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Printed Might 9, 2023 3:00 PM

Semi-automatic shotguns shoot extra reliably than ever earlier than. They aren’t finicky about ammunition, and they’ll shoot for a very long time in-between cleanings. The truth that semi-autos have turn into the first gun amongst waterfowlers tells you all you want to know in regards to the semi-auto’s reliability in powerful circumstances. That doesn’t imply semi-autos are made just for duck searching. They match proper into upland searching, goal capturing, turkey searching, and residential protection as properly. There are a whole lot of decisions on the market, and a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun can deal with virtually any capturing chore.

There are additionally two most important forms of semi-automatic shotguns to decide on between: gas-operated weapons, which have the benefit of decreased recoil at the price of somewhat extra upkeep, and inertia weapons, which keep cleaner, longer.  However what semi-automatic shotgun is best for you? I’ve compiled a listing of the very best semi-automatic shotguns to assist information your choice.

How We Picked the Greatest Semi-Computerized Shotguns

When evaluating the present crop of semi-automatics, I introduced a lifetime of capturing autoloaders at birds and targets to the duty. Because the first query individuals all the time ask a few semi-auto is, “have you ever had any issues with it?” reliability and the power to shoot a variety of ammunition have been among the many prime standards. After that, we checked out ergonomics, which has acquired additional consideration from producers currently, and weight, stability, and dealing with.

The writer took this combined bag of geese and geese along with his Browning A5 semi-auto shotgun. Phil Bourjaily

Greatest Semi Computerized Shotguns: Opinions & Suggestions

Greatest Total: Browning Maxus II



  • Weight: 7 kilos, 2 ounces
  • Gauge: 3- and three ½-inch 12 gauge
  • Operation: Fuel


  • Comfortable cheek- and butt-pads plus gasoline system produce smooth recoil
  • Inventory made to be simply shortened
  • Browning Pace-Load function for quick reloads


The Maxus II represents the subsequent era of Browning gasoline weapons, constructing on the success of the Gold and the unique Maxus. The result’s a really dependable, soft-kicking gun with a number of good ergonomic options. The addition of a smooth rubber insert within the gun’s comb does a exceptional job of lowering the gun’s already gentle recoil. The redesigned inventory incorporates a parallel part on the butt in order that the inventory could be shortened with out the necessity to regrind or substitute the unique recoil pad. The inventory comes with a shim equipment to fine-tune match, and the security could be switched from proper to left-handed in a few minutes.

The gun additionally has an enlarged bolt deal with and bolt launch button discovered on many new semi-autos. Mixed with Browning’s distinctive Pace Load that grabs a shell thumbed midway into the journal and whisks it into the chamber, in addition to {a magazine} plug that’s simply eliminated and changed with no instrument apart from a key, the Maxus II is likely one of the most user-friendly shotguns round. And, it shoots flat to the purpose of purpose and has an overbored barrel and lengthy choke tubes to enhance patterning. It’s a gun you’ll be able to take from the goose pit to the dove discipline to the sporting clays course with complete confidence.

Greatest Finances Inertia Gun: Stoeger m3000

Stoeger m3000


  • Weight: 7 kilos, 2 ounces (12 gauge)
  • Gauge: 3-inch 12 gauge (20 gauge Mannequin m3020 and three ½-inch 12 m3500 additionally out there)
  • Operation: Inertia


  • Light-weight
  • Enlarged bolt deal with and launch
  • Motion spring on journal tube as a substitute of in inventory simplifies cleansing


  •  Match and end solely truthful
  •  Recoil

These inertia weapons are made in Turkey by Stoeger, an organization now owned by inertia-gun innovator Benelli. Made to an entry-level commonplace of match and end, the m3000 is priced so virtually anybody can afford it. Having been in manufacturing since 2001, they’ve a protracted monitor document and are sturdy and affordably priced. 

The primary distinction in motion between the Stoeger and a Benelli is that the m3000 has the motion spring that returns the bolt to the battery across the journal tube, not within the inventory, so it’s simple to examine and clear. The spring up entrance does make the gun’s forend bulkier and provides it a weight-forward stability that feels awkward, however swings properly. It additionally has a semi-humpback receiver profile that units it other than a Benelli.

This 12 months the entire Stoeger inertia lineup acquired a makeover with a bigger bolt deal with, nearer button, and a much bigger, triangular security, in addition to milled-out loading port, all to facilitate simpler reloads. The brand new additions make the gun an excellent higher worth. The m3000 cycles goal hundreds right down to 1 ⅛ ounces properly. The underside line is, if you need an inertia gun that might not be a Benelli however prices a 3rd as a lot, the m3000 is for you.

Greatest Finances Fuel Gun: CZ 712 G3

Hunting Gear photo


  • Weight: 7.3 kilos
  • Gauge: 3-inch 12-gauge
  • Operation: Fuel


  • Turkish walnut inventory
  • Shoots all kinds of ammunition
  • Comes with extras like shims and prolonged chokes


  • Person should change gasoline pistons for capturing mild and heavy hundreds

CZ brings again its 712 gasoline semi-auto with a brand new, sleeker receiver profile and the enlarged security, bolt deal with, bolt launch, and bolt lock buttons that shooters now demand. The Turkish-made gasoline gun has a matte-finished alloy body and barrel and satin-finished Turkish walnut inventory and forend. This makes it a gun you’ll be able to take to the vary, the uplands, and to a duck blind or turkey woods, the place the matte end gained’t shine and spook recreation. With each inventory shims to regulate match and prolonged tubes, the gun does include a whole lot of extras for such a low worth. The trade-off for this glorious worth in a gasoline gun is that, not like different designs, this one doesn’t shoot all hundreds with out adjustment. It comes with two totally different gasoline pistons, one for mild hundreds and one for heavy hundreds. Switching pistons is just a matter of unscrewing the journal cap, pulling off the barrel, sliding off the outdated piston, and placing the brand new one on. However, it’s outdated expertise, nevertheless it makes terrific financial savings potential.

Greatest Devoted Turkey Gun: Mossberg 940 Turkey Professional

Mossberg Pro Turkey shotgun


  • Weight: 7.25 kilos
  • Gauge: 3-inch 12-gauge
  • Operation: Fuel


  • Quick barrel for ease of use within the woods
  • Receiver reduce is exclusive to Mossberg and positions eye in good sight alignment
  • Cool old-school Mossy Oak Inexperienced Leaf end


  • Takes 3-inch shells, not the three ½-inch that some hunters want for turkeys

The 940 is an improved, extra dependable model of the 930. With enter from professional shooter Jerry Miculek, Mossberg redesigned the gasoline buffer tube and boron-nitride-coated inner elements. The 940 runs far more reliably than its predecessor. The Turkey Professional incorporates a selection of a 24-inch or an 18.5-inch barrel for lighter weight and maneuverability within the brush, though maybe on the expense of sample density vs the longer barrel. In both case, the gun comes with Mossberg’s X-Issue choke tube for tight patterns with turkey hundreds. 

Whereas it has the enlarged bolt deal with and launch button which might be standard on semi-autos now, there may be not often a necessity for quick reloading within the turkey woods. Then again, the reduce milled within the alloy receiver for crimson dot mounting is a large bonus to turkey hunters preferring an optic. Sized to suit a crimson dot sight with the RMSc Protect footprint, the reduce permits you to mount the dot down low the place it’s simple to make use of with out lifting your head. The receiver can also be drilled and tapped in case you favor to mount a unique sight or a scope. One other good function for turkey hunters is the detachable spacers that allow you to scale back the size of pull to 13 inches, which may be very handy even for full-sized hunters when sitting down and leaning again in opposition to a tree. Lastly, the gun is dipped in Mossy Oak Inexperienced Leaf camo for an efficient and funky retro camo look.

Greatest Sporting Clays: Beretta A400 Xcel

Berreta A400 shotgun


  • Weight: 7 ¾ kilos
  • Gauge: 3-inch 12-gauge
  • Operation: Fuel


  • Kick-off recoil reducer works very properly
  • Extremely-reliable
  • Straightforward to scrub
  • Is available in a mannequin stocked for ladies, too


Go searching at any main sporting clays shoot. If a competitor is capturing a semi-auto, it’s a Beretta. Nobody makes goal semi-autos like Beretta does, and the lately redesigned A400 Xcel does away with the one function that turned off some shooters: the intense blue receiver. Now it’s completed in additional discreet silver, with a blue bolt. Extra importantly, the gun options an improved model of the already very efficient Kick-Off recoil lowering system. The Kick-Off, mixed with the A400 Xcel’s gasoline system, makes this the gun with the least recoil available on the market. Beretta additionally payments the A400 Xcel because the quickest semi-auto shotgun because of its “Blink” gasoline system. It could shoot 5 shells earlier than the primary empty hits the bottom.

Berettas are legendary for his or her capacity to run endlessly between cleanings, and whenever you do have to scrub this gun, there’s not a lot to it by gas-gun requirements. The piston is a less complicated design than these of earlier Beretta semi-auto pistons, with fewer nooks and crannies to carry carbon, the motion spring is on the journal tube the place it’s simple to succeed in, and the gasoline valve not needs to be taken aside and cleaned. 

The A400 Xcel cycles any goal load, even very mild reloads with unfailing reliability, and whereas the inventory comes with shims to allow some adjustment, there may be additionally a “Vittoria” model stocked for ladies. The gun can also be out there in a restricted black receiver version.

Greatest Waterfowl Gun: Benelli BE.S.T.

Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 BE.S.T.


  • Weight: 5.6 kilos (28-gauge) to 7 kilos (12-gauge) 
  • Gauges: 3 ½-inch 12-gauge, 3-inch 20-gauge, 3-inch 28-gauge
  • Operation: Inertia


  • Reliability
  • Light-weight
  • Nice ergonomics
  • Weatherproof coating


  • Costliest waterfowl gun available on the market

Benelli made its identify with the Tremendous Black Eagle, the very first 3 ½-inch 12-gauge semi-auto. Their inertia weapons earned a status for staying cleaner, longer, than gasoline weapons, and for being dependable within the worst waterfowling climate. As the newest iteration of the well-known Tremendous Black Eagle line, the SBE3 with BE S.T. carries on with the corporate’s status for innovation. The BE S.T. stands for “Benelli Floor Remedy,” which is a really high-tech methodology of coating the weapons in rustproof graphite. 

The BE S.T. lineup includes a 3 ½-inch 12, a 20-gauge, and one of many first 3-inch 28-gauges available on the market. All of the weapons function Benelli’s vibration-dampening ComforTech inventory to scale back recoil, and the SBE3 is the primary of the road to function the Straightforward Locking bolt that eliminates the out-of-battery misfires you’ll be able to expertise with inertia weapons. Every successive era of SBE has been slimmer and lighter than the earlier mannequin, too, and they’re a pleasant gun to hold and shoot, even in 12-gauge.

Greatest Worth Fuel Gun: Winchester SX4

Winchester SX4 Shotgun


  • Weight: 6 lbs 8 oz (20-gauge) to 7 lbs, 2 oz (12-gauge)
  • Gauges: 3 ½-inch 12, 3-inch 12, 3-inch 20
  • Operation: Fuel


  • Comfortable recoil
  • Confirmed gasoline system
  • Enlarged controls


Winchester’s Tremendous X line actually began with SX2 within the Nineties as a gasoline gun based mostly on the profitable Gold made by sister firm Browning. It used the identical gasoline system, leading to a soft-recoiling gun that was each easy to scrub and fairly dependable. The Tremendous X3 adopted. It was a lighter gun, and it had fashionable traces rather than the retro look of the X2. With the X4, Winchester cheapened the X3 with some plastic elements and was in a position to decrease the value. It’s nonetheless the identical glorious gun on the within, however now priced at (for the three ½-inch gun) or under (3-inch 12- and 20-gauges) $1000. When you can spend much less for a gasoline gun, you may as well spend much more and never get something additional to your cash than the SX4 delivers.

The SX4 is available in black, camo, and walnut variations, all of which have each spacers and shims to assist them match quite a lot of shooters. There are additionally compact fashions out there, a real, mirror-image left-handed mannequin, and a devoted turkey gun. All of the weapons function enlarged bolt handles and launch buttons and an enormous security that may be very simple to reverse for left-handed use. The weapons even have overbored barrels and lengthened forcing cones for higher patterning.

Greatest Worth Inertia Gun: Retay Gordion

Retay Gordion


  • Weight: 6 ¾ kilos in 12-gauge
  • Gauges: 3-inch 12-gauge, 3-inch 20-gauge
  • Operation: Inertia


  • Effectively-made
  • Inertia-Plus bolt gained’t exit of battery
  • Deep-drilled barrels

The Gordion is the lower-priced of Retay’s two inertia semi-autos, however provides up nothing in efficiency over the top-of-the-line Masai Mara. The barrels are deep-drilled, not hammer-forged, a costlier course of that assures the barrel might be straight, robust, and never harassed. The barrels are additionally tired of lengthy forcing cones to enhance patterns. Whereas the barrel is the center of a shotgun, Retay pays consideration to the remainder of the gun as properly. The Inertia-Plus bolt can’t be bumped simply out of battery to trigger a misfire, and its set off guard is alloy, not plastic.

The Gordion may be very light-weight at 6 ¾ kilos in 12 gauge, and whereas that makes it a pleasing gun to hold, mild inertia weapons can produce stout recoil with very heavy hundreds. Luckily, there isn’t a 3 ½-inch 12-gauge Gordion. The gun has pleasingly fashionable traces total, and should you spend the additional $100 to step from an artificial to a walnut-stocked mannequin, the walnut you’ll obtain is way above the grade you’d count on on a semi-auto itemizing for $999. Walnut or artificial, the Gordion compares very properly with inertia weapons costing far more.

Greatest Upland Semi-Auto: Browning A5 Candy 16

browning a5 sweet 16


  • Weight: 5 ¾ kilos
  • Gauge: 16
  • Operation: Inertia


  • Light-weight
  • Traditional traces
  • Good recoil pad


  • 16 gauge ammo choice is proscribed

With its squared-off receiver, the brand new A5 Candy 16 evokes the traditional Auto 5 Candy 16, however that is a completely new gun on the within. It’d even be a greater gun than the unique Auto 5, the place the primary Candy 16 utilized the long-recoil system and a shifting barrel, the brand new A5 Candy 16 is an inertia gun. It’s a lot lighter than the unique at below 6 kilos, and it’s a pleasure to hold on lengthy days within the discipline. On the similar time, it’s lengthy sufficient and well-balanced sufficient to swing with some self-discipline.

The gun shares all of the options of different Browning semi-autos that make them standard. The barrel is over-bored and has lengthened forcing cones for improved patterns, and it options Browning’s Invector DS choke system that seals potential residue build-up out of the threads. It additionally shoots a really flat 50/50 sample, so after you have adjusted the inventory shims, this gun shoots proper the place you look. The Candy 16 is available in quite a few types, together with synthetic-stocked fashions, however the one you wish to have as an uplander hunter is both the walnut model or, higher but, the Lightning model that includes the “spherical knob” grip that helped make the unique Candy 16 so distinctive-looking.

Greatest .410 Semi-auto: TriStar Viper G2 Professional

Hunting Gear photo


  • Weight: 5.0-5.8 kilos
  • Gauge: .410 (12, 20, and 28 additionally out there)
  • Operation: Fuel


  • Light-weight
  • Dependable operation
  • Backside port milled to make loading little shells simpler


  • Security doesn’t reverse for left-handed use

Tristar semi-autos have gained shooters over with their mixture of reliability and worth. These Turkish-made gasoline weapons work properly and are supported by good customer support out of Kansas Metropolis. Tristar launched the Viper G2 again in 2007, and it has confirmed itself over time to be a strong performer. It’s an easy-to-disassemble gasoline gun with a recoil spring on the journal tube, not within the inventory, so cleansing and inspecting the spring is straightforward.

For 2023, the G2 acquired a facelift, turning into the Viper G2 Professional. The brand new fashions have the bigger bolt deal with and bolt launch the shooters now need, and the inventory and receiver have been restyled, too. The brand new traces of the receiver are extra than simply beauty. The underside port has been milled out (a modification first seen on 3-gun shotguns which have turn into commonplace), and that function is available in particularly useful for .410 shooters, who must take care of thumb-tiny shells into the small body of the Viper G2. Individuals like .410s as a result of they’re mild and recoilless, and the Viper G2 is constructed on small-scale body that retains its weight properly below 6 kilos.

mallards next to a semi-automatic shotgun
The writer’s Benelli Montefeltro subsequent to 4 drake mallards after a profitable hunt. Phil Bourjaily

Issues to Contemplate Earlier than Shopping for a Semi-Computerized Shotgun

A semi-auto shotgun is completely probably the most versatile of all shotguns, however you need to nonetheless select your new
gun with its most important use in thoughts. Except for the alternatives you make based mostly on weight, barrel size, and so
on, whenever you purchase any shotgun, there are a few further components to contemplate when selecting a

  • Fuel weapons have noticeably much less felt recoil
  • Inertia weapons work properly in unhealthy climate
  • Inertia weapons keep cleaner longer than gasoline weapons
  • Sometimes, gasoline weapons are extra difficult to take aside and clear

Some 3 ½-inch 12-gauge semi-autos gained’t cycle very mild hundreds properly. Many 3-inch weapons will cycle mild
hundreds reliably. If you wish to shoot targets and hunt with a gun, a 3-inch semi-auto could also be a greater


Q: Is a semi-auto shotgun price it?

There is no such thing as a extra versatile shotgun made than a 12- or 20-gauge semi-automatic. It could shoot any load and acquit itself properly in any sort of capturing state of affairs. They’re mild sufficient to hold, lengthy and regular sufficient to shoot at targets, and gasoline weapons particularly scale back felt recoil. In case you’re solely going to personal one shotgun and wish to use it for quite a lot of functions, it needs to be a semi-automatic. Even a top-of-the-line gun is price it if you should utilize it for the whole lot.

Q: How dependable are semi-auto shotguns?

Semi-auto reliability has improved an incredible deal. Most good semi-automatic shotguns can run for a lot of lots of of rounds with out cleansing and with out malfunction. Inertia weapons are particularly recognized for working properly in moist, nasty circumstances of waterfowl searching. Semi-autos are additionally a lot much less choosy about ammunition than they was once. It’s a must to do your half to keep up the gun, and should you do, it’ll serve you very reliably.

Q: Do semi-auto shotguns jam?

Semi-autos used to have the nickname “jam-a-matics” within the 60s and 70s. The event of the inertia motion, first bought by Italian makers Benelli and Breda within the Sixties, and enhancements in gas-gun design have made semi-automatic shotguns extraordinarily dependable. They will nonetheless jam, particularly in the event that they aren’t maintained by their homeowners. However many hunters and goal shooters undergo complete seasons and not using a drawback with their semi-auto.

Q: What are some great benefits of a semi-automatic shotgun?

A semi-auto affords extra firepower than a break-action double with out the necessity to manually cycle the motion, as you do with a pump gun. Semi-autos could be made very mild, with using alloy and plastic elements that don’t compromise efficiency. Fuel-operated semi-autos have the large benefit of lowering felt recoil. The shifting elements of the gun primarily retailer, then launch, recoil power over an extended interval, altering the texture of recoil from a kick to a shove.

Q: What number of cartridges does a semi-automatic shotgun shoot?

Most semi-automatic shotguns can maintain 4 shells within the journal and one within the chamber. Journal extensions, for house protection or spring snow goose searching, can convey that capability as much as eight or extra. Any semi-auto used for searching migratory birds should have a plug within the journal limiting its capability to 2 shells solely, plus one within the chamber.

Greatest Semi-automatic Shotguns: Ultimate Ideas

Semi-automatic shotguns have achieved a stage of versatility and reliability unknown to earlier generations of shooters. There’s a gun for any goal, in addition to loads of all-purpose weapons, because the checklist of weapons we’ve highlighted right here plainly exhibits. The Browning Maxus II, our greatest total gun, is an efficient instance of what a semi-auto could be: mild, soft-recoiling, versatile, and adjustable to suit a variety of shooters. On the goal gun facet, the Beretta A400 Xcel can go toe-to-toe with $10,000 O/Us in sporting clays competitors, whereas a discipline gun just like the Benelli SBE3 will shoot in any climate. There has by no means been a greater time to purchase a semi-automatic shotgun.

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