The Best Duck Hunting Shotguns for Waterfowlers
“Our editors put 17 top semi-autos and pumps to the test to find out which shotguns are best for duck hunters
Ask a duck hunter what company makes the best duck hunting shotguns and the three most likely responses will be Beretta, Benelli, or Remington. So, it wasn’t too surprising that those gun manufacturers—along with Winchester—stood above the rest in our waterfowl shotgun test.
These were our top picks:
- Editor’s Choice: Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus
- Great Buy: Winchester Super X4
- Best Pump Shotgun: Remington 870 Express
Beretta has been making soft-shooting gas-operated autoloaders since 1956 with the introduction of the Model 60. The almost 500-year-old company has come full-circle with the A400 Xtreme Plus, which is arguably the softest shooting sporting shotgun on the market, and a major reason why it was popular with our group of testers.
Benelli’s inertia-driven Super Black Eagle is carried by duck guides all over the country because it’s lightweight, rarely fails, and is one of the best-handling shotguns you will ever bring to your shoulder. Remington has sold more than 11 million 870s over the years—enough said. And Winchester’s Super X4 gives the most value for the dollar out of any shotgun on the market.
But there were plenty more duck hunting shotguns that performed well in our test—and some that didn’t. If you’re a duck hunter looking to buy a shotgun, this is the most comprehensive review of the best (and worst) auto-loaders and pumps you will find.
How We Tested the Best Duck Hunting Shotguns
Four editors—Colin Kearns, Phil Bourjaily, Alex Robinson, and myself—tested 17 of the best duck hunting shotguns over three days at Pintail Hunting Club in Garwood, Texas. We shot every shotgun at a five-stand clays range, patterned each shotgun at 35 yards inside a 30-inch circle, and hunted teal during Texas’ September early season with an assortment of Federal Premium, Remington, and Hevi-Shot ammo.
We used stock modified chokes for hunting and patterning the guns. We shot #4 Hevi-Hammer and Remington Nitro Steel while hunting and 3-inch, #2 Federal Speed Shok for patterning. From there, each of us evaluated the shotguns in five different categories: handling and ergonomics, workmanship and aesthetics, versatility, reliability, and value.
Here’s what each of those categories entails:
Handling & Ergonomics: Handling represents the balance, liveliness, and ability to hit targets with the shotgun. It also represents how the shotgun manages recoil. Ergonomics represents how well the firearm fits the hands and body. That includes grading how intuitive and easy the controls are to manipulate, and the ease with which you can load and unload the firearm.
Workmanship & Aesthetics: This covers the quality of the materials and construction of the shotgun. It also includes looking at the fit and finish of the metal and stock. Is the gun’s exterior—matte, blued, Cerakote, etc—done well? Does it look and feel durable?
Versatility: Is the gun capable of functioning well in multiple hunting scenarios? Is it good for pits, box blinds, walk-ins, ground blinds—essentially anyplace duck hunters hunt. Can it be used to hunt other types of game than waterfowl and shoot clays?”
To read this full article from Outdoor Life, click here.
Photo Credit: Original Author