Best Duck Hunting Shotgun

Looking for the best duck hunting shotgun on the market today? Well, the market is vast, and it’s hard to just pick one but we will guide you through our experience with these great shotguns.

Hunting has been an integral part of human existence, evolving over the years from a survival necessity to a recreational activity that’s highly revered by many.

If you’re fascinated by the pursuit of waterfowl, notably ducks, you would understand the importance of having the right gear. Foremost among these is the shotgun, your primary tool for duck hunting.

What to Expect: Best Duck Hunting Shotguns

2024 brings an impressive array of duck hunting shotguns, designed to cater to various hunting styles, type of game, and individual preferences. This article will delve into the selection, shedding light on the best picks, each distinct in its functionality, performance, and dependability. Whether you prioritize precision, style, or value for money, this carefully curated list covers it all, ultimately aiding in your quest for the perfect duck hunting shotgun.

Top 10 Shotguns for Waterfowl Hunting

Benelli Super Black Eagle III

Best Duck Hunting Shotgun the Benelli Super Black Eagle III

The Benelli Super Black Eagle III stakes its claim as one of the most reliable choices among avid duck hunters.

Noted for its reliability, accuracy, and robustness, this semi-automatic shotgun stands out in the crowd.

One defining feature of the Benelli Super Black Eagle III is its recoil reduction system, which significantly lessens felt recoil, particularly beneficial when handling heavier loads.

Further contributing to its appeal is its varying configurations – different barrel lengths, finishes, and availability in both 12 and 20 gauge.

The shotgun weighs 7 pounds overall, with the trigger weighing 6.2 pounds, proving to be comfortable to handle.

On the functionality front, its controls are easy to use, even in colder environments. A unique aspect is its Easy Lock bolt that prevents the out-of-battery misfire common in inertia guns.

However, its tendency to shoot high may be considered a drawback for some hunters.

Despite this, its undeniable accuracy and seamless handling make it a favored choice for hunting ducks, while perhaps not as suitable for turkey hunting.

The Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 BE.S.T., in particular, is revered for its almost complete resistance to saltwater and corrosion.

In summary, if performance, precision, and handling are your priorities, the Benelli Super Black Eagle III is worthy of consideration.

Remington 870

The Remington 870, a classic that’s been around since the 1950s, continues to impress.

With over 11 million units sold, this is a shotgun that speaks volumes about reliability and affordability.

In early 2022, the Remington 870 Fieldmaster replaced the iconic 870 Express, improving upon with simple but essential upgrades.

Sporting rust-resistant coatings, smoother finish on the action bars, a drilled and tapped receiver, a softer recoil pad, and swivel studs for a sling, this shotgun is prepared to serve you under various environmental conditions.

The Fieldmaster touts an overall weight of 7.7 pounds, gauging at 12, with a chamber reaching 3 inches and an LOP of 14 inches.

It’s available at an MSRP of $500, offering good value for your money. Despite being economically priced, it doesn’t compromise on quality, featuring a sturdy dark walnut stock and a reliable set of IC, M, and F chokes.

There’s a particular point of pride associated with this shotgun’s origins – instead of being manufactured in Turkey like many affordable options, the Fieldmaster comes straight out of llion, New York.

There might be noticeable gaps in wood-to-metal fit, and the front ivory bead might sit a bit too high for some, but such points are easily overlooked when this shotgun’s dependable performance and handling are considered.

So whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a rookie looking to buy your first duck hunting gun, the Remington 870 Fieldmaster presents itself as a dependable, affordable and importantly, a capable option.

Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus

With a beautiful design that goes beyond aesthetics to functionally enhance its performance, the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus is a stunning addition to the top 10 shotguns for duck hunting in 2023.

Engineered for extreme conditions, it’s a gas-driven semi-automatic shotgun that boasts remarkable reliability, accuracy, and durability. One key feature that sets this shotgun apart is its advanced gas-operating system, reducing felt recoil and elevating its reliability quotient.

Two other innovative components of the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus are the Kick-Off Mega recoil reduction system and the Aqua Tech Shield coating. These features improve reliability in wet conditions, making it an ideal shotgun for challenging environments during duck hunting.

As the industry expands towards smaller gauges, the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus also comes in three new 20-gauge versions, perfect for different types of waterfowl. Known for its reliable shooting and accurate ballistics (thanks to the Steelium Plus barrel), self-cleaning gas-operated action, enlarged controls, Kick-Off stock for recoil mitigation, and ergonomic design that allows for instinctive pointing, you can expect value from its high price.

With a lifetime of reliability promised, despite being the priciest shotgun, the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus is an investment worth considering for those who appreciate the blend of style and functionality.

Mossberg 940 Pro Waterfowl

Unveiled a few years back at Shot Show, Mossberg’s 940 Pro Waterfowl is the waterfowl version of the well-received 940 JM Pro, earning its place as one of the best duck hunting shotguns in 2023.

The Mossberg 940 Pro comes with a generous list of key features: a gauge of 12, a 3-inch chamber, an overall length of 48.5 inches, a LOP of 13.5 inches, and an overall weight of just 7.7 pounds. The gun’s trigger weight is also relatively light, averaging around 5.11 pounds. Its MSRP is set at a highly competitive $868.

A standout characteristic of this gas-operated auto-loader is its remarkable endurance. Mossberg has rigorously tested this shotgun and guarantees that the gas system runs exceptionally clean. So, clean that you can confidently shoot up to 1,500 rounds through the 940 before needing a clean-up. While this claim wasn’t fully explored during testing due to an ammo shortage, the shotgun performed flawlessly after cycling a few hundred rounds through it.

The smooth operation of the 940 Pro Waterfowl can be attributed to certain unique components. The buffer tube on the outer side of the magazine, coupled with corrosion-resistant coatings on many of the internal parts, including the gas piston, magazine tube, hammer sear, return spring tube, chrome-lined chamber and bore, and stainless-steel return spring, allow the gun to function consistently after so many rounds. Plus, the improved plastic forend makes assembly more seamless, and the increased bolt handle, enlarged load ports, and HiViz front sight are fantastic performance additions.

Fans of the hardwood aesthetic would appreciate the walnut-stocked model in the 940 line. It’s an overall good-looking, reliable shotgun that’s perfect for waterfowlers, with the stock adjustable to suit a range of shooters.

Summarizing, for those who appreciate robustness, reliability, and functionality, the Mossberg 940 Pro Waterfowl is a high-performing option.

Winchester Super X4

The Winchester Super X4 is a hallmark of performance, reliability, and versatility in the world of semi-automatic shotguns.

Released as an evolution of the Super X3, it packs many of the compelling traits of its predecessor but includes improvements to cater to contemporary hunting demands.

Due to its well-rounded feature set, there’s no second thoughts on why it is considered the all-rounder in the list of best duck hunting shotguns.

The Super X4 sports a 12-gauge chamber with an overall length of 49.5 inches. The length of pull measures 14.25 inches and it weighs just over 7 pounds. The trigger pull is slightly heavier at 5.9 pounds for better control. Regardless of the size of the game birds you’re chasing, this gun can deliver, and it’s available in compact sizes suitable for youth and female hunters, too.

A distinctive characteristic of the Super X4 is its smooth and soft shooting experience. Courtesy of its gas operation, your shoulders are saved from the usual pounding experienced with other hunting weapons. This is also aided by the inclusion of a Browning/Winchester Inflex recoil pad that further cushions against the kick. As a bonus, there are different spacers available that allow shooters to adjust the fit of the stock according to their preferences.

Primarily designed for waterfowl hunting, it flaunts an enlarged bolt handle and bolt release, making it easier to function in adverse conditions. Despite criticisms regarding its slightly subpar styling and finish (by Winchester standards), the inclusion of fiber optic TRUGLO sights for enhanced target acquisition and its consistent patterning performance make up for it.

Overall, whilst not the cheapest, the Super X4 is certainly considered to provide excellent value for money. This is a down-to-business weapon suitable for hunters interested in a smooth, reliable, and soft shooting experience. It’s an all-rounder that effectively tackles numerous hunting requirements.

Browning Maxus II

The Browning Maxus II is a top-contender, making a name for itself as a reliable semi-automatic shotgun.

It offers reduced recoil due to its efficient gas operating system and ensures reliable cycling, making duck hunting sessions an absolute breeze.

It’s no surprise that the Maxus II is adored by many duck hunters and by yours truly since I’ve had every model of Browning Maxus.

The Maxus II retains certain features of its predecessor, the original Maxus, including the reliable Power Drive gas system.

However, its most significant update lies in the fore-end cap. Now removable, you can install an extension magazine tube, which stands to benefit snow goose hunters mostly.

This feature lacked in the first Maxus, and its inclusion in the Maxus II is a notable improvement.

Also appealing is the heightened attention to detail on the exterior design of this shotgun. A narrower fore-end sporting rubber grips wraps around to ensure superior handling in cold and wet conditions.

An additional rubber grip on the palm swell of the stock aids grip under gloved hands. The Maxus II also features a rubber riser for your cheek and a thick recoil pad to minimize recoil.

The spacious trigger guard accommodates gloved fingers comfortably, whereas the oversized bolt handle enhances the ease of pulling the bolt back.

Finally, the Speed Load Plus system enables swift and easy loading of the first shell into the magazine, after which the lifter automatically takes over to load the gun.

In sum, the Maxus II contains some significant upgrades that make it a reliable companion for duck hunting.

So, if you desire a shotgun that you can handle instinctively and shoot smoothly with, the Browning Maxus II is a worthwhile contender on this list.

Stoeger M3000

The Stoeger M3000 is a perfect embodiment of ‘economical yet efficient’ when it comes to semi-automatic shotguns. A part of the Benelli family, the M3000 offers all the rugged, practical beauty of a working gun while providing excellent value for money.

A noticeable improvement upon its predecessor, the M2000, the Stoeger M3000 has smoother cycling, an extended chokes range, and enhanced controls. Powered by the stress-free and clean Inertia Driven System, the shotgun receives an upgrade in the form of a slimmer fore-end, larger controls, and an improved, respectably light trigger weight of 4 pounds and 6 ounces.

The M3000 proudly features a 12-gauge chamber, 47.75 inches in length, and a 14 ⅜ inches length of pull. The shotgun measures a completely manageable weight of 7.3 pounds.

One major aspect where the M3000 stands out is the fact it comes with a shim kit for adjusting drop and cast. This is a fortunate addition, especially considering many shotguns in this price range don’t offer this feature. Despite the middle-of-the-range fit and finish (like an oversized red front bead), its appeal lies in its impressive action when you put it to use.

Sportsmen on our test team speak highly of the M3000’s performance and handling. Hank Garvey, a USA Shooting Olympic shotgun coach, was quoted saying, “It shot well and points like a more expensive gun”

Available between $560-$670, the M3000 balances affordability, functionality, and dependability perfectly. If you’re searching for a shotgun that guarantees excellent performance without burning a hole in your pocket, the Stoeger M3000 would fit the bill perfectly.

Franchi Affinity 3

The Franchi Affinity 3 rockets to the top of the list with its compact yet powerful attributes. This Italian-made shotgun is a versatile, trustworthy, and power-packed option that shoots cleanly and accurately, perfect for your waterfowl hunting escapades.

Crafted to perfection, the Franchi Affinity 3 honours quality, boasting a sturdy build that feels impeccable the moment it hits your shoulder. With a gauge of 12, a 3-inch chamber, a length of 49.5 inches, a length of pull (LOP) of 14.2 inches, and weighing approximately 6.8 pounds, it’s an efficient choice for duck hunting.

Key features include a trigger weight of 5.14 pounds, a flat, rubber-coated bolt release, and the practical feel of the stock and fore-end. The shotgun, however, notably stands out for its lightness (given it’s a 3-inch gun). Furthermore, it prevails over all Benellis on the pattern board, shooting an impressive 60 percent above and 40 percent below point-of-aim on paper.

Additionally, the slim fore-end, in line with all Benelli semi-autos, and the thick TSA recoil pad that’ll accommodate any 3-inch shotshell improve the overall feel and ease of use of the shotgun, making it user-friendly. It also includes a left-hand model to cater to varied shooting styles and preferences.

Thus, with an amicable MSRP of $750, the Affinity 3 delivers exceptional value for money, offering users a compact and powerful shotgun that can truly invigorate your hunting experience. For duck hunters who demand reliability and value for money, the Franchi Affinity 3 is certainly an option you wouldn’t wish to overlook.

Remington Model 1100

Tracing its roots back to 1963, the Remington Model 1100 asserts itself as the classic choice amongst semi-automatic shotguns. Despite newer models flooding the shotgun market, the Remington Model 1100, with its norm-defying features, retains its relevance and continues to perform stoutly every season.

Model 1100 holds a place in the hearts of many hunters due to its gas-operated action – a system that has earned the faith of thousands. Initially released as a 2 ¾-inch version, this shotgun later introduced “magnum” versions capable of handling larger shell sizes, captivating waterfowl and turkey hunters alike.

The Remington Model 1100 defines soft shooting, fitting a broad range of people. If maintained properly, it works exceptionally reliably. While it lacks load interchangeability, which somewhat reduces its versatility, its standard and 3-inch magnum versions continue to perform admirably in the duck blind, making it a classic choice for many.

At the testing range and on-field, Model 1100 outrivals many gas guns on soft shooting, suiting people of various body types perfectly, and delivering a highly reliable performance if kept clean. The extraordinary reception given to this 58-year classic, especially by Remington aficionados, establishes its credible repute despite the surging competition.

In essence, if you prefer a classic over a variant, treasure quality over quantity, and value reliability above all else, then the Remington Model 1100 stands as your reliable hunting partner.

Mossberg 500 Hunting

Versatility gets a new definition with the Mossberg 500 Hunting, a shotgun that has established itself as a solid, affordable, and flexible choice. Being almost as iconic as the Remington 870, the Mossberg 500 vies closely for the best pump shotgun.

Upon performance comparison, the Mossberg 500 showcased an 85 percent pattern percentage putting 119 of 140 No. 2 pellets inside a 30-inch circle at 35 yards – that’s just about the best pattern amongst the four pumps tested.

The Mossberg 500 Hunting operates on twin-action bars for pumping shotshells through the gun, with smooth functioning and no reported issues of hangers or short stroking the 500. This shotgun weighs a comfortable 6.5 pounds. The safety on the gun felt slightly stiff, which could be replaced with a nimbler aftermarket safety for as little as $20.

The Mossberg 500 Hunting measures a 12-gauge with a 3-inch chamber, 47.5 inches in length, and has a length of pull (LOP) standing at 14 inches. It also features a trigger weight of 6.8 pounds, and with the MSRP priced at only $459, it stands out as a budget classic that doesn’t ever fail to impress.

A key highlight of the Mossberg 500 Hunting is the positively received fore-end, a bit bulkier compared to most pumps but generously gripping to ensure better gun control. It’s like a trusty old friend whose worth you’re reminded of every time you go duck hunting. It simply always works.

Summarizing, if you’re on the lookout for a blend of affordability, performance, and unparalleled versatility, Mossberg 500 Hunting surely ticks all the boxes. This old companion certainly never goes out of trend.

Factors influencing the decision

Ergonomics and Handling of the Shotgun

When selecting the ideal shotgun for duck hunting, ergonomics and handling earn a high rank on the priority list. Understanding how the shotgun handles, balances, points, and swings is imperative. Additionally, how comfortable it feels when held plays a crucial role in hitting the target more accurately.

A well-fitted shotgun is easier to handle instinctively. The girth of the shotgun’s grip and fore-end contributes to its ease of handling. Wider grips provide better control, making it harder to over-control the gun, though shooters with smaller hands might find slimmer guns easier to manipulate.

Shotguns with stocks suiting diverse individuals also yield a better handling experience. The Remington 1100, for instance, with its universal recoil-reduction facility, registers immediate success as its stock fits a variety of shooters extensively.

Guns with adjustable shims and spacers offer tunable fit to varied body types. Easy to operate controls in terms of triggers, safety, bolt-release buttons, and handles contribute significantly to a user-friendly and efficient hunting experience.

Particularly for waterfowl hunting, the controls should be easy to access, even in cold, damp conditions, or when the shooter is wearing gloves. It should also be easy to grip in bad weather conditions, achieved by checkering on the stock or rubber inserts to enable a firm grip on wet days.

In all, a well-balanced shotgun that feels right when held, promises easier handling, and ultimately contributes towards a successful hunting session.

Workmanship and Aesthetic Factors

Workmanship and aesthetic factors, while not the primary considerations, should not be disregarded when choosing a shotgun. The finish is important, aesthetically pleasing to behold but also serves the practical purpose of protecting the gun from harsh elements.

Exemplifying this, the Benelli Super Black Eagle III BE.S.T, recognized for its almost complete saltwater and corrosion resistance, offers not just functional appeal but also aesthetic charm with its gun finish.

Similarly, the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus, notable for its Aqua Tech Shield coating, stands out in its appearance while adding reliability and resilience. Poorly put-together guns often rattle and wiggle, negatively impacting their use.

The lines of the gun also matter. A design that appears appealing to you will make you happier with your chosen shotgun. Some designs are well-executed and attractive, whilst others may fall short. For instance, the Browning Maxus II, despite a slightly subpar finish, received positivity for its rubber grips on the improved and narrowed fore-end, enhancing both its handling and its style.

Although it’s always true that one shouldn’t pick a gun purely based on appearance, some pride in ownership deriving from aesthetics might influence your choice slightly. Remember, a well-sculpted, attractive-looking shotgun that also guarantees high performance is a win-win scenario for any hunter!

Preferred Action Type for Hunting

The preferred action type you choose largely depends upon your personal hunting style, conditions you’ll be hunting in, and your budget. Two most common types for duck hunting are pump-action and semi-automatic.

Pump actions, as the name suggests, involve manually pumping the forearm to eject the spent shell and load a new one. Pump actions such as the Remington 870 fieldmaster, are robust, reliable, and easy to maintain, which is especially beneficial in cold, harsh environments. They’re less sensitive to varying shell loads and hence great if you’re looking for fewer moving parts or a broader variety of loads.

However, significant noise gets generated when pumping, which might alert the ducks. That said, despite the need to manually cycle each round, practiced hunters can achieve a rapid rate of fire with these shotguns.

Alternatively, semi-automatics like the Benelli Super Black Eagle III auto-load each new round, allowing faster, quieter follow-up shots and typically reduced recoil. This type can be advantageous if ducks are flying in larger numbers. However, semi-automatics can get more expensive and sometimes fail to cycle lighter loads or if not cleaned often.

Therefore, choosing the action type depends on where and how you plan to hunt, alongside considering how much time you’re willing to invest in maintenance, and of course, your budget. It’s critical to understand this aspect as your shotgun’s performance and your hunting experience depend on it.

Choke Tube Considerations

Choke tubes significantly influence your shotgun’s pattern and range. They act similar to the nozzles on garden hoses, determining the spread of the shot as they launch from the shotgun. Some form tight patterns while others spread wider.

The three most common choke sizes are improved cylinder, modified, and full. The ‘improved cylinder’ choke is best suited for closer range, delivering a wider pattern with around 50% of pellets hitting a 30″ circle at 40 yards.

The ‘modified’ choke, on the other hand, gives a balanced performace with around 60% of the pellets hitting the circle at the same distance. This all-around choice is recommended for waterfowl hunting.

Lastly, the ‘full’ choke creates a tight spread, delivering around 70% of the pellets to the same circle at 40 yards. This is most effective for pass shooting at longer distances.

The shotgun’s functionality changes greatly with different chokes, highlighting their importance. Understanding choke tubes and selecting the correct one, based on the shooting style and range, is an integral part of the duck hunting arsenal.

Consider shotguns that bring a standard selection of chokes, like the Remington 870 Fieldmaster, to provide versatility for different hunting conditions. This can save you from the hassle of searching and buying fitting choke tubes separately. Remember, your shotgun’s potential lies within its chokes. Choose wisely and see the difference it can make to your hunting performance!

Stocks and Finishes

The type of stock and finish on your duck hunting shotgun can significantly impact its durability, functionality, and overall performance. Different materials and finishes available cater to varying demands and preferences of hunters.

Synthetic stocks are now the preferred choice for waterfowl guns due to their resilience against challenging weather conditions. Unlike wooden stocks, synthetic stocks don’t absorb moisture, thereby preventing any swelling or warping. Additionally, synthetic stocks are often lighter, enhancing maneuverability.

Shotguns, like the Mossberg 940 Pro that has synthetic stocks, proves easier to handle and lasts longer due to its resilience against harsh elements.

When it comes to gun finishes, matte and camo finishes have moved to the forefront. Traditional bluing can potentially catch the eye of ducks and scare them away, making flat neutral finishes a preferable look. Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus, sporting a matte finish, exemplifies beneficial aesthetics along with performance.

Do note, your choice of finish should not only be because it “looks good” but more to provide an edge by blending in with your surroundings. This aspect contributes to not only the handling comfort but also the stealth abilities of your shotgun.

In summary, when choosing your shotgun, do consider the stock material and finishes that can offer you the best combination of ease-of-use, durability, and camouflage during the hunt.

Importance of Barrel Length

Barrel length plays a crucial role in determining the shotgun’s overall weight, balance, and swing. Given the advancements in choke tubes and faster burning powders, the relevance now is less about grouping and accuracy and more about swing and maneuverability.

Back in the 50s and 60s, it was thought that a longer barrel ensured a tighter pattern. But today, with the innovation of screw-in choke tubes, you are no longer tied to a single pattern.

Longer barrel lengths increase the overall gun weight and the weight towards the front of the center, helping some shooters follow through their shot more effectively due to the longer plane of sight. For example, 28- or 30-inch barrels are popular choices for larger and open fields as they provide the best range and the tightest spread.

However, if you’re hunting in a tight glide or a thick forest and need to make quick shots at relatively short ranges, then 24 or 26-inch barrels would serve you better. Notably, The Franchi Affinity 3 offers a 26-inch barrel, proving its place in tight hunting scenarios due to better handling and maneuverability.

Choosing the best shotgun barrel length hence depends largely on the type of hunting and the terrain you’ll be dealing with. Remember, while comfort and swing are critical, don’t rule out the importance of maneuverability during shooting scenarios, as dictated by the situation and surroundings.

Consideration of the Trigger System

The type of trigger system used on your duck hunting shotgun can significantly affect your shooting performance. A well-made trigger enhances your precision by allowing for smooth and predictable releases.

There exist single, double, and selective triggers. However, for duck hunting shotguns, the single-trigger system, where one trigger is used to fire all barrels, is generally used.

An important aspect of the trigger system is its pull weight. Lighter trigger pull weights tend to aid faster shooting and accuracy but may risk the chance of an accidental shot. Heavier triggers require more force to pull, thus preventing accidental discharges.

For instance, the Benelli Super Black Eagle III has a relatively light trigger weight of 6.2 pounds for better control. On the other hand, the Stoeger M3000 boasts a respectably light trigger weight of 4 pounds and 6 ounces which allows shooters to react quickly.

However, many shotguns allow for trigger pull weight adjustments or replacement triggers to facilitate customization in line with the shooter’s preference.

Remember that the best trigger for a shotgun is usually user-specific and varies from one person to another, contingent upon their shooting style, experience, and comfort. Therefore, consider your personal preferences alongside the shotgun’s inherent performance when selecting your ideal shotgun.

Other Noteworthy Models

Categories by Price point

Shotguns for duck hunting vary widely in price, influenced by factors such as the manufacturer, materials used, design, functionality, and aesthetics. Each price category – budget, mid-range, and premium – offer specific advantages in terms of quality, performance, and features.

Budget shotguns, typically priced under $600, might not offer the same features as their high-end counterparts, but that doesn’t rule out their effectiveness. A good example is the Stoeger M3000, available at approximately $560-$670, which embodies good value performance.

Mid-range shotguns, priced between $600 and $2000, provide well-rounded options balancing quality, durability, and modern features. These shotguns often present the best value for money. The Winchester Super X4 and Browning Maxus II, priced around $1000, are notable examples in this category.

Premium shotguns, generally the top-of-the-line models by the best manufacturers, are priced over $2000. While they’re a significant investment, they offer the best performance, durability, and reliability. The Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus showcases top-tier quality and functionality at a slightly higher price tag.

In conclusion, Decide your price point by assessing your hunting frequency, the environment you’ll be hunting in, and the features you prioritize. No matter your budget, there is a reliable and functional shotgun out there well-suited to your duck hunting needs.

Suggestions based on Gauges

Gauges are an essential determinant in choosing the ideal shotgun for duck hunting because they impact the shotgun power, recoil, and ammunition. Remember, the smaller the gauge number, the larger the shotgun bore.

A 12-gauge shotgun, like the Benelli Super Black Eagle III and Remington 870 Fieldmaster, is suitable for hunting any waterfowl. It maximizes power from greater distances, so it is an effective choice when hunting in larger, open fields.

20-gauge shotguns, such as Browning Maxus II offered in a 20-gauge version, are lighter in weight and have less recoil. These are particularly useful if you’re strictly shooting over decoys at close range, or are a younger shooter or experiencing poor shoulders.

Less common are the 16, 28, and .410 gauge shotguns. Although they could work for duck hunting, they’re not recommended for beginners due to less readily available ammunition and the higher cost associated.

Thus, factors such as your hunting style, shooting comfort, and recoil sensitivity should be considered to select the appropriate gauge in a shotgun. Most importantly, use the shotgun that works best for you.

Pump Actions vs Semi-Auto Shotguns

The constant debate of pump action vs semi-automatic shotguns for duck hunting boils down to individual preferences, shooting situations, and budgets.

Pump action shotguns, like the Remington 870 Fieldmaster, have a reputation for reliability and affordability. Pump actions often function better with a broader spectrum of load types, proving effective in poor weather conditions attracting waterfowl hunters. However, one underappreciated shortcoming is the noise created when pumping, potentially alerting closely situated birds.

Semi-automatic shotguns, such as the Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus, offer numerous advantages, particularly improved recoil response and faster follow-up shots. Semi-autos are inherently softer shooting because a portion of the recoil energy cycles the action. But, this could, in turn, pit against its reliability, especially when using lighter loads or without regular cleaning.

Therefore, while selecting the action type, consider factors like faster and quieter follow-up shots, lesser recoil, variety in load types, and the environment you’re hunting in. Also, budget plays an important role since semi-autos are generally more expensive. Both action types can be effective in the right situations, so your choice significantly depends on your individual shooting style and preferences.

Final Thoughts & Recommendations

Summary of the Recommendations

Our selected top shotguns for duck hunting in 2023 encompass various aspects, accommodating different hunting styles, game types, and individual preferences.

  • Performance & Precision: Get the best of balance, accuracy, and dependability with the Benelli Super Black Eagle III.
  • Dependability: For a classic that ensures consistency and affordability without compromising on quality, opt for the Remington 870 Fieldmaster.
  • Stylish & Functional: Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus beautifully demonstrates how a design goes beyond aesthetics to functionality.
  • A Reliable Gem: Mossberg 940 Pro Waterfowl guarantees smooth operation in harsh conditions and endurance for waterfowlers.
  • The All-Rounder: For a smooth, reliable, and soft shooting experience, consider the Winchester Super X4.
  • Reliable Companion: The Browning Maxus II with improved features, makes for a trusted, comfortable hunting partner.
  • Economical Efficiency: The Stoeger M3000 offers reliable performance and durability accompanying an attractive price tag.
  • Compact & Powerful: Look forward to a versatile, trustworthy, and power-packed hunting experience with the Franchi Affinity 3.
  • Classic Choice: The lightweight Remington Model 110 (classic) is a highly accessible and adaptable shotgun for different types of waterfowl hunting.
  • Versatility: Mossberg 500 Hunting is a solid, affordable, and flexible duck-hunting shotgun that doesn’t fail to impress.

These shotguns assure that no matter your hunting style, the environment you hunt in, or the game you aim for, you will find a suitable partner aiding in your pursuit. Happy Hunting!

Tips for Choosing the Best shotgun

Choosing the best shotgun for your hunting needs may seem daunting, but by following a few guidelines, you can simplify the process:

  1. Decide on Your Budget: Set a financial limit for your purchase based on your hunting frequency, desired features, and personal finances.
  2. Evaluate Your Hunting Style: The type of duck hunting you do would greatly influence your chosen shotgun. Do you prefer hunting in close quarters or from long ranges? Answering such questions will help narrow down your choices.
  3. Consider the Preferred Action Type: The choice between pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns will often rely on factors such as your comfort, shooting style, weather conditions, and load preference.
  4. Gauge Matters: 12 gauge caters to various situations and is the most common. However, in specific scenarios, other gauges like 20, 16, or even .410 might be more effective.
  5. Check the Trigger System: The type of trigger, its sensitivity, and pull weight can affect your shooting performance. Ensure you test the trigger feel before purchase.
  6. Barrel Length: Choose your barrel length based on your preferences for balance, swing, and control.
  7. Stocks and Finishes: Deck on your needs, choose from synthetic or wooden stocks, and consider matte, blued, or camo finishes to enhance durability and camouflage.
  8. Choke Tubes: They influence shotgun’s pattern and range. Choose between improved cylinder, modified, or full choke, depending on your hunting style and distance.

By considering these tips, you can ensure that you pick the right shotgun to bolster your hunting experience. Also be sure to add waders and the best hunting hat to your gear bag.

Good luck with your purchase – may you hit your target in every hunting endeavor!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you duck hunt with a 20 gauge?

Yes, you can certainly duck hunt with a 20 gauge. In fact, 20 gauge shotguns have been growing in popularity in recent years for waterfowl hunting. Though smaller than the traditional 12 gauge, modern advances in ammunition have provided 20 gauge shotguns with similar patterns and knock-down power. The lighter weight and lower recoil of a 20 gauge also potentially enable more accurate and consistent follow-up shots.

Especially for those who prefer to shoot at close range over decoys, a 20 gauge is entirely sufficient. Moreover, 20 gauge shotguns loaded with high-performance ammunition like bismuth or HeviShot can achieve ranges comparable to many 12 gauge options. While a 20 gauge may not be as versatile as a 12 gauge, it can make an excellent choice for duck hunting within its range limitations.

Is a 12 or 20 gauge better for duck hunting?

Deciding between a 12 and 20 gauge can often come down to your personal preference, hunting style, and the environment you hunt in.

A 12-gauge shotgun, such as the Remington Model 1100, offers more power and versatility, especially for shooting at greater distances. It accommodates a wider range of shell sizes, making it suitable for hunting larger waterfowl. Moreover, the added heft of a 12-gauge can stabilize the gun and potentially improve accuracy.

On the other hand, a 20-gauge shotgun, like the Franchi Affinity 3, is lighter, has less recoil, and hence could help with accurate and quick follow-up shots. Particularly for shooting at closer ranges or for younger or smaller-frame shooters, a 20-gauge can be a great option.

In recent years, advancements in ammunition technology have significantly improved the 20-gauge’s effectiveness, making it a viable option for duck hunting, even at extended ranges. In conclusion, both 12 and 20-gauge shotguns have their merits, and your preferred hunting style and handling comfort should dictate your choice.

Is a pump gun good for duck hunting?

Yes, a pump shotgun can be a great choice for duck hunting. Pump-action shotguns, like the iconic Remington 870 Fieldmaster or the flexible Mossberg 500 Hunting, have time-honored reputations for their reliability, durability, and affordability.

Pump shotguns are dependable in adverse conditions where mud, ice, and moisture can cause a semi-auto to fail. They are not finicky about ammunition; because the action is powered by the shooter, a pump will cycle any load. If your hunting style involves being exposed to inclement weather or dirty environments, a pump-action may serve you better.

Additionally, pump actions can be easier to clean and maintain than semi-autos. If you foresee often skipping cleaning your duck gun after an outing, then a pump action might be your best bet.

However, pump shotguns often have slower follow-up shots compared to semi-automatics, and there could be more hand movement, noise, and potential for error during the manual cycling of shells. A semi-auto can offer faster, quieter shooting if that’s a priority for you.

So, whether a pump shotgun is the best choice for you really depends on your hunting style, conditions you’ll be hunting in, and what you value in a duck gun.

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