Here's how to buy a decent shotgun when you've got a grand to spend.
Finding a gun at the right price can be tough. We’ve listed 20 shotguns for under £1000 here that we think are well worth a look, both new and second-hand. It’s also worth reading our advice on buying a shotgun second-hand where you might pick up a real bargain. If you’re looking for a gun for both clays and game take a look at this review.
We’ve also included semi-automatics in the list.
Shotguns for under £1000 worth a look
An oil-finished Turkish walnut stock and scroll engraved action makes this gun appear more valuable than the £499.99 RRP. It has a variety of chambers (12-bore, 20-bore, 28-bore and .410), five interchangeable chokes, ejectors, a single selective trigger and chrome-lined monobloc barrels.
The 1012 Sporter is an improvement of the previous 900-series guns, and one stage up from the company’s entry-level Turkish-built offerings. It is of simple construction, but still manages to look quite elegant with functional but plain woodwork and ventilated top and side ribs.
The 15in stock length has received a little criticism for being too long, but could be an advantage to a tall, long-armed shooter and a gunsmith can always shorten it. A professionally-shortened stock looks good, while one which has been lengthened can look odd and unbalanced.
The gun comes with a full set of flush-fitting multichoke tubes, and a properly-engineered key rather than a nasty flat thing punched out of steel strip.
Standard barrel length is 30 inches, which is generally rated as right for the Sporting discipline, and transfer of the single trigger to the second barrel is mechanical rather than recoil-driven. Price when new £999.
Normally I don’t like the idea of the famous names of historic British gunmakers put on foreign imports, but it has to be admitted that this gun is well-built, in addition to being good value for money, which is why it’s on my list of shotguns for under £1000.
C&H can trace its history back to 1770, and in the years since it has built huge numbers of traditional British side-by-sides, as well as rifles and pistols. Nowadays its “affordable”gun is the Windsor, available in game or sporter configuration.
The gun is a typical trigger-plate action boxlock, with hammers hinged on the plate and sears hanging from the top strap. Transfer of the trigger to the second barrel is by an inertia mechanism activated by recoil. Lock-up is by a low-mounted bolt engaging with a bite below the bottom barrel.
Barrels and the 3in chambers are chromed and bear the stamp of steel shot proof. The woodwork is a bit plain, but the engraving is nicely executed. RRP £975 at time of writing.
Most of the new breed of cheap-and-cheerful guns seem to be made in Turkey, so it is good to see a sub-£1,000 gun made in Italy, and doubly good to note that it is inertia rather than gas fed, just like a Benelli or the latest incarnation of Browning’s Auto 5. What’s more, the bolt head turns to lock.
The gun is quite elegant, with plain but serviceable woodwork and neatly-applied chequering, although one reviewer has described the golden pheasants on the black action as “chickens”. That said, there are more up-market versions with better woodwork. There are also synthetic-stock versions. RRP at time of writing £975.
Nine years ago, when we reviewed a second-hand Lanber, you could buy the best version of the gun for less than £800, and you could get a good second-hand example for £400. Nowadays, a good second-hand example fetches over £400, which seems to speak volumes for the way in which the gun is still regarded by British shooters.
Recent guns have oil-finished stocks, and stock lengths are usually around 14 ¼ inches, with drops of 1 ½ and 2 3/8 inches at comb and heel respectively. From around £300 second-hand.
For less than £1,000 you are going to get a rather old Silver Pigeon, but don’t worry. The older Berettas have a super reputation for reliability and the importers, GMK, keep every spare you could want. Many guns will have had nothing more than new firing pins and springs fitted during a long life of firing thousands of cartridges.
The gun illustrated is a fixed-choke game model which we reviewed for the magazine as a second-hand gun back in 2008, but you will also find multichoke game guns and sporters of even earlier vintage on the second-hand racks. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you may find a good 687 – that’s the gun the Silver Pigeon took over from. Price from around £999 second-hand so it just makes the list of shotguns for under £1000.
This gun had to be on the list of shotguns for under £1000, because aces like George Digweed and Barry Simpson used it for many of their famous victories, and there were some great wins with trap and skeet versions, too. Over time the gun has seen only a few mechanical changes, but it’s the minor tweaks which have made all of the difference. Perhaps the most radical change was the narrowing, and therefore lightening, of the action body. But the fact remains that the 682 is still capable of putting in winning performances over 35 years after the basic design was conceived.
There are quite a few different versions. Perhaps the most popular is the 682 Gold, but older versions are still good buys. Expect to pay £950 and above for a second-hand gun.
Webley & Scott 900X
This steel-shot proof over-and-under boxlock steel action shotgun has a hand-oiled walnut stock and is available in 12 and 20-bore. New from around £699.99.
This gun is an elegant-looking 12-bore O/U with 3½in chambers and steel shot proof. It is extremely welcome in a scene dominated by strictly functional, camouflaged semi-autos and pump-actions, in spite of the fact some shooters may think it is a bit too posh to take on the marshes.
Mechanically, the gun is a pretty ordinary O/U, with a shallow action and barrels hinged on stub pins. What is unusual is the availability of a non-ejector model, which must save a lot of grovelling around in the mud to retrieve spent cartridge cases, and the fact that it comes with no less than seven choke tubes – five of which are of flush-fitting design, and the other two of extended half-choke design, intended for use with the heaviest steel-shot cartridges.
One advantage the gun has is that it can be used for game or clay shooting with cartridges as light as 21g. At 8lb it’s a little heavy, but only by a few ounces, and the woodwork is particularly good. From £800 second-hand.
The A620 is a 20-bore semi-auto. The gun comes with two stocks – hence the “Combo” in its title. One is for adults, while a shorter version is for juniors.
Despite its relative youth, even among Turkish manufacturers, Armsan now rates among the top of the country’s gun producers. They make a good variety of semi-autos and pump actions, with wood and synthetic stocks and fore-ends and a variety of metal finishes. Bores go from 12 down to 28.
This gun has 3-inch chambers and steel-proofed barrels, and the gas-fed mechanism will deal with cartridges down to 21 grams. In other words, youngsters can begin with very lightly-recoiling cartridges. Barrel lengths of 26 and 28 inches are available, and the gun comes with a set of multichoke tubes.
The adult stock gives a length of pull of 14 ½ inches, while the junior stock length is 12 ½ inches. From around £350 second-hand.
This gun, low-priced as it is, will handle a 56g goose load, so it will be just right for anyone who wishes to equip themselves for coastal wildfowling without spending too much money. It also has a synthetic stock and fore-end, so there’s nothing to warp or crack if the gun gets wet and muddy – which wildfowling guns often do. The stock terminates in a 20mm recoil pad.
The gun has a 3in chamber, but it will handle shorter cartridges, so it’s suitable for pigeon or clay shooting as well as wildfowling. It has a conventional gas-fed system based on earlier, proven Beretta systems, which is claimed to work with loads down to 24 grams. In fact, ATA has been working closely with Beretta for nearly eight years.
The multichoke barrel is 28in long – generally thought of as just right for a semi-auto – with an 8mm parallel top rib. The gun comes with a set of flush-fitting multichoke tubes. Weight is 7lb 6oz, which is about right for guns in this class. Sportsman Gun Centre is selling them at the time of writing for £439.99.
This is an out-and-out wildfowling gun, with 12-bore 3½in chambers and steel proof. SXP stands for Super-X Pump, and reviewers rate the gun as functional, practical and cost-effective. That makes sense, because the average game of clay shooter may not risk his favourite gun in the rough-and-tumble of coastal wildfowling, yet needs something well-priced and with real clout for sport on the marshes.
In this respect, bores bigger than 12 seem to have faded from the scene in recent years, most likely because of American wildfowling legislation, yet the 3½in cartridge packs pretty much the same punch as a 10-bore.
The gun will also handle lighter loads – say 2¾in cartridges for pigeons and 3in magnums for high-flying ducks, and pump-actions don’t fail to cycle when light loads are used. The gun has a 28in barrel with a 6mm ventilated rib. New from £360.
ATA has worked closely with Beretta, and the similarity between its break-action guns and the 600-series Berettas is quite marked.
They have the same fork-shaped bolt, with the “prongs” emerging from the standing breech to engage with circular bites in the barrel shoulders. The spring-loaded electors seem similar and, just like the Berettas, the barrels hinge on stub pins. There are three versions: a bronze-action gun with relatively plain woodwork, a version with a laminated stock, and the top-specification model with an adjustable comb. All versions weigh around 7lb 10oz, and barrels are 30in with 10mm ribs. From £599 new.
When Browning was looking for a manufacturing base for its cheaper B25 look-alikes, it turned to Miroku of Japan. The alliance has worked very well over many years, and the break-action Mirokus and Brownings have developed in parallel. The Miroku MK70 is a very Browning-like gun, and has gained a reputation for good handling and reliability. At various times it has been made in grades 1 to 6, and the top grades have lovely wood and fine engraving. It’s a multichoke, but if you want a fixed-choke, then go for the MK60. Second-hand from £975 so it makes the list of shotguns for under £1000.
More shotguns for under £1000
Another one to make the list of shotguns for under £1000. Franchi has always made good guns, but for many years its importing history into the UK could be described as “chequered”. Then Beretta took Franchi over, and this put the importing into the capable hands of GMK, and numbers of good guns, and the spares, started to flow in.
The Harrier has an extremely simple, robust mechanism, and has 3in chambers and barrels which have been subjected to steel shot proof. The ventilated top rib tapers from 10mm at the breech to 6mm at the muzzles. Five long multichoke tubes were supplied with new guns, together with the original ABS case. Around £845 second-hand.
Of the many variations on the 101 theme, two stand out. The 6500 fixed-choke sporter, made specifically for the European market, and one of the best medium-priced O/U field guns of all time, the 101 Super Grade Game. The gun has 2¾in chambers, and the 28in barrels do not have steel shot proof, so you can’t shoot magnum loads and, if you want to shoot ducks, or shoot anywhere where shot is likely to fall in water, you are limited to the mildest of steel loads.
Because of these limitations, the gun is not everybody’s cup of tea, but if you want great handling it is well worthy – but maybe not as a first or only gun. From £399 second-hand.
Despite its “Diamond” name tag, this is the entry level O/U in a whole family of guns, but none are expensive. Back in the 1980s, Bettinsoli was one of the first gunmakers to invest heavily in CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine tools, and it is the key to the economical production of mechanical components of all kinds.
The Diamond Line is a typical Italian gun. It has 3in chambers and steel shot proof, and despite its low price it still manages to look quite elegant. Five multichoke tubes are provided with the gun and, if you do find a really well-conditioned second-hand example, these should be present, together with an ABS case. Around £825.
If you are to buy a second-hand B525 within our limit of shotguns for under £1000, it might be quite an old gun, and most likely well used. But that doesn’t matter too much, because the guns, even those built in the year of introduction (2003), are reliable in the long term and spares are easily available. In fact, although the current Miroku-built Browning is the B725, there are still plenty of new B525s on the market.
The B525 was the successor of the B425, and the design changes in the B525 were minimal. There was a slight re-design in the geometry of the hammers and sears to give crisper trigger pulls, and a smoothing of angles in the action frame to give rather more flowing lines. Engraving patterns were changed a little, too.
There were at least 27 different versions of the B525, without counting the different barrel lengths, so there should be something to suit everyone on the second-hand racks. Around £999 or more second-hand.
There are quite a few guns in Fabarm’s Elos family, including one aimed at women shooters. Some of the recent models have very elegant round actions. However, this Elos sporter, which I evaluated as a second-hand buy seven years ago, has a conventional action shape.
I’ve been keeping an eye on Fabarms since the early 1980s, when you could buy a new Fabarm Gamma for a bit over £600. It was a sound enough gun, and there are still a few around on the second-hand racks for up to about £400. However, the Elos came much later in the Fabarm story, and seems to be much better built.
There’s nothing remarkable about the typically Italian design, but it is quite elegant with lines spoiled by those sticky-out choke tubes which, to my eye, are always ugly. The gun weighs about 7¾lb, which is about right for a sporter which, at a pinch, can be used for any clay discipline except trap. RRP £1050.
It’s certain that, across the range, it can’t be beaten on price, and Hatsan seems to be the most prolific of the relatively new breed of Turkish gunmakers. If you visit Sportsman Gun Centre you will find a multiple listing of 25 different Hatsan semi-autos. It’s good to note that there are plenty of guns for left-handers. Most of the guns are suitable for clays, pigeon shooting, and general keepering duties and you’ll find a good choice of shotguns for under £1000.
The popular stock materials are well-represented with traditional wood, black synthetic and camouflage. There are also tactical shotguns intended for practical shotgun competitions and law enforcement duties. In addition, Hatsan makes O/Us, pump actions and air guns. £496 from the Sportsman Gun Centre.
Note: the price of shotguns for under £1000 was accurate at the time of writing but altering foreign exchange rates can cause rapid changes. Also, some gun shops offer discounts which can considerably undercut the prices quoted here.