OL Shotgun Test: A Look Back (2007)

Caesar Guerini Maxum Trap

Caesar Guerini Maxum Trap

Workmanship: 4 out of 4
Performance: 4 out of 4
Price/Value: 4 out of 4
Retail:: $6,550
Contact:: 866-901-1131; gueriniusa.com 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." Testers' Comments:
This gun really feels good.
_Would be my choice if I took up trap shooting again
_Needs careful adjusting of comb and rib for best performance
_Wow! What a dream shotgun
_A big price but worth it
_Didn't like feel of grip
_No excuse to ever miss a target with it
_Everything about it is first-rate
_Beautiful engraving
_Good trigger pull
_Felt great on shoulder
_Scary how well this gun shoots
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Benelli Duca Di Montefeltro

Benelli Duca Di Montefeltro

Workmanship: 4 out of 4
Performance: 4 out of 4
Price/Value: 4 out of 4
Retail:: $1,465
Contact:: 301-283-6981; benelliusa.com This latest addition to the Benelli lineup 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. The Montefeltro also got a great score in the price/value rating, which is why it and a few other well performing shotguns caused this year's scoring to be unusually high (and our final decisions especially tough). Testers' Comments:
Very easy to shoot, with low recoil and light trigger
Excellent auto shotgun, great for field use
Nice wood and engraving
Light handling
Functioned perfectly
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Beretta al391 Teknys Gold Target
Workmanship: 4 out of 4
Performance: 4 out of 4
Price/Value: 4 out of 4
Retail:: $2,100
Contact:: 800-237-3882; berettausa.com 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. How-ever, 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. The comb is adjustable for height and cast, and the overall buttstock dimensions can be changed by using shims supplied with the gun. Our test sample came fitted with a 50/50 rib""meaning it puts half the pattern above and half below the sight line""but the package included a rib that puts 70 percent of the pattern above the line of sight (60/40 and 80/20 ribs are also available). Four forend caps of various weights allow quick gun-balance changes. Testers' Comments:
Solid lockup and shot well
Would be my first choice if I shot trap with an autoloader
Wood fit and finish and design are excellent
A lot of gun for the money
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Browning Cynergy Classic

Browning Cynergy Classic

Workmanship: 3 out of 4
Performance: 4 out of 4
Price/Value: 3 out of 4
Retail:: $3,235
Contact:: 800-333-3288; browning.com An enduring criticism of over/under shotguns is that their receiver profiles are deep and rather ungraceful. This complaint was partially laid to rest a few years back with the introduction of Browning's Cynergy, which has a strikingly shallow profile, thanks to its innovative MonoLock Hinge system. Now comes a 28-gauge Cynergy (it's also available in .410) with a receiver measuring just over 2 inches from top to bottom, making it more svelte than even some small-gauge side-by-sides. The little 28-gauge we tested has a pretty oil-finished walnut stock with traditional checkering. With its 28-inch barrels seeming even longer in slender 28 gauge, the Cynergy Classic Sporting has the look of a thoroughbred racehorse. Our tests on the skeet field revealed a similar prowess at competition, causing one tester to call it "the best Browning ever." Though it performed well, it lost points on its price/value score. Testers' Comments:
Handles and points like a dream
Has many subtle features that make it a great gun, but pricey
Recoil is hardly noticeable
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Beretta al391 Urika 2
Workmanship: 4 out of 4
Performance: 4 out of 4
Price/Value: 4 out of 4
Retail:: $1,250
Contact:: 800-237-3882; berettausa.com "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. Testers' Comments:
Functions flawlessly; this is an excellent auto shotgun
A dandy field gun, quick pointing and handling
Artificially enhanced wood grain elevates value and aesthetics
Great gun, and affordable
Points quick and recoil is mild
Great trigger pull
Points and handles like a dream
Wish butt was less "sticky"
Action was much easier to operate and manipulate than some Berettas of prior years
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Marlin L.C. Smith

Marlin L.C. Smith

Workmanship: 2 out of 4
Performance: 3 out of 4
Price/Value: 2 out of 4
Retail:: $1,421
Contact:: 203-239-5621; marlinfirearms.com There's still magic in the L.C. Smith name, even though the legendary American double we tested in 28-gauge was built in Spain, where side-by-side doubles are as much a part of the national character as bullfights and paella. Though this latest version is a boxlock, the familiar L.C. Smith side plates are there, serving mainly as a background for some light engraving and gold-wash overlay. Beyond that, however, there's not much a true L.C. Smith aficionado would recognize. For example, the laser-cut checkering panels employ a fleur-de-lis motif when a simple point pattern would have been more appropriate. The case-hardened coloring is nice, but the monobloc-fitted barrels are unevenly polished; even the rib itself is uneven. Other criticisms included the chunky, unbalanced look of a 12-gauge frame fitted with small-gauge barrels. On the plus side, operation of the single selective mechanical trigger was reliable, as was ejection of the selective ejectors. The gun is a fair value for someone wanting an entry-level side-by-side upland shotgun, but the test team's overall opinion is that Marlin could better serve the L.C. Smith name and perhaps even rival its side-by-side competitors by upgrading this gun a bit more. Testers' Comments:
Points well
Function was okay
Plain wood lacks aesthetics, but good price
Wood-to-metal fit needs improvement
Good bird gun
Plain to look at, but good gun for new hunter
Fun to shoot
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Remington Premier Upland

Remington Premier Upland

Workmanship: 3 out of 4
Performance: 3 out of 4
Price/Value: 3 out of 4
Retail:: $2,086
Contact:: 800-243-9700; remington.com Remington has had its ups and downs with domestic over/under production in recent times (no pun intended, I promise), so it made good sense for the company to go to Italy, which has become the fountainhead for this type of shotgun. But with so many Italian over/unders crowded into the $2,000 to $3,500 bracket, it's a challenge to find a lower price while offering the fit and finish we have come to expect in such "Italian Renaissance" shotguns. With the Premier, which we tested in 28-gauge, Remington seems to have deftly balanced value and finish, provided you don't look too closely. From a performance standpoint, our test team's only complaints were the heavy trigger pull and the rather short length of pull. Otherwise, the selective trigger and automatic ejectors worked flawlessly. There was also praise for the rolled and laser-engraved receiver ornamentation. Though metal fitting was close and tight locking, the lack of hand finishing in the receiver sculpting was apparent. The darkly finished stocks were hand checkered, an increasingly rare feature. Another plus is the selection of five screw-in chokes and the attractive, fitted case included with the Premier. With a street price that will probably be under $2,000, this is a shotgun well worth seeking out. Testers' Comments:
Overall, it's a nice gun at a good price
Metal finish overall is good, but tool marks on front of receiver
Creepy trigger
Gun swings fast and would be good for upland shooting or for a new hunter
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Rizzini BR 550
Workmanship: 4 out of 4
Performance: 4 out of 4
Price/Value: 2 out of 4
Retail:: $4,059
Contact:: 011-39/030-861-163; rizzini.it Though not a familiar name in most American shooting clubs, Rizzini is known and respected by connoisseurs of the better Italian-made doubles. But even in those circles there is confusion about which Rizzini is which, as there are different manufacturers whose shotguns bear the same name. The side-by-side double sub­­mitted for this year's test is by Battista Rizzini, maker of shotguns and double rifles since 1965 and best known for mid- to higher-grade over/unders. This newest addition to the Rizzini line exhibits the close fit and careful finishing we have come to expect from its over/unders. It's a product of what I call the Italian Renaissance school of gun making, as Rizzini has employed computer-controlled machine technology to carve and fit steel so precisely that it looks like fine handwork, but at significantly lower production costs. Even so, there's evidence of lots of old-world hand finishing in the fast-handling double we tested, especially around the knuckle, water table, standing breech and classically styled fences. Also notable is the buttery smoothness of the opening lever and double locking bolts. In addition, we liked the BR 550's stylishly understated receiver ornamentation, crisp trigger pull and ripple-free barrel polishing. Somewhat disappointing, how-ever, was the quality of the wood, which lacked the color and figure of that found on Italian shotguns selling for less. The laser-cut checkering was also not up to our expectations, even considering the lower standard we hold this type of checkering to. Testers' Comments:
Excellent hunting gun!
The inertia trigger was light and smooth
Gun mounted from the down position better than the other side-by-sides tested
Should have higher-grade wood for the money
A sexy gun that shoots very well, but pricey
Nicely finished
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Smith & Wesson Elite Gold

Smith & Wesson Elite Gold

Workmanship: 4 out of 4
Performance: 4 out of 4
Price/Value: 4 out of 4
Retail:: $2,350
Contact:: 800-331-0852; smith-wesson.com If one word could sum up Smith & Wesson's reentry into the shotgun market, that word would be "traditional." This is a traditional side-by-side shotgun in the best sense""traditional fixed chokes and S&W;'s traditional good finish. Unlike Smith & Wesson's earlier efforts in the long-gun market, the venerable American gunmaker now appears to be in the game for keeps, even buying into a partnership with a Turkish gunmaker. The sample gun we tested incorporates everything a shotgunner could wish for in a medium-priced side-by-side, including slick finishing, close-fitting metal and wood, and some of the prettiest case coloring you'll find at any price. An added bonus is S&W;'s unique Heirloom Warranty, which remains in effect for the succeeding generations of the original buyer, which is nice. Though screw-in chokes are widely considered a desirable feature, two members of the test team were not at all put off by the Smith's fixed chokes, considering it to be consistent with the shotgun's traditionally classic theme. Other traditional, though less visible, features of a good double found on this new Smith include its leaf-type springs and honest hand-cut checkering. All of which make the Heirloom Warranty all the more appealing, as this is the type of shotgun that deserves to be passed down through generations. Testers' Comments:
Nicely finished and good wood-to-metal fit
Smooth opening and closing
The fixed chokes and non-selective trigger are standard in guns of this type and class
Good, natural pointing
Hard trigger affects performance
A terrific value
A classic upland gun
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Smith & Wesson Elite Gold

Smith & Wesson Elite Gold

Workmanship: 4 out of 4
Performance: 4 out of 4
Price/Value: 4 out of 4
Retail:: $2,350
Contact:: 800-331-0852; smith-wesson.com If one word could sum up Smith & Wesson's reentry into the shotgun market, that word would be "traditional." This is a traditional side-by-side shotgun in the best sense""traditional fixed chokes and S&W;'s traditional good finish. Unlike Smith & Wesson's earlier efforts in the long-gun market, the venerable American gunmaker now appears to be in the game for keeps, even buying into a partnership with a Turkish gunmaker. The sample gun we tested incorporates everything a shotgunner could wish for in a medium-priced side-by-side, including slick finishing, close-fitting metal and wood, and some of the prettiest case coloring you'll find at any price. An added bonus is S&W;'s unique Heirloom Warranty, which remains in effect for the succeeding generations of the original buyer, which is nice. Though screw-in chokes are widely considered a desirable feature, two members of the test team were not at all put off by the Smith's fixed chokes, considering it to be consistent with the shotgun's traditionally classic theme. Other traditional, though less visible, features of a good double found on this new Smith include its leaf-type springs and honest hand-cut checkering. All of which make the Heirloom Warranty all the more appealing, as this is the type of shotgun that deserves to be passed down through generations. Testers' Comments:
Nicely finished and good wood-to-metal fit
Smooth opening and closing
The fixed chokes and non-selective trigger are standard in guns of this type and class
Good, natural pointing
Hard trigger affects performance
A terrific value
A classic upland gun
Outdoor Life Online Editor