Shotgun Review: OL Ranks the Best New Shotguns for 2012

Our team of experts spent a week at the foot of the Rocky Mountains testing the new shotguns for 2012. … Continued

It takes cases of shells and a pallet full of targets to cover all the bases with each shotgun in our 2012 Gun Test, but such are the trials of a of an Outdoor Life shotgun judge. After days spent on the range with the newest shotguns on the market, the results are in. See which shotgun scored the highest. See new shotguns 2013. More from the Gun Test -Best New Rifles 2012 – Best New Rifle Scopes 2012
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Editor’s Choice Award: Franchi Affinity The Franchi Affinity brings to mind the patriotic song written after the attack on Pearl Harbor: “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.” The Affinity has the magically elusive feel gunmakers always hope for when introducing a new shotgun. Its balance and handling are so lively that it springs to your shoulder with the speed and determination of a ruffed grouse exploding from cover. We give credit to Franchi for chambering this gun in a 3-inch receiver (hallelujah!), bucking the pointless trend of 3 ½-inch 12-gauges, which usually feel clubby and dead in hand. The trim stock also helps in this regard, as does the quick cycling of the recoil-operated action, which is similar to the inertia-driven system employed by sister company Benelli.Even though the Affinity is slathered in camo, don’t be fooled into thinking it is fit only for the duck blind. The entire test team considered it ideal for upland hunting as well. See video for the Franchi Affinity. Test Results Score: ★ ★ ★ ★ Price: $949 Design: A- Performance: A Price/Value: A- Gauge: 12 Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 8 oz. Action: Semi-auto Website: Franchi.com
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Great Buy Award: Akkar 600 Superior Semi-Auto It didn’t take long for this little 28-gauge from the Turkish firm Akkar to charm the entire test team. It’s as nimble and handy a bird gun as you could want and comes at such a great price ($523), we couldn’t help but anoint it this year’s Great Buy in the shotgun category. A 28-gauge doesn’t have much recoil to begin with, but when you shoot it through a gas-operated semi, what little it does have disappears completely. When a 28 also balances nicely between the hands and has enough heft to swing well, what you end up with is something like the Akkar 600. The lines and finish on the gun aren’t fancy, but you can tell it was designed by someone who knows how to make a simple and stylish shotgun that will appeal to bird hunters. The metal is done in a satin finish, and the rib is tipped by a simple brass bead. See video for the Akkar 600 Superior Semi-Auto. ** Test Results** Score: ★ ★ ★ ★ Price: $523 Design: B+ Performance: A Price/Value: A Gauge: 28 Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 14 oz. Action: Semi-auto Website: Akkar.com
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Fabarm XLR5 Velocity We nicknamed this shotgun “the beast” because of the effortless (and merciless) way it tracked and shattered targets during the evaluation. The Velocity is designed for sporting clays competitors who prefer to start with a pre-mounted gun; as such, both the raised target rib and the comb on the stock adjust for a precise fit. The adjustable trigger reach is a nice addition on a semi-auto. It has handsome wood and engraving too. See video on the Fabarm XLR5 Velocity. Test Results Score: ★ ★ ★ ★ Price: $2,885 Design: A Performance: A- Price/Value: B Gauge: 12 Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 5 oz. Action: Semi-auto Website: Fabarm.com
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Franchi Instinct L It can be a trick to find a decent new over/under for less than $2,000, but Franchi has made one with the Instinct L, which goes for $1,149. This field gun is built on an attractive case-hardened receiver and comes with okay wood with functional checkering. The crisp mechanical triggers and tight lock-up are both indications of good workmanship. We would prefer to see a simple brass bead on the rib rather than the red fiber-optic bead. See video on the Franchi Instict L. ** Test Results** Score: ★ ★ ★ ½ Price: $1,149 Design: B+ Performance: B+ Price/Value: B+ Gauge: 12 Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 14 oz. (Both) Action: Over/under Website: Franchi.com
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Mossberg Flex The innovative Mossberg Flex is a shotgun that easily swaps out barrels, forends, stocks, and butt pads to quickly convert from one configuration to another. In particular, sportsmen with families will appreciate the ability to quickly change it from an adult-size gun to one sized for youths. This shotgun isn’t the most elegant gun on the market, but it ran very well, impressing the team with its durability and pointing. See video on the Mossberg Flex. Test Results Score: ★ ★ ★ ½ Price: $593-$826 Design: B- Performance: A- Price/Value: B+ Gauge: 12 Trigger Pull: 6 lb. 4 oz. Action: Pump Website: Mossberg.com
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Weatherby PA-08 Combo As a utilitarian shotgun at a rock-bottom price, it’s hard to argue against the Weatherby PA-08 Slug Gun Combo. The combo comes with two barrels, one a standard smoothbore and the other a rifled slug barrel with a cantilever mount for attaching a scope or other optic. At $499, it is an excellent value. We found it difficult to load and cycle at times, and the accuracy with the slugs we shot was just so-so, with 3-inch groups at 50 yards. See videon on the Weatherby PA-08 Combo. ** Test Results** Score: ★ ★ ★ Price: $499 Design: B- Performance: C+ Price/Value: B+ Gauge: 12 Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 4 oz. Action: Pump Website: Weatherby.com
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CZ-USA 712 ALS This shotgun from CZ-USA is a functional semi-auto with an adjustable stoc. A lever under the butt pad allows the user to pick from four length-of-pull settings. The gun runs and works just fine, though its aesthetics suffer from the clunky look of the buttstock as well as the mismatched styles of the checkering and metal finish on the gun. It digested a variety of loads without any hiccups and is a solid new offering. Test Results Score: ★ ★ ½ Price: $562 Design: B- Performance: C+ Price/Value: C+ Gauge: 12 Trigger Pull: 10 lb. 5 oz. Action: Semi-auto Website: CZ-USA.com More from the Gun Test -Best New Rifles 2012 – Best New Rifle Scopes 2012

Our team of experts spent a week at the foot of the Rocky Mountains testing the new shotguns for 2012. The smoke has cleared, the numbers have been crunched, and the results are in. See which shotguns took home top honors.