Survey Says: Semi-Auto Shotguns
I conducted a little survey on Shotgun World, where those who wished to participate could select the most desirable attributes, in their view, semi-automatic shotguns could have. Note: Good fit was assumed, for no one can tell me or anyone else what fits them the best. Reliability was also assumed, for a shotgun that doesn't work is like a car that doesn't start . . . worthless to most everyone.
The poll showed that “Easy to clean / maintain” and “low recoil” were the two most important features, at least to the poll participants. Surprisingly, at least to me (I'm easily surprised), “Low price” only received 3% of the votes. That is the opposite of what most of my readers want, for they invariably say they want a budget shotgun, the best for the money, and want to know the 'best' place to buy “Brand X,” meaning the lowest price. The search goes on for the really great $500 O/U, tungsten loads are too expensive, when will my rebate arrive (?), and so forth. Low price seems to be about all there is, in some circles.
the poll results of low
recoil were strictly true, everyone would want 10 lb. 12 gauge
gas-operated semi-autos that worked well with ¾ ounce
the standard 28 gauge payload. That isn't exactly the case.
/ walnut scored 16%.
If the survey was about O/U or SxS shotguns, blued / walnut would be
far closer to mandatory. It is just a matter of taste. We don't
always buy what we say we want to buy, for the big sales numbers are
invariably turned in by inexpensive shotguns, cheap bolt-action
rifles, and cheap pistols as well.
folks want the “do
everything” shotgun. Personally, I don't really want a “do
model any more than I want a do-everything lawn mower or a
do-everything knife. It always means compromises.
My favorite semi-auto turkey gun (above) is no longer in production and it never was a turkey gun to begin with: it is a Miroku-made Browning A-5 Magnum Twenty slug gun, with its barrel threaded for Trulock Tru-Chokes. It has rifle sights which makes things easy and it is the softest-shooting 20 gauge there is, with 1-1/2 oz. loads . . . and it has no recoil pad. Designed for slugs, it shot excessively high with turkey loads, but replacing the front sight with a taller one instantly took care of that. The factory A-5 trigger was excellent, needing no help.
It is strictly a matter of taste, but I'm still in the blued / walnut camp for most upland and clay target shotguns.
My favorite semi-auto 20 gauge (above, with Rocky) is also no longer in production: it is a 6-1/4 lb. alloy gas-operated Browning B-80 with a 3 inch chambered barrel. It won't cycle 7/8 oz. loads with its 3 inch chambered barrel, but I could not possibly care less. I use 1 oz. loads on the dove field and for wild pheasant hunting, it is 1-1/4 or 1-5/16 oz. three inch unfolded length shells. The B-80 did get a trigger job, but nothing else.
The Gun Fit Problem
The problem with gun fit is that it is your problem. It is my problem as well, it is everyone's personal problem. There is little debate about the importance of it, but we have to decide for ourselves what shirts, jeans, and boots fit us the best and no one can possibly do it for us. So it is with gun fit. Whether it is “walk a mile in my shoes,” or walk a mile with my shotgun, it is a similar situation.
Manufacturers try their best to make shotguns that fit the most people, but until everyone has the exact same shoulder pocket, the same face, the same arms, and the same hands, it isn't going to happen. Rollin Oswald's “Stock Fitter's Bible” remains the best work on the subject: https://www.amazon.com/Stock-Fitters-Bible-Rollin-Oswald/dp/1451570384 . For many, it is the best $27 that they will ever spend.
Copyright 2020 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.