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What to Consider When Purchasing Your First Shotgun

What to Consider When Purchasing Your First Shotgun

Purchasing a shotgun is an exciting prospect! Shotguns are very versatile as they can be used for hunting, competition, and even home defense. If you are new to the shotgun buying experience, here are a few tips to help guide you through the process and purchasing a shotgun that is just for you.


What do you plan to use your shotgun for? I realize this sounds a bit simplistic, but the main use of a shotgun will help determine the gun that is most suitable for you. What does this mean exactly?

  • Shotguns utilized for hunting tend to be lighter weight.
  • Shotguns utilized for target shooting tend to have longer barrels and are heavier in weight.
  • Shotguns for home defense are shorter in length.


A poor-fitting shotgun is typically the number one reason women divorce their shotguns. Women need to take the time and try a multitude of options before purchasing. Make sure the stock fits well and that you are not reaching too far out or feeling too cramped in. Women are often directed to kids' guns which can be a huge mistake. Make sure you can get a good visualization down the comb and that the gun itself is not too heavy to manage.


While there are a variety of gauges to choose from, the most common gauges are 20 ga and 12 ga. A 20 gauge option is often a better choice for beginners as the recoil is less pronounced and may be more user-friendly for a new shooter. That said, the 12 gauge is still the most common gauge used for hunting and competitive shooting. If you have the opportunity to shoot before purchasing, try a couple of differing gauge shotguns to see what works best for you.


Preference of action is a personal choice. There are 3 types of actions in shotguns; Break-Action, Pump-Action, and Autoloading. 

  • Break-Action: These are the classic over-under, side by side, and single-barrel shotguns. To use these actions requires the shooter to physically open the breech to eject and re-load.
  • Pump-Action: These shotguns require the hunter to pull back the forearm to eject and reload the next round. 
  • Autoloading: These shotguns are gas-operated, thus the gas produced by shooting ejects and loads the next round automatically.

While all of the actions have pros and cons, it is highly recommended that if you are shopping for a new shotgun, try a variety. See what action works best for your strength, build, and intended use. Many shooters enjoy the ease of an autoloader. Some prefer the more “intentional” actions of the pump and break. Also, there isn’t a shotgun action that is more effective for women vs. men. It comes down to personal choice and comfort. 

So with that, take the time and shop around. Purchasing a shotgun is an investment… and a good investment! Make sure you find one that fits well and functions as you wish. It may take trying a few out to make that decision, but finding the one that best suits you will not only improve your shooting, but will also enhance your overall shooting experience.

About the Author

Kirstie Pike

Kirstie Pike is the founder and CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, the leading edge for women’s performance hunting gear for nine years and running.
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