The 30 Best Shotguns of the 2000s

lined up shotguns
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From pumps to autoloaders to double barrels, Outdoor Life has tested a lot of shotguns over the last decade. Each year we spend a week at the range torture testing the newest guns on the market. The years and years of testing have given us a mountain of data that serves as the ultimate buyer's guide for gun nuts. In this gallery we ranked the 30 best shotguns to hit the market in the last 10 years. The first 10 guns are Shooting Editor John Snow's personal favorites followed by the Editor's Choice winners and then the Great Buy winners. To round out the list are all of the honorable mentions. You might also like: Best Shotguns: 10 Greatest Shotguns Ever Made in AmericaOutdoor Life
Ellipse Evo Light
JOHN SNOW'S TOP TEN PICKS
1. Caesar Guerini Ellipse Evo Light (Editor's Choice 2011)
John's Take: I find it difficult to single out a particular shotgun from the Caesar Guerini family because these Italian-made beauties never disappoint. Whether intended for the trap field, a sporting clays course or the uplands, the DNA of these fine guns remains the same. Compared to any other shotgun of a similar price, the guns of Caesar Guerini are practically in a class of their own. The quality of the wood, the detail and aesthetics of the engraving, the innovative features, the intelligent design, and the customer service provided by the company are the reasons these guns are such good values and why they end up winning the coveted "Editor's Choice" award so regularly. The Ellipse Evo Light stole the show at our last gun test and if you read the review you'll understand why. It embodies everything we wanted to see in a classic bird gun. Price: $5,605
Gauge: 20 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 9 oz. / 4 lb. 13 0z. From the Gun Test: If by some alchemy you could distill the essence of an upland bird gun and give it physical form, it might look something like the Ellipse Evo Light from Caesar Guerini, a sexy stunner that took top honors in this year's hotly contested shotgun evaluation. It's a classic 20-gauge over/under game gun with both British and Italian influences. The solid ribbing on the barrels, which are topped with a single brass bead, give the gun a clean, uncluttered elegance and contrast pleasantly with the gorgeous wood and handsome extensive engraving on the coin-finished receiver. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A+
Performance: A+
Price/Value: B
Caesar Guerini
Benelli M2 shotgun
2. Benelli M2 (Editor's Choice 2004)
John's Take: Every time I see someone pull a 3 1/2-in. shotgun from a gun case I wish I could put a Benelli M2 in their hands. The fact is that 3 1/2-inch shells offer next to nothing over 3-inch shells from a performance standpoint other than more punishing recoil. Plus the guns that run them are heavier, clumsier and more expensive. The M2, by contrast, is about as ideal an autoloader for all-around shotgunning as you're going to find. Whether you're into ducks, upland game, 3-gun competition or busting clays, the M2 is equal to the task. It balances well, handles fast, is engineered to lessen recoil and doesn't cost as much as an equivalent 3 1/2-inch gun. Price:$1,065
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 12 oz. From the Gun Test: Viewed from a distance, Benelli's new M2 does not give the impression of a shotgun you'd be proud to be seen with. It's a black thing foam butt to screw-in choke, and the molded-composition stocks look out of place on an autoloading shotgun costing more than a thousand bucks. But look closer and you'll see some well-thought-out features on gun that was obliviously engineered to be shot rather than looked at. And shoot it we did, round after round of skeet. As empty shells piled up at the stations, our shotgun test team became increasingly convinced that the M2 is an exceptionally shootable gun. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: B+
Performance: A+
Price/Value: B+
Benelli
Remington versa max
3. Remington Versa Max
John's Take: The new Versa Max autoloader from Remington employs an ingeniously simple system--the hull of the shotshell--to properly regulate the amount of gas used to cycle the action. The gas system has only two moving parts, is essentially self-cleaning, can withstand massive amounts of abuse and reliably shoots everything from the lightest target loads to the stoutest 3 1/2-inch shells. The shotgun itself adjusts easily for length of pull, drop, cast and comb height and has excellent recoil-reduction features. It is built to withstand the rigors of the most challenging bird hunting and I anticipate it will join the pantheon of classic autoloading shotguns. Price: $1,599
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 6 lb. 13 oz. From the Gun Test: The 3 1/2-inch Versa Max like-wise garnered high scores for its ergonomics shootability and the easy way in which it can be adjusted to achieve a custom fit by altering the length of pull, comb height and drop and cast with a system that even the least mechanically included can master. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: B+
Performance: A-
Price/Value: B+
Remington
CZ over under
4. CZ O/U (Great Buy 2005)
John's Take: Many gun makers have tried to bring value-priced O/U shotguns to market—and most of them have flopped. Indifferent workmanship, tough and gritty triggers, odd design elements and reliability issues are just some of the features common in many of these would-be bargains. The Redhead, by contrast, is a winner by every measure. It pointed great, looked good and ran very well. A lighter trigger pull would be nice, yes, but for the price this O/U couldn't be beat. In my mind it is still the standard by which other entry-level double guns are to be judged. Price: $795
Gauge: 20 ga.
Trigger Pull: 7 lb. 2 oz. From the Gun Test: "I love this gun" and "great value" were among the comments written about this fast-pointing, slick operating O/U that not only earned our Great buy award but came very close to winning the Editor's Choice award over a gun costing more than four times as much! The CZ Redhead, which sells for $795, opened as smooth as oiled silk, and the stock seemed to fit everyone so well that 25 for 25 at skeet was common, even on the first round. Ejection of spent cases was crisp and positive. The only criticism mentioned was the too-heavy trigger pull. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: B
Performance: A+
Price/Value: A+
CZ
Zoli Z-Sport Bilanx
5. Zoli Z-Sport Bilanx (2011)
John's Take: As a sporting clays gun there's nothing I don't like about the Zoli Z-Sport Bilanx. It has everything I want in a dedicated competition gun and nothing that I don't. The innovative features for altering the shotgun's balance are easy to use and effective. But perhaps the best feature of all is the craftsmanship. The Boss action is solid as a vault and the metalwork is superb. It has crisp triggers, excellent stock geometry, good chokes--no wonder it smashes clays. Price: $5,495
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 2 oz. / 3 lb. 13 oz. From the Gun Test: It isn't easy to succeed as an imported Italian over/under. The competition from big name companies to small custom gunmakers is as unrelenting as it is unforgiving. But don't be surprised if the shotguns from Zoli start to make headway with American shooters. The $5,495 price tag on the new Z-Sport Bilanx isn't cheap. However, it still earned a "very good" value rating from our notoriously stingy judges. How so? For starters, the Bilanx is built on a true Boss-style action--one of the strongest and most desirable designs there is--and is probably the least expensive Boss action on the market. The metalwork on the Bilanx also exhibits best-in-class quality and craftsmanship, which wasn't lost on the judges, either. The barrels, in particular, with their ripple-free construction and beautiful finish work, impressed us. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: A
Price/Value: B
Zoli
Browning Citori
6. Browning Citori 525 (Editor's Choice 2002)
John's Take: The radical lines of the Citori 525 weren't born of some designer's whim--rather they represented the logical expression of a high-performance shotgun brought to life. The trim receiver and recoil taming stock gave the Citori 525 a look completely at odds with what most of us thought made for a "proper" O/U--but anyone with an open mind could see its advantages after just a box of shells. Sadly, with the passing of each year Browning seems to be backing away from the Citori 525's design as the shotguns bearing the Citori name have lapsed back to an increasingly traditional look. I can only assume it is because the shooting public never warmed to the original concept. Those of us who admire the 525 will just have to be content with the thought that it was a shotgun ahead of its time. Price: $2,493
Gauge: 12 ga. From the Gun Test: A more appropriate name for Browning's Citori O/U could well be Pygmalion: Every season she reappears in a new image. This latest is perhaps the most radical costume change yet and may not appeal to traditionalists who prefer classic smoothbore styling. Competitive-minded shotgunners, however, will recognize the curved-foreward Etchen-style grip configuration and appreciate its enhance feel of control. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: B+
Price/Value: B
Browning
Mossberg 500 Combo
7. Mossberg 500 Combo (Great Buy 2010)
John's Take: There isn't a shotgun out there that delivers more for the money than the Mossberg 500 Combo. Configured as either a turkey gun or a slug gun for deer, it serves up a ton of smart features. And even though it isn't billed as a gun for wingshooting, it performed just fine on all kinds of clay targets. So when you start to make a checklist of everything the 500 Combo has, and everything it can do, it's hard not to be impressed by its modest price. For a hunter looking for a do-everything shotgun I don't hesitate to recommend it. Price: $506
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 3 lb. From the Gun Test: This shotgun is about as flashy as an 18-wheeler--no snooty double this--but that didn't prevent us from rewarding it with stellar marks in the Price/Value department and a Great Buy award. Like the aforementioned truck, this Mossberg brings the goods and does so at a price that is sure to make hunters take notice. For slightly more than $500, this rig comes with two barrels--a ported barrel for turkey hunting and a fully rifled slug barrel for deer. The turkey barrel is topped with a bright and adjustable three-dot fiber-optic sight and comes with a tight (.670 inches) extended choke tube, while the slug barrel uses excellent open sights from Williams that are both tough and able to be dialed in with precision. Add in the full camo treatment and an innovative trigger, and it is no surprise that the phrase "a lot of gun for the money" appeared on every judge's evaluation sheet. Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Workmanship: C+
Performance: A
Price/Value: A+
Mossberg
Winchester Select Platinum Sporting shotgun
8. Winchester Select Platinum Sporting (2008)
John's Take: I doubt the head honchos at Winchester ever expected to sell the Select Platinum Sporting shotgun by the truckload. The design of the gun and its price automatically consign it to a small niche of customers. But I also doubt that the shooters who did purchase this gun were anything less than delighted with its performance. Made in Belgium, this shotgun represents quite a good value despite its cost. The action is as tough as an ice breaker's hull and built to withstand hard use. Yet the rest of the gun is built with a level of refinement and skill that would make any fan of the Winchester brand proud. Price: $2,625
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 12 oz. / 6 lb. 14 oz. From the Gun Test: You might mistake this newest over/under to bear the Winchester label for the once popular but discontinued Model 101. But in fact this competition gun comes from Belgium, not Japan, as did the 101, and there are other big differences. Most surprising is the bifurcated locking system, with two locking lugs engaging the barrels at each side rather than at the bottom. The usual cause for bifurcated locking is a trimmer, more shallow profile, but not so with this new Winchester. It's blocky and massive in every dimension. The rationale for this much metal, we gather, is to endure the hardship accruing from the thousands of rounds to which a competition gun is subjected. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: B
Performance: A
Price/Value: A
Winchester
Weatherby PA-08
9. Weatherby PA-08 (Great Buy 2009)
John's Take: The Weatherby PA-08 is a simple gun done well. There's little that's new here but what Weatherby has done is made an attractive and functional shotgun available for a great price. Though we give out "Great Buy" awards pretty much every year, I don't know if there's been another shotgun this affordable that can give such pride of ownership as well. This is a gun I would be proud to present to someone I cared for as their first gun. I wish they would make it in smaller gauges as well. Price: $389
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 6 lb. 1 oz. From the Gun Test: There is no shortage of new firearms that suffer from over-thinking on the part of designers and engineers who dream them up. Sometimes simpler is better - especially when a gun is built according to successful, time-tested principles. Make that gun attractive and affordable as well, and you're sure to catch the eye of Outdoor Life's penny-conscious pane of judges - which is exactly what Weatherby did with its new pump-action shotgun, our overwhelming choice for this year's Great buy honors. Mechanically, there are no surprises here. The Turkish-built PA-08 functions like a Remington 870, and there's no reason to think it won't deliver the same level of dependability. Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Workmanship: B+
Performance: B+
Price/Value: A+
Weatherby
Benelli Legacy 28
10. Benelli Legacy 28 (2010)
John's Take: I'm a sucker for 28-gauge guns. While I delight in double-guns in the sub gauges, there's something about shooting a 28 in a semiauto that makes me feel like I'm getting away with eating three courses of dessert for dinner. As you'd expect, the recoil on the Legacy 28 is nonexistent—running box after box of shells through the gun happens almost unconsciously. The shooter's grin is automatic as well, appearing every time the 28 powders hit another clay after calling "pull." Price: $1,989
Gauge: 28 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 12 oz. From the Gun Test: As soon as Benelli's sleek new 28-gauge came out of the case, the test team was drawn toward it the way setters are drawn to a covey of wild quail. The prospect of a gun that incorporates Benelli's reliable inertia system into a sub-bore that weighs less than 5 pounds empty was a heady, and irresistible, enticement for our panel of gun nuts. The gun didn't disappoint after we got it assembled and loaded. Its nimble handling from a low-gun position gave the impression that no target--no matter how speedy—could get away, and it left little doubt that it would be an excellent choice for doves, quail, woodcock and grouse. Light weight in a shotgun, while great for portability, isn't a virtue in itself, and this gun does run the risk of being overpowered by the shooter. The silver lining here is that the Legacy 28 will reveal flaws in technique more readily than a gun with more forgiving swing characteristics, and that knowledge is the first step toward shooting mastery—or madness, depending on your perspective. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: B+
Performance: A+
Price/Value: B
Benelli
Caesar Guerini Summit Impact
EDITOR'S CHOICE WINNERS
Caesar Guerini Summit Impact (Editor's Choice 2010)
Price: $4,995
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 2 lb. 14 oz. From the Gun Test: Serious competitive shotgunners would strangle kittens if they thought it would help them break more targets, and smart gunmakers stay on the lookout for ways to give these hardcore shooters an edge. No company is more adept at keeping in tune with the clay-target-obsessed than Caesar Guerini, which has made a habit of responding to shotgunners' needs with the speed of a Midi target rocketing out of a trap. The Summit Impact is built specifically for sporting clays and represents an interesting step in the evolution of the game, which is drifting further away from its traditional roots with each passing year. Originally meant to mimic hunting scenarios with dynamic, yet realistic bird and rabbit targets, the sport has shifted to the point where more targets are moving like nothing in nature. Fewer shooters now employ a low gun, opting instead to pre-mount their shotgun as in trap and American skeet. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A+
Performance: A
Price/Value: B+
Caesar Guerini
Caesar Guerini Apex Sporting
Caesar Guerini Apex Sporting (Editor's Choice 2009)
Price: $7,550
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. / 4 lb. 2 oz. From the Gun Test: When it comes to building shotguns that blend beauty, performance and value, no one is doing a better job than Caesar Guerini. The company has again earned top honors in our annual shotgun test; this time with its new Apex Sporting over/under. The reason for Guerini's success is not a secret - the company delivers stylish and smartly designed guns at better prices than its double-gun competition. Whether you look at the quality of the wood, the overall fit and finish, the intricate engraving or the nuts-and-bolts ergonomics and handling, it's difficult to find fault with Guerini's products. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A+
Performance: A+
Price/Value: A
Caesar Guerini
Benelli Ultra Light
Benelli Ultra Light (Editor's Choice 2008)
Price: $1,445
Gauge: 20 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 5 oz. From the Gun Test: The trim little Italian-made autoloader captured the Editor's Choice award for the best, and simplest, reason: It does what a shotgun is expected to do, and it does it very well. Add to this the blessing of light weight and the bonus of beauty, and you've got a winner. Stylistically, Italian gun designers seem to abhor a flat surface (call it their Michelangelo complex), which accounts for the graceful receiver contours of this newest Benelli auto. To their credit, they let the sculpting stand alone, without jazzing it up with a shiny finish and florid ornamentation. Nicely figured walnut further complements the gun, and the gracefully tapered forend is free of the blocky, squared-off contours typical of many autoloaders. Not so flattering, however, are the laser-cut checkering patterns on the forend and grip panels, which are so pedestrian as to detract from the overall effect. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A+
Performance: A+
Price/Value: B
Benelli
Caesar Guerini Maxum Trap
Caesar Guerini Maxum Trap (Editor's Choice 2007)
Price: $6,550
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 3 lb. 8 oz. From the Gun Test: The Guerini single is the first single-purpose shotgun ever to win our Editor's Choice award, a win even more exceptional because we evaluate such guns by higher standards. The reason? A typical hunting arm may be used only a few weeks each year and will seldom be fired more than a few dozen times, but a trap gun will very likely be used on a weekly basis, firing hundreds or even thousands of rounds each year. Also, such guns are judged against other high-performance guns, raising the bar even further. The Guerini passed our toughest trials without faltering. From a performance standpoint, it ranks with the most sophisticated of today's trap guns, with multi­dimensional comb adjustments for precise individual fit and a high-bridge adjustable rib that can be fine-tuned for individual sighting preferences or the vagaries of different trap fields and shooting conditions. What makes the Guerini stand out in any crowd of trap guns of similar performance is its beautiful wood, generous coverage of fine-line checkering and rich receiver ornamentation, enhanced by hand engraving that adds depth and character to its classic pattern. These and other refinements make it a joy to behold. One of the test team members summed up the new Guerini best: "There is nothing about this gun I don't like." Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: A
Price/Value: A
Caesar Guerini
Winchester Super X3
Winchester Super X3 (Editor's Choice 2006)
Price: $979
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 6 lb. 8 oz. From the Gun Test: A few months back I wrote a column about Winchester's mostly failed efforts to make and market a truly successful autoloading shotgun. For the most part, my commentary was gloomy but I ended the piece more or less upbeat: "My guess is that Winchester's quest for a great shotgun for the 21st century is just beginning." The European makers of Winchesters surely hooted and poked each other in the ribs when they read this because they were only weeks away from unveiling an all-new autoloader--the Super X3--destined to become Outdoor Life's Editor's Choice shotgun for 2006! Wow, talk about a turnaround in the fortunes of Winchester shotguns, and with the pall cast by the recent closing of Winchester's New Haven plant, it couldn't have come at a better time. The SX3 is very much the latest European style. The traditional checkering has been replaced with laser-cut grooves that form geometric swirls. And the bright red lettering on the grayed receiver might be off-putting for traditionalists (like me) who pine for the Winchester of bygone days. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: B+
Price/Value: B+
Winchester
Kimber Valier Shotgun
Kimber Valier (Editor's Choice 2005)
Price: $4,480
Gauge: 20 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 14 oz. From the Gun Test: What does it take to win the Editor's Choice award for shotguns? Well, all the things big and small a shotgun must have to be a good one, plus those extra, hard-to-define features that separate a wing-shooting companion from ordinary wing-shooting tools. Balance, stylish good looks, smooth operation and beautifully finished metal and wood all contribute, but in the final field testing it's the shotguns that come alive and seem to go after the winging target with a will and spirit of their own. And it is this always-elusive feature, plus beautiful wood and sparkling mechanics in a genuine detachable sidekick action, that boosted Kimber's side-by-side double into our top spot. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A+
Performance: A+
Price/Value: B
Kimber
Guerini Magnus Light
Guerini Magnus Light (Editor's Choice 2003)
Price: $2,730
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. From the Gun Test: Twin-barreled shotguns, whether side-by-sides or over/unders, are a lot like women's fashions: They tend to go in and out of style. Some classics, however, like a Chanel suit, endure forever, and so it is with the Guerini Magnus. It looks great in the hand, on the gun rack and-best of all-on the shoulder. Good doubles costing over two grand were once considered out of reach for all but the wealthy few, but nowadays a double costing under $3,000 is almost considered middle of the price range. Which makes our choice all the more attractive; its overall finish and quality compare well with some makes costing nearly twice as much. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A+
Performance: A+
Price/Value: B
Guerini
Weatherby 459-SA TR
GREAT BUY WINNERS
Weatherby 459-SA TR (Great Buy 2011)
Price: $659
Gauge: 20 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 4 oz. From the Gun Test: It wouldn't be completely fair to say that the Weatherby 459-SA TR, this year's Great Buy in the shotgun category, was a dark horse, but it might seem a bit odd to have selected a 20-gauge tactical shotgun for this honor. Yet the Weatherby ran away with the best scores in our Price/Value category based on its versatility for home defense, its suitability for women and young shooters, its potential as a lightweight turkey gun and the pure fun we had while using it at the range. With a compact overall length and a pistol grip for support in a 6-pound 5-ounce package, the Weatherby is the very definition of handy. It comes with a ghost-ring sight on a Picatinny rail that works extremely well--even to the point of being deadly on hard-crossing clay targets. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: B+
Performance: A-
Price/Value: A-
Weatherby
Benelli Legacy Sport
Benelli Legacy Sport (Great Buy 2008)
Price: $2,160
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 10 oz. From the Gun Test: Guns made for serious sporting-clays competition do not, as a rule, tend to have much dash or flash, but not so with this Benelli offering to the game. With a lavish covering of lace-like Victorian ornamentation on its bright silver receiver, it evokes the charms of a 19th-century New Orleans bordello--which is not meant in the least as a criticism. Autoloading shotguns have a way of looking so boringly alike
that it's refreshing to see something different. What is not different about this Benelli, however, is the reliable action and its deep-freeze-treated Crio-barrel, which in this model has a ported muzzle to reduce jump and a ventilated rib that tapers from a wide .388 inches down to .320 inches. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: A
Price/Value: B
Benelli
Beretta AL391 URIKA 2
Beretta AL391 URIKA 2 (Great Buy 2007)
Price: $1,250
Gauge: 20 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 6 oz. From the Gun Test: "Wow! Check out that pretty wood" was the universal reaction of our shotgun test team when Beretta's 391 Urika 2 was uncased. But as it turns out, the reason they have such great-looking wood on a gun in this price range is neatly spelled out in a small emblem on the laser-checkered grip panel: It reads, "X-Tra Grain," meaning that the stock's rich, marble-cake color contrasts are artificially enhanced by artistic and scientific means. Some gunmakers, especially in Italy, have been artificially beautifying stocks for years, but they've mostly kept their trickery a secret of the trade. Beretta, on the other hand, proudly announces it as its latest contribution to the art. It takes more than pretty wood to earn Outdoor Life's coveted Great Buy award, however. What impressed us more were features like the Urika 2's improved gas system, self-cleaned by a spinning piston to keep it working longer between cleanings; its magazine cutoff; the new, easier-to-close bolt release (someone at Beretta finally listened); the extra recoil pad that changes length of pull by 1⁄4 inch; the overbored barrel; the five color-coded screw-in chokes; and more. Best of all, we liked the way the Urika 2 handled and performed. These bonus features add up to big value, with each of the judges giving it an excellent score for price/value. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: A
Price/Value: A
Beretta
Remington SPR 453
Remington SPR 453 (Great Buy 2006)
Price: $405
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 4 oz. From the Gun Test: Beauty is as beauty does, it's been said, and in the hands of our shotgun test team this no-frills auto-loader from Russia took wing and became this year's Great Buy award winner. Last year we tested one of the first of Remington's "Spartan" imports, a plain but solid over/under that earned good marks. Remington now imports these guns under the classier-sounding ISP (International Sporting Products) global group. To win this honor, a gun must not only represent a fair dollar value but also deliver performance beyond what one would expect from a product in its price category. Or, as one of our test shooters astutely observed, "When it comes to value, performance trumps appearance every time." Not just a warmed-over design, the SPR 453 has an up-to-date tunable gas system to operate 23⁄4-inch to 31⁄2-inch 12-gauge shotshells. Our sample came adjusted for heavy loads, which caused some ejection failures with the light target loads we used on the skeet field. This could have been corrected by simply resetting the gas system, but the gun swung so smoothly, we didn't want to stop shooting. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: C+
Performance: B
Price/Value: A+
Remington
Mossberg 935 shotgun
Mossberg 935 (Best Buy 2004)
Price: $646
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 6 lb. 5 oz. From the Gun Test: There was time, not so long ago, when foreign-made - especially European - sporting firearms possessed two particularly attractive features: fine "old-world handcraftsmanship" and relatively modest price tags. But nowadays some of the set gun bargains are marked "Made in the USA." this is what our test team discovered when shooting and analyzing Mossberg's Model 935 autoloading shotgun. Chambered for the increasingly popular 3 1/2 inch 12-gauge, our test sample smoothly functioned all three lengths of 12-gauge ammo; only light target loads gave us any problem. The overall fit and finish are consistent with that of guns costing nearly twice as much. Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Workmanship: B
Performance: B
Price/Value: A+
Mossberg
Remington 332 shotgun
Remington 332 (Great Buy 2002)
Price: $1,532
Gauge: 12 ga. From the Gun Test: The new 332 looks, feels and seems to perform somewhat better than its immediate predecessors, which is perhaps damning with faint praise. And Remington is playing its nostalgia card by borrowing from the ancestral M-32 in both name and an exact reproduction of the simple but well-remembered pointing dog impressed on the receiver. Our shooting tests were handicapped by the only test sample available, which apparently had had its stock shortened an inch or so to accommodate a smaller-statured shooter. Otherwise, I would rank it as a solid, American-made shotgun with some nice features. Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Workmanship: B
Performance: B
Price/Value: A
Remington
Weatherby SAS Field
Weatherby SAS Field (Great Buy 2003)
Price: $699
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. From the Gun Test: there's a bunch of good autoloading shotguns on today's market. Features like gas operation (as opposed to the double-shuffle, harder-kicking effect of recoil-operated autoloaders) were once big selling points, but now an autoloader that isn't gas-operated is an exception. This is why our shotgun team had to peek under the covers for features that add to performance and value. The smooth performance, good price-value, pretty wood and adjustable stock dimensions of this Italian-made Weatherby earned it our Great Buy award. Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Workmanship: B
Performance: B
Price/Value: A
Weatherby
Beretta AL391 Teknys Gold Target
HONORABLE MENTIONS
Beretta AL391 Teknys Gold Target (2007)
Price: $1,200
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 4 oz. From the Gun Test: Simply stated, Beretta's AL391 Teknys is almost in a class by itself. Whether it's used for trap or sporting clays, the racy-looking Teknys edges beyond what's considered state of the art among competition-type autoloaders. At first heft, the Teknys comes across as big and heavy. And with a weight of 8 pounds 11 ounces and a 30-inch barrel, it certainly is. However, a half pound of this weight is due to a removable recoil reducer in the buttstock, which proved a more-than-worthwhile trade-off during our testing on the trap field. The self-compensating gas system is so quick and smooth that it feels more like shooting a break-action shotgun that doesn't kick. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: A
Price/Value: A
Beretta
Benelli Duca Di Montefeltro
Benelli Duca Di Montefeltro (2007)
Price: $1,465
Gauge: 20 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 10 oz. From the Gun Test: up is one of those pretty little items you want to snap to your shoulder and say, "I'd sure like to shoot that little honey." The entire test team had good things to say about its pretty wood and sharp checkering and even the snazzy ornamentation of its nickel-plated, lightweight receiver. On the skeet field, the little Benelli proved to be as quick-pointing as it looked, and its flawless inertia-driven operation earned quite a bit of praise. We've had good things to say about Benelli's inertia-driven system before, and the system works even better with light 20-gauge guns like the Duca di Montefeltro. The slam and shuffle effect of autoloaders is always bothersome, and even more so with lighter, small-gauge shotguns. The quickness and simplicity of Benelli's inertia system tends to reduce this sensation, making the Montefeltro all the more pleasant to shoot. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: A
Price/Value: A
Benelli
Ruger Gold Label shotgun
Ruger Gold Label (2005)
Price: $2,000
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. 4 oz. From the Gun Test: The Ruger Gold Label side-by-side shotgun scored well because it's easy to operate, especially when compared with some of the other side-by-sides and all over/unders we tested. All of the test team members shot it well and the English-style grip is attractive and easy to manage. Checkering on the grip area has a nice point pattern and is sharp indeed, but the checkering pattern on the forearm didn't seem to match. An interesting feature of the Ruger side-by-side is that the barrels have old-fashioned rust blue, and the screw-in chokes are extremely thin and have an apex-type filing for added strength. Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Workmanship: B
Performance: A+
Price/Value: B
Ruger
Benelli Super Black Eagle II
Benelli Super Black Eagle II (2004)
Price: $1,365
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 12 oz. From the Gun Test: The 3 1/2 inch, 12-gauge Magnum shell has a reputation for punishing recoil, which makes Benelli's claim of having reduced the kick of the long 12 by nearly half an attention-grabbing proposition, especially among hunters of turkey and waterfowl. Another unique feature of the SBE II is its remarkable assembly and operating system, which is obviously the result of computer-aided engineering. A short generation ago such elegant mechanical design would have been virtually impossible. The beauty of the Benelli engineering was apparent when we tested a full range of shotshells, from light target loads up to the heaviest, and found all to function perfectly. Overall Score: 4 Stars
Workmanship: B
Performance: A+
Price/Value: B
Benelli
Beretta Silver Pigeon V
Beretta Silver Pigeon V (2004)
Price: $3,448
Gauge: 20 ga.
Trigger Pull: 5 lb. 3 oz. From the Gun Test: Beretta's Silver Pigeon V is the sort of over/under you wouldn't mind being seen with as you step to the plate at a sporting clays shoot or walk up behind a pair of pointing dogs at a plantation quail hunt. Beretta has a knack for making guns that fit that description, and the Silver Pigeon's pretty walnut, case-color receiver and engraving with faux gold inlays look rich enough to make an impression in any crowd. But performance counts, too, and our team of shotgun experts had mixed reactions during the shooting tests, ranging from almost universal condemnation of the automatic safety (it automatically engages when the gun is opened) to high praise for the smoothness of the action. Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Workmanship: B+
Performance: B+
Price/Value: B+
Beretta
Kimber Augusta
Kimber Augusta (2002)
Price: $4,350
Gauge: 12 ga.
Trigger Pull: 4 lb. / 4 lb. 7 oz. From the Gun Test: A new over/under bearing the Kimber logo represents quite a stretch for a gunmaker that made a reputation for itself with classy rifles and, more recently, a popular line of handguns. Built by Investarm, one of the "new age" Italian gunmakers that combine sophisticated machining techniques with traditional philosophies, the Kimber is beautifully fitted, richly sculpted and detailed with an elegantly slender profile made possible by a bifurcated locking system (locking lugs on the sides rather than under the barrel). The high-grade wood, fine checkering and deep, elegant blue with tasteful gold border exude class and expense. Overall Score: 3.5 Stars
Workmanship: A
Performance: B+
Price/Value: B For More Gun Galleries See the Links Below
50 Best Hunting Rifles of the Last 10 Years
50 Best Guns Ever Made
Shotgun Review: OL Ranks The Best New Shotguns of 2011
Rifle Review: OL Ranks the Best New Shotguns of 2011
Kimber