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Article 9 – 2013

person aiming shotgun at target range

Question: I don’t understand what the difference is between a ten thousand dollar shotgun and a one thousand dollar shotgun. If both barrels on both the guns shoot relatively straight why should I spend nine thousand dollars more to buy a Perazzi or a Beretta as opposed to my Churchill under and over? Please explain.

Bob Arnold, Pascoe Vale, VIC


Answer: It’s a question I get asked nearly every day of my life Bob so it’s pretty easy to answer. I do not want to be drawn into a debate as to the dependability of the firearms you mentioned so I will discuss the general quality of the numerous brands that make quality shotguns in the ten thousand dollar region as opposed to the many that are now available for around a grand.

Naturally when you are spending ten thousand dollars on a gun you are expecting a quality firearm. It will have a degree of hand craftsmanship involved and in many cases it will have the luxury of detachable triggers for ease of cleaning, maintenance and even repairs. The cheaper versions will certainly not have this feature and in most cases nor will it even have the option of a barrel selector as part of the trigger assembly.

The woodwork on cheaper shotguns often resembles something you may find on your back boundary fence. The argument is often presented that the quality of wood is irrelevant on a shotgun in terms of the firearms performance however cheaper walnut may not only look worse, but often is prone to cracks, splitting and even breaking. Sadly expensive pieces of timber can also suffer the same fate and that is the reason why the majority of shotgun manufacturers do not offer a warranty on wood. It is too unpredictable.

The checkering on the forend and stock on any ten thousand dollar gun will be hand finished and will be cut much finer than that found on a mass produced shotgun which will have quite coarse grains carved into the wood, usually by machines. This is simply a cost cutting exercise, but will have no real effect on how the shotgun performs.

The wood to metal finish on any high grade shotgun will also almost certainly be completed by hand and the perfect fit that has been obtained by the extra manual labour hours that have been invested into the firearm will be very noticeable as opposed to mass produced shotguns.

Many higher grade manufacturers offer better quality steel in the barrels of their premium model shotguns and as we are now seeing more and more of is even a different barrel making process. Cheaper barrels will have cheaper steel and are constructed under the quickest possible process for completion.

The hidden cost behind many shotguns is not found within the firearm itself. The cost of repair, service and warranties is all too often overlooked by many purchasers. It should be considered as even the best shotguns can have mishaps and if replacement parts are not readily available then the gun is worthless. No doubt cheaper shotguns will suffer operational problems more regularly than more expensive models, but all brands will at some stage need servicing and replacement parts.

Unfortunately price does not always reflect quality. Many of the older English side by side shotguns sell for prices far in excess of ten thousand dollars, but the performance can at times be far less than the cheapest guns available. A very good friend of mine recently arrived at my home range for a shooting lesson with his latest purchase. It was a very high-grade shotgun from a popular British manufacturer. It looked beautiful and so it should have as he paid around thirty thousand dollars for it. We went out onto the range and within a few shots we realized the right barrel had a terrible problem. He couldn’t hit anything with it. We then took it down to the pattern board and sure enough it shot a pattern to the right and half a pattern low. The gun was effectively worthless. This gun as it turns out had at some stage had some barrel work where the chokes were opened up, but they were done poorly thus effecting the performance of the barrel. There is no doubt in my mind on that particular day this gentleman would have swapped his thirty grand English showpiece for a one thousand dollar Turkish model. I guess the lesson here is know the history of your second hand purchase, but before paying for it go and test it. If your shotgun does not shoot straight after you have had it fitted to you then in effect even the most valuable gun is worthless to you.

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