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Semi-Auto Shotgun vs Pump Shotgun | Best for New Shooters?

shotgun showdown Dec 02, 2021



So you're new to the shotgun shooting sports, or you're helping someone that is new and the time has come to purchase a shotgun. One of the most common questions that comes up in either of these situations is what’s better, semi-auto or pump? So if you’re looking to get that question answered, you’ve come to the right place, let’s go!

When considering semi-auto vs pump shotguns, there are several different considerations. There isn’t an absolute answer on which is best. Therefore, I want to help you discover YOUR best option.


If price is one of your biggest considerations, pump shotguns definitely have a lower starting price point, but as with most products, there are a range of prices. If you are looking for cheapest gun - go pump but be warned.

Semi Autos have a higher starting price point but you can get some nice semi auto shotguns that are close in price to a higher end pump shotgun.

For example, the very nice Browning BPS (Pump) is $759 whereas the Winchester SX4 (Semi -auto) is one of my all time favorites for $849.

Some great budget pump options are the Benelli Nova, and the Remington 870 Express.

There are semi autos that are less expensive than the SX4 but be very careful, you get what you pay for to some extent.


Chamber size

  • 3” or 3.5” options in both pump or semi auto
  • In my personal opinion, I don't believe a 3.5" chamber adds as much value for how much more you'll be spending on the gun and ammo. 


  • Considerably more recoil with pumps (My Mossberg 500 kicks like a mule!)
  • If you’d like a lighter recoiling gun, consider semi-auto 

Follow Up Shots 

  • Much easier with semi-auto.
  • The physical pump action makes it more difficult to follow multiple targets whereas semi-auto loads your next shot right up for you. 


  • Truth be told, there's less to go wrong with a pump simply because there's less moving parts
  • BUT my semi-auto SX4 is one of the most reliable guns I have. Do your research and see what people have to say and if its an option, take a couple shots before you purchase! This is the best way to know. 

What will you enjoy shooting the most?

  • Some like the nostalgic action of running a pump shotgun. I do too! Really comes down to what you'll be using it for.
  • Some love softer shooting guns that don't beat them up and don’t like the hassle of manually running the shotgun. 

No matter how you slice it, there is not a right or wrong choice. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! If you're still shopping and need some reviews, check out the playlist (HERE)

Thanks for reading! I have start making a how to shoot a shotgun series, covering all the different aspects of shooting a shotgun successfully. You can check out that playlist (HERE). I am just getting started on this series and am looking to hear from viewers like you! What other aspects of shooting would you like to see me make videos on? Let me know!



   Remember, whether in the field, or in life, to LIVE Target Focused



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