Q. I have recently received my Shotgun certificate and I am looking at buying my first gun. I will mainly be shooting at my local sporting clay club but may want to do a bit of rough shooting. I am quite tall and a bit overweight with a budget of £1000-£1500 but obviously, the cheaper the better. Have you any suggestions which gun I should look at as a first gun?
Vince Playfoot, York
A. Thanks for your question. Let me start by saying that with a budget of £1000-£1500 there is no need to look at the cheaper budget end of the market as a “first gun”. As with buying a cheaper second hand car, budget guns are cheap for a reason; they are not as well made and will cause you a lot of problems and expense if they need repairing. It costs more to fit new mainsprings or a new ejector to a cheaper model as they usually do not have the back up of a good importer. Some of the parts will have to be made from bar metal, rather than obtained part machined and supplied by the importer.
For instance, an ejector supplied by the importer partly machined ready for your gunsmith to fit and finish may cost approx £80, and should be completed very quickly so that you can go out shooting again. The same part for another gun for which there are no spares available would have to be cut from bar metal and may cost as much as £250 due to the additional time and machining required.
You also mention that you are above average size, and this will mean any gun you buy will require work carried out to make it fit properly. It is not worth carrying out this work to a lesser make as the gun will probably be un-shootable in a relatively short period of time and any money spent on fitting will be wasted. You may also decrease the value of the gun as it has been made for your size and is therefore not suitable for the average shooter. Cheap, poorly made guns can cost and lose you a great deal of money in a very short time.
With your suggested budget, I would suggest you look at either the makers Beretta, Browning or Miroku. Your budget would allow you to buy a very good second hand example of any of these guns, which will, if looked after, last you the rest of your life if you decide to keep it, or still hold a good value if you want to upgrade later on. The actions of these guns are pretty well indestructible, even if neglected a bit, with a full range of spares from excellent importers. Due to your size, I would suggest you contemplate at least a 30” barrel model, but most good retailers will arrange for you to try before you buy.
I hope this has been of some help, and once again, thanks for your question.