Benelli | 828U
Italy'™s hottest new shotgun is the 828U
. 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.
Benelli | SBE II
There always seems to be a Super Black Eagle II
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.
Beretta | A400 Xtreme
You can shoot 3½-inch turkey loads and not sweat the recoil from the A400
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.
CZ | Canvasback Gold
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 Canvasback Gold
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 ([imo-slideshow gallery=72],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.
Fabarms | Elos B
Now owned by Caesar Guerini, the Fabarm 20-gauge Elos B
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.
Franchi | Affinity
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.
Mossberg | 930 Kryptek Yeti
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 Kryptek camo shotgun
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.
Remington | V3
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 V3
. 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.
Stoeger | M3020
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 M3020
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.
Syren | XLR5 Waterfowler
Making a play for lady hunters, Syren'™s XLR5 Waterfowler
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.
Tri-Star | Cobra
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. Tri-Star'™s Cobra
(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.
Weatherby | Element
Respected rifle maker Weatherby has hopped on the inertia-style operating system for its new Turkish-made Element
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.
Winchester | SXP
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.