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A Mild Note of Shotgun Dissent

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November 09, 2007

A Mild Note of Shotgun Dissent

By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

In our December/January issue, my esteemed colleague (and Shotguns columnist) Phil Bourjaily had the gall to pick the 50 best shotguns of all time, and you can read what he has to say right here on our website.

But I have quibbles. I can see his picking a Purdey as number one because the Brits pretty much perfected the over/under and side-by-side, but I think the Italians have beaten them at their own game. Their guns are stronger and the work is better. If an Italian engraver, for example, tried to get away with the engraving seen on the Purdey in our photo (below), he would be stoned to death in the street.

Also, I can't see putting the Parker ahead of the A.H. Fox. People get all misty-eyed about Parkers, but the Fox was in just about every way a better gun--much simpler and much stronger.

On the other hand, I am thrilled to see that Phil put the Remington 870 second, ahead of the Winchester Model 12, which he ranked 7th. No repeating shotgun has ever pointed as well as the Model 12, but the Remington was as good a gun, maybe better, and could be built far more easily. It is still here today, and flourishing, while the Model 12 is history.

So read Phil's rankings and dive in.

Comments (83)

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from C. Warren wrote 6 years 8 weeks ago

I think all of the folks, from the authors to the bloggers, make some fine points, and have done not only their homework, but the all-important fieldwork as well. That said, I will relate my relationship with shotguns over the years. For my 11th Christmas, a few too many years ago, I recieved a Savage-Fox s/s 20 gauge. It remains a smooth and acurate gun, despite the worst that both myself and my son have put it through. I also maintain, and regularly feed, 870's, both 12ga, chambered for 2 3/4 and 3in. None of these very good shotguns can hold a candle to my favorite gun of all. It is an Antonio Zoli Gold snipe O/U, which my grandfather bought sometime before I was born, and has now become mine. I realize that, when speaking of great shotguns, it might be better to add a few representatives of the European tradition, so as not to populate the top 30 with nothing but English and Italian guns, but I had to mention this one. Antonio Zoli made a masterpiece when this shotgun was created, and given the choice, I would never carry another gun into the field. Unfortunately, it doesn't have interchangeable chokes, and it's a bit tough to hit geese with a gun choked imp/mod. That's the reason for the 870's. I can tell you all, however, that the quail in N.E Oklahoma and S.E. Kansas have trembled each time this shotgun left its case for the last 40 years, and I don't see that changing. Love the open-forum blog!

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from Mike Bryant wrote 6 years 9 weeks ago

I once owned a SKB 680 English in 20 ga. and I consider it one of the best shooting o/u's ever made. Was fairly expensive in the late 80's but a great shotgun. Wish I still had it.

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from Breen wrote 6 years 11 weeks ago

I've always had a love affair with doubles and the Sterlingworth is superior to the Parker. Smoother, slicker and better shooting. I use an L C Smith mostly and love the gun for its pointing abilities. 16ga for birds and 12 ga for everything else. Also on the list is the "other" sicelock American double... Lefevre. It is undoubtably the smoothest action on any American double ever. Try to lock the action as slowly as you can... it locks with a snap and a jump within the last 1/32 inch of travel. Points like a dream and has cocking indicators, too. Had Uncle Dan been as good a businessman as he was at making guns Lefevre would be the household name that Fox, Smith and Parker are today.

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 11 weeks ago

After reviewing your rating of the 50 Best Shotguns in the Winter Issue of Field and Stream I have 3 questions.1) My grandfather left me his 12 guage double-barrel shotgun. It says Fox and Savage Firearms on one barrel and Model B on the other. Is this the same Fox shotgun that you list as #12 in your ratings?2) I own a Ithaca/SKB over and under 12 guage. Although it is not a side by side as your #44, how would this Ithaca o/u be evaluated?3) I shoot left-handed and chose the Browning BPS over the Ithaca Model 37 only because I preferred the safety on the top of the receiver with the Browning instead of the Ithaca's trigger guard. How did the BPS stack up in your ratings.Thank You for any help you can give me,Jim Kegley

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from Richard Bradford wrote 6 years 12 weeks ago

I don't know about you guys but the grey print on slightly lighter grey paper is killing my eyes.What idiot thought of this? I bet it wasn't Petzel. I am 61, just had my glasses changed and have no trouble reading the newspaper at all. I am afraid if I keep reading F & S, I won't be able to tie on hooks or see crosshairs.

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from Del in Kansas wrote 6 years 13 weeks ago

I have about a dozen shotguns but for several years now have only used 2. Bought a benelli Super Black Eagle about 10 yr ago. had it weatherproofed at ultra coatings inc. Replaced the recoil mechanism with a new stainless one. The new SBE's come with stainless the old steel one will rust inside where you can't reach to clean it. It is an outstanding goose, duck, Pheasant and turkey gun. I took a 23 lb gobbler a measured 64 yd using heavy shot with it in '07. For quail and dove I shoot a Beretta 28 ga o/u. I really get a kick out of being the first guy to limit out when my friends are all shooting 12's.

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from subguage wrote 6 years 13 weeks ago

The Ruger Red Label will shoot distorted shells that did not reload perfectly, will paddle a canoe and in the hands of anyone who can shoot hold its own with the guns costing ten times as much. Thirty years ago Jim Carmichael proclaimed it superior to the European designs. It stands as one of the last true example of made in USA yankee ingenuity. You missed it.

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

If you are left-handed (I am),the 1100 is perfect for me with the safety behind the trigger. Keep your trigger finger on the trigger and your middle finger on the safety at the same time. You automatically click the safety off as you bring the gun to your shoulder. You have 1 motion instead of 2. I bought a left-handed auto and it was so awkward,I took it back.

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from MADLEFTY wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

I would also like to know how the 11-87 would rank,being it was supposed to be the improvement to the 1100. Was the only difference, that it could shoot 3" shells? And what reliable automatics are available left handed?

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from Richard Bradford wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

This article started me thinking about some guns I owned years ago. One I would love to have back was a Remington model 58 Sportsman. 12 ga. 30 inch full choke.I killed a boxcar full of game with it and it never jammed even once.Had an Iver-Johnson 12 ga. single that would kill on both ends.Kicked so hard I dreaded to shoot it.Had a Rem.1100 LT 20 that was a great gun and the prettiest wood I have ever seen on a mass production shotgun.Dave,I really enjoy this blog. Thanks.

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from Richard Bradford wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

I really enjoyed bourjaily's 50 best article and wouldn't change his picks,even if I could. To add a little though,a few years ago,here in West Virginia,you would be hard pressed to find a household without a Win. model 37 or 37A in the corner or on a rack.That single shot,plain old workhorse was hard to beat in any catagory except multiple shots. As for worst of the worst,I would add the Win. Model 50 semi auto. It worked well enough but weighed just a fraction less than a 57 Chevy pick-up.

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from darrel phelps wrote 6 years 17 weeks ago

I am late responding but here goes. I grew up shooting a m12. I thought then and now it was the best made gun on the planet with a humpback a close second. I hunt a lot (wingshooting) here, Mexoco, Columbia. I am now 73 ears old. About ten years ago we started going to Argentina and I took the m12's. ONE TIME. I found they were like me, Old and outdated. My friends took many of the other guns mentioned in the aticle. We have found that if you want something that will shoot trouble free fof 6 to 10 thousand times in 4 days you had better have a Benelli montrefeltro or Super 90 NOT THE 3 1/2 gun. And you did not even mention it.

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from Matthew Hardman wrote 6 years 17 weeks ago

The Ruger Red Label was one of the top selling guns for a couple of years now and why is it not on the top 50 list.

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from Brett wrote 6 years 18 weeks ago

Great list im glad someone finally made one. On the other hand I dont think the 870 is 2nd. The SBE and the Extrema should be in front of some of those, And you forgot to add the (in my opinion) 2 best pumps on the market today the BPS and the SuperNova. Other then that the list is great.P.S thanks for making that catridge guide in that other issue, But the 300 short mag is much better choice then 270 short mag.

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from Bill Stone wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I would like to thank Phil Bourjaily for including the Stevens Model 311 in his list of the Fifty Best Shotguns Ever Made. I've had mine for almost 30 years and it's killed a lot of game. It saves this grumpy old man from having to find his pencil and then steal lined paper from the grandkids. The 311 ain't pretty, but it shoots.

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from Bill Stone wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I would like to thank Phil Bourjaily for including the Stevens Model 311 in his list of the Fifty Best Shotguns Ever Made. I've had mine for almost 30 years and it's killed a lot of game. It saves this grumpy old man from having to find his pencil and the steal lined paper from the grandkids. The 311 ain't pretty, but it shoots.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I've noticed the Mossberg has to be pumped with authority. But the gun is so inexpensive that alone makes it a legend. All things must be considered or the best fifty shotguns would be out of the financial reach of all but the most elite hunters... oh yeah and gun writers.

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from Russell Comstock wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I am amazed that anyone would rank the Mossberg 500 over a Browning BPS. The Browning BPS is hands down the best ambidextrous shotgun ever produced. I'm an owner of both shotguns and would have sold my Mossberg years ago if it wouldn't have been given to me as a gift. The Mossberg I own is chambered in 2 3/4" and 3" but it has never properly ejected a 2 3/4" and for this reason I will never rely on it again as more than a bad conversation piece.

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

While I am not a big auto-loader fan I grudgingly nod to the Remington 1100 and the Baretta/Benelli selfshuckers. Can't agree on the A5, aesthetically the thing is just ugly and I have seen them jam on numerous occasions with light loads not quite ejecting.Versatility is not the only reason to buy a shotgun, as such there are plenty of doubles deserving this list.SA

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from J. Gibbs wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I am a fan of 4 shotguns, the A5 for reliability and functionality, the 1100 it's handier than the A5, and the new Beretta's and Benelli's that have replaced them. The Browning Gold Hunter is nice but no magazine cutoff. You can place all the doubles in the world under these autos and the pump 870's, BPS, M12, and Ithacas because they are not versatile enough for the average man's wallet or hunting needs.

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from Mike Smith wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

870 rated over model 12 ? The 870 is definatly the work horse. But I will take my old 16 gauge model 12 over any of them.

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from Phillip E. Johnson wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

Finally someone has put the Winchester model 59 on a list of best shotguns.I inherited the Model 59 from my father. I have used it on pheasants, quail, rabbits and still use it on South Texas Doves. My 59 has screw-in chokes. This was possibly the first screw-in chokes that Winchester ever had.I also have owned number 3 and 6 on the list and still own a Model 12 - 3 inch magnum.Thanks for the article.

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from Jeff Burkett wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

To not include the Ruger Red Label is a travesty. I bought a .20 ga. twenty-five years ago, and have put a gazillion cases of shells through it. Other than the usual ware, it's a sound as the day I first fired it. If there is a more reliable field gun, I've never seen it. Some of my hunting buddies have high-dollar guns that like some high-dollar cars, always in the shop.

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from Jeff Burkett wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

To not include the Ruger Red Label is a travesty. I bought a .20 ga. twenty-five years ago, and have put a gazillion cases of shells through it. Other than the usual ware, it's a sound as the day I first fired it. If there is a more reliable field gun, I've never seen it. Some of my hunting buddies have high-dollar guns that like some high-dollar cars, always in the shop.

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from Hogatheart wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

870 over M12 no way! How could a Kreighoff K80 be left off of the list?

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from Frank wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

New to this forum. Trying to find a replacement barrel for a Stevens 12ga pump model 67 Series E? any sources or ideas?

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from J. S. wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

Where does the Remington 1187 shotgun with a rifled slug barrel rank? I did not see this gun rank. I saw the 1100 score well and thought the 1187 was a "better" version of the 1100.

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from Mark Drayer wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

I have hunted with shotguns for some 40+ years now and can not believe the Mossberg 500 was rated 23 and left the Winchester 1200 at 46! I have had 3 Mossberg 500's over the years. Everyone of them had broken a different part and not a one every shot very well. I have a Winchester 1200 that I bought used and have never had a problem. My Remington 870 is still my favorite but the Winchester's recoil is much more easier on the body. As you said "If you think of a gun as nothing but I tool" then the Mossberg 500 is one cheap tool I don't want in my tool box.

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from coach ike wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

dear dave,after reading 50 best shotguns of all time, i do have to disagree with you in regards to the mossberg 500. 23rd? cmon! what makes the 500 such a great gun is price along with functionality. where on earth can you get both the rifled barrel (cantilevered for a scope) and a smooth bore combo for under $300? nowhere! match that gun up with the right ammo (mine likes the hornady sst 300 grain) and that gun is lethal. a buddy of mine owns a rem 870 and it is indeed a good gun, but when he was pricing a new rifled barrel for it, the price was just as much as the gun itself. this is what seperates the mossberg from the rem 870.

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from warren wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

I am in the market for a 26" 28 gauge woodcock/grouse gun and this gun looks like it could do the trick. I've also had the CZ Ringneck recommended as a very good value and reliable gun. Does 11/9 poster or anyone have any info on it?

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from warren wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

I am in the market for a 26" 28 gauge woodcock/grouse gun and this gun looks like it could do thr trick. I've also had the CZ Ringneck recommended as a very good value and reliable gun. Does 11/9 poster or anyone have any info on it?

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

That's $199 for a brand new 870 express... cheap wood, parkerized finish but same old never failRem action! From the other site yes you can burn DVD's if your computer will let you. My little girl has a cheapo digital camera and transferred pictures of all her friends to a DVD where they look at the pictures on her TV. High tech red neck...

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from Rocky Mtn Hunter wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph: at $l99.00 if in good condition it;s a great buy. I've only owned one pump in my lifetime.For some reason, never got the hang of operating a pump at all. My Semi's work well and as long as you keep the action clean should give litle problem. However, the less moving parts to any firearm the better, thats why a Dble s x s is so great. But agree many model 870's around and thats each hunters choice, but if shotgun hunting, will be my Auto's, depending on what I will be hunting. Love the 1100 full choke 30" bbl for buck shot for deer being run with dogs in East Va. A real fun hunt. Over past 37 odd years killed many deer with Auto's up there. I plan a 3-4 day hunt in Va.after Christmas, the ll00 will go.PS; Dr. near what major city in N East Montana is a good area for Mulies and Antelopes. I've been told many Mulies in the NE section. If so, I want to make contact with someone up there for 2008. I want a real trophy Plains Mulie before I get to old to hunt. At 72, few seasons left sad to say. I have a nice Mtn Mulie, but want a plains Mulie. Thanks for any advice.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

Looking throught he paper this morning I see an add for the 870 Express $199-. Hard to beat but like RMH give me a semi-auto... Still for $199- a man could have a one gun battery to hunt basically everything.

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from Rocky Mtn Hunter wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

Any Auto shotgun must be cleaned often. When mine are in use, I sray the action after each days hunt with Gun Scrubber let dry then a few drops of Rem oil to moving parts. I have a Remington Spotsman 48 had for 50 odd years,came with a 26" improved cyl.I ordered a 30" full choke for Deer hunting wih Buck shot. Gun has never jammed and shoots to- day as well as my 2 ll00's in l6 and 12, or my Mossburg 9200 Auto with rifld bbl for deer hunting stats that allow only shotguns. As for Dble bbls. A Wesley A Scott takes the top prize, then the Fox as # 2. Parker is a great firearm but not the quality of the Fox to me. AS for the 870 if you like a Pump they ok, but I prefer a Auto or dble s x s to any pump. Charles Daly is now importing a nice not-expensive dble now. For the $ invested is a good buy and as a rule a Quakity fiearm,, If purchasing a non-USA mfgerd firearm,I go with the Italians. My A.Uberti made in Italy is a jewel and hits where its pointed.Most of our problems, (us Gun Nuts) is we greedy and never happy with what we now own, we always wanting more. I can recall for 20 ys I only had one fire-Arm. It was used for all types of hunting allowed here, it was a 12 ga. dble bbl. Savage/Stevens. Once I bought the Sportsman 48 by Remington, the Dble bbl found a new home, much to my regret. With fewer birds to hunt now, few wing shooters around. Here at home, 20-30 yrs ago, no problem to find 8-10 covey's of birds a day. This season so far, only found one cover. Damn Foxes,Coyotes kill all small game. Need to have a mandaory season on those prior to Deer season.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Grouse hunting was my father's passion. He was a veterinarian and every time he was writing up a bill to farmer Brown he would look at the man and say "you have any quail on your farm?" We knew where every covey in a five county area was. All we had to do was turn the pointer loose in the last known location and BAM BAM BAM. It was almost too easy so he got into grouse. My experience with these creatures is the same as Mark-1's. If you actually see the bird instead of just hearing it flush you are ahead of the game.

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

By the way, back in (I think) 1976, Browning ran an ad for the oldest operating A-5. Best I remember, some guy from Mich. came draggin' in an A-5 with a 2-digit serial no., no finish or bluing left. Stock had been wired together and an eraser glued to the end of the bbl for a front sight! And he STILL duck hunted with the thing! Now that's tough!Think the reward (prize?) was a new A-5.Bubba

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

The Rem 870 is developing into a real firearm of legend as did the Mod 12 Win in it's own rights. The only thing the Rem 870 lacks is the history and the metal quality. Make no mistake, I have shot and seen 870's that have been through the mill, no doubt! They are very tough and reliable! The only one-upmanship I can see over the Mod 12 is ease of repair and bbl removal!A classic dbl is so much more perfect for gunning upland game birds over a well trained Brit or Llewellyn, but for the duck marshes and such, it's awful tough to beat one of the old standby's, Win Mod 12 or 870 Rem!Bubba

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

870 ranked above the Model 12... and Dave pats him on the back for this heresy. You boys call yourselves gun writers? Hmmmph. I have never owned an 870. I have a 1917 vintage Model 12 even though it claims to be a Model 1912 on the barrel. Which is the better gun? That is entirely dependant upon whether I am inheriting the weapon from my grandfather or whether I am going out to purchase it. This is the fine distinction in the list that makes it possible for two cheap ass Remington's to share the top five with works of art. I have three different friends who consider me to be the resident expert on firearms. They want a gun. ONE gun. A CHEAP gun. They want to hunt ducks, rabbits, doves, deer, and everything else their heart desires. They all own Remington 870's thanks to yours truly who told them if you own but one gun this is it.

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from ICU/CCU wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Petzal........(shakes head in disgust), Hijack a topic lately?

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from buckstopper wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

My next purchase for myself will be a Benelli SBE II(AKA Arkansas Purdley). I got a left handed version for my son, and it points much like an old A5.

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from Shaky wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Many thanks Silver Arrow, Chad,Mark for the information. I was begining to dought my judgment, (as my wife has for many years). I dug the 20ga. out of the vault and checked it over, as I had not actually looked at it for 10yrs. It is still very pretty, but indeed is stamped Savage Fox B. has vent. rib,center bead,the fit and finish can't be faulted.If you go back to the rating list, maybe you will be able to see why I was confused, because the statement is made that Fox was made "1903-1930 by Savage,1993-present-" and is cut off without finishing the statement.So it appeared to me that Savage made almost all Fox guns. As I said when I wrote, maybe there is something I'm missing,and it turns out there was quite a lot I was missing. And thanks to the other respondants, I am not missing nearly as much.As I said before, this is a great blog. DEP you do a great job, keep up the good work.

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from Dennis Crabtrey II wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

I've had a few shotguns, but never been really good with any of them. I have a 870 youth express w/ polychoke for quail/squirrel.I traded off my 1100 that jammed frequently and probably needed replacement parts as others have said. I traded it for a 870 tactical model when I learned gas guns don't work in Alaska. Then I purchased what I thought was my last shotgun a 12 ga SBE II from Benelli. AWESOME finally a shotgun that's light, points well (for me), and I can finally hit with. I use it for quail, huge overkill.

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

As far as the Holy Grail of shotguns. In the late seventies, I was working in a gun shop in deep east Texas. A salesman friend, knowing I liked Mod. 12, sent two to the store he found in a going out of business sale. They were both the "Y" series guns. One was a trap, the other a field grade trap. I ended up with the field grade gun. It was like carrying around a bolt of lightning! But alas, life, kids, oil prices eventually ate it up and we parted company.(sniffle)Bubba

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Chad!Oh-Ma-Gawd! I had two of those 1100 Uplands in my career in 12 and 20, too! I thought they be perfect grouse guns. The 20 was too light and short of have a good swing for me. The 12 was heavier, of course, and I could shoot it well. Sold both for whatever reasons.I think I’ve had a total of six different 1100’s. I wore out my present 28-ga’s springs, extractor, and rings on the skeet fields and uplands. For $40 bucks on replacement parts, it shoots a fire again. I bought this gun used. Love the 1100’s Bang-Clack-Bang Clack!I’m with my 28-ga 1100 and my Beretta O/U for after $20k in guns [as claimed by ex-spouse] and another $30k learning how to shoot clays I ran out of disposable income.I’m still burning off Karma.

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from Chad Love wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Mark I've always been able to shoot 1100s well, too, with one glaring exception: a 20 gauge special field with one of those ultra-short 21-inch barrels.Funny thing was, I had lusted after one since childhood. Those great old Remington magazine ads from the early 80s worked wonders on my impressionable young mind but I just never had the money to get one. All through high school and college my meager shotgun collection had to pull double duty on everything. I just couldn't afford a special-purpose quail gun.But on a visit to my dad one year I found a pristine 1100 special field in a gunshop in Kalispell. I pawed it for a while, put it back on the rack and forgot about it. Next year when my dad came back to Oklahoma for the birth of our first son he came wagging that gun through the door.I spent two years and I don't know how many flats of shells trying to learn how to shoot with that damn thing. I missed clays and birds with that gun in ways that defied logic and reason.Finally I called my dad up and told him and he said "Hell, don't worry about it, trade it off."So I ended up trading it for a sweet little English-stocked double-trigger Uggie 12 gauge that felt like a wand in my hand.I spent two more years and untold flats of shells...well, you know where this is going.

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

YooperJack,You normally hunt Grouse all season for six-birds burning up 75-shells getting them. It ain’t your 1100. I use an 1100 28-ga skeet gun for grouse and woodcock now. All my other hunting is with a Beretta 686 EL in 12-ga.Skaky,I reaffirm what you described was a Savage-Stevens. It was my first shotgun in 1965 in 16-ga. It’s a good knock-about gun, but very roughly made. Savage-Stevens did put out a “Fox” during these years that was essentially the same gun with a vent rib and beavertail fore end...poison for a bird gun.To All,Here in Upstate New York we often come across Bakers, Lefevers, Smiths, Parkers and Ithaca’s since they were manufactured in this area. They come in all models and grades. Most were grunt shotguns made for work with poor wood and no metal work sporting the name. The higher grades are obviously works of art [slurp]. High grade A.H. Fox and Ithaca’s I’ve seen are superior guns to Parkers, LC Smiths and Winchester 21’s. It just isn’t the fine attention to detail in the making and materials, but it also comes down to the field handling and functioning.To All, Part II,IMHO any shotgun throwing 1-oz loads will do for the Uplands. Type of action: Personal preference. The rub is the gun has to handle in your hands, and you gotta like the “sight picture”. It seems the higher grade guns meet this criterion. However.......I can't shoot Browning’s. Except for a 20-ga Upland model I could only hit blue sky with Brownings, yet I have always shot 1100’s well and Beretta O/U’s which seem to have the same sight picture for me and “handle”. Krieghoff's, Perazzi, Ithaca’s and Winchester’s were nice, but I never could do my best shooting with them. In other people’s hands they were crunchers. Finding your particular shotgun is like looking for the Holy Grail. Enjoy that search, but once you find it. Stop!

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from Trae B. wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

thank you all for helping me prove that some of my friends are liars.

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from Mike Strehlow wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Grat blog. Tough list to make. With shotguns, you have to deal with 1. shotgun as working tool 2. Shotgun as hunter (is a Benelli a better goose gun than a Beretta is a dove gun, etc.) 3. Shotgun as deer rifle 4. Shotgun as competitor 5. Shotgun as heirloom/ art 6. Shotgun as history. Philip did a great juggling act. If he'd meant for one shotgun to stand in for the best of an entire type, he could have had a couple of honorable mentions, but that's nit picking.It was neat that the Winchester 1200 got on the list. My dad got a 12 ga. Ted Williams shotgun from Sears, pump action with a Polychoke, back in the '60s. Essentially a rebadged Winchester 1200, and a sweet-shucking trombone it still is. Philip, you really did your homework.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

My grandfather used a Winchester Model 12, my father used a Browning A-5, and I use a Remington 1100... just wonder what the kids will be using.

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from Michael wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

I have an old side by side 12 gauge Lefeever nitro express, w/ geese engraved on the side. It has been through alot and shows some wear. It is so light to carry and points so well that I wish I could just hit something w/ it!! I guess it all comes down to what you shoot the most. I have to put my head down really far on the stock to hit anything. Unfortunatley, I use a Red Label for pheasant and bunnies, an 870 rifled slug barrel for deer, an 870 .410 for fun, and SBE eagle left hand eject for waterfoul. I think that translates into "Beware the man who only owns one gun"

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from Chad Love wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

SilverArrow beat me to it, Shaky. What you have isn't an AH Fox but an imported Savage with the Fox name on it. Orders of magnitude difference...

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from Chev Jim wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

If possible, one day I'd like to have a decent, side-by-side 20 or 28 gauge double, with a Prince of Wales grip, a coin finish receiver with modest engraving, selective ejectors, and nice figure in the wood. I have a Model 1100 Tournament Skeet, and it's a great shotgun, but it's rather heavy. I also want something a little lower in the recoil department. I want to enjoy my shooting and not have it spoiled by a slap in the face or a bruised shoulder. All that recoil absorption was OK 30 years ago, but not so much today. I've already had to deal with a partially detached retina, and I don't want to push my luck! So, the last shotgun I will ever buy will hopefully be the one I always wanted!

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from YooperJack wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

This is great! All the years I've puled my 1100 out of the cabinet, shot at Grouse, missed! I thought it was my fault. Turns out it was the gun.Already this has been a great Veterans Day.Thanks!

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

ShakyThe 'Fox' shotgun your son gave you wasn't THE 'Fox' shotgun we have been gagga over on this thread. The one you had was probably made off shore (Spain or South America most likely) and imported by Savage.The A H Fox (Ainsley H Fox) shotguns crafted in Philadelphia, PA early in the 20th century are among the top production shotguns ever made. The chokes were perfectly formed and the barrels collimated for either 25 or 30 yards dependent on gauge, if memory serves. Fit and finish was top drawer as well. The truly well heeled sport of the period could have his stock custom fitted for cast and drop.Savage aquired rights to the Fox name in the early 1970's (again if memory serves) and began importing shotguns bearing the name shortly thereafter.Hope this helps a bit.BubbaThank you for the support! I currently own an 870 but alas no M12. Afield the 870 is reliable and puts the shot where I have the gun pointing so no real need to seek an M 12 at the moment.SA

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from jstreet wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

I have to agree with Bubba on the whole 16 gauge thing. Built on the right frame, the 16 does 12 gauge duty on a lighter frame.Unfortunately, they (16 gauges) seem to come and go in popularity and the ammo gets pricier all the time.Jim

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Gotta weigh in on this one!First, 870 over Mod. 12?!C'mon guys, whether you like the Mod 12 or not, take a real close look. Apparently SA did. Machined steel vs. investment castings and stampings?! I shoot an 870 AND a Mod 12. But quality? Mod 12., no contest!!!!Next: The sixteen gauge!I cut my teeth on a L. C. Smith 16! As a youngster, I didn't have to deal with the recoil of a 12 but could put up a denser patter than a 20. They have seen fit to discontinue the 16. A sad, sad, sad state of affairs!Bubba

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from Shaky wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Maybe there is something I'm missing, but I was given a new 20ga Fox by my son in 1976 that had been in storage for 20yr. It is very pretty to look at,but there is no reasonable way to compare it to my old 12ga L.C.Smith. #1:it outweighs the Smith by a pound.#2:the left barell patterns 16"higher than the right. #3:the left hammer broke on the first box of shells.Now tell me, how can we say that the Fox is the better gun than the Smith, when I've run thousaands of shells thriugh it without a single misshap.Probably I just got a lemmon, judging from expert oppinion. I will keep it, because it was a gift, but when I hunt quail or pheasant, it will stay home, and the old Smith will go with me.

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from KJ wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

One of my favorite vineyards has this to say: "The best wine is the wine you like the best." That probably goes for most things. I have a friend who had a nice Browning B-SS. It carried like a dream, but I couldn't hit the side of a barn with it. With my Plain Jane 870, the birds drop and the clays turn to dust. Is the 870 the better gun? In my hands it is.

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from Greg wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

I love my 870, If I had to pick between my wife and my 870, well she might be lookin! I would die to have a Purdey, guess I could quit eating, no lights, heat, sell a couple kids, truck motorcycle, 4wheeler, and all my blood. Maybe just maybe I could put a down payment one. Held one once and wet myself!

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Nice pictures... wonderful to sit back and enjoy. Muzzle loading is over in Tennessee and next weekend the rifles come out. Need to go to the gunsmith and pick up the .257 Wby. and hit the range. You know I had an Ithaca 37 back when I was a kid but it got stolen. I had forgotten about the scenes on the side and it kind of jolted me when I saw it again. All this fuss over the Model 12 has me curious. I am going to open some safes and find mine just to see if it really is that smooth.

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

TraeI do not believe there are any current production shotguns larger than 10 gauge. I have seen 8 and 4 gauge guns from earlier eras in private collections and museums, also punt and battery shotguns in museums. The 4 gauge I have held was a muzzle loading, percussion fired double barrel which tips the scales at over 15 lbs, one did not shoulder such a peice; it was laid over the gunnals of your boat and fired when a flock of ducks or geese were rafting within range. The one 8 gauge I've seen up close was a black powder cartridge peice, marginally lighter than the 4 gauge though I am told it could be shouldered and swung on moving birds.SA

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Trae B.I have seen 8-ga shotguns mostly in Europe since the gauge is outlawed for hunting in North America. I saw one fine old 8-ga double that belonged to a Long Island market hunter. It was willed to his son who wasn’t any spring chicken. IMO 10 and 8 ga guns handle much differently than the smaller gauges.YooperJack: Read Gene Hill’s essays. He articulated the world of shotguns, shotgunning the Uplands and Marshes, and dogs much better than me. I’d be plagiarizing him shamefully.To all: I think it’s a disgusting sham to throw a 16-ga gun on a 12-ga frame and a 28-ga on a 20-ga frame although one of my favorite shotguns is a 28-ga 1100 [lt20-ga frame]. Both acts destroy the benefits and strengths of both gauges'guns.

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Maybe It's because I'm getting old, but I think it's a sufficiently notable achievement to create a list of Top Fifty Shotguns, have good reasons for your selections and not omit any obvious candidates.Gents, in three hours I'm taking my little 20 ga. Winchester 101 out of the safe and going quail shooting....and a pox on Mr. Bourjaily for not ranking it among the top 30. (I couldn't access the complete list on the Internet.)

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from Bernie Kuntz wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Dave, Dave, how on earth can you say that the Model 870 is as good or maybe better than the Model 12? I will concede the fact that the Model 870 still is being manufactured but nothing beyond that. My first "real" shotgun was a M-870 in 16 gauge which I still own. However, I have M 12s in 16 and 12 gauge and would not trade them for a truck load of M 870s!If I may, some of my opinions: The Browning Auto-5 was one of the finest ever. I have owned a "Sweet Sixteen" since 1971. It is a tragedy that is was discontinued. I won a Browning Gold Hunter, NRA Commemorative from 2000. The SOB jams all the time after it heats up. No magazine cutoff either. My gunsmith says he will check it out.Super-X-1: My wife bought me one from a guy about 15 years ago who shoots a Browning Superposed and couldn't get used to the cross-bolt safety on the Super-X-1. You will never find a finer semi-auto. Too heavy for my taste to carry for pheasants but great in a duck blind and for sporting clays. And it always works!The SP-10: Great goose gun. I've owned it for 13 years and hammered lots of Canadas. No malfunctions. Get rid of the steel shot, shoot Federal Tungton-iron and you will be impressed!Model 1100: Very good gun, have owned a 16 gauge in that model since 1974 and gave it to my wife.Model 50 Win.: Same gun, I believe, as the M 59 only the 50 doesn't have the goofy glass barrel. Not a great gun by any stretch of the imagination. The only reason I own it is it belonged to my father.I am sort of a heathen in some circles as I have never owned a double. I have shot some, but never owned one. Wish I had one of those Merkels you have written about, Dave. One time I could have bought one new for $2,850 but didn't do so. Now they are several times that amount! (Sob!)I enjoy the blog!

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Just don't understand this love affair with side by sides... they're certainly beautiful works of art but personally I can't hit with them. About the only shotgun I ever have been able to hit with is number 5 on the list. That old soft shooting 1100. Every time they try to kill it, it comes back to life in another form. Should have called it the phoenix.

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from Trae B. wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

I have a question.do they actually make 8 gauges I hear people say that they have one but they can never prove it and I have never seen one.so mr petzal can you answer this for me?

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Prices for comparable quality guns are closer than you might think. But, in the spirit of the question, those high dollar shotguns on the top 50 list require more custom (i.e., hand crafted) work that similar rifles.Some of the current CZs are examples of a high quality shotguns at very reasonable prices

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from YooperJack wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Probably a dumb question but why do shotgun prices seem so high relative to rifles? If you had a list of the best fifty rifles I could afford most of them with a second mortgage. If I had to have one of the double shotguns I would have to sell a kidney. I do have one of the autos listed though.

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from Steve C wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

SilverArrow,That's my post directly above on the Model 12 in response to your comments. It somehow got cutoff and my name deleted

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

owned two Model 12s made in the 1950s (one a Marine Corps surplus). I like the Ithaca Model 37 (late 60s era) and BPS (mid 80s era) better, and not just for their downward ejection. If I had to pick just one as my sole pump shotgun, it would be the BPS. The only version of the Model 870 I have shot was an Upland Special, owned by a friend and which I loved, but I couldn’t hit anything with it. But I’m also a huge fan of the older Model 500 Mossbergs. So, my conclusion is that good pump shotguns are where you find them.My comment is that there are few shotguns that are personalized as much as the Model 12. It has been a victim to the snob appeal, myths, and legends that guns sometimes draw. The Model 12 has cult followings in all three categories. There's also probably not a noted outdoorsman or gun writer in the last eighty years that hasn't shot a Model 12 and heaped laurels upon it so there’s that element of “expert opinion”. But for millions, much of the love for the Model 12 comes from it being their first shotgun they shot as a kid, for others it was their dad’s or grandfather’s shotgun, all of which stirs some strong embers of their love for hunting. That’s the emotional aspect I was talking about.As for it being too expensive to produce, that was relatively true at the time (as was the relative superiority of the design). But look at the price of shotguns now. And when they tried reintroducing it a few years ago it didn’t take off. Some of this has to do with the shift to auto shotgun and resurgence of O/U and S/S guns but it also reflects that the great things the Model 12 use to bring to the table are no longer exceptional.The history, tradition, and romance surrounding the Model 12 are undeniable. It being the best pump shotgun is not.

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

I'm the first to admit, Boys, not all Ithaca SKB's were stocked with old fence posts. My ex-father- in-law....God Rest his AA scores and soul...dominated the Upstate New York skeet fields in the mid-70's with an Ithaca SKB 800. It was a fine gun...with fine wood.

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from Chad Love wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Actually my Ithaca SKB isn't stocked with a fence post either. I'm pretty sure in a former life it was part of a cross-brace for a shipping pallet full of steel ingots bound for the SKB factory in Japan, and when it got there some enterprising factory worker decided to use it instead of a walnut stock blank.

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from ishawooa wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

The A. H. Fox guns undoubtedly are the best choice of those made or previously manufacturered in American factories (see my comments in the photo section). Also Mark-1 please note that my SKB's and Ithaca SKB's are NOT stocked with fence posts. Upon close inspection you will see that they are actually low grade South American p**s elm sap wood. To be perfectly truthful I have heard that this particular type of elm is an alternative for fence posts in southern Chili. Either way I look past the wood and still love the 28 gauge SKB.

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Steve CThe Model 12 survived on a lot more than legend. The action is slick as fresh motor oil. Model 12's point like an extension of your finger (as it should be). The higher grade M12's were finished as well as any American made shotgun. The John Moses Browning design proved durable in two world wars. Shall I go on?The Model 12 went the way of the Dodo bird because it was too damn expensive to manufacture in an era of mass produced competition.I, for one, whistfully hope that this new iteration of Winchester will bring back a limited run of Model 12's in each of the gauges, I think the market might bear it if they are done with the care of the original.SA

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Amen to the notion that the A.H.Fox is superior to Parker!Learned with an A.H.Fox and still borrow it from Dad on occasion! It is solid, feels just right and hits what I shoot at most of the time. When I miss it is because I did something wrong.As for the comments on the Rem 870 vs the Win M 12; purely from a shooter stand point it is the M12 hands down! Slickest action going, period. DEP is right on the simplicity and cost to manufacture argument; the revered M12 is not in the race anymore because of that. Winchester's replacement for the M12 (the M1200) wasn't up to the test.As to the 870 in 16 gauge, I had wanted one until you busted my bubble Dave! I think I will just go with a 20 gauge instead. I am sure if I hefted the 16 in the store I would have made the same decision. Maybe the store near me still has that old M12 Winchester in 16 gauge!SA

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from Steve C wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

The “best” gun debate often defaults to the category of Fallacy of Composition. The best materials and best fit and finish means the best gun. Hardly.What’s best is always more about emotion and imagination that objective assessment. The example of the Model 12 is a good example of something that survives as much on its legend as it’s accomplishments. The James Dean of shotguns.I think Boss and Fabbri make beautiful museum pieces you can shoot but I’d no more want to own one than hang the Hope Diamond around my neck.

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from Chad Love wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Can't quibble too much with most of the mass-production choices.I probably would have replaced the Gold with the BPS and I might have included the Beretta BL series O/Us that preceded the 680 series guns. Beautiful guns and I think they really primed the pump for later acceptance of Beretta's guns.I was glad to see the inclusion of the Miroku/Daly guns. Matter of fact, I'd bet Miroku has more rperesentation on the list than any other manufacturer. The Citori is Miroku-built, as was the BSS.My early 70s Daly-branded Miroku O/U is as dear to me as my Berettas.

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from jay wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Purdy, Boss, and some of the others perfected 'game gun' handling long ago. I just don't understand why with our modern technology and brains we can not duplicate their performance (close but no cigar). I have shot with a borrowed Boss, just wish I could afford one.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

I agree with Dave's opinion, and agree that the Italian made guns are primo; even a "reasonable" priced one at $5000 is worth it.As for SXS, I think the spanish have that corner of the market fenced in!

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Great article and I love DP’s critique. I can’t imagine any worse violators of scared, dogma than these two….except for me. I have to agree with most placings and models although I was shocked High Standards’ pump gun wasn’t included. It’s just as sweet looking and functional as the 870 and Model 12.Purdy is the standard for all doubles. Period. I believe Fox and Ithaca doubles were superior to anything else USA made in all catagories. It boggles my mind how folks shot 70 to 100-years ago. All these s/s were stocked with massive drops. I shoulder one of these babies and I’m staring at the tang. They must have shot with head high.I’m glad Winchester 101 didn’t make the cut. It was never a premium shotgun IMO. SKB’s used fence posts for stocking material. Ruger followed suit and well as having their shotguns badly balanced.The Italian guns are running the show now in O/U’s and Auto’s. It’s tough and very expensive to beat them.An item I discovered presently with most of the Italian and Browning guns is they are stocked with too long of a pull. This is poison making crossing shots. For me, instead of seeing a big circle in front of me, I see a “V”.Have fun.

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from jstreet wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

I went through the list twice and found no Browning bps.It's not a top 50 shotgun?I think Phil Bourjaily has been sniffing way too much gunpowder.

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from taz wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

I have to say that anyone who would choose half of those fifty best over a Ruger Red Label is selecting based on some strong potion not heavy on common sense or knowledge of mechanics. The gun will beat out most of the stuff you list if not all of it hands down from thepoint of view of strength, design, aesthics and reliability. At least the old ones. I have two 20's bought in the early eigthies and both have fired over 25.000 rounds being used by family, friends, clients and myself. Jim Carmichael was right. You are wrong. All that glitters is not gold and all that plastic is not real. But hey, at least you got my interest up enough to squak back. Good luck with the Mouseberg. Now there is a canoe paddle if ever there was one!

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from subguage wrote 6 years 13 weeks ago

The Ruger Red Label will shoot distorted shells that did not reload perfectly, will paddle a canoe and in the hands of anyone who can shoot hold its own with the guns costing ten times as much. Thirty years ago Jim Carmichael proclaimed it superior to the European designs. It stands as one of the last true example of made in USA yankee ingenuity. You missed it.

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from jstreet wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

I went through the list twice and found no Browning bps.It's not a top 50 shotgun?I think Phil Bourjaily has been sniffing way too much gunpowder.

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from C. Warren wrote 6 years 8 weeks ago

I think all of the folks, from the authors to the bloggers, make some fine points, and have done not only their homework, but the all-important fieldwork as well. That said, I will relate my relationship with shotguns over the years. For my 11th Christmas, a few too many years ago, I recieved a Savage-Fox s/s 20 gauge. It remains a smooth and acurate gun, despite the worst that both myself and my son have put it through. I also maintain, and regularly feed, 870's, both 12ga, chambered for 2 3/4 and 3in. None of these very good shotguns can hold a candle to my favorite gun of all. It is an Antonio Zoli Gold snipe O/U, which my grandfather bought sometime before I was born, and has now become mine. I realize that, when speaking of great shotguns, it might be better to add a few representatives of the European tradition, so as not to populate the top 30 with nothing but English and Italian guns, but I had to mention this one. Antonio Zoli made a masterpiece when this shotgun was created, and given the choice, I would never carry another gun into the field. Unfortunately, it doesn't have interchangeable chokes, and it's a bit tough to hit geese with a gun choked imp/mod. That's the reason for the 870's. I can tell you all, however, that the quail in N.E Oklahoma and S.E. Kansas have trembled each time this shotgun left its case for the last 40 years, and I don't see that changing. Love the open-forum blog!

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from Mike Bryant wrote 6 years 9 weeks ago

I once owned a SKB 680 English in 20 ga. and I consider it one of the best shooting o/u's ever made. Was fairly expensive in the late 80's but a great shotgun. Wish I still had it.

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from Breen wrote 6 years 11 weeks ago

I've always had a love affair with doubles and the Sterlingworth is superior to the Parker. Smoother, slicker and better shooting. I use an L C Smith mostly and love the gun for its pointing abilities. 16ga for birds and 12 ga for everything else. Also on the list is the "other" sicelock American double... Lefevre. It is undoubtably the smoothest action on any American double ever. Try to lock the action as slowly as you can... it locks with a snap and a jump within the last 1/32 inch of travel. Points like a dream and has cocking indicators, too. Had Uncle Dan been as good a businessman as he was at making guns Lefevre would be the household name that Fox, Smith and Parker are today.

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 11 weeks ago

After reviewing your rating of the 50 Best Shotguns in the Winter Issue of Field and Stream I have 3 questions.1) My grandfather left me his 12 guage double-barrel shotgun. It says Fox and Savage Firearms on one barrel and Model B on the other. Is this the same Fox shotgun that you list as #12 in your ratings?2) I own a Ithaca/SKB over and under 12 guage. Although it is not a side by side as your #44, how would this Ithaca o/u be evaluated?3) I shoot left-handed and chose the Browning BPS over the Ithaca Model 37 only because I preferred the safety on the top of the receiver with the Browning instead of the Ithaca's trigger guard. How did the BPS stack up in your ratings.Thank You for any help you can give me,Jim Kegley

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from Richard Bradford wrote 6 years 12 weeks ago

I don't know about you guys but the grey print on slightly lighter grey paper is killing my eyes.What idiot thought of this? I bet it wasn't Petzel. I am 61, just had my glasses changed and have no trouble reading the newspaper at all. I am afraid if I keep reading F & S, I won't be able to tie on hooks or see crosshairs.

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from Del in Kansas wrote 6 years 13 weeks ago

I have about a dozen shotguns but for several years now have only used 2. Bought a benelli Super Black Eagle about 10 yr ago. had it weatherproofed at ultra coatings inc. Replaced the recoil mechanism with a new stainless one. The new SBE's come with stainless the old steel one will rust inside where you can't reach to clean it. It is an outstanding goose, duck, Pheasant and turkey gun. I took a 23 lb gobbler a measured 64 yd using heavy shot with it in '07. For quail and dove I shoot a Beretta 28 ga o/u. I really get a kick out of being the first guy to limit out when my friends are all shooting 12's.

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

If you are left-handed (I am),the 1100 is perfect for me with the safety behind the trigger. Keep your trigger finger on the trigger and your middle finger on the safety at the same time. You automatically click the safety off as you bring the gun to your shoulder. You have 1 motion instead of 2. I bought a left-handed auto and it was so awkward,I took it back.

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from MADLEFTY wrote 6 years 14 weeks ago

I would also like to know how the 11-87 would rank,being it was supposed to be the improvement to the 1100. Was the only difference, that it could shoot 3" shells? And what reliable automatics are available left handed?

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from Richard Bradford wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

This article started me thinking about some guns I owned years ago. One I would love to have back was a Remington model 58 Sportsman. 12 ga. 30 inch full choke.I killed a boxcar full of game with it and it never jammed even once.Had an Iver-Johnson 12 ga. single that would kill on both ends.Kicked so hard I dreaded to shoot it.Had a Rem.1100 LT 20 that was a great gun and the prettiest wood I have ever seen on a mass production shotgun.Dave,I really enjoy this blog. Thanks.

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from Richard Bradford wrote 6 years 16 weeks ago

I really enjoyed bourjaily's 50 best article and wouldn't change his picks,even if I could. To add a little though,a few years ago,here in West Virginia,you would be hard pressed to find a household without a Win. model 37 or 37A in the corner or on a rack.That single shot,plain old workhorse was hard to beat in any catagory except multiple shots. As for worst of the worst,I would add the Win. Model 50 semi auto. It worked well enough but weighed just a fraction less than a 57 Chevy pick-up.

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from darrel phelps wrote 6 years 17 weeks ago

I am late responding but here goes. I grew up shooting a m12. I thought then and now it was the best made gun on the planet with a humpback a close second. I hunt a lot (wingshooting) here, Mexoco, Columbia. I am now 73 ears old. About ten years ago we started going to Argentina and I took the m12's. ONE TIME. I found they were like me, Old and outdated. My friends took many of the other guns mentioned in the aticle. We have found that if you want something that will shoot trouble free fof 6 to 10 thousand times in 4 days you had better have a Benelli montrefeltro or Super 90 NOT THE 3 1/2 gun. And you did not even mention it.

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from Matthew Hardman wrote 6 years 17 weeks ago

The Ruger Red Label was one of the top selling guns for a couple of years now and why is it not on the top 50 list.

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from Brett wrote 6 years 18 weeks ago

Great list im glad someone finally made one. On the other hand I dont think the 870 is 2nd. The SBE and the Extrema should be in front of some of those, And you forgot to add the (in my opinion) 2 best pumps on the market today the BPS and the SuperNova. Other then that the list is great.P.S thanks for making that catridge guide in that other issue, But the 300 short mag is much better choice then 270 short mag.

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from Bill Stone wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I would like to thank Phil Bourjaily for including the Stevens Model 311 in his list of the Fifty Best Shotguns Ever Made. I've had mine for almost 30 years and it's killed a lot of game. It saves this grumpy old man from having to find his pencil and then steal lined paper from the grandkids. The 311 ain't pretty, but it shoots.

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from Bill Stone wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I would like to thank Phil Bourjaily for including the Stevens Model 311 in his list of the Fifty Best Shotguns Ever Made. I've had mine for almost 30 years and it's killed a lot of game. It saves this grumpy old man from having to find his pencil and the steal lined paper from the grandkids. The 311 ain't pretty, but it shoots.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I've noticed the Mossberg has to be pumped with authority. But the gun is so inexpensive that alone makes it a legend. All things must be considered or the best fifty shotguns would be out of the financial reach of all but the most elite hunters... oh yeah and gun writers.

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from Russell Comstock wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I am amazed that anyone would rank the Mossberg 500 over a Browning BPS. The Browning BPS is hands down the best ambidextrous shotgun ever produced. I'm an owner of both shotguns and would have sold my Mossberg years ago if it wouldn't have been given to me as a gift. The Mossberg I own is chambered in 2 3/4" and 3" but it has never properly ejected a 2 3/4" and for this reason I will never rely on it again as more than a bad conversation piece.

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

While I am not a big auto-loader fan I grudgingly nod to the Remington 1100 and the Baretta/Benelli selfshuckers. Can't agree on the A5, aesthetically the thing is just ugly and I have seen them jam on numerous occasions with light loads not quite ejecting.Versatility is not the only reason to buy a shotgun, as such there are plenty of doubles deserving this list.SA

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from J. Gibbs wrote 6 years 19 weeks ago

I am a fan of 4 shotguns, the A5 for reliability and functionality, the 1100 it's handier than the A5, and the new Beretta's and Benelli's that have replaced them. The Browning Gold Hunter is nice but no magazine cutoff. You can place all the doubles in the world under these autos and the pump 870's, BPS, M12, and Ithacas because they are not versatile enough for the average man's wallet or hunting needs.

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from Mike Smith wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

870 rated over model 12 ? The 870 is definatly the work horse. But I will take my old 16 gauge model 12 over any of them.

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from Phillip E. Johnson wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

Finally someone has put the Winchester model 59 on a list of best shotguns.I inherited the Model 59 from my father. I have used it on pheasants, quail, rabbits and still use it on South Texas Doves. My 59 has screw-in chokes. This was possibly the first screw-in chokes that Winchester ever had.I also have owned number 3 and 6 on the list and still own a Model 12 - 3 inch magnum.Thanks for the article.

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from Jeff Burkett wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

To not include the Ruger Red Label is a travesty. I bought a .20 ga. twenty-five years ago, and have put a gazillion cases of shells through it. Other than the usual ware, it's a sound as the day I first fired it. If there is a more reliable field gun, I've never seen it. Some of my hunting buddies have high-dollar guns that like some high-dollar cars, always in the shop.

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from Jeff Burkett wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

To not include the Ruger Red Label is a travesty. I bought a .20 ga. twenty-five years ago, and have put a gazillion cases of shells through it. Other than the usual ware, it's a sound as the day I first fired it. If there is a more reliable field gun, I've never seen it. Some of my hunting buddies have high-dollar guns that like some high-dollar cars, always in the shop.

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from Hogatheart wrote 6 years 20 weeks ago

870 over M12 no way! How could a Kreighoff K80 be left off of the list?

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from Frank wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

New to this forum. Trying to find a replacement barrel for a Stevens 12ga pump model 67 Series E? any sources or ideas?

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from J. S. wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

Where does the Remington 1187 shotgun with a rifled slug barrel rank? I did not see this gun rank. I saw the 1100 score well and thought the 1187 was a "better" version of the 1100.

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from Mark Drayer wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

I have hunted with shotguns for some 40+ years now and can not believe the Mossberg 500 was rated 23 and left the Winchester 1200 at 46! I have had 3 Mossberg 500's over the years. Everyone of them had broken a different part and not a one every shot very well. I have a Winchester 1200 that I bought used and have never had a problem. My Remington 870 is still my favorite but the Winchester's recoil is much more easier on the body. As you said "If you think of a gun as nothing but I tool" then the Mossberg 500 is one cheap tool I don't want in my tool box.

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from coach ike wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

dear dave,after reading 50 best shotguns of all time, i do have to disagree with you in regards to the mossberg 500. 23rd? cmon! what makes the 500 such a great gun is price along with functionality. where on earth can you get both the rifled barrel (cantilevered for a scope) and a smooth bore combo for under $300? nowhere! match that gun up with the right ammo (mine likes the hornady sst 300 grain) and that gun is lethal. a buddy of mine owns a rem 870 and it is indeed a good gun, but when he was pricing a new rifled barrel for it, the price was just as much as the gun itself. this is what seperates the mossberg from the rem 870.

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from warren wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

I am in the market for a 26" 28 gauge woodcock/grouse gun and this gun looks like it could do the trick. I've also had the CZ Ringneck recommended as a very good value and reliable gun. Does 11/9 poster or anyone have any info on it?

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from warren wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

I am in the market for a 26" 28 gauge woodcock/grouse gun and this gun looks like it could do thr trick. I've also had the CZ Ringneck recommended as a very good value and reliable gun. Does 11/9 poster or anyone have any info on it?

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

That's $199 for a brand new 870 express... cheap wood, parkerized finish but same old never failRem action! From the other site yes you can burn DVD's if your computer will let you. My little girl has a cheapo digital camera and transferred pictures of all her friends to a DVD where they look at the pictures on her TV. High tech red neck...

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from Rocky Mtn Hunter wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph: at $l99.00 if in good condition it;s a great buy. I've only owned one pump in my lifetime.For some reason, never got the hang of operating a pump at all. My Semi's work well and as long as you keep the action clean should give litle problem. However, the less moving parts to any firearm the better, thats why a Dble s x s is so great. But agree many model 870's around and thats each hunters choice, but if shotgun hunting, will be my Auto's, depending on what I will be hunting. Love the 1100 full choke 30" bbl for buck shot for deer being run with dogs in East Va. A real fun hunt. Over past 37 odd years killed many deer with Auto's up there. I plan a 3-4 day hunt in Va.after Christmas, the ll00 will go.PS; Dr. near what major city in N East Montana is a good area for Mulies and Antelopes. I've been told many Mulies in the NE section. If so, I want to make contact with someone up there for 2008. I want a real trophy Plains Mulie before I get to old to hunt. At 72, few seasons left sad to say. I have a nice Mtn Mulie, but want a plains Mulie. Thanks for any advice.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

Looking throught he paper this morning I see an add for the 870 Express $199-. Hard to beat but like RMH give me a semi-auto... Still for $199- a man could have a one gun battery to hunt basically everything.

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from Rocky Mtn Hunter wrote 6 years 21 weeks ago

Any Auto shotgun must be cleaned often. When mine are in use, I sray the action after each days hunt with Gun Scrubber let dry then a few drops of Rem oil to moving parts. I have a Remington Spotsman 48 had for 50 odd years,came with a 26" improved cyl.I ordered a 30" full choke for Deer hunting wih Buck shot. Gun has never jammed and shoots to- day as well as my 2 ll00's in l6 and 12, or my Mossburg 9200 Auto with rifld bbl for deer hunting stats that allow only shotguns. As for Dble bbls. A Wesley A Scott takes the top prize, then the Fox as # 2. Parker is a great firearm but not the quality of the Fox to me. AS for the 870 if you like a Pump they ok, but I prefer a Auto or dble s x s to any pump. Charles Daly is now importing a nice not-expensive dble now. For the $ invested is a good buy and as a rule a Quakity fiearm,, If purchasing a non-USA mfgerd firearm,I go with the Italians. My A.Uberti made in Italy is a jewel and hits where its pointed.Most of our problems, (us Gun Nuts) is we greedy and never happy with what we now own, we always wanting more. I can recall for 20 ys I only had one fire-Arm. It was used for all types of hunting allowed here, it was a 12 ga. dble bbl. Savage/Stevens. Once I bought the Sportsman 48 by Remington, the Dble bbl found a new home, much to my regret. With fewer birds to hunt now, few wing shooters around. Here at home, 20-30 yrs ago, no problem to find 8-10 covey's of birds a day. This season so far, only found one cover. Damn Foxes,Coyotes kill all small game. Need to have a mandaory season on those prior to Deer season.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Grouse hunting was my father's passion. He was a veterinarian and every time he was writing up a bill to farmer Brown he would look at the man and say "you have any quail on your farm?" We knew where every covey in a five county area was. All we had to do was turn the pointer loose in the last known location and BAM BAM BAM. It was almost too easy so he got into grouse. My experience with these creatures is the same as Mark-1's. If you actually see the bird instead of just hearing it flush you are ahead of the game.

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

By the way, back in (I think) 1976, Browning ran an ad for the oldest operating A-5. Best I remember, some guy from Mich. came draggin' in an A-5 with a 2-digit serial no., no finish or bluing left. Stock had been wired together and an eraser glued to the end of the bbl for a front sight! And he STILL duck hunted with the thing! Now that's tough!Think the reward (prize?) was a new A-5.Bubba

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

The Rem 870 is developing into a real firearm of legend as did the Mod 12 Win in it's own rights. The only thing the Rem 870 lacks is the history and the metal quality. Make no mistake, I have shot and seen 870's that have been through the mill, no doubt! They are very tough and reliable! The only one-upmanship I can see over the Mod 12 is ease of repair and bbl removal!A classic dbl is so much more perfect for gunning upland game birds over a well trained Brit or Llewellyn, but for the duck marshes and such, it's awful tough to beat one of the old standby's, Win Mod 12 or 870 Rem!Bubba

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

870 ranked above the Model 12... and Dave pats him on the back for this heresy. You boys call yourselves gun writers? Hmmmph. I have never owned an 870. I have a 1917 vintage Model 12 even though it claims to be a Model 1912 on the barrel. Which is the better gun? That is entirely dependant upon whether I am inheriting the weapon from my grandfather or whether I am going out to purchase it. This is the fine distinction in the list that makes it possible for two cheap ass Remington's to share the top five with works of art. I have three different friends who consider me to be the resident expert on firearms. They want a gun. ONE gun. A CHEAP gun. They want to hunt ducks, rabbits, doves, deer, and everything else their heart desires. They all own Remington 870's thanks to yours truly who told them if you own but one gun this is it.

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from ICU/CCU wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Petzal........(shakes head in disgust), Hijack a topic lately?

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from buckstopper wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

My next purchase for myself will be a Benelli SBE II(AKA Arkansas Purdley). I got a left handed version for my son, and it points much like an old A5.

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from Shaky wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Many thanks Silver Arrow, Chad,Mark for the information. I was begining to dought my judgment, (as my wife has for many years). I dug the 20ga. out of the vault and checked it over, as I had not actually looked at it for 10yrs. It is still very pretty, but indeed is stamped Savage Fox B. has vent. rib,center bead,the fit and finish can't be faulted.If you go back to the rating list, maybe you will be able to see why I was confused, because the statement is made that Fox was made "1903-1930 by Savage,1993-present-" and is cut off without finishing the statement.So it appeared to me that Savage made almost all Fox guns. As I said when I wrote, maybe there is something I'm missing,and it turns out there was quite a lot I was missing. And thanks to the other respondants, I am not missing nearly as much.As I said before, this is a great blog. DEP you do a great job, keep up the good work.

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from Dennis Crabtrey II wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

I've had a few shotguns, but never been really good with any of them. I have a 870 youth express w/ polychoke for quail/squirrel.I traded off my 1100 that jammed frequently and probably needed replacement parts as others have said. I traded it for a 870 tactical model when I learned gas guns don't work in Alaska. Then I purchased what I thought was my last shotgun a 12 ga SBE II from Benelli. AWESOME finally a shotgun that's light, points well (for me), and I can finally hit with. I use it for quail, huge overkill.

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

As far as the Holy Grail of shotguns. In the late seventies, I was working in a gun shop in deep east Texas. A salesman friend, knowing I liked Mod. 12, sent two to the store he found in a going out of business sale. They were both the "Y" series guns. One was a trap, the other a field grade trap. I ended up with the field grade gun. It was like carrying around a bolt of lightning! But alas, life, kids, oil prices eventually ate it up and we parted company.(sniffle)Bubba

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Chad!Oh-Ma-Gawd! I had two of those 1100 Uplands in my career in 12 and 20, too! I thought they be perfect grouse guns. The 20 was too light and short of have a good swing for me. The 12 was heavier, of course, and I could shoot it well. Sold both for whatever reasons.I think I’ve had a total of six different 1100’s. I wore out my present 28-ga’s springs, extractor, and rings on the skeet fields and uplands. For $40 bucks on replacement parts, it shoots a fire again. I bought this gun used. Love the 1100’s Bang-Clack-Bang Clack!I’m with my 28-ga 1100 and my Beretta O/U for after $20k in guns [as claimed by ex-spouse] and another $30k learning how to shoot clays I ran out of disposable income.I’m still burning off Karma.

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from Chad Love wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Mark I've always been able to shoot 1100s well, too, with one glaring exception: a 20 gauge special field with one of those ultra-short 21-inch barrels.Funny thing was, I had lusted after one since childhood. Those great old Remington magazine ads from the early 80s worked wonders on my impressionable young mind but I just never had the money to get one. All through high school and college my meager shotgun collection had to pull double duty on everything. I just couldn't afford a special-purpose quail gun.But on a visit to my dad one year I found a pristine 1100 special field in a gunshop in Kalispell. I pawed it for a while, put it back on the rack and forgot about it. Next year when my dad came back to Oklahoma for the birth of our first son he came wagging that gun through the door.I spent two years and I don't know how many flats of shells trying to learn how to shoot with that damn thing. I missed clays and birds with that gun in ways that defied logic and reason.Finally I called my dad up and told him and he said "Hell, don't worry about it, trade it off."So I ended up trading it for a sweet little English-stocked double-trigger Uggie 12 gauge that felt like a wand in my hand.I spent two more years and untold flats of shells...well, you know where this is going.

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

YooperJack,You normally hunt Grouse all season for six-birds burning up 75-shells getting them. It ain’t your 1100. I use an 1100 28-ga skeet gun for grouse and woodcock now. All my other hunting is with a Beretta 686 EL in 12-ga.Skaky,I reaffirm what you described was a Savage-Stevens. It was my first shotgun in 1965 in 16-ga. It’s a good knock-about gun, but very roughly made. Savage-Stevens did put out a “Fox” during these years that was essentially the same gun with a vent rib and beavertail fore end...poison for a bird gun.To All,Here in Upstate New York we often come across Bakers, Lefevers, Smiths, Parkers and Ithaca’s since they were manufactured in this area. They come in all models and grades. Most were grunt shotguns made for work with poor wood and no metal work sporting the name. The higher grades are obviously works of art [slurp]. High grade A.H. Fox and Ithaca’s I’ve seen are superior guns to Parkers, LC Smiths and Winchester 21’s. It just isn’t the fine attention to detail in the making and materials, but it also comes down to the field handling and functioning.To All, Part II,IMHO any shotgun throwing 1-oz loads will do for the Uplands. Type of action: Personal preference. The rub is the gun has to handle in your hands, and you gotta like the “sight picture”. It seems the higher grade guns meet this criterion. However.......I can't shoot Browning’s. Except for a 20-ga Upland model I could only hit blue sky with Brownings, yet I have always shot 1100’s well and Beretta O/U’s which seem to have the same sight picture for me and “handle”. Krieghoff's, Perazzi, Ithaca’s and Winchester’s were nice, but I never could do my best shooting with them. In other people’s hands they were crunchers. Finding your particular shotgun is like looking for the Holy Grail. Enjoy that search, but once you find it. Stop!

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from Trae B. wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

thank you all for helping me prove that some of my friends are liars.

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from Mike Strehlow wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Grat blog. Tough list to make. With shotguns, you have to deal with 1. shotgun as working tool 2. Shotgun as hunter (is a Benelli a better goose gun than a Beretta is a dove gun, etc.) 3. Shotgun as deer rifle 4. Shotgun as competitor 5. Shotgun as heirloom/ art 6. Shotgun as history. Philip did a great juggling act. If he'd meant for one shotgun to stand in for the best of an entire type, he could have had a couple of honorable mentions, but that's nit picking.It was neat that the Winchester 1200 got on the list. My dad got a 12 ga. Ted Williams shotgun from Sears, pump action with a Polychoke, back in the '60s. Essentially a rebadged Winchester 1200, and a sweet-shucking trombone it still is. Philip, you really did your homework.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

My grandfather used a Winchester Model 12, my father used a Browning A-5, and I use a Remington 1100... just wonder what the kids will be using.

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from Michael wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

I have an old side by side 12 gauge Lefeever nitro express, w/ geese engraved on the side. It has been through alot and shows some wear. It is so light to carry and points so well that I wish I could just hit something w/ it!! I guess it all comes down to what you shoot the most. I have to put my head down really far on the stock to hit anything. Unfortunatley, I use a Red Label for pheasant and bunnies, an 870 rifled slug barrel for deer, an 870 .410 for fun, and SBE eagle left hand eject for waterfoul. I think that translates into "Beware the man who only owns one gun"

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from Chad Love wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

SilverArrow beat me to it, Shaky. What you have isn't an AH Fox but an imported Savage with the Fox name on it. Orders of magnitude difference...

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from Chev Jim wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

If possible, one day I'd like to have a decent, side-by-side 20 or 28 gauge double, with a Prince of Wales grip, a coin finish receiver with modest engraving, selective ejectors, and nice figure in the wood. I have a Model 1100 Tournament Skeet, and it's a great shotgun, but it's rather heavy. I also want something a little lower in the recoil department. I want to enjoy my shooting and not have it spoiled by a slap in the face or a bruised shoulder. All that recoil absorption was OK 30 years ago, but not so much today. I've already had to deal with a partially detached retina, and I don't want to push my luck! So, the last shotgun I will ever buy will hopefully be the one I always wanted!

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from YooperJack wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

This is great! All the years I've puled my 1100 out of the cabinet, shot at Grouse, missed! I thought it was my fault. Turns out it was the gun.Already this has been a great Veterans Day.Thanks!

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

ShakyThe 'Fox' shotgun your son gave you wasn't THE 'Fox' shotgun we have been gagga over on this thread. The one you had was probably made off shore (Spain or South America most likely) and imported by Savage.The A H Fox (Ainsley H Fox) shotguns crafted in Philadelphia, PA early in the 20th century are among the top production shotguns ever made. The chokes were perfectly formed and the barrels collimated for either 25 or 30 yards dependent on gauge, if memory serves. Fit and finish was top drawer as well. The truly well heeled sport of the period could have his stock custom fitted for cast and drop.Savage aquired rights to the Fox name in the early 1970's (again if memory serves) and began importing shotguns bearing the name shortly thereafter.Hope this helps a bit.BubbaThank you for the support! I currently own an 870 but alas no M12. Afield the 870 is reliable and puts the shot where I have the gun pointing so no real need to seek an M 12 at the moment.SA

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from jstreet wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

I have to agree with Bubba on the whole 16 gauge thing. Built on the right frame, the 16 does 12 gauge duty on a lighter frame.Unfortunately, they (16 gauges) seem to come and go in popularity and the ammo gets pricier all the time.Jim

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from Bubba wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Gotta weigh in on this one!First, 870 over Mod. 12?!C'mon guys, whether you like the Mod 12 or not, take a real close look. Apparently SA did. Machined steel vs. investment castings and stampings?! I shoot an 870 AND a Mod 12. But quality? Mod 12., no contest!!!!Next: The sixteen gauge!I cut my teeth on a L. C. Smith 16! As a youngster, I didn't have to deal with the recoil of a 12 but could put up a denser patter than a 20. They have seen fit to discontinue the 16. A sad, sad, sad state of affairs!Bubba

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from Shaky wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Maybe there is something I'm missing, but I was given a new 20ga Fox by my son in 1976 that had been in storage for 20yr. It is very pretty to look at,but there is no reasonable way to compare it to my old 12ga L.C.Smith. #1:it outweighs the Smith by a pound.#2:the left barell patterns 16"higher than the right. #3:the left hammer broke on the first box of shells.Now tell me, how can we say that the Fox is the better gun than the Smith, when I've run thousaands of shells thriugh it without a single misshap.Probably I just got a lemmon, judging from expert oppinion. I will keep it, because it was a gift, but when I hunt quail or pheasant, it will stay home, and the old Smith will go with me.

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from KJ wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

One of my favorite vineyards has this to say: "The best wine is the wine you like the best." That probably goes for most things. I have a friend who had a nice Browning B-SS. It carried like a dream, but I couldn't hit the side of a barn with it. With my Plain Jane 870, the birds drop and the clays turn to dust. Is the 870 the better gun? In my hands it is.

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from Greg wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

I love my 870, If I had to pick between my wife and my 870, well she might be lookin! I would die to have a Purdey, guess I could quit eating, no lights, heat, sell a couple kids, truck motorcycle, 4wheeler, and all my blood. Maybe just maybe I could put a down payment one. Held one once and wet myself!

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Nice pictures... wonderful to sit back and enjoy. Muzzle loading is over in Tennessee and next weekend the rifles come out. Need to go to the gunsmith and pick up the .257 Wby. and hit the range. You know I had an Ithaca 37 back when I was a kid but it got stolen. I had forgotten about the scenes on the side and it kind of jolted me when I saw it again. All this fuss over the Model 12 has me curious. I am going to open some safes and find mine just to see if it really is that smooth.

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

TraeI do not believe there are any current production shotguns larger than 10 gauge. I have seen 8 and 4 gauge guns from earlier eras in private collections and museums, also punt and battery shotguns in museums. The 4 gauge I have held was a muzzle loading, percussion fired double barrel which tips the scales at over 15 lbs, one did not shoulder such a peice; it was laid over the gunnals of your boat and fired when a flock of ducks or geese were rafting within range. The one 8 gauge I've seen up close was a black powder cartridge peice, marginally lighter than the 4 gauge though I am told it could be shouldered and swung on moving birds.SA

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Trae B.I have seen 8-ga shotguns mostly in Europe since the gauge is outlawed for hunting in North America. I saw one fine old 8-ga double that belonged to a Long Island market hunter. It was willed to his son who wasn’t any spring chicken. IMO 10 and 8 ga guns handle much differently than the smaller gauges.YooperJack: Read Gene Hill’s essays. He articulated the world of shotguns, shotgunning the Uplands and Marshes, and dogs much better than me. I’d be plagiarizing him shamefully.To all: I think it’s a disgusting sham to throw a 16-ga gun on a 12-ga frame and a 28-ga on a 20-ga frame although one of my favorite shotguns is a 28-ga 1100 [lt20-ga frame]. Both acts destroy the benefits and strengths of both gauges'guns.

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 22 weeks ago

Maybe It's because I'm getting old, but I think it's a sufficiently notable achievement to create a list of Top Fifty Shotguns, have good reasons for your selections and not omit any obvious candidates.Gents, in three hours I'm taking my little 20 ga. Winchester 101 out of the safe and going quail shooting....and a pox on Mr. Bourjaily for not ranking it among the top 30. (I couldn't access the complete list on the Internet.)

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from Bernie Kuntz wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Dave, Dave, how on earth can you say that the Model 870 is as good or maybe better than the Model 12? I will concede the fact that the Model 870 still is being manufactured but nothing beyond that. My first "real" shotgun was a M-870 in 16 gauge which I still own. However, I have M 12s in 16 and 12 gauge and would not trade them for a truck load of M 870s!If I may, some of my opinions: The Browning Auto-5 was one of the finest ever. I have owned a "Sweet Sixteen" since 1971. It is a tragedy that is was discontinued. I won a Browning Gold Hunter, NRA Commemorative from 2000. The SOB jams all the time after it heats up. No magazine cutoff either. My gunsmith says he will check it out.Super-X-1: My wife bought me one from a guy about 15 years ago who shoots a Browning Superposed and couldn't get used to the cross-bolt safety on the Super-X-1. You will never find a finer semi-auto. Too heavy for my taste to carry for pheasants but great in a duck blind and for sporting clays. And it always works!The SP-10: Great goose gun. I've owned it for 13 years and hammered lots of Canadas. No malfunctions. Get rid of the steel shot, shoot Federal Tungton-iron and you will be impressed!Model 1100: Very good gun, have owned a 16 gauge in that model since 1974 and gave it to my wife.Model 50 Win.: Same gun, I believe, as the M 59 only the 50 doesn't have the goofy glass barrel. Not a great gun by any stretch of the imagination. The only reason I own it is it belonged to my father.I am sort of a heathen in some circles as I have never owned a double. I have shot some, but never owned one. Wish I had one of those Merkels you have written about, Dave. One time I could have bought one new for $2,850 but didn't do so. Now they are several times that amount! (Sob!)I enjoy the blog!

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Just don't understand this love affair with side by sides... they're certainly beautiful works of art but personally I can't hit with them. About the only shotgun I ever have been able to hit with is number 5 on the list. That old soft shooting 1100. Every time they try to kill it, it comes back to life in another form. Should have called it the phoenix.

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from Trae B. wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

I have a question.do they actually make 8 gauges I hear people say that they have one but they can never prove it and I have never seen one.so mr petzal can you answer this for me?

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Prices for comparable quality guns are closer than you might think. But, in the spirit of the question, those high dollar shotguns on the top 50 list require more custom (i.e., hand crafted) work that similar rifles.Some of the current CZs are examples of a high quality shotguns at very reasonable prices

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from YooperJack wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Probably a dumb question but why do shotgun prices seem so high relative to rifles? If you had a list of the best fifty rifles I could afford most of them with a second mortgage. If I had to have one of the double shotguns I would have to sell a kidney. I do have one of the autos listed though.

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from Steve C wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

SilverArrow,That's my post directly above on the Model 12 in response to your comments. It somehow got cutoff and my name deleted

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from Visitor wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

owned two Model 12s made in the 1950s (one a Marine Corps surplus). I like the Ithaca Model 37 (late 60s era) and BPS (mid 80s era) better, and not just for their downward ejection. If I had to pick just one as my sole pump shotgun, it would be the BPS. The only version of the Model 870 I have shot was an Upland Special, owned by a friend and which I loved, but I couldn’t hit anything with it. But I’m also a huge fan of the older Model 500 Mossbergs. So, my conclusion is that good pump shotguns are where you find them.My comment is that there are few shotguns that are personalized as much as the Model 12. It has been a victim to the snob appeal, myths, and legends that guns sometimes draw. The Model 12 has cult followings in all three categories. There's also probably not a noted outdoorsman or gun writer in the last eighty years that hasn't shot a Model 12 and heaped laurels upon it so there’s that element of “expert opinion”. But for millions, much of the love for the Model 12 comes from it being their first shotgun they shot as a kid, for others it was their dad’s or grandfather’s shotgun, all of which stirs some strong embers of their love for hunting. That’s the emotional aspect I was talking about.As for it being too expensive to produce, that was relatively true at the time (as was the relative superiority of the design). But look at the price of shotguns now. And when they tried reintroducing it a few years ago it didn’t take off. Some of this has to do with the shift to auto shotgun and resurgence of O/U and S/S guns but it also reflects that the great things the Model 12 use to bring to the table are no longer exceptional.The history, tradition, and romance surrounding the Model 12 are undeniable. It being the best pump shotgun is not.

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

I'm the first to admit, Boys, not all Ithaca SKB's were stocked with old fence posts. My ex-father- in-law....God Rest his AA scores and soul...dominated the Upstate New York skeet fields in the mid-70's with an Ithaca SKB 800. It was a fine gun...with fine wood.

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from Chad Love wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Actually my Ithaca SKB isn't stocked with a fence post either. I'm pretty sure in a former life it was part of a cross-brace for a shipping pallet full of steel ingots bound for the SKB factory in Japan, and when it got there some enterprising factory worker decided to use it instead of a walnut stock blank.

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from ishawooa wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

The A. H. Fox guns undoubtedly are the best choice of those made or previously manufacturered in American factories (see my comments in the photo section). Also Mark-1 please note that my SKB's and Ithaca SKB's are NOT stocked with fence posts. Upon close inspection you will see that they are actually low grade South American p**s elm sap wood. To be perfectly truthful I have heard that this particular type of elm is an alternative for fence posts in southern Chili. Either way I look past the wood and still love the 28 gauge SKB.

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Steve CThe Model 12 survived on a lot more than legend. The action is slick as fresh motor oil. Model 12's point like an extension of your finger (as it should be). The higher grade M12's were finished as well as any American made shotgun. The John Moses Browning design proved durable in two world wars. Shall I go on?The Model 12 went the way of the Dodo bird because it was too damn expensive to manufacture in an era of mass produced competition.I, for one, whistfully hope that this new iteration of Winchester will bring back a limited run of Model 12's in each of the gauges, I think the market might bear it if they are done with the care of the original.SA

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from SilverArrow wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Amen to the notion that the A.H.Fox is superior to Parker!Learned with an A.H.Fox and still borrow it from Dad on occasion! It is solid, feels just right and hits what I shoot at most of the time. When I miss it is because I did something wrong.As for the comments on the Rem 870 vs the Win M 12; purely from a shooter stand point it is the M12 hands down! Slickest action going, period. DEP is right on the simplicity and cost to manufacture argument; the revered M12 is not in the race anymore because of that. Winchester's replacement for the M12 (the M1200) wasn't up to the test.As to the 870 in 16 gauge, I had wanted one until you busted my bubble Dave! I think I will just go with a 20 gauge instead. I am sure if I hefted the 16 in the store I would have made the same decision. Maybe the store near me still has that old M12 Winchester in 16 gauge!SA

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from Steve C wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

The “best” gun debate often defaults to the category of Fallacy of Composition. The best materials and best fit and finish means the best gun. Hardly.What’s best is always more about emotion and imagination that objective assessment. The example of the Model 12 is a good example of something that survives as much on its legend as it’s accomplishments. The James Dean of shotguns.I think Boss and Fabbri make beautiful museum pieces you can shoot but I’d no more want to own one than hang the Hope Diamond around my neck.

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from Chad Love wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Can't quibble too much with most of the mass-production choices.I probably would have replaced the Gold with the BPS and I might have included the Beretta BL series O/Us that preceded the 680 series guns. Beautiful guns and I think they really primed the pump for later acceptance of Beretta's guns.I was glad to see the inclusion of the Miroku/Daly guns. Matter of fact, I'd bet Miroku has more rperesentation on the list than any other manufacturer. The Citori is Miroku-built, as was the BSS.My early 70s Daly-branded Miroku O/U is as dear to me as my Berettas.

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from jay wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Purdy, Boss, and some of the others perfected 'game gun' handling long ago. I just don't understand why with our modern technology and brains we can not duplicate their performance (close but no cigar). I have shot with a borrowed Boss, just wish I could afford one.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

I agree with Dave's opinion, and agree that the Italian made guns are primo; even a "reasonable" priced one at $5000 is worth it.As for SXS, I think the spanish have that corner of the market fenced in!

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from Mark-1 wrote 6 years 23 weeks ago

Great article and I love DP’s critique. I can’t imagine any worse violators of scared, dogma than these two….except for me. I have to agree with most placings and models although I was shocked High Standards’ pump gun wasn’t included. It’s just as sweet looking and functional as the 870 and Model 12.Purdy is the standard for all doubles. Period. I believe Fox and Ithaca doubles were superior to anything else USA made in all catagories. It boggles my mind how folks shot 70 to 100-years ago. All these s/s were stocked with massive drops. I shoulder one of these babies and I’m staring at the tang. They must have shot with head high.I’m glad Winchester 101 didn’t make the cut. It was never a premium shotgun IMO. SKB’s used fence posts for stocking material. Ruger followed suit and well as having their shotguns badly balanced.The Italian guns are running the show now in O/U’s and Auto’s. It’s tough and very expensive to beat them.An item I discovered presently with most of the Italian and Browning guns is they are stocked with too long of a pull. This is poison making crossing shots. For me, instead of seeing a big circle in front of me, I see a “V”.Have fun.

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from taz wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

I have to say that anyone who would choose half of those fifty best over a Ruger Red Label is selecting based on some strong potion not heavy on common sense or knowledge of mechanics. The gun will beat out most of the stuff you list if not all of it hands down from thepoint of view of strength, design, aesthics and reliability. At least the old ones. I have two 20's bought in the early eigthies and both have fired over 25.000 rounds being used by family, friends, clients and myself. Jim Carmichael was right. You are wrong. All that glitters is not gold and all that plastic is not real. But hey, at least you got my interest up enough to squak back. Good luck with the Mouseberg. Now there is a canoe paddle if ever there was one!

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