Best Waterfowl Shotguns of 2018
September 25, 2018
Today's gas- and inertia-operated semi-autos give you three quick shots when the sky turns black with greenheads.
Gas guns shoot softer, but need more cleaning. Inertia guns run cleaner and have fewer parts. Pumps always get the job done. All guns now come standard with vent ribs and an assortment of screw-in chokes, so you can fit the pattern to the situation, from mallards in the timber to fickle snows on the fringe. Any of these bang-sticks will make a fine addition to your duck blind this fall.
Benelli Super Black Eagle 3
Tested all over North America, this spiffed-up third-generation semi-auto â€” now available in lefty â€” has a big loading port to throw in a shell when things heat up. The large bolt release is hard to miss and loading the magazine is slick. The trigger guard is oversized with a no-fumble safety and deeper pistol grip. The SBE 3's Crio-treated barrels and chokes throw optimal patterns with all shells.
$1,999 | benelliusa.com
Remington V3 Field Sport
Remington's Versaport system has eight gas ports in the chamber, and the length of the shell determines how many ports are open, sending the gas to the under-chamber dual pistons that whack the bolt to open it. Simple to clean, the V3 comes blued with walnut stock and fore end or Mossy Oak Blades camo.
$995 | remington.com
Browning Wicked Wings A5
Tough as nails, the A5 has a 100,000-round or 5-year guarantee. Just like granddad's Auto-5, the A5 has a hump-backed receiver to lead your eye to the birds. The inertia-style action ensures fast feeding in all conditions and the soft recoil pad ensures the ducks take the pounding, not your shoulder.
$1,980 | browning.com
CZ 612 Magnum Waterfowl
Always ready, this pump was dipped in Max-4 to blend into the marsh. The 28" barrel includes five extended black choke tubes. It handles 3½" shells down to the lightest loads with a smooth stroke of its extended slide handle. The 8mm flat vent rib makes it easier to get your bead on the birds quickly.
$429 | cz-usa.com
Fabarm XLR5 Waterfowl
A Pulse Piston gas system progressively moves the action to soften recoil and will blast through five shells in 0.31 seconds. The Tribore HP barrel gentles the shot for excellent patterns, and you can shoot steel shot through their extra-full tube. The receiver has a Cerakote finish that laughs at wet weather.
$1,750 (RH); $1,935 (LH) | fabarmusa.com
Franchi Affinity 3
Half the price of its Benelli brethren, the Affinity runs on the same slick inertia system devised in 1903 by Christer SjÃ¶rgen. We shot a bunch of geese and ducks with one this year, and the TSA recoil pad softens the blow and made follow-up shots more manageable. The bolt handle, loading port and bolt release are all oversized.
$899 | franchiusa.com
Mossberg 930 Field
Lots of features at a low price, the Quick-Empty release button dumps shells from the magazine when you want to unload fast to move decoys or locations. The all-purpose 930 has a top-mounted ambidextrous safety and uses Mossberg's dual-vent gas system.
$560-$640 | mossberg.com
Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus
A tuned up new version of the unstoppabl A400 Xtreme, the Plus starts with an enlarged loading port for slapping in shells when the snows are circling. A big bolt handle, oversize bolt release, soft comb and Beretta's Kick Off-Plusâ€”dual hydraulic dampeners hidden in the stockâ€” makes for soft shooting
$1,990 | beretta.com
Retay Masai Mara
Built on the design of Bruno Civolani (the same used by one of Italy's finest gunmakers), this inertia-driven auto-loader can cycle lightweight and heavy goose loads with reliability. A 3" gun with rotating bolt head, the Masai Mara comes in black, Realtree Max-5 and an assortment of Turkish walnut models.
$799-$1,095 | retayusa.com
A 3" gas gun set up for ladies who love hunting, the XLR5 has a shorter Monte-Carlo stock and a higher comb that will fit her cheek and longer neck. The pistol grip is tighter for a smaller hand, and for tweaking, it comes with a set of shims for fine-tuning the stock.
$1,835 (RH); $2,020 (LH) | syrenusa.com
All the gun you'll ever need, this pump gun stands up to your abuse. The P3500 swallows 3½" rounds, plus less punishing 2¾" and 3" shells with ease. Dual-action bars provide smooth shuckin'. The vent-rib barrel has a fiber-optic front sight for those tough shots at first light. Five-year warranty.
$399-$449 | stoegerindustries.com
Tristar Cobra Camo II
This 3" pump is just the gun for tough hunts. Available in 12 and 20 gauges (plus a youth 20), the full-length forend makes for smooth pumpin', and it comes with three Beretta Mobil-style chokes, and a fiber-optic sight. Five-year warranty
$334 | tristararms.com
A slick inertia-operated semi-auto, the stock isn't a slippery fish with its Griptonite inserts, and it's adjustable with supplied shims. The chrome-lined bore makes for easy cleaning, and the chokes include a Long-Range steel tube to reach out and touch'em. Max-5 hides the gun from sharp goose eyes and protects like armor against rust.
$849 | weatherby.com
Winchester Super X 4
Using the Active Valve gas system for three fast shots, the barrel is backbored to .740 for better patterns with large shot through Invector-Plus chokes. As an extra, the bore and chamber are hard-chrome plated for durability. The stock and forend have been slimmed down for faster handling.
$1,070 | winchesterguns.com
Remington Versa Max
The reason we love to shoot Remington is they build guns anyone can pick up and feel confident pulling the trigger on. Gas-operated, the Versa Max recoils more like a 20-gauge than a 12. A past winner of the NRA Golden Bullseye, the auto-loader is now available in Mossy Oak Duck Blind, Blades, Realtree APG and black synthetic.
$1,456-$1,765 | remington.com