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A Dirty Dozen Shotguns for Upland and Waterfowl.

CZ-USA 712 G3

(OK shotgunners, do I need to remind you that dove season will start September 1 and in many areas so will the early goose season?)

The days when we used one shotgun for everything are long past. Your Granddad and Uncle Bill may have owned a Browning Auto 5 or a Model 12 Winchester and used it for anything with feathers or fur. Times change, upland bird hunters want shotguns that are light and fast in the brush and waterfowl guys generally prefer a scattergun that will deliver the loads for large, tough geese while standing up to the rugged conditions found only in the duck marsh. Trends this year include the revival of the 16 gauge in several upland guns and applying Cerakote to the receiver and barrel of many duck guns. Take your pick from either of these shotgun categories, while you are at it you may want to get a couple of them. Remember Case’s Shotgun Theorem #14? You can never have too many shotguns.   

Upland Shotguns for pheasants, grouse and chukars.

Browning Citori White Lightning. In 1973 Browning gave us the Citori as a less expensive alternative to the Superposed shotgun, the last project of firearms icon John Moses Browning. Now among the various versions of the Citori to choose from we have a “white” version meaning the receiver is not blued or color case hardened, and the natural color steel receiver and trigger guard are protected from corrosion by a durable coating process called a “nitrided” finish, offering similar protection to bluing.  The 16 gauge has enjoyed something of a revival especially with upland hunters and new for this year is a 16 gauge version of the White Lightning model. With pretty walnut wood, polished steel engraved receiver, and extended choke tubes, the White Lightning Citori is a sexy devil for the suggested retail of $2,669.99

CZ-USA Bobwhite G2. Upland hunters have a thing for side by side shotguns, there’s no denying it. Every shotgunner wants at least one nice double barrel in their arsenal and the Bobwhite G2 may be it. CZ improved the original Bobwhite in several ways including a new durable finish, internal coil springs instead of leaf springs (they last longer and retain elasticity better) and a CNC cut receiver with internal workings that work slicker than a greased lizard. This little gun weighs in at only 5 ½ pounds and will be the envy of your bird hunting buddies the minute you pull it out of the case. The Bobwhite G2 ships with 5 interchangeable chokes, has 28” barrels and a somewhat remarkable MSRP of $655.00.

F.A.I.R. SLX600 Black. Established in 2010, the Italian Firearms Group (IFG) is the importer of four respected Italian firearms manufacturers: F.A.I.R.; Sabatti; Tanfoglio; and Pedersoli. Manufactured in Italy’s Lombardy Region by Fabbrica Armi Isodoro Rizzini (F.A.I.R.), the SLX600 Black is an upland hunting shotgun with some surprises. First, this gun weighs in at less than seven pounds, even in the model with 30” barrels, as I have said here before; you carry a shotgun a lot more than you shoot it. F.A.I.R’s trademark bright black bluing on the barrels is impressive as is the select European walnut stock and fore end which is adorned with fine-pitch laser checkering at 25 lines-per-inch. This is old world Italian craftsmanship and it shows. The SLX600 Black can also be purchased with multiple barrel sets, allowing hunters to change out barrels to different gauges as conditions warrant. A 20-gauge set is available for 12-gauge frames and 20, 28 and 410 are available for 20-gauge frames. All barrel sets come with complete choke tube sets for the corresponding model. If like me you are prone to covet a shotgun whose manufacturer you can’t pronounce, the F.A.I.R. SLX600 Black may be for you. MSRP

Benelli 828U Performance Shop Upland. Upland bird hunters want a shotgun to be light and fast, as in light to carry in the field and fast to point and get on target. Based upon the popular 828U, the Performance shop Upland features upgrades from Benelli’s Performance Shop to produce a shorter, fast-swinging gun. Benelli shortened the length of pull on this shotgun to 14 ¼” and the barrels to 24”, the weight is only 6.4 pounds; this gun was made for in the brush. As with the original Benelli 828U the Progressive Comfort stock with Quadra Fit customizing system offers less felt recoil and the ability to easily adjust drop, cast, comb height and length-of-pull for a custom fit. The stock and forend is AA-grade satin walnut along with an anodized bronze/matte blue receiver and carbon fiber stepped rib. The 828U Upland retains the revolutionary breech design with a steel lock-plate opening system, eliminating wear and tear on the aluminum receiver. This shotgun is a looker and has some souped up ergonomics (how the gun feels when you pick it up, handle it, and shoot it) that many bird hunters are going to like. MSRP $3,499.00

Savage 555 16 Gauge. As noted earlier the 16 is back in vogue, mostly from the demands of grouse and woodcock hunters. Savage has answered the call with a nice little over under in its 555 line that won’t require a co-signer at the bank.  An aluminum receiver is scaled to gauge and incorporates a steel insert that reinforces the breech, minimizing weight and maximizing strength. The enhanced version of the 555 features an Imperial walnut stock and fore-end, auto shell ejector, and a silver, scroll-engraved filigree ornament receiver. Standard features include a manual safety and a single, selective mechanical trigger. Chrome lined barrels and tang mounted safety are part of the package. This shotgun weighs in at 6 ½ pounds and for only $694.00 for the standard model and $864.00 for the enhanced version, you may want to check out the Savage 555.

Tri Star TT15 Field. New for 2019 TriStar added the 16 gauge to its TT15 Field line. This shotgun features a top tang barrel selector and safety, steel mono-block barrel construction and Turkish Walnut Stock & Forearm. The TT15 Field comes with 5 interchangeable Beretta/Benelli Mobil style choke tubes, (SK, IC, M, IM, F), choke box and choke wrench. The primary safety on the TT15 is located on the top tang. When engaged, the safety is designed to block the trigger, hammer lever and the hammer which makes the firing mechanism immobile. This shotgun boasts robust ejectors, an item not usually found on economy priced guns, and they are also backed with TriStar’s five-year mechanical warranty. MSRP $855.00

Waterfowl Shotguns, for big geese and fast moving teal.

Browning BPS. The Browning BPS (Browning Pump Shotgun) has been around over 50 years and has proved itself in the field. Browning saw fit this year to make a few improvements to this shotgun that is no stranger to the duck marsh. A redesigned stock and forearms, the addition of Browning’s Inflex recoil system, and a larger, more glove-friendly trigger guard are all changes that the duck and goose hunter will have no problem with. Also new for 2019 is the BPS Waterfowl model decked out in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades camo. The BPS Waterfowl model weighs 8 pounds and has a 3 ½” chamber for when you want to shoot the big stuff on geese. It ships with three Invector Plus chokes, has a 26” barrel, a 14 ½” length of pull and comes with sling swivel studs to better pack it through the swamp. This is a lot of shotgun for $779.99.       

Retay Masai Mara Waterfowl. Retay has caused some shake up in the shotgun world in the past few years with the introduction of its Inertia Plus system. In short, Retay’s rotating bolt system employs a torsion mechanism to keep the shotgun in battery so that a sharp jarring or setting the shotgun down abruptly would not disengage the bolt as would sometimes happen with traditional inertia powered shotguns. For 2019 Retay added a waterfowl model to its Masai Mara line of shotguns, with a 3 ½” chamber. The Retay Waterfowl is capable of effectively cycling lightweight and low recoil shotgun shell loads as well as heavy hunting loads, and should be at home in the dove field as well as the goose blind.  This shotgun also features Retay’s proprietary Removable Ejector System, an 8mm vented sight rib, TruGlo front bead sight, and set of 5 interchangeable MaraPro choke tubes. A big plus is the easily removable trigger group if you need to clean out mud and crud in the marsh. MSRP $1,399.00

Remington V3 Pro Waterfowl. Following on the heels of its Daddy the VersaMax, the V3 has established its place in the world as a soft shooter. The revolutionary VersaPort Gas system enables this shotgun to shoot the lightest target and dove loads while also handling magnum goose and turkey loads. Remington stepped up its game with the advent of the V3 Pro series adding an oversized bolt handle, safety button, and bolt release along with carving out the loading port for easier loading with bulky gloves. The real deal here for duck hunters is the Cerakoted receiver inside and out, as nobody is as hard on a shotgun as a duck and goose hunter. The V3 Pro Waterfowl includes three black extended chokes, Improved Modified, Modified, and Full, and shims to adjust drop and cast on the stock. The barrel is 28” and the length of pull is 14 ¼”. This may be the indestructible duck gun you have been looking for. $1,195.00

Stoeger M3500 Waterfowl. Stoeger has answered the call from waterfowlers in 2019 with new features on its M3500 Waterfowl shotgun. In my view the biggest advantage for the waterfowl hunter here is the Cerakoted barrel and receiver in Flat Dark Earth finish and the stock and forend are Realtree MAX-5™ camo. The M3500 is an inertia driven gun and loading, unloading and operating in cold weather is made easier by the oversized bolt handle and bolt-release button. A specially machined and beveled loading port makes feeding shells into the magazine tube with gloved hands quick and efficient. Five (IC/M/XFT/Close Range/Mid-Range) extended choke tubes along with a wrench come standard with the Waterfowler. A shim kit is also included, which allows for adjustment of the gun for drop and cast. The full-length vented rib is topped with an easy-to-see red-bar front sight that stands out in low light. The receiver is drilled and tapped for the addition of an optic, and it ships with a para cord sling. The M3500 shoots 2 ¾” 3” and 3 ½” ammo, has a 14 3/8” length of pull, weighs 7.8 pounds, and has 5 year warranty. This is a lot of duck gun for $849.00.  

CZ-USA 1012 Synthetic Mossy Oak Bottomland Camo. Hunting shotguns should do one thing without fail and that is go boom every time you pull the trigger. The new CZ-USA 1012 in Mossy Oak Bottomland camo is a semi auto that will shoot whatever you stick in it, light 2 ¾” loads to heavy 3” Magnums. This is not a gas powered shotgun that can be a little finicky when it gets dirty. The 1012 uses the energy of the recoil to eject the spent shell and load the next round. CZ-USA put the 1012 through the wringer firing over 5,000 rounds without cleaning or any lubricant. The 1012 Synthetic has a 14 ½” length of pull, and 8mm flat vent rib, a 28” barrel, extended black chokes, and is a surprising 6.5 pounds. The media hoopla for this model of the CZ-USA Synthetic 1012 will occur in 2020, but you should be able to find them on the shelf now.  A shotgun using inertia to work the action is not new, but one with an MSRP of $659.00 is.    

TriStar Viper Max 3 ½” Magnum. TriStar has added a 3 ½” chambered gun to its semi-auto line for the waterfowl hunter. The Viper Max is a semi-automatic shotgun that allows you to shoot light target loads to heavy waterfowl loads utilizing a two piston system. The Viper Max comes with a light and heavy load piston. The light load piston is used for 2 ¾” shells, for heavier magnum rounds use the heavy load piston. The secondary piston can be stored in the forearm for easy retrieval. The Viper Max comes with 4 Beretta®/Benelli Mobil Chokes (SK, IC, M, F) as well as over molded rubber grips on the stock and forearm for added comfort. A newly developed recoil pad and swivel studs also included, and the Viper Max is backed by a five year warranty. The Bronze and Mossy Oak Blades model has an MSRP of $780.00

Kent Cartridge. In my view Kent Cartridge is an ammunition company that delivers some first-rate shotgun shells, but you don’t hear much about them. That needs to change. In 1996, in the wake of the banning of lead to hunt migratory birds in North America, a group of passionate sportsmen were inspired to develop a new line up of quality yet affordable, high performance, non-toxic hunting loads. It was from this shared vision that Kent Cartridge was born. Kent manufactures a wide range of shotgun shells, loaded at their factory in Kearnyesville, West Virginia. Kent also has a sales and distribution office located in Ontario, Canada. In addition to the two North American locations, Kent also has a sister company in the U.K., the Gamebore Cartridge Company, that manufactures their Bismuth, Tungsten Matrix, and their premium lead shot, commonly known as Diamond Shot.

Kent Cartridge holds the patent on Tungsten Matrix; a non-toxic shot consisting of a blend of pure tungsten powder and polymer binding which is produced to mimic the physical and ballistic characteristics of premium lead shot. In 2016, Kent introduced a line of Premium Bismuth shotshells, a non-toxic material with 24% greater density than steel and as soft as lead. Bismuth provides superior retained energy, reduced wind drift and is safe to use in fixed choke guns, offering a premium non-toxic alternative to steel shot. Other features of Kent shotgun shells are their reliable CX 2000 primers, High Performance Base-Wads, specifically designed to regulate head expansion and optimize cycling in semi-auto shotguns, their Double Base Powder for maximum velocities, a nickel plated head on the shells for smooth ejection in semi-autos, and a High-Density polymer hull to ensure easy loading and ejections.

A few of Kent’s extensive line of shotgun ammo offerings that deserve a look are the Fasteel 2.0, the Upland Fasteel, for applications when steel is required in upland areas, and Bismuth Upland, a nontoxic shotshell that can also be used for waterfowl. Kent also produces a line of Fast Lead shotshells with their own Diamond Shot.