humans]. There are also “slugs” which are singular shotgun projectiles that do immense damage. Buckshot and slugs will be much more expensive than birdshot shells, but the idea is to practice with the cheaper shells and keep some slugs/#00 ready for home defense.
Unlike a handgun, the “action” of a shotgun does not refer to the trigger, but to the operating mechanism. The three main shotgun types are Pump-action, Break-action, and Semi-automatic (aka “autoloaders).
Pump-Action shotguns have become fairly prevalent in television and film; most people understand how the gun works without ever holding one. The forearm handle sits on a slide which must be “pumped” after each shot to eject the empty shell casing and then load a new shell.
What most newbs don’t realize is that despite scoring high on the “cool” factor, pump-actions shotguns are inferior in performance to semi-automatics in almost every, however there is also a drastic price difference.
The break-action shotgun is essentially a “double barrel” (referred to as either “over-under” or “side-by-side” depending on the position of the barrels) that opens at the midpoint of the gun and then a shell can be loaded into each barrel. While break-action double barrels are limited in shell capacity to the number of barrels, Pump-action and Semi-automatic shotguns usually hold 5-6; while some combat shotguns hold up to 8 shells.
When considering what type of shotgun to buy, your budget is again the primary driver. The next matter should be what you plan to do with it: do you want a hunting/sport shooting shotgun, or one that is more designed for home defense and urban combat? The final consideration is once again personal style and aesthetics.
For affordability, you really can’t beat Mossberg. Mossberg model 500 is a classic pump action shotgun that has a great value for the modest $300-500 price tag. The Mossberg 500 checks all the boxes with high capacity magazine (5 and 8) it can be extremely effective in urban combat and home defense situations. The Mossberg 500 or any pump-action shotgun can also be used for shooting sports and hunting, but there will be significant performance drawbacks compared to semi-automatics. If you want a Semi-automatic, you will be spending between $500-$800 for the cheapest options (Mossberg 930, Weatherby SA-08, Remington model 11-87). Most break-action double barrels are going to run over $700 but Stoeger makes a few models (Condor, Uplander, and Coach) starting in the $5-600 range.
For performance and best value, the semi-automatic is the best shotgun type. Semi-automatic shotguns are exceptional for hunting, shooting sports, and combat. You can find elite semi-auto options on the market in the $1,000-$2,500 range. The Winchester X3 Black Shadow (pictured) & Waterfoul models are the most basic tier and cost about a thousand bucks.
For around $1,300-$1,700 you could snag a Remington Model 1100 (pictured), a Benelli Super Black Eagle II, or my personal favorite: the Browning Auto-5.
Browning’s Masterpiece, the Auto-5
John Browning was a key figure in a technological revolution of firearm design. He was born in 1855, when Samuel Colt’s revolver was still in infancy, and rifles were still using black powder.
Browning’s father was a gunsmith in Utah, and taught John basic engineering and firearm manufacturing at age 7. Over his 70-year life, Browning was responsible for some of the most popular handguns, rifles, and shotguns ever made by the likes of Colt, Winchester, and Remington. His designs would serve in the hands of U.S. Military on the battlefield of every war since 1900.
Though Browning died in 1926, two decades later platoons of American troops in WWII would carry multiple Browning designs including: Colt 1911 Pistol, Winchester 1897 “Trench-gun”, Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), and both m1919 .30 Cal & m2 .50 Cal machine guns.
Browning was a master innovator, and much of his early success involved selling his designs outright to gun manufacturers. Although his 1911 pistol is one of top selling designs of all time, Browning did not own the patent and thus did not receive royalties. In 1900 Browning completed the design of his high capacity, semi-automatic Shotgun which was the first of its kind.
This time, Browning wanted a deal that included royalties. Browning was not able to reach a deal with Winchester or Remington, so he went overseas to Belgian FN-Herstal. To Browning’s expectation, the A-5 was incredibly successful both with U.S. Military and the general public.
Today, Browning Arms Company is owned by FN-Herstal, and they produce a modern version of the A-5’s for $1700 brand new. The old Belgian-made A-5’s are highly sought after and to this day are the one of the most popular shotguns sold on the secondary market.
There are thousands of FN-Herstal-made A-5’s available used, and they are incredibly reliable. A used A-5 in rough condition may be found for around $700-800 or you could find “like new” to “museum quality” A-5’s for between $1500-3000.
For when price is no object, Go with a break-action, “over and under” double barrel. These are the “fanciest” class of shotgun and offer top level performance for shooting sport but are obviously less effective for hunting, home defense, or combat situation with only 2 shots. This gun is more of a status symbol than any other. This is the kind of gun that you show off to people and as such you will probably be spending more than $2,500. You can find decent double barrel shotguns for less, but as mentioned before – in that price range you are better off with the semi-auto. The Browning Citori (pictured) and Benelli 828 are both gorgeous over-under shotguns starting at around $2,600.
At the other end of the spectrum you have premium models such as Baretta 686 which can be found between $3-5k; and the Baretta DT-11 (pictured) which cracks $8-10k (This is the model that Tony Soprano bought for his father in law’s 75th birthday).
Coming soon…. Rifles