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ou can get started in the clay target sports with almost any shotgun, with home defense and rifled deer guns being the exception. In fact, if your only interest in target shooting is to tune up for hunting or to enjoy casual trap, skeet and sporting clays, an affordable gas semiauto field gun like the Beretta A300 or the Remington V3 could be all the clay gun you ever need. However, if your goal is to bust more clays in league or serious competition, sooner or later you’ll want a dedicated target gun. It’s likely to be long and heavy to make it swing smoothly and kick less. The stock will have dimensions better suited to clays that give you a slightly high point of impact, allowing you to “float” the target over the barrel rather than blotting it out with the muzzle as you do with field guns. The best ones are made to withstand tens of thousands of rounds a year over a lifetime or two in practice and competition. Target guns can cost anywhere from under $500 to $20,000 or more. You still have to break the birds yourself, but the right gun will make shooting easier and more comfortable. The best all-around clay guns are usually those made for sporting clays, which can do a good job with skeet and trap targets, although if all you want to do is shoot American trap, a gun designed specifically for that game will make a big difference to your shooting. In picking the guns for this list, I tried to choose a wide range of prices, and also to pick guns that are good values within their price range. Also, as a shotgun columnist and SCTP coach, I have seen gun problems of all kinds and, while any gun can have a problem, the guns here, in my experience, are most likely to give you trouble-free performance. Here are 20 clay guns—plus a couple of bonuses—from least to most expensive: Winchester SXP Trap

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Winchester SXP Trap shotgun.Winchester

The Winchester SXP Trap is an excellent budget trap gun. It has all the features you need in a target gun: a Monte Carlo stock and high rib for a higher point of impact; double beads (front is fiber-optic); and Browning/Winchester's soft Inflex recoil pad. If your trapshooting includes doubles, you'll appreciate its slick pumping action.

The SXP Trap is an easy gun to shoot at a great price, and while you'll likely trade up eventually if you get seriously into trapshooting, it's the perfect gun to get your started or see you through summer trap league. (See a review of the Winchester SXP Trap shotgun here.)

Best for: Single and double trap

MSRP: $479.99

Beretta A300 Outlander Sporting

Beretta A300 Outlander Sporting
The Beretta A300 Outlander Sporting shotgun.Beretta

Beretta’s excellent, affordable A300 Outlander is the gun I recommend to people buying a first gun. Now there’s a dedicated target version available with all the advantages of the A300 (bulletproof reliability, soft recoil) configured for clay games. It comes with a 30 inch barrel with front and middle beads on a widened rib and three extended choke tubes.

The walnut stock has been beefed up to add a little weight, and it’s readily adjustable with shims. The gun weighs a little over 7 pounds, so it’s not too much for smaller shooters, but it’s hefty enough to swing and to absorb some recoil. With its matte finish and 3-inch chamber, it could be a duck and dove gun, too.

Best for: Sporting clays, skeet, some trap, hunting

MSRP: $1,100

Remington 1100 Competition

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Remington 1100 Competition model.Remington

The soft recoil of the Remington 1100 helped it revolutionize target shooting when it was first introduced in 1963. Despite its age, the 1100 is still one of the softest-shooting semiautos around, which matters a lot when you shoot a few hundred targets in a day.

The Competition model comes with an adjustable comb that lets you tailor the gun to your dimensions. It also has a spring recoil reducer in the stock that makes this gun nearly kickless.

Best for: Trap, skeet, sporting clays

MSRP: $1,305

CZ Redhead Target

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The CZ Redhead Target shotgun.CZ USA

Sure, you can find over/under target shotguns for less, but most of them will give you trouble and fail at the wrong time. This is an exception. CZ’s Turkish-made O/Us have earned a very good reputation as the best value in break-action hunting and target guns, and they are priced well below Brownings and Berettas.

The Redhead Target is a dedicated clay-crusher that comes with 30-inch barrels, six extended choke tubes, and a Monte Carlo stock with a raised comb and a palm swell in the grip for greater comfort.

Best for: Trap, sporting clays, skeet

MSRP: $1,389

Browning BT-99

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Browning BT-99 shotgun.Browning

Browning’s classic single-barrel break action is good for one thing only: breaking singles trap targets. It’s a simple gun. It has no safety (it’s never loaded until right before you shoot, so it’s safe), no automatic ejector, no decoration. All it does is shoot. It’s a well-balanced gun that comes with a long 32- or 34-inch barrel to help smooth your swing. Many trapshooters start with BT-99s, and some never switch to anything else.

Best for: 16-yard and handicap singles trap

MSRP: Starting at $1,429, with adjustable comb and stock versions selling for more.

Winchester SX3 Composite Sporting

winchester sx3 composit sporting
The Winchester SX3 Composite Sporting shotgun.Winchester

Built on a proven, reliable, soft-shooting action, the Winchester Super X3 Sporting is an easy gun for almost anyone to shoot. Light weight and low recoil, plus a stock that adjust with shims and length of pull spacers make is suitable for a range of shooters. The composite stock has a carbon-fiber design; the receiver is silver; the barrel grayed and the gun is set off with red accents, making for a striking appearance.

Inside, the gun is easy to maintain, and it will run for many, many rounds between cleanings. It features a sporting clays pad with a hard insert and extended chokes tubes.

Best for: Sporting clays, skeet, trap

MSRP: $1,739.99

Browning Cynergy CX

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Browning Cynergy CX shotgun.Browning

The Cynergy CX represents an excellent value in one gun for all target disciplines and a little hunting, too. The very durable Cynergy action is made to hold up through countless thousands of rounds, and this version is designed to print its point of impact slightly high so it’s suitable for all clay target games and still work as a hunting gun.

The trim Cynergy is a natural pointer, although you do have to get used to its unconventional lines. The gun comes in 30- and 32-inch barrel lengths with the extended choke tubes target shooters prefer for quick identification and changes. It has 3-inch chambers in case you decide to take it duck hunting and want to shoot 3-inch magnums.

Best for: Sporting clays, trap, skeet, some dove and duck hunting

MSRP: $1,739

Beretta A400 Xcel

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Beretta A400 Xcel shotgun.Beretta

Beretta’s “blue gun” is the overwhelming choice of serious sporting clays competitors who shoot a semiauto thanks to its reliability and soft recoil. It’s very easy to maintain and will run a long time between cleanings. No semiauto is malfunction-free, but the A400 comes very close, and tournament competitors trust these guns not to cost them targets through failures to fire.

The optional “Kick-Off” recoil reducer combines with gas operation to make this one of the softest shooting semiautos on the market. The “Balance Cap” magazine cap lets you add weight to change the balance, and stock shims allow you to adjust the stock fit.

Best for: Sporting clays; all-around clay shooting

MSRP: Starting at $1,750

Syren L4s Sporting

Syren L4s Sporting
The Syren L4s Sporting shotgun.Syren

Syren shotguns are made and stocked for women. The dimensions of the stock – shorter length of pull, monte carlo stock, closer pistol grip, butt angled out at the bottom – are all intended to make a Syren better fit women, just as off the shelf shotguns are stocked to fit the mythical “average man.” The L4S itself is a lightweight gas gun that is extremely well fit and finished inside and out. I have an L4S hunting gun which has been a terrific performer in the dove field.

The sporting model adds an enlarged bolt handle and bolt release colored in Syren purple (the magazine cap is, too), giving the gun a distinctive look. The wood is dipped in Fabarm’s TriWood, an artificial wood grain enhancement that some love and others (me) dislike, but it helps protect the wood and it doesn’t interfere with the gun’s excellent shooting qualities. It also has a 28 inch barrel in place of the standard 30 inch, making this a great choice for smaller shooters.

Best for: Sporting clays, trap, skeet

MSRP: $1,950

Benelli SuperSport

Benelli SuperSport
The Benelli SuperSport shotgun.Benelli

Some shooters prefer the slender lines and easy care of an inertia semiauto over the recoil reduction of a gas gun. For them, Benelli offers the SuperSport. Available in both 12 and 20 gauge, the SuperSport features Benelli’s ComforTech stock, which combines a soft, ergonomic buttbad with a soft comb and vibration-absorbing chevrons in the stock which all contribute to a reduced recoil sensation.

The gun features a 28 or 30-inch ported barrel (28 only in 20 gauge) with extended chokes and a stock that adjusts for drop and cast. Owners can tailor the gun’s fit even more with optional comb inserts and buttpads of varying thicknesses.

Best for: Sporting clays, skeet, trap, dove hunting

MSRP: $2,199

Beretta Silver Pigeon I Sporting

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon I Sporting model.Beretta

Beretta O/Us are known for their trim lines and excellent pointing qualities. The Silver Pigeon I gives up nothing besides a little decoration to other, costlier guns in the 680 series, which is popular around the world among hunters and target shooters alike. It has an action that will lock up solidly after many thousands of rounds, and it looks good, too, with select American walnut furniture and scroll engraving on its silvered receiver.

Best for: Sporting clays, skeet, trap and some hunting

MSRP: $2,400

CZ All American

CZ All American
The CZ All American shotgun.CZ USA

The All-American offers a ton of value and features in a very competitively priced break action. It comes in three configurations: a sporting gun with 30 or 32 inch barrels; a single barrel trap model with 30, 32 and 34 inch barrels; and an unsingle/O/U combo for singles and double trap.

All three versions feature buttplates that adjust for cast and length as well as combs that can be raised for drop and offset for cast. The unsingle barrel of the trap gun adjusts for point of impact as well. Locking blocks and hingepins are easily replaceable should the gun begin to wear after many thousands of rounds.

Best for: Sporting clays, and skeet, trap models best for trap

MSRP: Starting at $2,572

Fabarm Elos N2 AllSport

Fabarm Elos N2 AllSport
The Fabarm Elos N2 AllSport shotgun.Fabarm

The youth-sized Elos AllSport meets the needs of young Scholastic Clay Target Program shooters – or any other smaller shooters -- who want one gun for all disciplines. The Fabarm Quick Release Rib (QRR) system allows you to easily and quickly switch from a flat-shooting, low 50/50 POI rib to a higher and higher-shooting 65/35 rib so one gun can go from skeet and sporting gun to trap gun in seconds.

The AllSport’s shorter stock and tighter pistol grip make it suitable for smaller shooters, and the adjustable comb lets you tweak drop and cast while the trigger adjusts for length to accommodate different-sized hands. The gun comes with extended choke tubes and is finished with Fabarm’s TriWood enhanced wood grain. It is a lot of gun at $2985, given that fills the roles of two or three guns at once.

Best for: all clay target disciplines

MSRP: $2,985

Caesar Guerini Summit Sporting

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Caesar Guerini Summit Sporting shotgun.Caesar Guerini

Well made, fit and finished in one of Italy’s largest gun factories, the Caesar Guerini Summit has a large following among shooters in search of a gun priced between “entry level” O/Us and high end Krieghoffs, Perazzis and Beretta DT-11s. Besides mechanical excellence in a proven design, Guerinis are fit and finished to a much higher level than many target guns around their price range.

If you want to look your best while breaking birds, this might be the gun for you. Although Guerini USA is only in its fifteenth year, the company has developed a reputation for making excellent guns and delivering first-rate customer service.

Best for: Sporting clays, skeet; dedicated trap models also available

MSRP: $3,895

Blaser F16

Blaser F16 shotgun
The Blaser F16 shotgun.Blaser

The success of the F3 Blaser, a gun in the Perazzi/Krieghoff price range, spawned the lower-priced F16, which is still an excellent target gun in its own right. The main F3 feature the F16 surrenders is the barrel interchangeablity of the F3, but that’s a small sacrifice in return for thousands of dollars in savings. The F16 retains the very low profile receiver of the F3, which contributes to its sleek feel and pointability.

The gun comes with a weight system that lets you add or subtract weight in the stock and beneath the forend to tailor the gun’s balance to your style. A unique feature of the F13/F16 are the ejectors which cock only when the gun is fired, saving stress on the springs. The gun comes with 30 or 32 inch barrels and the trigger adjusts for length.

Best for: Sporting Clays, skeet, some trap

MSRP: $4,195

Benelli 828U Sporting

benelli 828u sporting shotgun
The Benelli 828U Sporting shotgun.Benelli

Benelli offered its 828U in a sporting clays model this year. Rather than simply lengthen the barrels and write “sporting” on the receiver, Benelli’s designers switched the lightweight field version’s alloy receiver for steel, adding over a pound to the gun to make it swing smoothly and absorb recoil. The stock is both bulkier and has a higher comb so you can “float” targets with the gun.

The “progressive balance” system in the stock lets you change the gun’s balance to your own preference. The 30-inch barrels have a wider, target style carbon fiber rib and extended chokes. As with the field 828U, the stock fit can be adjusted with shims, a feature formerly found only in pump and semiauto shotguns.

Best for: sporting clays, skeet, some trap

MSRP: $4,399

Beretta DT 11

beretta dt11 shotgun
The Beretta DT 11 shotgun.Beretta

The choice of many of the world’s top shooters, including six-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode, the DT 11 is built on a sturdy, low-profile crossbolt locking system that will withstand hundreds of thousands of rounds. Beretta engineers widened the receiver both for strength and more importantly to concentrate the weight of the gun between the shooter’s hands.

The barrels are designed to optimize patterns and reduce recoil and are carefully weighted to improve the gun’s balance. DT 11 models are available for every U.S. and international shooting discipline.

Best for: dedicated models available for all disciplines

MSRP: Starting at $8,650

Perazzi High Tech

Perazzi High Tech
The Perazzi High Tech shotgun.Perazzi

One of the two or three top target guns in the world, the Italian Perazzi has a reputation for lively handling. The new High Tech model adds some weight between the shooter’s hands, lowering recoil without comprising the famous Perazzi feel. Available in trap, skeet and sporting configurations, the High Tech can be bought off a dealer’s rack, or it can be custom-ordered for the same price.

Options include your choice of flat springs for the best possible trigger pull, or sturdier coil springs that may never need changing. The High Tech Sporting features a reverse tapered rib, wider at the muzzle than at the breech, which presents the illusion of a parallel rib to the shooter’s eye. Trap models come with elevated ribs.

Best for: Sporting clays; trap and skeet models available

MSRP: $11,500

Krieghoff K 80

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Krieghoff K 80 shotgun.Krieghoff

Krieghoffs, made in Ulm, Germany, are among the world’s finest target guns, trusted by Olympians and world champions to withstand the extreme rigors of top level target shooting. Inspired by the long-gone Remington Model 32, the K 80 is extremely popular among tournament skeet shooters. Plenty of sporting and trap shooters like K80s as well, and the gun’s complete modularity allows you to switch parts to tailor it to any discipline. Krieghoffs cost what they do because they are made without cutting corners.

As it was explained to me once, a Corvette is a good sports car made to a price, while a Lamborghini is made to be the best car it can be. Krieghoffs are kind of the same. It may not be four times better than a $3,000 O/U, but it may get you an extra target in a competition. Krieghoffs come in dedicated trap, skeet, and sporting models, and are also renowned for their excellent triggers.

Best for: Skeet, trap, sporting clays

MSRP: Starting at $11,995

Honorable Mention:

Mossberg 930 Pro Series Sporting

The Ten Best Clays Shotguns
The Mossberg 930 Pro Series Sporting shotgun.Mossberg

Mossberg’s 930 semiauto is already an affordable, proven favorite among three-gun shooters, so it only made sense to introduce a Sporting Clays version of this soft-recoiling gas gun. Its internal parts receive extra polishing for improved function and are coated with boron nitride to combat rust.

The stock adjusts through a wide range of dimensions to fit most shooters for most clay games, and it comes with five extended choke tubes, a soft recoil pad and a HiViz bead.

Best for: Sporting clays, skeet, trap

MSRP: $1,062