The main takeaway from the shotgun world this SHOT Show? More gunmakers are going small with multiple sub-gauge offerings, from high-end doubles to more affordable pumps and auto-loaders. Sub-gauge guns are more popular than ever, mostly due to the advancement of tungsten and bismuth shotshells, which are more deadly than straight steel and even lead offerings. These shotshell options are finally getting affordable, and they’re widely available to the masses. That’s not to say 12 gauges are obsolete. Most gunmakers still start with a big bore when a new model is introduced and work their way down to 20s and 28s. You just don’t always need a 12 to kill birds effectively and ethically, and the industry has become more reflective of that with a wider variety of sub-gauge offerings. Here are the latest and greatest shotguns direct from the floor at SHOT Show 2020.
We’ll start this list off with a shotgun that’s not a sub gauge. Savage’s Renegauge is one of the biggest introductions this year for a few reasons: 1) it’s the company’s first-ever semi-automatic shotgun, 2) it’s full of unique features, like a fluted barrel and patented gas system, 3) it’s a real gamer in the field. I had the opportunity to hunt with a pre-production model of the Renegauge on a sea duck hunt in December last year and my initial takeaways were that the gun absorbed felt recoil exceptionally well, it functioned flawlessly, and it pointed well. This is not a lightweight gun for covering miles in the uplands—the 28-inch barrel version weighs 7.9 pounds—but it was well-suited for a duck blind.
The Renegauge sports Savage’s AccuFit system, which the company has been using on its bolt-action rifles for years. The gun also comes with shims, which when combined with the cheek and butt pads, allows for 20 different variations. Most bird hunters don’t actually use shim kits, but that’s what’s great about the AccuFit system: It’s super quick and easy to use. You can swap out cheek pads without unscrewing anything. Simply peel off the pad and pop in a different one. (This will be especially useful for turkey hunters who want to run a red dot or sight and need more comb height.)
The shotgun will come with three choke tubes and uses the Beretta/Benelli Mobil choke if you want to throw in an after-market tube. It also has a switchable/ambidextrous safety for you left-handers. The black finish runs $1,449, while the camo and turkey models both go for $1,549. —Alex Robinson
Benelli 828U 20-gauge
Benelli’s first ever over/under is now available in 20-gauge. The 828U debuted in 2015, and it makes good sense to offer it in a sub-gauge, particularly for upland hunters, who don’t want to carry a heavy shotgun afield all day. The 20 weighs less than six pounds, and the 828U is a pretty sporty, and sleek gun. You will notice the carbon-fiber rib has no sides in order to cut down on gun weight. This double has an easy-opening lever and steel lock-plate system as well, plus impulse-driven injection, which keeps unfired shells in the barrels. Crio barrels and chokes, an alloy receiver, AA-grade satin walnut on the stock and fore-end, steel-on-steel hinges, and a recoil-reducing Progressive Comfort System round out the features of this o/u. MSRP: $3,199 —Joe Genzel
Henry X-Model .410
A lever-action .410 that could double as a small-game and home-defense gun, the X-Model is equipped with a side-loading gate on the receiver for quick loading, plus there is a removable tube magazine where you can also load/unload the dainty shotshells. The fiber-optic front sight will give you a more consistent point-of-impact when you’re running the lever gun fast, and the receiver is drilled and tapped for optic mounts. Picatinny rail (you could mount a light) and M-Lok accessory slots can be found on the forestock. Chambered for 2½-inch shotshells, the X-Model has a five-round capacity. MSRP: $970 —J.G.
Browning Citori White Lightning
The Citori was the first over/under I ever spoiled myself with. Based on John Browning’s Superposed design, this line came into existence in the early 1970s and has thrived, because it’s honestly one of the best over/unders an upland hunter with $2,000 can buy. This year, the White Lightning (because the receiver and action are not blued, but left in the natural, polished color of metal) is available in sub-gauges, including, 20, 28 and .410. The stock is finished in Grade III/IV walnut oil. My Citori has a similar oil finish and it looks practically new after 10 years of stomping through briar patches. The o/u comes with three extended black Midas chokes (F, M, IC). Sub-gauge Citoris make phenomenal clays guns because they point well, and the recoil is more manageable than the 12-gauge model. MSRP: $2,700-$2,740 —J.G.
You would be hard-pressed to say any other manufacturer builds such a wide variety of mid-level priced shotguns that function as well as Franchis (it is their niche after all). The SLX is its newest over/under, and will rank at the highest end of the Franchi price spectrum. It’s an upgrade over the SL lineup, which has been outstanding in its own right. These double guns will be available in 12-, 16- and 20-gauge offerings, and shoot both 2¾- or 3-inch loads. Right away, you’ll notice the checkered walnut Prince of Wales stock, plus engraved reviver with gold inlays—you typically get a little bit more aesthetically with a Franchi than with other similarly-priced over/unders. Vented 28-inch glossed-blue barrels, a red fiber-optic sight and extended chokes come standard with this gun, which also has a safety selector switch so you can choose which barrel shoots first. Franchi also added 28-gauge and .410 options to the SL line this year and the women’s Catalyst o/u will be available in 20-gauge. The SLX MSRP ranges from $1,999-$2099 —J.G.
Remington 870 Express Trap
The Wingmaster was the “original” 870, but since 1951 there have been plenty of Express models pulling duty in duck blinds across the flyways. Many of my hunting buddies had this 12-gauge model passed down from their dads, and most are still cycling 3-inch shells no problem. The new trap version of the Express has a higher comb/cheek weld (the Monte Carlo design you will find on a variety of clay-shooting shotguns). The barrel has been stretched to 30 inches, which adds a bit of weight to the 870, making it easier to swing and drive through the target. Machined from solid steel, the receiver should hold up for years (I have witnessed it first-hand with the waterfowl version of this gun). Capable of shooting 2¾- and 3-inch shells, the Express comes with three stock chokes and is equipped with a recoil pad. MSRP: $609 —J.G.
Mossberg 500 Turkey .410 Pump
There are good and bad Turkish-made shotguns and Mossberg has stepped up its gun game in the last decade by making smoothbores out of Turkey that function well and shoot straight. Not every state will allow hunters to shoot a .410 for turkey season, but if you can, there is a myriad of tungsten ammunition out there that will kill gobblers deader than disco (Federal, Apex and Browning, to name a few). What I like about .410s is they are light (the 500 is 6.5 pounds), so if you’re running-and-gunning after gobblers, this is an awesome option. It also has a tapped receiver for adding a red-dot optic, which isn’t a bad idea when you’re shooting such a diminutive load. The short length of pull (less than 14 inches), barrel (26 inches) and top-mounted safety are key ingredients to killing turkeys. It allows you to easily switch shoulders and shoot ambidextrously when a longbeard pops out of the timber unexpectedly. Dipped in Mossy Oak Bottomland, the pump comes with an X-Full extended turkey choke and a front fiber-optic sight, which is a huge help in low light, like when a big tom flies down from a cedar tree before sunrise and struts right into the decoys. MSRP: $515 —J.G.
CZ Bobwhite G2 All-Terrain 20-gauge
Since becoming the CZ product manager, Dave Miller has developed efficient shotguns‚ from break-actions to auto-loaders, that fit bird hunters’ needs—and he’s done it at an affordable price. For 2020, CZ launched the All-Terrain line, which consists of 11 different guns. Most are over/unders, and there is one semi-auto, but the one that’s most interesting to me is this side-by-side with a double trigger. The barrel and receiver on this little double are finished in green Cerakote (as are all the shotguns in the A-T line), which makes it more durable in the uplands and the duck blind. CZ added a novel feature to the extractors. In every side-by-side and over/under, there are magnets that hold most modern shells in place. So when you’re pheasant hunting and only need one shell to kill a rooster, the second load won’t slip out when you bend down to take the bird from pup’s mouth. Dual triggers can take some getting used to if you have never shot a gun that has them, but you’ll figure it out after a round of clays. This model runs only $828. The length of pull is 14.5 inches and leads into a straight English-style stock with a tang-mounted safety. Barrels are 28 inches and the G2 comes with five chokes (F, IM, M, IC, C) for all kinds of wingshooting or clays. MSRPs for All-Terrain guns range from $690-$1,123. —J.G.
Owner Gus Bader is fanatical about his shotgun’s functioning properly. I once read that he picks out the same model from different production runs, swaps their interchangeable parts, puts them all back together, and then shoots the hell out of them to make sure they work. Reason being, his shotguns are made for hunters and shooters who might only have the cash to buy one gun, so it better darn well shoot. The Trinity over/unders are made from CNC-machined steel or aluminum (which cuts down on weight). Both models feature oil-finished Turkish walnut stocks and fore-ends, fiber-optic front sights and five Beretta Mobil chokes (SK, IC, M, IM, F). The steel-frame o/u is available in 20-, 16- and 12-gauge. There are four options in the aluminum (LT) line: 12-, 20- and 28-gauge, plus an ultra-light .410 that is just 5.3 pounds. All Trinity shotguns come with a five-year warranty. MSRP: $685-$700 —J.G.
This clays gun underwent a massive overhaul after feedback from Beretta’s pro shooters (I ran into one of them, clays champ Zach Keinbaum, on the range and he sang the gun’s praises). The goal was to allow competition shooters to acquire the target more easily, and so Beretta started with improved stock ergonomics for a better fit and field of view. Shooters can also opt for a B-Fast adjustable comb for a more comfortable cheek weld and sight plane. The fore-end has a new self-adjusting auget button, so you can tighten it, reducing movement—the more you shoot an over/under the more loose the fore-end becomes, and this should negate that. Steelium Plus Optima HP barrels come in 30- or 32-inch lengths, plus the 694 has five extended Optima chokes (F, M, IM, IC, C). A 3-inch, 12-gauge, it’s available in a Sporting or Sporting with B-Fast model for right- and left-handed shooters. MSRP: $4,500-$4,800 —J.G.
Stoeger M3500 Predator/Turkey
Pistol grip, short-barreled shotguns are ideal for chasing gobblers and coyotes because they are far more maneuverable in tight places than traditional smoothbores. Stoeger delivered this year with the M3500 that also has a receiver drilled and tapped for mounting an optic atop the included Weaver 93 base. Inertia-driven, the 12-gauge has a 24-inch ported barrel to reduce muzzle rise and comes with an extended range Mojo choke—Rob Roberts manufactures these, and is one of the most innovative choke makers in the industry—to deliver tight patterns at distance. It’s a 3.5-inch gun, but shoot those heavy turkey loads at your own risk. Available in Mossy Oak Overwatch camo. MSRP: $929 —J.G.
Built for competition shooting, the core of this clays gun, available in .410, 28-, 20- and 12-gauge, is the four-lock mechanism you won’t find on many other over/unders. Most o/u shotguns are built on a two-lock system where the receiver and barrels meet. Four locks essentially doubles the lifetime of the gun, because as you shoot it more the locks loosen. I had the chance to shoot the 12-gauge XF4 Gold (it comes in silver and black models as well) and dusted a few clays, low gun and high gun. It was a great shooting 12 from the first pull of the trigger. There was no stiffness breaking open the action, commonly found in a new double. The XF4 comes with five extended chokes, a single-selective trigger, plus an adjustable pistol grip and walnut oil finish on the stock and fore-end. MSRP: $TBD —J.G.
Retay Masai Mara 20-gauge
A slender gun that feels much like the Benelli M2, the 20-gauge Masai Mara is an inertia-driven shotgun that uses a rotating bolt head for lock up and extraction of shotshells. The first thing that popped out was the oversized bolt handle and bolt release button, ideal for duck or upland hunters who are trying to operate guns with frozen fingers or gloves. You get five choke tubes (F, IM, M, IC, S) with this 3-inch auto-loader, which is available in matte black, walnut finish, Mossy Oak, and Realtree camo. MSRP: $1,099-$1,299 —J.G.
Mossberg SA-410 Field
A lot of kids grew up hunting with a Mossberg, and I wish this one had been around when my dad took me on our first dove hunt. But .410 auto-loaders aren’t just for introducing kids to shooting. I shot a Tri-Star version last year on skeet and found out quick the wide gap between crushing clays with a 20-gauge and .410. This model is gas-operated, which means almost no recoil. It only has a 13.75-inch length of pull, fine for the grouse woods, but if you are long-necked, it will need shims or a buttstock pad for better fit. The gun comes with five chokes (F, IM, M, IC and C) and has a 26-inch barrel with vent rib. It also comes in a turkey model (be sure it’s legal to shoot a .410 on gobblers in your neck of the woods) with ghost ring sights and an XX-Full choke. MSRP: $616-$735 —J.G.