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Keeping up with an insubordinate bird dog all season can be hell on your hunting gear. Lucky for us, manufacturers are introducing a lot of great products for the 2010 season. From apparel to electronics to guns to ammo, here are our picks for the best new upland gear. Garmin DC 40
The GPS system of this new tracking collar is integrated into the main housing, so you can combine the DC 40 with most standard e-collar receivers without having to strap two collars around your dog’s neck. Used with the Astro 220 receiver, the system pinpoints exactly where your dog is and what he’s doing up to seven miles away. ($250, $650 w/ Astro 220; garmin.com)
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Orvis Kangaroo Upland Boots
Kangaroo leather has long been lauded as the best material for upland boots, thanks to its unmatched strength-to-weight ratio. Orvis’s updated take on this classic boot features a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane with a Cambrelle liner. They’ll keep your feet dry and comfortable whether you’re slogging through a marsh for woodcock, navigating timber for grouse or coursing fields of standing crops for ringnecks. A semi-aggressive Vibram Gumlite sole will provide ample traction, no matter where the hunt takes you. ($298; orvis.com)
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Browning Pheasants Forever Upland Bibs
These rugged cotton bibs have a briar-resistant overlay to mid-thigh. The two large front pockets feature the Pocket Expander System, which allows for easy conversion to exposed shell loops. A detachable blood-proof game bag and zipper fly round out the package. ($101-$115; browning.com)
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L.L. Bean Transmitter E-Holster
Keep your e-collar transmitter, GPS and other electronics out of the way but easily accessible with this new universal holster. It accommodates both right- and left-handed shooters, and won’t interfere with your jacket or vest or your gun mount. It’s adjustable and can be cinched down tight, meaning it won’t bounce or slip as you hustle up to your dog’s point. The lightweight, breathable material is fast-drying. A grommet and D-ring accommodate your transmitter lanyard. ($29; llbean.com)
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Columbia Camo Freezer LS
This warm-weather longsleeved tee features Omni-Freeze technology to keep you cool, and Omni-Shade to protect you from the sun. Available in orange and two camo patterns. ($65; columbia.com)
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Federal Premium Prairie Storm
Combining the Flitecontrol wad found in the Black Cloud waterfowl loads and Flitestopper lead shot, these 2 3⁄4- and 3-inch shells are available with shot sizes of 4, 5 and 6. ($18-$23; federalpremium.com)
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Sweet Shooters: Why 28-gauge semis are tops for upland birds
By John M. Taylor Recently, hunters have begun enjoying the 28 for the outstanding upland gauge it is. Its 3⁄4-ounce payload is just shy of that of the 20-gauge, and with a little more velocity and excellent patterning, it’s very versatile. Featured in these three semi-autos, two of which are brand-new, the 28 can be the right gun for grouse, doves, quail–all the game-farm species. Employed with common sense and Environ-Metals’ Classic Doubles, these 28-gauge guns will even work for teal over decoys. All three come with choke tubes, making them adaptable to many situations. These three semis are also a historic tour of semi-automatic shotgun design, as each system–recoil, inertia and gas operation–is represented.
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Franchi 48 AL
Although the Auto-5 has been discontinued by Browning, Franchi’s 5.4-pound 48 AL in 28-gauge carries on the ultra-reliable, recoil-operated design developed by John Browning in 1903. Recoil-operated semi-autos lock the breech bolt and barrel together when the round is chambered. When the gun is fired, the bolt and barrel travel rearward as a unit. Once pressure inside the barrel drops, they unlock and a strong spring drives the barrel back into firing position. When the barrel goes forward, the ejector located at the very rear of the barrel ejects the fired hull. Some shooters are bothered by the ping when the barrel/bolt strikes the rear of the receiver, but the 48 AL’s reliable cycling makes up for it.
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Benelli Legacy 28
Coincidentally, Danish gunsmith Christian Sjorgren produced the first inertia-operated shotgun also in 1903. More than 50 years later, Benelli adopted this system for its line of shotguns. Benelli’s new 4.9-pound Legacy 28 is a sleek 28-gauge semi-auto that uses the highly reliable Inertia system. The Legacy’s rotating bolt head is held in battery with the barrel by a carefully calibrated spring that tightens the lockup as the gun recoils. When the spring reaches its maximum compression, the bolt is released and continues to recoil with the gun, cycling the action. Inertia-driven actions work extremely fast. In addition, there are very few working parts and they disassemble quickly, making this shotgun easy to maintain.
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Tristar Viper G2 28
The newest twist on gas-operated shotguns is Tristar’s 28-gauge Viper G2, which weighs a slight 5.7 pounds. Gas-operated models bleed off a small amount of gas as the wad and shot pass the gas ports. The rapidly expanding gas is then funneled into the gas cylinder, which is driven quickly rearward, pushing the breech bolt rearward and ejecting the fired hull. Gas-operated shotguns spread out the recoil forces, so they’re softer shooting, but they require a bit more maintenance due to carbon and dirt blown into the action by the gas.

Keeping up with an insubordinate bird dog all season can be hell on your hunting gear. Lucky for us, manufacturers are introducing a lot of great products for the 2010 season. From apparel to electronics to ammo, here are our picks for the best new upland gear.

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