by Scott E. Mayer
I've always been very practical about guns--I just want them to work--and admitting to being a shotgun snob is tough. But I'm not your "typical" shotgun snob who fawns over trifles such as intricately engraved receivers. Instead, my snobbery goes the other way. I pretty much hate shotgun engraving unless it's really, really good engraving on a high-end shotgun.
My experience, and yours may differ, is that a lot of shotgun engraving these days is an attempt to make a cheap shotgun look more expensive than it is. That is nothing new. Manufacturers used to put faux Damascus finishes on fluid steel barrels to make those guns look finer than they were. In some cases, it works. For example, I have a Syracuse Arms double barrel with faux Damascus barrels that looks rather classy combined with its casehardened receiver. Trash it up with some cheap engraving, though, and I'm going to pass. Save the cheap engraving on cheap shotguns and take the difference off the price.
Another thing I'm snobbish about is shotgun sights. Like Gil Ash says, "If you're looking at the sights, you're looking at the wrong thing," so I really don't understand the reasoning behind fiberoptic sights on guns for wingshooting. The sight exception for me is on a shotgun for turkey hunting or personal defense.
For a turkey gun, iron sights are fine, but I favor a compact, lightweight red dot, or a low magnification scope with a wide field of view and a reticle that subtends the turkey's head to help you determine if it's in range or not. On a fighting shotgun, give me a solid ghost ring. You can't just point a shotgun into a room and blast everything in there with a yank of the trigger. At fighting distances, a shotgun has to be aimed every bit as much as a carbine, and a bead just doesn't cut it--especially under the stress of a fight.
So I guess all that makes me a shotgun snob. Which way does your shotgun snobbery lean?