Waterfowl hunting seasons are in full swing in most parts of the country, and if you've put off purchasing a new gun, you may miss out on all the fun with your buddies. The best duck hunting shotguns should be durable, weather-resistant, easy to swing, and suitable when that group of teals or mallards comes up hard and fast on your decoys and duck blind. Good waterfowl guns should also ideally be fast for quick follow-up shots. They should take a variety of choke tubes so you can adjust to the species and situation. Today we're looking at eight of the best duck hunting shotguns on the market. These guns offer versatility and help you consistently fill your limit season after season.
Benelli Super Black Eagle 3
This semi-auto is a favorite of serious duck hunters everywhere, for a good reason. The engineers spent years reworking this autoloader from the ground up. The result is a shotgun with a three ½-inch chamber that cycles faster and cleaner than other semi-auto shotguns thanks to Benelli's inertia-driven system. This gun has excellent ergonomics thanks to the oversized controls for bolt release and safety and Benelli's "Comfort Tech" recoil pad and cheek comb. There's also an option for a pistol grip. Benelli offers this gun with 24, 26, and 28-inch barrels and various finishes, including Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades, Realtree Timber, and Gore Optifade.
Another semi-automatic shotgun option is an excellent gun for waterfowlers who want something for upland game birds and turkeys. This gun also cycles via an inertia-driven system and is chambered for either 3 ½ and 3-inch shells. Barrel lengths include 24, 26, 28, and even a 30-inch barrel, and Stoeger offers a variety of finish options. Classic-looking satin walnut stock, forend, black synthetic stock, Mossy Oak Bottomlands, or Realtree Max-5 camo patterns exist. At around $500-600, this is an excellent mid-priced option for waterfowl hunters looking for a solid gun for under a grand.
Franchi Affinity Elite
Another autoloading waterfowl shotgun gets high user marks for its ergonomics and reliability. The waterfowl models are available in both 20 and 12-gauge models and can chamber shotshells between 2 ¾ and 3 ½ inches. They also made these firearms light. The heaviest comes in the right, around seven pounds. The bolt handles, releases, and loading ports are oversized for more effortless loading and smoother operation, even while wearing gloves. Barrel lengths include 26 and 28 inches. Speaking of barrels, they have a Cerakote finish to help protect them from the elements that often come into play while duck hunting. These guns have TRU GLO fiber optic front sights to help you get on the birds fast, no matter the light conditions.
Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus
This 12-gauge shotgun has a well-earned reputation as one of the best waterfowl shotguns on the market. Mainly for its excellent recoil reduction and smooth cycling. Beretta put a soft comb on this shotgun and added a micro core recoil pad and the company's signature "kick-off" system to make going through a ton of ammo in the blind a joy. Beretta offers this gun with a variety of different barrel lengths. The controls are oversized for more effortless operation in less-than-ideal weather conditions. These guns feature a three ½-inch chamber, and as a bonus, five choke tubes are included with each weapon. Finishes for this gun include a plain synthetic and several popular color patterns. There is sure to be something to fit every hunter's tastes.
It's easy to spot an A5 at a distance, thanks to this firearm's signature "humpback" receiver. While the company makes a few solid waterfowl options like the Browning B.P.S., we still like the classic A5 for duck hunting. This hunting shotgun is probably responsible for more dead ducks than any other firearm. The A5 uses Browning's signature short recoil-operated Kinematic Drive system to cycle rounds. The company gives these guns a 100,000 round or five-year guarantee which is hard to beat. The company includes three choke tubes and shims to help adjust the length of pull to each user.
Savage Arms Renegauge
Besides having a cool name, we've spent a lot of time with this one and can vouch for its quality firsthand. The Reneguage uses what Savage calls the Dual Regulating Inline Valve gas system or "D.R.I.V." to cycle two ¾ and 3-inch shells. This removes a lot of recoil by venting the excess gas before driving the bolt. It's a slick system. As if that wasn't enough, they also made the length of pull, comb height, drop, and cast fully adjustable. The barrel is fluted to help shave off a little extra weight, and the fiber optic sights quickly put you on the birds. These guns come with oversized controls and ejection ports and are available with a 24 or 28-inch barrel. We also love the warranty offered by Savage, which is among the best in the business.
While semi-auto are standard rules for waterfowl, a good pump-action will also get the job done. Look, we like the Remington Versa Max for waterfowl. But it's hard to go wrong with a standard 870 if you are looking for an affordable gun that can go from the duck blind to the fields after upland birds to the turkey woods and the treestand for deer. Remington makes a version more geared towards waterfowl for a few hundred dollars more with a Mossy Oak camo finish and a 28-inch barrel. It's chambered for three ½-inch magnum shells and comes at a light 6.5 pounds for long mornings on the water.
This is another excellent pump shotgun for the hunter on a budget since you can often find it for under $400. Consider one of the deer/field combos if you are looking for a gun that you can use for multi-species purposes. These guns have a tang safety that should be familiar to most rifle users.
Mossberg gives these pump-action shotguns some nice recoil pads standard to help deal with the kick. The 500 would be a solid option for a younger hunter heading on their first waterfowl hunt. These shotguns are available in both 12 and 20-gauge. They also offer choices for various finishes, including a matte blued finish, blued and wood or Mossy Oak camo finishes.
This article was originally published on September 13, 2021.
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