Upgrading my clays gun…🤯

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Hi All, after a 20 yr break I am back to shooting clays. Been shooting quite a bit recently. Mostly a modified version of 5-stand (Purgatory F&G) and some trap. I have aspirations of getting into ducks and upland but that is down the road. My Beretta A320 circa 1996 is a great gun but there is much better out there now. I am overwhelmed by researching this so thought I would ping the crew for some insight. A few questions that I am struggling with:

Will an O/U beat up my shoulder after 75-100 shots vs a semi absorbing that to reload?
Benelli Montefeltro is nice and I would love an SBE - but should I go O/U?
Should I look at 20 or 28 ga?
Anyone have experience with a Fabarm Elos? Seems like a solid O/U.
How does a Citori stack up against a Fabarm? Am I looking at the wrong guns?
Leaning toward 28” barrel, should I go longer?
 
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I'm kind of new shooting clays but I've shot a few thousand rounds over this past year between my CZ Sharptail 30" and Beretta 686 32" both in 12ga.
They both weigh a bit over 8lbs, and I shoot 7/8 oz shot shells that is supposed to be around 1200 ft/sec. In terms of recoil, neither of them bother me.

In terms of barrel length, if you shoot low gun the faster 28" is nice. But if you like to premount the gun, I like my 32" because it forces me to control the swing and follow through. And it's not that front heavy either. For whatever reason I shoot my 30" sharptail better to the point I rarely shoot my 686 anymore. But I think it's just some sort of odd preference for the sxs sight picture I have.

In terms of gauge, I think between 20 vs 28, I would pick 20 just because its a lot easier to find ammo or load ammo. But I like 12 for the versatility. If I want 1-1/8 oz for sporting clay or trap i can do it. If I'm shooting skeet, I'll load 7/8 or 3/4 oz and still be ok.
 
IMO it’s tough to beat a Citori. I shot trap for a few years on a team. Everyone was using 12’s. I did buy a very nice 20 Citori and tried it at a couple of practice rounds and it was humbling.
The new club I joined has a large group of people into Skeet and Sporting Clays and I’ve started to get into it using my Beretta 391 Urika Teknys and fully realize how an auto loader is a PITA.
Not sure if I want to continue with the 391 or buy another Citori in 12. I’m not close to being good enough yet to start with my 20. Some of these guys are really good in their craft.

I will likely never get rid of my 391 as we have spent a lot of time on the range and in the field with it.
 
OP:

Shoot what you have, if you've been away from it for a while. Get used to that. While you're doing that, talk to others, and try their toys.

A 20 or 28 will reduce your scores (success), due to smaller shot charges.

I strongly prefer my ancient A5 to other guns I've tried, first because I'm a recoil wimp and like the felt recoil reduction of the action, and secondly, the "shabby chic" factor.

Shotgun fit, both physical and mental, is more important than the name or model, IMO.
 
I shoot a browning 725 for skeet.....20 or 28 gauge. (Tubes, same gun) it doesn't wreck my scores, mostly I shoot 23 with few occasional runs of 25.
If your gonna shoot clays and upland birds over a dog there is nothing wrong with a sub gauge. Its lighter and easier on your shoulder. I love shooting 28.

I have other guns in 28 I use for hunting with shorter barrels 28" or 26" for over the dog.

I don't shoot trap...but you mentioned ducks and if your gonna use the same gun, I'd go with a 12.

I have a Winchester 101 sporting 12 that I do the same with in skeet. I do prefer the 12 for sporting clays, as targets can be farther, and you mentioned ducks as well.
The 101 sporting (packaged at cabelas only...yuck) was $1600 and a great value. Ported barrels, wide target rib, target bead and mid bead. Nice walnut oil finished.

Alternatively there is Beretta Silver Pigeon for 600 more than the 101.

As far as autoloaders, I don't shoot them much, a citori, 101, or Beretta O/U doesn't need to be cleaned much and will last nearly forever.

There are some nice auto's on the market, and we have guys with cheaper turkish CZ 1012's and even cheaper off brands that shuck shells and shoot great. Honestly, if I was going
to buy and autoloader, the CZ1012 or its knock offs would be it. They are great guns from what I've seen. Rather than spending the 1600 on a Benelli or a Beretta you can buy 3 CZ1012's for the price.
 
I have a Browning 725 field gun that I sometimes use as a bird gun. On a whim, I brought it to the trap range and was please to find I do just as well with that as my 12 gauge Red Label. I also have a 28 gauge Red Label that I use for woodcock. I haven’t tried that on the trap range yet, but I feel there wouldn’t be that much, I any drop in my scores. Smaller gauges are very capable and fun to shoot.
 
I ve found that a 28 gauge at skeet really doesnt reduce my scores. 28 gauge patterns pretty well, and is nice to shoot.

The problem will be in availability and price of the shells. Youll pay 30 percent more for 28 gauge, and they might be hard to find.

I reload them......and save. But now that primers, lead are expensive and hard to find.....I'm shooting the 12 and 20 more in store bought shells.
 
If you reload, you'll prolly want to avoid an autoloader since you'll get tired of picking up your hulls off the ground after a round. If you don't reload, you may want to stick with a 12 or 20 gauge since 28's can sometimes be hard to find.
 
Good points being made here. It sounds like sticking with 12 and then trying to shoot 7/8 loads is the best bet.

Picking up hulls and also not being able to pocket them to keep my score are def 2 considerations. Cleaning def another.

I did check out a Citori, wow. I am going to see what O/U people are using now that I can recognize a few of them. I’d like to get up to Kittery as they seem to have the biggest selection in the area. Otherwise I am not sure I’d be able to handle too many guns to feel their fit.
 
If you reload, you'll prolly want to avoid an autoloader since you'll get tired of picking up your hulls off the ground after a round. If you don't reload, you may want to stick with a 12 or 20 gauge since 28's can sometimes be hard to find.
Reload or not, picking up hulls should be mandatory for everyone.
 
Reload or not, picking up hulls should be mandatory for everyone.
Depends on the sport and more importantly the facility and any rules/conventions that exist. If i picked up hulls during the sporting clays tournament I was at last Sunday, people would look at me like i had three heads. It slows down the entire course for everyone if all hulls had to be in the barrel.

ETA: on the other hand if i was lazily shooting trap at some guys club i got invited to... of course im going to pick them up.
 
I was referring to the inconvenience of picking them up more than the responsibility or requirement for doing it.
 
Depends on the sport and more importantly the facility and any rules/conventions that exist. If i picked up hulls during the sporting clays tournament I was at last Sunday, people would look at me like i had three heads. It slows down the entire course for everyone if all hulls had to be in the barrel.

ETA: on the other hand if i was lazily shooting trap at some guys club i got invited to... of course im going to pick them up.
Good point. I was thinking mainly of club trap or skeet ranges where all shooters are responsible for policing their own mess.
 
I’d like to get up to Kittery as they seem to have the biggest selection in the area.

Agree, that's where I bought my Beretta 694 last fall after looking at a number of alternatives. Can't beat holding and mounting a gun to determine fit and feel. Besides KTP, I recommend that you check the inventory at Rennaissance in Barrington, they may have a selection of new and used O/Us.
 
and remember you can't buy targets, upgrading your equipment doesn't raise your scores, god knows I've tried.....
yep. but first, how well do you shoot clays? if you're just learning the game, stick with what you have and learn how to shoot the various shots, get acclimated back into the sport. there's nothing worse than trying to learn a new gun and shotgun sport at the same time. stay with what you know. i shot a beretta 303 for years at sporting clays and 5 stand when i was active. did extremely well with it so never saw a reason to move to the latest and greatest. the key is getting a semi auto that is reliable. if you have one, keep it.
 
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