Finding the best waterfowl shotgun can be a bit “overwhelming”, for lack of a better term. Especially with so many competitively priced existing options, as well as new manufacturers coming to market. But if you have a good idea of what you like (gas vs. inertia vs. pump) and how they work, and which ones are the most effective, then there is a good chance that you’ll be able to find one that suits you well…..or you just end up buying multiple shotguns, regardless, which isn’t so friendly on your pocketbook but brings about a certain type/amount of joy…..Anyhow, I digress.
If you like to hunt ducks or other types of waterfowl, you’re bound to find a shotgun that will work to your advantage.
You can be in a pit blind or on the water in a jet sled, so you’ll need to find a shotgun that you can rely on no matter what setting or surroundings you set yourself up in. While there are many shotguns that are used for waterfowl, we managed to handpick five of the best waterfowl shotguns on the market.
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 actually one of my personal favorites on this list. I’d simply 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 chokes, 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.
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 and simple and easy to maintain.
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, it does so with incredible speed, almost faster than the “New” Browning A5….but more on that later.
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.
Benelli Super Black Eagle 3
Only a few years in and we’re still in love with Benelli’s flagship model Super Black Eagle 3. Benelli truly outdid themselves here and crafted a lightweight, easy swinging, and relatively clean cycling inertia driven shotgun that feels……well….natural. Available in a variety of 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.
Coming in at only seven pounds, the SBE3 is not only easy to shoot, it’s actually fun. Upgrade to some aftermarket chokes, and slap on your favorite sling and you’ll be ready for whatever the season throws your way….Plus you’re hunting buddies are going to be green with envy that you’re outfitted with one of the most talked-about shotguns in the industry.
Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus
One phrase comes to mind when discussing the A400 Xtreme Plus….Soft shooting. I mean seriously, overall felt recoil, even with some of the “lighter” magnum waterfowl loads, can be damn near shocking. Enter the A400. Soft shooting, easy swinging, and highly reliable, no matter what loads you’re running through it. We shot everything from 2 ¾ inch non-tox dove loads all the way up to some screaming 1700 FPS 3 ½ inch loads for geese. 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.
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 type of hunting.
“New” Browning A-5
The recoil-operated, iconic humpbacked Auto-5 was the first truly successful semi-automatic shotgun—and some would argue, one of history’s all-time best gun designs. Introduced in 1905, the original A-5 design remained in production until 1988.
Enter the “New” A-5.
Coming to market and making a splash in late 2011, the “New” Browning A-5 picked up where the legend left off, being one of the most talked-about shotguns for years after the re-release.
Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with the A-5. I picked up one of the first models on the market and absolutely loved it. I’d even go as far to say it was my favorite shotgun for a while…..until it started to jam or stovepipe….every….single….shot. That being said, Browning’s customer service was second to none as they set about arranging shipping and warranty service. Unfortunately, I had to go through this same exercise two more times until they fixed it correctly (extractor issue became a known problem on the earlier guns) but fixed it they finally did.
What I love most about the A-5 is the cycling speed and the speed load option. This thing cycle rounds FAST. I’m talking lightning fast. And in the off chance you need more than three shots to take down that flock, slap a round in the bottom of the mag and it slides effortlessly in the chamber automatically, it’s truly a feature you didn’t know you’d ever need or love so much.
Available in a ridiculous number of patterns and options, the “New” Browning A-5 is a solid choice, just make sure you do your research and buy a late model vs. an early run of the redesign.
Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with the A-5. I picked up one of the first models on the market and absolutely loved it. I’d even go as far as to say it was my favorite shotgun for a while…..until it started to jam or stovepipe….every….single….shot. That being said, Browning’s customer service was second to none as they set about arranging shipping and warranty service. Unfortunately, I had to go through this same exercise two more times until they fixed it correctly (extractor issue became a known problem on the earlier guns) but fixed it they finally did.
So with all of that being said, the best waterfowl 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 waterfowl shotgun did you end up getting? Let us know in the comments!