You can get a good used or new Mossberg or Remington 870 for under $300 on the gun auction web pages, in Wally Mart (if you are inclined to deal with them), or possibly in your local used gun store--look around a bit. Shotguns (except doubles) are somewhat safer used buys than handguns or rifles--at least in my experience. There's a relatively inexpensive (about $80 when I bought one) 18.5" cylinder tactical barrel for the Remington 870 12 ga. --the barrel is made and sold by Mossberg! I was surprised to find that out! See Mossberg's web page--no doubt they have one for their own guns, too (not sure though--never owned a Mossy). I have a 12-ga 870 mounted with this barrel waiting for any midnight visitors, and good luck to the bastards if I beat 'em to the draw! If you got your used gun with a deer barrel (plenty of em around,) you could buy the tactical barrel when you have the money. If you're set on hunting with the 18.5" barrel, check your local game laws carefully. Also try shooting slugs with it at the range. Many on this forum shoot rifled slugs or sabots accurately at what I think are incredibly long ranges, and they can advise you on the virtues of fully-rifled slug barrels, scope sights, etc. However, every deer I've ever taken, with the exception of my yearly trip to Maine, when I use a rifle, has been shot with a regular old smoothbore barrel with an IC choke tube in it. If you go that route, there are rifled screw-in choke tubes that really do help. I personally wouldn't bother with the Maverick. Good luck!