From an ‘everyman’ autoloader to guns celebrating some lesser-used loads, it’s easy to see that the year’s newest sporting shotguns aim to make the shooting sports more fun and accessible.
Can a dedicated shotgunner own just one model? It’s possible of course; even those with wide collections seem to gravitate to a favorite at some point. Still looking for yours? Don’t panic. Team HuntStand was among the more than 64,000 industry professionals who attended the 38th Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show held in January in Las Vegas; there we found some of the finest weapons in the world (complete with prices to match). We also found some serious bargains. What follows are a handful of great new offerings aimed at arming everyone from the beginner to those possessing the most-discerning tastes.
Stevens S1200 12-Gauge Semi-Automatic
If you’ve ever wanted a semi-automatic shotgun, but thought they were out of your price range, the Stevens S1200 is worth a look. Starting at just $573 it offers extreme value for an entry-level shotgun. When I shot it at the range, the inertia-driven action cycled smooth and fast. At just 6.60 pounds, with a 26- or 28-inch vent-rib barrel, it is easy to swing and acquire targets. Different models are available with a walnut, camouflage synthetic, or an all-weather black matte synthetic stock. Guns have a 3-inch chamber and the barrel accepts the Beretta choke system. This shotgun, with 14.25-inch length-of-pull, is built for shooters with a large frame. MSRP: $573 to $685.
Mossberg 930 Pro-Series Waterfowl & 935 Magnum Pro-Series Waterfowl
If you’d like a shotgun to use in any weather conditions the Mossberg Pro-Series Waterfowl models prove their reliability. I used the 930 Pro-Series Waterfowl on a recent sea duck hunt with salt water, sea shells and sand to deal with on a daily basis and it never failed. Besides the rugged synthetic stock the gun features special coatings on its metal components to ensure proper cycling and prevent rust from forming. Actually, Pro-Series shotguns share several special finishes and coatings: boron nitride-coated gas pistons, piston rings, magazine tubes, hammers, sears, return spring plungers and return spring tubes offer both enhanced corrosion resistance and cleaning ease. The shell stops, bolt slides and elevators receive additional finishing designed to reduce friction and allow for faster follow-up shots; you’ll also find a waterfowler-friendly stainless steel return spring, and great-looking Mossy Oak Shadowgrass Blades camo finish. The 930 Pro-Series Waterfowl is chambered for 3-inch loads and features a 28-inch vent rib barrel; the 935 Magnum Pro-Series Waterfowl is chambered for 3 1/2-inch loads and features a 28-inch overbored, vent rib barrel designed to reduce felt recoil and deliver consistent, dense patterns. Both models include Mossberg’s Stock Drop System that adjusts the vertical angle of the stock (drop at comb) for a custom-like fit; and choke tube set (Full, Modified and Improved Cylinder). MSRP: $797-$931.
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Stoeger P3000 Pump
There are likely few wing-shooting enthusiasts who didn’t start their passion with a venerable pump shotgun; now Stoeger has introduced a new workhorse field gun ready to fuel a whole new generation. It’s important to know, however, that this is not a “basic” shotgun from the past, as it incorporates many newer features to keep the gun lightweight and weather resistant. The anodized aluminum receiver keeps the gun manageable at 6.9 pounds, and takes both 2¾- and 3-inch loads. The 28-inch barrels come with a modified choke and wrench, providing the opportunity to add on options. The shotgun is built with a 14 1/8-inch length of pull, with a total length of 49½ inches. This is an economical gun with some checkering to dress it up, but with an MSRP of $299 it is a great entry-level shotgun.
Browning A5 “Sweet Sixteen”
The original Auto 5 was a 16-gauge, so it’s only fitting that the new A5 from Browning is available in the time-tested favorite. Known as the “Sweet Sixteen,” this autoloading shotgun is built on a smaller, lighter receiver for reduced weight and a smoother feel. I shot the gun on an upland game bird hunt and on a sporting clay course and the sleek design makes it clear that good things come in small packages. Unlike the original Auto 5, the A5 uses kinetic energy to cycle the recoil-operated system. The shotgun is chambered for 2¾-inch loads and the receiver is a lightweight aluminum alloy. To give the gun a classic look the stock and forearm are gloss finish walnut with a close radius pistol grip and sharp, 18 lines-per-inch checkering. The gun is versatile for any sized shooter, with shim-adjustable length of pull and cast and drop, and comes with ¼- and ½-inch stock spacers for length-of-pull adjustments. Three Invector-DS chokes are supplied to fit the 26-inch or 28-inch length barrels. The gun weighs in at 5 lbs. 12 oz. and comes in a hard case. MSRP: $1,699.99.
Benelli Ethos 28 Gauge, 3-Inch
A growing trend in the shotgun market is the return to smaller-gauge guns. The Benelli Ethos line has expanded to include a 28-gauge in the popular semi-automatic family. The real news is the fact that you can now get and shoot 3-inch shotshells in this smaller-gauge shotgun. This cartridge, developed between Benelli and Fiocchi Ammunition, provides the same velocity as a standard 2¾-inch 28-gauge shotshell, but ups the ante with ¼ oz. more shot. The extra payload provides 25-percent more knockdown power and 20-percent more pellets on target at 35 yards. The small, sophisticated gun is easy to handle and operates with an inertia-driven system and recoil-reduction system. The shotgun comes with a full set of choke tubes and sports an AA-grade walnut stock and engraved nickel-plated receiver. MSRP $2,199.