August 12, 2014
By Brad Fitzpatrick
Fine shotguns can cost a small fortune, but they don't have to.
The price range for new shotguns varies dramatically. A basic field model might cost a couple hundred bucks, while a custom-built gun might cost tens of thousands of dollars. Luckily, people with a limited budget can still afford a quality scattergun.
Today there are quite a few gun makers offering affordable, durable shotguns at a reasonable price. Many of these budget guns are pump-action, so if you don't mind shucking your own shells, there are a number of innovative and robust guns under $500. There are even a few semiautos that perform well in this price range, and if you prefer double-barrels, you won't be disappointed here either.
No matter which you choose, these versatile shotguns will serve you well downing birds and bucks, breaking clays or defending your turf. If you have $500 to spend and you're in the market for a new scattergun, these guns will help you break clays and bag birds without breaking the bank.
Over the last five decades, Remington
has sold over 10 million Remington 870s
, a testament to the gun's reliability and widespread appeal. Today there are many iterations of the Model 870 available to hunters and shooters. While some of these guns — like the classic Wingmaster
— are out of our $500 price range, plenty of versions register below five Benjamins. The most basic variant is the Model 870 Express
, which features twin action bars, a solid steel receiver, laminated stock and a non-glare matte finish. There is also an Express Super Magnum
version with a 3.5-inch chamber that is available in a variety of configurations, all of which have an MSRP of less than $500. In the hands of a skilled shotgunner, the 870 is a death ray, and it's no accident that the number of 870s produced now stretches into eight figures. It's an iconic shotgun that is still available for a relatively low price and certainly deserves a spot on the list of best budget shotguns.
Another of America's most popular shotguns, the Mossberg 500
has been produced in the United States for over 50 years and is the Remington 870's great rival. Like the 870, the Mossberg
500 comes in just about every imaginable configuration from .410 bore to 12 gauge. Mossberg has claimed a big share of the pump-gun market, in large part because these guns have proven to be extremely reliable under the worst conditions. The 500 is capable of shrugging off duck blind sludge or the dust of the battlefield while continuing to feed, fire, extract and eject. The least expensive model is the All-Purpose, which is available with either a synthetic or walnut stock and comes with a variety of barrel length options and gauges. The Model 500's dual extractors are robust and reliable, part of the reason that the Model 500 is so popular with law enforcement agencies. Its tang-mounted safety is a nice touch — a big bonus for lefties out there — and the 500 is also available with rifled slug barrels for those who hunt big game with a shotgun. In addition, the 500 is backed by Mossberg's 10-year limited warranty, so in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with your 'Berg, you are covered.
offers a number of shotguns, and the pump-action 612
are the least expensive models. But just because these guns cost less than others in the CZ line, it doesn't mean you won't be getting a lot of gun for the money. The basic 612 field pump comes with a lightweight alloy receiver, walnut stock and three choke tubes and has an MSRP of $389; a bargain amongst budget guns. Even the Wildfowl Magnum
version, with its camo finish and 3.5-inch chamber costs $428. Perhaps the best bargain of all is CZ's Home Defense
combo two-barrel set, which comes with an 18.5-inch home defense barrel and a 26-inch field barrel for just $409. At that price, you can afford a few boxes of shells and shoot sporting clays to sharpen your skills for the upcoming season.
no-frills over-under certainly deserves a spot on this list. Fancy lads at the shooting range will likely turn their noses up at your bargain scattergun, but if you know how to shoot, you can smash targets all day long with a Condor
. The stock is made of A-Grade satin walnut, the monobloc sides are machine-turned, and the Condor is available in 12, 20 and 28 gauges and .410 bore. Perhaps you've always wanted to own an over-under but don't want to spend the kind of money that stackbarrels generally demand, or maybe you've always wanted a light-recoiling 28 gauge for hunting quail. If that's the case, the Condor will work for you. The 12-, 20- and 28-gauge models come with IC and Modified chokes, which will cover most hunting situations, and the .410 versions come with fixed Full/Full chokes. New for 2014 is the Longfowler
over-under, which features 30-inch barrels with extended chokes and has an MSRP just under $500.
is the brand famous for giving American hunters and shooters the Model 1897 and Model 12 shotguns, but the brand's current line of SXP
pumps are diverse, durable and loaded with features. Winchester was one of the first brands to use aluminum alloy receivers, and some dedicated shotgunners saw this as a travesty. But aluminum alloy is lighter and cheaper than steel, and people who believed aluminum receivers would fall to bits after a season or two were proven wrong. The current SXP line features camo, wood-stocked and black synthetic versions with chrome-lined bores, cross-bolt safeties, a rotating bolt head with four locking lugs and an Inflex recoil pad that helps mitigate recoil when firing heavy deer slugs and goose loads. The Super X Pump Black Shadow
is available in a 3.5-inch version for $429, and that leaves you with enough change from your original five hundred to buy a couple boxes of steel shot and a couple packs of hand warmers for your next trip to the goose pit.
will always be known for their bolt-action rifles, but the 'Flying W ' brand produces some of the best budget pump guns on the market. The receiver of the PA-08
is machined from a solid block of 7075 aircraft grade alloy and treated with a black anodized finish. Dual heat-treated action bars ensure smooth cycling, and Weatherby has tested the PA-08 to over 6,000 rounds. Since the average wingshooter fires their shotgun less than 200 times per year, it's a safe bet that your Weatherby PA-08 will function reliably decades from now. Its barrel is chrome-lined and has lengthened forcing cones for improved patterns. An oversized bolt release button is located on the front left side of the trigger guard, so it's easy to find and manipulate. The walnut stocks used in the production of the PA-08 belie its low price tag, and the 22-lines-per-inch checkering gives the wood-stocked guns a classy, upscale look. The Turkey, Waterfowl, Upland, Synthetic and Youth models are all priced below $500, making Weatherby's PA-08 a superb value in shotguns.
When a gun company's tagline is the 'Value Experts, ' they'd better offer something special at a modest price. The Raptor
does just that. This gas-operated semiauto is available in a variety of configurations, including standard synthetic, ATAC Turkey
and Home Defense
versions. TriStar also offers Youth models with shortened lengths of pull and 24-inch barrels. For 2014, the Youth
version is available with Muddy Girl and Vista camouflage stocks. Both young and adult shooters will appreciate the Raptor's mild recoil, which is a product of its gas operating system and a feature that makes a long day at the range or on a dove stool much more enjoyable. The Raptor comes with three chokes (IC, Mod and Full), and the barrels are threaded to accept Benelli/Beretta tubes, which makes finding aftermarket chokes simpler. All Raptor shotguns feature fiber optic front sights, chrome-lined chambers and barrels and are backed by a five-year warranty.
Pumps are supposed to be durable, inexpensive and versatile, and the Stoeger P-350
exemplifies those principles. It's chambered to accept 2.75-, 3-, and 3.5-inch shells, is available in a wide variety of configurations, features dual-action bars for a smooth slide and a rotating bolt head with three large locking lugs, making it a real bargain. The basic black field gun in 12 gauge with a vent rib barrel will set you back about $349, and it comes with five different chokes, including an extra-full turkey choke. The camo versions, covered in either Realtree
Max-5 or APG, cost a hundred bucks more, and for $479 you can have the camo variant with a SteadyGrip pistol grip. There are also two budget-priced black defensive versions, one with a straight stock and 18.5-inch barrel and another with a pistol grip. Stoeger has added to the P-350's versatility and appeal by making a 3.5-inch chamber standard and including five chokes in the box for all versions. No matter which version you choose, the P-350 is a solid field gun that will serve dutifully for years.
is the armor-clad, purpose-built, budget pump that Remington
introduced to provide hunters with a field gun that has no fear of the elements. Its basic outline resembles that of other pump shotguns, with a large action release blade on the front of the trigger guard and a crossbolt safety at the rear. The geometric lines of its trigger guard offer a very wide opening for using gloved hands, a good thing considering this gun is aimed at the waterfowl market. The most distinct feature of the 887 is the Armor-Lokt
exterior, which is made of synthetic material that completely coats and protects the exterior surface of the gun, so splashing sea water and duck blind slime won't damage the finish. On the interior, though, the receiver is made of steel, which will make all 870 lovers proud. The 887 comes with a SuperCell
recoil pad, which is effective at absorbing recoil, though it may not make 3-inch magnums feel like 'light field loads ' as the Remington website claims. If you have $500 to spend, you'll only be able to afford the black version of this gun, but you'll make up some savings by not having to buy cleaning supplies.
That's right, Benelli
makes a pump gun. Not only that, it is extremely reliable and affordable. The Nova's
most novel feature is a one-piece stock and receiver, the result of over-molding a polymer skin atop a steel skeletal framework. The resulting stock/receiver combo is, quite literally, seamless. This tough polymer shell protects the Nova from even the worst hunting conditions, and its smooth action allows for very fast follow-up shots. There's a shell stop button located on the forearm, a bonus when you're crossing a fence and want to unload the chamber without completely emptying the gun. Its forearm is large and easy to grasp, running from the receiver almost to the magazine cap with grooves and texturing to increase grip on slippery days. Other ergonomic features include an oversized trigger guard, an easy-to-reach action release button and a large crossbolt safety. The Nova may not be Inertia-Driven, but it's bargain-minded.