My son has had outstanding luck with his Mossberg 500 Bantam 20 ga.
He shoots left handed so the top tang safety was a bonus. The ejection port does not bother him. The gun came with a 50% off coupon to upgrade the stock/forearm when they grow out of the short one.
I recently put fiber optic "Turkey sights" on the 3/8 vent rib. Trying to make a poor mans slug gun out of it. He keeps slugs in the middle of a paper plate consistantly at 40 yards with this set up. (Imp Cyl choke) I need to find a cyl choke to try as well.
For the money you can't beat the gun. The others mentioned are good as well. the Mossy is the best experience I have with my son.
My Father bought my a Remington 870 express, when I was about 13 or so and I have never saught after another yet. It is the most reliable, rugged and dependable shotgun I have seen. Not down play Winchester, Berreta, or Mossberg,by any means. They are killer guns in their own right, but I will have this 12ga for life. Deer, Turkey, Phesant, Rabbit, you name it. It has done me well.
I'd suggest a 28ga if he's small, if he's a big kid you may as well go to a 12ga. The light 12's (ammo) kick less than most 20's do. The hardest kicking shotgun I own is a 5 1/4# lb 20 ga. SxS! Yeah it's fast but you don't want to shoot it in shirt sleeves. The 12 gives you tons of options over any other guage. I'd prefer a Wingmaster to an Express in the 870, but all the guns listed above would be great. One thing to remember about the Nova, you can't change to a std size stock when he grows more like you can with the others.
Early on, I started with a 20 gauge Noble pump, and I still have it. I never had a problem keeping up with Dad getting my limit of squirrels or ducks.
Later, I had the opportunity to special order a Rem. 870 - and I chose a 16 gauge - still have it too. I only finally got a 12 gauge fairly recently, maybe ten years ago - and it's now a 20" barreled home defense gun.
I switched my squirrel hunting to the .22 rifle, but still have the old shotguns if I decide to go the scattergun route again.
I think a 20 is perfect for a youngster starting out. A 16 is good too, but the shells are harder to find these days. I'd personally go with the Rem. 870, but that's just because I have had long familiarity with them. I trust them.
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