The Best Shotguns for Hunting at Any Budget
Lucky you! Buying a new shotgun can be a lot of fun. And although there are literally thousands to choose from, these are some of the best shotguns for hunting. A good shotgun is a long-term investment. No pressure! But you want to make an informed decision when getting a new shotgun, so we put our years of collective shooting experience together for some recommendations to help guide your purchase.
But if you want more guidance, hop down to the end of the article, where we discuss the selection of gauge, action, stock materials, chokes, and more. Remington introduced the in , and with millions produced since then, you can find them in every possible configuration, stock material, and gauge. And for many people, you could buy this single shotgun and hunt everything from South Dakota pheasants and Wisconsin ruffed grouse to Mississippi waterfowl and East Coast deer with it. It offers hunters a light about 6-pound gun that can operate 2.
The dual-valve, gas-operated system results in light recoil and cycles shells reliably. Owners really love this Weatherby SA We shot the standard inch field model and were impressed with the point-ability as well as the smooth action.
It comes standard with three chokes, and, at 6 pounds 14 ounces, it was a breeze to carry for consecutive days in the field. Double barrel shotguns of good quality just tend to be expensive.
CZ USA imports guns from Turkish manufacturer Huglu and has developed a reputation as a darned good gun for the budget shooter. The Drake has extractor operation, a single selectable trigger, mid-rib delete, and laser-cut checkering. You can get one in 12, 20, 28, and. Amazingly for the price, the Drake ships with a set of five flush interchangeable chokes except.
The Drake also comes in the Southpaw, a lefty-friendly variant for the left-handed shooter. Benelli Ethos The Benelli Ethos is one beautifully shooting semiauto, particularly for upland hunting.
And while recoil-operated semiautos tend to kick a little more than a gas-driven system, the Ethos has a nicely engineered recoil management system built into the stock. And upon a flush, it points quickly while offering enough barrel weight to swing through well. Set your sights on some of our favorite hunting gifts and gear from , from rifles to boots and more.
It hit the market in as a more affordable option to the Browning Superposed, which is more or less the grandfather of modern over-under shotguns. Well, the streamlines that classic shape for a slimmer over-under. Straight up, this is my favorite shotgun on the market right now. I recently dropped a big chunk of cash to buy my own after months of researching shotguns online. And after several hundred rounds of breaking clays, I love it.
The crisp trigger pull, lightness in the hands 7. The Italian double gun has a reputation as a well-balanced, quick-pointing shotgun that is accurate, reliable, and beautiful. The design of the uses opposing trunnions projections mounted on the receiver walls where the barrels pivot, thus eliminating the need for underhooks to form a hinge. The result is a more compact arrangement that some shooters love for instinctive pointing and a low-profile line of sight.
This well-loved classic is a stalwart of the upland fields. Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 B. Benelli invented the inertia-drive system of shotguns and thus has earned a reputation for producing the most reliable semiautomatics on the planet. And the Super Black Eagle 3 might be the most reliable of all. Unlike many shotguns that cycle through the redirection of expanding gases, Benellis use the inertia created by recoil to cycle new shells.
The Super Black Eagle 3 is a beast of a shotgun, with the gauge model capable of chambering everything from 2. Now, for the B. The coating protects steel with a tough, impenetrable armor that stops rust and corrosion.
Benelli is so confident the treatment is impervious to the elements, the brand backs parts treated in BE. Throw it in a duck boat, drop it in the mud, and shake it off. It will keep on firing and cycling reliably.
Franchi Affinity 3. Made by a subsidiary of the same company, Franchi offers much the same engineering as its sibling at a more palatable price.
And at that price, they are excellent, reliable tools that are remarkably versatile. The Affinity 3. Available in several synthetic finishes as well as wood, the Affinity 3. That makes it a versatile performer for those who want to shoot light ammo for target and smaller quarry, or up-gun to the big 3. Browning Sweet Sixteen With a unique humpback design, the Browning A5 stands out like a sore thumb on any gun rack. But while beauty is in the eye of the beholder on this one, for some, the A5 shoots like a dream.
On the plus side, gauge is a really versatile size and tends to be quite rare. Thus, it holds its value very well. And oh, the Sweet Sixteen is a dream to shoot. On the downside, well, gauge is rare. Finding ammo can be tricky, and the selection will be much more limited than that of and gauge models.
But for those who want a gun that stands out from the crowd, this one will be a pleaser. Beretta A Outlander Beretta builds some of the best shotguns for hunting. But most of them are fairly pricey. The A Outlander , however, retains the high Beretta quality while bucking the price trend. For that modest price, Beretta packs in a lot of technology and performance. The A cycles 2.
With the included set of spacers, the oil-finished wood stock allows shooters to customize the drop and cast as well as the length of pull. A high-absorption recoil pad, coupled with the gas operating system, reduces recoil and keeps you on target for fast follow-up shots.
The A easily disassembles with no tools into four major components; and with a self-cleaning gas piston, the A stays clean for extended periods of shooting.
A reversible safety adapts the A for left- or right-handed shooters. Sling swivel posts on the stock and forend cap allow for carrying the A slung on your shoulder. It comes with three screw-in choke tubes and is made in the USA. What do you need to know to buy the best shotgun for you? Gauge The gauge of a shotgun refers to the diameter of the barrel. Thus, a smaller number equals a bigger barrel.
For most hunters, you will choose between a gauge and gauge, with other, less common sizes being gauge, gauge, and. The most common and most versatile gauge is gauge, while gauge has a lighter recoil and is better suited to smaller birds. Action The action refers to how the gun cycles between shots. Common actions are semiautomatic, pump-action, and over-under. Semi-autos use either the inertia of the shot recoil or gases created during firing to cycle a new shell into the chamber.
And over-unders or less common side-by-sides , also known as double-barrels, have two barrels which fire in succession as the trigger is pulled. There are pros and cons to each type, but all have a place in the hunting world. Other less common actions include bolt-action shotguns and single shots.
There are many other choke variants, but in short, hunters use open chokes like an improved cylinders when they expect close shots and want the pellets to spread quickly. Full choke keeps the pattern tight for longer shots.
Modified falls in the middle. Many modern shotguns use interchangeable chokes that you can change easily even in the field. These enhance the versatility of the shotgun. Most new hunters or shooters should buy a shotgun with interchangeable chokes if possible.
Of course, shotguns are complex tools. Things like stock material wood versus synthetic and length of pull have a huge effect on the way a gun performs and feels. For now, you should be on your way to making a reasonably informed decision. Good luck — and happy hunting. The Best Binoculars of Whether birdwatching, route-finding, or hunting, you need the best binoculars to optimize your time spent outdoors. Read more… The Best Hunting Boots for Men in Whether you're hunting moose in the Yukon or wing-shooting pheasants in South Dakota, we've rounded up the best hunting boots of the year.
Franchi Affinity 3
Designed for US duck hunters, what does it offer the British shooter? Product Overview Product: Franchi Affinity 3 Michael Yardley is pleasantly surprised by the Franchi Affinity 3, which he finds well put together and solid — despite the garish finish. Not just machine made — some great guns are made by machine now — but a gun that has no pretensions of being anything other than a shooting engine. Such a gun is the Franchi Affinity 3, an inertia-operated, 3in-chambered, high-performance, steel-proofed semi-automatic, weighing about 7lb, from GMK.
It is built on a Benelli-type action. The latter firm has been owned by Beretta since , and Franchi itself operates as a separate brand headquartered within the Benelli facility at Ubino, Central Italy. Franchi looks to Benelli to make its actions and, like Benelli, to Beretta to hammer forge its barrels. Corporately speaking, the Beretta empire now includes Benelli, Franchi, Sako, Tikka, Uberti, Burris Optics and Stoeger with a manufacturing facility for budget semi-automatics in Turkey; Beretta stresses that no components for its guns are made there.
Beretta also has a factory in Spain making chokes. All of which brings us to the test gun. Our specimen is decked out in Realtree MAX-5 camouflage, which is the height of rural fashion in duck blinds from Virginia to Oregon.
This camo fashion trend was perhaps most obvious in the hugely successful Duck Dynasty American reality TV series but also relates to the US gun industry pushing the militaristic look more generally amongst civilians. You will see quite a few wildfowlers with camo-finished guns here these days. Meantime, I am not convinced that camo offers any real-world advantage, but it is becoming almost a tribal fetish in some quarters.
In the US, you can get camo everything, from baby-ware to ballpoint pens. Go to any Cabela or Bass Pro shop and you will see whole families resplendent in camouflage. The test Affinity 3 is available with a 28in barrel only. I have a preference for longer-barrelled semi-autos but a semi-automatic has the advantage — as far as its sighting plane is concerned — of a long receiver.
So, a 28in gun has a 35in sighting plane or thereabouts. The top of the receiver in the test gun is machined as an extension of the rib which is 10mm wide and slightly stepped.
There is also the facility to attach scope mounts for those who might want to use the gun to shoot rifled-slugs. This is a common practice in the US for turkey hunting and in Europe for boar shooting. I have used one for Barbary boar in Tunisia. What else is there to be said about the Affinity? Ignoring what traditionalists may see as a garish finish, the gun is well put together and feels solid. The grip, which has no palm swell, did not anchor my hand very effectively, and the gun has a pronounced forward balance.
I liked the rib picture, however, and the small but potentially fragile , translucent foresight. The oversize bolt-handle and bolt release were comfortable and positive in operation. They would suit gloved hands. A similar gun is also available in left-handed form with a black synthetic stock. Next year, an Affinity 3.
It does not bleed off gas from the barrel to act upon a piston beneath but is inertia operated, harnessing recoil energy; Benelli has certainly refined this. Another feature of recent Benellis, and the test gun, is a rotary bolt head, which may have been inspired by Winchester Beretta has adopted a rotary bolt head in its gas-operated semi-autos since acquiring Benelli. There were earlier Benellis such as the and SL80 models without it. In later Benelli guns and, notably, semi-automatic rifles there is a short, stiff spring located between the main body of the bolt and the rotating bolt-head.
On firing, this compresses as the gun accelerates rearwards. As it comes to full tension, the bolt-head unlocks out of battery and bolt-head, spring and main bolt body move rearwards, cycling the action.
It was one of the better inertia guns that I have used in recent years and as good or better than some costing significantly more. Recoil was less than expected for an inertia design. The gun pointed well.
It was not too heavy. General handling pleased. I liked the rib as well. The negatives concerned the balance — a little too far forward — and the trigger pull, which showed some creep. The grip was quite thin, my hand tending to slip forward. The engineering was sound and impressed. Most importantly, the Affinity was reliable in use. I had no malfunctions even when using lighter Lyalvale 24gm loads, which many semi-autos would not digest.
There was also the Franchi Falconet, an alloy-actioned gun that was extremely lightweight. Browning, Winchester and Beretta all do them now, but Franchi was probably the first and 25 years or so before the others. Thinking about it, Franchi may have the broadest base of experience when it comes to semi-auto shotguns. While the earliest semi-autos worked on recoil, they have also made a number of gas-operated models and lately have moved on to inertia driven mechanisms.
The inertia system was really pioneered by Benelli, which itself is now part of Beretta. So it is no real surprise that Franchi are using the same principle now. The advantage of an inertia driven gun is the lesser number of moving parts. Because there is no gas piston under the fore-end, it can be made slimmer. The gun also keeps clean more easily as there are no exhaust gases coming back to a piston system around the magazine tube. The other thing is cartridge sensitivity: generally autos work at their best with heavier loads as they have more energy to work the mechanism.
A Review of the Franchi Affinity 3 Semiautomatic Shotgun
But over the years, cartridges have got lighter and auto design has altered to accommodate the lighter cartridges. When the bolt goes forward its head rotates and locks into the pocket in the breech end of the barrel. DeRosa is an American filmmaker and the Founder and… The Franchi Affinity 3 is a reliable Italian-made shotgun for applications from big game to small at a very competitive price Semi-automatics on a website with a reputation for ruffed grouse and woodcock huntingblasphemy!
All joking aside, there are plenty of applications and reasons to love a semi-automatic shotgun. I bought this shotgun with one clear goal, to kill turkeys, although it has been subjected to grouse, woodcock, and even some ducks. The Inertia Driven system used in the Benelli and Beretta stands as one of the greatest actions ever built in a shotgun.
The difference here is the price tag between said brands. This is not the first Franchi we have reviewed either, check out Franchi Instinct L — A Shotgun Review I took this shotgun for a test drive for turkeys as my wife was looking for a light gun to hunt with.
Franchi vs Benelli – a face-off between the best
The need to understand what a shotgun is capable of and at what ranges is important when introducing someone to turkey hunting. The first bird I dumped with it was at 30 yards. I can still remember wondering as I ran up to the flopping bird why in the world I had ever lugged a gauge around the woods.
That day resulted in a gauge purge in my gun safe as turkey hunting was just about the last reason I kept any thought or reason not to sell them. I did keep a Benelli Vinci as a waterfowl option which I have yet to actually take duck or goose hunting. Those gauges with bismuth sure are deadly.
It cycles quickly over a short distance. As only part of the bolt is moving during the initial cycle, there is a low mass of movement. Benellis shoot extremely clean and work well when dirty or wet. Benellis have two disadvantages: 1 they have more perceived recoil than an equivalent gas operated gun, and 2 they are less flexible as to the range of shells they will operate with.
Sometimes when you hit the cue ball dead center on an object ball, the cue ball will just freeze while the object ball will scoot away with exactly the same speed and energy as the cue ball had. Others have had better luck. It varies. In addition to the shell, gun break-in and ambient temperature may be a factor here. The guns worked great on all the heavy stuff. The Beretta gas gun, to use the latest iteration, is softer shooting than the Benelli.
The gas mechanism operates more slowly than the Benelli and recoil is stretched out over a longer period of time. Perceived recoil is less. On the downside, the Beretta works fairly reliably when soaking wet, but not as reliably as the Benelli. The Beretta also gets dirtier than the Benelli as it is used and will require cleaning more often.