The Winchester 1897 shotgun was manufactured from 1897 to 1957. At one time the ’97 set the standard for combat shotguns. With a five-round tubular magazine fed by a helical coil spring and featuring a reliable slide action the ’97 is a rugged serviceable shotgun. While the author has tested quite a few shotguns for a new book, the pump-action clone of the Winchester 1897 is a hands-down favorite for fun shooting.
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The explosion in handgun choice, and the proliferation of handgun calibers and loads, is immensely interesting. Whether you wish to use a certain caliber and load or not, each is intriguing. Did you know, the popular cartridges of today fill the same basic niche in the same relation to others since Sam Colt codified the pocket, belt, and holster pistol? Colt’s revolvers were offered in .31, .36 and .44 most commonly. The .31 served the same role as today’s .380 ACP pocket pistol; the .36 was the 9mm of the day, and the .44, well, the .44.
Red dot sights are not only increasingly popular, they have made strides in affordability, reliability, and accuracy. The cheap red dot sights are useful for plinking and getting the feel for a red dot optic. The mid level—over $200, but far less than $1,000—is useful for 3-gun competition and home defense. The Lucid M7 fits solidly in this category.
Any of the individual millions of SIG, Beretta, Colt and Glock pistols may be expected to come out of the box running, but what about your personal handgun? You have the luxury of proofing the handgun for yourself. You should train, and you certainly should keep up with malfunctions and know the difference between firearm-, ammunition-, and shooter malfunctions.
Don’t let images from Garden & Gun magazine or the Beretta Gallery scare you off to learning skeet and trap shooting. It’s not just for those with an unlimited budget. There are plenty of quality clay-busting shotguns that are also well within budget. Check out this list of seven of our favorite affordable competition shotguns.