We examine the Browning Cynergy Sporting, the Beretta 686 Onyx Pro X-tra Wood and the Silma Deluxe Model 70EJ.
After we shot these 3.5-inch over-and-under turkey-hunting shotguns, we found we didn't like the specialized Heckler & Koch Fabarm Camo Turkey Mag and the Fausti Traditions Turkey II.
The big boys in most duck and goose blinds have historically been the semi-automatics or pumps that can sling shells all over creation as hunters hammer incoming waterfowl.
Some hunters who have grown tired of plucking empty hulls out of their ears or watching shells fly across their field of view as they stand beside their shooting buddies are checking out over-and-under shotguns for their waterfowl scatterguns. Many have come to accept the fact that two quality shots are just as effective as three sky-busting blasts from a semi-auto or pump. More control of the ejected shells (over and unders kick hulls out over the shooter's shoulder, rather than to the side) is another bonus.
These waterfowl over-and-unders may not be the high-dollar, finely engraved firearms that can be found lovingly nestled in the arms of shooters on quail or clay target fields, but they are hard-working tools that get the job done. Two shotguns that have been recently introduced as potential waterfowl busters are the Ruger All-Weather Red Label Target Grey Model and the Charles Daly Empire II EDL Hunter AE-MC Model. Both of the over-and-under shotguns have 3-inch chambers and carry a price tag of under $1,650.
The best place to field-test any shotgun is on live birds, but because so much of our testing is done out of season, we only infrequently get to pop a cap at the real thing. However, we recently got to test two inexpensive over/unders on high-flying whitewing and mourning doves in Uvalde, Texas, and we came away with what we believe are some valuable real-world insights into the performance of these two guns.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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...