Reduced weight, reduced recoil and precision actions that increase cycling speed are among the high points in this year's lineup of new shotguns.
We test-drove nine buzz-worthy models that troops should take note of, from trap shooting guns to upland bird and waterfowl, and even deer and turkey setups.
If you're a shotgunner, you've never had more options.
We feature guns within the financial reach of most readers, although a couple of guns designed for the trap shooting set push the bubble at more than two grand.
Prices quoted are manufacturer's suggested retail. Store prices are usually lower, often up to 10 percent or more with military or other discounts.
1 Benelli Ultra Light 20-gauge (Dove hunter's delight). The new Ultra Light 20-gauge semiautomatic has a featherweight alloy receiver, shortened magazine tube and raised target rib made from carbon fiber to trim its weight to just 5 pounds, 2 ounces. Despite its light weight, the gun exhibited exceptionally light recoil as we blasted clays with a box of target loads.
The "Crio" barrel and choke tubes are cryogenically treated (frozen to 300 degrees below zero), which alters the steel's molecular structure and smoothes things out following the hammer forging. Also features a Weathercoat-treated walnut stock and a shim kit to allow adjustment to the drop and cast for better fit.
2 Remington 11-87 Sportsman ShurShot Camo Cantilever (Comfort counts; a deer-hunting winner). Remington's new 12-gauge autoloader with ShurShot synthetic pistol-grip stock should be bad medicine for bucks. A new SuperCell recoil pad is designed to lighten the thump from increasingly hot-loaded 3-inch slug rounds.
The stock and forearm have Realtree hardwoods HD camo. The blued, 23-inch rifled barrel has a cantilever-mount barrel to accept your favored optics. Weighs 8 pounds. The lower-priced pump-action Model 870s in both the deer and turkey configurations also are worth a look.
3 Browning Cynergy Feather (Light in weight, heavy in performance). Browning is also making a new line of lightweight, light-recoil shotguns. The ultra-low-profile Cynergy over/under uses a lightweight alloy receiver with a steel breech face. The main Cynergy line employs steel receivers. Amazingly, the 20-gauge version weighs just 5 pounds, while the 12-gauge Cynergy Feather weighs 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
Other features: Ventilated top and side ribs, Reverse Striker ignition system, top-tang barrel selector/safety, satin-finish walnut stock, Invector-Plus choke tubes, and the Inflex Technology Recoil Pad System.
4Benelli Legacy Sport (Shoot to kill — clays or chukars). The stylish, slim 12-gauge Legacy Sport is designed for competition clay shooters, but this semiautomatic will work just fine on upland birds, as well. It is a balanced, sweet shooter that mounts and swings effortlessly.
Also sports Crio barrel and choke tubes. Benelli reports better shot patterns through this ported barrel. A gel recoil pad pairs with a AA grade satin walnut stock.
5 Winchester Super X3 Waterfowl (Coming soon to a duck marsh near you). This 12-gauge, semiautomatic shotgun handles ammo from 2¾-inch field loads to 3½-inch magnums and is built for heavy duty in tough environments. It's fully camouflaged in a high-definition "Mossy Oak duck blind pattern" and sports a weather-resistant composite stock and forearm with a Dura-Touch Armor Coating finish.
Other features: plated, corrosion-resistant bolt; .742-inch back-bored barrel; ventilated rib; adjustable drop and cast spacers; and a 26- or 28-inch barrel. Weighs 7 pounds, 4 ounces.
6 Mossberg Silver Reserve Side-by-Side Field (Classic look with beautiful Turkish walnut). These new attractive, affordable double-barrels come in 12- and 28-gauge versions. Scroll engraving with a cut checkered, Turkish black walnut stock and forearm. Thumb-operated safety and integrated barrel selector located on the top tang. Corrosion-resistant, chrome-plated chambers and bores. Weighs 7.2 pounds.
7 H&R 1871 Ultra Slug Thumbhole (Affordably good bang for the bucks). The Ultra Slug Hunter single-shot slug gun has built a deserved reputation as an accurate, reliable deer gun. New this year is a thumbhole pistol grip laminated stock. The blued, 24-inch barrel is Ultragon rifled, which means it has been cut with six oval lands and grooves. H&R says this is similar to parabolic rifling and it spins bullets without leaving sharp impressions on sabot jackets or Foster-type lead slugs.
This slug gun already enjoyed a shoot-the-wings-off-a-fly-at-100-yards level of accuracy. H&R says the new rifling makes an already accurate shotgun even more precise.
Comes with a hammer extension — a must for shooting with a scope — and scope mount (no iron sights). Weighs 8.5 pounds.
8 Browning 16-gauge Hunter and BPS Upland Special (Grandpa would've liked it). Browning adds a 16-gauge option to its pump action Hunter and BPS Upland Special lines. This 16-gauge pump is built on a 20-gauge frame with barrels ranging from 24 to 28 inches.
Other features include a top tang safety and bottom ejection, and walnut English-style straight-grip stock on the upland gun, with a pistol grip stock on the hunter. Weighs 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
9 Mossberg 935 Magnum Turkey/Deer Combo (2 for the price of 1). With interchangeable 24-inch, rifled slugster and over-bored turkey barrels, Mossberg covers big game basics with this versatile 12-gauge autoloader. The turkey barrel has an extended X-Factor Ulti-Full choke with adjustable fiber-optic sights. Drilled and tapped for added optics. Designed for 3- and 3½-inch factory shotshells. Full Mossy Oak new break-up camo. Weighs 7.5 pounds.