What Shotgun For Trap, Skeet and Sporting?


Hi Bruce,

I would like to start shooting trap, skeet and sporting clays and possibly down the road some bird hunting. I’m 49 and have only shot trap and skeet a few times with a friend and his father (that was an avid hunter) over 20 years ago. I remember it was a lot of fun. My question is I’m not sure what type of gun to purchase, I have been looking at the Citori’s but I don’t know which one would be best for me, sporting, trap , field, skeet, feather. I’m not as concerned about the gauge because I can change the barrels. Since I would like to do a little of everything and don’t want to buy five shotguns what do you think would be the best all around gun? My budget is around $2500.

Thanks,

Darryl
Dear Darryl,

Considering your budget and the fact that you want a “do everything” gun, I’d take a long look at the Beretta A400 Xcel semi-auto Sporter model with a 28″ barrel for MSRP $1,745 (2014 prices).

I like the auto for a number of reasons. You haven’t been shooting for a while and I’ve always felt that autos were a little easier to shoot than O/Us. The gas operated autos definitely kick less than fixed barrel guns or recoil operated autos. Less recoil is always a good thing. It means that you can always select the most ballistically effective shell without any consideration of recoil.

The Beretta autos are clearly the auto of choice in sporting clays and are at the top or near it in trap and skeet. The preceding model 391 sporter has been tremendously popular and would be an excellent choice in a used gun or as a discontinued model. The A400 is doing well, but it is still a bit new to have everything ironed out.

The autos have a couple of big advantages for a multi discipline shooter. It is very easy to alter the balance of an auto, compared to an O/U. You can buy front and back weight sets to make it balance any way you want. Also the Beretta autos have shim adjustable stocks so you can make the gun fit you any way you want. Even an O/U with an extra cost adjustable comb, can’t make the same adjustments, especially considering cast at face and shoulder.

I like the 28″ barrel because a 28″ barrel on an auto is equivalent to about a 31.5″ O/U due to the longer auto receiver. 30″ is very popular in the autos so it is a personal choice. But 30″ gives you the equivalent of a 33.5″ O/U and that would be a handful at skeet and definitely in the field.

And I would strongly recommend that you start with a 12 gauge gun.

Naturally, there are all sorts of alternatives to the choice of one gun for everything. What I’ve written is just one guy’s opinion. Ask around and come to your own conclusion. If possible, borrow some guns from your friends at the local gun club.

And don’t agonize over the decision too much. You’ll learn to shoot anything that you get if it is your only gun. And whatever you buy surely won’t be your last gun. That’s for sure.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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5 Responses to What Shotgun For Trap, Skeet and Sporting?

  1. JLieu says:

    Great tips and recommendation Bruce!

    I was in a similar position. 30, wife got me a round of sporting clays for my birthday. Instantly got hooked! Next thing I know, I was buying a $1500 gun (A400 Xcel Sporting).

    Similar to the OP, I love sporting clays–it is what I’ve always went back to shoot since I bought the gun. Trap seems less challenging but I may try my hand at it and skeet down the road. My question is, for these purposes, why would you recommend the A400 Xcel Sporting over the A400 Xcel Parallel Target? Seemed like a lot more people recommend the Parallel Target version.

  2. Hank Beliveau says:

    What is the best shot size for trap?

  3. Bruce Buck says:

    Jon,

    The Beretta A400 Sporting is described on Beretta’s website at:
    http://www.berettausa.com/products/beretta-a400-xcel-sporting-12-ga-3-ko/

    Bruce

  4. jon bastable says:

    Hi Bruce: Looking at Beretta’s web site I don’t see the Xcel Sporter Semi Auto you mention in today’s message. Could it be listed in another way?

    Thanks!

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