Best Semi Auto Shotgun: A List of the Top 5

semi auto shotgun

Finding The Best Semi-Automatic Shotgun: Top 5

If you’re an avid firearm enthusiast, then you would definitely know everything about shotguns and these guns were probably among the first weapons you were introduced to. Shotguns are excellent firearms and are ideal right from training, if you are a beginner, to providing the best home defense. Shotguns are even commonly used in the military. You will want to find the best semi auto shotgun to add to your collection.

All of us are quite familiar with pump-action shotguns. So, what are semi-automatic shotguns? Semi-automatic shotguns are essentially an upgraded variety of the pump-action shotguns. Semi-auto shotguns are firm favorites with gun lovers for their reduced recoil and quick firepower.

The main difference between the pump-action and semi-auto shotguns is that in the pump-action shotgun, you need to pump the fore-end of the gun into itself to remove the empty cartridge and reload a fresh one and this action must be repeated after firing each round. In the case of a semi-auto, this action occurs automatically via a gas or a recoil-operated mechanism, which enables you to fire rounds continuously.

Best Semi Auto Shotgun Comparison Table:

Overview Of Finding The Best Semi-Automatic Shotgun

The origin of semi-auto shotguns goes way back to 1902, when the first prototype, the Browning Auto-5 was manufactured and it was in production right until 1999. Back then, not many people trusted the semi-automatic and with limitations in technology, the semi-auto had its own set of issues. With time and advancements in gun technology, these flaws were rectified and high-quality, reliable semi-automatic shotguns from different manufacturers entered the market.

Gradually, the upgraded semi-automatics became popular with gun enthusiasts and even started being used by the military with good reason. They found that the many rounds of 12-gauge buckshot shot continuously is extremely useful for fighting in war, target shooting or hunting.

Not long ago, there were very few reputable semi-automatic shotguns such as Remington, Mossberg and Browning in the market. But now, with the improvement in quality and a fall in prices, there are many more manufacturers and the demand for the newest and best semi-automatic shotgun has risen.

How A Semi-Automatic Shotgun Works

In the case of the pump-action shotgun, you must manually slide the fore-end of the gun, which makes use of the spring-operated system to eject an empty cartridge and insert a new one simultaneously, whereas, in the case of a semi-automatic this action occurs automatically and cycles through the shells in 2 ways – via a gas system like the AR-15 and a recoil-operated mechanism.

While both the mechanisms i.e. gas and recoil-operated, make use of energy to reload the shotgun, they do it in different ways. The shotguns which are gas powered use the high-pressure gas which is released after the firing and use it to cycle the ammunition. On the other hand, shotguns that are recoil-operated make use of kinetic energy to cycle the ammo.

Although, over the years, the gas-loading mechanism has been in use in most semi-automatic and automatic guns, the recoil-operation mechanism was more favored.

Pros And Cons Of Using A Semi-Automatic Shotgun

PROS

CONS

  • Although it is recommended that you don’t try shooting with a single hand,      it is easier to do it using a semi-automatic shotgun.
  • The kickback of a semi-automatic shotgun is not as strong as that of a gun that makes use of a gas mechanism.
  • Semi-automatic shotguns have a more rapid rate of firing than manual guns.

  • Semi-automatic shotguns are more complex in terms of the design, which makes them much heavier and the cleaning of the shotgun is also much  more difficult, especially if you are a beginner.

  • These shotguns are more likely to jam compared to break-action and pump shotguns.

  • Many of the semi-auto shotguns cannot cycle low-powered ammunition reliably.

Advantages Of Using A Semi-Automatic Shotgun

The best semi-auto shotgun (this is all personal preference/opinion) is excellent for tactical situation and competitions. These guns are especially beneficial for beginners who find it difficult to engage their target while cycling the ammunition with a pump-operated gun.

Disadvantages Of Using A Semi-Automatic Shotgun

N/A

How Good Are Semi-Automatic Shotguns For New Gun Owners?

Semi-automatic shotguns are much simpler to operate when compared to manually operated guns. All you need to do is charge the gun initially making use of the charging handle. The shotgun will run automatically until it is empty. When the gun is empty, the bolts of the shotgun will lock to the rear, offering a clear tactile, visual and auditory sign that the shotgun is empty.

On the other hand, in the case of a pump-action shotgun, there is no auditory or tactile feedback to alert you that the shotgun is empty. The only way that you can know is by keeping track of the rounds or when the gun clicks when an empty chamber is encountered. All these factors make the semi-automatic shotgun a great choice, especially if you are a new gun owner.

Selecting the best semi-automatic shotgun may be quite a challenge, given the number of brands and models available in the market. We have put together a comprehensive review of some of the best semi-automatic shotguns that can help you decide the best one to buy.

Finding The Best Semi-Automatic Shotgun

Remington Versa Max Sportsman

Remington Versa Max Sportsman

Remington is a renowned and a popular firearm manufacturer and the Versa Max Sportsman from Remington is undoubtedly an excellent shotgun. It is extremely versatile and delivers excellent performance.

The Versa Max is a gas-operated shotgun, which means that it makes use of high-pressure gas behind the shot cup, which helps to drive the action. The Versaport system of the Versa Max handles the gas pressure and adjusts the pressure according to the size of the shell being used. The shotgun is equipped with 2 small pistons that enable efficient self-cleaning. The gas-operated mechanism makes the shotgun very versatile and you can keep shooting with it for days without the gun failing.

The Versa Max features a stock made from reinforced polymer material, which makes the shotgun extremely lightweight, but at the same time, the gun is quite sturdy and durable too.  The gun is equipped with a large safety, so that you don’t fire the weapon accidentally. The shotgun is quite compact that allows it to fit easily in your gun safe.

Although the price of the Versa Max is higher than some of the other shotgun models, it is a real workhorse and offers great reliability, which ensures that the gun fires without missing, every time you pull the trigger. The 12-gauge auto-loading shotgun is built for competitions and is excellent for 3-gun shooting competitions. And, if you love hunting or shooting geese as a sport, then the Versa Max Sportsman is definitely the best shotgun to buy.

Benelli M2

Benelli M2

The Benelli M2 is among the top performing shotgun models available in the market. The shotgun is extremely rugged and delivers a nimble shot. Instead of the gas system, the Benelli M2 work on the inertia system, which has fewer moving parts and allows the shotgun to take on any kind of 12-gauge cartridge and also 3-inch magnums.

Thanks to the inertia mechanism of the M2, the fore-end of the shotgun is quite slim and overall, the gun is quite lightweight and feels quite comfortable to handle. The design of the Benelli M2, lets you have a super-fast and efficient operation that fires each time that you take a shot. The inertia system also offers greater benefit compared to the gas exhaust and makes it easier to keep the shotgun clean.

The Benelli M2 comes in both a 12-gauge, as well as a 20-gauge options and the recoil spring of the shotgun offers ultra-quick reloading time, irrespective of the type of load. The synthetic stock of the gun and the fore-end keep it in great working condition.

The shotgun is available in various barrel sizes, 24 inches, 26 inches and 28 inches, and all have a ventilated rib. Very easy to clean and maintain, the Benelli M2 is multi-functional and is a great shotgun for self-defense, hunting, competitions and security needs.

Browning A5

Browning A5

The semi-automatic shotgun has come a long way since the Browning A5, the gun which started the niche of semi-automatic shotguns. The Browning A5 started off originally as a military weapon and has now become the most used weapon for home defense and competitive shooting. The Browning A5 is a new and an upgraded version of the vintage model.

While the all new A5 retains the shape of the original Browning A5, almost everything else of the shotgun has been upgraded. The A5 offers the same functionality as the older model; however, it is much lighter and makes use of the Kinematic Drive, the recoil mechanism that allows you to pick between the light and heavy loads.

The A5 is a very balanced weapon; it is reliable and very easy to use. The shotgun offers very rapid cycling as it uses the recoil of the gun, making the A5 among the fastest cycling guns available. There are several versions of the A5 available and irrespective of whatever you want to use your shotgun for, there is an A5 available for that.

The light weight of the A5’s muzzle and butt pad allows you to use it continuously without getting tired. And, the shotgun offers very fast and reliable cycling and with minimal kickback. The best part is that the Browning A5 comes with a 5-year or 100,000-round warranty. The A5 is indeed a timeless firearm that you can keep as a prized heirloom for generations.

Mossberg 930

Mossberg 930

If you’re looking for the best semi auto shotgun that offers reliable home defense, then the Mossberg 930 is definitely an excellent choice. The shotgun is easy to use and is very functional. Simple and straightforward, the gun does not boast of many bells and whistles and it is quite inexpensive, considering its high-quality build.

Like other shotguns, the Mossberg 930 has various versions – for hunting, competitive shooting and also the tactical version. The dual vent system of the 930 enables very rapid cycling and the sights are also very easy to use. The dual-gas system of the shotgun reduces the recoil impact and its high capacity enables the gun to shoot 9 rounds at a fantastic speed. The barrel clamp of the shotgun ensures that the stability is maximized, while the fiber optic sight at the front allows you to keep your eyes on your target.

The biggest advantage of the Mossberg 930 is its very affordable price. The easy on the pocket cost of the shotgun along with its high quality and reliability, make the 930 the best budget semi-automatic shotgun.

Beretta A300

Beretta A300

One of the finest semi-automatic shotguns, the Beretta A300 is not only very good-looking but offers excellent quality too. The advantages of the A300 is its light weight, excellent balance and reliability. And, despite being lightweight, the shotgun handles recoil very well.

Also, surprisingly, considering its light weight, the A300 offers excellent balance and overall, shoots very well. Not only is the A300 very easy to use, it is extremely easy to maintain too. The shotgun can be cleaned easily by breaking it down.

The durability and reliability of the A300 along with its quite affordable pricing, makes it an excellent weapon for hunting.

The most important aspect of owning a semi-automatic shotgun is its maintenance. A semi-automatic shotgun that is maintained well is less likely to fail. And, the biggest plus of a semi-automatic shotgun is that its recoil is not as hard as pump-action guns, which makes it an excellent firearm, especially for beginners. And, the firing rate and extra rounds make it a fantastic weapon for experienced, veteran shooters too.

Odd and Simple Semi Automatic Specific Adjustments

Even the best semi auto shotgun is going to be a bit different than other guns, such as rifles. Certain things make life more comfortable, and others that will require more patience and research. Below we will teach you how to treat them differently, and care for them well, quirks and all.

1. Properly Feed

Your old pump gun would eat anything you chose to give it. You could feed it leftovers, and it would work completely normal. Semi autos can be somewhat picky eaters. This issue has gotten better over time, but it is not fully improved yet. You may have to take that one up with the creators. Very light loads won't cycle in many semiautos, meaning you need to buy food differently. Think of this just as you would if you had a guest with particular food intolerances. Treat your semi auto the same way.

2. Close the Bolt Correctly

You need to let the bolt of a semi auto gun that is inactive slam closed instead of trying to ease it closed. Many hunters will take the easy way out in order to be stealthy, but if it doesn't seal completely, the gun may not fire. If you are having a lot of trouble with this, you run the risk of bumping an inactive gun's bolt out of place, so it is important to double check that it's entirely shut each time it's inactive.

3. Make it a Friend

Some shooters and gun manuals suggest crazy things to break a new gun in. In my option, most modern semi autos are in perfect working condition when taken right out of the packaging. A few semi autos do seem to work better and switch out loads after they have been shot quite a bit in order to be broken in, but this is truly a personal thing. If nothing else, it can be fun to take the fun out for a good couple of rounds as soon as you get it!

4. Learn How to Carry and Hold it

It takes a certain push back level from your shoulder to get a gun this large to work correctly. Smaller shooters can experience some trouble with this.

If you aim sideways and hold a semi auto like you would a smaller gun, it may not work how it is meant to. Making sure to hold the semi auto gun properly can fix this problem. Another good fix is to build up arm muscle. Being small does not mean being weak or incapable.

5. Shield Your Semi Auto From the Cold

Cold weather can make a semi auto slow as the oil expands. Lubing up the insides of your gun is important in these conditions. Do your research, but test out different brands of lube as well. Almost every shooter has a lube review, and it can be overwhelming. The most important thing to remember is not to overdo it with the lube. Follow the bottle's recommended amount.

6. Learn How to Release

Some semi autos, have a carrier release button near the trigger guard. You have to push it if you want the bolt to remain locked in the open position when you pull it back.

7. Follow Ring Instructions

Some older guns have friction rings on the magazine as part of their abilities. Be sure to use the specific mode that is laid out for you the gun's manual. The manual is your best friend. You can shoot your semi auto with rings missing or improper arrangement, but you risk breaking the gun over time. Every part of this gun has a specific purpose, so follow the instructions carefully.

8. Pick a Piston

A few guns come with two gas pistons. There is one for small loads and one for larger ones. Make sure you've had the right one installed. Your gun will shoot everything with the "light loads" piston installed, and if you don't switch to the larger, you have the potential of damaging the gun.

How to Clean a Semi Automatic Gun

1. Buy a Cleaning Kit

Each part of your gun has a distinct cleaning brush that removes bits of materials that build up over time. It is best to use solutions intended to remove metal layers of build up, instead of just a normal solution. They are not all created equal.

2. Get the Manuel and Disassemble

If you are going to correctly clean the semi auto, it needs to be disassembled properly and completely to get access into all the various pieces that need cleaning. Disassemble the tool on a work table, preferably a wooden on that can get scratched up. Then lay out all the parts of the weapon, and clean each part thoroughly one at a time. Move along as the manual suggests.

3. Clean It with Cloths, Brushes, and Solutions

Run a clean cloth with solution down the weapon, then run a dry one down absorb the solution. Take the brush in your cleaning kit, dip it in the appropriate solvent for the materials you're working with, and run the brush the weapon. Make an up and down motion on all the various parts. Get deep into all the cracks and crevices.

4. Clean the Magazine

With a lightly solution rag, rub the magazine tenderly to remove any signs of wear from loading the shells. Then set this aside with the other various parts and pieces.

5. Reassemble

In order to reassemble the weapon, take precise care to look over any piece that may have wear and tear, fingerprints, or solution. Once you reassemble the semi auto, wipe it down with the lightly oiled cloth and set it in whatever safe place you have typically kept it in. Don't leave it out on the table you worked on for little hands to get ahold of it, for obvious safety reasons. Gun safety urges gun owners not to store a loaded gun. Specifically, for semi automatics not to be stored with any bullets inside.

Final Thoughts on The Best Semi Auto Shotgun

So why should you own a semi-automatic shotgun? Semi-autos are great to handle and are excellent to shoot with. You can get a rapid stream of bullets in quick succession, which is very appealing to gun enthusiasts, especially for the purpose of home defense and hunting. Semi-automatic shotguns are excellent weapons for hunting and are commonly used to hunt various types of game birds, deer, hogs and other medium- or large-sized game.  

Although there are some drawbacks of semi-automatic shotguns such as they are not as reliable as pump-action shotguns, they can jam and are more expensive, the huge advantage of semi-auto shotguns is their very rapid rate of fire and reduced recoil. They are extremely easy to shoot with and shotgun shells are quite inexpensive.

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