January 24, 2014
If the new guns displayed by various firearms makers at the 2014 SHOT Show were any indication, it's going to be harder than ever for bird hunters to decide which new shotgun to buy. There aren't really a ton of completely new guns to hit the market this year, but there are plenty of high-quality variations of time-tested performers.
That's OK, though. The lack of earth-shattering new technology is a clear indication that the current crop of shotguns are about as perfect as you can expect. As a group, these guns are more versatile and reliable than ever. They go "bang" every time you pull the trigger, even when they've been fired hundreds of times without a cleaning — or dragged through the mud.
Here's a look at the best new shotguns this year, straight from the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. We'll leave it up to you to decide which ones you can't live without.
Few guns caused such a stir among shotgun fanatics at the 2014 SHOT Show as Benelli's
latest model, the ETHOS
. The inertia-driven semi-auto combines Benelli's Old World styling with modern features such as a progressive-control recoil system, which is built partially into the butt stock.
The ETHOS also has a padded cheek piece. Available in either a matte black finish or with a handsome nickel-plated and engraved receiver, the ETHOS, chambered for 3-inch shells, is a good choice for the field or the clays range. Optional raised vent ribs are available, allowing shooters to customize the gun their body and shooting style.
CZ Canvasback Gold
updated its faithful Canvasback over-and-under with an entirely new look. The black chrome receiver and rich, dark stock are complemented by a pair of gold-inlaid ducks on both sides of the receiver. You'll look good no matter where you use this gun.
The Canvasback Gold
includes partial extractors that lift the shells out of the chamber without throwing them over your shoulder and into the brush. The Canvasback gold has a single selective trigger and is available in 12-, 20- and 28-gauges, as well as .410, in barrel lengths of 26 or 28 inches. The .410 is available only with a 28-inch barrel.
Citori Crossover Target
The Citori Crossover Target over-and-under
is one of the newest additions to Browning's popular Citori line. As its name implies, it's designed to be just at home on the skeet range as the sporting clays range. The Crossover Target will turn heads not only because of its ability to break targets, but because of its stylish looks.
It's made with a Grade II gloss walnut stock and includes a gold engraved receiver, Browning's signature gold trigger and gold-ringed extended Invector Plus choke tubes. The Crossover Target is chambered for 3-inch shells and comes with either 30- or 32-inch barrels and is fitted with a polymer recoil pad.
Are over-and-unders making a comeback? They didn't go away, of course, but they've never been as popular as auto-loaders or even pumps. Franchi's Instinct
may help turn the tide and make stack-barrels as common as autos on the range or in the grouse woods. As handsome as it is functional, the Instinct, available in both 20- and 12-gauge, is moderately priced at [imo-slideshow gallery=47],449, making it affordable for hard-working shooters and hunters who insist on quality.
It's chambered for 2 3/4- and 3-inch shells, making it a workhorse on the range or in the woods. The Instinct is available in 26- or 28-inch barrels and comes with ejectors, extended choke tubes, a single selective trigger and an automatic safety.
Remington 1100 American Classic
America's most beautiful auto-loading shotgun just got a little prettier. The Remington 1100 American Classic
is made with the same high-quality materials and standards as the venerable 1100, but it's been given a spit-polished new finish in the form of a high-quality B-grade American walnut stock, fancy engraving and a gold-inlaid American Classic nameplate on the receiver. The barrel and receiver have a high-polish blued finish. You may not want to use it in the duck marsh, but it's certainly a fine gun to show off on the clays range.
Remington Versa Max Wood Tech
Love the classic look of wood as well as the technology of a modern semi-auto shotgun? Remington's Versa Max Wood Tech
has got you covered. It combines a durable synthetic stock in a handsome wood finish with the technological advances that made the Versa Max an instant classic.
Thanks to Remington's patented recoil-reducing Versaport gas operating system, the Versa Max models shoot everything from light 2 3/4-inch target loads to the heaviest 3 1/2-inch waterfowl and turkey loads with nary a hiccup. The Wood Tech comes with a 28-inch barrel, a drilled and tapped receiver, an oversized safety and trigger guard and five flush-mount Pro Bore choke tubes.
Ruger Red Label
reintroduction of its Red Label
over-and-under was like bumping into an old friend. Only with the Red Label, not much has changed.
In fact, the relaunched shotgun still has the unmistakable stainless receiver and the unassuming walnut stock that set this shotgun apart during its original 30-year run starting in the late 1970s. The only difference? It carries a lower price tag, despite an American-made pedigree. The new Red Label also comes with five steel shot-compatible Briley choke tubes, a redesigned center of gravity and less recoil.
Is there a perfect gun for young hunters and shooters? Maybe not, but the Stoeger M3020
comes pretty close. An inertia-driver semi-auto 20-gauge, the 3020 comes with a shim kit that allows shooters to change the length-of-pull as well as the sighting plane as their bodies change.
The 3020 is a 20-gauge version of Stoeger's reliable 3000, a 12-gauge semi-auto that's been around the block a few times. The 3020 comes with three choke tubes, including extra-full, making it a good all-purpose gun for target and hunting applications. It's available with a black synthetic stock and blued barrel, or Raltree APG or Realtree Max-5. Even better, it has a suggested sales price of just $599. The M3020 is a great combination of price and quality.
There's no question some gun makers are marketing their products toward a younger demographic. Weatherby's WBY-X
line-up is proof positive. The company's new shotguns are simply repackaged versions of their PA-08 pump and SA-08 semi-automatic shotguns. Both WBY-X shotguns come with shorter barrels and one model sports a camo pattern made from images of skulls.
Yep, it's meant to appeal to the youth market. One WBY-X version of the SA line-up is called the GH2, or "Girls Hunt Too," and comes with a black synthetic stock with pink lines running through it.
699 (SA), 449 (Pump)
Winchester SX3 Long Beard
The only question turkey hunters might ask about the new SX3 Long Beard
is, 'What took so long? ' Built on the tried-and-true SX3 semi-automatic action, the Long Beard comes equipped with a pistol grip stock and a Briley X-Full Long Beard Invector Plus extended choke designed for Winchester's Long Beard ammo.
It's chambered for 3 1/2-inch shells. The entire gun is fully wrapped in Realtree Xtra Green camo. The barrel is 24 inches long and is equipped with a TruGlo fiber optic front sight. The folding rear sight is adjustable and a Weaver-style cantilevered scope rail is mounted on the barrel. This is a turkey fanatic's turkey gun.