June 01, 2016
Here's a look at the best waterfowl shotguns of all time, guns that do what we ask and more. Some have been around for decades, a few for more than a century. To be included in our 10 best waterfowl shotguns ever made list, these stalwarts have proven their worth with each passing season, despite a layer of rust and a battered stock. A few are remnants of a bygone era. Others may be the new gun in the marsh, but legions of dedicated waterfowlers have put them through the ringer and given them a wet, cold thumbs up as the best.
Stack barrels are a rare sight in the duck marsh, but it's really too bad. They may offer one less shot opportunity, but they never jam, they shoot all types of shells and they don't have a myriad of moving parts to malfunction.
If you do see an over-under, there's a good chance it's a Browning Citori. Introduced in 1973 as a less-expensive version of Browning's popular Superposed, the Citori has become the go-to over-under for discerning waterfowlers. The single trigger and selective safety make it ideal for shooting with gloved hands in extreme conditions. It remains the most popular over-under in its class and is now available in a variety of models.
No shotgun is more identifiable than the Browning A-5
. Also known as the square-back or the hump-back, the Autoloader 5 is a recoil-operated shotgun, and the first mass-produced auto-loader in America. Patented by John Browning in 1902, the iconic shotgun was actually produced by Remington as the Model 11 for 43 years.
Soon after, production moved to Belgian company Fabrique Nationale under the Browning name and then to Japan. The A-5's era ended in 1998, but it was reborn with modern improvements in 2012. Old or new, the A-5 has a solid reputation as a reliable duck- and goose-killing machine.
Ithaca Model 37
The Ithaca Gun Company
, which had a solid reputation as a side-by-side maker around the turn of the 20th century, jumped on the pump-action shotgun bandwagon after seeing the booming success of the Winchester Model 12. The first guns didn't come off the production line until 1937, but the popular bottom-loading and bottom-ejecting shotguns eventually became the longest-running pump shotguns in history.
The bottom port proved a worthy feature in the duck marsh, and it remains one of the most reliable shotguns in history. The name was changed to the Model 87 after the company was sold in 1987, but it was changed back to the Model 37 after 9 years. Production ceased in 2005 after the company was sold again, but the Model 37 is once again back in production.
Winchester Model 12
Originally named the Model 1912, Winchester
dropped the first two numbers in 1919, but it quickly became the go-to pump shotgun of its era. The Winchester M12 was known as 'the perfect repeater. '
More than 2 million were built, including a Heavy Duck Gun version, which accepted 3-inch shells. Sales fell after Remington introduced the less-expensive 870, and the shotgun was taken out of mass production in 1964. Although not a common sight in the duck marshes these days, the Model 12 remains a favorite among old-timers who helped feed their families with the iconic shotgun.
Benelli SBE II
Gas-operated shotguns can have issues in the duck marsh, which is why many duck hunters are choosing inertia-driven actions like Benelli's Super Black Eagle II
. It's one of the more expensive waterfowl guns available, but it's also one of the best.
Some folks will certainly argue that it's the best duck gun right now. At prices of [imo-slideshow gallery=46],800 or more, the SBE won't be too common of a sight in the marsh, but one thing's for sure: Duck hunters who can afford an SBE will still be using it well into the future.
The Remington 1100
wasn't the first auto loader to hit the hunting scene, but it was arguably the best of its era. Introduced in 1963 as a replacement for Remington's Model 58, it quickly became the go-to gun for gas-operated, semi-auto fans everywhere.
At least 4 million variations of the 1100 have been produced since then, and Remington revamped the 1100 and produced the 11-87 in 1987. Both guns are still in production in various forms, but the 11-87 has become the choice for duck hunters, in part because of its available camouflage finish.
A.H. Fox Double
There were a plethora of double guns during their heyday in the early 1900s, and many remain collector's items that no longer see any time in a duck blind. The original A.H. Fox doubles
are among those coveted by collectors. The most notable Fox was owned by legendary waterfowl hunter and writer Nash Buckingham. His HE Grade Super Fox double, nicknamed 'Bo Whoop, ' accounted for hundreds of birds and numerous stories. It sold at auction for more than $200,000 in 2010.
The Fox brand turned more into a working man's gun when the company was acquired by Savage in 1929. The side-by-side was in production in various forms until 1988. Many of the guns are still in use today, although doubles are relatively uncommon in the duck marsh. Nash Buckingham would probably be disappointed with that that reality if he were still alive today.
Nobody brings a single-shot to a duck hunt€¦at least nobody over the age of 14. The truth is, break-open single-shots have been and will always be a standard package under the family Christmas tree. They make great guns for new hunters, and as a result are a common sight in family duck blinds everywhere.
Many of the guns carried by kids are Harrington & Richardson's venerable Topper. First introduced in 1893, H&R's break-open shotguns remain as reliable today as they were back then. They are safe, functional and well-suited for beginning hunters intent on bagging their first duck or goose.
Duck hunters don't just hunt ducks; they frequent the turkey woods and the uplands, too. That's why the Beretta A391
has become one of the best all-purpose shotguns available today. The 391 Xtrema is made specifically for waterfowl hunters, but thanks to the gun's intricate recoil system, it can handle most target loads and the heaviest 3 ½-inch waterfowl and turkey loads.
The self-compensating, gas-driven recoil system helps reduce the inevitable punch of those large loads, but it's a gun best-suited for hunters willing to take time to clean it after an outing in the marsh.
Is it any wonder the Remington 870
is the world's most popular shotgun? Remington has sold more than 10 million of these reliable guns since 1949. In fact, many of those early 870s are still killing ducks today.
Remington reinvented the 870 in the mid-1990s when it introduced the 870 Express, a no-frills version of the original Wingmaster. Although less expensive than the Wingmaster, the Express is equally reliable in the waterfowl trenches.