Shotgun preference and recommendations are two topics waterfowl hunters can
argue talk about until they’re blue in the face.
Now, more than ever, waterfowl hunters have a ridiculous number of options to choose from, which further compounds the question; What’s the best shotgun on the market for waterfowl hunters?
It’s a subjective question, but here are our top recommendations when looking for the best duck hunting shotgun.
Best Duck Hunting Shotguns
Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus
One specific phrase comes to mind with the A400 Xtreme Plus. Soft Shooting. I mean it, seriously, overall felt recoil, even with some of the “lighter” magnum waterfowl loads, can be damn near shocking.
Not with the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus.
Soft shooting, easy swinging, and incredibly reliable, no matter what loads you’re running through it. We shot everything from 2 ¾ inch #7 non-tox dove loads up to some screaming 1700 FPS 3 ½ inch BBB loads for geese, all without even a thought of flinching. Beretta knows how to make a duck gun that appeals to a variety of people.
With a Steelium Plus Barrel helping to reduce recoil out the gate, along with a new soft comb stock that even further reduces felt recoil, this semi-automatic gas gun can handle the most punishing waterfowl loads on the market and still leave you ready, willing, and able to come back for more.
Not only is the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus a capable waterfowl shotgun, but it’s also easy on the eyes, meaning it’s a genuinely good look shotgun. With finishes available in Max-5, Mossy Oak Bottomland, DRT, Optifade, or black synthetic, you can expect power and reliability at the highest level, perfect for any waterfowl hunting.
- Gauge: 12
- Chamber: 3.5-inch
- Overall weight: 7.8 pounds
- MSRP: $1,749
If you’re looking for a quality duck hunting shotgun that is soft shooting, don’t look past the Beretta A400 – it’s a great option, dare we say the best if your looking to save your shoulder while shooting as many shells as you possibly can – which makes this an optimal gun for goose hunters as well.
Benelli Super Black Eagle III
Arguably one of the most heavily discussed and highly praised waterfowl shotguns on the market today, Benelli has a rabid fan base which was more than willing (dare I say “eager”) to adopt the SBE III as their “go-to” waterfowl shotgun.
Considered a “flagship model,” Benelli truly outdid themselves here and crafted a lightweight, easy swinging, and relatively clean cycling inertia-driven shotgun that fits and feels like a dream – adding the classic waterfowl pattern cerakote, makes it one of the best duck hunting shotguns created ever.
The SBE3 is one of the best-handling semi-auto shotguns ever made. It’s sleek and light, so you can get the gun moving fast, which is vital for waterfowl hunters because our shot windows can get tight.
Weighing in at only seven (7) pounds, in certain circles, the Benelli SBE III is considered the ultimate guide gun since it can stand up to the 100-plus days of hell a guide will put it through each season.
Available in various finishes and patterns and paired with some of the best choke tubes out of the factory, the patterning out of the Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 was phenomenal, with stock chokes, mind you, regardless of the non-tox loads we ran through it.
Upgrade to some aftermarket choke tubes, slap on your favorite sling, and you’ll be ready for whatever the duck hunting season throws your way. Plus, your hunting buddies are going to be green with envy that you’re outfitted with one of the most talked-about waterfowl guns in the industry.
- Gauge: 12
- Chamber: 3.5-inch
- Overall weight: 7 pounds
- MSRP: $1,699
If you’re a die hard duck hunter that is looking for the best duck hunting shotgun that money can buy – the Benelli Super Black Eagle should definitely be at the top of your list. It’s a high dollar gun, but for the serious duck hunter, we’d say it’s definitely worth it.
Franchi Affinity 3
Franchi touts the Affinity 3 as “The ideal coming together of Italian craftsmanship and American passion,” their words not mine. It’s not that I disagree with that statement, not in the slightest, actually.
The Franchi Affinity 3 is one of my personal favorites on this list.
I’d coin it as being one of the most, if not the most, reliable shotgun I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting. And we’re not talking an expensive shotgun here either; this thing can easily be had for less than $900; that’s a bargain for the overall reliability, comfort, and capabilities of the Franchi Affinity 3.
Out of the box, the Franchi Affinity 3 is stellar. Add some aftermarket extended choke tubes, Carlson Cremator, for example, and you’ve got yourself a waterfowling shotgun that will go head-to-head with the big names in the business, any day of the week. This semi auto shotgun is a true workhorse
Available in black synthetic, Max-5, Mossy Oak Bottomland, and satin walnut. Not only does this shotgun look amazing, but it’s also a pure joy to shoot, as well as simple and easy to maintain. Because of its price point, ease of use and ability to clean – this gun clearly makes the list of top duck hunting shotguns.
- Gauge: 12
- Chamber: 3-inch
- Overall weight: 6.9 pounds
- MSRP: $749
Remington Versa Max
When Remington came out with their Versaport gas system, they touted the Remington Versa Max as the most reliable and versatile shotgun on the market. They weren’t wrong; it’s a very capable and incredibly versatile shotgun.
The Versaport gas system adjusts automatically based on the size of the round you put into the shotgun. Various ports open or close based on the size of the round to help properly vent the gas when the shotgun is fired. Not only can the Remington Versa Max cycle every load we ran through it, but it also does so with incredible speed.
Recoil-wise, the Versa Max is a light hitter, with little to no recoil felt with 2 ¾ inch loads and very light and manageable recoil with 3-inch loads, even some of the hotter 1550+ FPS loads were actually “pleasant” to shoot.
- Gauge: 12
- Chamber: 3.5-inch
- Overall weight: 7.5 pounds
- MSRP: $1,485
So with all of that being said, the best duck hunting shotgun for your needs and wants is out there waiting for you. Find one that will work with you for the long term and be sure that you’re able to use it to your advantage each time you head out into the field. If you’re the kind of waterfowl hunter that isn’t afraid to get down and dirty, then find a shotgun that will do the same. Be sure that it’s reliable, accurate, and easy to clean once all is said and done.
What Are The Best duck hunting shotguns?
- Overall best: Super Black Eagle 3
- Best for the price: Franchi Affinity 3
- Softest Shooting: Beretta A400
- Well-Rounded: Remington Versa-Max
Honorable mentions: Browning Maxus & the Winchester SX4
What waterfowl shotgun did you end up getting? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to check out the top Waterfowl Hunting Waders of 2022
About The Author
When not hunting, Casey spends his days overseeing brand management and partnership opportunities with one of the largest eye care and eyewear companies in the world. By night, he puts his passion and knack for creative direction to use building out and managing Hunt Bums and its respected properties.
A native Californian, Casey is a diehard Pacific Flyway waterfowl hunter who also enjoys pursuing dove, deer, turkey, and just about anything else with four legs or feathers.
Casey lives in Elk Grove, CA with his fiancé, two stepsons, and a lazy dog with a crooked mouth named Zephyr.
Browning Maxus what are you talking about Browning is the best gun made