5 Shotguns You Should Shoot Before You Die

Some say that the 12-gauge shotgun is the most versatile firearm ever made, something I happen to agree with. You can rely on a 12 gauge when hunting anything from deer to birds. Many people don’t give shotguns the attention they deserve, instead of focusing on rifles and forgetting the sheer utility of a good scattergun, I want to take a look at five shotguns every shooter should put some shells through.

1. Remington 870

The Remington 870 has been a staple for tactical, recreational, and hunting shooters since 1951. With over 10 million built in various configurations, there is a good chance you have a friend who has one of these rugged and reliable shotguns. The 870 has a simple and reliable design that lends itself well to modification for whatever use you might have for the legendary gun. No other pump shotgun has taken more game birds or ridden more miles in the gun rack of a police cruiser. The robust 870 makes that iconic sound when cycling the action, striking fear into birds and criminals alike.

2. Mossberg 500/590

A slightly younger entry into the pump shotgun market—and one of my personal favorites—is the Mossberg 500 series of shotguns. The 500 series rivals the 870 in many ways, but I feel it has a bit of a edge on a couple of fronts. The ejector is not riveted in place making it easy to replace if for some reason you damage yours. The controls are also in a more convenient location for some shooters. The 500 series is the number one selling shotgun at of the time as of this writing and second to the 870 in overall production, earning this shotgun a place on the list of must shoots.

3. Mossberg 930

The Mossberg 930 is a value-priced autoloader that has no trouble keeping up with your trigger finger. A favorite of pro-shooter Jerry Miculek, it shouldn’t be overlooked when you shop for a semiauto shotgun. The 930 is offered in several configurations that serve hunters with more traditional style layouts to ultra-customized, 3-gun style builds such as the 930 JM Pro (the JM being a hat tip to Jerry Miculek). With the price of entry into a 930 being roughly the same as a 590A1, it is tough to beat one of the more popular gas breathers on the market.

4. Exposed Hammer Side-by-Side Shotgun

When it comes to long guns, nothing says Old West quite like a side-by-side 12 gauge with exposed hammers. When getting behind one of these there is just something about breaking the action in half, sliding two powerful shells into the chamber, closing the shotgun back up, pulling back the hammers and letting the shotgun loose. I highly recommend taking the time to connect with your inner Doc Holliday and spending an afternoon reenacting the gunfight at the OK Corral against paper Tom McLaury targets.

5. Chiappa 1887 Lever Action

Hugely popular in Australia as a result of their overreaching gun laws, the 1887-pattern shogun is the first truly successful repeating shotgun that was introduced. The great gun designer John Moses Browning designed the firearm for the Winchester Company at their request for a lever-action shotgun because they were a lever gun company. The 1887-pattern shotgun not only has an interesting way of cycling the gun, but the way it loads is like no other shotgun on the market. If shooting lever-action rifles is something you enjoy, you will love shooting a lever-action shotgun.

There you have it; five shotguns you need to shoot. Now it is up to you folks to get out to the range and get familiar with some of these iconic boomsticks.

Which five shotguns do you want to shoot before you die? List them in the comment section.

About the Author:

Patrick Roberts

Since founding Firearm Rack in 2014 which evolved into Primer Peak in 2020, Patrick has been published by RECOIL, Ammoland, Gun Digest, The Firearm Blog, The Truth About Guns, Breach Bang Clear, Brownells, The Shooter's Log, and All Outdoor. When he isn't writing you can find him instructing handgun and AR-15 courses, training his dog Bear, or spending time with his son Liam. See what he is up to on his YouTube Channel, on Facebook, or on Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (13)

  1. As a gun lover,i see guns as precision tools, BUT slam firing a winchester model 12 ,97 or a real old ithaca 37 is the untimate in teaching trigger and muzzle control. Most people under the age of 40 have never heard of slam-firing. I heard a story of a game warden who wouldnt even handle a 97 to check it for mag capacity. and they where not called trench brooms for nothing.

  2. As a Saiga 12 guage owner I can honestly say it’s the most fun gun I’ve ever shot. Granted I’ve never fired a 50 cal, but a Saiga12 with a 20rd drum dumping slugs is the funnest time I’ve ever had with a firearm. I’ve shot 870’s, I’ve shot 500’s, I’ve shot Supernova and my buddy’s 10ga, over-unders, and side-by-sides, and as far as shotguns go, the AK platform is the funnest.

  3. Ithaca 37 I have an Edison’s royal western in 30″ full choke that kicks like 2 mules, but will take rabbits and Pheasants at 60 yds. The Ithaca is a bottom ejector, so either a right or left hander can use it. and you can reload while shooting.

  4. It baffles me how you could list 2 entry level guns in their respective classes with the Mossbergs and not even mention the Ithaca Feathlite with its innovative design and superb shootability.

  5. I know this is going to seem petty, but I would like the bbls on the Remington and Mossberg to be at the legal limit. A couple or 21/2 inches might not seem like much, but I want the shortest bbl I can have legally for a house gun. No, I don’t want a pistol grip. I had one on my shotgun and I thought the recoil was going to break my wrist. I put the original stock back on, but cut it down to size for my wife.

  6. A NICE Winchester 1887 or 1901 Lever Action “Mare’s Leg” Shotgun, Sound GREAT. Or, EVEN an Adler Lever Action Stockless Shotgun. Or even a Crye SIX12 Modular Shotgun as a M203 substitute for a Car-4 Sounds Nice Too…

  7. In the early 60s a friend of mine owned a rare lever action shotgun in .410 but I cannot remember for the life of me who manufactured it? It was American made. Ithica????? Someone help me out on this one.

  8. And then we could list the shotguns you should never shoot unless you have the money to buy them. Autoloaders that start with “B” are so nice but you gotta buck up or that pump gun’s kick will feel even worse.

  9. I have an old 870 that has the full choke bored into it. I have won many stillboard matches with it and it consistently puts 45 shot in the inner circle yet. When the pattern starts spreding I cosmoline the barrel, fire a slug thru it and it comes right back in. Wouldn’t trade it for a new benelli!!

  10. There was a similar shotgun list on TSL a couple of weeks ago, and it too started out right by listing the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500. Both are great guns, and the 930 is intriguing to me.

    I already have an old side-by-side. The lever action shotgun is a great idea too.

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