2019 New Guns & Gear: Waterfowling Guns

© Ducks Unlimited magazine

By Phil Bourjaily and Chris Jennings

[1] Remington V3 Waterfowl Pro

A camo stock and Cerakoted metal is the new uniform for waterfowl guns, and Remington’s V3 wears it well. Under the burnt-bronze barrel and receiver and synthetic Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades or Realtree MAX-5 stock and forearm, it’s the same reliable, low-maintenance semiauto it’s been since 2015. The Versaport gas system and SuperCell recoil pad combine to make the V3 a soft shooter. The loading port has been enlarged for easier access. Extras include a sling, stock shims, extended choke tubes, fiber-optic bead in front, and steel bead in the middle. There’s also an oversized safety, bolt release, and bolt handle. remington.com

[2] Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus

Last year the A400 Xtreme Plus added waterfowler-friendly features like enlarged controls and a stepped rib to an already reliable platform. For 2019 it comes in a wider choice of camo patterns: Mossy Oak Bottomland, Realtree MAX-5 or Timber, TrueTimber DRT, and even white Kryptek Wraith if you’re looking for a dedicated snow goose gun. In any color, the A400 Xtreme has a lot to offer. The Kick-Off recoil reducer is even more effective with the addition of a soft comb, and the gun’s fast-cycling gas action handles 3 1/2-inch magnums as well as the lightest target loads. berettausa.com

[3] Browning Citori Feather Superlight 16-Gauge

The 16-gauge is having a moment and this time around gunmakers are doing 16s right, building them on true, scaled frames, and not just sticking 16-gauge barrels on 12-gauge receivers. Case in point is the Citori Feather Superlight. If you wanted one gun for, say, a wood duck or timber hunt in the morning and a walk behind pointers in the afternoon, this gun could handle it in stride. A trim over/under with an alloy receiver to save weight and barrels rated for steel shot, the Feather Superlight weighs a little over six pounds and comes with 26- or 28-inch barrels. The straight-grip stock and Schnabel forearm are shaped from grade II/III walnut, the barrels are deeply blued, and the alloy receiver is finished in silver nitride to make this gun as good- looking as it is functional. browning.com

[4] Winchester SX4 Waterfowl Hunter 20-Gauge

Twenty-gauge duck guns are in right now, and the new 20-gauge SX4 Waterfowl Hunter is a gun to consider if you’re looking to downsize. The next-gen version of the SX2 and SX3, the SX4 puts a proven gas system into a light, lower-priced package. Rich in features, it has a stock that adjusts for length, oversized bolt handle and release button, and a big, square safety button that is easy to find with cold hands and easy to reverse for left-handed use. The Waterfowl Hunter model comes in 26- and 28-inch barrel lengths in Mossy Oak Blades or Bottomland and Realtree Timber or MAX-5 patterns. winchesterguns.com

[5] Stoeger M3500 Waterfowl

The M3500 Waterfowl, Stoeger’s 3 1/2-inch inertia semiauto, dresses up nicely in trendy Cerakote and MAX-5. Even with extras like an enlarged bolt handle and release button, extended chokes, and a paracord sling, it won’t break the average hunter’s budget. The M3500 sports a removable 13-ounce recoil reducer that fits in the stock and makes the gun heftier—in a good way—than many 3 1/2-inch semiautos. It also features a stepped rib and a fiber-optic bead. stoegerindustries.com

[6] Benelli Performance Shop M2 Waterfowl

Already a great option for waterfowlers choosing a smallbore, the 20-gauge M2 is lightweight and also light kicking thanks to a ComforTech stock. It gets even better with the full Performance Shop treatment. Metal parts are Cerakoted, and the stock and forearm are dipped in Optifade Marsh. The action is honed and polished for ultimate reliability, the trigger is tuned, and the forcing cone is lengthened to improve patterns. The gun comes with three Rob Roberts Triple Threat extended chokes. A fiber-optic bead, enlarged bolt handle, and enlarged bolt release complete the package. benelliusa.com

[7] Weatherby 18i Waterfowler

The “i” stands for “inertia” in Weatherby’s new 18i Waterfowler, the first new gun to be launched after the company’s relocation from California to Sheridan, Wyoming. Dipped in Blades or MAX-5 camo, the Italian-made 18i offers hunters another choice in a 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge gun. It features both a recoil pad and comb insert to cut the kick of 3 1/2-inch shells, and it comes with five choke tubes and a fiber-optic bead. weatherby.com

[8] Retay Masai Mara

A new name in inertia semiautos, the Retay Masai Mara is available in a 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge model with features that waterfowlers will appreciate. Made in an ultra-modern Turkish factory, the Masai Mara shows attention to detail in its fit and finish. It offers some innovative features as well: a push of a button releases the trigger group, the ejector is removable, and the Inertia Plus bolt can’t be bumped out of battery. The light and slender Masai Mara is also one of the few guns available with the waterfowler’s old favorite 30-inch barrel. It comes in Bottomland, Blades, Timber, and MAX-5. retayusa.com

[9] Silver Eagle SE202 Synthetic 20-Gauge

The Turkish-made Silver Eagle synthetic is worth a look if you want the recoil-reducing advantages of a gas gun at a low price. The 20-gauge SE202 has a black synthetic stock and dull metal to keep it from sticking out in the blind. Although the gun isn’t a straight copy, whoever drew it up was clearly familiar with Beretta semiautos, and that’s a good thing. The action spring is on the magazine tube, where it’s easy to reach for cleaning. It comes with five choke tubes and a fiber-optic front bead, giving you more gun for your money. trimports.com

[10] Stevens 555 16-Gauge

The Stevens 555 is a slim, light over/under. An aluminum receiver keeps the weight down to 6 1/2 pounds. The 28-inch barrels are chrome lined to withstand steel shot and come with five choke tubes. A matte, oil-finished walnut stock and forearm look good and won’t spook birds. savagearms.com

[11] Stevens 320 Field Grade

With a price so low it reads like a misprint, the Stevens 320 is a smooth-cycling pump anyone can afford. Patterned after the Winchester 1300, the 320 shares the rotary bolt action that earned the 1300 the name “speed pump.” The 320 features a black synthetic or Mossy Oak Blades stock with dull-finished metal to keep it inconspicuous in the blind. It is available in 12-gauge with a 28-inch barrel and 20-gauge with a 26-inch barrel. savagearms.com

[12] Franchi Instinct LX

Franchi’s Instinct already represents a great deal in a break-action shotgun. The new LX version adds upgraded wood and engraving and still sells for a price below other entry-level over/unders. The Italian-made Instinct is a solid and reliable gun, and while it may not be a traditional choice for the duck blind, its extended choke tubes will perform with steel, and the small fiber-optic bead will keep you on target on gloomy mornings. The stock and forearm are made of AA-grade walnut, and the receiver now features gold inlaid game birds, including a pair of mallards. franchiusa.com

[13] Franchi Affinity 3 Companion Series

This year Franchi kicks off a “Companion Series” of Affinity semiautos that pay tribute to America’s favorite gun dogs. The first gun honors the Labrador retriever, a choice almost every waterfowler will agree with. It boasts upgraded AA walnut with a satin finish, and the nickel-colored alloy receiver features engravings of Labs on both sides. Underneath the fancy dress this is still Franchi’s proven semiauto, and the enlarged controls and loading port mean you could take it into the blind. It comes in 12-gauge with a 28-inch barrel and 20-gauge with a 26-inch barrel. franchiusa.com

[14] Franchi Affinity Elite Series

Franchi’s inertia-operated semiauto has won lots of fans over the years with its light weight and affordable price. This year it gets a makeover with the Elite series. The 3 1/2- and 3-inch 12-gauges and the 3-inch 20-gauges all come Cerakoted, with stocks and forearms dipped in either Optifade Waterfowl Marsh or Timber. The Elite guns also feature extended choke tubes and enlarged bolt handles and bolt release buttons. Franchi’s unique TSA recoil pad helps tame the kick of heavy loads in these light guns. franchiusa.com

[16] TriStar Hunter Mag Bronze

TriStar keeps building a reputation for making inexpensive guns that work, and the Hunter Mag Bronze would seem to be a great option for hunters who want the advantages of an over/under without subjecting a high-dollar gun to the abuses of waterfowling. With a dull bronze metal finish and Blades synthetic stock and forearm, it will blend in with the blind even as it stands out among your friends’ pumps and semiautos. This 12-gauge gun has 3 1/2-inch chambers, 28-inch barrels, extractors, and a single selective trigger. It comes with five chokes and a fiber-optic bead. tristararms.com

[17] CZ 1012

CZ engineers put several of the new 1012 inertia guns to a 5,000-round no-cleaning, no-oiling torture test during the gun’s development, and it passed with flying colors. Light even by inertia-gun standards, the 1012 is listed at just 6 1/2 pounds. Available only in 3-inch 12-gauge, the 1012 has a 28-inch barrel and comes with five extended chokes. The guns are available with synthetic or walnut stocks in three receiver colors (black, gray, or bronze) and there’s a Blades model as well. cz-usa.com

[18] Fabarm XLR5

The XLR5 is a well-made and well-finished gun inside and out. Even the gas system parts are carefully polished to a level you won’t see on other guns. The result is a soft-shooting 3-inch 12-gauge semiauto that handles a wide variety of loads with ease. FABARM shotguns are proofed to higher standards than any other Italian gun, and the Tribore HP barrel design—a very long forcing cone, overbored section, and tapered section—actually does help squeeze a little extra velocity out of a shotshell. This year an all-black, lower-priced Composite Hunter model joins the TrueTimber Viper camo version with a choice of 28- or 30-inch barrels. fabarmusa.com

[19] Henry Single Shot

The Henry Single Shot Shotgun may remind some hunters of their first scattergun, but there is more to the Henry than simple nostalgia. Available in 12-gauge, 20-gauge, and .410 models, this gun features barrels threaded for choke tubes, as well as nicely shaped and finished walnut stocks. The action opens with a tang-mounted lever, like a double gun, and an interlock system prevents the hammer from striking the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled. The 12-gauge model is chambered for 3 1/2-inch shells. henryusa.com

[20] Mossberg 930 and 835 Ulti-Mag Bottomland

Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag

Mossberg 930

Mossberg offers a pair of its mainstays in Mossy Oak Bottomland for 2019. The 930 is a 3-inch gas gun, while the 835 Ulti-Mag is well known as the first shotgun chambered for 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge shells. Both guns feature the tang-mounted safeties that make them favorites of left-handers. Both also come with 26-inch barrels, which means they can do double duty in the blind and in the turkey woods. The 930 and 835 Ulti-Mag come with fiber-optic beads and five chokes, including the “X Factor” turkey choke, and the 835 Ulti-Mag is overbored to near 10-gauge dimensions for better patterns with large steel shot. mossberg.com

DU Shotgun of the Year

For more than 45 years, Ducks Unlimited has chosen one special firearm as its Shotgun of the Year. This gun is offered at DU fundraising events around the country, raising an average of more than $2 million annually for wetlands and waterfowl conservation. For 2019, the DU Shotgun of the Year is a custom Benelli Super Black Eagle 3. This 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun features a 3 1/2-inch chamber, 28-inch polished blued barrel with interchangeable choke tubes, oil-finished walnut stock, and two-tone embellishments with an engraved waterfowl scene. A hard-plastic DU case and a gun lock are included. This beautiful firearm is available only at DU events. To find an event near you, go to ducks.org/events.