If you are looking for a new gun, you might want to look at the Ruger O/U guns. If you shop around, you can find some reasonable prices on them. Also, the nice thing about the Ruger is that they don't charge a premium for their small gauge guns, like other makers. I have never heard anything bad said about a Ruger gun.
Fit of the gun is more important than anything else. An ill fitting gun will not shoot where you look and may hammer your shoulder in the process. Keep this in mind when you try out various guns.
Barrel length is a personal thing, I like 26 to 28 inch tubes for field use and 28 to 30 for trap. Generally, the taller you are the easier it is to swing the longer barrels. Choose what is most comfortable for you.
I'd suggest checking out a local gun show, and see what is available on the used market. Generally, you can try out several guns and get an idea of which one you like best. Also, used O/U guns have, in general, been better cared for by their owners than other shotguns, and don't show much wear as a result.
A used shotgun makes a lot of sense when you are buying your first O/U. You can get Beretta, Browning, Ruger, SKB, at bargain prices, when compared to buying one new. Shop around, bargain hard and don't be afraid to walk away from an overpriced gun. They made a lot of them, and there is always another deal to be made.
The two big questions I always ask are how much are you going to shoot it. And how much do you feel like carrying a heavy gun while bird hunting?
My father uses a Browning 425 Golden clays with 32" barrels for everything short of hunting from duck blinds. This includes pheasent, quail, etc. He doesn't mind the long barrels and heavy weight, most say he is crazy, but he does do well with it. The point I am making is, if you can stand to put of with the heavy weight of a target gun while hunting get one! The weight will be worth it while shooting targets.
Now as for the gun. I know it's just about a cliche but, Berretta 686, or 686E will fall under your budget, and the Browning Citori's will do so as well. Both B guns will be reliable, well made, long lasting choices.
If you want lighter weight and less cost, Rugers, and Huglu's are viable options. With both of these, they will wear with high volume shooting. But it all depends on your volume of shooting.
SKB is another fine company, but a bit over your price range.
If I were buying new I'd give a Fab arms black lion a long look for about $800 if you shop around Heckler and Koch imported these at first but latest ones are called fab arms , look hell for stout and have that perfect teutonic fitting. Used I'd get as good a berreta as you could afford in either a fairly high grade sporting clays version or if you want class a silver snipe. Of course you can get aRuger and get it honed a bit. Last used over and under I bought was like new Berretta silver snipe for $600. I also have a model 3200 Remington and a Browning lightning and a Tikka combination with extra shot gun barrels. Ive sold off all the others.
I have much enjoyed my Browning Citori. Only problem with it is, I enjoy my side-by-sides more, so she sits more than walks It has proven to be a very reliable and accurate shotgun though, and one I would not hesitate to take to any field tomorrow.
you might try to go a retailer that has several o/u mfg's and 'shoulder'
each in your your price range. each mfg/model will 'shoulder' and 'feel'
different. unless you're planing on getting the o/u 'fitted' to you($$),
a tip someone told me years ago was 'close your eyes & shoulder the
gun, open your eyes. if your looking directly down the ramp, it's a pretty
good fit. I own several Citori's(in your price range) and a Beretta 626
which may cost a bit more. I'm not a hunter justa skeet, trap & sporting
clay shooter. my favorite..!? probably my Citori Golden Clays 4-barrel
skeet set then the Beretta. hope this info helps
I hope you don't mind me jumping on your thread, but I have similar questions.
I have been shooting Trap with a Browning Citori trap model for a few years now. I have recently been introduced to Skeet, Sporting Clays, and 5 Stand. The fixed M, and IM chokes and high rib in my Citori Trap make it "less than ideal" for these other shotgun sports.
As per other advice on this thread, I have been "shouldering" a number of different makes and models. After narrowing the field down as far as fit is concerned, I have a few questions regarding options.
In looking for an O/U shotgun that will be well suited for Skeet, Sporting Clays, and 5 Stand, what is the ideal barrel length? What other features should I be looking for in this gun? I don't have the money to get into a multiple barrel set. Would the 5 chokes that come with most "sporting" guns do the trick?
Howard, I am not an expert in the subject matter, all I can offer is my shotgun experience since beginning in the Fall of 1989, so here it goes…Like you getting into this great sport I had limited funds and was shooting my 12ga Citori, 28”brl for everything. Your Citori Trap O/U (30”barrel?) w/high-rib should work well in 5-Stand and Sporting Clays. Due to the variety of shots you’ll see alot of Sporting Clay shooters use the extended-chokes w/knurled-ends for ‘fast’ choke switching depending on conditions but your 5-chokes will work just fine unless you get real anal (like me at times) and pattern your O/U and you notice a definite pattern improvement with ‘aftermarket’ chokes compared to the factory chokes. In skeet, you might want to look into an O/U with a 28”brl(possible a 26”?). the reason being is in skeet as you well know is pretty much a left-right/right-left game and a 28”brl will swing faster. It may sound like 2” on a barrel shouldn’t make a big deal but maybe try a rental or friends 28” w/skt chokes and I believe you notice the difference. Worse case, just throw a set of skt chokes in you Citori Trap and go for it. good luck
Length of barrels is a tough one. Personally I like 30" for everything. But I am not a AA shooter either. I believe in the theory of use the longest barrels you can swing well. The longer sight plane will help on some of the other games.
As for guns look at the sporting clays models, they are the most neutral and would lend themselves to the widest range of shooting sports. Chokes, avoid falling into the trap of thinking extended chokes of every size will help. More often than not they will only add more choices to the game than you need. Alot of people could walk a sporting clays course with two skeet chokes and two mod chokes and have a very goog chance at all targets presented. I am CERTAIN many people will scream that this isn't true. You decide yourself. I personally like aftermarket chokes just for their consistancy. Which is why I own them. If you do end up looking for aftermarket chokes, look at trulock chokes. They don't have the fancy color coding of Briley, or as big of a name, but they are spot on in their marked constrictions. If it says .010 it will mic out to .010. My Remington factory chokes won't! I have measured a few browning and beretta factory chokes as well and they were not what they were marked as. Pattern your gun with the shells you are going to use and the chokes you want to use, it is the only way to know what you will be throwing. Good luck.