What is the best 20-gauge shotgun?
To be honest, there are a lot of variables when it comes to finding the ideal 20 gauge shotgun. What are you planning to use the gun for? Waterfowl? Turkey? Home defense?
Do you want a pump-action, side-by-side, over/under or semi-automatic?
There are a lot of things to take into account.
We'll look at some of the shotguns currently on the market and make some recommendations to best suit your needs.
What is the best 20 gauge pump shotgun?
Personally, when I think of pump-action shotguns, I immediately think of the Remington Model 870 and the Mossberg 500, simply because I own both.
Either one of these guns makes for a fine hunting shotgun and can easily be customized with different barrels and choke tubes to fit just about any hunting situation you might encounter.
One thing I don't like about my Remington is the weight. It's quite heavy. Whereas the Mossberg has a synthetic stock and is quite light. 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.
Of course, we can't leave out of the conversation other popular guns like the Browning BPS, Benelli Nova, Winchester 1300 and Super X either. All of these are excellent firearms for someone shopping in the $300-500 range.
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 game over the years.
But if you're wanting our opinion on which one is best, 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 out the fore end, barrel, recoil pad and stock with ease. You can even add a tactical pistol grip quickly. We like versatility. It means the Mossy is prepared for just about anything.
What is the 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 both hunting and tactical home defense purposes. The Stoeger Model 3020 is a very affordable autoloader at $500. Remington has two iconic models of their own, the 11-87 and 1100, which are favorites for small game, upland birds and turkeys.
We probably would have picked the Browning A5 for this list, except they discontinued the model. They are making a "new" version of the Auto-5, but it appears they aren't making it in 20 gauge anymore. Too bad, in our opinion.
We're going to mention the highly-praised Benelli Ethos here, as well. This is a super light-weight firearm; the 20 gauge weighs only five pounds. It has a gorgeous walnut stock, interchangeable fiber optic sights and is at home shooting both target loads on the sporting clays range and bird shot on in the field for upland birds.
The only downside is that it isn't cheap. You're looking at $1,800-2,100. But this is a 20 gauge semi-automatic shotgun you'll be using for life.
What is the best over and under/side-by-side 20 gauge?
When it comes to over and under shotguns, we think it is only a two-horse race on the market. The players are Beretta and Browning, and we give the slight edge to the Browning Citori 725.
Why? Well, this is an update on John Browning's B25 Superimposed, the last firearm he ever designed. You can't go wrong with a shotgun originally designed by one of the greatest gun designers to ever live.
The Citori 725 is continually praised for being 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 comfortably all day. Carry it around the skeet shooting range or through the field after rabbits and pheasants, and you won't run into problems like you may with other, heavier guns.
Fortunately, unlike with the A5, Browning realized there was demand for this firearm in 20 gauge. This is another gun that isn't cheap (at around $2,000), but if you get a Citori, you're basically buying a shotgun you'll be using for life. Browning guns hold their value well, and if you take care of it you'll be able to pass this one down to your children or grandchildren.
When it comes to 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 point of around $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 around $1,100.
What is the best home defense 20 gauge shotgun?
The 20 gauge can be highly effective home defense gun, and there are a variety of options available. It really depends on what you're looking for.
The Benelli M4 is an excellent choice for a gas semi-automatic. Again, the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 come into this conversation because they are two of the most popular home defense shotguns on the market today. They're even popular with law enforcement in some areas. If the pros trust them with their lives, you can rest assured you can too.
Both companies also came out with sized-down home defense shotguns in recent years. The Mossberg 590 Shockwave has proven immensely popular because of its small, 14-inch package. Remington responded by releasing the Model 870-Tac-14. Both guns feature a handle instead of a stock and come with a variety of aftermarket parts and accessories to customize it to fit your needs.
These guns are so close, we're willing to call it a tie between the two. If you're interested in either, we'd recommend going to your local gun shop to see and hold both in person because everyone's preference is going to be different. Either way, an intruder isn't going to be happy when you confront them with four rounds of buckshot in the magazine tube and one in the chamber!
The only downside is that these shotguns sometimes run afoul of local and state laws on classification. Because of the incredibly short length, some states classify them as a pistol, while other states keep the long gun classification.
Either way, the resulting laws have made the Shockwave and Tac-14 illegal in some areas, so make sure you do your research on that ahead of time.
The good news is, both of these shotguns come in at an awesome price point of $300-400, meaning you can find a home defense gun with what you need without losing an arm and a leg.
The 20 gauge shotgun might seem small and not powerful enough, but you'd be surprised with some of today's modern firearm advancements.
Which one are you interested in?