Looking for a Used Shotgun?

Above, the latest A303 twenty gauge that I bought accidentally on purpose.

Commentary on used shotgun choices doesn’t happen very often. The shooting sports are heavily new product driven, of course, and it is only natural that manufacturers want you to buy what they are making right now. That is what keeps them in business. You might think this is just "No Country For Old Shotguns."

Well made shotguns don’t wear out quickly, to be sure. By far, most of the shotguns purchased in the US are bought by hunters and casual shooters, not high volume clays shooters. A lot of people buy guns that don’t get used much and when they were used, they were carried more than fired. Things change, of course. Perhaps your job has changed, your marital status, the places where you used to hunt and shoot, or perhaps you've simply accumulated more guns than you have room for. These are examples of ways good guns wind-up on the used market.

What shotguns are commonly available on the used market that are worth having and might be a really good value? Here are a few suggestions:


Miroku made, steel receiver Browning Citori’s are very, very consistent. They have shown uniform build quality for years by now, and generally have spot-on barrel regulation. This is an area in which many cheap doubles fail. Not all, of course, but many. Though they get renamed and repackaged every year (325, 425, 525, 625, etc.) the same basic action hasn’t change since the B-25 that launched the modern “Aristocrat of Shotguns.” They are hard to wear out, they are plentiful and they are good. For a used O/U, it is a very good choice with many different configurations and grades available over the years. It is the most popular O/U ever made and doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.


They are reliable, under-rated (if anything), under-priced and they offer what is likely the most bang for the buck in an O/U today; even more so with a used model. This is a plain gun with good basic lines and handling characteristics, just what a basic field gun should be. Sure, you'll hear about those that go back to Ruger for attention. Invariably, Ruger stands behind their product and makes it right regardless. We seem to forget that the Ruger Red Label has been continuously produced for over three decades by now. No other American double today can make that claim in any mass-produced product sense.


The largest-selling shotgun in history can be a great choice used. They are all over the place, many of the bit older guns have excellent polished blue and attractive walnut and they can be had for surprisingly low prices.


These are tough, simple gas operated semi-autos that are easy to clean and soft to shoot. Though there are some real beaters out there that should be avoided, there are also many clean examples available for half the cost (or less) of many new semi-autos. A clean one is hard to pass up. I’ve found that to be the case, anyway, with the last dozen (or is it thirty?) I’ve purchased.


This is a sleeper pick of sorts. They were expensive to make and Olin Winchester supposedly lost money on every one they sold. They are in 12 gauge only and 2-3/4 inch chamber only and considered on the heavy side for carrying around in the field. The only design curse is an overly heavy bolt that can eat original recoil buffers. Parts are no problem; Nu-Line has enough SX parts to last for the foreseeable future. If they were made today, they’d have to sell for $2000 or more. They have never had huge collector interest (in the sense of Belgium A-5’s) and can still be found new in the box or lightly used for a comparative song. Many feel the SX-1 is the best-built gas autoloader ever and they are probably right.

Why buy a clean used gun? Any of these guns in lightly used condition is going to always be worth what you gave for it, as long as you're reasonably careful with them. They may well be worth more. All can be had for half the price of the latest and greatest technopolymer fake-wood encrusted wunderguns . . . and there isn't a single dove or duck that can live on on the difference.


Copyright 2009-2010 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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