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Americans love small-gauge guns. They’re light, trim, and easy to carry. But there are some pretty big tradeoffs to going small. First and most important is that small-bore shotguns simply can’t shoot as much shot as a 12-gauge shotgun can. The latter delivers heavier payloads and offers greater pattern efficiency, both of which go a long way toward dropping the thing you’re shooting at.

In any case, if you want to carry a great shotgun that doesn’t weigh you down, the real answer is to have your cake and to eat it, too. Because you can. Find a lightweight 12-gauge and you’ll have the best of both—a gun that’s easy to carry and hits hard. You’ll have to load it sensibly, as it won’t have the heft to soak up lots of recoil, but I have shot plenty of 1330 fps, 1¼-ounce 12-gauge loads out of light guns in the uplands, and it hasn’t bothered me a bit. If you agree that any gun under 7 pounds counts as “lightweight,” there are a lot to choose from. Here are the best lightweight 12-gauge shotguns out there.

Best Lightweight 12-Gauge Shotguns: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Benelli UltraLight

Best Overall


  • Weight: 6.1 pounds
  • Barrel length: 26 inches

As big a fan of the Browning Double Auto as I am, I’ll still admit that Benelli’s 6-pound UltraLight shotgun may be the best lightweight 12-gauge semi-auto shotgun of them all. A shorter magazine tube, carbon-fiber rib, and 24-inch barrel keep the weight down to 6 pounds. It’s a terrific gun for long walks in heavy cover and deadly on going-away birds, if not quite so perfect for crossers.

Best For Hunting: Browning A5

Best for Hunting


  • Weight: 7.7 pounds
  • Barrel length: 28 inches

It’s not billed as a lightweight gun, but my 3.5-inch 12-gauge A5 weighs just 6¾ pounds. Yes, 3.5-inch recoil is brutal in this gun, but it’s mannerly enough with normal hunting loads, and it carries easily should I ever want to press it into upland service.

Best Semi-Auto: Beretta A400 Lite

Best Semi-Auto


  • Weight: 6.6 pounds
  • Barrel length: 26 to 29 inches

Beretta’s ultra-reliable, soft-shooting A400 Lite gas gun features a Kick-Off recoil reducer and weighs about 6¾ pounds in 12-gauge.

Best for Women: Weatherby SA-08


  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Barrel length: 24 inches

You don’t have to pay a lot for a light semi-auto. Trim and about 6½ pounds, the Turkish-made SA-08 is low-tech (it comes with two pistons, one for heavy loads, one for light), high-value ($499), and I’ve never heard anybody who owned one say a bad word about it.

Best Rated: Savage 555

Best Rated


  • Weight: 6 pounds
  • Barrel length: 28 inches

Alloy-frame break-actions had their first moment in the 1930s, and they’ve become popular, lightweight guns in the 21st century, too. The 555 is listed at 6 pounds in 12 gauge, and it’s a good-looking tun too. It’s Turkish-made, has extractors in place of ejectors, and is very affordable.

Best Over/Under: Benelli 828U

Best Over/Under


  • Weight: 6.6 pounds
  • Barrel length: 28 inches

Benelli’s outside-the-box O/U features an alloy frame, carbon-fiber rib, and no mid-rib. It comes with shims and an effective recoil reducer in the stock. Weighing around 6¾ pounds in 12, it’s an easy 12-gauge over under to carry but is heavy enough to shoot well.

Best Budget: CZ-USA Upland Ultralight

Best Budget


  • Weight: 5.7 pounds
  • Barrel length: 26 inches

A bare-bones simple, extractor O/U with an alloy frame and no mid-rib for lighter barrels, the 6-pound, 26-inch barreled Upland Ultralight saves weight without unduly lightening your bank account (just like these affordable shotguns). There’s also an All-Terrain version of the same gun with 28-inch barrels, extended chokes, swivel studs, and clever magnets in the extractors to keep unfired shells from falling out.

Best Pump Action: Winchester SXP 

Best Pump Action


  • Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Barrel length: 28 inches

The SXP is one of the slickest and lightest-weight pumps on the market, and you can buy a 24-inch-barreled model to save more ounces.

Best for Sporting Clays: Franchi Instinct SL 


  • Weight: 5.6 pounds
  • Barrel length: 28 inches

The Instinct is a good value in an Italian O/U, and the alloy-framed SL version weighs a little over 6¼ pounds in 12, with a 2¾-inch chamber and 28 inch barrels.


How much does a light shotgun weigh?

When it comes to how much a shotgun should weigh, there’s no set number. However, English gunmaker W.W. Greener says that the average for a 12-gauge shotgun is about 6.75 pounds (or 96 times its intended shot charge). You can find some lightweight shotguns that weigh as little as 6 pounds.

How much is a 12-gauge shotgun?

The price of a 12-gauge shotgun varies greatly by brand, features, and design. They can range from $350 all the way up to $2,000+.

Final Thoughts on the Best Lightweight 12-Gauge Shotguns

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