The Top 10 best semi-automatic shotguns you can buy
Shotguns are great guns for all occasions, from a beginner user, home defense, hunting, tactical usage, and sport.
The semi-automatic shotgun takes the standard shotgun and pump action shotgun to the next level, allowing you to shout round after round in quick succession.
You load up the ammo, you shoot, the shotgun will expel the cartridge, and will then cycle in a new cartridge, so you are ready to shoot again.
The two main ways the semi auto shotgun does this is:
- Gas Powered – using a gas system.
- Inertia Powered – uses the energy produced from the recoil.
Semi Auto Shotgun – Pros
- Easier to shoot multiple times without losing sight of the target.
- Easier to learn than a pump action shotgun.
- Great range of variety, as they are widely used in such areas as competitions, bird hunting, and they are used by militaries around the world.
Semi Auto Shotgun – Cons
- Can be less reliable than the break and pump action shotguns.
- They have more moving parts and technology, so more things to maintain and clean.
- Require higher quality ammo to lessen the likelihood of jamming.
The Top 10 Best Semi Auto Shotguns
These are all semi-auto shotguns I own or have owned, and I would have no hesitation in recommending them.
1. The Winner – Browning Gold
This gun has the most reliable and smooth cycle I have found, which does justify the $1800 price tag.
If you are out shooting duck or turkey, then you don’t want to be sat in a blind all day waiting for the perfect moment only for the autoloading to fail you.
This is not a gun you can potter around with all day on a hike unless you are very strong. It weighs a whopping 10 pounds, and with relatively heavy loads I use for Turkey hunting I dread to think what the total weight would be.
So, I just walk straight to the blind and that’s it.
Considering its weight everything else seems very smooth and comfortable, it has a beautifully balanced swing, the textured grips on the front end and stock are really nice, and the recoil is a lot less brutal than you would expect from a gun this heavy.
The camo design on the gun, is also a thing of beauty and seems to match all my hunting clothing perfectly.
The only real downside is that it is only sold as a 10-guage which might put some people off.
2. Beretta A400 Series Xcel Sport
If you want to shoot off your loads quickly and smoothly at smaller birds, then this could be the semi auto shotgun for you. It is hard to beat if you mainly shoot wildfowl or pigeons.
If you get the shotgun with the Kick-Off recoil reduction, then you could shoot this gun all day long and suffer next to no fatigue.
It has a traditional yet contemporary look which I love. It has a traditional looking barrel, fore end, and stock, but the receiver is a bright blue. This sounds weird I know, but it works… trust me.
3. Stoeger m3500
With a bit of googling, you can pick this semi auto shotgun up for around the $600, which makes this gun the best budget gun on this list in my opinion.
You can really customise this gun to your needs depending on what and when you like to shoot.
It has interchangeable chokes, 3-barrel length choices, can easily shoot a range of magnum shells, the sights are excellent, and you can extend the length of the stock with the shim kit.
All this means you can shoot pretty much anything you want from small game birds to a big alpha male wild boar.
All the options might be a little intimidating for a beginner, but if you set it up right you should be very happy with this shot gun and it will not burn a massive hole in your pocket.
4. Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe
If you have a tight budget, then you are best going with the Turkish made guns over the American models. There is very little difference in quality, but you can save a lot of money.
This comes in a range of gauges, the 12, 20, and 28. I got this in the 28 gauge because, well, I just didn’t have a 28 gauge and wanted one ha-ha. Nothing more to it than that!
There are better shot guns than this, and there are cheaper guns and this. However, this gun does kind of sit nicely in the middle. It provides good value for money and it is a good gun.
So, if you want better than a budget beginner shotgun but you do not have the big bucks to spare for the premium guns, then there is nothing wrong with going out and buying the Weatherby SA-08.
You might think the Turkish guns will have a cheap mass-produced look to them, but I have found they actually look more expensive than they are.
This shotgun has a lovely walnut stock, highly polished barrel, and even an engraved logo which would trick a passer-by into thinking you had a top of the range shotgun.
5. Franchi Affinity Elite Series
If someone said to me that they don’t want to mess about, they just want to pick a shotgun straight out of the box and start shooting with it.
Then this is the gun I would recommend. It does feel like you can open the box, load it up, and start shooting with excellent accuracy.
The recoil is on the heavy side, and if you are shooting at clays all day then you are probably going to feel it in the morning.
I have heard of issues with failures with this gun, but as it is inertia driven it is probably down to user technique issues.
If you don’t have inertia driven shotguns mounted on your shoulder correctly then failures can occur. Maybe this gun is more sensitive to that than others. Personally, I had no such issues.
If you shoot a lot in the winter or find loading semi auto shotguns a little fiddly, then this would be a good option for you. It has a very large loading port, so if you can’t load this gun easily then you should probably find a new hobby.
6. Browning Maxus Sporting Black
Browning is definitely a brand you can trust, in fact Browning invented the semi-auto shotgun. So, it would be embarrassing if they didn’t know what they are doing.
The Maxus is simply a very good gun, it maybe isn’t a beautiful gun, and it doesn’t excite me too much.
However, it is a very good gun that preforms well in whatever you are doing, and it can be trusted on a whole range of hunts.
If you are shopping in what I class as the middle budget range then this gun is a fine choice, at around the $1200 mark.
As it is made from materials like carbon fibre and aluminium it does feel very light and has a nicely balanced swing. So, whether you are swinging at clays or birds then you have a good chance of hitting them.
7. Mossberg 930 Tactical
Let’s talk home defense. If you live in a small inner city apartment block, then a semi auto shotgun is a bit of overkill. However, I live on my own property in the countryside.
So, I want home defense guns that are reliable and effective but don’t forget about the impact of a home defense gun that looks baddass and sounds intimidating.
So, yes, I have this tactical shotgun ready and waiting for any intruders.
I use high-brass self-defence loads, as they are more effective and reliable. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing people obsess over every detail of a gun they are going to buy, then load it will cheap ass ammo.
They then blame the gun for having a high failure rate. If a gun fails on me, I know it has FAILED, and it is not my fault by trying to skimp on the ammo.
8. FNH SLP Mark 1
If money is no option, and you want a premium gun that you can load and fire faster than Superman then this is the gun for you, it has even won Shotgun of The Year before and is used by militaries around the world.
If you are a left hander you can change reverse the safety to suit, I am not left-handed but I feel sorry for the lefties so I am happy when I see that feature.
This is a gas operated shotgun which has the least amount of muzzle rise I have seen, so you can keep the gun sighted on the target and just keep blasting it. It works equally as well with light and heavy loads.
This is a fun and effective competition shotgun, the only reason it doesn’t rank higher is that it doesn’t significantly blow cheaper guns out of the water. Yes, it is better than a lot of them, but the quality gap isn’t as big as the price gap.
9. Tri-Star Viper G2
Nowadays semi auto shotguns seemingly come with an endless supply of options, this is fine for me as I know what I like and I know what works for me. However, I can see how it can be baffling for beginners.
Which is why it is nice just to have a gun available for people, where you can point it and try to hit something. No heirs and graces, just a simple accurate gun. It is a mid-priced semi auto shotgun with no bells and whistles.
If you are new to shotgun shooting and hunting and have around a $900 budget, then there are worse guns to buy than this.
The main problem I have with it is that it is almost too simple, I like to play around and tweak things. I like to learn about a new gun and build a bond with it.
The problem with this gun is that there is nothing to learn, it just fires straight and is reliable. There isn’t much personality to it, but if a mate came around on a Sunday afternoon and we got the clays out. This is the gun I would give them.
10. Breda B3.5SM
If you are obsessed with barrel length then you will find the right one for your needs here, there is a huge range of choices from 18.5” to 30”.
Apart from that it is a bit of a middle of the pack shotgun, it never excels at anything, but it does everything very well. So, it is an allrounder. I tend have different shotguns for different purposes.
However, if you wanted just one gun for everything then you will need an allrounder otherwise you will become frustrated in certain circumstances.
If you are a fan of Benelli’s or Beretta’s but want something a little different, then this is a fine option for you.
There is no one perfect semi-automatic shotgun that will suit everyone in all occasions. Therefore, you need to tailor your choices to how you expect to mainly shoot.
Then choose the right one for you, you are looking for different things from a shotgun if you are using it for wildfowl, turkeys, self defense, or competition.
If you can only afford one or two then you will need an allrounder. If like me, you like collecting them, then you can get specific shotguns for specific tasks.