Best Shotguns for Skeet, Trap, & Clay Shooting

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February 5, 2022

Sporting clays is the most difficult of the shotgun sports to master. It’s also become one of the most popular for the simple reason that it’s a lot of fun. Furthermore, unlike American skeet and trap, which is the identical at every range you fire, each sporting clays course is unique. Sporting clays allows you to try a range of tough shots that demand strong technique and shooting instincts rather than the muscle memory required for skeet or trap shooting.

Even while many pros shoot expensive over/unders on sporting clays, the average shooter does not need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a shotgun. If you’re a wingshooter, for example, your duck or pheasant gun is probably perfect for sporting clays.

If you’re thinking about getting into sporting clays, or if you’re a hunter looking to improve your shooting skills, or if you’re an experienced target shooter looking to upgrade to a shotgun designed specifically for this sport, here are three excellent options for beginners, intermediates, and experienced shooters.

Best Shotguns for Skeet, Trap, & Clay Shooting

A400 Xcell Sporting

a400 xcell sporting

There are a lot of Beretta fans that have been with the company for a long time. Their shotguns are dependable, and most shooters are proficient with them. Scott Robertson and Joseph Fanizzi, two of the top sporting clays shooters in the world, rely on them.

Beretta has a lengthy history of auto-loaders, with the A400 being the most recent. The A400 took the place of the 391 platform, which in turn took the place of the 390.

Any competent sports clays coach will tell you that an auto is a good way to go when you first start getting serious about the sport. They’re not prohibitively expensive, and custom parts are easily available, allowing you to balance and alter the rifle to your preferences and shooting style.

The Beretta A400 is available in over 20 different model variations, but for the purposes of this essay, we’ll focus on the A400 Xcel Sporting. On the clays course, this is the most common model. With its blue receiver, it’s impossible to overlook.

The A400 is available with a 28-inch or 30-inch barrel and is powered by gas. The MSRP is $1,699, with the hydraulic KO (Kick-Off) recoil reduction system available for an additional $100. Some shooters like the KO, others do not. You won’t need it, because the A400 is such a light-shooting weapon. The A400 Xtreme Plus is the ideal choice for hunters, albeit you’ll probably be the only one firing a camo gun on the clays course.

CZ-USA Field 612

cz-usa field 612

A CZ-USA 612 Field is a good choice if you’re just getting started and want a shotgun that’s mechanically reliable but also affordable. On the sports clays field, the 612 performs admirably. It’s a clays gun with a very fine point. While tromping through pheasant fields or sitting in a duck boat blind, you won’t hesitate to carry it. 

These firearms are attractive, shoot well, and are bulletproof technically. A pump-action gun’s simplicity implies there’s very little that can go wrong. It can get dirty and wet and still function properly.

The 612 Field has a 28-inch barrel with vented rib, which, along with the pump gun receiver’s increased action length, takes the overall length to 49 inches, which is about as short as a sports clays gun gets for an adult male shooter. It comes in 12-gauge and has three replaceable choke tubes as well as a 3-inch chamber. 

If properly cared for, this is a no-frills rifle that should survive several generations. It’s also a versatile weapon. You can use it to shoot clays and hunt any bird species. It’s also under $400.

Benelli Sport II

benelli sport ii

Both 12 gauge and 20 gauge chamberings are available in Benelli’s Sport II semi-automatic shotgun. While a gas-powered semi-auto is often regarded as the king of clay courses, the vintage Benelli inertia-driven system is a strong contender.

The Benelli Sport II’s action is powerful, quick, and perfectly cycles almost any target load you can throw at it.

Because of the weighted magazine cap, the rifle is well-balanced overall. It has a traditional ribbed target barrel that makes drawing a bead on fast-moving targets a breeze. It swings well, points naturally, and has a classic ribbed target barrel that makes drawing a bead on fast-moving targets a breeze.

Don’t be concerned about the exaggerated kick that typically tarnishes inertia-driven movements. Benelli has done everything possible to minimize the weapon’s recoil. Even when shooting through a case or two of clays, the Sport II sports a ported barrel and molded gel recoil pads to assist decrease shoulder pain.

Winchester Model 101 Deluxe Field Shotgun

winchester model 101 deluxe field shotgun

The Winchester Model 101 is as dependable as you’d expect from a company whose name is practically associated with shooting.

The Model 101 Deluxe Field shotgun is a good over/under 12 gauge with a durable chrome-plated chamber and a back-bored barrel that produces good shot patterns. It also has three Invector-Plus choke tubes to help you shatter clays from all angles and distances.

This Winchester shotgun features a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad that absorbs recoil like a sponge absorbs dishwater. Not only will this help you improve your follow-up shots, but it will also benefit your shoulder after the first 100 or so rounds.

The Winchester Model 101 Deluxe Field Shotgun Grade-III European walnut stock and a high-gloss blued barrel are designed to be both attractive and functional.

Remington 870 Express Trap

remington 870 express trap

Remington took its traditional Wingmaster’s dependability and performance and improved on it to create a superb clay buster. The Remington 870 Express Trap contains various trap shooter-friendly characteristics, such as a metal mid bead, ivory front target sights, and a Monte Carlo stock with a taller comb that naturally raises the point of impact.

The barrel was also lengthened to 30 inches, making it easier to swing and drive into fast-moving targets.

You’ve never experienced the silky-smooth pump-action performance of a Remington Model 870 if you’re worried about a pump-action restricting your second-shot chances. This isn’t the most popular shotgun in America for no reason – it has built a reputation that means something.

This is a plain Jane 12 gauge with no extra frills in terms of appearance. This female, on the other hand, is ready to work, and the receiver is so solid and dependable that you’ll be passing it down to your great-great grandkids.

Zoli Z-Sport

You can get a costly over/under shotgun for the same amount as a new automobile. Even if you’re a serious shooter, there’s no reason to spend more than $10,000 for the majority of us. That’s why the Zoli Z-Sport, which starts at $7,500, is so fantastic. 

This Italian-made shotgun, available in 12-gauge with barrel lengths of 28, 30, 32, and 34 inches, is an excellent alternative for shooters searching for an economical high-end sports clays shotgun.

The Z-Sport comes in three different rib heights: flat, mid-height, and adjustable height. All Zoli over/unders come with forged steel actions, trigger plates, and monoblocs, as well as removable trigger groups. 

The BHB system, which is available as an option, allows you to fine-tune the gun’s balance by placing incremental weights under the fore-end and in the grip. In terms of mechanical integrity and aesthetic appeal, this is a rifle that actually competes with the finest of the best.

Don’t Forget The Stock

One of the most crucial pieces of a target shooting shotgun is the stock, which allows the shooter to align the rib with the aiming line and subsequently guide the shot at the target.

It is nearly hard to achieve good results if the stock is not exactly calibrated depending on the shooter’s body, because even if the shooter believes he or she is aligned and aiming the pistol correctly, the rifle will really be misaligned. It will be immediately noticed by a well-placed external observer.

As a result, an experienced stock specialist and/or gunsmith would typically modify the stock of a target shooting shotgun to the shooter’s physique.

They may also recognize that as shooters gain skill, they may be able to slightly alter their shooting method, necessitating the need to change the stock when shouldering the shotgun.

That’s why manufacturers offer such a diverse range of stocks, some of which are extremely distinct in shape and size, so that every shooter may find the perfect fit.

In general, the length of a stock for hunting shotguns is roughly 360 mm, while it can go up to 370 mm for shotguns used for shooting sports.

In fact, a shorter length ensures a faster target acquisition, which is critical during hunting, since shooting is often spontaneous. A longer stock, on the other hand, makes it easier to acquire targets and pursue them over long distances with a slightly more fluid swing.

Remember Your Training

While it may seem obvious to pay particular attention to your physique and physical strength when purchasing a shotgun, you may fall in love with the weapon only to discover that it is not right for you.

Examine the gun’s weight to see if it’s something you’ll be able to handle comfortably during long shooting sessions. It’s not a frivolous assessment because it can make all the difference in making the appropriate decision and then mastering the shotgun over time.

Remember that the length of a gun barrel affects its weight and is thus an important element to consider when making your decision.

In terms of swinging ease, a 12-gauge shotgun with shorter barrels can be controlled more readily than a.20 calibre shotgun with longer barrels.

Every product is hand selected by our editors. We may receive commissions on purchases from a link.

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