Great shotguns command a price, and if you’re willing and able to pay, God bless you. But “introductory” guns offer reliable service too. I used a Stoeger 3000 for a good part of Maryland’s goose season with great results.
Caesar Guerini’s Syren line of lady’s doubles and auto-loaders are tailored for the female shooter as more women join the waterfowl ranks. Believe me, it’s a great time to be a wing- shooter…for everyone.
<h2>Benelli | 828U</h2>Italy’s hottest new shotgun is the <a href="http://www.benelliusa.com/828u-shotgun" target="_blank">828U</a>. Utilizing space-age machining, this stack has a floating plate that locks breech with barrels: The designers say you can’t wear it out, so give it your best shot. The top lever opens the gun and cocks the rifle-style strikers. A supplied tool that looks like a big paper clip lets you remove the trigger group for cleaning. The first double to have a shim-adjustable stock, the 828 is packed with features and handles and shoots with the best of them. Time to get out your wallet. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>2,499
- <h2>Benelli | 828U</h2>Italy’s hottest new shotgun is the <a href="http://www.benelliusa.com/828u-shotgun" target="_blank">828U</a>. Utilizing space-age machining, this stack has a floating plate that locks breech with barrels: The designers say you can’t wear it out, so give it your best shot. The top lever opens the gun and cocks the rifle-style strikers. A supplied tool that looks like a big paper clip lets you remove the trigger group for cleaning. The first double to have a shim-adjustable stock, the 828 is packed with features and handles and shoots with the best of them. Time to get out your wallet. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>2,499
- <h2>Benelli | SBE II</h2>There always seems to be a <a href="http://www.benelliusa.com/super-black-eagle-ii-shotgun" target="_blank">Super Black Eagle II</a> in the duck blinds we hunt. With good reason. Benelli’s legendary shotgun can go the whole season (sometimes more) without a cleaning. In fact, some guys will tell you the worst thing you can do is run a rag through the action of this 3½-inch death wand until spring time. For a gun that shoots the big shells, it’s light, and the skinny forend makes it extremely pointy and accurate. The inertia-driven system keeps it cycling consistently, and the ComforTech stock makes recoil tolerable. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,569
- <h2>Beretta | A400 Xtreme</h2>You can shoot 3½-inch turkey loads and not sweat the recoil from the <a href="http://www.beretta.com/en-us/a400-xtreme-unico-camo-optifade/" target="_blank">A400</a> semi-auto; one reason it’s fast becoming an icon. The Xtreme has hydraulic recoil buffers, plus a collapsing shock-absorbing chevron in the stock to take the sting out of heavy rounds (boosted by the fact that it’s a softer-kicking gas gun to begin with). A rotating bolt head is the heart of the Blink feeding system that combines a smaller gas piston so you can miss with all three shots in less than a second. Clad in a corrosion-resistant camo skin with equally resistant internal parts that won’t rust even if you never clean it. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,900
- <h2> CZ | Canvasback Gold</h2>An all-black receiver set off with gold birds gives you a friendly reminder of what a duck looks like on a blue-bird day. But, when birds are flying the <a href="http://cz-usa.com/product/cz-canvasback-gold-12-26-5-choke-tubes/" target="_blank">Canvasback Gold</a> double shoots like a dream, and the single selective trigger gives you an instant choice of chokes. For the women, CZ’s Lady Sterling O/U ($1,281) is a good fit. The high comb and increased pitch make shooting fun for her. A versatile shotgun for ducks and clays, she’ll be beating the man of the blind in no time. The 28-inch vent rib barrels make this versatile shotgun at home in any situation. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>827
- <h2>Fabarms | Elos B</h2>Now owned by Caesar Guerini, the <a href="http://fabarmusa.com/elos-b-and-elos-b-al/" target="_blank">Fabarm 20-gauge Elos B</a> is just the ticket for ducks over decoys. The time-tested Tribore barrel gentles the shot as it’s blasted down the muzzle, providing excellent patterns through the five choke tubes that come standard. Elos B’s classy case-colored action is reminiscent of grandad’s Fox or Parker, and the oil-finished stock of semi-deluxe Turkish walnut—the Turks have some of the world’s great gun wood—is checkered for a sure grip even on cold, icy mornings. A lot of fine shotgun for the money. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>2,470
- <h2> Franchi | Affinity</h2>The <a href="http://www.franchiusa.com/affinity-semi-auto-shotgun" target="_blank">Affinity</a> is a great semi-auto for marsh or field. Using Benelli’s inertia-driven operating system, the Affinity will shoot any load from 1-ounce target shells to 3-inch magnum goose thumpers. The receiver is lightweight aluminum reinforced with steel that will outlive your kids. Both 12- and 20-gauge (also available in a compact for junior) guns have stock adjusting shims for a custom fit. The action return spring is wound around the magazine tube and both 12 and 20 come with 26- or 28-inch barrels. Franchi has a seven-year warranty. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>849-$949
- <h2>Mossberg | 930 Kryptek Yeti</h2>Help the tundra and the ammo makers’ bottom line with the 13-shot extended magazine Yeti. Built on Mossberg’s reliable 930 platform, this all-white <a href="http://www.mossberg.com/product/930-snow-goose-85123/" target="_blank">Kryptek camo shotgun</a> will have the first row of snows dead on arrival. The magazine has a stabilizing barrel clamp, and the beveled loading gate makes stoking the chamber easy and fast when the birds come to the call. The front fiber-optic sight gets you on birds faster, and with the white camo finish, you’re going to be the envy of the blind...unless somebody shows up with an X-Rail. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>974
- <h2>Remington | V3</h2> Last year we said the VersaMax was the best semi-auto Remington ever made. Well, now we have to retract that statement because of the <a href="http://www.remington.com/product-families/firearms/shotgun-families/v3-field-sport.aspx" target="_blank">V3</a>. The V3 uses the same clever, clean and reliable Versa Port in-chamber gas porting, only with an extra port for a total of eight. But the real change is in the action. The action-return springs have moved into notches on both sides of the receiver making cycling ultra-reliable. And the rotating bolt head can be disassembled with no tools in less than a minute—provided you read the directions—and re-assembled in the same time. Keeping this baby clean is a snap. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>995
- <h2>Stoeger | M3020</h2>Stoeger’s line of Turkish-made semi-autos uses the same proven, reliable and clean-running inertia-driven system as the much more expensive Benellis. Keeping up with the times, many duck hunters have found the 20-gauge to be just right for decoying greenheads, and the <a href="http://www.stoegerindustries.com/m3020-shotgun" target="_blank">M3020</a> is tailor-made for that. Speaking of tailoring, the included shim kit allows for adjusting the stock for really accurate shooting. It comes with three choke tubes—IC, M and XFT for turkeys—and finished in black as well as camo choices to match your wardrobe and favorite hunting locale. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>599-$649
- <h2>Syren | XLR5 Waterfowler</h2> Making a play for lady hunters, <a href="http://syrenusa.com/syren-xlr5-waterfowler/" target="_blank">Syren’s XLR5 Waterfowler</a> is tailored for women with a higher stock and more pitch to fit her curves. The gas-operated 12-gauge semi-auto uses Fabarms’ Pulse Piston to keep the gun running in the worst conditions. Also ensuring top-notch performance is the Tribore barrel whose internal contours provide excellent patterning through the five high-performance choke tubes. The Soft-Touch finish ensures a good grip for m’lady’s smaller hands. If she’s a lefty, no fear; the XLR5 comes in both right- and left-hand versions. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,995-$2,170
- <h2> Tri-Star | Cobra</h2>Our favorite shotgun to carry on a walk-in hunt is a 20-gauge pump. They’re light and reliable, two must-haves when you’re sweating for ducks. <a href="http://www.tristararms.com/products/home-defense/cobra-force/" target="_blank">Tri-Star’s Cobra</a> (in 12- and 20-gauge) features a full-length forearm to accommodate any hunter, so you or your short-armed buddy can shuck empties easily. The forearm also has ribbed texturing for a sure grip, ensuring a quick stroke so that next shell is locked and loaded. Also available in a youth model, the Cobra weighs just 5.4 to 6.9 pounds. The barrels and chamber are chrome-lined, and the pump comes with three Beretta Mobile-style IC, M and F chokes. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>349-$489
- <h2>Weatherby | Element</h2>Respected rifle maker Weatherby has hopped on the inertia-style operating system for its new Turkish-made <a href="http://www.weatherby.com/element-deluxe.html" target="_blank">Element</a> semi-auto. Available in a AA-Grade gloss-finished walnut stock, forend and blued barrel, it’s a traditionalist’s dream. The action is made of light but tough aircraft-grade aluminum and the chrome-plated bore slides the shot toward the target. This line of shotguns was proven on the dove fields of Argentina where shooting 500 or 1,000 rounds a day is common; more than a duck hunter shoots in several years. Comes in 12-, 20- and 28-gauge versions with three choke tubes in the choice of 26- or 28-inch barrels. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>1,099
- <h2> Winchester | SXP</h2>The <a href="http://www.winchesterguns.com/products/catalog/category.asp?family=021C" target="_blank">SXP</a> pump almost shoots itself. The rotating bolt and dual action bars work so slick, aided by inertia, that you’ll have the second shell chambered (following your first miss) before you know it. The barrel is hard chrome-plated and back-bored to .742 for excellent patterns with large steel shot through time-tested Invector chokes. The Inflex recoil pad soaks up recoil like an old mop. It’s black chrome-plated fore and aft for a worry-free finish that cleans easy. The SXP is made in both 12- and 20-gauge with the choice of 26- and 28-inch barrels and chambered for 3-inch shells, and 3½-inch Roman Candles in the 12. <p></p> <strong>Price: $</strong>460-$500