What a $10,000 Shotgun Is Really Worth

Would you trade in your truck for a shotgun? Here's what you'd get.

NOBODY REALLY NEEDS a $10,000 shotgun. But they're out there, and plenty of target shooters buy them every year. Why? A $10,000 target gun won't break four times as many birds as the garden-variety $2,500 Citori or Beretta 687. Serious shooters gladly spend the extra money anyway, hoping it may buy them one or two targets on the margins: the difference between making the shoot-off and going home. Kolar, Krieghoff, and Perazzi dealer John Herkowitz of Pacific Sporting Arms (pacificsportingarms.com) explains the distinction between the 687 or Citori and a pricier gun: "It's like a Corvette and a Ferrari: One is made to be a good car at a certain price; the other is made without cutting corners to be the best there is." Herkowitz points out that a new gun won't automatically turn someone into a champ. "A good driver in a Corvette beats a bad driver in a Ferrari," he says. "But take two drivers of equal ability and the Ferrari wins."

High-end guns are also better able to withstand the pounding of competition shooting. Herkowitz owns a Perazzi MX8 that's had more than a million rounds put through it, and he still uses it regularly.

In case you decide to invest in a base-model high-end gun such as the Krieghoff sporting clays K-80 (28-, 30-, or 32-inch barrels) with a tapered flat rib and five choke tubes ($10,695 from duPont/Krieghoff; halkguns.com), here's a breakdown of where the money goes:

* WOOD: Standard wood such as straight-grained, strong walnut runs $1,500. With high-end guns, you're paying for steel and engineering, not fancy wood. You can get fancy walnut (see gun above), but it's an upgrade.

* STEEL: Target guns use a high-grade steel for performance and longevity. This is Austrian Böhler steel, which is much more expensive than chrome-moly.

* BARRELS: Regulating the barrels of an over/under is done on a jig that lets a worker fit the barrels to the monoblock. It may take three hours of labor at a European metalworker's wages to make a set of Krieghoff barrels that fit the company's fussy standards. Every gun is test-fired at the factory to check point of impact. Accounting for the steel and labor, a set of barrels sells for $3,200 to $4,000.

* RECEIVER: Engineered for strength, the Krieghoff's receiver is made of tool-grade steel. Its sliding top-latch action is vault solid and adjusts for wear. The action is hand fitted to accept other barrels. There's not much decoration on the base model. Want gold ducks and scrollwork? Krieghoff engravers can do it, but it'll cost you. A plain receiver and fore-end iron sell for $5,900.

* TRIGGERS: Target shooters obsess over crisp, clean, reliable triggers. Any malfunctioning can cost you a target, as can a draggy pull. It takes time, money, and skilled craftsmen to make sure the trigger pulls are good and the mechanism won't fail.

Comparison Shopping

**FOR $10,695, THE COST OF A KRIEG-HOFF K-80, YOU CAN BUY

28.67 Remington 870 Express pumps

9.03 Browning Gold sporting clays guns

3.56 Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon IIs

98 percent of a new Kia Rio compact car**