Hit the field and fill your bag with these top upland hunting shotgun options available today.
What Are Your Best Bets For Upland Shotguns:
The days when we used one shotgun for everything are long past. Your granddad and Uncle Bill might have owned a Browning Auto 5 or a Model 12 Winchester and used it for anything with feathers or fur.
Times change. Today, hunters want specialized tools to bag their particular quarry. To that end, we’re looking at the top upland bird hunting shotguns available today. Light and fast in the brush, these smoothbores are tailor-made to knock flushing roosters out of the sky.
Browning Citori White Lightning
In 1973, Browning gave us the Citori as a less expensive alternative to the superposed shotgun—the last project of firearms icon John Moses Browning. Now, among the various versions of the Citori, we have a “white” version, meaning the receiver is not blued or color case-hardened, and the natural-colored steel receiver and trigger guard are protected from corrosion by a durable coating process called a “nitrided” finish, which offers similar protection to bluing.
The 16-gauge has enjoyed something of a revival, especially with upland hunters. New for this year is a 16-gauge version of the White Lightning model. With pretty walnut wood, polished-steel, engraved receiver and extended choke tubes, the White Lightning Citori is a sexy devil.
MSRP: $2,839.99; Browning.com
CZ-USA Bobwhite G2
Upland hunters have a thing for side-by-side shotguns; there’s no denying it. Every shotgunner wants at least one nice double-barrel in their arsenal. The Bobwhite G2 could be it. CZ improved the original Bobwhite in several ways, including a new, durable finish, internal coil springs instead of leaf springs (they last longer and retain elasticity better) and a CNC-cut receiver with internal workings that work slicker than a greased lizard.
This little gun weighs in at only 5½ pounds and will be the envy of your bird-hunting buddies the minute you pull it out of the case. The Bobwhite G2 ships with five interchangeable chokes, has 28-inch barrels and a somewhat remarkable price.
MSRP: $709; CZ-usa.com
On The Mark With More Shotgun Info:
F.A.I.R. SLX 600 Black
Established in 2010, the Italian Firearms Group (IFG) is the importer of four respected Italian firearms manufacturers: F.A.I.R., Sabatti, Tanfoglio and Pedersoli. Manufactured in Italy’s Lombardy region by Fabbrica Armi Isodoro Rizzini (F.A.I.R.), the SLX 600 Black is an upland hunting shotgun with some surprises. First, this gun weighs fewer than 7 pounds—even in the model with 30-inch barrels.
As I’ve said before: You carry a shotgun a lot more than you shoot it. F.A.I.R.’s trademark bright-black bluing on the barrels is impressive, as is the select European walnut stock and forend, which is adorned with fine-pitch laser checkering at 25 lpi. This is old-world Italian craftsmanship … and it shows.
The SLX600 Black can also be purchased with multiple barrel sets, allowing hunters to change out barrels to different gauges as conditions warrant. A 20-gauge set is available for 12-gauge frames, and 20-gauge, 28-gauge and .410 bore are available for 20-gauge frames. All barrel sets come with complete choke tube sets for the corresponding model. If, like me, you are prone to covet a shotgun whose manufacturer’s name you can’t pronounce, the F.A.I.R. SLX 600 Black might be for you.
MSRP: $1,675; ItalianFirearmsGroup.com
Benelli 828U Performance Shop Upland
Upland bird hunters want a shotgun to be light and fast—as in light to carry in the field and fast to point and get on target. Based on the popular 828U, the Performance Shop Upland features upgrades from Benelli’s Performance Shop to produce a shorter, fast-swinging gun. Benelli shortened the length of pull on this shotgun to 14¼ inches and the barrels to 24 inches. Its weight is only 6.4 pounds.
This gun was made for use in the brush. As with the original Benelli 828U, the Progressive Comfort stock with Quadra Fit customizing system offers less felt recoil and the ability to easily adjust drop, cast, comb height and length of pull for a custom fit. The stock and forend are AA-grade satin walnut, along with an anodized bronze/matte-blue receiver and carbon-fiber stepped rib. The 828U Upland retains the revolutionary breech design with a steel lockplate opening system, eliminating wear and tear on the aluminum receiver.
This shotgun is a looker and has some souped-up ergonomics (that is, how the gun feels when you pick it up, handle it and shoot it) that many bird hunters are going to like.
MSRP: $3,499; BenelliUSA.com
Savage 555 16-Gauge
As noted earlier, the 16 is back in vogue, mostly because of the demands of grouse and woodcock hunters. Savage has answered the call with a nice, little, over-under in its 555 line that won’t require a co-signer at the bank. An aluminum receiver is scaled to gauge and incorporates a steel insert that reinforces the breech, thus minimizing weight and maximizing strength.
The enhanced version of the 555 features an imperial walnut stock and forend, auto shell ejector and a silver, scroll-engraved filigree ornament receiver. Standard features include a manual safety and a single, selective mechanical trigger. Chrome-lined barrels and a tang-mounted safety are part of the package. This shotgun weighs in at 6½ pounds.
MSRP: $768 (standard model); $937 (enhanced version); SavageArms.com
TriStar TT-15 Field
Available in 12-, 20- and 28-gauge as well as .410 bore, this shotgun features a top tang barrel selector and safety, steel mono-block barrel construction and Turkish walnut stock and forearm. The TT-15 Field comes with five interchangeable Beretta/Benelli Mobil-style choke tubes (SK, IC, M, IM, F), choke box and choke wrench.
The primary safety on the TT-15 is located on the top tang. When engaged, the safety is designed to block the trigger, hammer lever and hammer, which makes the firing mechanism immobile. This shotgun boasts robust ejectors—items not usually found on economy-priced guns, and they’re also backed with TriStar’s five-year mechanical warranty.
MSRP: $945 (12- & 20-gauge); TristarArms.com
The article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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