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Top 7 Semi-Automatic (Autoloading) Shotguns
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Semi-automatic shotguns have been around for many years now, and have become favored by many shooters. Though not as reliable as pump or slide-action shotguns, they are still very reliable, and the reduced recoil of semi-auto scatterguns can help smaller folks handle a shotgun's recoil better than other actions. There are many choices when it comes to autoloading shotguns. Here we will look at seven of today's most popular auto shotgun makers, in alphabetical order.

1) Benelli
Benelli autoloaders use an inertia system, rather than gas, to operate the action. Their Super Black Eagle handles shells from 2-3/4" up to 3-1/2", and there are no gas ports to keep clean. Benellis have a good reputation and a unique style that blends angles with curves for a shotgun like no other. Crossbolt safety located behind the trigger.


2) Beretta 391
Beretta's gas operated semi-automatic shotguns are all based on the same action, the 391. Built in a variety of variations, including one that handles the blonky 12 gauge 3.5" magnum shells, this action is obviously quite versatile. Add to that the good looks and reliability that Beretta shotguns are known for, and it sounds like a winning combination. Crossbolt safety is in front of the trigger in the trigger guard, a better location (easier to use) than behind the trigger.


3) Browning Gold
Browning has long had an excellent reputation for fine guns, and their gas-operated semi-auto Gold shotgun should be no exception. Self-regulating so it can handle both light and heavy loads without adjustment, the Gold is also good-looking, which doesn't hurt its reputation a bit. Also available in a 3.5" version that will shoot lighter loads as well. Has a magazine cutoff, which can be handy. Safety is a crossbolt behind the trigger.


4) Franchi
Franchi's 612 and 620 semi-autos use a user-adjustable gas system, so the same gun handles hot loads as well as lighter ones. Aluminum receivers mean light weight. Magazine cutoff. Crossbolt safety located in front of the trigger. Their 712 & 720 are similar, but have non-adjustable gas systems. The 912 is their non-adjustable 3.5" magnum version of this action. They also make the Model 48, a long-recoil-action reminiscent of early Browning autos, which has a crossbolt safety behind the trigger.


5) Mossberg 935
Mossberg's 935 is chambered for the whopping 3-1/2" 12 gauge magnum, and uses a self-regulating gas system. This gun was developed for use with 3" and 3.5" shells, so don't expect it to function with dove loads. This gun is only available in synthetic-stocked versions. The safety is just exactly where it belongs - centered on the rear of the receiver for ambidextrous thumb operation, where shotgun safeties should all live.


6) Remington 1100 & 11-87
The Remington 1100 has been around for ages, and it's going strong. I'm not sure why, since their 11-87 is an improvement on this action. Its main disadvantage is that one meant for 2-3/4" shells may only be used with 2-3/4" shells, and the 3"-chamber 1100 is meant for use only with 3" shells. A 3"-chambered 11-87, on the other hand, can handle lighter loads along with 3" magnums. Both are gas-operated and come in a variety of sub-models. The crossbolt safety is behind the trigger.


7) Winchester Super X2
Winchester's Super X2 autoloading shotgun is gas-operated. Some versions are self-regulating, while some specialized models may include interchangeable gas pistons for use with different loads. Their 3-1/2" magnum version will handle everything from hotter 2-3/4" shells on up. Crossbolt safety located behind the trigger.


As Usual...Any Comments Always Welcome!
Speak Up....Agree ~ Disagree? :confused:
Any forum members using a Semi~Auto For your Home Defense piece?
Problems....Never any Problems? Do you have 100% confidence in it?
 

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The only time anyone ever convinced me there's an honest to goodness use for the semiautomatic shotgun that justifies its expense is for duck hunting, where you may be caught in a blind and may not have room to manipulate a pump.

I think most people are like me and are perfectly content with the pump.
 

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Euclidean, ever consider combat use? Try to pump while in the prone position a few times.
 

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Me too - pump here.

Did have a Rem 1100 years ago and must say - it was reliable - even had a choke changing dealie on muzzle too. Just never really got my juices flowing tho!
 

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Although I have considered purchasing a Remington pump, my Benelli M1 Super 90 has never let me down as long as it is maintained properly...I did have some ejection failures one time at the trap range after firing about 300 rounds of trap loads without cleaning :biggrin:

I wouldn't hesitate to trust my life to it.
 

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Hafta Admit I'm A Pump~Shotty Guy but, LEOs that have been issued the Benelli seem to love it & seem to have really good things to say about it.
 

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rocky said:
Euclidean, ever consider combat use? Try to pump while in the prone position a few times.
Point taken and I can see how for LEO work or something like that you might get into that position, but for Joe Gunowner like me? If I am shooting prone I want some sort of impressive range; I want a rifle.

I do think they're great and they have their uses, I'm just not the target market.
 

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rocky said:
Euclidean, ever consider combat use? Try to pump while in the prone position a few times.
Good point.

Autos are much easier to manipulate one handed also.
 

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Euc,Sorry sir,don't agree with your"only use of a auto"statement. I also have a Benelli M1 Super 90. I have had this weapon for 4+ years. My application was coyote hunting (mostly at night)on the snow(mostly), over a fresh deer kill. When I lived in Maine I would drive the logging roads during the daytime and look for circleing ravens. I would walk into the area on snowshoes and confirm that yotes had brought down a deer. That PM I would come back with my Benelli and sit and wait for the yotes to return. This weapon is perfect for this. Sometimes with the first shot the rest of the yotes would just jump and stay their for just a half second. The fast cycleing Benelli would usually slay the rest of the pack. I had a tritium,pistol, front sight on the rear, and I took off the front sight altogether. During the summer and spring crow seasons the weapon was perfect for crow slayin'. I have put hundreds and hundreds of full power handloads through this weapon without a glitch. I would HIGHLY reccommend this weapon. Before I purchased my Benelli,I used a Rem.11-87, SPS-T, for these same purposes. This is also a fine weapon IMO. I have a friend that is overseas now, and has with him a Benelli M1 Super 90 with a 14" entry bbl installed.He bets his life on it everyday.--------------
 

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I shoot a Browning Gold for duck, geese, and cranes. Love it, just takes a little more TLC than the old 870. Gotta pay attention to the amount and type of lube you use in extreme conditions (super cold, wet duck blind or super cold, dusty goose pit). I like the semi for birds as it allows me to "keep swinging" on follow-up/multiple shots with no pause to pump.

I use an old 870 for deer, as smooth high volume fire isn't a priority.
 

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I found a NICE Benelli M3 that I have my eye on! It's like brand new too..
 

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Euclidean said:
Shoot, where I come from they take down coyotes with bolt action .243s or a large bore handgun. An autoloading shotgun just seems like hunting rabbits with a .44 Magnum! :eek:
Hell, here I use a AR-15 or FAL with night vision. ;)

Our coyotes are pesky evil creatures deserving of full mall ninja gear.
 

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Hmm...

Gun fit to shooter IMO is the most important factor. Kinda sucks if one has a ill fitting gun, they cannot reach controls and such.

My druthers are based on Competition shooting.
There is that Military History proving the combat effectiveness of 1897, Model 12, Ithaca 37 and 870 as well...

Back to competition if you please-

The pump gun is NOT ammo dependent. In the old days all 4 gauges of skeet were shot with pumps. 870s, 1300s, and the classic Model 12 came in all 4 gauges and held up thru tens...hundreds of thousands of rounds. Fred Misseldine - known champion used 1300s.

In the game of trap Rudy Etchon used a 870, and trying to recall if it was 40 or 50 years later he used the same 870 to win again.

I used a Winchester Super X Model 1, a machined steel semi auto. I have one with over 200k rds thru it and it is still running strong. Bob Brister in his work -Shotgunning : The Art and Science wrote the SX1 was the most reliable semi auto he had tested. I have to admit, my experiences with these, from Field models , to Custom, to Pigeon Grade, to two bbl skeet/ trap sets, to using slug bbls - proved this as well.

The 1100 works. The 1100 still works and IMO/IME is a better gun than the 1187 will ever be. We had too many 11-87 just not be reliable, or hold up to the high round counts.

Browning A5, just works. Period, end of story.

Beretta 302/303 work, have proven themselves. In later years the 390/391 work and hold up.

The best semi auto currently -IMO/IME is the Win Super X 2 . The same fella whom did the SX1 worked on the SX2 design and the similar Browning Gold.

Now about this shooting prone bit with a pump. Kinda like getting a cold beer in a dry county on a Sunday afternoon. Just a matter of training and practice is all. :biggrin:

Folks been been pumping shotguns prone, throwing levers on lever actions prone, and running bolts on bolt guns prone, for a lot of years. In combat situations too. Just like they have been getting that Cold beer on a Sunday in dry county.

Now a semi can do something just like a two bbl gun like a O/U or SXS will do. Recall again- the pump is not dependent on ammo.

If a person is NOT giving enough resistance on some semis, just as O/U or SxS - it won't cycle. In handguns some call this 'limp-wristing", in the two bbl guns the trigger won't re-set to the other bbl if not enough resistance to recoil. These need "mass" to resist to operate the system. They also won't do this if prone and a good resistance is not there...

Now the SX1, SX2, the Beretta 302/303/390/391 and A5 "I" never ever had a problem with. Don't recall any of my pards either. Could be we had a lot of round count under our belts.

Now I won a total of 3 Benelli Montefelero's ( however you spell the durn things). I had shot a few of these before belonging to others. These were NOT reliable for what we were doing. I never even opened the box to see guns I won - I immediatly traded them for other stuff I wanted and had already had my eyes set upon. Like a 1911, or somesuch.

I started a LOT of new shooters with 20 ga 1100s and Beretta 303s.
Lots of guys of course, LOTs of ladies and smaller framed Teenager gals and guys. The HD needs to be able to be handled by the smallest person that may need the HD gun.

A big guy can shoot a 1100 in 20 ga. His petite 105 # wife / teenage daughter in a stressfull situation , even with training...may not handle that 11# uber tactical , side saddle, extended mag, with Surefire light hanging off it the man of the house can.

Them 11# guns are kinda hard to handle one handled to keep a BG at bay while dialing for the Police too...

Just something to think about...

I will always state the best kept secret is a 1100 in 20ga for HD.

Like I said , just my druthers from running hundreds of thousands of shotgun rods personally, who know how many I have seen fired, and there is that Military History part.

Always liked it when a new student did not have a gun. Tried a bunch of different ones to get a fit to them. Then based on this , bought one, had the fit tweaked to them, patterned the guns for loads for tasks, and continued with more instructions and training. Better shooters have more money invested in ammo than the gun. For sure more invested in training and range time too.

Not important what Team Walrus uses - if it don't fit you and you can't hit the inside of a closet standing in it.

Oh - be sure you shoot your gun with port up, port down, over your head lying on your back- need to see if the thing only runs in a 'normal' position - or can feed, extract/eject in all sorts of weird positions one may find themselves in a real serious situation.

I also am an old phart wood stock person too - gets back to gun fit. Wood allows LOP, pitch, cast on / cast off, drop at comb...etc to be tweaked. IF the synthetic fit you - great! But even then getting a different recoil pad to fit - won't - ain't no meat in that buttstock.

Speaking of which the density of wood has less felt recoil. And a wood stock bumping a tree is more natural that that plastic 'thwack' sound.

Like I said - I gots my druthers and all...

Never ever felt I could not defend myself with my SX1, heck I sometimes take it out of its well deserved retirement and load it up slugs. Had others in semi as well I never felt at a disadvantage either.

Gimme a pump, bone stock pump loaded with slugs. Why a matter a fact this here bone stock 870 with a 28 " bbl is loaded with slugs next to the laptop here. Slugs work from "right here" to " out yonder a bit".

IMNSHO and IME of course. :wink:
 

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CLASS3NH said:
I found a NICE Benelli M3 that I have my eye on! It's like brand new too..
BUY IT! :biggrin: Best of both worlds- if you ever have a "dud" in SA, thumb the cam, and go pump. The manual of arms is different enough to warrant some serious practice time, but well worth it!

Euc, the great thing about Benelli SA's - you can fire them one-armed, and the action spring is light and smooth enough that clearance drills are a breeze, single-handed.
 

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rocky said:
Euclidean, ever consider combat use? Try to pump while in the prone position a few times.
I agree 100% PLUS under extreme stress, many folks, even experienced shooters have a tendency to short stroke the piece and that leads to the double feed and a very difficult and time consuming attempt to clear. Better to shift to the handgun to stay in the fight. Try a pump at a good IDPA shoot where it's just the prone position and a time constraint then think of extending that to a fight to survive. I'll take my Benelli M121 everytime.
 

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I read somewhere about a Stoeger 2000 semi-auto that was a poor man's version of the Benelli and made by another subsidiary of the same parent company. Does anyone have any experience with it?
 

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I think I'd rather have a used Benelli than a new poor man's version of anything. Granted...poor man's version doesn't necessarily mean defective or less effective. But you get what you pay for and I value my life enough to save the money. For that matter, why not get the Remington 11-87 semi. Not a Benelli, but it's still a police standard and it's not a "knockoff."
 

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Oooomph!

Team American said:
Although I have considered purchasing a Remington pump, my Benelli M1 Super 90 has never let me down as long as it is maintained properly...I did have some ejection failures one time at the trap range after firing about 300 rounds of trap loads without cleaning :biggrin:

I wouldn't hesitate to trust my life to it.
I have the precursor to the M90 -- the M121. I have done better with it on a Sporting Clays course than I ever did with a Browning Citori O/U. But for semis on that kind of exercise/sport...remember that most combat ammo is "high brass" and most sport ammo is "low brass" and that makes cycling more problematic for a gun designed for combat. Lack of ooomph!
 

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I'd like to have a semi-auto shotgun --- because for many years, we raised protection dogs, so if we were in some odd situation, we'd have a leash in one hand to direct the dog and then would have liked a semi-auto so I could have used it with the other hand.
I would still like one, but these days, the dogs bark and I go see with a Mossberg 500.
 
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