Buying A Shotgun: Pump Action vs. Semi-Auto

Shotguns have been one of the stalwarts in the American arsenal since the inception of the country. The term shotgun was first recorded in Kentucky in 1776. Modern shotguns still fill the same roles:   hunting and self-defense. Shotguns are used for hunting everything from small fowl to brown bear. The shotgun should be your first firearm purchase and the first gun you grab if your home is threatened by a two legged or 4 legged intruder.

For the purpose of brevity, double barreled shotguns will be excluded, due to the specialized nature of the setup and price. Average over/under shotguns will cost more than even a semi-auto and triple or more the price of a pump shotgun.

Pump Action Shotguns

Pump Action Shotguns denote a shotgun that is manually cycled by the user’s movement of the forearm handle.

Remington 870

The Remington 870 is the most popular shotgun in history and for good reason:  it is offered at a reasonable price and with outstanding quality. The Remington 870 is offered in over 50 variations and the aftermarket is full of modifications for the 870.

Who should buy a Remington 870?

A shooter who is looking for the standard in the shotgun world; parts availability is robust. It is reasonably priced and comes with more accessories than you could fit on one firearm. The Remington 870 is an exceptional choice for any shooter.

Winchester Shotguns

Winchester has produced shotguns for over 100 years and while it never received the popularity that the Remington did, the Winchester was still one of the best shotguns available.

Who should buy a Winchester?

A shooter that is looking for the alternative to the Remington or Ithaca shotguns. Priced a bit higher than the competition, the Winchester’s fit and finish make up for the increase in price.

Mossberg 500

The best bang-for-your-buck shotgun available to the modern shooter, the Mossberg 500 series offers a reliable shotgun for an extremely low price. Available in fowl or slug configurations (combo with both barrels available), the Mossberg models cover both hunting and self-defense configurations.

Who should buy a Mossberg?

A shooter who is looking for the best bang-for-the-buck available in a pump shotgun. If you can get over the reduced fit and finish and just look at a firearm as a tool, the Mossberg is for you.

For more information see our Mossberg Review

Semi-Auto Shotguns

Semi-auto shotguns have been around for over a 100 years, but have just recently gained wide spread popularity. The prices have come down a bit and the adoption of the Benelli by the US military has helped spurn the semi-auto revolution. Recent releases from Saiga have also perked the interest of the shooting crowd.


The Benelli shotguns have always been considered the best semi-auto shotguns available. Now that the US military has adopted the Benelli shotgun as the replacement to the Mossberg, the popularity has risen to new heights. One of the more expensive semi-autos available, but with a reputation for reliable functioning and flawless fit & finish, the Benelli shotguns are a top choice.

Who should buy a Benelli?

A shooter that is looking for the best semi-auto shotguns available today. Anyone that is looking to use the same firearms as the military would be served by picking up a Benelli.


Berretta shotguns are in line with the quality of the Benelli and can be considered as a great alternative to the Benelli. All Berretta semi-auto shotguns use the same operation as the Berretta 935. Priced on the higher end, these are not for the lighter-pocket crowd, but a Berretta will last you a lifetime if properly maintained.

Who should buy a Berretta?

A shooter that is looking to purchase a semi-auto that will last for a lifetime and is not put off by the price of entry.


The AK style shotguns by Saiga have been growing in popularity since they became available in the United States. Priced much lower than other semi-auto shotguns and built with the AK style detachable magazine. The shotguns are utterly reliable and fun to shoot.

Who should buy a Saiga?

The Saiga should be purchased by anyone who is looking to get into a semi-auto shotgun at the most affordable price. Even if the looks may make you think that it cannot be used for hunting there are many hunters that have taken game with a Saiga. If for no other reason than to remind Bill Clinton that you can in fact hunt with a semi-auto AK.