I have found your site to be great resource – thank you.
I am new to skeet and shotgun sports and am looking to purchase my first shotgun. I would like to purchase the most versatile gun which will shoot well on the skeet range and also be suitable for hunting upland birds. I have recently narrowed my purchase options to the new Browning Gold Fusion 12 gauge and the Remington 11-87. Do you have any comments on both of these guns, especially with respect to concerns that exist over the 11-87 jamming with lighter loads? I did notice that the Remington Sporting Clay that I shot dribbled the ejected the shells by me feet. I am not sure if this would occur with the 11-87 Premier as well.
I have gotten this question before and it’s one of the few things in life I haven’t changed my mind about a couple of times. It’s always hard to say, “Gun X is better than gun Y”. If a guy already owns gun Y, it’s like telling him is kid is ugly or his dog won’t hunt. No good can come from it. Invariably the proud owner of Y gun will tell me that his gun has never malfunction in 100,000 rounds and that it shoots under water and around corners. But here goes anyway…
Of the two gas guns you mention, my favorite is the Beretta 391. Ok, you didn’t mention that one, but it is the best of the lot. It’s the ONLY one of the three that will handle all loads from 7/8 oz 2-3/4″ shells up to any 3″ magnum made. It’s also more reliable than the others as to parts breakage. In the 391, I prefer the heavier 391 sporting clays model to the lighter field model if you are going to be doing mostly clays. If it’s mostly hunting, I’d go the other way. The mechanics are the same, but the target gun weighs a little more and has a wider rib. Also, depending on the model, the stock may differ.
My next pick would be the Browning Fusion. I like the feel of the gun much better than the standard Browning Gold. The Fusion is more of a field weight than a target weight gun. The Browning autos had some trouble breaking firing pins, but I don’t hear much about it now. I also note that the Gold Sporter model comes with a 2-3/4″ chamber and a “heavy” and a “light” gas piston for heavy and light loads. All the field guns, like the Fusion, come with 3″ chambers. Making the dedicated clay model have a 2-3/4″ chamber and two gas pistons indicates that their 3″ models don’t reliably function all target shells. Otherwise why do it? The Beretta 391 comes in the same 3″ chamber for all field and clays models because their “shoots everything” gas system actually works. Browning doesn’t offer skeet or trap versions of the Gold. Just sporting.
My last pick would be the Remington. The Remington 11-87 comes with a 3″ chamber, but has also had some trouble functioning with light target loads as you noticed. It will help if you shoot the gun dripping wet with BreakFree CLP. Remington sells their 1100 series target models without the secondary gas valve feature and only 2-3/4″ chambers. If their 3″ worked with all shells, they wouldn’t have to. But it doesn’t. The Remingtons will prove to have the most parts breakage of the three guns. I owned six 1100s and shot four of them to bits. They were nice shooting guns, but didn’t hold up even remotely as well as the Berettas when shot a great deal. They also have to be cleaned far more often in order to function.
I don’t know which gun is the most popular for upland hunting, but for clay target shooting the Beretta 391 is far, far more popular than either of the other two. They hold up better and they give less trouble. That said, I think that the Browning and Remingtons shoot a little softer than the Beretta. Not much, but a little. The Beretta has a shim adjustable stock which Browning has now copied. Remington doesn’t have it.
Although I personally shoot Beretta gas guns (303 models), I’m not a foaming, ranting Beretta fan. It’s just that I’ve learned that right now, at this point in time, they make the best and most reliable gas gun for my purposes. So that’s what I recommend until someone comes up with something different. I use my gas guns exclusively for clay targets. If you will use yours mostly for upland hunting, gun feel and gun weight become more important than absolute durability and the ability to shoot light loads. “Feel” in a hunting gun is extremely important, so I’d let that play a major part in your decision. You’ll never shoot enough while hunting to wear any of the three out. But you will be carrying that gun a lot and you will have to shoot it quickly. Feel, balance and weight is key. In clay shooting, reliability plays a bigger part.
Bottom line: if reliability with any shell is a key factor, my order of preference is Beretta, Browning, Remington. If field handling is more important, then it’s up to you.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)