Six Used Shotguns to Avoid

photo from Windigo Images

If you’re considering purchasing a used shotgun, here are six you might want to avoid. Note, though, that any worst or best list is based, at least partially, on opinion, as is this one.

Kmart Boito Double: The Blue Light Special

A Boito double that was for sale on gunauction.com.

Kmart sold these Brazilian double-trigger, side-by-side shotguns for a little over $100 in the 1970s and early ’80s, which even then was practically nothing. They were made of stamped, soft-metal parts that bent, broke, and wore out easily. The stocks and forearms often developed cracks after only a few boxes of shells. In short, they were everything you’d fear a Kmart gun might be.

Marlin Goose Gun: The Pipeline

A Marlin Goose gun bolt-action shotgun.

Never mind that it’s a bolt-action shotgun with a 36-inch barrel, making it as suitable for pole-vaulting as for shooting. Marlin’s goose gun, which was introduced in 1962 and sold for years, has misses built into the design: It has a rear sight. There is no better way to miss with a shotgun than to line up sights and shoot it like a rifle.

Remington 870 16-Gauge: The Frame-Up

A Remington 870 in 16 gauge sold on gunauction.com.

Uplanders cherish the 16-gauge as the gun that “carries like a 20 and hits like a 12.” To live up to that potential, a 16-gauge needs to be built on its own frame, but manufacturers cutting costs often made 16s by sticking smaller barrels on 12-gauge frames. When Remington reintroduced the 16-gauge 870 in 2001, they went the 16-on-12-route, making a gun that “carried like a heavy 12-gauge, hit like a wimpy one, and shot harder-to-find ammo.”

Smith & Wesson 916: The Rock of Sisyphus

A short-barreled Smith & Wesson 916.

Eager to expand into the long-gun market, S&W bought the designs, patents, and tooling from Noble Manufacturing Co. and introduced the 916 in 1972. For gunsmiths, the early version of the 916 was the Rock of Sisyphus in shotgun form. Every time you fixed something on a 916, some other part broke. And some of them would fire out of battery. The story is told that S&W actually considered buying back—not recalling, but buying back—every 916 made.

Browning Citori 425 Women’s Shooting Sports Foundation Edition: The Blue Ox

A closeup of the "Blue Ox" from trapshooters.com.

The idea 12 years ago was laudable—attract more women to sporting clays—and the gun underneath was very good. But the robin’s-egg-blue paint job didn’t fly.

Winchester Super X2 “Greenhead”: The Gutter Ball

Winchester Super X2 Greenhead.

I love most Super X2s, but not the Greenhead, circa 2002: The iridescent green synthetic stock made it look like a bowling ball.