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Winchester and Franchi Duel in Affordable 12 Gauge Showdown

Finding an affordable over/under is getting easier to do, depending on what you mean by affordable. For many, the cutoff is at $1,000; for others, it's $1,500, and so on. For some, price is no object.

But everyone wants a gun they can shoot, and such a gun is worth its weight in gold, irrespective of what it costs. We recently had a chance to try two shotguns from U.S. Repeating Arms Co. and Franchi that held out hope of being good shooters that wouldn't break the bank. The guns were USRAC/Winchester's Supreme Field, which carries an MSRP of $1,383, and the $1,275 Franchi Alcione Field. Here's what we found:

12-Gauge Test: Norinco 99 Versus Baikal Bounty Hunter II IZH-43

The side-by-side has largely fallen from favor—witness the paucity of them in most companies' lines. But we test two inexpensive models to see what they offer the budget-minded shooter.

12-Gauge Pump Actions: 1897s From Winchester and – Norinco?

The storied Winchester 1897 brings a lot of memories to the Cowboy range, but the updated Chinese copy offers a lot for shooters to consider. Our pick: Go with the newer gun.

Remington Versus SIG: Which Over/Under 12 Gauge Is Ideal?

By name, it's the Remington, but it's a load to shoot. The SIG Arms Aurora is a faster, slicker product, in our estimation.

Plenty of Twenties: Urika AL391 Wins Test of Three Autoloaders

Beretta's $960 gun was fast on targets and produced little kick. Also, though not our first picks, Browning's Gold Hunter Classic and the Remington 11-87 Premier can also be good choices.

Cowboy Doubles: Hit The Trail With The Stoeger Coachgun

Outfitting yourself for a Cowboy Action event involves sixguns, rifles, and shotguns. Most stages of a typical Cowboy event require all three types of firearms. Many words have been written about today's handgun choices, and a fair amount of copy has been penned about rifles, but precious little has been mentioned about shotguns.

The Cowboy Action-shooter's shotgun has to be either a non-eject side-by-side double—with or without hammers—or an appropriate pump or lever shotgun from the tail end of the 19th century. Some shooters use vintage guns, some of them over a century old, but we think most shooters will be better served with modern shotguns. In this report we look at three double guns suitable for the game, all of them 12-bores with 20-inch barrels. They came from EMF, TriStar, and Stoeger. All were blued, and had wood buttstocks and forends. One of them was choked. One had hammers, but the others were hammerless. All had double triggers, and all were made with the Cowboy game in mind. Here's our findings.

Waterfowl Pump Guns: Big-Bore Magnums From Ithaca, Mossberg

In a test of high-brass shell shuckers, we thought the Model 37 Waterfowler outdid the Mossberg 835 Ultra-Mag in crucial areas.

Bolt-Action Slug Shotguns: Savage, Tar-Hunt Get The Nod

The bolt-action has become state-of-the-art in slug guns, ostensibly because of the greater inherent accuracy of the solid, vibration-resistant lock-up provided by a bolt, and partly because of price point.

The Browning A-Bolt slug gun was probably the best-designed production bolt gun ever made when it was introduced in 1996. But it was discontinued after just three years of production because, at $700 retail, it simply couldn't compete with the Marlin 512, Mossberg 695 and Savage 210 on price. The latter three were not only much less expensive (at least 50 percent cheaper), but were seen to rival the Browning's performance in all but the most experienced hands.

These are not the bolt-action shotguns you might remember from your youth — $100 beginner models by Mossberg and Marlin — although there are some similarities. The addition of good-quality rifled barrels, which in turn allowed the use of high-tech saboted slugs, elevated the bolt-action designs among slug shooters.

Shotgun Modifications: A Little Money Makes A Big Difference

We retrofitted a pump, an over/under, and a slug gun to see if several aftermarket items were boons or busts in terms of improving handling, accuracy, or flexibility.

Specialty Turkey Guns: Mossberg Gets Our Best Buy Nod

Ithaca's Turkeyslayer and Remington's Special Purpose Turkey gun also gain our favor, but at somewhat higher prices.

12-Gauge Shotguns for Field and Range: Buy the Browning Citori

In a head-to-head test of stack-barrel 12 gauges, we thought the Citori Lightning Grade I, $1,432, offered more bang for the buck than Ruger's $1,369 Red Label.

Pump Shotguns for Home Defense: Mossberg 500A Persuades Us

We think Mossberg's $307 Persuader is a better self-protection choice than similar models from Winchester and Remington.

Color Me Skeptical

A press release on the PR Newswire said, breathlessly, “Biofire Announces World’s First Smart Gun® Secured by Fingerprint and Facial Recognition.” Will this smartphone...