What’s the best over/under shotgun for under $500?
This one… the Stoeger Condor!
These double-barrel guns hold 2 shells and are accurate as can be. They are also the preferred gun of choice for shooting clays.
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They have almost no moving parts at all so, in theory, they should be way less money than pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns, right?
Mo Money Mo Problems
Over/Under shotguns tend to be the most expensive shotguns out there.
The most expensive semi-automatic shotgun I can find in a 30-second search is the Benelli Performance Shop SuperSport at a respectable $3000.
By contrast, a 30-second search for the most expensive over under I can find is a Perazzi over under that comes in at $21,000 but I’ve personally seen some by that manufacturer listed at $80,000 or more.
The average over/under price seems to be in the $1000-$1500 range.
That’s still a bit pricey for a mere mortal like me especially when you consider that I’m not exactly a hardcore clay shooter.
I’m not competing and, as much as I’d love to, I’m not at the skeet range every weekend. I try to keep my fun guns in the under $500 range.
That’s when I discovered something: there are some pretty slim pickings for over/unders in the under $500 range.
Fortunately, Stoeger is there to help.
Stoeger Condor Models
Stoeger, which is owned by Benelli which is owned by Beretta, has a pretty extensive line of inexpensive shotguns under $500.
This isn’t some piece of junk, borderline cardboard boomstick that will fall apart after 2 or 3 shots either. This thing is rugged, heavy and ready to get out there and work.
Most skeet ranges that have rental guns available will usually have a few Stoeger Condors to hand out. Like I said, this gun is a workhorse. If they can hold up to the abuse that renters give them, then they’re going to handle your weekend hunts or clay shooting with no problems.
On the bright side, if you’re hunting and accidentally drop it into the swamp never to be seen again, you’re only out a $500 gun instead of a $2000+ Beretta.
Beyond just ruggedness and a great price, the Stoeger Condor also features everything you’re going to need to get out there and start destroying clays and doesn’t have any of that fancy-schmancy engraving or ultra-rare exotic hardwood to get in the way.
It’s got a single trigger that breaks nice and crisp and switches between the bottom and top barrels automatically. It also has the ability to screw in choke tubes and it has 26-28 inch barrels. There are also auto extractors to make it easier to remove the spent shells.
The Condor is also available in .410, 28, 20 and 12 gauge although the ability to add choke tubes is only available in the 20 and 12 gauge versions.
For those that want to take their kids out to the range or for those people with small stature, there is a youth version available with a much shorter stock.
My only complaint isn’t really a complaint but still, I find this gun feels a bit heavy.
This particular model, the 26’ barreled version, weighs in at just over 7 pounds.
Now, a heavier gun means a bit less felt recoil but it also means that my out of shape self has trouble holding it up to shoot after only a few minutes. In looking at other guns, that seems to be about standard for over unders.
Puzzlingly, having shot some Berettas and even a Perazzi, those felt lighter even though they’re the same weight. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was ergonomics or something else.
Maybe I wasn’t tired or overheated the day I shot those. It’s still something I thought I should point out even though I can’t explain it.
Alright, time to launch some tests into the field. PULL!
By the Numbers
Ease to Breakdown 5/5
Over unders are kind of like the revolvers of the shotgun world.
If you ever need to go beyond the basic “pulling the barrel off”, it’s usually a big problem and should be left to a gunsmith.
For 99.999% of your needs, you push a little button, pull off the front grip, tilt the barrels forward and they pop right off. A monkey could figure it out. I mean that literally. There’s a YouTube video of a monkey taking apart an over/under.
5 out of 5
Once you have it apart, wipe it down and pass a bore snake through it.
No fuss, no muss.
There’s really not much more I can say about this. When I said in the intro that there isn’t much to an over/under, I meant it. Remove the trigger and put in a fuse instead and it would be no different from the old cannons, in the grand scheme of things.
5 out of 5
Much like revolvers, there isn’t much to go wrong here.
The trigger setup is relatively simple even compared to a revolver. If something doesn’t work, it’s going to be either a catastrophic failure in the trigger or the ammo is bad. Your everyday shooting just isn’t going to mess up this gun.
5 out of 5
Unlike the majority of revolvers, which I have used a bit too much for comparison at this point in the article, the Stoeger Condor features a manual safety. Not only that, but the safety automatically engages itself every time you flip it open to reload.
This makes it very difficult to accidentally shoot the gun while you’re closing it. It also makes things rather embarrassing when you call “pull” and forget to take the safety off.
It will happen far more than you think.
Either way, I can tell you that automatic safety works great and no matter how hard you pull that trigger, it’s not going to go off.
That’s pretty much the only safety feature, however. Still, it’s effective. The fact that the gun puts the safety on for you helps to bump it up to a 4 out of 5 hats.
Poor technique 3/5
This gun is more accurate than you are.
It’s going to shoot wherever you aim it and, barring catastrophic failure or bad ammo, it’s going to shoot the same way each time. That means it’s entirely up to you in order to make it work.
If you’re going to break a clay disk, you need to have your technique down. If you’re not holding this gun the right way, it’s going to punish you.
The entire “equal but opposite force” of a 12 gauge shell explosion is going to go right into your shoulder or your chin. Clay shooting requires good technique and I highly, highly recommend at least some basic instruction if you’ve never tried it.
Regardless, poor technique isn’t going to affect the function of this gun. It can affect the size of the bruise on your shoulder, however. 3 out of 5.
Starter kit 4/5
It’s not a bad set up.
You get the gun and a set of 3 choke tubes. Compared to most other shotguns, that’s pretty darn good.
Granted, a $25,000 Perazzi gives you multiple barrels in various gauges and such but this isn’t a $20k shotgun.
Even compared to most $1000+ shotguns, this has a good kit.
My only wish is that it came with a full set of chokes for both barrels in case I wanted each matching. Either way, considering the shotgun market as a whole, this gun earns a 4 out of 5.
The Condor ($450) has been around for a while.
The thing about it is that it’s kind of a “stepping stone” gun.
It’s that cheap entry into the world of shotgun sports and, after people get good enough, they tend to trade the Condor in for something else. That doesn’t mean that this is a bad gun, mind you. It just means that many companies haven’t put forth the effort to make aftermarket parts for them.
There are quite a few companies that make all kinds of choke tubes and such. You can order some replacement stocks from Stoeger.
Beyond that, anything you want to do is more than likely going to be done by a gunsmith (things like trigger jobs or stock fitting).
While I wish there were some more things available, I’m not too disappointed in what’s out there now. An over/under isn’t exactly a gun to tacticool out (even though Stoeger does offer a tactical O/U model).
3 out of 5.
Final Word 4/5
The Stoeger Condor is a solid shotgun for less than $500 that comes in a variety of gauges. It is a reliable, accurate gun that will give you years of service. You can’t do much upgrading on it, but as a first shotgun you can’t really beat it.
I’m happy with this gun.
It’s solid and I know that it’s going to work every time I pull the trigger… as long as I remember to disengage the safety.
Sure, there are nicer guns out there but this isn’t some Ferarri. This is a working man’s pickup truck.
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It’s not something you’ll show off to your friends but you’ll always remember it fondly. I like those kinds of cars and I like those kinds of guns.
While I would never turn down a super fancy, high-end shotgun if it was given to me, I’d much rather spend my money on a plain gun that will be a good friend.
Or maybe you’re looking for a more standard tube-fed shotgun instead of the over-under mechanism, see our Best Shotguns for Home Defense.