A semi-auto

A semi-auto can be a popular choice for its recoil absorption properties

The single barrel of semi-autos makes the front end of the gun much lighter and more controllable – a really useful asset for beginners and slightly built individuals. Couple this with the lower recoil associated with the reloading mechanism of the semi-auto, particularly gas-operated versions, and you’ve got a winning combination.

Furthermore, it’s easy for a coach and client to use. On completion of a training shot, the client can receive advice and simply offer the open chamber for reload by the coach, who drops in a cartridge, pushes the reload button and off they go again; it keeps the lesson at a very focused pace.

Like double-barreled shotguns, semi-autos come in all the usual bore sizes; from 12, 20 and 28-bore. All have a selection of chokes. Autos in .410 gauge are available as well.

In the UK, the magazine tube of semi-autos is restricted to allow a maximum of two cartridges in the magazine plus a third in the chamber, so you can get three shots.

It is possible to possess a semi-auto which will take more than two cartridges in the magazine, but a firearms licence is required in the UK to do this. You would need to establish a serious vermin control requirement, for example, to be granted this certificate.

love semi-autos

Many owners of semi-autos put safety flags in the loading slot to show the gun is safe

Visible safety

A common gripe about semi-autos is that they don’t open like a ‘’break action’’ double-barrelled shotgun. This is true, but if you know what to look for in semi-auto safety, it is immediately apparent, i.e. the open receiver slot where the cartridge is loaded. Any user of a semi-auto should carry the gun so that this is apparent. Many owners of semi-autos put safety flags in the loading slot.

Remington 1100

The Remington 1100 set a new standard for semi-autos

Brands of semi-autos

There are many different semi-auto makes on the UK market and many are very good value for money. American and Continental European brands predominate, but in recent years Turkish manufacturers have become more apparent.

Rifle shooting

Ruger 10/22 Target Lite

The Ruger 10/22 .22LR has to be the most widely used semi-automatic rimfire on the planet. It was the brainchild of Bill Ruger back in 1964 and its simple inertia type or blowback bolt operating system has proved reliable and long-lasting, spawning many variants over the years. This Ruger 10/22…

Mossberg Maverick 88 pump-action

The Mossberg Maverick 88 pump-action. It’s versatile and tough

There are sound reasons for owning a Mossberg Maverick 88 shotgun, especially if you’re involved in gamekeeping and pest control. It will never replace your game or clay gun, but if you need a reliable tool to keep with you on your rounds as a keeper, or for pigeon shooting…

Winchester Wildcat .22 LR semiautomatic

Winchester Wildcat .22 LR semi-automatic

The Winchester Wildcat It’s nice to have another .22 semi-automatic rifle appear among the usual contingent of Rugers and Remingtons. This Winchester, though labelled as such, is made in Turkey. Named after Winchester’s renowned Wildcat .22 LR ammunition, it evokes cherished memories for me of running the Bridgend Stores, on…

Franchi Affinity

Franchi Affinity: a fine entry-level semi-auto shotgun

When I was asked to review the Franchi Affinity it occured to me that it was not one of the names you might first think of when considering mass-market gunmakers. However  Franchi has had a presence in the UK market for many years. The company has a respectable longevity, founded…

Browning A5

Browning A5 semi-auto shotgun

Gun reviews: Browning A5 semi-auto shotgun: Browning’s original A5 was the world’s first mass-produced semi-auto shotgun.

Benelli Black Eagle

Benelli Black Eagle

With its 3in chamber, matt black finish and easy-to-use controls, there is no mistaking that the latest incarnation of the Benelli Black Eagle has been designed for the wildfowler. (More on the best kit for wildfowling here.) Innovations include a stylish new receiver, a technopolymer stock – incorporating an improved…

Browning Maxus II Max-5 Camo

Browning Maxus II Max-5 Camo

The latest Browning semi-auto is the Browning Maxus II Max-5 Camo. A gas-operated three or five shot with 89mm (31/2in) chambers and superior steel shot proof, it is only available as a 12-bore but with models to cover every possible use, including a traditional wood finish, synthetic and the latest…

Benelli Rafaello Academia Limited Edition 12 Bore

Benelli Raffaello Accademia semi-auto shotgun review

What makes the Benelli Raffaello Accademia semi-auto different?  The words ‘beautiful’ and ‘semi-automatic’ don’t get used together very often. Most semi-autos are plain. None of them would turn heads on the looks front. For example, the Benelli M2 is the workhorse of many gamekeepers because it offers rugged reliability, but…

Browning Maxus II

Browning Maxus II

  The Browning Maxus was released in its original form in 2009 and we have seen a number of variations to the cosmetics of that model over the years but no major changes in design or build. The Browning Maxus II however is a completely new look, new feel semi-auto…

shotguns for under £1000

20 of the best shotguns for under £1000

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…

Benelli M2 Semi-Auto

Benelli M2 Comfortech Cerakote

Whenever I handle a Benelli M series semi-automatic, it makes me think of the king of gamebirds, the grouse. These guns are to grouse moor management what the Winchester lever-action rifle was to winning the West. My first introduction to the M series Benelli semi-auto was 20 years ago when…

Savage A22 Pro Varmint

The Savage A22 Pro Varmint

Our Verdict The Savage A22 Pro Varmint semi-automatic rimfire rifle is Savage Arms’ answer to the Ruger 10/22, which has long dominated this area of the market. The A22 is available in many guises but here we have the Pro Varmint stock version, giving a distinct heavy varmint profile. Like…


Why there should be no snobbery about semi-automatics

Semi-automatics are enduringly popular with the gun-buying public. For people coming into the sport of shooting, they tick many boxes. Advantages of semi-automatics They are relatively cheap, so first-time buyers are immediately drawn to the attractive price tag. Also, it should not be overlooked that the option of a third…

Maxus Limited Edition

Maxus Limited Edition JM Browning

The Browning Maxus has been a favourite on the semi-auto market since its release in 2009. The latest addition to the Maxus line-up is sure to prove popular with diehard Browning fans across Europe, too. Released in the autumn, the Maxus Limited Edition JM Browning has joined the growing range…

Richard Negus

Duck-flighting and dining with a Masterchef semi-finalist

Freddie Innes is a man who, like the majority who shoot, clearly shares a love of good food. At 26, Freddie is a young chef, yet he already boasts an impressive CV, hard won in some of the finest professional kitchens in the UK. A MasterChef semi-finalist This passion for…

CZ 511

The CZ 511 – an absolute bargain

The CZ 511 is essentially the same gun as the older Brno 581 which had previously been in production since the 1950s, the newer name simply reflecting the rebranding of Brno to CZ. Its design therefore comes with a strong pedigree, and even owners of older Brno models report that…

fixed-barrelled guns wildfowling

How to clean and care for a semi-auto shotgun

Take 10 minutes to clean a semi-auto shotgun properly every time you use it and you’ll avoid a lot of issues. Another reason is that you also save money on repairs and get more for it if you ever want to trade it in or sell it. Lack of cleaning…

cleaning a semi-auto

Can my brother leave his semi-auto at my house for cleaning?

I own a three-shot semi-automatic on my shotgun certificate. My brother owns the same model and make of semi-automatic, but it is a five-shot and it’s on his firearm certificate. The only difference between the guns is my magazine has been restricted to two cartridges by a gunsmith. My brother…

Beretta Outlander Semi-Auto

Beretta Outlander semi-auto

Our verdict on the Beretta Outlander semi-auto I spend most of my working day teaching driven shooting and sporting clays so an opportunity to shoot a semi-auto is always a welcome change. The Beretta A300 appeared to be a good-looking gun when it was delivered and I was already dreaming…