Best Repeating Hunting Shotguns
The whole idea, to my way of thinking, of a good investment in durable goods or any mechanical device, it to be satisfied. Hunting shotguns don't wear out with reasonable care. Some don't wear out quickly even with unreasonable care. Firearms owned by my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father are perfectly serviceable today. Whether it is a coffee maker, a truck, or an SUV . . . if you have to buy something twice to be satisfied, it is no one's bargain.
Hunting season is just around the corner, and it couldn't come quicker as far as I'm concerned. Due to ammunition quality and variety, the only two gauges that are practical in a wide variety of hunting applications are 12 and 20 gauge. For waterfowl including geese, it is mostly 12 gauge territory. For most everything else, from dove to wild pheasants to turkey, the 20 gauge can be a superlative choice. There is a lot more to choose from in 12 gauge, however. Due in part to the times in which we live, several new models have been delayed or put on hold.
In order for a repeating shotgun to be satisfying to me, it needs to shoot to point of aim, it needs to be reasonably easy to load and unload, it has to come to the shoulder quickly and smoothly, and it has to have excellent between the hands balance. Manageable recoil and a good factory trigger are positive attributes as is straightforward maintenance. For the last four years, the Fabarm L4S, the Remington V3, and the Retay Masai Mara have been my most aggressively-used shotguns. Though not the prettiest, the softest-shooting shotgun of the bunch is the Remington V3.
normal circumstances, the Remington V3 would be highly recommended
here. However, Remington is in Chapter 11 right now, scheduled to go
to auction in mid-September, and few, if any, V3 hunting models have
been manufactured since January-February of this year. The ownership
future of Remington is unknown and unknowable. I'll start with the 12
gauge category, although the Remington 870 is available in most
gauges plus the .410 bore.
Fabarm USA L4S
years ago, I wrote: Of all the twelve gauge
hunting autoloaders I've tested over the last few years, the Fabarm
L4S is the most satisfying and my personal favorite. It isn't just
one factor, it is cumulative. I like the weight, the balance, the
overall handling, and the aesthetics. I like the fact that the
cross-bolt safety is where it needs to be, at the back of the trigger
guard. I appreciate the fact that it comes with factory steel-rated
chokes, regardless of constriction, and the Exis choke tubes stay far
cleaner on the outside of the tube than most choke tubes: there isn't
much blow-by and resultant crud. It is one of the few autoloaders
that doesn't need aftermarket choke tubes, a trigger job, or
action-polishing, for out of the box it is just completely good to
I also like the bolt release on the opposing side of the receiver from the breech-bolt and charging handle, something that makes common sense. I certainly do appreciate the look and warm feel of legitimate oiled walnut, rather than the various plasticy fake wood finishes. The L4S is also particularly satisfying due to what it doesn't have: a barrel that wiggles, a forearm that wiggles as well, an annoying center bead, or that “shooting loose” Pogo stick type of feel. Instead, it is a very solid-feeling, stable platform that has none of these distractions and annoyances. That is from https://www.randywakeman.com/Review2016FABARML4SGREYHUNTER.htm and now, several years later, the L4S has passed the test of time and hard use impressively well.
Retay USA Masai Mara Air King
On the other end of the spectrum is the Retay Air King: a 7-1/2 lb. 3-1/2 inch chambered Masai Mara platform inertia gun with easy loading, speed unloading, and a Cerakote receiver and barrel. It is remarkably soft-shooting for an inertia gun and it needs essentially zero external maintenance. For those who are concerned about water, mud, rough use, the Air King eliminates those concerns. The Retay also eliminates the Benelli click, the Benelli thumb, and other well-known issues that standard inertia actions have no chance of equaling.
Remington 870 Wingmaster
Though Remington's immediate future is uncertain, the last 70 years of Remington 870 production is a matter of the public record. Made in every conceivable configuration with over 12 million sold, there is safety in numbers and a Remington 870 pump gun is never a bad way to go.
THE LONELY TWENTY GAUGE
hard to miss: most 20 gauge repeaters on the market are a bit long in
the tooth. Whether you like relatively newer models like the A5, the
Vinci, the Renegauge, and so forth they all have one thing in common:
the 20 gauge has been largely ignored. A Remington V3 in 20 gauge was
on the table, but that is now vaporware. I do have high hopes for the
Retay Masai Mara 20 gauge, I've shot a prototype, but the final
article won't we arriving in the U.S. until the end of September. 2020, or early October.
Browning B-80 alloy / Beretta 303
Getting harder to find in new as new condition, the B-80 20 gauge has been a personal favorite of mine for decades. They don't break: it is a 6-1/4 gas gun that is worth looking for.
M2 ComforTech Camo 24 inch
is a great gun, eventually:
. Yes, it is a long way from perfect and yes, it is wildly
over-priced for what it is. It carries and handles like a dream at 6
lbs., although the stiff loading and the rattly bolt is off-putting
to some. My favorite camo 24 inch barrel version has apparently been
dropped, but the basic black plastic 24 inch $1449 MSRP model is
It is the softest-shooting 20 gauge out there at about 6-3/4 lbs: http://randywakeman.com/ReviewRemington1187SportsmanFieldTwentyGauge.htm . Get them while you can.
Auto-Five Magnum Twenty
reliable, and still one of the finest autoloaders ever made, but on
the heavy side: particularly the Miroku production.
870 Wingmaster 20 Gauge
Yes, the future of Remington Arms is in doubt, but there isn't much that can't be done and done well with a Wingmaster.
I never thought I'd be saying this, but the six most desirable 20 gauge repeaters in my book are all discontinued or out of production at the moment. This is quite a shame, as 20 gauge ammunition has never been better. Actually, my favorite eight 20 gauge repeaters are all out of production, adding in the Browning B2000 and the Beretta 390.
isn't a single firearm that I own that won't outlast me, likely who
comes after me, and who comes after them. The shotgun is the cheapest
part of hunting, by far, and the only part of the hunt that holds
value. The Automatic-Five's and B-80's from decades ago are worth
more than I paid for them. Quality in a firearm is not reflected in a
monthly or yearly expense: when you buy the shotgun that speaks to
you, it will be enjoyment for a lifetime. Mediocre machining and
low-end finish quality does not improve with age, nor can you just
shoot the ugly out of a gun.
The two best repeaters on the market come from different visions of what a hunting shotgun should be. The Fabarm L4S 3 inch gas-operated hunting guns come in three trim levels: functionally they all are identical, all in the fun to carry 6-3/4 lb. range. The L4S Grey Hunter is what I use. The 7-1/2 pound 3-1/2 inch Retay USA Masai Mara Air King is low maintenance with no gas system to clean and externally, there is nothing to be oiled or protected, and it is the best inertia shotgun on the market.
Copyright 2020 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.