Shotguns 2005

No earthshaking developments this year, but the industry will still deliver solid models

Outdoor Life Online Editor

In recent years, some innovative new product lines have made their way into the smoothbore arena. This year could best be described as a "follow-on period," in which the makers eschew the new and simply add refinements to existing models.

Don't look for anything that will set the shotgun world on its ear, but there will be a number of very useful (and salable) shotguns available. Interest in small bores continues, and many makers that have introduced a new 12-gauge line in the last couple of years are now adding the 20- and 28-gauge to the family. The turkey-hunting craze seems to have peaked, at least momentarily, but there are a few new gobbler getters on the scene.

Value pricing is also alive and well, as many makers find ways to take a solid existing model, trim a few dollars off the manufacturing costs and pass along the savings to the consumer.

At the same time, it's clear that some makers are betting on the economy to continue to improve: There are a number of exquisite, upper-level, smoothbores (with equally "exquisite" price tags) making an appearance this year.

Benelli USA
In addition to its own line, Benelli USA also handles the Franchi and Stoeger lines. New smoothbores are available in all three lines.

New from Benelli is the Cordoba 12-gauge semi-auto, utilizing the company's inertia bolt system. Designed for sporting clays or field use, the Cordoba is available in 28- and 30-inch barrels with extended Crio Chokes and has a 10mm rib, Benelli's ComforTech stock and a nonreflective matte blue finish. SRP: $1,600.

Franchi's new semi-auto I-12 also incorporates the Benelli inertia bolt system, allowing the 12-gauge to digest anything from trap loads to three-inch magnum shells. Available in several barrel lengths, it can be had with a walnut stock (SRP: $760), black synthetic (SRP: $660) or in either Max 4 or Timber HD camo (SRP: $730).

Stoeger will introduce a 12-gauge pump-action chambered for 3½-inch shells. It features a rotating bolt head and synthetic stock in black matte (SRP: $269), Max 4 or Timber HD camo (SRP: $329).

The Stoeger side-by-side and over/under models will feature a new slimmed-down American walnut stock. The over/under Condor model is now available as a competition gun with an adjustable comb and a right- or left-hand palm swell. SRP: $579. The field-grade Condor will now be available in .410, along with a .410 and 20-gauge Youth model (13-inch length of pull and 22-inch barrels). SRP: $350.

The Uplander side-by-side line now includes two-barrel sets: 12- and 20-gauge or 20- and 28-gauge. SRP: $599. Booth #4251. (301-283-6981; www.benelliusa.com)

[pagebreak] CZ-USA
CZ expands its semi-auto line with the introduction of the 12-gauge CZ 712 Magnum. Chambered for 3½-inch shells, it also handles 2¾- and 3-inch loads. The 712 Magnum is available in black, hard chrome and camo finishes, and with barrel lengths of 24 and 28 inches. SRP: $499 to $599.

In addition, CZ-USA will now become the exclusive importer of the entire line of Turkish-made Huglu shotguns and will handle all sales, distribution and warranty service. All fixed-breech Huglu shotguns are built on frames proportional to their size. They come in 12-, 20-, 28- and .410-gauge and are available in 26- and 28-inch barrels with a single or double trigger. Over/unders can be had in case-hardened, black chrome or silver finish; side-by-side models feature color case-hardened receivers. SRP: $475 to $1,129. Booth #4295 and #5887. (800-955-4486; www.cz-usa.com)

Kimber
Better known for rifles an1911 handguns, Kimber will introduce a premium 20-gauge side-by-side shotgun this year. The Valor Sidelock features removable side-plates, double triggers, (front-articulated) tang safety, fixed chokes in IC and Mod and 50 percent scroll engraving on the receiver.

The stock offers a checkered butt, a straight English-style grip and a splinter forend. The Valor Grade I is stocked with select Grade III Turkish walnut. SRP: $4,422. The Valor Grade II features Grade IV walnut and incorporates automatic ejectors. SRP: $4,900. A takedown case with maker's label is sold separately. Booth #1413 and #1915. (800-880-2418; www .kimberamerica.com)

Merkel
Heckler & Koch, now the exclusive importer of Merkel shotguns, is making some cosmetic changes to the line to meet the tastes of American shooters. Those changes include beavertail forends, interchangeable choke tubes, reconfigured pistols grips and lighter engraving.

Two new side-by-side models-the Heavy Duck Gun and the Live Bird Gun-will be introduced this year. Both shotguns have 12-gauge 3½-inch chambers with 30- or 32-inch barrels, Anson & Deeley boxlock actions, Greener Cross Bolt with double-locking lugs, Holland & Holland ejectors, single triggers and interchangeable choke tubes. Booth #1701 and #1709. (703-450-1900; www.hk-usa.com)

**Rossi USA **
The company's value-priced break-top single-shot shotgun line will expand to include fully rifled 12- and 20-gauge models. The button-rifled barrel is factory ported and equipped with Truglo fiber-optic sights. Both models are drilled and tapped for included scope bases. Booth #443. (800-948-8029; www .rossiusa.com)

[pagebreak] Savage Arms
The new Savage Turkey Gun Model 210FT Camo features the company's bolt-action 24-inch barrel and is chambered for the 12-gauge three-inch load. It also incorporates a synthetic camo stock. Booth #3672. (413-568-7001; www.savagearms.com)

**Thompson/Center **
The Encore break-top single-shot smoothbore line expands this year with two new turkey models. The 20-gauge version is fully camouflaged with Realtree Hardwoods HD and has a 26-inch barrel (with choke tubes). The 12-gauge version has the same Hardwoods HD camo and choke tubes but wears a 20-inch barrel. SRP: $739. Booth #4975. (603-332-2394; www.tcarms.com)

Weatherby
Weatherby has teamed with one of Italy's finest gunmakers to offer the new Athena D'Italia, a shotgun for wing-shooting enthusiasts who seek classic English side- by-side styling and craftsmanship as well as superior performance based on modern production technology. Weatherby chose Fausti Stefano Arms because it felt the gunmaker could provide Weatherby customers with the wood-to-metal fit and other enhancements that mark a top-quality side-by-side.

The Athena D'Italia is available in 12-, 20- and 28-gauge models. The 12-gauge has 28-inch barrels, while the 20- and 28-gauges have 26-inch barrels. Key features include an English-style stock fashioned from oil-finished walnut, an Anson and Deeley action cut from alloy steel, hardened and chromed with a coin finish, a Purdey double-locking system designed to provide precise interlocking alignment of the barrels to the action and a stainless-steel Integral Multi-Choke system. The Monobloc barrels have automatic ejectors, and the barrels include lengthened forcing cones and back-boring to improve patterns while reducing felt recoil. In keeping with the traditional English design, the Athena D'Italia has double triggers. The trigger guard has a special rolled-formed border to eliminate sharp edges. Weatherby's famous "Flying W" is engraved in gold on the trigger guard.

The side-plates and the bottom of the action feature engraving by the Cessare Giovanelli Studio. The Athena D'Italia weighs (depending on gauge) between 6¾ and 7¼ pounds. Length of pull (front trigger) is 14 inches. The drop at heel is 2½ inches, and the drop at comb is 1½ inches. The 12- and 20-gauge models are chambered for 2¾- and 3-inch shells; the 28-gauge handles 2¾ shells only. A foam- lined takedown case is included. SRP: $2,840 for the 12- and 20-gauge, $2,976 for the 28-gauge. Booth #4564. Fausti Stefano is also exhibiting at the show at Booth #2045/A. (800-227-2016; www.weatherby.com)

[pagebreak] Winchester Firearms
Winchester Firearms will unveil a new Super X2 Light Field 12-gauge three-inch magnum semi-auto this year, available with 26- and 28-inch barrels. An alloy receiver and magazine tube help keep the weight to 6½ pounds. SRP: $945. The new Super X2 Sporting Clays Signature II features a specially designed adjustable stock-spacer system to allow customized fitting by the shooter. A red anodized receiver and fleck paint on stock and forearm create a striking appearance. SRP: $1,015. The Select Energy Sporting over/under shotgun line, introduced in 2004, will be available in 2005 with polished blued barrels, instead of last year's matte blue version. Booth #301. (801-876-3440; www.winchester -guns.com)

** Browning
Cynergy line expands to include 20- and 28-gauge**
The Cynergy over/under line will expand this year to include 20- and 28-gauge models. The small-bore Cynergy offerings feature the same MonoLock hinge, recoil-reducing Inflex recoil pad and Reverse Striker mechanical trigger as the 12-gauge, but with a lightweight, low-profile receiver design. The Cynergy Field 20 and 28 will be offered in 26- and 28-inch barrels with a satin-finish walnut stock and forearm; the 26-inch version weighs in at 6¼ pounds. SRP: $2,062.

The Cynergy Sporting 20-gauge can be had with 28-, 30- or 32-inch ported barrels. The 28-gauge features 28- and 30-inch barrels. The wood is Grade III/IV walnut with an oil finish, and both gauges come supplied with the new Diana Grade choke tubes. SRP: $3,080.

New in the Citori over/under line, the Super Lightning Grade I features a deeply blued receiver with gold border and a Grade III/IV walnut Lightning-style stock with Schnabel forearm. Available in 12- and 20-gauge with 26- and 28-inch barrels. SRP: $1,891.

Additional Citori offerings include the new Grade IV Lightning and Grade VII Lighting high grades with new high-relief, sculpted engraving. The Grade IV has a grayed receiver, and the Grade VII sports either a blued or grayed receiver with 24-karat gold in a unique plating and engraving process. Both models feature high-grade walnut stocks and forearms in a high-gloss finish. Available in 12-, 20-, 28- and .410-gauge. SRPween 6¾ and 7¼ pounds. Length of pull (front trigger) is 14 inches. The drop at heel is 2½ inches, and the drop at comb is 1½ inches. The 12- and 20-gauge models are chambered for 2¾- and 3-inch shells; the 28-gauge handles 2¾ shells only. A foam- lined takedown case is included. SRP: $2,840 for the 12- and 20-gauge, $2,976 for the 28-gauge. Booth #4564. Fausti Stefano is also exhibiting at the show at Booth #2045/A. (800-227-2016; www.weatherby.com)

[pagebreak] Winchester Firearms
Winchester Firearms will unveil a new Super X2 Light Field 12-gauge three-inch magnum semi-auto this year, available with 26- and 28-inch barrels. An alloy receiver and magazine tube help keep the weight to 6½ pounds. SRP: $945. The new Super X2 Sporting Clays Signature II features a specially designed adjustable stock-spacer system to allow customized fitting by the shooter. A red anodized receiver and fleck paint on stock and forearm create a striking appearance. SRP: $1,015. The Select Energy Sporting over/under shotgun line, introduced in 2004, will be available in 2005 with polished blued barrels, instead of last year's matte blue version. Booth #301. (801-876-3440; www.winchester -guns.com)

** Browning
Cynergy line expands to include 20- and 28-gauge**
The Cynergy over/under line will expand this year to include 20- and 28-gauge models. The small-bore Cynergy offerings feature the same MonoLock hinge, recoil-reducing Inflex recoil pad and Reverse Striker mechanical trigger as the 12-gauge, but with a lightweight, low-profile receiver design. The Cynergy Field 20 and 28 will be offered in 26- and 28-inch barrels with a satin-finish walnut stock and forearm; the 26-inch version weighs in at 6¼ pounds. SRP: $2,062.

The Cynergy Sporting 20-gauge can be had with 28-, 30- or 32-inch ported barrels. The 28-gauge features 28- and 30-inch barrels. The wood is Grade III/IV walnut with an oil finish, and both gauges come supplied with the new Diana Grade choke tubes. SRP: $3,080.

New in the Citori over/under line, the Super Lightning Grade I features a deeply blued receiver with gold border and a Grade III/IV walnut Lightning-style stock with Schnabel forearm. Available in 12- and 20-gauge with 26- and 28-inch barrels. SRP: $1,891.

Additional Citori offerings include the new Grade IV Lightning and Grade VII Lighting high grades with new high-relief, sculpted engraving. The Grade IV has a grayed receiver, and the Grade VII sports either a blued or grayed receiver with 24-karat gold in a unique plating and engraving process. Both models feature high-grade walnut stocks and forearms in a high-gloss finish. Available in 12-, 20-, 28- and .410-gauge. SRP