Review: Winchester SX-3 Goes Twenty Gauge for 2010

New for 2010, the Winchester Super X3 “Walnut Field” is now available for the first time in 20 gauge. Two things were readily apparent to me in this model, the first being the “Perma-Cote UT” external metal finish. The second observation is that this is most user-adjustable twenty gauge I've ever tested.

The guts of the SX-3 is essentially the time-tested, audience-proven Browning Gold “Activ Valve” system, complete with speed-loading. It has always been a very reliable, easy to clean, soft-shooting system based on the last dozen or so Golds I've spent quality time with. Though gas-operated autoloaders, as a class, tend to be soft shooting the Gold action has always been the softest of the lot when you consider felt recoil based on gun weight. The SX-3 20 as supplied with a 28 inch barrel isn't the lightest twenty gauge autoloader ever offered, but it is far from the heaviest at 6.5 pounds. This is exactly as stated in the Winchester literature.

Out of the box, one spacer is pre-installed with two more supplied to adjust length of pull. Adding one spacer made the gun fit me extremely well with no further adjustments. Supplied are shims as well to adjust the cast and drop as you prefer, the gun set with neutral cast from the factory. The buttstock is finished off with the latest Inflex pad, similar to the pad offered on the Browning Maxus.

The trigger is excessively heavy as far as I'm concerned, an unfortunate tradition with Winchester-Browning autoloaders, breaking at more than the weight of the gun at 6-3/4 to 7 lbs. The trigger needs a trip to Precision Sports in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, so Bob can tune it to a more reasonable four pounds or so.

The oversized bore measured .629 inches by Skeet's bore gauge. The SX-3 threw beautiful patterns, well-centered and an inch or two high at 30 yards once I added a Trulock Precision Hunter extended choke tube. Here's a 30 yard example, using the B & P F2 Classic #7 shot 15/16 oz. shell.

The Perma-Cote gray finish of the Browning has a suspicion of metal flake in its appearance. It is well-applied and means no care is required to the exterior of the barrel. Whether it is better called powder-coat or just a “techno-paint” I really can't tell. It appears to be durable enough, but I didn't bother trying to scratch it or abuse it.

The SX-3 has a higher rib than found on the equivalent Gold / Silver 20s, a matter of personal preference. I found it to be extremely soft-shooting to no great surprise, and it functioned flawlessly. There isn't much to complain about with the SX-3, aside from the heavy trigger. It is a no-nonsense, well-built twenty gauge with an excellent pad and a maintenance-free exterior. Personally, I prefer the polished blue aesthetic of the Browning Silver, but you may very well opt for the SX-3 due to its higher rib, low-maintenance finishes, and its tremendously broad range user-adjustable stock.

Either way, the Winchester SX2-SX3 Browning Gold-Silver twenty gauge gas operated autoloaders have distinguished themselves as extremely comfortable, easy to use, and easy to maintain autoloaders and the SX-3 is no exception. It is a hassle-free shotgun and a very good addition to the SX-3 line.


Copyright 2010 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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