Choosing the Perfect Shotgun: A Beginner’s Guide

Choosing the Perfect Shotgun: A Beginner’s Guide

Congratulations on your decision to explore the world of shotguns! Whether you’re interested in hunting, sports shooting, or home defense, a shotgun can be a versatile and powerful tool. But with numerous options available, choosing the best shotgun for a new gun owner can be daunting. Fear not, for this article will serve as your guide to navigating the world of shotguns and finding the perfect one to suit your needs.

Shotgun Basics

Shotguns are firearms designed to fire a cluster of pellets, known as “shot,” from a smooth-bore barrel. Their versatility lies in the wide variety of shotshell loads available, ranging from birdshot and slugs for hunting to buckshot for self-defense. Shotguns typically have a shorter effective range than rifles, but their wide shot spread and stopping power make them formidable weapons in close-quarters situations.

Remington V3 Tactical Shotgun

Remington V3 Tactical


The gauge refers to the diameter of the shotgun's bore. Standard gauges include 12 Gauge, 20 Gauge, and .410 bore. As a beginner, the 12 Gauge shotgun is the most popular and widely available option, offering versatility and a range of shotshell choices. The 20 Gauge provides less recoil, making it suitable for smaller-framed individuals or those seeking a slightly less jarring shooting experience. The .410 bore is often chosen for its reduced recoil and suitability for small-game hunting or recreational shooting.

Winchester Model 101 12 Gauge

Winchester Model 101


Shotguns come in various action types, including pump-action, semi-automatic, and break-action (single-shot or double-barrel). Pump-action shotguns, like the iconic Remington 870 or Mossberg 500, offer reliability, affordability, and ease of maintenance, making them perfect for beginners. Semi-automatic shotguns, such as the Beretta A300 or Remington V3, offer faster follow-up shots but come at a higher cost. Break-action shotguns provide simplicity and safety and can be a good choice for those focused on accuracy or hunting specific game.

Mossberg 500 Field Shotgun

Mossberg 500 Field

Intended Use

Consider the primary purpose of your shotgun. Will it be for hunting small game or waterfowl, competitive shooting, or home defense? Different shotguns are optimized for specific tasks. Factors such as barrel length, choke, and camouflage patterns may be crucial for hunting. Shorter barrel lengths, pistol grips, and reliability are worth considering for home defense. Understanding your intended use will help you select a shotgun tailored to your needs.

Benelli M1014 Shotgun

Benelli M1014

Fit and Ergonomics

A shotgun should feel comfortable and natural in your hands. Consider the stock length, body shape, and whether it can be adjusted to fit your body size and shooting style. Check the weight and balance of the shotgun to ensure it's manageable for extended use. Handling the shotgun before purchase and seeking professional guidance can significantly aid in finding the right fit.

Kalashnikov USA KS-12 Shotgun

Kalashnikov USA KS-12


Establishing a budget is essential, as shotguns range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Remember that quality and reliability should be prioritized over fancy features or aesthetics. Research reputable brands and models within your budget to find a shotgun that balances affordability with performance.

Selecting your first shotgun is an exciting step into the world of firearms. Remember to consider factors such as gauge, action type, intended use, fit, ergonomics, and budget. Exploring different models, seeking guidance from knowledgeable individuals, and even trying out shotguns at shooting ranges can provide valuable insights. With the right shotgun, you'll embark on a journey filled with enjoyment, skill-building, and a deep appreciation for this remarkable firearm. Safe shooting!


Choosing the Perfect Shotgun: A Beginner’s Guide


With over two decades of experience in both civilian and military marksmanship programs, Teeps has developed a profound passion for shooting. Not only does he find great joy in introducing newcomers to the sport, but also continually seeks to expand his repertoire in the pursuit of shooting excellence.

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