The shotguns industry is getting more and more competitive every year; as sales keep rising, companies are constantly battling to produce the best new shotgun in the business. This has led some of the biggest names in the trade to diversify and target a broader customer base. As a result, the market has been flooded with better, more affordable products. In this week’s edition of Fast Five, we at Gunivore are going to examine the top five scatterguns which offer the best bang for your buck.

Shotguns are arguably the most versatile firearms around, considering they’re employed for sport, law enforcement, home defense, competition, and hunting. But with so many established brands out there, it can be hard finding the right one for you. Additionally, guns aren’t cheap, so getting a shotgun that you can trust – that won’t break the bank – only adds to the difficulty. All things considered, I set out to find the best affordable shotguns under $500 that have withstood the test of time and surpassed all expectations. Although I generally try to stick with American-made firearms, in this piece I won’t be as particular. Bearing in mind that I hate the feel of cheap guns, I was searching for that special kind of weapon whose price tag leaves you bewildered, sorta like Hi-Point and Charter Arms’ handguns.

I learned from a very young age that a good shotgun doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; in fact, the first shotgun I ever owned was a $199 H&R Pardner Pump that has yet to fail me after all these years. On the flip side, I’ve handled the best of the best, like a $25,000 Perazzi, and I can confidently say that there are plenty $500 scatterguns that won’t disappoint.


Stoeger is one of the world’s most underrated firearm manufacturers, and yet they have a massive treasury of high-quality shotguns just waiting to be discovered. As a subsidiary of the extraordinary, industry-leading Beretta Holding Group, Stoeger has access to some of the best technology, components, and expertise available today. One of my favorite Stoegers is the winner of the 2016 Outdoor Life “Great Buy” Award, the P3000 Pump. Although they are better-known for their traditional side by sides and over/unders, their new pump actions are both remarkably reliable and affordable. Stoeger kept their quality up and price down by outsourcing production to Turkey and utilizing conventional alloy receivers. Nevertheless, these pump actions function beautifully as a substitute to the eerily similar Benelli Nova.

For someone in search of a starter/backup sporting or defense shotgun, the P3000 is a great buy.

  • Model: P3000 Pump
    Stoeger P3000 Pump
  • Caliber: 12 Gauge
  • Capacity: 4+1
  • Barrel Length: 26”
  • Overall Length: 47.5”
  • Length of Pull: 14- 1/8”
  • Finish: Black Synthetic
  • Weight: 6.8 lbs.
  • Sights: Red-Bar Front
  • MSRP: $299


As Mossberg approaches its 100th anniversary, it has become a household name in the shotgun business, especially for their 500 model. Originally developed in the 1960’s, the Mossberg 500 has turned into one of America’s most popular and versatile scatterguns. As a matter of fact, I’d even go as far to say that it is the paradigm to which all other budget shotguns are compared. What I really like about these Mossberg is that potential buyers won’t feel like they have to settle just because they don’t want to pay a fortune. That is to say, there are approximately one hundred nuanced 500 variants to choose from, with endless combinations of finishes, sizes, calibers, and features. In my experience, most folks looking to buy a budget shotgun, are also looking for a bit of versatility. For that reason, I highly recommend the All-Purpose 500 FLEX. This model features Mossberg’s Tool-less Locking System which effectively enables the shooter to effortlessly switch butt pads, stocks, forends, and barrels, making it the ultimate versatile budget shotgun.

  • Model: FLEX 500 All-Purpose
    Mossberg FLEX 500
  • Caliber: 12 Gauge
  • Capacity: 6
  • Barrel Length: 28”
  • Overall Length: 48.25”
  • Length of Pull: 14.25”
  • Finish: Black Synthetic
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.
  • Sights: Twin Bead
  • MSRP: $489 (Many retailers offer it for closer to $400)

Alternatively, I’ve grown to love Mossberg’s line of Maverick shotguns, what they call, “The working man’s shotgun”. The Maverick 88 is for all intents and purposes a model 500, sans the ambidextrous safety and higher-grade trigger group. For its significantly lower price tag, the Maverick really doesn’t feel like a downgrade. While still not as impressive as the 500, it still promises the inexpensive reliability and versatility that Mossberg is known for.

  • Model: Maverick 88 All-Purpose
    Mossberg Maverick 88
  • Caliber: 12 Gauge
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Barrel Length: 28”
  • Overall Length: 47.75”
  • Length of Pull: 14.5”
  • Finish: Black Synthetic
  • Weight: 7.0 lbs.
  • Sights: Front Bead
  • MSRP: $296!


There are few firearm manufacturers who can compete with the kind of history, experience, and reputation that is Remington Arms. This iconic scattergun has gone through tons of overhauls since its inception in 1951, culminating in one of the industry’s top overall budget shotguns. While it’s hard to pinpoint any one thing in particular that makes the 870 special, the top-selling firearm is known to be seriously strong and dependable. Because Remington designed their trademark gun to be as versatile as it is affordable, the 870 is more than competent in the field, in competition, and as a home-defense weapon.

Since both the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 are highly-reputable and affordable shotguns, they have become their market’s Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird over time. One of the most noticeable differences between these two giants is their weight; although the 500 is lighter, the 870’s solid steel build is totally worth it. With over 11 million units sold over five decades, it’s easy to see why Remington’s 870 is so popular.

  • Model: Model 870
    Remington 870
  • Caliber: 12 Gauge
  • Capacity: 4
  • Barrel Length: 26”
  • Overall Length: 46.5”
  • Length of Pull: 14”
  • Finish: Matte Blue
  • Weight: 7.25 lbs.
  • Sights: Front Bead
  • MSRP: $489  


When people think of Weatherby, Inc. they think of true American innovation, high-powered magnum cartridges, and tremendous bolt-action rifles. That being said, the California arms producer has recently manufactured their own line of outstanding budget shotguns. The PA-08 is built just like any other Weatherby, with top-grade components, ensuring top-grade performance. That’s actually an understatement – Weatherby’s renowned CNC machined scattergun features an aircraft-grade aluminum receiver, glare-reducing matte black finish, chrome-plated bolt, plush recoil pad, and an ergonomic injection-molded synthetic stock. Plus, they offer them with three chokes in your choice of 26”/28” barrel and 12/20 gauge. Overall, these shotguns are anything but ordinary – they are premium guns made by a premium manufacturer.

  • Model: PA-08 Synthetic  
    Weatherby PA-08
  • Caliber: 20 Gauge
  • Capacity: 4+1
  • Barrel Length: 26”
  • Overall Length: 46.0”
  • Length of Pull: 14”
  • Finish: Composite
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs.
  • Sights: Brass Front
  • MSRP: $399


For over 150 years, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company has been pumping out innovation after innovation. Their most recent work of art is the new and improved SXP line of affordable shotguns. Although they saw a major recall in 2015 for unintentional firings, Winchester has emended their wrongs with the release of the SXP Defender. While I wouldn’t call the Defender the most impressive shotgun on this list, it does stand out for other reasons. In fact, the SXP might even be the fastest pump action the market has to offer, thanks to its Inertia assist action and smooth as silk rotary bolt. By self-ejecting the spent shell as the action moves rearward, requiring the shooter to merely return the forestock to its original position, the Defender can go through rounds in seconds. Even though Winchester initially designed their budget scattergun for home-defense, they’ve recently debuted nearly two dozen additional configurations. Overall, the SXP is just a really great gun – it’s easy to handle, fun to shoot, and is quite reliable.  

  • Model: SXP Defender
    Winchester SXP Defender
  • Caliber: 12 Gauge
  • Capacity: 4+1
  • Barrel Length: 18”
  • Overall Length: 38.5”
  • Length of Pull: 13.75”
  • Finish: Matte Black
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Sights: Brass Bead Front
  • MSRP: $349.99

Honorable Mention: SAVAGE STEVENS 320 PUMP

I couldn’t bear writing a shotgun review without at least mentioning Savage Stevens Arms! Although Savage is better known as the third largest manufacturer of rifles in America, they’ve quickly established themselves as one of the nation’s primary producers of affordable shotguns. In order to stay competitive, Savage employed their special engineering and designs for quality, and combined it with cheap Chinese labor for economics. Ultimately, they created the Model 320, an extremely versatile scattergun, similar to the Winchester SXP.

  • Model: Stevens 320 Field Grade
    Savage Stevens 320 Pump
  • Caliber: 12 Gauge
  • Capacity: 5+1
  • Barrel Length: 28”
  • Overall Length: 48.75”
  • Length of Pull: 14.5”
  • Finish: Matte Black
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.
  • Sights: Bead
  • MSRP: $238 (Some retailers offer for under $200)
Check out our Fast Five Articles on Gunivore!

Sam M

Sam is an avid firearms enthusiast who loves sharing his knowledge and experience with fellow gunivores.

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  1. The SXP Trap is a worthwhile entry level shooting sports pump. The 32” for Trap, the 30” for Trap, Skeet, or Sporting Clays.

    Even 2 3/4” light loads work the slide p/bolt effectively enough for double Trap.

  2. Excellent article. Very informative.

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