The 20 gauge shotgun is among the most useful guns for novices and experts alike. It offers low weight, low recoil, and rugged reliability, all of which are extremely useful for shooting sports and hunting fowl. That makes them popular, and that popular has lead to a massive number of options. We’ve sorted through those options and made a list of the top choices to make it easier for you to find the best 20 gauge shotgun. We judged the guns based on their reliability, the comfort of shooting them, and their performance under normal shooting conditions in the field.
10. Benelli M2 Compact
The M2 is expensive, but it’s one of the lightest and most reliable hunting shotguns on the market. It uses Benelli’s inertia driven system, which offers increased reliability and decreased maintenance compared to most gas-driven guns. It also offers fairly dense shot patterns, as provided by the Crio system in the barrel and choke tubes. This is the most convenient and possibly the best 20 gauge shotgun for hunters due to that mixture of reliability and lightweight, but only an expert can get enough use of those features to justify paying the full price for the gun.
9. Beretta A400 Xplor Action
The Xplor is a semi-automatic, but it can still put out four shots in a second, so it’s great for hunting entire flocks of fowl. It can maintain acceptable accuracy while firing rapidly due to the kick-off recoil reduction system, which uses hydraulics to eliminate most recoil. Some models also have the gun pod computer system, which provides information on the environment and the gun. The downside is that all of those features come at a high price, so this might be the best 20 gauge shotgun for expert hunters only, who have a specific need for those features.
8. Winchester SXP Field
The SXP Field looks simple, but it has more features than many other 20 gauge shotguns in its price range. It has an Inflex recoil pad to provide some cushioning against heavy rounds, a trigger group that drops out for easy cleaning, and a checkered stock to help keep a good grip on the gun. Most of the metal components are heavily protected with chrome, so it’s safe to take this weapon out in bad weather and easy to keep it in good shape. Novices will appreciate the gun’s low price and high value, while experts can take advantage of its high quality compared to its price to use it as an affordable field gun.
7. Weatherby PA-08
There are several variants on the PA-08, but they all have some things in common. They’re cheap, light, and reliable. The barrel is coated with chrome for easy maintenance, and the receiver is made from aircraft-grade materials to ensure reliability. This gun is also fairly easy to use since the controls are all enlarged to make sure the shooter can find them in the dark. Those factors make this a leading contender for being the best 20 gauge shotgun for long hunting trips, no matter how much experience the hunter has. You can check out our article if you want to read more on pump shotguns.
6. Mossberg 500 Hunting
The Mossberg 500 is one of the most popular shotguns in America, and it’s one of the few weapons that is popular with both police officers and hunters. Both groups love the gun for its reliability, even when exposed to filthy conditions. Most of that reliability comes from a dual extractor setup and an anti-jam elevator, but some of it comes from the simple quality of construction. It’s also a reasonably good choice for left-handed shooters because the top-mounted safety allows for quick access from either angle. This might be the best 20 gauge shotgun for any shooter who wants reliability. They can benefit from this shotgun, regardless of their skill level.
5. TriStar Raptor Youth
The Raptor Youth is the best 20 gauge shotgun for young shooters. It’s fairly small and it has minimal recoil, so most of them can use it without the problems that come with bigger weapons. It also has simple controls to prevent confusion and durable parts to make sure that rough handling won’t damage it. Since it is a small but otherwise fairly normal pump action shotgun, they can also use it to develop skills that they can use with other weapons in the future. Those traits, combined with the low cost, make it a perfect gun for young novices. Look at these shotguns for women for more options.
4. Benelli Nova
The Nova is more affordable than most of Benelli’s offerings, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad weapon. This 20ga shotgun is made of a steel frame with a tough polymer wrapped around it, so the receiver and stock are a single piece. That makes it one of the most reliable available, so it’s a good 20 gauge shotgun for use in environments that would damage the internal components of other weapons. The stock has an unusual texture, but it does help to get a good grip. This is a solid choice for novice hunters, especially those who aren’t good at maintaining their weapon.
3. Stoeger Longfowler
The Longfowler is designed for hunting birds, and it’s hard to beat it in that role. The barrel is longer than most other shotguns, which can make it a little hard to bring into the field, but that length is also an asset. It helps poke the gun past a decoy to get a better shot without exposing the hunter, so it’s worth the inconvenience. Several hunting chokes come with the gun, so it can perform in the wilds without any modifications. This might be the best 20 gauge shotgun if you’re serious about hunting waterfowl, but leave it at home if you’re doing something else.
2. Remington Model 870 Wingmaster
The 870 remains popular despite being in use for more than sixty years, and for good reason. It’s a simple, steel and wood gun which combines with quality manufacturing to make it reliable, easy to maintain, and highly lethal. The age is also an asset in that there are many aftermarket parts available for people who want to customize their weapon. The main downside to the Wingmaster is that it’s a generalist weapon. It performs well in every area, but it’s not the best at anything. It’s good for novices who want to try out many activities or experts who like variety, but specialists will want something else.
1. Browning BPS Micro Midas
The Micro Midas is meant for young hunters, but it can offer a lot to anyone. It’s a small gun with light recoil, so small shooters can easily handle it, but the ergonomics are good enough that most medium hunters can use it without discomfort. The small size also makes it easy to carry it into the wood or on a boat. Notably, it includes Browning’s Total Barrel Dynamics system, which gives it a massive boost to accuracy. That’s a big bonus for new hunters who need all the help they can get, but it also lets experts perform to the highest standard.
Making The Right Choice
Everyone should have a shotgun in their collection, and everyone wants that to be the best 20 gauge shotgun available. So, if you have experience with a shotgun that isn’t on this list, or you want to add something about one of the guns that we examined, leave a comment below. Also, if you’re interested in buying a versatile, semi-automatic shotgun we have a list of semi-auto shotguns for you to consider.