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A significant portion of the gun-buying public believes that if you’re going to own only one gun, it should be a shotgun. And for good reason. With the right loads, you can use a single scatter gun to break clays, down a deer, break some clays and protect your home.

Another great feature is their affordability. It’s still possible to buy a good pump gun you’d feel comfortable relying on to protect your home and family for less than two Benjamins. Here’s our list of the five best pump shotguns under $200.


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  1. “You can use a single scatter gun to break clays, down a deer, break some clays and protect your home.”

    — “You said ‘breaking clays’ twice.”

    “I like breaking clays.”

    Apologies to Mel Brooks

  2. I can’t believe they left out the ol’ Maverick 88 from Mossberg. $179.99 every day low price at Academy. Perhaps not best in class in, well, any category, except value. Still, it’s a workhorse shottie and well worth the money.

    • +1 on the Maverick 88. Purchased one for my son earlier this year after he expressed some concerns over defending his home and family. He’s been working it out twice a month since then. No issues whatsoever. A reliable shotgun at a great price point. Hard for me to buy into any type of “best shotgun for the money” list that fails to include the Maverick 88.

      • +3, it’s the only gun loaded and not stored in the safe in my house. If SHTF before I have time to open safe, that’s the gun that I’ve chosen to handle it.

    • My dedicated house shotgun is an 88. Short barrel. long magazine. No complaints. And if the cops take it after the shooting, no tears.

      • Some guy said he had a magazine (that I presumed held over 3 shells in his shotgun) and said “if they (the police) take it away … no loss.” Oh yes, there is a loss in Texas. If they catch you with more than more than 3 shells on your shotgun, you’ll get more than your gun taken away. Fine, and possible jail time. My brother in law had a park ranger sneak up on him while he was skeet shooting. The first thing he did was ask to check his shotgun for how many shells it held. My brother in law goes by the law, and all went well.

    • I have one of those too, my home blaster. Thing is stout. Better f/f than the Remington 1100 I bought for clays. Matter o’ fact, that 1100 is a roach.

  3. The list.
    #1 Winchester SXP Defender
    #2 Rock Island Armory/Armscor M5
    #3 Savage/Stevens 350
    #4 Interstate Arms – Hawk
    #5 H&R 5+1 pump

  4. Stevens Clone of a Winchester 1300 is under $200, but it’s maid in China.
    We sell a lot of the Mossberg 88’s where I work.

    • That’s the source of most sub-$200 shotguns I’ve seen brought to me come from. They’re clones, made in China. Many times, you cannot easily source parts from the Chinese company, so you have to pay for the real McCoy version of the parts.

      There are ChiCom 870 clones out there where this is especially true.

        • “People bother to bring Norinco sub-$200 shotguns in for repair?”

          You ought to see the crap people take to TV repair shops…

        • Oh, you should see some of the stuff that people bring me.

          Now, some cheap guns brought in to me have sentimental/emotional value, and people will pay non-economic sums of money to repair those guns and put them in safe working order again. I always explain the economics of the situation to the customer and get approval before we start in on a project.

          Most of the “You won’t work on my $200 shotgun for $25?! You’re a gun snob!” complaints come from youngsters who don’t really know that much about guns. I find investing an hour of my time to educate them as to what is available at reasonable prices that is far better quality is an hour well spent for the future of the shooting sports.

  5. Yeah I don’t know if anyone’s selling a new ‘under 200’ pump shotguns. Maybe some weird Turkish clones that are slowly filtering in.

    • Shit yes, they are. Dickinson is indeed from Huglu, but there are also the Maverick 88, IA Hawk/Pardner Pump (Norinco), to name a few.

      I mean, yeah, you have to choose between a turkey, Mexicanium and Chinesium, but if all you have is $179…

      • Last person I shot at was white. He was evil enough to get me to shoot at him. Last person that shot at me was black. He was drunk and stupid. Evil enough to be known to the cops.

        I don’t count military shootings. That’s a whole other set of stats.

  6. Just remember this when you buy a cheap shotgun:

    When something breaks, and you want a gunsmith to repair it, it might be cheaper to just buy another $200- shotgun.

    I get into this discussion all… the… time… with owners of these (and other) cheap shotguns. Something breaks in their cheap shotguns, and they come to me, thinking that because they bought the gun new for less than $200 or $250, that my time should be discounted accordingly to replace broken parts in their guns.

    A half-dozen owners of these guns have been told that they should simply park their broken gun in the corner of their closet, go buy another one of the same model, and they should learn how to replace the parts themselves. Many times, the parts aren’t cheap either, and that’s another rude surprise for the owners. My advice to park the broken gun in the corner and turn it into a parts queen is sound financial advice, but some people just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the numbers.

      • There have been cheap-cheap shotguns sold in the US market forever.

        One of the reasons why you hear the advice of “never try to fire a smokeless load in a damascus-barrel shotgun” is due to the poor quality barrels on “farmer’s guns” in the 19th century. The barrels would be made out of twist steel, and yes, they’d come apart with the first nitro load put in them. High quality damascus barrels can hold up to lighter smokeless loads, but let’s not get into that here.

        Today, I see some of these “farmer’s guns” from time to time in collections and at auctions here in Wyoming. They’re cheap, crudely made, clapped out, have no serial number on them, a manufacturer name that takes real effort to track down, etc. Many of these guns were slapped together here in the US from parts that “went out the back door” in finer gun parts shops in places like Liege, Belgium. Especially the barrels – there were barrel makers in Liege who made cheap/crappy barrels for the farmer’s gun trade in the US on weekends for extra money.

    • I bought my mossberg 500 for 179, NIB. It had a fixed choke. Decided this year to buy a new shotgun with the screw in chokes. Got sticker shock. Me being a cheap bastiche and all.

      Bought a new ported barrel for my gun that had the screw in chokes. Cost. 179 bucks. Still cheaper than a new gun.

      My 20 ga. mossberg 500 came with the screw in chokes. That’ll go to my oldest grandson some day.

      • I bought a $219 security/field combo 500 years ago and the field barrel was a fixed Modified.

        I, too, was sure I was missing something worthwhile and bought another 500 with a screw-in choke barrel.

        After much experimentation, that fixed choke barrel is still my favorite for clays.

        Oh well. I wanted a “guest” shotgun for friends, anyway.

        • Mine came with the fixed modified choke, also. It worked fine while we were still able to hunt with lead ammo here in CA. When steel became the go to loads here I found the mod choke shot like an extra full choke. Tough to hit quail and dove with. Improved cylinder became my new mod..

          Only time I go back to the mod. choke is for rabbits and squirrel. I don’t hunt ducks or geese or I’d use it there, also.

      • Funny, I bought a Mossberg 500 with a fixed modified choke in 1985. Two or three years later, Mossberg was selling the same shotgun with screw-in chokes, but a new barrel with screw-in chokes cost almost as much as a whole new shotgun. Sold the gun for $125 and bought the new version.

    • I spent the extra $175, and picked up an 18.5″ 590A1 with ghost ring sights; $375 out the door. I have no idea why the shop was selling them so cheap (they had six of them on the floor). (Maybe they bought them from a distressed LGS.)
      It just keeps on shooting.

  7. +6(?) on Maverick88. Got a 20″ with Limbsaver recoil pad. Honestly rarely shot but it’s comforting having 7-9 shells or slugs at the ready. I’d grab my pistolas 1st but massive cheap firepower is a good thing…

    • I have an 88 in the exact same configuration. I hate shooting it because it’s so light and I’m a pansy about recoil, but for home defense the bang for the buck is great.

  8. Frankly, leaving the Mossberg/Maverick 88 off the list due to the MSRP is a fail point of the “list”. The biggest advantage of the Mavrick 88 is the long history of the design on the U.S. market and widespread parts availability. The limited parts availability for Chinese and Turkish clones will dry up quickly in the event the guns leave the market.

  9. Anybody have any hands on experience with the Model 37 clone from Stevens? 350 I think it’s called. totally forgot about them until now.

  10. I don’t even think the Stevens 350 is even made any more. A few places might have some in inventory still but I am fairly sure it has been phased out and replaced by the 320.

  11. I like most, if not all of the above shotguns. I do like the UTES UTAS 15. Best ever made? ~ anh, I don’t know, but for round count it’s like the XDm of shotguns.

  12. My personal budget defense gun was (and still is) an old Ithaca pump action 16 guage I got at a gun show for a little over $100 bucks. The bluing was practically gone, it was peppered with some light rust, and the stock was beat to hell, but a little solvent for the rust, sand paper and OD green spray paint for the stock, a hack saw and file for the now 18.5″ barrel and it’s now a solid defense gun. Combine that with a friend with a shotgun loader to make some custom buck shot shells, and I think I’m pretty well covered for a defense gun.

  13. I bought a Maverick 88 nearly twenty years ago for a little of nothing when I was young and broke. Quail, turkey, and a shocking number of clays have met their end. It’s ugly and a little rough, but if you know what to do with it, it’s effective.

  14. Lots of Remington haters here. I must be lucky, because my 870 keeps shooting without complaint. Yeah, they are probably over the $200 limit now, but I bought mine back in 1980 with a 26 inch vent rib and rem chokes. Found a 20 inch rifle sight barrel in a bargain bin for $90. Bought a mag extension and when I’m not hunting birds with it, the 20 inch plus mag extension does duty for home defense. Couldn’t be happier.

    • The Remington haters almost certainly wouldn’t hate your 870 from 1980.

      The modern 870s of the Freedom Group years are a dog’s breakfast of disappointments and irritations.

      • That could also be, but I bought the better half a 20 gauge youth model in 2015 and its been perfect so far. In fact, the only complaint about hers was it was pretty snug in fitment. Gotta hold your tongue just right to get the bolt/action bars back into the receiver after a tear down. I am not wild about the plastic trigger guard, but other than that, its a pretty nice upland bird gun. It is an Express model like mine, but it has a pretty nice laminated stock vs my old hardwood.

  15. If you buy an H&R pump protector like I did, make sure you give it a very thorough looking over first. In particular, check that barrel to be sure it is straight, and not curved. Unfortunately, this is the one thing I didn’t look at carefully when I bought mine.


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