There are two challenges to finding a great shotgun -- fit and suitability.
The shotguns section of Shotgun Life is dedicated to helping you recognize the perfect shotgun (that you’ll want to keep for the rest of your life, and then hand down to your family for generations to come.)
For some people, finding a great shotgun is simply love at first sight. For others, a great shotgun grows on them -- and they find themselves down in the basement cleaning it for absolutely no other reason than just to be in its company.
But for every shotgun owner who falls in love with their pride-and-joy, there are teams of engineers and craftsmen toiling away behind the scenes to bring your gun to fruition.
As you’ll see, shotguns are generally designed for a particular sport. Some shotguns have composite stocks and fore-ends to withstand the travails of duck hunting. Then there are single-shot trap guns with high ribs that help you intercept rising targets. And skeet shooters find that their beavertail fore-end is particularly adept at bringing about a smooth, quick swing.
So let the search begin. Here is what you’ll find in our shotgun section…
In the world of double shotguns, there are two main types: Extractor and Ejector. There are pros and cons to each, but both have their place and can provide their own advantages in the field. So which one is best for you?
At 80 years old, it was no secret that David McKay Brown was ready to retire from his eponymous gunmaking company famous for its gorgeous round-action triggerplate shotguns and rifles. Certainly, there were tremors through the UK and Scotland that this Scottish treasure would end up in foreign hands.
In January 2021, Mossberg International decided to add affordable break-open shotguns to their portfolio of black and camo pump and semi-autos by announcing a decidedly attractive line of shotguns in distinctive Silver Reserve and Gold Reserve Sporting models.
Maybe you’ve noticed that shotguns made by the Yildiz Shotgun Company of Turkey have been showing up in greater numbers at American shooting clubs and hunting fields for over the past decade. Yildiz’s growing popularity should come as no surprise. The shotguns generally retail for $400 to $700, bolstered by a reputation for reliability.
I’ll admit it, sometimes I like to wander around the woods, put some miles under my boots, wear the dogs down `til their tongues are dragging and have a game bag full of the daily limit of upland birds enough to make my back ache. But those “sometimes” are becoming fewer and fewer as having children became a game changer.
As is often the case with a significant “first” in anyone’s life I can clearly remember my first interview at James Purdey & Sons.
I had taken my school exams back in the summer and the task of choosing a career had begun. My parents had arranged my very first ever job interview a week before the Christmas of 1969 with Mr. Chris Gadsby, Factory Manager at James Purdey & Sons Best London Gunmakers.
In 2009, my favorite shotgun dealer at the time had talked me into buying a beautiful 12-gauge sporter with 34-inch barrels – a big stretch from the 30-inch clays guns that had become my standard bearer. I distinctly remember him saying “Everyone is moving to longer barrels.” Within months, I still couldn’t master the gun and actually felt self-conscious seeing it tower over other clays guns with barrels that hovered around 30 inches. End of story is that I traded it back to him in a deal for a 12-gauge semi-auto.
Instinctive shooting is perfection in motion for the upland hunter. Hard focus on the flushed bird, an unwavering swing of your shotgun, and upon feeling the stock touch your cheek pull the trigger to experience the instant gratification of your downed quarry. In the end, instinctive refers to your innate ability to subconsciously calculate the forward allowance and essentially rely on the pull-trigger signal from your eyes without your mind performing the mathematical gymnastics that would normally muck up the shot.
Find any group of shooting men and women around a table and often the conversation will include “Chokes” and the vagaries of the mystic powers of choke.
The term “choke” applies to the inner bore diameter around the muzzle, which is generally smaller than the diameter at the breech. The difference in the diameters is typically measured in thousandths of an inch – ranging from 0.005 of an inch up to 0.040 of an inch.
Over our dinner at a private quail plantation in South Georgia, I talked with Arthur S. DeMoulas, the American owner of London best-gun maker Boss & Co., about the company’s gorgeous new 12-bore ambidextrous sidelever.
The new 12-bore sidelever over/under, called the “1812 Edition,” celebrates the company’s founding that year by Thomas Boss. It’s also a tip of the hat to Boss’s original sidelever side-by-sides popular with the Victorian gentry.
In American shotgun lore, the 16 gauge still possesses the sweet fragrance of nostalgia when, back in the day, upland hunting with a hardware store gun carried on the open range or along fence rows with your favorite dog produced explosive coveys.