It wasn’t so long ago that semi-autos were like a sexy racing boat: Fun to run and certainly appealing, but you didn’t want to go too far from shore in one.
As a result of what I called earlier generation “jam-a-matics” I became a pump guy in the late ‘80s and stuck with them all through the ‘90s because my experience with my first two auto-loaders (built in the ‘70s) was painful. They’d perform fine in the dove fields and pheasant rows, then get sick and start puking on me soon as the mercury dropped or heavy loads were involved, stove-piping if they extracted at all.
I took years of the pounding recoil from my lightweight upland special 12-gauge BPS rather than risk the jams I witnessed in the frozen sandy goose pits and single-digit temps. Finally, as steel loads grew hotter, I began to hear the words “reliable” and “auto-loader” in the same sentence, and grilled many goose guides. They told me the Beretta A390 was absolutely dependable and soft-kicking. I tried one and have never looked back. Back then, just a handful of semi-autos existed that could be called reliable.
Now, gratefully, that has changed and there are many autos you should not hesitate to purchase across ever-broadening price points. Check out our picks the best waterfowl shotguns for 2013.
<h2>Franchi Intensity</h2>Feels like a mild mannered smaller gun, barks like a big dog. That’s the new <a href="http://www.franchiusa.com/franchi-intensity-shotgun/" target="_blank">Franchi Intensity</a>, a 3 1/2-inch version of the Affinity, with the well-established Inertia Driven system, utilizing a recoil spring wrapped around the magazine tube and thus allowing slim dimensions. Comes in three finishes and 26- or 28-inch barrels, with a stepped ventilated rib and three extended choke tubes for quick-change convenience. Shim kit is standard for a custom fit, and optional recoil pads can customize your length of pull. True to Franchi form, she’s an elegant lightweight at just 6.7 pounds and each of these pounds are nicely distributed. We’ve hunted them from Africa to the North Atlantic and found them reliable. <p> <strong>Price: $1,100 to $1,200</strong>