Beginner Guide for Buying Shotgun

Shotgun Buying Guide

Any shooter can affirm that buying your first firearm comes along with an exceptional experience. It’s something you will live to remember all your life. Therefore, you need to be knowledgeable about how to do it as you create a good experience of buying your first shotgun. 

In this guide, we shall discuss various things you consider when buying a shotgun, types of shotguns’ actions, and the benefits and disadvantages of owning a shotgun. Additionally, it has a brief reflection on the shotgun calibers. Generally, it gives you an overall understanding of what you expect in a shotgun. As a beginner, buying your shotgun is a significant investment; it plays a crucial role in your overall shooting experience. 

Beginner Guide for Buying Shotgun
Beginner Guide for Buying Shotgun

Types of Shotguns Actions 

Pump-Action Shotguns 

It’s among the most common types of shotgun you will probably find in the market. Generally, they use a manual pump-like mechanism to load, cock, and eject rounds. With constant practice, even beginners can easily take follow-up shots. 

They are reliable shotguns with a capacity of about 4 to 10 shells depending on the type of your magazine tube. 

Pump-action shotguns have proven to be effective firearms for home defense and hunting purposes. 

Bolt Action Shotguns 

These shotguns are not very common but have a similar action to bolt-action rifles. You need to twist up the bolt handle and pull it back and forward to eject a spent cartridge. Then strip another round into the chamber and fire. 

Most blot action shotguns are fitted with rifle barrels. That enhances their accuracy levels. They are best for hunting. 


They only hold one round, and you are required to reload after every shot. Shotguns that adopt a single-shot design are simple and effective only that they are limited in terms of rounds they can accommodate. 

If you are that shooter who believes a quick follow up shot can make a difference, this is not your gun. It demands your patience. 

Semi-automatic shotguns 

They use s similar principle, such as semi-automatic handguns or rifles. After firing a shot, the bolt carrier/slide moves back to eject the spent cartridge, and as it comes to a forward position and another round is chambered automatically. 

Semi-automatic shotguns are easy to use and also quick in their action. Also, you can easily take follow up shots. 

Other types of shotgun actions 

Other types of shotguns actions include the lever-action, revolving cylinder, and double barrels. 

Calibers of Shotguns

Usually, calibers of a shotgun are measured in gauge. If you split the pound lead into smaller lead balls, then you can determine the gauge. For instance, when you split, and you have 12 lead balls, then that is a 12 gauge caliber. 

The most common calibers include 20 gauge and 12 gauge. However, there is one unique caliber measured in inches, and it’s common, i.e., the .410. 12 gauge is the most common and all-around caliber that suits home defense, hunting, and sporting purposes. The 20 gauge is suitable for smaller shooters but still does well for some using it for self-defense. The .410 caliber is best for those training how to shoot a shotgun and taking down small game. 

However, there are other uncommon calibers, such as the 28 gauge, 16 gauge, and 10 gauge. Only a few shooters still shot such calibers. 

NOTE: the lower the number of gauges, the bigger the caliber of your shotgun and vice versa. 

Things a Beginner Should Consider while Buying Shotgun 

The purpose of your shotgun 

How do you plan to use your shotgun? Is it for hunting, self-defense, or sporting purposes? When you have a clear goal of how you intend to use your shotgun, then you will choose the appropriate shotgun with the right caliber and effective action. 

Ease of use and functionality 

Do you feel comfortable using a particular shotgun? It’s vital you select a shotgun you can easily handle and you are comfortable using it. 

Also, consider the accuracy level of your intended shotgun. 


How much do you wish to spend on a particular shotgun? Budget is key while it comes to purchasing any gun. However, ensure that your budget will help you acquire a quality shotgun that will meet your needs. 

Features of a shotgun

As much you worry about functionality, it’s important you consider if the shotgun is designed with some of your desired features. In addition, can you do further customization? Some accessories on your shotgun are essential in the overall functionality and effectiveness of the gun. 

Benefits of a Shotgun 


A shotgun can be used for different purposes from hunting, home defense, and sport shooting. It’s only a matter of changing to the right ammunition. 


Shotguns are not highly-priced, and their ammunition is also relatively priced compared to rifles and handguns. Shotguns can only be expensive when you need specific custom features and accessories on them. 


Most shotguns available in the market guarantee durability. You might probably give it to your son or sell it after many years. Also, shotguns can hardly fail you. 


A shotgun’s slug delivers a lot of energy on a target than most handguns and rifles do. They are powerful. It’s one reason they are suitable for hunting big game. 

Setbacks of Shotguns 

Low capacity of ammunition 

Shotguns have a low ammunition capacity, unlike rifles that can handle accommodate 30 rounds and handguns having a capacity of more than 10 rounds. 

Complex operation mechanism 

Some shotguns, such as those using pump actions, can pose a challenge to some shooters. They can be difficult to operate if one does not master the right skills to do it. They require intensive training and regular practice. 

Heavy recoil 

You will indeed feel a massive kickback effect while shooting a shotgun than when shooting a handgun or a carbine. However, there are different ways to deal with heavy recoil from a shotgun. 

Limited range 

Despite shotguns being good guns, they do not cover an extended range compared to rifles. With a shotgun, you capable of covering approximately 150 yards of range. 


Shotguns are good guns with some cons like other types of guns. The above guide is essential as you select and purchase your shotgun as a beginner. Most importantly, you need the right training and skills for a better experience with a particular shotgun of your choice. 

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