July 2006

Weatherby’s SAS Field Kicks Grass in Duck-Blind Showdown

When we shot three pricey 12-gauge autoloaders side by side, Weatherby’s 3-inch SAS Field was a convincing winner over Browning’s Gold FLD Stalker and the Xtrema2 from Beretta.

There’s probably no activity tougher on a shotgun than waterfowling. Between the extreme elements (mud, muck, and often uncommonly cold temperatures), the tight confines of blinds, the general roughness of the sport (dogs that won’t sit still, an oversized buddy who knocks something over everytime he turns around), sharp boat edges, action-clogging cattails and Johnson grass, and loads that pack significant punch, a waterfowler’s shotgun takes a beating from trigger to choke tubes.

We thought it was time to examine just how far development in these guns has come, and toward that end, we acquired a trio of 3- and 3.5-inch chambered guns to shoot side by side. From Browning came the relatively new Gold FLD Stalker No. 011118304, a black synthetic–stocked 12-gauge offering that takes 3-inch shells and retails at $981. We chose the brand-spankin’-new Xtrema2 from Beretta, again in black synthetic. This model (No. J391D28) chambers up to 3.5-inch shells and hangs a retail tag of $1,498. For our last choice, we picked the SAS Field from Weatherby, No. SVF1228PGM. We had originally wanted this gun with the synthetic stock, but it was backordered at the time of testing, so we went with a wood-stock model. Retailing at $925 in the wood version (the synthetic is $879), the SAS proved a stellar competitor against the two big "B" brands.

Being May when the testing took place, duck and goose seasons were long closed. Thankfully for us shotgun nuts, sporting clays ranges are in full swing this time of year, so it’s there we took our trio. The shooting gods must have been watching, because it rained during the entire testing day—is there anything more appropriate to testing duck guns?

We also put all three guns in the freezer, loaded with a variety of upland and steel waterfowl loads, and fired them immediately upon removal for function testing. Finally, we performed a point-of-impact test at 40 yards, both from a bench rest (we used the Steady Rest on the MTM shooting bench from Midway USA) and standing, using the National Target Company’s clay shotgun patterning target. Here’s what we found.

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