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 focusing on rifles, and forgetting the shear utility of a good scattergun. I want to take a look at five shotguns every shooter should put some shells through.

1. Remington 870

Dark gray Remington 870 on a white background
The Remington 870 has seen extensive police and military use.

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

Black Mossberg 500 Shotgun, pointed to the right on a white background
The Mossberg 500 with an 18.5″ cylinder bore barrel is one of the most popular shotguns for home defense.

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

Black Mossberg 930 Shotgun barrel pointed to the right on a white background
The Mossberg 930 is light and has proven reliable in testing.

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 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

The 1887-pattern shogun is the first truly successful repeating shotgun that was introduced.


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.

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 decicions. 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.

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