As hunters, we want to ensure we have the best equipment possible. We invest so much into our gear. It's nice knowing we can get the best return out of them. However, it surprises people that all hunting shotguns are not created equal, and some serve specific purposes. For example, the gun that I use for turkeys might be different from the gun I use for whitetails or even ducks. While having options is great, it helps to have some guns that will perform great in any situation and one that you could use universally across most of your hunts.
You can count on the following eight shotguns in the duck blind, the deer stand, and the turkey woods. Let's take a look.
The Remington Model 870 shotgun was introduced in 1950. Since then, it has become one of the most popular American-made pump shotguns. The Remington is a relatively inexpensive all-purpose shotgun with many different barrels available. Remington has produced over 11 million 870s, as it caters to the most common hunter. Offered in 12 configurations, there's a version of this shotgun for virtually every genre of hunting, all at an affordable price. Additionally, you can find them almost anywhere.
Known as the "Speed Pump," the Winchester 1300 is known for fast-cycling pump-action. While this shotgun is often a favorite among sport shooters, it also makes for a great hunting firearm. First introduced around 1981, the 1300 employs a lightweight, aluminum alloy receiver and quick-detachable barrels. The "Defender" configuration capitalizes on a fixed cylinder choke, wheere as the hunting variations are fitted with replaceable chokes and a sighting rib. You can choose between wood or plastic furnishings, and barrels come as short as 18 inches and as long as 28. Many hunters, including myself, swear by this shotgun in the field.
The Benelli Nova incorporates a polymer stock and lightweight receiver into a single unit for strength and weather resistance. Benelli is known for unmatched durability and quality, and the Nova only strengthens its namesake. Handling anything from target loads to 3 1/2-inch magnums, the Nova is wildly versatile and surprisingly affordable, with an MSRP that starts at only $449. Similar to the 870 and the 1300, the Nova comes in a number of configurations to meet the needs of a wide variety of both hunters and shooters, with barrel lengths ranging from 24 to 28 inches, and stocks donning black synthetic, Mossy Oak Bottomland, or Realtree Max-5 wraps.
Stoeger Model 3000
One of the most affordable semi-automatic shotguns on the market, the Stoeger Model 3000 comes re-drilled and tapped for scope mounting with sling swivel openings on the stock and a fore-end cap. It also uses an inertia-driven action, which provides a smooth operation, as well as a shim kit and offers many options to customize the fit and feel of the synthetic stock. It comes in a bunch of configurations, as you'll have the choice between a black synthetic stock and a blued barrel, an A-grade satin walnut stock and a blued or Cerakote Burnt Bronze barrel, or a camo wrap with Mossy Oak Bottomland or Realtree Max-5.
H&R Pump Shotgun
Long gone are the days when people only associated bird guns with semi-automatics. An inexpensive gun retailing around the $200 mark, the H&R Pump has a 28-inch barrel and a chamber length of 3 inches, making it great for bird hunting and sport shooting. It's wear- and weather-resistant shotgun that can stand up to the elements for whatever you're hunting. At only 7 pounds, with a 28-inch barrel, a 13.5-inch length of pull, a 3-inch chamber, a four-round magazine a modified choke, a front bead, and a rubber butt pad, H&R provides hunters with everything they need for a hunt at the lowest possible cost.
Benelli Super Black Eagle II
The Super Black Eagle II is one of the most expensive guns on the list but offers a little more than the other shotguns. The SBE II is known for being dependable and low-maintenance through its inline Inertia Driven System. Also acknowledged for lightning-quick cycling and used by Tim Knapp to set world-record exhibition shooting achievements, the gun comes with a limited 10-year warranty.
While Benelli is typically towards the higher end of price points, it's easy to see why when comparing the functionality to its competitors. With a rounded trigger, new forend, and stock design, this gun shoulders and swings better than most guns on the market.
Ideally made for waterfowl hunting, the Winchester SXP is a very versatile hunting shotgun. A non-glare, matte finish allows for longtime use in rough conditions and extra added concealment from wary ducks. The synthetic stock sports textured gripping surfaces and are a lightweight gun. The SXP has a brass front-sight bead and provides a fast, natural-sight picture for accuracy in the field.
If you're looking for a gun that brings smoothness and fluidity from the raise to the swing and follow-through, this is your gun. This synthetic is a rugged, reliable shotgun capable of outstanding performance from early dove season through spring snow goose hunts. The dual-valve system cycles shells from light trap loads to 3-inch magnums. Each gun comes with three application-specific chokes. Whether you're in sunflower fields looking for doves, in the marsh pits, limiting out on mallards, or flushing pheasants in the Dakotas, this is the gun for you.