I'm looking at getting a good quality, used, semi 12ga Sporting,...there are so many models of Brownings, Beretta, Remingtons, that I have no idea whats what. I have O/Us that I shoot, but no ideas about semiautos...this is a gift for my grown son. Thanks
By far the most popular sporting clays auto is the Beretta 391. They're reliable and easy to fix, and parts are readily available. I happen to be shooting a Remington 1100 because it fits me better and has a better release trigger;
however I don't see a lot of 1100's at sporting clays events.
Find a good used 1187 Premier with the light contour barrel. They're posted here from time to time in the $450 to $550 range.
Some 1187 Sporting Clays models show up from time to time too. Only difference is they say Sporting Clays on the receiver, and the forend and mag tube is shorter (but barrels are identical and interchange).
A 1100 is a proven winner, and can be found inexpensive, heard the 1187 is just not as reliable as the 1100. Second great choice would be a Winchester sx1 or sx2, proven performer a bit heavier which is nice for clays. I am a diehard browning guy but for a inexpensive semi-auto it would be:
2.sx1 or sx2
3.beretta .....if you can find a nice deal on a older one
I have an 1100 TB, an 11/87 Primer Trap and an 11/87 NP Sporting Clays. They are all very reliable if you keep them clean.
The 11/87 NP Sporting Clays came with a 28" ported barrel and 4 or 5 extended choke tubes. I leave the modified tube in it and use it mostly as a beginner's gun for teenagers and women as it has very little recoil and only weighs about 7 3/4 pounds. Most beginning shooters seen to take to it real quick and begin smoking targets.
The story I have heard on 11/87 reliability is that, with its stainless steel magazine tube, it will shoot much longer without being cleaned. An 1100 will cease to function reliably long before an 11/87. Since the 11/87 takes longer to get gummed up, it breaks parts, especially the link.
I don't believe the story. At any rate, keep an 1100 or 11/87 clean and it will easily make it through a 500 - 600 target weekend shoot.
I keep a couple of extra "O" rings, a firing pin and firing pin spring and a link plus basic tools when I shoot the 1100 or 11/87's.
There is a reason you don't see many 1100s or 1187's on the clays course.
391 is a 21st century proven gun.
Some of the old guys just can't let go of they just don't make them as good as they used to.BS#$ except maybe the sx-1
I'd recommend the 1100 Competition Synthetic. It's fully adjustable and a very soft shooter for about $1k or less. I also have a 391 Teknys and a 303 Trap. The Teknys ia good for all the games but a little more $ and would need an adjustable pad to equal the variability of the 1100 CS. Mike