What Gun to Buy
I’m 5’8″ and most guns seem too long for me. I’ve never actually been fitted for a shotgun, but I want to buy a shotgun and then get it fitted for me. Which shotgun do you recommend?
It is preferable to get fitted to a shotgun while purchasing it; however, that’s not always possible, and most salesmen are not gun fitters. Given your height, it’s likely that you will need to cut or shorten the length of pull (LOP) of your shotgun. The LOP is the straightline distance from the front face of the trigger to the vertical center of the back edge of the butt pad. For most off-the-shelf guns, the LOP is around 14½ inches. I recommend that you stay away from any off-the-shelf shotgun with a synthetic stock, adjustable comb or recoil device, as this will make shortening and customization much more difficult.
Assuming you are looking for a shotgun suitable for sporting clays or skeet, I also recommend that you stay away from any field model shotgun. Field guns are lighter, you will feel more recoil, and if you decide to install an adjustable comb aftermarket, there may not be enough wood between the top of the stock (the comb) and the stock bolt to allow for an adjustable comb to be installed.
That said, I recommend that you purchase a “sporting” shotgun with a wood stock and no adjustable comb, adjustable butt pad or recoil device installed. This will allow a gun fitter or stock maker to adjust the stock accordingly and, if needed, install an adjustable comb and/or recoil device once the LOP has been customized. As for the choice between an over-and-under or a semi-automatic shotgun, this is really a matter of personal preference. At a typical sporting clays competition, about 90 percent of shotguns are over-and-under with the rest being semi-automatic. However, some semi automatic shotguns, like the Beretta A400 XCEL, are highly adjustable for cast and drop, whereas an over-and-under will likely need an aftermarket adjustable comb installed to modify drop or cast.
As for pricing, you should plan on spending a minimum of $2,000 to $3,000 for a shotgun. At this price you can get a good quality gun that will last you a while.