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I did a lot of research a while back and ended up getting a Franchi Instinct L for about $1,000.

In the $600 or so range, many people seem to like the CZ shotguns, better than the other budget choices. I almost bougt a CZ Wingshooter before choosing the Franchi.

Hunter Sports, Southshore Sportsman and Coliseum all have a good selection of shotguns. I believe you can try as many of the Hunter Sports guns at Suffolk Clays for a flat rental fee, which they will refund if you buy from them.
 

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Hunter Sports guns at Suffolk Clays for a flat rental fee, which they will refund if you buy from them.

^^ that's nice to know! thanks for posting it.
 

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Stoeger condor. 400. It's puts up numbers just as good as any under over. It's the user, not the gun.
Yes it will break birds but here is the problem. If you buy a cheap over and under you get what you pay for. I started out cheap 16 years ago and it was a mistake from day one. I got addicted to shooting and the gun I bought couldnt take the amount of shells i was shooting. After little time it was failing on my doubles often. I ended up throwing it out. Fast forward now. I am a range officer and see lots of these cheaper stoegers, brikals etc all day long and they are 95% junk. Do they work yes are they reliable? maybe. will they work for you? maybe. They would not work for me. I am shooting close to 5000 rounds a year give or take 1k in a normal year. The cheaper o/u just dont hold up cracked stocks to wore out parts. I have a 1980's remington 1100 that has over I would guess 35K thur it with nothing but an oring changed. Also look at resale cheap trap guns do not sell after you cant get the parts anymore. Spend alittle more now and not twice as much later.

I would say the ruger red label if you can find one is a nice built cheaper o/u.
 

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[sub] Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon. Spend the money and have a shotgun that will probably last their entire life for the occasional recreational shooter. [/sub]
 
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I just started looking into over/unders as well. I want a quality firearm that will last a lifetime. My other shotguns are a Remington 870 pump in synthetic black and a franchi affinity semi-auto in synthetic black as well. The franchi is superior to the Remington and performs flawlessly and is well balanced. So far, I have found the beretta silver pigeon, the franchi instinct, and the browning. I have held the beretta and the browning, and there is no comparison- the beretta is better made and just feels better in my hands, but it is almost twice the price at nearly $2k. I am looking to hold and inspect the franchi to see how it feels and compares to the beretta. Franchi is made by Benelli and are quality firearms. I think you need to be prepared to spend at least $1k on a quality over/under, otherwise stick to a pump or semi-auto. Or find a used one!
 

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Shotguns are kinda like pistols. People can recommend their preferences but you also need to hold it up to y0our shoulder and see what feels right once you start narrowing it down. I did tons of research on Berettas, went into the store, and after all that it didn't feel as good in hand as another brand.

That said, I would follow Mikee's lead and consider getting a good, used, all around useful semi-auto like a Remington 1100 12ga with a 28" barrel that could also serve as a good bird gun. If this is more for fun, I personally think fun starts with less kick than an over and under, but each to his own. Seems like a shame to dump $700 on a new gun if you're not even sure you're gonna be using it that much, and the kick from an over under might be a turnoff more than anything.
 

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Kick?

A quality OU doesn't kick as much as you're implying.

I've rented and shot other peoples OU at Yaphank. Kick wasn't more than pump actions I've shot.

You're shooting #7-9 birdshot. Those aren't shoulder beater rounds.
 
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I was in the same boat earlier this year, I went with an older Remington 1100 and I love it. That being said I have general affinity for old Remington's. Also I really have enjoyed sporting clays and am absolutely sure I have a browning in the future but.... I just bought a house(sandy victim) and am getting married in November so new gun money is hard to come by, he'll range time is hard to come,by. Excuse my ranting but you can't go wrong with 1100. If you find an nice old one you are likely not to spend all of your budget, more money for shells and to practice.
 

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Just to throw more gas on this fire.... An ideal skeet gun and an ideal trap gun are two different animals. My advise, rent a gun that fits. Make it a 12 gauge with a 28" barrel that will accept removable chokes. An auto-loader is generally softer shooting than a O/U and 12 gauge ammo is cheaper than 20 gauge. Don't worry about any other details. Chances are... After learning how to shoot, your friend will have a better idea of what sort of shotgun he wants to own.
 

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Yes it will break birds but here is the problem. If you buy a cheap over and under you get what you pay for. I started out cheap 16 years ago and it was a mistake from day one. I got addicted to shooting and the gun I bought couldnt take the amount of shells i was shooting. After little time it was failing on my doubles often. I ended up throwing it out. Fast forward now. I am a range officer and see lots of these cheaper stoegers, brikals etc all day long and they are 95% junk. Do they work yes are they reliable? maybe. will they work for you? maybe. They would not work for me. I am shooting close to 5000 rounds a year give or take 1k in a normal year. The cheaper o/u just dont hold up cracked stocks to wore out parts. I have a 1980's remington 1100 that has over I would guess 35K thur it with nothing but an oring changed. Also look at resale cheap trap guns do not sell after you cant get the parts anymore. Spend alittle more now and not twice as much later.

I would say the ruger red label if you can find one is a nice built cheaper o/u.
I'm going out on a limb here and saying that no one who buys a $400 gun cares about resale value. I have thousands of rounds through my stoeger and no issues. To each his own. One day I'll buy a quality u/o but now I'm buying pistols.
 

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I was in the same boat earlier this year, I went with an older Remington 1100 and I love it. That being said I have general affinity for old Remington's. Also I really have enjoyed sporting clays and am absolutely sure I have a browning in the future but.... I just bought a house(sandy victim) and am getting married in November so new gun money is hard to come by, he'll range time is hard to come,by. Excuse my ranting but you can't go wrong with 1100. If you find an nice old one you are likely not to spend all of your budget, more money for shells and to practice.
This is the standard Volko answer, but that's because we are partial to them.

Remington 1100 used.....you can spend about $500 and have a very nice shotgun.

Rone and I also both shoot Browning A5's very well....but they have more kick being recoil operated rather than gas. If I'm hunting pheasant I usually grab my A5 (especially if I haven't shot any other guns for a while...it just fits me well)...but if I'm shooting sporting clays by around shot 80 or so I have a solid bruise going on my shoulder.

If you want to spend more money, any of the Berettas with the kickoff. We have an a400 xtreme with the kickoff system (12 ga) and it kicks less than my Remington 1100 20 ga. The one time I shot a Beretta a391 I was on almost every target on a trap field.

Have fun!! It's more fun shooting targets that break. Next step is steel matches with a pistol!
 

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The old tried and true Remington 1100 is a good bet. They are reliable with target loads and there are a lot of pre owned guns around. For someone just starting out shooting clays they make a good investment and will not break the bank. Will leave some money for ammo and a beginners lesson or two.

I would avoid O/U guns at first. Cheap O/U's are just problems. Handle a few different guns before buying if you must have an O/U. Beretta 68x and Browning Citori are the best of the lot but are a bit expensive.

No gun can be the best for every Clays sport. Skeet, Trap and Sporting are different games and one gun/barrel /choke will not be optimum for all sports. I suggest observing a "Money Shoot" to see what the serious shooters use. You will be shocked at the guns you will see.
 

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I'm going out on a limb here and saying that no one who buys a $400 gun cares about resale value. I have thousands of rounds through my stoeger and no issues. To each his own. One day I'll buy a quality u/o but now I'm buying pistols.
Mikee makes excellent points, but I agree with FMJ. The OP seems to be prioritizing cost. If he was going to shoot 5K shells a year, he wouldn't be spending $400. And buying a used shotgun brings with it the risk of having to replace parts or make other repairs which are unforeseen at the time of purchase and do not fall under a warranty. My take is that he wants something to shoot a couple times a year and which will eventually be traded away when he loses interest.
 
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