The new and secondhand shotgun market is vast and can be bewildering for buyers.
There are so many different makes and models on the shelves that the choice is often difficult, no matter what your budget. Some may be reluctant to spend large amounts if they are still relatively new to the sport whereas others may simply be limited by budget.
General advice is to shop around, look around and ask around. Look at what is being shot at your local club and ask fellow shooters how they get on with different guns, shop around in person and online – we found guntrader.co.uk good for price comparison and to see what is available on the market.
Doing your homework gives you the advantage of being aware of what you are looking for so you will be more likely to make a good, informed decision when you part with your cash.
Gun choice is a very personal one – similar to cars or houses, each shooter needs one that is fit for purpose, within budget and aesthetically pleasing to them.
So, as a keen Sporting and FITASC shooter I went along to Malmo Guns in Lancashire to see what I could get for my budget of £1,000.
Feature wish list:
Each of these guns falls within budget, admittedly some come closer to the limit than others, but combined they prove there is a wide choice available to consumers in this price bracket.
Some shooters may prefer a new gun as opposed to a secondhand one, but the reality is that the secondhand market is stacked full of bargains just waiting to be snapped up.
Key features to consider when contemplating any potential shotgun purchase include the following:
Orientation: there are many configurations of shotgun available including semi-automatic, pump action, side-by-side and over-and-under. This is where your homework comes in: make sure you are looking at the right type of gun for the clay shooting discipline you wish to pursue.
Barrel length: depending on your physical build, the length and weight of the barrels can be a help or a hindrance. The commonly acknowledged all-round length of 30” is generally considered suitable for most builds and disciplines.
Wood: the appearance of the wood (stock and forend) on a shotgun is measured in grades. The higher the grade the nicer the appearance – although be aware that different manufacturers have different scales of grading. Guns at opposite ends of the grading spectrum are mechanically identical, so in essence you will be paying a premium for aesthetics.
Chokes: a shotgun will either be a multichoke or have fixed chokes. Fixed chokes are permanent and refer to the constriction of the barrel at the muzzle. Multichokes offer a more versatile solution as they are removable and can be changed for a more open or tighter constriction dependent on the target presented or the discipline you are shooting.
Depreciation: as with most products, the better known brands tend to hold their resale value better than others. If that is a concern then you won’t go far wrong sticking with the big two of Beretta or Browning, if not then you might be surprised at what you can get for your money.
Fierce competition on the gun market makes it almost impossible to pick one gun that stands out from the crowd – what is ideal in one shooter’s mind, might not be for another.
I struggled to pick between two guns from our selection: firstly the Webley and Scott; at under £800 for this new over-and-under I would have the added luxury of being able to afford at least 500 cartridges and to get out to my local shooting ground to shoot them.
The other choice that is too good to be missed in my opinion is the Beretta Silver Pigeon Sporter; the fact that it is a used model should not detract from the fact that it is a tried and tested mechanism with proven pedigree for build quality and performance.
Add to that the fact that it is a multichoke and that Beretta spares are widely available if required and it’ll retain its value, you have a win-win situation for a tad under £900.
Which would you choose? Tell us on Facebook or by email. Malmo Guns: T: 01524 793007. W: www.malmoguns.com.
The gunsmith says:
The normal warranty period a retailer has to extend for a secondhand gun is six months, so, if you plan to keep the gun for longer than this it is always wise to consider the ease of getting it repaired, and the availability of spare parts.
Although Fabarm currently has a UK importer, this has not always been the case and as the design of older guns is considerably different from modern ones, spares for older models may not be available to fit.
The Lanber and the Beretta are both imported by GMK, with all spares and parts available for the Beretta and most modern Lanber spares will fit older guns. Either of these guns would be a good purchase but I would look at their condition to ensure they are in the best condition possible at the price asked.
The Winchester 101 in its day was a world-class gun, but parts are now difficult to come by. There are American websites offering pattern parts for most models, but these are not always ready to fit and you can wait weeks for delivery. You can always have parts made in this country but unless you know a friendly engineer, this can be expensive in comparison to the initial price paid.
I have to say, I have never liked the Browning Cynergy, I find them poorly finished and uncomfortable to shoot, which is why, in my opinion, you find so many of them for sale secondhand at cheap prices.
I believe the other Browning is based on the Miroku/Japanese action, which means it will be very well made and reliable with full spares available and if the purchaser wishes to pursue the Trap disciplines it will give them years of service.
If you made me choose, I would have to go for the Berretta, even though it is 15 years old. At £895 for this very well made, reliable gun it’s a good price to pay if the gun is in good condition.
However, take into account that a full restoration of the gun – including barrel blacking/tightening and service/refinishing and re-chequering the wood – could easily cost £500, the gun could prove expensive at £895 when compared to a new or nearly new guns, which can still be found for around £1500.