So, after a few trips to a sporting clays course, you realized that you are hopelessly addicted to this great sport and ready to take it to the next level. You also realized that shooting borrowed or rented guns is starting to feel counterproductive and you are all set to get a sporting shotgun of your own. But, which one? With so many brands and options out there, and with all the endless advice from fellow shooters, club members, and numerous internet sites, finding the right one for you can become quite a daunting task. To help narrow down your choices, here are the top 5 entry level sporting shotguns available today:
Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon I
MSRP $2,100 *
It’s hard to overstate the popularity of Beretta Silver Pigeon I and the 686 series. Introduced over 30 years ago, it is one of the most well-known and respected over-and-under shotguns out there, with a proven design and a long history of reliable performance. At 7.5 pounds, it might be a bit too light for some, but it is still a favorite among competition shooters and hunters alike. This classic shotgun is available in a variety of models and barrel lengths – from 26” to 32” with Mobil choke tubes, in a variety of gauges – from 12 all the way down to .410, as a single gun or a multi-gauge combo, it is arguable the best value for the money. For more information, visit the Beretta website.
Browning Citori CXS (Crossover)
MSRP: $2,140 *
Browning Citori CXS is a sporting clays specific version of the quite popular Citori CX formerly known as Crossover Target. Similar to the no longer produced Special Sporting Clays, the CX has already been a hit among budget-cautious competition shooters. The perfectly weighted 8.4 pound CXS is available with 28”, 30”, and 32” flat rib barrels and three Midas™ grade Invector-Plus™ extended choke tubes. The trigger is adjustable, which adds more to shotgun’s versatility. The fit and finish of the nicely blued receiver and glossy walnut stock is impeccable. Overall, the aggressively priced CXS is a great option for a shooter of any level. For more information, visit the Browning website.
Beretta 690 Sporting Black
MSRP $3,000 *
This new 690 Sporting Black model from Beretta, and 690 series in general, is the next step in Beretta’s entry level competition shotgun evolution. It is, as Beretta calls it, “the technical edition” with laconic yet tasteful sport-centric appearance and premium features, such as Steelium™ 28”, 30”, and 32” flat rib barrels featuring matte anti-glare finish and standard OptimaChoke HP® extended choke tubes, over-molded top lever, and adjustable ejection-extraction mechanism. This model is available in 12 gauge only and can satisfy requirements of even the most demanding competition shooter. For more information, visit the Beretta website.
Browning Citori 725 Sporting
MSRP $3,070 *
The Citori 725 Sporting model, introduced by Browning just a few years ago, is the evolution of John M. Browning’s legendary B25 Superposed, with a much lower profiled steel receiver but with the same rugged full-width hinge pin and tapered locking bolt design. This shotgun weighs just under 8 pounds and is available in all gauges, with 28”, 30” and 32” flat rib barrels and Invector-DS™ extended choke tubes. And, its mechanical trigger design makes 725 an excellent choice for shooters using sub-gauge tubes – no trigger adjustment required. For more information, visit the Browning website.
Fabarm AXIS RS12 Sporting
MSRP $3,250 *
If you are looking for a modern, full featured sporting shotgun, the 8.4 pound AXIS RS12 Sporting by Fabarm is the whole package – balance, durability, barrel performance, optimal trigger pull, and low recoil. With its contemporary design elements and a myriad of options, such as free-floating barrels with the proprietary TRIBORE HP™ tapered bores and five EXIS HP™ extended choke tubes, various flat and adjustable rib designs, adjustable stock, as well as adjustable trigger with a light crisp pull, it is the real competition powerhouse. The AXIS RS12 Sporting is available with 30” and 32” barrels featuring optional interchangeable ribs on QQR model and easy to install KINETIK™ recoil reducer. For more information, visit the Fabarm website.
Beretta Onyx Pro Sporting
MSRP $3,400 *
The Onyx Pro Sporting shotgun, manufactured by Beretta exclusively for Cabela’s, is an excellent choice for someone who loves the 686 series but requires a bit more than the standard Silver Pigeon. With an oil finished, nicely figured upgraded wood, glossy blued receiver with gold P. Beretta engraving and gold plated trigger to match, it exudes elegance and is a true understated classic. The Onyx Pro weighs the same as the standard Silver Pigeon I and is available in 12, 20, and 28 gauge, with 30” or 32” flat rib barrels and a set of Mobil choke tubes. It is well suited for shooters of every level. For more information, visit the Beretta website.
Winchester 101 Sporting
MSRP $2,380 *
The Winchester Model 101 Sporting is built to compete with the finest sporting shotguns on the market. With a long list of features, such as a low profile receiver, corrosion resistant hard chrome plated chambers and bores, lightweight ported barrels with Invector-Plus™ extended choke tubes, and adjustable trigger for fine-tuning of the length of pull, it is another great alternative to the comparable models by Browning and Beretta. And, with a richly blued receiver, adorned with traditional engraving, and elegant high-gloss walnut stock with 20 lines-per-inch cut checkering, Model 101 is exactly what you need to obliterate clay targets in style. For more information, visit the Winchester website.
Rizzini Vertex Competition
MSRP $2,275 *
B. Rizzini over-and-unders have a well-deserved reputation as good, reliable guns, and have been growing in popularity in the U.S. in the recent years. Priced very competitively and with a plethora of available options and features, they have become a viable contender to the well-known offerings from Browning and Beretta. The Vertex Competition sporting model, which weights around 8 pounds, is available with 28”, 30”, and 32” barrels, featuring flat, raised, or adjustable ribs, with fixed or interchangeable extended chokes, and optional adjustable comb. It could be a nearly ideal choice for first-time first-time and experienced shooters alike. For more information, visit the Rizzini website.
* All MSRP prices are as of 2017.