Have you ever fired a semi-automatic shotgun? It takes everything you love about the pump-action models and eliminates the effort needed to load the chamber each time. If you’re interested in finding the best semi-automatic shotgun your money can buy, we can help!

When heading out for a day of skeet and trap shooting, you want the best gun you can find. On certain trips, you might not feel like manually pumping each shot. On top of that, you might feel the pump action interrupts the flow of your shot.

We’ve done the research and are here to show you how to have even more fun at the range while honing your aiming skills.

A Word About the “Automatic” in Semi-Automatic Shotgun

Before we get into the specifics of which semi-automatic shotgun is best for your trap and skeet trips, you need to realize that fully automatic shotguns are not an option for skeet shooting. Outside of the military, it is nearly impossible to find an automatic shotgun, much less own one. Just this year, we found out that the AA-12 shotgun is for civilian use, but they modified it to a semi-automatic.

Lucky for you, there’s really no need for an automatic because the semi-automatic suits your needs just fine.

So, for this article, we’re only talking about semi-automatic shotguns for best use in your skeet shooting adventures.

Why Choose a Semi-Automatic Shotgun for Skeet and Trap Shooting?

The most obvious reason to go with a semi-automatic shotgun is all in the name. Normal pump-action shotguns require you to manually reload the chamber each time, expending extra effort and energy. If you have a semi-automatic shotgun, the need to reload is only there when you completely run out of ammo.

The pump-action shotgun, unlike a semi-automatic, is one you might be a little more familiar with if you’ve done skeet and trap shooting before. A spring-loading mechanism spits out the spent round and loads in a fresh cartridge at the same time. The cocking of a shotgun is nostalgic and something every skeet enthusiast loves to hear.

Advantages

Using a semi-automatic shotgun during skeet and trap shooting is an excellent choice for beginners who might need an extra hand keeping their target lined up. If you’re struggling to find your target while going through rounds with a pump-action, a semi-automatic shotgun will help quite a bit.

When using a semi-automatic shotgun, the kick from each shot isn’t going to be quite as strong as what you’ll get from a pump. If the shotgun uses a gas-powered system, this will be especially obvious.

The real advantage, especially with skeet and trap shooting, is the rate of fire. Not having to reload each shot manually means you’ll fire off many more rounds in a short length of time.

How We Chose the Best Semi-Automatic Shotgun

Sorting through the best semi-automatic shotguns for trap and skeet shooting involved a lot of spent ammo and a fair amount of ice for shoulders. We considered older and newer models, and age was never an eliminating factor. We also looked at comfort and each brand’s reputation among dedicated trap and skeet shooters.

Mossberg 930 SPX/JM Pro

This semi-automatic shotgun is similar to its smaller original 930 model cousin. It comes in two variations, starting with the 930 SPX. This model comes equipped with ghost ring sights and an eight-shot tube. The sight on the front of the shotgun is the same height as an AR-15. If you happen to be familiar with rifle shooting, you’ll make a quick adjustment to this shotgun.

The rear ghost ring sight is fully adjustable to your preference. You’ll also find a scope rail mounted on the Mossberg 930 SPX. Typically, this semi-automatic shotgun runs for about $900, but you shouldn’t have any trouble purchasing it at a lower price.

The Mossberg 930 JM Pro model comes with a few more deluxe features that you might want to show off. With the sling mounts able to quick-detach and the magazine tube extended, it just “feels” like a high-end semi-automatic shotgun. It’s a splurge, but when you pull the trigger on the JM model, you’ll feel like the money was well-spent.

  • Rating: 4.5/5 (SPX), 5/5 (JM Pro)
  • Price: $900 plus

Remington® Versa Max® Competition Semiautomatic Shotgun

Remington Versa Max

Remington is a household name among gun owners, and even those who have never fired a shot in their life may have heard the brand through video games or movies. If you plan to enter a three-gun competition, the Versa Max is going to be your shotgun of choice.

The gas-operated shotgun takes advantage of the patented VersaPort technology, which changes the amount of pressure relative to the size of the shell. With this advantage, you won’t get jarred out of place when firing. The SuperCell recoil pad reduces your recoil, so you will remain consistent and know what to expect with each shot.

With reliability and consistent performance across the board, plus the relative ease of its use, the Remington Versa Max is an excellent companion for your next competition or exhibition.

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Price: $1,250 plus

Benelli M2 Tactical

Benelli M2 Tactical

If you’ve been involved in skeet or trap shooting for any length of time, you’ve likely heard of the name Benelli by now. It’s not well-known outside of gun experts, but anyone in the market for a semi-automatic shotgun should take notice of the M2 Tactical. You can choose from three different stock options – standard, pistol grip, and the customized Comfortech, which practically eliminates any recoil.

As you may have heard about Benelli, this is an incredibly consistent and reliable semi-automatic shotgun. If you go with the Comfortech stock, shooting targets will feel like a day at the beach. We’ve shot a lot of semi-automatic shotguns before, but the Comfortech stock is something to experience for yourself. The reduction in recoil is enough to recommend this gun for first-time owners.

Thanks to a special finish that makes holding this semi-automatic shotgun even more comfortable, this is the perfect gun that doubles as a skeet/trap shooter and a personal defense weapon.

We went into this review looking for a gun specifically for skeet and trap shooting, but the Benelli M2 might be our new best friend.

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Price: $1,200 plus

Beretta A400 Xcel

Beretta A400 Xcel Shotgun

This semi-automatic shotgun is a beauty. Not only is it practical for taking into a competition, but the Beretta A400 Xcel will make you look like a professional. The model is unique with the blue accent, and it’s not just pretty. It gives you the softest recoil on the market today. And you get 36 percent faster shooting with its A400 action and recoil-reducing system. The name Beretta has stood the test of time, and you can see why when you get your hands on the A400 Xcel.

The ergonomic and sleek design of this weapon is tailor-made for competition, assisting you in following your moving target. The dependability of this shotgun and the Beretta name makes it a solid choice in our book. The barrel is 28 to 32 inches, making it a bit larger than you might want to use with skeet and trap shooting, but the self-cleaning system and the fact that you can deliver two shots in half a second with the gas power makes it worth more than a look.

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: $1,550 plus

Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe

Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe

If you’re looking for options, the Weatherby SA-08 has you covered. The chrome-lined rib barrel helps you zero in on your target, and it’s lightweight, so you’ll have no problem moving on the word “pull!” This model is a 12 gauge and is 48 inches in total length with a wood stock, beaded sight, and an integral multi-choke system. It’s one of the more budget-friendly semi-automatic shotguns on our list, and you won’t believe how light it feels once you pick it up. Seriously, there are boxes of ammo that weigh more than the Weatherby.

Holding this semi-automatic shotgun in your hands, you’ll feel like a gun collector, and you better be prepared to answer questions about it. This Turkish model looks like a collector’s item, bearing an engraved logo on its receiver and shining in the sun thanks to a glossy walnut finish. It will look just as lovely mounted on your wall as it will pressed against your shoulder.

We get that it’s not American-made, but if you have any problems buying foreign models, you’ll reconsider once you try out this Weatherby semi-automatic shotgun. You won’t find a better deal on a dependable skeet and trap shooter than this one.

  • Rating: 4.5/5
  • Price: $680 plus

FNH SLP Mark I

FNH SLP Mark I

Although the FNH SLP Mark I looks more like something you would see in the back of a police cruiser, it’s a perfectly competent semi-automatic shotgun for skeet and trap shooting. Another gas-operated 12-gauge, the SLP Mark I is incredibly durable and built to last you for years of shooting.

The black manganese phosphate and anodized construction reduces glare and increases durability. The look of the SLP Mark I can be intimidating, but you get more than looks with this shotgun.

Some of its key features include a red fiber-optic front sight component, an adjustable folding rear sight, a premium recoil pad, and an alloy three-inch magnum receiver. This weapon is no joke and will enhance any beginner and expert skeet shooter alike.

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Price: $1,150 plus

Comparison Table

PRODUCT NAME & RATING

IMAGE

DETAILS

PRICE

Mossberg 930 SPX/JM Pro

4.5/5 (SPX)

5/5 (JM Pro)

Mossberg 930 SPX

Gauge12 GaugeBarrel Length 18.5 inchesCapacity7+1Weight 7.75 pounds

Remington Versa Max Competition Sportsman

Remington Versa Max

Gauge12 GaugeBarrel Length 22 inchesCapacity10+1Weight 8 pounds

Benelli M2 Tactical

Benelli M2 Tactical

Gauge12 GaugeBarrel Length 24″Capacity4+1-ROUNDWeight 7.3 lbs

Beretta A400 Xcel

Beretta TX4 Storm

Gauge12 GaugeBarrel Length 18.5 inchesCapacityWeight

Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe

Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe

Gauge12 GaugeBarrel Length 28″Capacity4+1-ROUNDWeight 6.5 lbs

FNH SLP Mark I

FNH SLP Mark I

Gauge12 GaugeBarrel Length 22″Capacity8+1-ROUNDWeight 8 lbs

Choosing the Best Semi-Automatic Shotgun for Skeet and Trap Shooting

Now that you’ve looked through the list of potential choices for the best semi-automatic shotgun, you might be interested in which is the absolute best. Which of these shotguns gets the job done in the sky and keeps your shoulder from popping out?

We can’t say enough good things about the Benelli M2 Tactical, and it’s our pick for the best semi-automatic shotgun you can own. When we fired, it felt like a simple tap of the shoulder, like someone was trying to get our attention. As it turns out, the Benelli M2 most definitely got our attention and kept it through the rest of our evaluations.

You’ll feel so comfortable with the M2 in your arms that you might get a sunburn if you don’t dress properly for a day of shooting. While it isn’t the cheapest weapon by any means, you’ll understand the investment is necessary once you get the shotgun in your arms.

Imagine shooting into the sky and not even realizing you’re holding a real shotgun. That’s what the ComforTech stock feels like.

If you’re on a bit of a budget, we’ll point you toward the Weatherby SA-08, which is about as light in your hands as it will be on your wallet. It looks like an antique compared to the Benelli and some of the other shotguns on this list, but once you put it in your hands, you won’t notice the difference. And who doesn’t like a classic?

Caring for Your Semi-Automatic Shotgun and Concluding Thoughts

Since you’re interested in buying a semi-automatic shotgun, you also need to know about the proper maintenance procedures for owning one. After all, you don’t want to be replacing any weapon after a short period of time, especially if you’ve dropped a significant amount of money into your new shooting companion.

When purchasing a new semi-automatic shotgun, especially a gas-operated one, regular cleaning and maintenance should be your number two priority as a gun owner (safety being the first, of course.) The longer you keep up with the ritual of polishing and cleaning, the longer you’ll be able to hang on to your new weapon.

You’ll need to keep an eye on your semi-automatic shotgun as it ages. Without the pump-action of a standard shotgun, there is more potential for breakdown. Gas-loading mechanisms have different rates of wear and tear, so keep them regularly serviced even if you don’t go out shooting as often as when you first bought it.

We hope you have enjoyed our look to find the best semi-automatic shotgun for skeet and trap shooting. Whether you go with a classically-inspired model framed after some of the older makers, or a modernized finish that wouldn’t look out of place in a movie, you’ll have an amazing time. Keep your safety on, point your semi-automatic shotgun at the ground, and have fun!

Keywords: semi-automatic shotgun

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