Hand-Picked Daily GUN DEALS, and Exclusive Coupons Codes >>>

8 Most Underrated Rifles & Shotguns (To Impress Your Friends)

We take a look at some rifles and shotguns that deserve some love and attention, but rarely get the props they deserve...

Why do some guns succeed and some fail?

It feels like an answer like this requires a near-total explanation of the economy, marketing, and the forces beyond my knowledge.

AUG taking a nap on a tree
Steyr AUG with integrated optic taking a nap on a tree.

Some guns have great ideas, interesting designs, and even great prices, yet they never saw the limelight.

Today we are going to look at some of the more underrated long guns, meaning rifles and shotguns.

For one reason or another, all of these guns showed great promise and innovative designs but failed to succeed in the U.S. commercial market.

To be clear, we are talking solely about the U.S. commercial market here — not foreign markets or military use. So without further explanation, let’s look at the most underrated long guns.

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Most affordable

    Remington Model 788

    Budget friendly alternative to the Remington 700

  2. Most Unique Look

    Steyr AUG A3 M1

    Modular, reliable, and compact

  3. Best Hunting Gun

    CZ Model 527 American

    A few caliber options, tack driver, reliable, and fun.

  4. Best Box-Mag Fed Shotgun

    SRM ARMS M1216

    16 round capacity, fun features

  5. Best Hybrid Shotgun

    Benelli M3

    Semi+Pump= awesome

Most Underrated Rifles and Shotguns

1. Remington 788

Remington built the Model 788 in 1967 as an affordable alternative to the Remington 700. Remington must have put an over-enthusiastic new guy on the task because the rifle they turned out was outstanding.

A beautiful Remington 788 (Photo: Reddit)

The Remington 788 utilized a unique bolt lugged at the rear instead of the front. There are nine lugs separated in rows of three that lock into the receiver behind the magazine well. Due to this, the bolt only requires 60 degrees of rotation to unlock.

What’s the benefit of a 60-degree bolt lift? Well, it is quicker to operate and provides more clearance for low-mounted optics, which is nice.

The 788 has a reputation for good accuracy. These are some 100-yard groups. (Photo: Mirrormagic)

Better yet, the bolt travel is also reduced due to this design.

The 788 also benefits from a stronger receiver due to the less material removed for the ejection port because it’s smaller, and the front of the receiver doesn’t require bolt lug raceways. Additionally, the single stack magazine meant a small magazine well.

A smaller magazine well means less material removed for the receiver. These two little changes make the receiver rigid and robust.

Most affordable
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

A stronger receiver helps ensure the rifle is more accurate — theoretically more than the Remington 700.

Aside from the more traditional chamberings like 308, .223, and 7mm-08, the gun was also offered in weird calibers like .44 Magnum and 6mm Remington.

2. Steyr AUG

In the 1960s, engineers designed what was undoubtedly a space-age rifle.

AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR
The Steyr AUG with its 16-inch barrel is almost as short as a 7.5-inch barreled AR-15.

This bullpup blaster utilized a ton of polymer and came with an integral optic — looking like it belonged in Flash Gordon.

The Steyr AUG was popular in some European, South American, and Asian countries, but the poor AUG never got much love in the USA. A small group of American Steyr AUG cultists exists, but that number is far too small for such a cool gun.

Swapping barrel is easy as pie.

It’s a 5.56 caliber semi-automatic rifle that has managed to keep up with the times.

Modern AUGs offer integral optics or the ability to add your own via a top rail. They also include rails for lights, lasers, and other accessories. They even make a version that is compatible with standard AR-15 magazines.

One of the AUG’s best features is the quick detach barrel.

Anyone can remove the barrel and replace it with zero tools. Users can slap on 20-inch heavy barrels with bipods, SBR length barrels, and even 9mm conversion kits with ease.

Most Unique Look
at Gunprime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Besides being modular, it’s accurate, reliable, and incredibly compact.

With everyone wanting rifles for home defense these days, the short and NFA-free AUG is still a viable option when outfitted with a red dot and a light.

3. CZ Vz 58

I’ll always appreciate the Czechoslovakian resistance to the Warsaw pact. Whenever the Soviets came out with a new gun, they went their own way. The Vz 58 is a perfect example of this.

At first glance, it looks like an AK-47, but don’t be fooled. (Photo: M4carbine.net)

The Vz 58 is AK-like in appearance but much different in design. Instead of a long-stroke gas piston design, it utilizes a short-stroke gas piston system. It uses different magazines and furniture but remains in AK’s native 7.62x39mm caliber.

It’s an uncanny valley version of the AK. The Vz 58 tends to be more accurate than most AKs and just as reliable. Plus, the safety is much better than the AK, and a last-round bolt hold-open device is a good touch.

On top of that, it’s about a pound lighter than the AK. The Vz 58 proves that the AK can be done better, lighter, and more ergonomically. Sadly, it never gained the popularity it deserved.

This slick Vz 58 is set up in an SBR configuration with a Dead Air Wolverine suppressor. (Photo: Reddit)

Luckily, a small group of enthusiasts keeps the market alive, and various Vz 58s exist, including some neat SBR variants.

4. CZ 527 Carbine

From the Czechs again, we get the lovely CZ 527 carbines.

CZ’s bolt guns are criminally underrated as a whole, so I picked my very favorite of those — the 527 Carbine. The 527 line is rather extensive, but the carbine captures my heart.

A pair of CZ 457 Carbines (Photo: Enoughgun)

CZ produces the 527 Carbine in both .223 Remington and 7.62x39mm. It’s lightweight at less than six pounds total!

Additionally, the rifle comes with iron sights, and iron sights on a bolt gun make me giddy. The rifle does have the option for mounting optics, and the 18.5-inch barrel makes excellent use of the .223 Remington round and helps it reach near maximum velocities.

The wood stock options look fantastic, and the rifles tend to be affordable, high-quality options.

Best Hunting Gun
at Sportsman's Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The .223 Remington variant is a tack driver, but admittedly the 7.62×39 model is at the mercy of whatever ammunition you shoot. Cheap steel is always going to be cheap steel. That said, the gun cycles steel case without issue.

It’s a fantastic option for a brush gun and for hunting medium game with a light, handy rifle. These sweet little guys deserve way more attention, as does the entire CZ rifle lineup.

5. Stevens Model 77E

When we talk budget shotguns these days, the Mossberg Maverick 88 seems to rule the roost.

The big names like Mossberg and Remington have long offered budget options, but one affordable shotgun that has flown under the radar is the Stevens Model 77E.

Stevens Model 77E fitted with a Poly-Choke. (Photo: Reddit)

The Stevens Model 77E has some fame as the most common shotgun used in the Vietnam War. As evidenced by its military use, the Stevens Model 77E wasn’t just a budget shotgun — it’s an extremely robust shotgun.

The receivers are all steel and quite strong. It has beautiful wood furniture and provides a tight lockup and incredibly smooth action.

Slop was never an issue, and from the models I handled, they all ran as smooth as butter — although those shotguns were certainly well worn.

Stevens 77 Series being wielded by a US soldier in Vietnam. (Photo: Dakmilitaria)

A massive ejection port ensures the shell clears the gun and ejects reliably. It was a well-built, brilliant shotgun. There is no way a shotgun this well-made would be considered budget-grade in 2022.

The good news is that used 77E shotguns still sell for a relatively low price. They might be beaten up a bit, but they should work well. Also, this shotgun is a bonafide war veteran — show it some love!

6. SRM Arms 1216

The SRM 1216 works to address a few issues with shotguns, namely capacity. The 16 in 1216 indicates the gun’s capacity, holding 16 rounds in a rotating tubular magazine that’s also detachable.

SRM Arms M1216 Shotgun
SRM Arms M1216 Shotgun (Photo: GunsAmerica)

Detachable box magazines on shotguns can be tricky. Leave the shells in a box magazine for too long, and they can deform. This isn’t an issue with this tube design.

The SRM 1216 has been rocking and rolling since 2011, predating the IWI TS12 by a fair number of years.

Aside from the detachable magazine, the gun is semi-automatic, readily accepts accessories, and uses a quasi-bullpup action to keep the length short and sweet.

(Photo: GunsAmerica)

Users can configure the weapon for right or left-handed use or order the gun in the configuration they desire. Mine has been nothing but reliable and capable.

The SRM 1216 even uses a roller-delayed system much like an MP5.

Best Box-Mag Fed Shotgun
at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

It’s a bizarre set of features that come together to make one of the most capable combat shotguns on the planet. This gun deserves much more attention for its modern take on the combat shotgun.

7. Benelli M3

Benelli makes the best semi-auto shotguns on the planet.

Benelli M3 with an extended magazine tube. (Photo: Reddit)

They are the company responsible for making semi-auto shotguns acceptable for military combat use.

The M1 is an absolute legend, the M2 is one of the most popular semi-autos on the planet, and M4 has proven itself for over 20 years in the GWOT.

Benelli M4 Thunder Ranch
Benelli M4

However, what about the Benelli M3? We don’t hear much about this shotgun.

That’s a real shame because Benelli figured out how to make a hybrid semi-auto/pump-action design. It does what several shotguns previously tried to do.

Best Hybrid Shotgun
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Having pump and semi-auto capability allows the Benelli M3 to cycle any shotgun shell you can fit in its chamber.

On semi-auto, the M3 can deliver standard loads buckshot and birdshot loads without issue. Swap to pump-action, and you can use breaching loads, less-lethal loads, or other alternative loads that the semi-auto action can’t cycle.

It’s a sweet design that heavily appeals to the shotgunner in me. It’s not perfect, and the pump locking to the rear is a hassle when using it in the pump action configuration, but I can deal with it. I just wish the M3 got the love it deserved. 

Cherrito (Tom Sizemore) fires a Benelli M3 at a truck in the film Heat.

Plus, it was used in the film Heat, and I’ll always love Heat.

What do you think of the M3? Give it a rating below!

Readers' Ratings

5.00/5 (229)

Your Rating?

8. Asgard Defense M127 Kriger

You may have never even heard of this company, much less this shotgun, and that’s the point.

Firing the M127 Kriger (Photo: Asgarddefense)

The M127 Kriger is a semi-automatic, tube-fed shotgun designed to emphasize modularity. From the outset, Asgard Defense wanted to make it more akin to an AR-15 than a shotgun.

They even utilize an AR buffer and buffer tube with a captured recoil system that works with standard buffers. This translates to less recoil, which is certainly a good thing.

They have this novel idea of making the charging handle more ergonomic by placing it on the left side of the gun.

Why so few semi-auto shotguns do this is beyond me. Across the top is a massive monolithic optic rail, and the handguard offers a quad rail.

(Photo: Asgarddefense)

The M127 Kriger combines the ergonomics of a standard shotgun with those of an AR-15 to create a capable, low recoiling shotgun that features plenty of original ideas.

It’s a purely tactical shotgun and carries a high price, but it’s criminal how ignored this shotgun is.

The M127 Kriger took the typical tactical shotgun and redefined it. They embraced what worked about the traditional shotgun and changed what didn’t.

Final Thoughts

I guess being underrated is better than being overrated.

It’s sad to see so many long guns with innovative ideas get ignored for more “traditional” designs. To hell with tradition, I say!

Steyr AUG
Different isn’t always bad.

What are your favorite underrated rifles and shotguns? Let us know in the comments below! You can also check out our article on the most underrated handguns for more guns that need love.

The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

11 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim in Texas

    The Steyr AUG is a great rifle, ideal for home defense situations!

    August 8, 2022 4:00 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Glen M Wiederholt

    I'm not sure how these are underrated. I guess your version of underrated and mine are totally different. A gun I would consider to be underrated is the Canik. This gun has great features for the price tag. On the overrated side, I have always felt the Remington 1100 was an overrated shotgun. It's very heavy, really didn't offer anything special and was always more expensive than what I thought it was worth. Again, these are just examples of what I think the term underrated and overrated mean.

    August 8, 2022 8:27 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Aaron Short

    I have to chime in hear and agree with everybody else the prices are beyond what people want to pay for innovation, then the typical retiree and backyard farmer is willing to pay. when there are a lot more viable options on the market for less then half the price. This is a little off topic but it has a point to the story. Do you know why the AR platform reigns supreme? (rhetorical) It is because it has a low cost, reliable & easy to maintain, has multitude of calibers, and you can find parts and accessories just about anywhere in any shape form or style, There is "NO" other platform on earth that does that, none!! That is why no other platform to date will ever knock the AR of it Mountain, unless they were to build a platform that were to utilise interchangeability with the AR platform more expensive guns on the market have their place but not to the average gun buyer extreme enthusiasts competition shooters & collectors, are the only ones buying high dollar guns the rest of us stick to practicality and budget. At least all of this is just my opinion. And 1 gripe who in their right mind wants to spend the same or more for an optic then the price you paid for your gun that is "CRAZY" and "DUMB" most of the differences in the expensive optic over the budget optic nobody will be able to tell anyway unless you have perfect eye sight and no astigmatism in which 80% or better of everybody has. that's just my grip. Thank you & God Bless You All

    August 8, 2022 3:23 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bemused Berserker

    Yeah, I'm afraid I'm going to have to add my voice to the "Meh" crowd. Yes, they're all good guns (though in a bolt action I want more Oomf than .308 or 7mm-08), but all of them are outside this retiree's budget, especially in the Bidenomics economy we're in.
    How about giving us the poop on which under $600 guns are worth our deflating, but still hard earned shekels?

    August 7, 2022 10:20 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    James Houston

    I have to tend to agree with the consensus here. These guns are underrated because they are not affordable or no longer produced. There are a lot more guns that are far more underrated like high point and Taurus. These gun makers provide lifetime warranties but still do not get the recognition that they deserve.

    August 7, 2022 5:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Fred S.

    Maybe these guns are under-rated, not because they are not appreciated, but because they are too expensive for the average shooter?
    Most people are looking for value for their money.
    Some of these guns would do much better in the US if they were more affordable.

    August 7, 2022 4:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Pew Pew is notorious for recycling articles or taking an older article and sprucing it up a bit, and here’s a great example. The CZ is out of production and you’re only going to find them used if someone is willing to part with it. Fantastic rifle, just has a picky scope base.

    August 7, 2022 4:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I bought a used Remington 788 in 243 Win. about 20 years ago for $400, and I only paid that much (at the time) because it was from the original owner and knew its whole history. I honestly thought then that it was too much, but the compact size and easy handling appealed to me. It has earned its keep and more over the years.

    August 7, 2022 4:05 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim Hovater

    The Remington 788 was offered in .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, 7mm-08, .308 Winchester, .30-30 Winchester, and .44 Magnum. While it is an AWESOME rifle, pricing for examples in good condition usually exceeds $500. Mine, in .308 Winchester, was bought NEW in 1975 for $100.

    August 7, 2022 3:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    The CZ is no longer made. When was this written?

    August 7, 2022 2:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I've got a 77E, was definitely not brand new when I got it but is it a very solid, dependable, well made shotgun and a reliable performer. If they made them today the same way they would definitely not be budget grade shotguns.

    August 7, 2022 1:14 pm
Join the community! Log in
Please provide a valid email address.
Password is required.
Please provide a valid display name.
Please provide a valid email address.
The password should contain at least 8 characters with at least one number or special character.
Please accept in order to continue.
Trouble logging in?
Type your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.
Please provide a valid email.
Type your new password and hit button below to confirm it.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We already have an account registered for email address () which is linked to your Facebook account.
To log in type your Pew Pew Meter password below.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We noticed that you have previously logged in with your Account which is linked to the same email address () - we can link both of your accounts together.
In order to link your accounts, hit button below and log in to your Account with the same email as above.

Account in Pew Pew Meter means more

Check what do you get by creating an account
Check and save your reviews!
Bookmark and compare your favorite firearms
Manage your newsletter subscription
pew pew tactical logo

new here?

Personalize your experience.
Select what level shooter you are!

pew pew tactical logo

level up your gun knowledge

Thanks! We'll send you the latest guides and training tips geared towards your level.

pew pew tactical logo


You'll now receive newsletters of our best articles on techniques, guns & gear.

$47 value

yours free!

targets targets

practice targets

printer icon printable

our 9 favorite targets and drills


practice targets

printer icon printable

enter your email to download

We'll only use the information provided according to our privacy policy.

success icon

Ready to Download

Click below to begin your download

download pdf