I used the 870 as my first skeet gun. In time I was able to hit a few 25’s with it and it never jammed. I like the sound of a pump gun racking and hitting doubles with a pump has always given me pleasure.
Another advantage to the 870 was, unlike people with snooty guns, I did not have to worry about dinging the wood or shooting in the rain and snow. The synthetic stock had its share of battle scars and a little lite oil and a rag would take care of any rain or snow that landed on the gun.
But like most people who bring a hunting gun to a skeet field, eventually I wanted to “upgrade” to a gun designed to break clays.
But what to buy? Semi auto or over under? What length barrel? The 1100s have won more competitions than any other gun and everybody has one. The Brownings and Berettas are classic beauties.
I wanted a versatile gun that could be used in skeet, trap, five-stand and sporting clays. And yes, vanity drove me to want something with a little bling. When I say bling, I mean something a little prettier than a synthetic stock. I wanted real wood and something shiney.
Have you noticed that clubs tend to favor a particular gun manufacturer? Well my club is no different and for whatever reason, most people at my club shoot Berettas and I guess this influenced my decision.
After shooting everyone’s gun several times I decided that I wanted an over under. Although I loved the EELLs, especially the older ones with the heavier receivers, I settled on an entry-level Beretta 686 White Onyx.
Now, have I mentioned how much I love my wife? Well, in case I have not, here’s one of the many reasons why I love that woman:
We went to Kittery Trading Post in Maine to buy my gun. We got there and while oh-ing and ah-ing over the high-end Berettas I came across a 687 Silver Pigeon II that was a few hundred dollars more the White Onyx. The gun had a 29½ in barrel and a stock and forend made of actual wood. This gun was clearly a step up from what I had intended to get.
While shouldering it for the 100th time, I heard my wife say:
“I think you should get that one.”
I turned to her and said: “What?”
“Yeah, that one. It’s something you are going to use a lot and so you might as well get the one you want. It makes no sense to buy the cheaper gun and then in a year or two go back and buy the more expensive one.”
Yes, I married well.
I shot that gun for over ten years. Every year I'd send it to Cole Gunsmithing in Harpswell, Maine and Rich Cole would change the firing pins and springs and give it a good cleaning. None of which had to be done, I did it because I'm a little compulsive and because I felt that the gun served me well and it deserved a little pampering.
About a year ago I bought a Beretta Urika II that I use exclusively for sporting clays – but that's another story.
By the way, I still have the 870. A few times a year our club or other clubs in the area will have “pump only” competitions. After a fresh shower, a complete drying and wipe down with oil, it’s ready to take on whatever target comes its way.
Ken is a technical writer and has spent the majority of his career documenting storage hardware and software products for start-up companies. Although start-ups demand long hours, he always finds time to get to the club and break some clays. Ken is not a shooting instructor and he is not a professional shooter. He’s part of the majority of people who love to shoot clays just for the sheer fun of it.