By Paul Rackley, GunBroker.com Editor
The most versatile firearm available is the shotgun. In fact, shotguns can be used for almost everything, from deer to dove and ducks to squirrels. They can even be used for self-defense. And nothing really must be changed to do all this. Sure, folks can swap barrels, chokes and magazine capacity for specific purposes, but all a person really needs for most home defense and field situations is a 12-gauge shotgun with a modified choke. Here are six, all-around shotguns folks should consider that won’t put a crimp in the wallet. And we’re not just talking about pump-action shotguns.
An upgrade from the 712 G2, the G3 actually received some improvements. CZ kept the gas-operated action that provides fast cycling and reduced recoil. However, the 712 G3 comes with two load-specific pistons. One is for lighter loads, in the 1,200 to 1,300 fps range, while the second handles magnum loads. CZ also re-engineered the receiver to provide better aesthetics and hand fit. The chrome-lined barrel holds up to extended use, while providing consistent patterning with the five included chokes, while the matte black on the receiver and barrel keeps it from shining. CZ even provided oversize controls, such as bolt handle and release for easier use when wearing gloves. The shotgun is available with a black synthetic stock for the same price and a camo version for just a little bit more.
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While the company may not be quite as well-known as some, Dickenson Arms produces some quality shotguns. In fact, the company builds over-unders and side-by-sides, quite nice ones in fact, in addition to its quite affordable semi-auto 12 gauge. The 212 runs on an ultra-reliable inertia system with a rotating locking head. This means the shotgun can handle everything from light field loads up to heavy magnums. It also features a brass bead sight, rubber recoil pad and black anodizing on the receiver and barrel. This lightweight shotgun works well for the field or blind.
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Considering how long the Mossberg 500 has been around, it is hard to find something bad to say about this shotgun. It has long been considered a workhorse, having even been adopted by the U.S. military as a combat shotgun. A lot of this has to do with its simplicity. In fact, this shotgun’s simple design leads right into its durability, as well as affordable price. The 500 features dual extractors, steel-to-steel lockup and twin action bars. It also comes in a variety of models, from turkey to waterfowl and even tactical. Folks can even purchase 20 gauge and .410 models.
Shooters looking for an affordable monster of an all-around shotgun should consider the Stoeger P3500. Its 3.5-inch chamber allows waterfowlers to load the largest magnums available, but it can also cycle the lighter loads. Its dual-action bars and rotating head make this shotgun reliable with everything one could run through it. It even comes with a chrome-lined barrel and a red-bar front sight, along with a thin forend profile. Stoeger also makes this shotgun in Realtree camo.
Available in both 12 and 20 gauge, the TriStar Raptor is a 3-inch, gas-operated shotgun. It comes standard with a chrome-lined chamber and barrel, fiber-optic sight, vented rib, magazine cutoff and three Beretta/BenelliMobile choke tubes (IC, M, F). TriStar is known for creating affordable firearms that are quite reliable. In fact, the company offers a five-year warranty on most of its lines. While not really built to compete with the big names, the Raptor fits nicely into the middle ground where quality and affordability meet.
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Weatherby has been building quality firearms since Roy Weatherby started building custom rifles on Mauser actions in 1945. Now the company creates several rifles and shotguns of its own design, including the SA-08 shotgun. This semi-auto shotgun comes with two gas pistons, one for light loads and another for heavy loads. The pistons allow users to easily swap for the load needed. It also features a CNC-machined receiver, an injection-molded synthetic stock and matte black on all the metalwork to reduce glare.
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