Best New Shotguns For 2017
In 2017, no matter what or where you want to hunt or shoot, there’s a shotgun for it. Upland guns,...
In 2017, no matter what or where you want to hunt or shoot, there’s a shotgun for it. Upland guns, turkey guns, sporting clays guns…there are shotguns made specifically for every pursuit. And if you want just one gun, there are plenty of crossover and all-around models that will go seamlessly from the field to the clays range.
My goal while walking the more than 600,000 square feet of the Sands Expo Center at the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas last month was to get a close look at the year’s most innovative new shotguns—and shoot a few rounds through them during the Industry Day at the Range at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club the day before the show opened.
While I’m sure I missed a few (did I mention that the show floor is equivalent to about 13 acres?), these seven new shotguns stood out to me at the range and later on the show floor:
Chambering: 3 ½-inch 12 gauge
Weight: 6.9-7 lbs.
Finishes: Black or camo synthetic
Benelli’s Super Black Eagle has always been a solid all-around hunting gun beloved by waterfowlers. While my husband has shot one for years, I’ve found the autoloader to be heavy and unwieldy for my smaller frame. This year, Benelli released the redesigned Super Black Eagle 3, and I think I might just be in love.
The SB3 is lighter than previous models, weighing just about 7 pounds, and Benelli has built in significant new technologies to reduce felt recoil – the new integrated CombTech rubber comb pad and leaf spring system lessens the gun’s impact on your face, and the updated ComfortTech 3 chevroning in the stock increases flex. The SBE3’s bolt release and safety are larger so that they’re easier to operate, and an easy locking bolt system ensures the action stays closed in any condition. The SBE3 uses Benelli’s Inertia Driven System and can handle light field loads all the way up to 3½” magnum waterfowl shells. It’s also built to withstand the gnarliest weather conditions. At the range, I found the gun was easy to shoulder and I was able to easily acquire my target, breaking more than my usual share of clays. The SBE maintains its position as a top choice for waterfowlers.
Chambering: 3-inch 20 gauge
Weight: 6.6 lbs.
Finish: Synthetic camo
The new 20-gauge camo A400 comes with Beretta’s KickOff technology that reduces recoil by up to 50 percent, and a smooth Blink gas-operated system. It also comes with Beretta’s nifty “GunPod2” system, a “digital hunting diary” that records information about your hunt and shares it to its smartphone app. I definitely felt comfortable with this lightweight, smooth shooting semiauto, which could be a perfect all-around field or clays gun as well as one for waterfowlers who will use hard-hitting modern ammo, such as Federal Black Cloud, in a smaller gauge in order to decrease recoil.
I understand a compact version of the A400 is in the works, which is exciting to me given my search last year for a shotgun for my young daughter.
Chambering: 3-inch 12 gauge
Weight: 7.38 pounds
The Field I is stunningly beautiful and classy, and promises to be a very effective over/under field gun. It’s very nicely balanced; I was able to shoulder it smoothly and it felt very comfortable. Beretta’s shotgun product manager told me that the company changed the comb and the stock of the gun to fit shooters with a longer neck and higher cheekbones, which is probably why it seemed to fit me so effortlessly. There’s a rumor that there will be a 690 Field I available within the year with a stock designed exclusively for women, which would put it on my most-coveted list. The 690 Field I has Beretta’s Steelium barrels that improve the precision and durability of the barrel. With new engraving and its stunning walnut stock, the 690 Field I is a high-quality Beretta gun available at a slightly lower price point than many other over/under field guns.
Chambering: 3-inch 12 gauge
Finish: Camo synthetic
The Outlander Turkey is optimized to improve your success hunting the big birds, featuring an easy-to-tote 24-inch barrel, Realtree Xtra Green woodland camo, a TruGlo fiber optic sight, and an extended turkey choke. It’s ready to accept an optical sight if that’s your preference. Though certainly not a clays gun, I actually busted some targets with the Outlander Turkey, showing that it is very intuitive to shoulder and acquire your target. I’m looking forward to giving this semiauto a try in the turkey woods this spring.
Chambering: 3-inch 12 or 20 gauge
Weight: 8.6 lbs.
Citori shotguns have a well-earned reputation of being beautiful and effective over/unders. They are renowned on the trap range and also outstanding for upland bird hunting – but ne’er the two types shall meet (well, I’m sure plenty of people do use them for both, but there are specific design elements, such as weight and pattern distribution, that make one type more suitable as a field gun and the other as a trap gun). Enter the new Citori CXS, which is meant to be a “crossover” gun that has features for skeet and sporting clays shooting, but is still light enough to carry in the field all day, though at 8.6 pounds, that might be a stretch for me. (Last year’s intro, the CXT, has features for trap as well as skeet and sporting clays.) The CXS comes with a flat floating rib and is offered as either a 20 or a 12 gauge. The gun offers Browning’s Vector Pro lengthened forcing cones for more uniform shot patterns, but those come on 32-inch barrels, which are long for me but might suit larger shooters much better. With a high-polish blued receiver and walnut stock, this is a beautiful gun.
Chambering: 3 ½-inch 12 gauge
Weight: 7.0-7.1 lbs.
Finish: Black or camo synthetic
I admit that I’m not a fan of pump guns. It might go back to my youth and trying to wrangle my brother’s gun, or perhaps it’s because I just never got the hang of operating one. But I gave Stoeger’s new P3500 pump shotgun a try at the range and managed to hit five of my first six targets (I know this because they had a little contest going on at the range, and those that hit five of six targets got a sweatshirt, which were men’s XLs and didn’t fit me – go figure). The gun felt heavy and didn’t fit me that well, but it’s at a great price point. Chambered for up to 3 ½-inch magnum shells and available in Realtree Max-5 camo, the P3500 is an affordable option for those who want a gun chambered for the big 3 ½-inch load.
Chambering: 3 ½-inch 12 gauge
Weight: 6 lbs. 12 oz. (also available in a smaller Compact option)
Finishes: Black or camo synthetic; walnut
Another significant upgrade of an existing model is Winchester’s Super X4 or SX4. Winchester redesigned their autoloading shotgun with speed in mind, making it slimmer and lighter all around with a smaller diameter pistol grip. The SX4 uses Winchester’s Active Valve gas system, which cycles shells smoothly and very quickly. The gun also has a larger bolt handle and oversized bolt release button, making their operation much easier, particularly when wearing gloves. The SX4’s balance point was adjusted slightly forward and I found it to be very well balanced and easy to shoot with minimal felt recoil. Included spacers adjust the length of pull, and a compact model is available. With its light weight and moderate price point, the SX4 would be a reliable all-around gun for many hunters and target shooters.
I also had the opportunity to check out these six news models on the SHOT Show floor in the days after Industry Day at the Range:
Barrett Sovereign Rutherford
A relatively new name to the shotgun world (though well known in rifles and tactical firearms) is the Barrett Sovereign line of over/unders. These are gorgeous Italian-made shotguns with stunning engraving, and two of their four models sell for over $5,000. This year they added the Rutherford to the Barrett Sovereign line, and starting at $2,200, it offers excellent craftsmanship at a relatively lower price point.
Caesar Guerini Tempio SE
Caesar Guerini’s guns are stunning, no question about it, and the new Limited Edition Tempio SE over/under field gun is no exception. It is a sleek field gun with beautiful engraving of a pair of doves in gold on the left side of the receiver and a pair of quail on the right; later in the year a case-colored receiver will also be available. I shot their women’s Syren Tempio Light last year (many of the Syren guns are based on the Caesar Guerini full-sized guns) and I’m confident this will be a classic upland bird hunting gun the most discerning buyer will want for his field pursuits. This gun is only available in 2017 and can be purchased in 20 or 28-gauge (MSRP of $4075), or as a combo with both 20 and 28-gauge barrels (MSRP $6145) or 20/28/.410 barrels ($8,395).
CZ Swamp Magnum
When I think of waterfowling, I don’t usually think of over/unders, but many people prefer the balance and reliability of a double-barreled gun for a variety of hunting pursuits. CZ’s new Swamp Magnum over/under, available in either a black or Realtree Max5 camo synthetic stock, is chambered for up to 3½-inch shells, making it a capable workhorse for the duck blind. This is CZ’s only over/under with an automatic safety that is engaged whenever the action is opened, so it’s safe for hunting. (MSRP: $929 for black, $1029 for camo.)
Mossberg International SA-28
Mossberg is now offering their International semi-automatic as a lightweight 28-gauge with a 26-inch barrel. The gun has a walnut stock and is a low-cost option that could be used for recreational shooting as well as for wingshooting smaller birds. (MSRP: $654.)
Remington V3 Field Sport
Remington launched their V3 autoloader a couple of years ago to much acclaim. The reliable soft shooting gun has been very popular in its original synthetic stock offerings. At this year’s SHOT Show, Remington released the V3 in a walnut stock, providing a more traditional field option to the line. (MSRP: $995.)
Also new this year is an engraved version of Stevens’ 555. The Stevens 555E is a beautiful Turkish made over/under with an Imperial Walnut stock and laser engraved receiver. It is available in 12, 20, and 28 gauge as well as .410, and with an MSRP of $865, it’s a very reasonably priced shotgun that literally provides a lot of bang for the buck.