These modern shotguns are all well-suited for Illinois' firearms season.
All deer hunters know Illinois is one of the THE destinations for harvesting a gigantic whitetail deer. It's just unfortunate the state is still behind the times when it comes to their big game hunting regulations. While many neighboring Midwestern states have adopted straight wall centerfire rifle cartridge regulations that allow hunters more range, the Land of Lincoln still restricts hunters to muzzleloaders or shotguns. Most of the attempts at straight wall cartridge bills have gone almost nowhere leaving many Illinois hunters to feel left out during firearms season.
While we wait for Illinois regulations to catch up to the 21st century, there is no reason for hunters to feel restricted in range anymore given the improvements to shotgun and shotgun slug technology. Now it is not unreasonable to reach out to 150 or 200 yards using the latest in rifled barrels and sabot slugs.
So, if you're looking to pick up one of the best shotguns for deer hunting, here are some options to consider this deer season for bringing down that Illinois giant of your dreams.
Savage 220 and 212
While many manufacturers have moved away from producing long-range shotguns, Savage still embraces and builds some fantastic bolt-action slug guns specifically for hunters hampered by hunting regulations. They produce both a 20 and 12-gauge model, so there is something for all sportsmen and women. These guns can chamber 2 ¾ or magnum 3-inch shells. They are fed through box magazines. Savage gave these guns their popular AccuFit system which allows you to adjust the comb, and length of pull to your specific body type. You can also adjust the weight of the trigger thanks to their AccuTrigger system. The 22-inch rifled slug barrels help for optimal accuracy at greater distances. No more watching bucks walk because they're out at longer ranges. Savage offers these guns in either a blued or stainless steel finish. They are available with either black synthetic stocks or in a variety of camo patterns to suit each hunter's needs and tastes. They also build a variant with a laminate thumbhole stock for hunters who want even more accuracy from one of the best slug guns on the market today.
This one has a high price tag, but the Benelli M2 is well-known for being one of the most reliable autoloader shotguns on the planet thanks to their ultra-reliable Inertia-Driven system. Aside from fast cycling, we like the M2 for the rifled 24-inch barrel designed specifically for slugs. It's going to help you reach out there and bag bucks that previously never walked within shooting range. The receiver is already drilled and tapped for mounting a quality optic and these guns feature Benelli's "ComforTech" technology in the recoil pad and gel comb to help lessen the impact of felt recoil. Go ahead and shoot 3-inch magnum ammo out of this one without worry of beating up your shoulder quite as much. We like this one for older hunters for that reason. And you can rest easy knowing you can get fast follow-ups because it is a semi-auto platform. They build this gun in both 20 and 12 gauge.
Henry Single Shot Slug Barrel shotgun
It's hard to go wrong with a classic name like Henry. They may be better known for their lever-action rifles, but they have built an excellent 12-gauge slug gun with this one. We just love the simplicity of it. It features a 24-inch rifled barrel with a 1:35 twist rate. It comes with fiber optic front and rear sights but is also drilled and tapped for a scope. The chamber handles 3-inch magnum shells, and the rebounding hammer safety makes this an extremely easy and safe firearm to operate. The blued steel finish and American walnut stock and forend just give it a classic hunting gun look. We're also impressed Henry was able to keep the weight just under seven pounds. If you're looking for a more traditional 12-gauge shotgun, this is not a bad option.
Ithaca Deer Slayer III
Anyone who has grown up deer hunting with shotguns knows the Ithaca name. If you didn't own one you likely knew someone who did. The Deer Slayer is still a classic pump-action shotgun for deer hunting. The cool thing about this gun is they are completely ambidextrous thanks to the bottom ejection system. These guns are CNC machined out of solid steel and feature a fluted and rifled barrel of 26 inches. Twist rates are 1:24 for the 20 gauge and 1:28 for the 12-gauge models. Ithaca says you can expect a four-inch group at 200 yards thanks to that barrel, which is a mighty large boast for a pump gun. These guns feature a Weaver scope base and are chambered for three-inch magnum shells. Countless hunters have relied on the Deer Slayer to fill their freezers for decades now and they continue to rely on them because the quality of these guns is hard to beat.
Remington Model 870 Superslug
Almost everyone knows the Remington 870 as one of the most versatile pump-action shotguns around today. I've used one for years here in Michigan with great success using rifled slugs and a smoothbore barrel. The 870 Superslug is a different animal. This shotgun features a 24 ½-inch rifled barrel with a 1:35 twist so hunters can reach out to longer ranges than they could with a traditional 870. Remington also gave this gun a pistol grip stock and extra molding in the forend grip to help with the ergonomics and accuracy of the gun. The receiver is drilled and tapped for your favorite scope mounts and a Weaver-style rail is also included. It's just like your old smoothbore 870, only optimized for longer-range shooting. And it's sure to fill the freezer this season.
Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.