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Although the price of all firearms may vary considerably depending on many factors (type, age, brand, model, whether it is new or used, condition, rarity, etc.), shotgun pricing runs the entire spectrum, from dirt-cheap to outrageously expensive.
This variance can make it challenging to determine what constitutes an average price. Let’s break down the average cost of a shotgun, category by category. Then you’ll know what to expect when visiting your local gun shop.
Before exploring the average prices you can expect from a shotgun, it is essential to have a clear idea of the different types of shotguns you can buy.
The four most common types of shotguns an average U.S. civilian can purchase are:
- Break-action: Break-action shotguns are the simplest shotgun types and one of the simplest firearm types overall. They are essentially nothing more than a stock, a receiver, and at least one barrel hinging onto the receiver. Break-actions only hold as many shots as they have barrels. This category is where you’ll find shotguns called single-barrel, double-barrel, etc.
- Pump-action: Pump-action shotguns feature a single barrel, a magazine (typically a tube), and a pump or slide, which fulfills two purposes: extracting shells out of the chamber and loading fresh rounds from the magazine to the chamber.
- Lever-action: Traditionally, lever-action guns are rifles, but a handful of shotguns also feature this action. Functionally, it is similar in principle to a pump-action, although it features a pivoting lever under the receiver and grip instead of a slide.
- Semi-automatic: Semi-automatic shotguns possess some type of action capable of harnessing the energy generated by a fired cartridge to automatically extract and load the next round automatically. Semi-automatic shotgun actions are either gas-, recoil-, or blowback-operated.
There are many other shotgun types, but they are either rare (revolving shotguns), obsolete (bolt-actions), or unavailable to civilians (fully-automatics, select-fire).
Shotgun Costs By Type
Now that you have an idea of what types of shotguns you can expect to find at the local gun shop, learn about the typical prices you can expect for an average model in each category.
Break-action shotgun prices feature the most dramatic variance, featuring both the cheapest and the most expensive models on the market.
Given their simplicity, break-action shotguns are the least expensive to manufacture. The cheapest, lowest-quality models are less than $99.
Break-actions are traditional hunting weapons, long viewed as status symbols. High-end break-action shotguns are generally custom-made, typically featuring luxury wood, hand-engraved details, and the finest materials, quickly reaching six-figure price tags.
If you’re shopping for a break-action at your local gun shop, you typically have two options: a single-barrel shotgun or a double-barrel shotgun.
A typical single-barrel shotgun costs between $179 and $525, depending on the brand, caliber, and gauge. Some trap shooting models may reach as high as $1,500 due to the many trapshooting-specific features they may possess (ported barrel, adjustable comb and cheek rest, competition sights, etc.)
Typical double-barrel shotguns are more common and exist in two configurations: Side-by-Side (SxS) and Over/Under (O/U), referring to the barrels’ arrangement.
An average 12 gauge double-barrel shotgun costs between $399 and $599.
In the United States, the quintessential stereotype of a shotgun is undeniably a pump-action 12 gauge.
The two most popular pump-action shotguns in the country are the Remington Model 870 (over 11 million units produced since 1950) and the Mossberg Model 500 (over 10 million units since 1960), although many other manufacturers (Ithaca, Winchester, Benelli, etc.) also produce competitively-priced models.
A typical pump-action shotgun costs between $229 and $799, depending on the manufacturer, model, features, and various other factors.
Although lever-action shotguns have never been as common or widespread as other types on this list, they have always been part of traditional Americana, starting with the first successful example, the Winchester Model 1887.
Only a handful of manufacturers continue producing lever-action shotguns today. Available models are either based on existing lever-action designs or are clones of the Model 1887. Today’s 1887 clones are sold either in their original, traditional configuration or the shortened stockless form made famous by movies like Terminator 2.
As a result, the average cost of a lever-action shotgun is higher than most other models, typically ranging between $800 and $1,500.
The first successful semi-automatic shotgun was another invention of John Browning, the Browning Auto-5, produced from 1905 to 1998.
Today’s most successful semi-automatic shotguns include various American and European (typically Italian) designs, such as the Remington 1100 and 11-87, the Mossberg 900-series, the Benelli Super 90 shotguns (in particular, the M2 and M4), the Beretta A400, and a modernized version of the original Browning Auto-5, the Browning A5.
An average semi-automatic shotgun typically costs between $449 and $899.
There is also a plethora of modern, box-fed “tactical” shotguns, closer in appearance to a modern rifle than a traditional shotgun. These firearms are typically imported from Eastern Europe or Turkey and fetch similar prices to their more conventional alternatives.
You don’t have to purchase a brand new shotgun to get a quality product. Although many of the most successful and well-regarded shotguns ever produced are models that are no longer in production, the main reason to buy used is to score a good deal.
If you’re looking to buy a used shotgun, follow a used gun buying guide, and stick to guns produced by well-known, reputable manufacturers. Avoid no-name or unknown models unless you’re willing to take a gamble; if you can’t be sure of the shotgun’s provenance, you also can’t be certain of their quality.
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The Take-home Message
When shopping for a shotgun or any other firearm, remember that the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is just that, a suggestion.
In practice, it is rare to find a gun shop selling guns, especially popular and commonly available shotguns, at or near MSRP. Don’t forget to look for deals, clearances, and other sales, especially if there’s a particular model you want, as they can be an excellent way to score an even better deal than usual.
It isn’t uncommon for gun retailers to slash their prices by 10%, 15%, 25%, or more during daily deals, seasonal sales, and other special occasions, such as Black Friday. You just might find what you need for a great price!
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