Shotgun for Upland and Duck Hunting?


Dear Technoid:

I want to buy a good o/u shotgun for upland game and duck hunting. Will spend up to 1200, want high quality gun that will appreciate. Is it possible? What do you recommend? Where else can I get info?

Thanks if you can help- Rob

Dear Rob:

I get this sort of question quite often and it is a perfectly valid one. However, it is going to prompt me to write a long and lengthy FAQ as to why finding the one gun to do it all is like finding one vehicle to meet all your needs. The greater your span of activities the harder it is to find something that will do a good job in everything.

Upland game, duck hunting and value appreciation? Tough order. Let’s take the first two requirements first. Upland game means different things in different parts of the country and you do not say where you are from. One almost universal requirement of an upland gun is lightweight. To most people, hunting upland game with a six pound gun is much more fun than hunting it with an eight pound gun. Your game gun should be light, responsive, easy to load and unload (fences and ditches) and does not need a long barrel to catch on the brush. Ideal upland bird guns are like Formula One racecars.

Duck hunting is just the other way around. Due to the misguided, short sighted bureaucratic bungling which is forcing us to use steel on waterfowl (plumbism may or may not be down, but crippling has increased astronomically), your waterfowler should be at least a 12 gauge and should have 3″ shell capabilities. A third shot is a definite plus and a little barrel length and weight can help with the follow through. Ideal waterfowl guns are like big sturdy trucks that can carry big loads and take a lot of abuse.

You are going to have to make some severe compromises if you want one gun to do it all.

Appreciation of the gun: Forget it. Over the years I have been able to keep my upland guns in pretty good shape, but if you hunt hard they are going to suffer sooner or later- unless you do all your grouse hunting on the golf course. Duck guns start to suffer right away- big time. As a matter of fact, most duck hunters I know seem to take particular pride in the ratty condition of their gun. HORRIBLE things happen to guns lying in the bottom of the duck boat. If you duck hunt where someone else is doing all the work for you, you may be able to preserve your gun a bit more.

So- you are going to have to compromise between upland and waterfowl and what ever you get is going to be slowly (or not so slowly) destroyed. Your top price of $1200 is reasonable.

You do not indicate a preference for O/U, SxS, auto or pump, so I will give you my preference. I would buy a Beretta 3901 field gun with a 28″ barrel. It will cost around $800. Take some time to read the other letters on file in SHOTGUN REPORT’s Technoid question column. They cover my reasons for this choice pretty well. If you want an O/U, look at one of the many Citori models. In pumps, the excellent 870 is the winner by a long shot. It is one of my favorite guns and has given me less trouble than my Model 12s. I know of no SxS that meets all your needs.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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