The popularity of 20 gauge shotguns has risen in recent years, largely thanks to how much easier it is to handle and maneuver than its 12 gauge counterpart. They are still highly dependable and plenty powerful, and can also be less intimidating to people just starting out. So, what is the best 20 gauge on the market? There are a lot of variables when it comes to finding the ideal 20-gauge shotgun. Gun owners should consider what they will be using the gun for. Are you interested in waterfowl hunting, turkey hunting, or just shooting clays? Do you want a pump-action, side-by-side, over/under, or semi-automatic? There is also performance, design, and cost to think about.
Let's consider some of the 20 gauge shotguns currently on the market and make some recommendations to best suit your needs.
Best 20-Gauge Pump Shotgun
When many people think of pump-action shotguns, they immediately think of the classics--the Remington Model 870 and the Mossberg 500. Both of these firearms have staked their name in value and reliability. Both are also versatile, however, as they can easily be customized with different barrels and choke tubes to fit just about any hunting situation you might encounter.
One negative that comes up often for the Remington is the weight, as the materials used in manufacturing are simply heavier. The Mossberg, on the other hand, has a synthetic stock and is generally lighter. Both have a similar setup that utilizes a bottom-fed, right-side-ejection format. The Mossberg has a longer barrel length, but the variations you can find on the market are extensive. Both guns group nicely at 50-100 yards with foster-style slugs. As evidenced by the steady sales for generations, the Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500 make for a fine hunting shotgun.
Other popular guns that deserve a spot on this list include the Browning BPS, Benelli Nova, Winchester 1300, and Super X. If you have a little bit more in the budget to spend, guns like the Ithaca 37 and Deerslayer are excellent shotguns that have claimed more than their share of the game over the years.
But suppose you want our opinion on which one is best. In that case, my mind keeps going back to the tried and true Mossberg 500, especially when you factor in the fact that Mossberg recently introduced the 500 Flex TLS system. It's a tool-less system that allows you to quickly and easily change the fore-end, barrel, recoil pad, and stock. You can even add a tactical pistol grip quickly. We like versatility.
Best 20-Gauge Semi-Auto Shotgun?
Again, there is no shortage of options here. You've got the Beretta A400, a favorite of waterfowlers everywhere. The Mossberg 930 is a favorite for multi-purpose hunting applications and fun at the range. At the same time, the Stoeger Model 3020 is a very affordable autoloader at $500. Remington has two iconic models of their own, the 11-87 and 1100, favorites for small game, upland birds, and turkeys.
We're going to mention the highly praised Benelli Ethos here, as well. This is a super lightweight firearm, as the 20-gauge weighs only 5 pounds. It has a gorgeous walnut stock and interchangeable fiber-optic sights. It is at home shooting both target loads on the sporting clays range and birdshot in the field for upland birds. The only downside is that it isn't cheap, as you're looking at $1,800-$2,100, but this is a 20-gauge semi-automatic shotgun you'll use for life.
Best Over/Under (Side-By-Side) 20-Gauge Shotgun
Browning Citori 725. Why? This is an update on John Browning's B25 Superimposed, the last firearm he designed. You can't go wrong with a shotgun initially designed by one of the most excellent gun designers to ever live.
The Citori 725 is continually praised as an incredibly smooth shooting firearm that swings well. It has a low-profile receiver, and at 6.5 pounds, it is light enough to carry all day comfortably. Carry it around the skeet shooting range or through the field after rabbits and pheasants, and you won't run into problems as you may with other, heavier guns.
Fortunately, unlike with the A5, Browning realized there was a demand for this firearm in 20 gauge. This is another gun that isn't cheap (at around $2,000). Still, if you get a Citori, you're buying a shotgun you'll use for life. Browning guns hold their value well, and if you take care of them, you'll be able to pass this one down to your children or grandchildren.
Regarding side-by-sides, it seems like not as many companies are manufacturing them anymore--at least not at affordable price points. Check out the Stoeger Uplander in 20 gauge. It's a little hefty at around 7.5 pounds, but it comes at a great price of about $400. If you have a higher budget, check out the CZ Sharp-Tail, a gorgeous modern side-by-side with a classic look that reminds us of the coach guns of the old west. These guns start at around $1,100.
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