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.
In a test of high-brass shell shuckers, we thought the Model 37 Waterfowler outdid the Mossberg 835 Ultra-Mag in crucial areas.
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.
Ithaca's Turkeyslayer and Remington's Special Purpose Turkey gun also gain our favor, but at somewhat higher prices.
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.
We think Mossberg's $307 Persuader is a better self-protection choice than similar models from Winchester and Remington.
The Scattergun Technologies' 12-gauge Standard model nonetheless rates a Buy It mark for its performance-to-price ratio.
At times, Gun Tests has been criticized for comparing apples to oranges. An expensive handgun versus a similarly-designed cheaper version in the same caliber, for example. Our intent in such cases is to find out whether the higher price is proportional to higher performance and, if not, to let the chips fall where they may.
We do not expect such criticisms with this comparison of over/under shotguns. Both are closely comparable in price. The Citori is directly descendant from John Browning's wonderful Superposed. The Red Label is yet another success story in the continuing saga of William Batterman Ruger. Both 20 gauges are not ideally suited for trap, skeet or sporting clays when up agai...
When the government started requiring waterfowl hunters to use steel shot, shooters and the firearms industry quickly realized that 12 gauge steel loads didn't have as much power as the traditional lead shot loads. So, in the late 1980s, the Federal Cartridge Company became the first to produce 12 gauge 3 1/2-inch Magnum shotshells. Several other shotshell manufacturers have since followed suit.
Among the first shotgun makers to come out with a 3 1/2-inch model were Browning and Mossberg. Today, nearly every company that manufactures scatterguns offers at least one such firearm. All kinds of shotguns, from the inexpensive single-shot model to the high-priced over/under, are chambered for the big shell.
Many hunters haven't warmed up to the 12 gauge 3 1/2-inch shotgun, but its popularity is growing. One reason for this is because it will fire all types of shotshells from 2 3/4-inch up to 3 1/2-inch. Consequently, the shotgun is very versatile.
For many years, the Benelli line of Italian-made shotguns were imported into this country exclusively by Heckler & Koch Inc. in Sterling, Virginia. However, this distribution arrangement was not renewed when it expired at the end of 1997.
In January 1998, Benelli started handling its own importing, marketing and distribution through a newly-formed company called Benelli USA Corp. The new company is headquartered in a facility near Beretta's Accokeek, Maryland location.
During the first part of this year, Heckler & Koch began importing the Fabarm line of shotguns. Established in 1900, Fabarm (Fabbrica Bresciana Armi S.p.A.) is the direct descendant of one of the great gunsmithing dyna...