Oldie but goodie…
I am looking to purchase my first shotgun. I am interested in shooting trap mainly, but want a gun that would also be applicable for skeet. I have been shooting a friends Premier 1187 12 gauge w/ Monte Carlo stock but recently moved away and need to purchase my own. In hopes of getting some sound advice, I visited several gun shops in town. To my disappointment, I am more confused now then ever.
What type of shotgun would you recommend to someone just starting out in the sport? I am looking for something that I can learn with, but also something that I can grow into as my skill improves. I live in Las Vegas, so we have mild winters. I don’t need something that is applicable for shooting in cold weather. I intend on shooting three times a week, so I need something durable enough to handle 100 to 200 rounds per week. I do have a problem with fit on guns with long stocks, as I am only 5′ 7″. I can afford to spend around 1,500 dollars for a shotgun.
I hope that I provided enough information for you to suggest a gun for my needs. Unfortunately, I know very little regarding guns. I hope to learn from the members of the gun club I plan on joining. I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you and have a great day.
Here’s the deal. Trap is the ONE clay game that really doesn’t have too much in common with any of the other shotgun games (sporting clays, skeet or hunting). A gun that is optimally set up for trap is often only suitable for trap. To that extent, trap is like a dead-end alley. Also, the talents you learn at trap don’t really translate to the other shotgun sports very well.
That’s not necessarily a knock on trap. I’m just telling you how it is. The movements at trap are small and subtle unlike the broader movements and greater lateral leads of every other clays game. The trap target is always a going-away bird on the rise. It is never falling. Most trap guns are built to shoot high to build in that little amount of vertical lead. The trap gun is shot pre-mounted, so it can be grossly out of balance and still work well (as can the skeet gun, but not the sporting clays or field gun).
Because trap is a unique sport, it requires a unique gun. That’s the problem. You want to shoot “mostly trap, but some skeet”. That’s like saying that you want a hammer to drive brads and yet also the occasional railroad spike. Well, it’s not that bad, but you get the idea.
If I were you, and since Las Vegas is mostly a trap town, I’d start out by getting a decent trap gun pure and simple. Some people shoot trap guns quite well at skeet, others don’t. But everyone shoots trap guns well at trap. I shoot trap guns for ALL my clay sports, but I am happy shooting ATA with a slightly lower stocked gun that requires that I cover the target. I don’t think that this is exactly ideal for ATA-style trap, but it is a good compromise for what I do which includes a much higher percentage of wobble trap and sporting.
Of the current crop of guns around $1500, I think that the best deal for a beginning trap shooter would be a new Beretta A400 gas operated semi-auto trap gun with a 30″ barrel for a man your size. A used Remington 1100 or 11-87 trap model (used $900~$1000) would also be perfectly serviceable, though the Beretta will have a shim adjustable stock and will be slightly more reliable from the parts breakage point of view. In the old days, the standard solution to the trap/skeet gun was to get a Remington Trap gun with the conventional trap stock and 30″ bbl plus an extra 26″ skeet barrel. That’s still not a bad way to go (even with the ribs being different), though I think that the one 30″ A400 will do you for both.
And then there is the obvious- since you are joining a gun club, you will have a built-in source of “expertise”. Most guys will happily let you shoot their gun for a round or two. At least they will show the gun to you and tell you how wonderful it is. You are going to be inundated with free advice. Some of it might actually be good. Take a good look at the guns in your price range that are the most popular among the members.
Trust the Technoid on one thing: the first gun you buy won’t be your last. If you get a gun that is 100% perfect for trap and make whatever compromises you have to for skeet, you will always have a good trap gun. And you may surprise yourself at skeet. All trap shooters can shoot 100×100 at skeet- blind folded. But you’ll learn about that. Just ask someone at the trap club.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)