Dedicated trap shooters are a unique and sometimes rabid crowd. Five stations, five shooters, 25 birds from varying angles. Sure, it’s entirely possible to shoot a round of trap with just about any shotgun you have laying around the house. Yet our passion for the shooting sports sometimes drives us to this indescribable need of having more and better guns – in this case, a dedicated single shot trap gun. While many dream of owning a Krieghoff, Guerini, or Kolar – sometimes a lower-priced single barrel can both fill the niche and please the pocketbook.
Pull! The Criteria
For the purpose of this particular list, the criteria will focus on single barrel, single-shot guns only. Naturally, that precludes semi-autos, doubles, and pumps (well, almost). We’ll save the benefits – which are many – of those other versions for another day. These trap guns are usually stocked and pitched to hit the rising targets of trap. Interchangeable chokes are a huge plus, especially at handicap yardages. The best part? These guns can be had for under a grand, many new and a few used in like-new condition.
1. Browning BT-99 Conventional
The BT-99 has to be considered the king of current production, mid-range price, single-barrel break action trap guns. BT’s feature either a 32- or 34-inch barrel, shell extractor, high post vent rib, a chrome-plated chamber and Invector Plus choke tubes. BT’s weigh just over 8 pounds. There are models with adjustable combs, ported barrels, varying grades of wood, even a Golden Clays version with a price tag to match its classy looks and features. Browning also makes a BT-99 Micro for smaller shooters. BT’s have been made since 1968, with an original run from ‘68-95 and current production resumed in 2001.
Parts are easy to come by and the gun is easily customizable. Though the conventional model retails over a grand, you’d be hard pressed to spend over $1,000 on a new one from a dealer. Because this has been such a popular trap gun for so many years, lightly-fired versions of the BT are on the used market for $650 to $1000.
I picked up my used BT with adjustable comb and ported barrel several years ago for $750 and have since run through over 20,000 rounds without a hitch. It’s not my only trap gun – for the record, I like O/U’s for trap as well – but it’s a darn good one for the price.
2. Tri-Star TT-09 Mono Trap
Tri-Star is a relatively new entry to the sporting gun markets, and from what I see in the racks at gun clubs, they are quickly gaining steam. The Mono Trap features a chrome-lined ported barrel, shell ejector, extended chokes, ventilated raised target rib, and lines up with a fiber optic front sight and brass mid-bead. With its 34-inch barrel, the gun weighs in around 8.5 pounds and is balanced with trap shooters in mind. The Monte Carlo stock wears Tri-Star’s Select wood and is drilled for a recoil reducer.
3. H&R Topper Trap
For even less yet, buyers might seek out the H&R Topper Trap. H&R originally marketed this as an entry-level trap gun. The Topper Trap is a single shot break action model with a nickel-coated cast frame, stainless extended chokes, a 30-inch vent rib barrel and Pachmayr trap-style recoil pad. All told, the gun weighs a hair under 7 pounds.
I’ve shot one and while it hits the point of impact nicely and has features of a higher-priced gun, the H&R has a bit more recoil than I care for in a regular shooter. Unlike other trap guns, the H&R has a hammer, which seems a bit unusual, but pulls easily enough. It doesn’t appear that this gun is in current production, though it is still listed on H&R’s website. The gun sold new around $350, though used models are out there for less.
4. Remington SPR 100 Sporting
At the bargain basement of the trap gun market lies the SPR 100 Sporting. The Sporting SPR has a 29.5-inch barrel, nickel plated receiver, screw-in choke tubes, and ported barrel. It weighs just over 6 pounds, a fact which compounds the recoil.
One of my local clubs bought up a few of these for new shooters when the gun was released and while they have held up well, the SPR’s are by no means a favorite, which I account largely to the light weight/recoil factor. This is a discontinued firearm, made from 2005 to 2008, first by Remington Spartan and finally in Baikal, Russia. The SPR 100 also came in a youth 20 gauge or .410 model. Though these guns are no longer manufactured, they can still be found with a price tag around $200. Just be sure you find the Sporting model, as the standard version has a short barrel and fixed choke.
5. Remington 870 Competition Trap
I know, we agreed to focus on single barrel, single shot break action guns. But to be fair, there is one hybrid pump-semi-auto-single-shot gun that fits the category here. Though no longer in production, lets recall the Remington 870 Competition Trap. No, I’m not crazy—this gun is a gas operated single shot pump trap gun. Remington produced these from 1981 to 1986, though it’s unclear how many were made. I have seen some gorgeous wood on many of the older model 870 TB Traps, and the Competition Trap is no exception in the looks department. Competition Traps still appear now and then at serious trap shoots, and the few I’ve handled have a 30-inch barrel and fixed full choke.
So if one group shoots 870’s because they’re cheap, and the other scoffs at them because they’re 870’s – then perhaps that’s the reason the gun had a relatively short run. So why are folks still shooting it? The 870 Competition Trap provided the recoil reduction of, say, an 1100 without the obnoxious flinging of hulls at your neighboring shooter. Besides, it’s a pretty sharp looking 870. Mint versions of the Competition Trap can be had anywhere from $500 to $850.
Don’t Forget the Used Market
While trap guns may have tens of thousands of rounds through them, many are quite lightly used. Don’t discount the odds of grabbing a steal on the used market. Numerous higher-retail-priced guns are often available used around a grand. My recent search of gun club flyers, shops, and online auctions turned up an Ithaca/SKB Century Trap, Charles Daly Superior Grade Trap, and Winchester Model 101. Unfortunately, no Seitz in this range unless it’s a pile of parts.
If the Gun Fits….
There are dozens of great new and used single barrel trap guns above the $1,000 mark. Some, like the old Remington 90T, Beretta Mono Trap, or Perazzi can be had in the $2,000 range. The best and prettiest trap guns can run into the tens-of-thousands. There’s nothing we won’t do to smash those wily orange birds chasing the ever elusive 25-straight. Then 50. 100. Even running 200 straight targets.
But remember, no matter how much you spend on a sporting gun, the most important thing is personal fit. The best gun is not necessarily the most expensive. Shoulder guns and shoot a few rounds before making your selection. If you are new to the sport, you will likely find that gun club members are willing to let you check out their guns. And when you do find a trap gun, spend the few extra dollars to have a qualified gunsmith fit it to you. Though you’ll sure look good out there, if the gun doesn’t fit, a $10,000 Guerini won’t break any more clays than your grandpa’s old 870 field.
No matter your choice of firearm and whether you are a veteran AA shooter or a first timer, grab your gun and head out to the trap field. Trap is a great lifetime sport—the competitors are men and women from all walks of life, ages, handicaps, and youngsters alike. Besides, there are few better pastimes than those that involve friends, fellowship, firearms, and the great outdoors.