This month the team at Clay Shooting Magazine offer their picks for the best semi-auto shotguns for clay shooting and more besides.
Over-and-unders dominate the clay scene in the UK, but there’s a growing number of semi-autos appearing on clay grounds – and for good reason. Semi-auto shotguns are light weight but tend to have low recoil, and we’re looking at the best semi-auto shotgun options here.
Less muzzle flip can allow you to get on target more quickly for a second shot, whether that’s a second barrel in DTL, or a quick sim pair at Sporting. Plus a semi-auto is versatile. If your shooting extends to decoying pigeons, wildfowling or pest control, it could be the ideal all-round gun. Here’s our pick of the best semi-auto shotguns, including some all-purpose guns and some specifically geared to clay competition.
If you use a semi-auto for clays, of course, remember to load no more than two shells into the gun, and make full use of a safety flag and gunslip between stands.
Beretta A400 Series
Beretta’s A400 series is first in our list of best semi-auto shotguns, and are some of the best semi-autos out there, highly regarded by wildfowlers and pigeon shooters. This is the Xcel Sport with its eyecatching blue receiver. The mechanism is fast and smooth, and can handle a huge range of loads, available with Beretta’s Kick-Off recoil reduction.
Browning invented the semi-auto, and their latest model, the Maxus, is a capable all-round semi-auto. The Sporting Black Carbon Fibre model, pictured, includes an aluminium action frame, tapered top rib, and a carbon fibre finish on the barrels, fore-end and stock, as well as the Invector Plus multichoke system, and handles as good as it looks. This gun offers excellent value for money – if you’re in the market for a semi-auto then this needs to be on your list for sure.
Prices from around £1,200
Benelli M2 Cerakote
The Benelli is renowned for toughness and durability. Another great all-rounder which is more than capable on the marsh or the clay ground. Pictured is the M2 model with hard wearing Cerakote finish, making it pretty much bombproof.
Unlike most of the semi-autos here, the Benelli uses a recoil-powered inertia system to eject the empty case and chamber the next round. This model also features the Comfortech recoil reduction system in the stock.
Prices from £1,645
Hatsan Escort Extreme Max
You’d be hard pressed to do better than the Hatsan Escort for value. This Turkish offering is versatile and well priced. It comes with a comprehensive three-year warranty on mechanical parts from the UK importer, Edgar Brothers. The Hatsan is a basic gun but will perform, and is robust and light to carry.
From around £500
Remington 1100 Sporter
This list would not be complete without a ‘Remmy’. The semi-auto 1100 has been around since the early 1980s. Its handling is second to none and the mechanics are as robust today as they were at the launch.
Pictured here is the 1100 Competition Synthetic, tuned for competition shooting, with adjustable comb and cast and a set of five interchangeable chokes.
A new offering from Breda in Italy, the 930i is designed for the modern clay shooter, with long forcing cones, an 18.6mm bore and maxi extended chokes.
It comes with blue or red detailing, features an adjustable stock with palm swell, and is proofed to take steel shot. Like the Benelli, this gun is operated by inertia rather than gas pressure, making it easier to clean.
Priced at £1,455
This is a Beretta semi-auto for those on a budget – and a very competent gun. Manufactured in Italy, it’s a great all-rounder with steel proofed multi-choke barrels, and a choice of stock materials including wood, black synthetic and camo.
Pictured is the A300 Outlander Silver, with a silver-nickel finished receiver and walnut stock and fore-end; giving the gun a smart modern look.
Prices from £1,075
Here’s one designed specifically for clay shooting; the Benelli Supersport. This has a modern design with slim lines, and features Benelli’s fast cycling inertia system.
The ComforTech recoil system and Tenhnogel pad combine to reduce felt recoil by up to 50 per cent! The gun comes with a 30in barrel, five extended chokes and a stepped carbon fibre rib. Pictured is a special UK edition.
Fabarm’s L4S is a dedicated clay gun that exhibits some Italian design flair. It’s a gas-operated semi-auto, with an unusual two-part piston of polymer and stainless steel underpinning what Fabarm call the ‘Pulse’ system, which can accommodate a wide variety of loads and also reduces the sensation of recoil.
It comes with five Exis HP extended chokes. Mike Yardley tested the L4S and commented that it’s a light, fast-handling gun that could do well as a serious competition claybuster. “Overall I was impressed with the spec, quality and design,” he wrote.
More shotgun round-ups from Clay Shooting Magazine
- Guns for lady shots
- Best clay guns for 2020 – Our top picks
- Top shots’ gun choices
- Sporting Clay shotguns: The editor’s choice
- 10 Best shotguns for every budget – from low to high