The 20 Best Shotguns for Breaking Clays - NSSF Let's Go Shooting

The 20 Best Shotguns for Breaking Clays

You can get started in the clay target sports with almost any shotgun, with home defense and rifled deer guns being the exception. In fact, if your only interest in target shooting is to tune-up for hunting or to enjoy casual trap, skeet and sporting clays, an affordable gas semiauto field gun like the Beretta A300 or the Remington V3 could be all the clay gun you ever need. However, if your goal is to bust more clays in league or serious competition, sooner or later you’ll want a dedicated target gun. It’s likely to be long and heavy to make it swing smoothly and kick less. The stock will have dimensions better suited to clays that give you a slightly high point of impact, allowing you to “float” the target over the barrel rather than blotting it out with the muzzle as you do with field guns. The best ones are made to withstand tens of thousands of rounds a year over a lifetime or two in practice and competition. Target guns can cost anywhere from under $500 to $20,000 or more. You still have to break the birds yourself, but the right gun will make shooting easier and more comfortable. The best all-around clay guns are usually those made for sporting clays, which can do a good job with skeet and trap targets, although if all you want to do is shoot American trap, a gun designed specifically for that game will make a big difference to your shooting. In picking the guns for this list, I tried to choose a wide range of prices, and also to pick guns that are good values within their price range. Also, as a shotgun columnist and SCTP coach, I have seen gun problems of all kinds and, while any gun can have a problem, the guns here, in my experience, are most likely to give you trouble-free performance. Here are 20 clay guns — plus a couple of bonuses — from least to most expensive:

Winchester SXP Trap

The Winchester SXP Trap is an excellent budget trap gun. It has all the features you need in a target gun: a Monte Carlo stock and high rib for a higher point of impact; double beads (front is fiber-optic); and Browning/Winchester’s soft Inflex recoil pad. If your trapshooting includes doubles, you’ll appreciate its slick pumping action.

Winchester SXP Trap Shotgun


The SXP Trap is an easy gun to shoot at a great price, and while you’ll likely trade up eventually if you get seriously into trap shooting, it’s the perfect gun to get you started or see you through summer trap league. (See a review of the Winchester SXP Trap shotgun here.)

Best for: Single and double trap

MSRP: $479.99

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