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Shotgun Bargains and Flops: Guns To Search Out-And Avoid

The best shotgun shooters usually have a collection of special-purpose guns; that is, expert competitors and hunters have their favorites among pumps, over/unders and automatics, and they match the gun to the course or field conditions. By sticking to a small set of guns as their first choices, they grow very familiar with them and get pretty good at killing things or breaking targets.

But to gather such a varied and strong-performing collection requires that you start out with pretty good guns. Otherwise, they will fail, be balky, not fit right, get dirty, or simply be more trouble than they are worth. Picking these must-have shotguns is like picking the right spouse: Do it right, and yo...

Sporting Clays Shotguns: Benelli and Remington Go Head To Head

These two companies make largely unheralded shotgun models purportedly earmarked for the competition clay market. We test them to see if we'd pay their steep prices.

Red Dot Sights For Turkey Guns: Tasco Optima 2000 Vs. C-More

Will turkey hunters ever accept anything except a golden bead on the front of their shotguns? After all, hunters don’t need a lot of precision to point a shotgun at the base of a bird’s neck, making sure the pattern centers the vital neck and head areas. But what if a hunter could see a brighter aiming point in dim light, on a dark-feathered bird? Would that be an advantage?

Gun Tests decided to find out when we took two popular shotguns, the Beretta 1200FP semiauto and Mossberg’s 590 pump-action, and mounted red-dot sights on their receivers. The Mossberg received a C-More red dot, while the Beretta was topped with a low-profile Optima 2000 from Tasco, $279.99. The C-More had a 12-moa do...

Super X2: How Winchester Rates Against Browning and Beretta

Winchester's new Super X2 12-gauge auto-loader series is designed to go head to head in the marketplace against well-established marques like Browning and Beretta. Price-positioned at MSRPs ranging from $725 to $938, the X2s come in a variety of finishes, ranging from the 3-inch chamber field models with walnut stocks to the 31/2-inch black synthetic and Mossy Oak Shadow Grass camo guns for waterfowlers. But these new products seek to enter a field crowded with quality guns, so we wondered how the new Winchester guns would stack up against their prime competitors—and also against history.

Toward that end, we acquired two X2s for evaluation, a 3-inch 12-gauge field gun, $725, with a walnut...

Classy O/U 12 Gauges: Bargain Shotguns For Only $2,500?

How much do you need to spend to get a really good O/U? Just this year someone bought a fine O/U .410, made by Woodward in 1940, for $200,500 at auction. He obviously thought it was worth it. But must you spend into five figures for a really good O/U? Probably not. Can you buy a really fine O/U for less than a grand? Again, probably not, though there are exceptions. If you can get a good O/U like a Ruger Red Label for around $1,200, why should you spend twice that? Things that might be important include fine wood, superior inletting, hand fitting of all metal and wood parts, engraving, better wood and metal finishes, superior balance and handling, and you take it from there. Only you can tel...

Benellis 3.5-inch Nova Gives The 870 a Run for Its Money

The need for a shotgun that can handle 3.5-inch magnum loads appears to be increasing, as more shooters determine they need the maximum load of steel shot they can manage for waterfowl shooting. Gun makers are being sure to chamber their shotgun offerings for the full-length shotshell with its 1 9/16-ounce of steel capability. The prime users of these long-chambered guns seem to be waterfowlers, who forego the 10-gauge guns because, presumably, they want to use their duck guns for other things that the 10 can't do very well. These uses include upland hunting, casual trap, even Sporting Clays to sharpen the eye in the off season.

The manufacturer's challenge is to make a gun that can, at l...

20-Gauge Autos: Browning Gold, Beretta AL390 Run Dead Heat

[IMGCAP(1)]The 20 gauge has long been known as the little brother of the 12-gauge scattergun, and like any tag-along sibling, it often goes underappreciated. Twenty-gauge guns with 3-inch chambers carry a lot of pop for their boresize—enough to send fast-flying teal, high-honking geese, and decoying mallards to the stewpot—but because the 20-gauge shotgun’s receiver can be slimmer than the 12 gauge’s, the Plenty Twenty carries easier than a 12. That can mean a lot when you’re lugging a nylon-mesh sack filled with decoys at 4 a.m.

Of the available 20-gauge shotguns, we recently had a chance to examine, pattern-test, and field-test two of the higher-priced autoloaders: Browning’s Gold Hun...

Synthetic 12-Gauge Pumps: The Black Shadow Gets Our Attention

[IMGCAP(1)] Twelve-gauge pump shotguns are an American tradition. They sure don't have the class of a good double, but they're hard to beat for knock-around utility. If you think in terms of wanting a shotgun to throw in the bottom of the boat for a day's poking around the local waters, the pump is a good and usually inexpensive choice. Add the versatility of insert choke tubes, and you can tailor the gun to the game season at hand. Moreover, today's pump will often have a polymer (plastic) stock, because they're cheaper than walnut and perhaps more durable, and they offer the added benefit of reduced visibility. If you're after a matte-black-finished, all-around pump shotgun, why not have t...

Gobbler Guns: Should You Pick Pump, Bolt, or Single Shot?

[IMGCAP(1)] Spring turkey season brings good adventure and, hopefully, good food to the table for those who venture forth after this big bird. Many, if not most, spring turkey hunters use shotguns (some states permit rifles, some mandate shotguns), and they generally take head shots with Full- or Extra Full-choked barrels at moderate ranges. Range depends on the individual hunter's skill in calling, the pattern produced by his shotgun, and of course the evasive luck of the chase. No matter the range, the shotgun-equipped turkey hunter must do some very accurate pointing, holding, and squeezing off of the shot. At very close range a shotgun works more like a rifle than a "scatter" gun, and on...

12-Bore Rifled Slug Barrels For Shotguns: Buy Browning

For many years hunters have used rifled slugs when they go after deer with a shotgun, but it wasn't until the inception of fully-rifled bores and the introduction of saboted loads that the shotgun became an efficient tool for hunters. Now, in some cases, accuracy can approach that associated with rifles, and searching for the best or most accurate load could provide the "shotgunner" with lots of off-season fun. Moreover, wingshooters and waterfowlers may be able to add a rifled barrel that costs around $150 to $325, rather than buying a complete, new slug gun.

Thus, the idea of simply adding a rifled barrel to an existing pump shotgun and turning it into a tack-driver has enor...

Berettas New AL391 Urika: A New Standard For Shotguns?

[IMGCAP(1)]We have wondered why gun makers dont do more of what boat makers do nearly every day: Pop a hull and closely duplicate your competitions best product. Of course, its intellectually dishonest and sometimes illegal to do that, because, designs, like any other intellectual property-are supposed to be owned by their creators. But the reality is that a good-performing boat will soon see clones of itself on the water, with only small degrees of design separation in inconsequential areas.

Certainly, the same process happens in gun manufacturing, and were we not worried about getting our asses sued off, wed mention a few egregious cases that weve noticed here and there. A much m...

Magnum Pump-Gun Matchup: Benelli, Mossberg Go At It

Wanted: A simple, all-purpose pump shotgun for hunting upland game and waterfowl. Must be low-maintenance, tough, attractive, handy, inexpensive, and reliable. Serious inquiries only, please

Miller v. Bonta Decision

Click the link below to see the entire Miller v. Bonta decision referenced in the August 2021 Downrange editorial. gov.uscourts.casd.642089.115.0_1