Buying Your First Shotgun
Buying your first shotgun is an important decision and not something you should rush into. Are you mainly interested in clays or game? Perhaps you want to do both. Assuming you are an adult male, I would usually say go for a 12 bore as your first gun. Consider a 20 bore if you are a woman or a young shooter, or, if you have a problem with upper body strength (I might also add that 30” 20 bore over and unders make great game guns for more experienced shots). As a novice, though, you will not go far wrong with a 28” barrel multi-choke over and under. It will be easier to swing. Make sure the gun is not too heavy either – not much over 7lbs.
If clays are your main interest consider 30” barrels, but, 28” are probably better for most game shooting. You should buy a new gun, or, something in excellent, near new, second-hand condition. Do not spend too much to start with – you may want to change your gun later (indeed, you probably will!). Happily, there are some really excellent, well-priced, new guns out there at the moment including the new Beretta Silver Pigeon 1, and, the new version of the Browning 525 (the one with lighter back-bored barrels and Invector Plus chokes). Miroku, Guerini, and, Rottweil (from RUAG) also make some excellent, keenly, priced guns. See the gun review section here.
Once you have bought your gun make sure you get it fitted properly to you (see gunfit here). The best advice is to combine this with a shooting lesson. Money well spent, it will be a wonderful start to your shooting career. A few other bits of advice – make sure you get proper ear and eye protection. And, consider your cartridges as well as your gun. When you start shooting, there is a lot to be said for a lighter, lower-recoiling, load (21 or 24 grams in 12 bore for practising at clays, no more than 28 grams for game). What shot size – that’s simple! 71/2 for clays, 5 or 6 for normal game.