Which gun to get?

I prefer the Mossberg 500s mainly due to where Mossberg puts the safety. Remington also declared bankruptcy (again) recently. They will likely keep pumping out 870s for the near future, but the future of spare parts, etc. is a question mark.

As for getting your hands on one, well, let your fingers do the walking. I think most gun stores are actually answering phones these days (many were not in the early days of the Covid crisis).


I’ve done a lot of buying and selling on Gunbroker.com. Would suggest looking there.

If you aren’t familiar with the process of buying a gun online, it’s actually very straightforward (as long as you’re not in a state like CA). The transaction basically just has to flow through a local firearms dealer — that is, someone who carries a federal firearms license (FFL). You buy the gun online, then you let the seller know which FFL to ship to. You then have your local FFL send a copy of their license to the seller and they will get it shipped. Once the gun arrives at your local FFL, they will enter it on their books and contact you to come pick it up. You then fill out the transfer form and it’s yours.

Most local gun dealers will perform transfers for a small fee, usually around $25.

I’m a fan of the Mossberg 500 and Maverick 88’s as well. I find the position of the action release more natural than an 870. Completely personal preference though. Both are excellent guns, tried and true.

As far as specifics like barrel length, I’m a fan of a simple 18.5” or 20” cylinder bore (ie. no choke) if it’s just going to be a closet gun. But if you intend to hunt or go shoot clay birds as well, you can often find “combo” guns which come with a cylinder bore barrel and a field barrel that can be interchanged.

EDIT: One more thing I’ll add. Don’t be bashful about buying a used Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, as long as there is no visible sign of misuse or rust. Home defense shotguns are one of those things that many people buy, but few people actually shoot. As a result, many of the used ones that get sold have almost never been fired. Then the day finally comes when someone wants some cash and decides they don’t need the gun anymore. As long as they are stored in a reasonably non-humid area, they can sit around for years with virtually no maintenance and be perfectly functional.

In short, there are some types of guns I would be very reluctant to buy used unless I had an opportunity to inspect it very well. Remington 870’s and Mossberg are not those types of guns. No sign of rust or misuse? Good to go. Hope this helps.


Thank you. I will definitely get on GunBroker and have a look.

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I’ve had pretty good experiences with grabagun.com too. Including some very good deals, although they are often sold out of popular guns that they carry.

Call gun stores!

I visited my first one in over a decade and was surprised to find it seemingly fully stocked with both new and used, and not price gouging.

Here’s my recent experience shopping for a Benelli M4. I also highly considered Mossberg and Remington pumps, mostly the 500 series.

I’ve never bought online. I tried Gunbroker this month but was disappointed at the high prices, though everything was in stock. My initial impression was it’s a lot like Ebay.

Then I tried Armslist.com and really liked it. It’s like Craigslist, mostly private sellers whom you need to meet up with. I immediately found three people selling an unused or barely used M4: one in Sandusky, one in Dallas, one in Philly. Philly was a scam listing that got removed before I contacted them. Sandusky was real but the gun was sold within the few hours it took for me to decide to go for it, despite the drive. I’m willing to drive, especially if I know people to visit in the area. At the time, I was out west for work, but Dallas couldn’t meet me during my eighteen-hour, overnight transit of the area: he was busy packing and moving that day, partly explaining the good deal.

Unless others disagree, try Armslist.com. I found two legitimate listings in cities I was willing to drive to soon. I found Gunbroker to be more plentiful but nearly twice the price during my experience looking for something less common. Gunbroker is easier and safer, because they ship to your choice of FFL. I don’t know how they police scammers. Be careful with meeting a stranger in person from Armslist. Like with Craigslist, try to meet in neutral, well-lit territory. Never go alone to a nighttime meeting.

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I’m not quite sure what you are describing, Paul, but everyone should be aware that inter-state transfers of firearms generally need to be done through federally-licensed gun dealers and can’t be done as private party sales (I.e. face-to-face, exchange cash for firearm) under penalty of federal law.

Subject to state laws, private party gun transfers can be done between residents of the same state, but NOT between residents of different states.

I am not a lawyer etc.


I didn’t know that. I did know that I could buy a long gun but not a handgun from a dealer in Oklahoma as a nonresident.

Thank you very much for the correction. You’re right. So to use Armlist across state lines, the transfer would need to take place at and through a gun dealer. And some such sales would require shipping to a dealer in the buyer’s home state.

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I bought two more firearms this month. Both from Armslist. I filtered out scammers at a ratio of about 5:1. The scammers are annoying but easy to spot: eager to ship to your FFL, avoiding face-to-face meetings and telephone calls. Real sellers are happy to talk on the phone, because they are wary of becoming a victim themselves.

I kept my search in state and met at gun range parking lots during the daytime: security cameras and a place where the cops wouldn’t be immediately called for brandishing in public. Though I suppose you still shouldn’t be brandishing in public. An empty trunk and a minivan made for relatively discreet inspection. I brought along dummy rounds to get a sense of the action. Probably could have asked to shoot it in the range, but I was buying reliable, relatively unused guns.

Parts and ammo are as easy to buy online as toilet paper. Wal-Mart is generally cheaper for ammo than Cabela’s which is generally cheaper than my gun range. Cabela’s had a huge selection. But, like the first shotgun I mentioned above, for a decent price on some hard-to-find rounds, ask your friendly neighborhood gun shop.

When one man heard I was gathering a selection of ammo for a training class, he went into some closets and found a few old boxes to complete my course requirements, including items which were out of stock on his retail shelves.

Like a family-run soul food restaurant, or local hardware store or auto mechanic, local gun shops have been nice places to visit so far.

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Paul - Who do you use locally (in Cincinnati)?

has been most helpful to me as a new shotgunner, friendly old guys. They focus on classic hunting shotguns and rifles. Small place, out of stock on modern and tactical firearms. They confirmed that my classes at TDI Ohio, and with http://activeresponsetraining.net/ will be good.

I have also been helped at Target World on Kemper, but I was just in and out quickly there. They have a lot of stuff but hardly any of the in-demand firearms.

I use Shoot Point Blank near my house as a range. They have a good stock of handguns now, and they haven’t raised their prices, so they aren’t so bad given the current environment.

I haven’t used a local FFL yet. Don’t really have a strong recommendation for that. I plan to visit more places, but I would recommend meeting the folk at Albert Peterson’s.

I read Greg Ellifritz’s (of Active Response Training) blog, and he’s a very good thinker. He is also recommended and respected by lots of big names in the industry. I would love to train with him someday. I’d love to hear what you think of the class.

AFAIK, he’s not a believer.

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TDI Ohio was great. One of the hard things about some great things outside the Church is all-day class on Sundays.

Taking the time and spending the money for a good, in-depth, multi-day handgun training course was invaluable.

In just the first afternoon of well-supervised shooting, I gained more confidence, ability, and safety than all my previous experience combined: including formal and informal, civilian and military.

No less than ten instructors were present at all times over the three days, for twenty-one students. They team taught in the classroom. And the outdoor range experience was gold: the 2:1 student ratio meant many experienced and caring eyes were studying me and correcting and encouraging me. They each corrected different things and they all reinforced the same things.

There are similar firearms training schools across the country.