All things shotgun related.
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Is there some level of accuracy that you pay for when buying cheap vs expensive? Or are you just paying more for build quality/ longevity, brand and feel/ balance? So for example, (unlike rifles) a first gun (for a couple years use before moving on) can be as good for, you cheap as chips, as one costing £1000s, so long as it fits?
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I'm far from an expert, but with shotguns I've always found the fit to be more important than anything else. Does it have the right length of pull, cast, come up right, and swing easily... if so you'll kill the bird / break the clay regardless if it's a £50 secondhand Aya or a £50k H&H.
Of course, that doesn't make me stop wanting the expensive new shiny :-)
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A Rolex doesn’t tell the time any better than a Casio.
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When it comes to O/U's and SbS's as far as I'm concerned there is no noticeable difference in performance between a £100 well fitted gun and a £5000 well fitted gun. You're literally paying for a badge, wood and engraving. If none of those matter to you then save your money.
Semi-auto's, (and to a lesser extent pumps) are a different matter though from my experience and observations, I would always pay more for a semi with a proven track record for reliability than an unknown gun without one, even if it means paying triple the cost.
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Cheap O/U get battered to death in short order when utilised regularly on a clay ground. There’s not going to many 20 year old Turkish guns on a Skeet stand in the 2040s.
In 1978 I was told by my grand dad that the secret to rifle accuracy is, a quality bullet, fired down a quality barrel..... How has that changed?
Guns dont kill people. Dads with pretty Daughters do...!
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To echo someone earlier, the fit is important as well as the handling. I have a Beretta Silver pigeon that I bought new 15yrs ago and had a little bit of work done to the stock to fit it. I've always shot well with it, it's bullet proof and looks the part. However, I've always found it a bit sluggish - by that I mean heavy and with 30" barrels it never felt agile. About 3 years ago a bought a semi custom Chapuis. I was measured and it was made to my measurements. I also opted for 28" barrels. I know it is a cliche, but it fits like a glove, and I shoot really well with it, it has made a difference. I don't shoot much in the way of clays, but when I do I'd say my score is much better. It's well made and importantly it feels quick and lively. In fact the RFD who took delivery of it, he's a big shotgun shooter, was really impressed with how it came up to the shoulder and how agile it was.
I still love my Silver Pigeon and continue to use it a lot but there's certainly a difference in performance. I suspect as you spend more and more, there's diminishing returns as you're paying for the craftsmanship as much as the quality and resilience. It's finding what works for you and what you want to do with it. I'd always recommend a beretta as they're bomb proof in my experience. Yet with the expensive brownings I've handled, I've found them to feel a bit dull and numb, but each to their own. Everyone has a different preference. The secret is to handle and if possible test as many as possible.
Finally, whilst they're a tool, they're also a big part of a hobby and you have to enjoy they, so if you can afford to spend a bit more and it gives you pleasure. A Ford focus will get you from A to B as much as a BMW 5 Series but there's the 'I like' it factor when selecting a car and I think the same can be said for firearms and shotguns.
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