New Guns & Gear 2017: Waterfowling Guns & Loads

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Photo © billkonway.com

The 2017 lineup of new shotguns is as exciting as ever, with several well-known manufacturers featuring waterfowl-focused guns, including Benelli, Winchester, Browning, Beretta, and Remington.


GUNS

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a. Benelli Super Black Eagle 3

Benelli recently unveiled the third generation of its inertia-driven Super Black Eagle autoloader. The new 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge SBE3 features several upgrades, including an improved locking bolt head, which is engineered to secure with minimal pressure and to stay locked during firing. Cold-weather performance is enhanced via an oversized safety, bolt release, and beveled loading port. A triangular-shaped magazine cap is easy to grip and open, even with a gloved hand. The gun's redesigned forearm is slimmer at the rear and wider toward the front, an improvement that minimizes the potential for your hand to slip during recoil. Improved Comfort Tech 3 chevrons embedded in the buttstock combine with a new Combtech pad to soften felt recoil. This is the softest-shooting, most reliable SBE ever. www.benelliusa.com

b. Winchester Super X4

Waterfowling evolution. That's the theme behind Winchester's updated version of its Super X3 autoloader. The new SX4 features a larger trigger-guard opening and bolt handle for easier operation with gloved hands in cold weather. A fiber-optic sight allows you to see the end of the barrel in low light conditions, and a larger Inflex butt pad promises to minimize felt recoil. To improve handling, the gun's weight has been reduced by a quarter pound, and its balance has been shifted slightly forward to enhance follow-through. Additionally, the SX4's pistol grip has been slightly reshaped for better feel and control. These subtle changes result in a gun that mounts, swings, and shoots better than ever. Chromed, back-bored barrels and Invector-Plus choke tubes carry over from the SX3, as does the Active Valve Gas System, which adjusts automatically to cycle everything from 2 3/4- to 3 1/2-inch shells. www.winchesterguns.com 

c. Browning's New Wicked Wing A5 and Maxus

This year Browning added several new touches to what it calls the Wicked Wing versions of its A5 and Maxus shotguns. Each gun comes with a handsome Cerakote Burnt Bronze finish on its barrel and receiver, as well as several camo pattern options for the stock and forearm, including Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades, Mossy Oak Bottomland, A-TACS AU, and Realtree MAX-5. Chromed bores keep things pristine inside, and an oversized bolt release combined with an extended bolt handle makes life easier for cold-fisted waterfowlers everywhere. The Wicked Wing series A5 and Maxus models are more durable and rust resistant than ever. www.browning.com 

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d. Browning Citori CXS

With its high-polished blued barrels and receiver, plus handsome glossy walnut stock, the new Browning Citori CXS should appeal to traditionalists. This 3-inch 12-gauge over/under also features vented top and side ribs for decreased air drag, Vector Pro forcing cones for reduced recoil and better patterning, and Invector-Plus Midas chokes for fine-tuning patterns. The stock's geometry is engineered to provide a flat point of impact rather than the slightly high POI found in most upland and trap guns. The Citori CXS is also available in a 20-gauge. www.browning.com 

e. Beretta A400 Lite 20-gauge

Not every web-footed fowl requires a 12-bore invitation to dinner. Smaller 20-gauge guns can do the job nicely on decoying ducks, too. Weighing only 6.6 pounds, Beretta's A400 Lite 20-gauge may be the perfect tool for those who appreciate less bite with their shotgun's bark. This new autoloader features the GunPod2, a built-in digital hunting diary. The gun also includes modern upgrades such as Beretta's Kick-Off recoil system, Optima HP choke tubes, a fiber-optic front sight, and a microcore recoil pad. www.berettausa.com

f. Remington V3 Field Sport Walnut

One of the most innovative gas systems in history is now available in a modern gun with a traditional walnut stock and finish. Remington's V3 Field Sport 12-gauge features the same VersaPort gas system found in other V3 models. The system uses the shotgun shell itself to close gas ports, which regulates the pressure to cycle 2 3/4- and 3-inch cartridges. The V3 comes with a 26- or 28-inch barrel, vent rib, satin walnut finish, twin beads, and three chokes. This smooth-shooting, lightweight gun combines state-of-the-art functionality with a touch of nostalgic class. As a proud partner of Ducks Unlimited, Remington helps support DU's conservation efforts. www.remington.com

g. Fabarm XLR5 Waterfowler

Fabarm's XLR5 Waterfowler is now being offered with a larger Kryptek Banshee camouflage pattern and a soft-touch coating for an improved feel. The XLR5 Waterfowler is built around Fabarm's Pulse Piston system, which acts as a brake to progressively slow down the gun's action as the size of the payload increases, effectively reducing felt recoil. The gun is chambered for 3-inch shells and comes with either a 28-inch or 30-inch barrel. Fabarm's Tribore HP tapered bore is designed to reduce recoil and improve patterns. Other features include a ventilated rib, fiber-optic sights, oversized controls, and three choke tubes. www.fabarmusa.com

h. TriStar Viper Max

The Turkish-built TriStar Viper autoloader has been on the American market for many years now. The company recently introduced a 12-gauge model engineered to handle everything from 2 3/4- to 3 1/2-inch shells. The TriStar Viper Max features two interchangeable pistons. Use the light piston for smaller loads, then remove and store it in the forearm while using the heavy piston for magnum loads. The gun weighs about 7 pounds, 4 ounces and is available in Realtree MAX-5 camo with 26-, 28-, or 30-inch barrels. Other features include a ventilated rib, magazine cutoff action, fiber-optic sight, swivel studs, and four Beretta Mobilchokes. www.tristararms.com 

i. Stoeger P3500

The P in this gun's name stands for pump, and the 3500 designation means that it's built to handle 3 1/2-inch loads. Think of this gun as the P3000's big brother. This extension of Stoeger's line of rugged pump-action shotguns sports a chrome-lined barrel with a ventilated rib, a fiber-optic sight, three choke tubes, twin action bars, and a rotating bolt head. The P3500 can be purchased with a 26- or 28-inch barrel and a black synthetic or Realtree MAX-5 stock. The gun's average weight is just over 7 pounds. www.stoegerindustries.com

j. Barrett Sovereign Albany and Beltrami

Barrett Sovereign, which manufactures tactical military sniper rifles, has introduced a couple of shotguns that are anything but military in form or function. The Albany over/under is a round-action boxlock with custom-engraved, coin-finished sideplates, while the Beltrami is a side-by-side boxlock with a straight-grip stock and equally fine engraving. Both guns are fitted with an oil-finished Turkish walnut stock, a singletrigger, and high-gloss blued steel. Although not exactly your foul-weather marsh guns, these Italian-built doubles will bring a touch of class to the duck blind on bluebird days. Both guns are available in 12-, 20-, and 28-gaugemodels. The 12 and 20 come with 3-inch chambers. Accessories include five choke tubes and a Barrett-branded case and sock. www.barrettsovereign.com

k. Mossberg International SA-28

Here's another autoloader tailored more for upland gunning and clay target practice than for waterfowling. At merely 6 1/2 pounds, Mossberg's International SA-28 puts a whole new spin on utility. This handsome 28-gauge features glossy wood, a satin-finished aluminum receiver, and a glossy 26-inch, vent-rib steel barrel. Unlike Mossberg's better-known 930 and 935 semiautos, the SA-28 features a cross safety behind the trigger instead of a tang safety. www.mossberg.com 

AMMUNITION

Federal Premium Black Cloud FS Steel with Flitecontrol Flex

The performance of Federal Premium Black Cloud waterfowl loads through ported and wad-stripping choke tubes has been improved with the introduction of the line's new Flitecontrol Flex wad. The shot-protecting wad employs narrow slits in the sidewalls, which allow air to pass through the shot column without catching and tearing in ported chokes. The old wad's rear braking flaps have been replaced by newly designed fins that deploy downrange at the optimal time for payload separation. The payloads still contain 40 percent Flitestopper steel pellets and 60 percent premium steel pellets. www.federalpremium.com

Kent Bismuth Loads

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Kent brought back bismuth loads last year and is now expanding its line of these nontoxic pellets for 2017. The company has tweaked its proprietary manufacturing techniques to produce more consistent and durable bismuth pellets for increased ballistic performance. Loads are now available in 2 3/4-inch shells for 12-, 16-, 20-, and 28-gauge guns in size 4, 5, and 6 shot. Velocities run from 1,200 to 1,350 fps. Kent is also offering a 3-inch 12-gauge bismuth load featuring 1 3/8 ounces of 4 or 5 shot at 1,450 fps. If you've been waiting to get that old classic double gun back in the field, here's your chance. www.kentgamebore.com

Browning Ammunition BXD Extra Distance 20-Gauge

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Browning has added a 20-gauge load to its BXD Waterfowl Extra Distance ammo line. Delivering 1 ounce of size 2 steel shot at 1,300 fps, these 3-inch loads offer knockdown power and consistency. www.browningammo.com 

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