12 Great Wildfowl Shotguns
January 04, 2016
No group of hunters ask as much of their guns as wildfowl hunters. We lay them in mud; we hunt in rain, snow, ice and salt spray; and we just shrug when a wet, muddy retriever walks across our unloaded, uncased gun bouncing in the bottom of the boat. We've even been known to use them as decoy retrievers and boat paddles on occasion. Then we expect our shotguns to go "boom" every time we pull the trigger.
Thankfully, modern shotguns are reliable, despite the abuse we heap upon them. Shotgun makers are hunters, too, and they understand that a wildfowl gun doesn't have to be pretty (not that that there's anything wrong with that) but that it must stand up to mud, sleet, debris and dirty dogs. They are building fast-cycling guns that don't care if they're a little neglected, and they are making shotguns that can handle a variety of loads without making any adjustments. Today's wildfowl guns are just as capable on the skeet range or in the turkey woods as they are in a duck blind. One of these could become your new best friend in the field.
They say the Benelli Super Black Eagle (SBE) II is the original 3 1/2-inch semiautomatic shotgun. With its proven inertia-drive gas system, ComforTech recoil-reduction system, Crio barrel and numerous configurations, it's hard to argue with it being one of the most flexible and timeless designs currently on the market. For 2014, the SBE II showed up wearing Realtree Max-5 camo, which is filled with cane, cattails, grasses and reeds to best blend with flooded marshes. Detail is incredible and should help you blend in to enhance success this wildfowl season.
The Beretta A400 Xtreme is a gas-operated autoloader with a self-cleaning piston that carries a bold name and performance to back it up. Weighing 7.6 pounds and packed full of features that serious wildfowl hunters demand, the A400 Xtreme is backed by the Beretta name and reputation for quality. It includes Beretta's Kick-Off recoil-reduction system, which reduces felt recoil by up to 60 percent. That allows faster follow-up shots for more birds in your bag. The A400 Extreme is also protected by Beretta's Aqua Technology corrosion-proof barrier. Available with a 26-, 28- or 30-inch barrel and chambered for 3 1/2-inch shells, the A400 is shown wearing Optifade's waterfowl pattern but can also be wrapped in Realtree's new Max-5 camo. This gun will last you a lifetime.
It's a good thing Browning resurrected the A5 in 2011. The legendary gun, dubbed "the humpback" for its unique look, has a proven track record that goes back more than 100 years. The new A5 continues that tradition. Not only is Browning's A5 shown wrapped head-to-toe in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades, it's jammed with a list of features that help you knock more wildfowl out of the sky than the original. It's also available in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity. The recoil-operated Kinematic Drive system cycles a variety of loads, the Inflex II recoil pad takes the punch out of the heaviest 3 1/2-inch shells, and the Dura-Touch stock helps you get a better grip on the gun in all kinds of conditions. The A5 also comes with stock shims. Even better, it comes with Browning's five-year, 100,000-shot warranty.
Lots of duck hunters aren't just obsessed with waterfowl; they're nuts about turkey hunting, too. Although CZ's 612 Wildfowl Magnum pump may be aimed at the waterfowl crowd, it's designed to pull double duty if necessary. It's chambered for 3 1/2-inch shells and comes with a 26-inch barrel. Even better, the 612 Wildfowl Magnum comes with a Modified choke tube designed for steel waterfowl loads and an extra-full choke for turkey loads. There's no need to buy a separate gun for the duck marsh and the turkey woods; this gun is just as deadly on honkers as it is on spring gobblers. The synthetic stock and barrel are wrapped in an all-purpose camouflage, making it an ideal two-season shotgun. Even better, it's priced within reach of any hunter.
Much as the name implies, the 12-gauge Franchi Intensity is designed for hardcore wildfowl hunters who live for the worst conditions. The Intensity is a superb midpriced, inertia-driven semiauto available in either Mossy Oak Bottomland for flooded-timber hunting or Realtree Xtra Green and Realtree Max-5 for cattail marshes and goose fields (as shown). It comes with stock shims, which allow you to customize the fit, and three choke tubes. Additional recoil pads and extended choke tubes are optional. This slender, comfortable 12 gauge is chambered for shells up to 3 1/2 inches and is available with barrel lengths of 26, 28 or 30 inches.
Leave it to Mossberg to be a trendsetter. The popular firearms company created the 930 Kryptek Yeti autoloader just for hard-core snow goose hunters. It only raises one question: What took the shotgun industry so long? Complete with an extended tube for a 13-round capacity and Kryptek Yeti camouflage (also available in black), the 930 gives snow goose hunters the opportunity to put steel into the air until the wildfowl are on the ground or out of range. (Three- and five-shot plugs are included.) It's chambered for 3-inch shells and comes with a recoil pad, a 28-inch barrel and Mossberg's Accu-Set choke tubes. A five-shot tube conversion kit makes it a great value for duck hunters thinking about jumping into the thrilling world of spring snow goose hunting.
Is it the most versatile shotgun available? Thanks to Remington's Versaport gas-operating system, it just might be. The Versa Max is capable of shooting everything from the lightest 2 3/4-inch loads to the heaviest wildfowl-thumping 3 1/2-inch shells on the market without any adjustments. Even better, the gun is virtually self-cleaning, meaning you can spend more time in the field and less time at your gun bench. The Waterfowl Pro is wrapped in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades camo, and the stock has overmolded black grips. It comes with a 28-inch nickel barrel and four Pro Bore extended choke tubes, and the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts.
Happy, happy, happy, the Robertsons have teamed up with Mossberg on several new products branded with the Duck Commander seal of approval on the stock, and Willie has personally signed off on each Mossberg 930 Duck Commander, indicated by his signature American-flag bandana tied to the small of every stock. A dual-gas operating system makes this shotgun a comfortable shooter, and it looks good wearing Realtree's new Max-5 camo. This 930's barrel is topped with Tru-Glo's dual-color fiber optic sight for fast aiming, and like most 930s, this model's receiver is drilled and tapped should you want to scope it out for wildfowl.
Let us introduce you to the semiautomatic M3500 waterfowl shotgun, one of the newest members of Stoeger's affordable, quality shotguns. It handles a range of loads from 2 3/4 up to the hardest-hitting 3 1/2-inch magnums without adjustment. The M3500 benefits from the proven inertia-driven operating system made famous by Benelli. There are only three moving parts in providing fast cycling. A fiber optic front sight is standard on the ventilated rib barrel for quick sighting. All M3500s come standard with a threaded recoil reducer in the buttstock. Regardless of what load you select, it's not going to punish you in the field. A shim kit helps with fit, and an optional pistol-grip stock is available for more rifle-like handling. For its price, the new M3500 is a reliable semiauto that's tough to beat for any kind of wildfowl hunting.
Reliability at the right price, the Tristar Viper G2 is a 3-inch, gas-operated autoloader (available in 12 or 20 gauge) that cycles light skeet loads and heavy waterfowl rounds equally well. Fiber optic sights are standard, and the magazine can carry five shells, but a three-shot plug is included. The stock is injection molded, so it will stand up to abuse for seasons to come, and the forend has a Soft-Touch finish for better feel and grip. It's available in Realtree Advantage Timber and Max-4 camos with a rubber recoil pad for heavy-shooting comfort. The chambers are chrome-lined for aided reliability, and the barrels are threaded for Benelli- and Beretta-style choke tubes. Every gun comes with Improved Cylinder, Modified and Full chokes to boot. This is an extremely functional and hardworking wildfowl shotgun.
Weatherby's WBX-Y series includes rifles and shotguns with flashy camo patterns unlike anything on the market. One thing's for sure: These Turkish shotguns are built with the same standards as Weatherby's other firearms. The SA-08 Kryptek Compact is no exception. Built for smaller-framed shooters, it's the perfect option for anyone who wants a semiautomatic wildfowl shotgun with a shorter length of pull, a little less weight and a slightly shorter barrel. Currently available only in 20 gauge, the Kryptek Compact is chambered for 3-inch shells and comes with a 24-inch barrel, three choke tubes and Kryptek camo on the stock and forend. The barrel and receiver are blued, and the trigger assembly drops out for easy cleaning. The gun weighs just 5 3/4 pounds.
Winchester's SX3 Waterfowl may not be the perfect wildfowl gun, but then it just might be. Available in 3 1/2- and 3-inch chambers, 12- and 20-gauge models, and 26- and 28-inch barrels, the SX3 Waterfowl is loaded with features. It's wrapped in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades camo and comes with Winchester's Invector-Plus choke system. The SX3 also has a chrome-lined barrel and Winchester's patented Active Valve gas system that cycles a variety of shotshells and limits recoil. The SX3 also includes a drop-out trigger system for easy cleaning and a synthetic stock with textured grip surfaces. An active-valve gas system makes this shotgun super comfortable and dependable while shooting long durations.