Should you buy a Semi Automatic shotgun

Home » Blog » Should you buy a Semi Automatic shotgun

Semi automatic shotguns are a bit of a faux pas in the UK. Often seen as an American import and very unsporting the semi autos bad reputation is based on image rather than use. The reality is that mechanics behind a semi auto are rather modern. Years of development have made them more reliable and recoil less. From the first semi auto I shot being a 19070’s era Remington to more recently Gas and Inertia systems. So should you buy a Semi Automatic Shotgun?

Its clear there has been immense progress in the technology involved. The Remington used the weight of the barrel to absorb the recoil and rebounded back against the action. This wasn’t a pleasant experience as the muzzle flip was extraordinary. This made any followup shots as a fluke as you chase to find out where the barrels were pointed at next.  The modern systems on the other hand deal with the recoil internally. Gas systems use ports in the gun to deal with the pressure of air created post shot to drive the bolt back and pickup a new cartridge. The inertia system drives a piston floating within the stock that pushes forward to recycle another cartridge.

Both systems have their pros and cons. Gas absorbs more recoil and handles bigger cartridges with ease. However, as a result of all the gas systems there are o rings and more moving parts that require more cleaning. Inertia can handle lighter cartridges and require less maintenance but offer less protection against heavy shells. Both systems serve a slightly different purpose than each other and achieve it in different ways. The inertia system is generally slimmer and recoils less than a comparative over and under. The gas system soaks up more recoil than anything else but maybe a little more maintenance and cartridge fussy. If you want to break clays and shoot pest species in great numbers then an inertia system may suit you best. If you’re wildfowling and looking to shoot the softest guns then a gas system may be for you.

So, should you buy a Semi Automatic shotgun, what is the pick of the bunch?

The Benelli Super Black Eagle III

The SBE3 is the creme of the crop in the Benelli line up. Coming in their BEST coating the gun has a 25 year guarantee against rust and corrosion. A testament to the quality of the work they have put into creating a versatile and dependable gun. With a 3 1/2 inch chamber this is the heavyweight of the lineup and supports the shooters ambitious to hunt the biggest targets. If you’re looking for an inertia based semi auto this maybe the top of the pile. At 2125£ it’s certainly quite expensive but offers the best you could want from an Inertia system and with a 25 year guarantee ensures its protected should the worst happen. More info on the SBE3 please click Here.

Image of Benelli Super Black Eagle 3

Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus

A gas gun from Beretta that is refined from all their previous generations of gas guns. Designed to operate in harsh conditions and to take down monster birds when the user requires. The gun has taken functional ques from the tactical shooting world including extended ports and charging handle. A practical shotgun designed for arduous work in whatever circumstance the A400 Xtreme has been built to perform. The stock has been built in a way that recoil happens between the action and the back of the stock. With the way the stocks been designed the hand will be the only part to move under recoil. For the user, this means the head shouldn’t come off the stock making follow up shots natural. Slightly and I mean slightly cheaper than the Benelli at 2025£ this is a choice between gas and inertia at this point. For more info on the A400 Extreme Plus click Here.


Image of the Beretta A400 Extreme Plus

Browning Maxus

A competitor from outside of the Beretta umbrella is the Browning Maxus. This gun has a slightly different visual appearance than the others with the cartridge tube and gas ports hidden within the forend. This gives the gun similar visuals to a typical over and under minus the additional barrel. The gun is potentially one of the slimmer models released by Browning and offers brilliant proportions to the shooter. An extended trigger guard is a brilliant touch for the gloved shooter. The Maxus comes in different configurations depending on the purpose. A well figured stock and metallic barrels to a synthetic camouflaged variant with different chamber lengths accordingly. The price is also significantly cheaper than the competitors with the Maxus one starting at eight hundred pounds. Naturally, this is quite a bare model with prices rising to 1500£  for the full fat version. For more info on the Browning Maxus please click Here

Image of the Browning Maxus

Retay Masai Mara

The Retay is a new addition to the lineup of semi autos in the UK. Using an Inertia system very similar to the Benelli they also claimed the patent for their system to resolve the Benelli click. An issue with the bolt not always returning correctly to the chamber. Almost identical in makeup to the Benelli the Retay is certainly a competitor. At a price around 1000£ with an improved inertia system, this may be the best way into a reliable semi auto. Coming in a typical synthetic stock. The reception in the US has been positive, light, nimble and very pointable the Retay is a brilliant small gun for a variety of purposes.  Looking for issues with the Retay on google came up with limited results even in the US where they have been available for a number of years. To get more info on the Retay Masai Mara please click Here


Image of the Retay Masai Mara

Remington V3

The Remington v3 was a gun that kept popping up when looking for a semi auto in the UK. The Remington boasts an effective Versa port system that allows the gun to cycle a cartridge of any size and any load. This versatility allows this to go from light clay loads to heavy game loads. This is often the downfall of other systems that specialize in one or the other. The heavy gas guns often struggle with the lighter stuff and the lighter guns struggle to dampen the felt recoil of big game loads. At 1200£ the Remington offers incredible flexibility to the user. that you may have to spend significantly more elsewhere. While the lack of a wood stock may be a little redneck for some but as a tool there’s no denying its practicality. To get more info on the Remington V3 please click Here



So, Should you buy a Semi Automatic shotgun? While I don’t see the semi auto becoming welcome to a formal game shoot, its certainly a tool for everything but. Most autos are a comfortable tool to shoot with heavy and light cartridges. The extra shell in the tube becomes a brilliant plan c after you miss your first two shots.  Mechanically simple and more robust its certainly more dependable than an over and under. The typical finishes of a semi auto also offer more protection against the elements. While not the prettiest, if you are looking for something dependable with function over form then a semi auto is certainly a good choice.

Leave a Comment

Looking to read more?

An app for guns, made by guns

Download The Shoot App

Join the community, find local shoots, record your game cards and connect to your guns.

Eley VIP Steel Pro

Join over 10,000 Shoot aficionados

Sign up to The Shoot App newsletter and receive the latest content direct to your inbox!

Highland Outdoors Banner