What separates a good waterfowl firearm from every other type of shotgun is the ability to operate reliably in the foulest weather, and the muscle to push steel shot through the feathered armor worn by high-flying ducks and geese.
That’s what these shotguns have in common; they sneer at rain, sleet and snow, and possess the knock-down power waterfowl hunters demand. If you’re looking to upgrade your arsenal, check out the menu below. You’ll be hard pressed to do better.
Opening the Great 8 list is this special 25th Anniversary limited edition of Benelli’s Super Black Eagle II semiauto shotgun (above). Chambered to handle 2¾-, 3- or 3½-inch shot shells, this shotgun features the company’s cryogenically-treated barrel and choke tube. Freezing at minus 300 degrees makes the bore surface smoother to reduce shot wad resistance, and the extra-long choke tube creates a denser pattern. Together they mean harder hits on tough ducks and geese. Choose between a matte black or Realtree MAX-5 camo finish.
Lightweight, elegant and perfectly balanced, the Franchi Intensity semiauto (above) shoulders effortlessly and swings smoothly so a hunter can easily catch up to and follow through on fast targets. Yet, because of its 3½-inch chambering, it packs a wallop on hard-flying waterfowl. Felt recoil from magnum loads is minimized, however, by the TSA recoil pad and special Inertia-Driven action that absorbs energy internally when the trigger is pulled.
Beretta built its name on a foundation of reliability, and the A350 Xtrema (above) lives up to the reputation. The cold-hammer-forged tri-alloy Steelium barrel and Optima HP choke system ensure consistent patterning shot after shot in any hunting situation, under any weather conditions. Featuring Beretta’s gas-operating system with self-cleaning piston, the shotgun handles shot shells from 2¾ to 3½ inches. And the unique Micro Core recoil pad increases surface area on the shoulder for secure support and to soften the blow of magnum loads.
Ideal for hunting waterfowl, Browning’s Maxus 3½-inch semiauto (above) combines a strong, lightweight aluminum-alloy construction with the gun maker’s renowned Power Drive Gas System, which is designed to cycle a wider range of shot shells and loads in any type of weather. The Speed Lock Forearm makes take-down quick and easy, while the stock’s Dura-Touch Armor Coating with textured gripping surfaces provides sure handling under cold, wet and perfect duck hunting conditions.
Any load. Anywhere. Every time. That’s the promise behind Remington’s Versa Max Waterfowl Pro semiauto (above). And it’s backed up by the shotgun’s VersaPort operating system, which handles anything from 2¾-inch dove loads to 3½-inch magnums cleanly, quickly and with wing-crushing results. Additionally, the self-regulating system, which automatically adjusts gas pressure based on the length of the shell, reduces felt recoil from this 12 gauge to that of a standard 20 gauge shotgun.
In the duck blind or goose pit, the M3000 Enhanced Waterfowl Shotgun (above) is as reliable and hard-working as a well-trained Labrador. Thanks to its low-maintenance Inertia-Driven operating system, this shotgun reliably cycles 2¾- and 3-inch shot shells. Dressed in Realtree MAX-5 camo from muzzle to butt, it comes with a paracord sling for easy carrying, and features an extended bolt handle for sure operation with gloved hands. A red-bar fiber-optic front sight also makes for quick target acquisition in low light. In short, it’s a value-priced firearm that provides what waterfowl hunters need.
Winchester describes the Super X3 (above) as a “durable, robust, dawn-to-dusk workaholic” semiauto that never gives up or surrenders. With features like a synthetic stock, corrosion-resistant chamber and bore, Quadra-Vent ports that vent excess gases for cleaner operation and a Drop-out trigger group for simple cleaning, we can see why. Slim and light for enhanced control in gloved hands, the SX3 Waterfowl Hunter is chambered for 3½-inch shot shells and comes in a Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades, Mossy Oak Bottomland or Realtree MAX-5 camo finish.
For waterfowl hunters who fancy pump-action shotguns, the 870 Express Super Magnum (above) is a solid choice. It combines the quality, precision and dependability of the legendary 870 Wingmaster with the ruggedness and power needed to knock down fast-flying ducks and geese. Capable of digesting 2¾- to 3½-inch shot shells, this 870 features silky-smooth twin action bars that prevent binding, and a gutsy receiver milled from a solid-steel billet. The flat-finish hardwood stock and forearm, and a matte-black barrel and receiver, cut glare that can spook wary waterfowl.
It won’t be long, and cooling temperatures in the North will begin pushing ducks and geese South. In general, waterfowl numbers for 2016 remain steady, and most species remain above their long-term population averages. Make this the season you spend more time in pursuit of ducks and geese.
Be safe and shoot straight!
This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s
Images courtesy of Cabela’s