We could earn income from the merchandise out there on this web page and take part in affiliate applications. Be taught extra ›

Up to date Mar 7, 2023 4:28 PM

Greater than another shotgun, an upland gun must be virtually part of its proprietor. It has to suit, so you’ve gotten full confidence that it’ll shoot the place you look, and it ought to level as simply on the hen as you may level a finger. It must be gentle so you may carry it comfortably for miles, but nonetheless be substantial sufficient to swing easily. The perfect ones have the precise weight and stability so that they accomplish the trick of “carrying gentle and capturing heavy.”

And whereas beauty aren’t a strict requirement for the job, upland hunters have a tendency to understand custom and the finer issues, so many upland weapons have walnut shares and at the very least some engraving. An upland gun could be a pump, a semi-auto, an O/U, or a side-by-side. Every has its followers and benefits, and all 4 are represented within the record beneath. Any certainly one of these 10 weapons can be a trustworthy companion within the uplands.

How We Made Our Picks

My alternative of the ten “Finest” upland weapons was, largely, subjective, accurately since an upland gun represents a extremely private alternative. The gun that delights one hunter could go away one other chilly. However, some goal standards additionally utilized, and I based mostly mine on 40 years of upland searching expertise.  All of those weapons have stood the take a look at of time and proved to be dependable as a result of nobody must stroll for miles with a gun that doesn’t work when it has to.

They’re, except in any other case famous, light-weight, though some are lighter than others. An upland gun can be carried excess of its shot. Having a light-weight gun is a bonus, however provided that the gun is well-balanced and straightforward to shoot.

Lastly, all of the weapons listed here are “classics,” some outdated favorites and some newer fashions, and that’s vital, too, as upland searching, for many people, is about doing issues a sure manner.

The Finest Upland Shotguns Ever Made: Evaluations & Suggestions

1. Remington 870

Key Options

  • Gauges: 12, 16, 20, 28, .410
  • Inventory Materials: Walnut, artificial
  • Chokes: Mounted earlier than 1986, RemChokes in most 12, 16, and 20 gauges after


  • Confirmed, dependable design
  • Out there in all gauges 


  • The 16 gauge is made on a 12-gauge body and is obese
  • Many weapons made within the 2000s are poor high quality

With properly over 10,000,000 made, the 870 makes virtually any “finest ____ shotgun ever made” record by sheer weight of numbers. However the 870’s mass reputation shouldn’t blind us to the truth that it has all of the traits of a great upland gun. The 870’s inventory, with its skinny comb and substantial drop, matches lots of completely different shooters. The 12-gauge 870 is definitely constructed on a 16-gauge Remington 11-48 body, making it a trim and pretty gentle gun that handles very properly. The motion is quick and dependable, and it is available in all gauges. The 870 you need is the Wingmaster, both an outdated fixed-choke mannequin or one of many newer weapons with Mild Contour barrels. They’re much lighter and livelier than the Categorical and SP variations, which have barrels beefed as much as settle for choke tubes.

The brand new FieldMasters from RemArms mark an enormous enchancment in high quality over the outdated Remington’s output in the course of the first years of this century. Whereas the 12 weighs greater than most may like to hold within the uplands, the brand new 20 gauges are excellent.

2. Beretta 680 Collection

beretta silver piegon 3

Key Options 

  • Gauges: 12, 20, 28, .410
  • Inventory materials: walnut
  • Chokes: Choke tubes


  • Low profile design for positive pointing
  • Bulletproof reliability
  • Correctly scaled small-bore frames


  • Stiff safeties typically want smoothing by a gunsmith

Beretta’s primary O/Us are among the many hottest shotguns on the earth, and for good motive. They’re gentle, trim, and intensely sturdy. I’ve seen one owned by a sporting clays champion that had over 500,000 rounds by means of it and a inventory actually held collectively by electrician’s tape, but it was nonetheless on the job. The 680s are available 12, 20, 28, and .410 on scaled frames, in all ranges of ornament. A 687 Silver Pigeon III is my day-in, day-out pheasant gun, and actually, there is no such thing as a motive for me to ever shoot any of my different weapons. The protection buttons on Berettas may be sticky, however that’s the one downside I’ve with them, and a reasonable journey to the gunsmith solves it.

The 686 and 687 are basically the identical gun in numerous wrappers. The 680s have not too long ago been outmoded by the 690 collection, which function improved wooden and inner barrel dimensions however in any other case are largely the identical, which is an efficient factor. The 680 wasn’t damaged and didn’t want fixing.

3. Parker

A reader’s parker VH.
A reader’s Parker VH. Reader submitted

Key Options

  • Gauges: 12, 16, 20, 28, .410
  • Inventory: Walnut
  • Chokes: Mounted


  • An American basic
  • Made on many alternative body sizes. Some make very light-weight upland weapons


  • No metal or tungsten shot
  • Inventory dimensions on some older American doubles have rather more drop than fashionable weapons do

Having gotten his begin within the {hardware} enterprise, Charles Parker started making weapons for the Union Military in the course of the Civil Struggle. In 1868 he and his sons based the Parker Brothers Gun Firm in Connecticut to make shotguns. Through the first thirty years of the twentieth century, Parker produced a number of the finest double weapons ever made in the USA, from the workingman’s “Trojan” as much as ornate, high-grade fashions.

Recognizable by the slotted screw over the hinge pin, Parker weapons had been constructed on completely different frames for various functions. You possibly can purchase a heavy Parker for waterfowl, or a light-weight mannequin for upland searching. Twelve-gauges, as an illustration, had been normally made on no 1, 1 ½, and a pair of frames, with 2 being the heaviest.

Parker offered out to Remington in 1934, and Remington made them for just a few years. However Parker gun gross sales suffered in the course of the Despair, and WWII completed them off, as Remington transferred the final Parker staff to wartime manufacturing. When you have a passion for historical past and custom, “Parker” is the magic title among the many basic American doubles. There have been additionally just a few glorious Japanese Parker Reproductions made within the Nineteen Eighties which have turn out to be collectible in their very own proper. And, you don’t decide a Parker for nostalgia. The perfect show of upland capturing I’ve ever seen befell within the grouse woods over the course of a two-day hunt was placed on by an individual who shot a 20-gauge Parker made within the teenagers.

4. Benelli Ultralight

benelli ultralight

Key Options 

  • Gauges: 12, 20, 28
  • Inventory: Walnut with enhanced grain
  • Chokes: Crio Chokes


  • Tremendous gentle
  • Confirmed Benelli high quality


  • Lacks the Simple-locking bolt of newer Benellis that eliminates out-of-battery misfires
  • Enhanced wooden is easy-care however not as fairly as pure walnut

A contemporary basic upland semiauto, Benelli’s Ultralight weighs simply 6 kilos in 12 gauge, because of a shorter journal tube, a 24-inch barrel, and a light-weight carbon fiber rib. That is the gun you need when it’s a must to stroll miles between birds, however nonetheless want the punch of a 12-gauge when the time involves shoot. The UltraLight has attained cult-like standing amongst semiauto-loving hen hunters, and for good motive.

Like all Benellis, it’s an inertia-operated gun, making it extraordinarily dependable in any climate situation. You should purchase a 12-gauge with a 26-inch barrel if you would like slightly extra heft and self-discipline in your swing, or you may select the even lighter 20-gauge mannequin or the 5-pound 28-gauge.

5. AyA Sidelock

The Spanish made AyA sidelock.
The Spanish made AyA sidelock. Phil Bourjaily

Key Options

  • Gauges: 12, 16, 20, 28, .410
  • Wooden: Walnut
  • Chokes: Mounted


  • Trim and light-weight
  • Customized made by hand
  • Twin triggers for fast barrel choice


  • Not all weapons are steel-compatible

The British finest sport gun, a sidelock double made to measure, represents the height of the upland gun maker’s artwork. It’s environment friendly, it’s lethal as it’s lovely, and it prices many occasions greater than most of us would ever be capable of spend on a gun. Happily, gun makers in Spain’s Basque area realized to repeat British finest weapons at a fraction of the associated fee beginning within the Nineteen Fifties. Of the nice Spanish gunmakers, solely AyA is left making double weapons right now. Their #1 and Quantity 2 sidelock weapons are attractive takes on the well-known English Holland & Holland shotgun. They price a few tenth the value of a Holland or a Purdey, which remains to be lots, however at the very least strikes them out of the “wildest dream” class and into the “believable dream” class.

Honorable point out should go to the Browning BSS sidelock, one other copy of the Holland, however this one made within the Japanese Miroku manufacturing unit from 1983 to 1988. In the present day it prices over twice what it did within the 80s (a mere $1500 then), nevertheless it’s nonetheless a cut price if you’ll find one of many 1200 or in order that had been made.

6. Ruger Crimson Label 28-Gauge

A 28 gauge Ruger Red Label.
A 28-gauge Ruger Crimson Label. Reader submitted

Key Options

  • Gauge: 28 (12 and 20-gauges additionally made)
  • Inventory materials: Walnut, straight, and pistol grips supplied
  • Chokes: Choke tubes


  • Light-weight and nice stability
  • Mechanical set off


  • Poor wood-to-metal match
  • Not made

Launched in 1977, the Ruger Crimson Label was made in the USA and impressed a rabid following for what’s, in actuality, an obese, usually poorly completed O/U. I can say this, having owned 4 of them. The exception is the 28-gauge, which was constructed on a trim, scaled-down body. After making clunky 12s and 20s, Ruger received the 28-gauge precisely proper. It weighed underneath 6 kilos, but, with 28-inch barrels, it swung with extra authority than you’ll count on from a featherlight gun. It was that uncommon gun that was as simple to shoot properly because it was to hold.

Mine, like many Crimson Labels, had a nasty wood-to-metal match, which ultimately soured me on the gun. I offered it and will have stored it, as a result of whereas it wasn’t cosmetically good, it was filled with inside magnificence within the subject. A few years in the past I used to be capable of decide up a Rizzini BR 110 in 28-gauge with 30-inch barrels that comes very near approximating the fantastic dealing with of my outdated Crimson Label.

Fashionable Substitute: Rizzini BR 110

Rizzini BR110

A few years in the past, I used to be capable of decide up a Rizzini BR 110 in 28 with 30-inch barrels that come very near approximating the fantastic dealing with of my outdated Crimson Label, and with higher match and end.

7. Ithaca Mannequin 37

The Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight.
The Ithaca Mannequin 37 Featherlight. Ithaca Gun Firm

Key Options

  • Gauge: 12, 20, 28 (new manufacturing) 12, 16, 20 (older fashions)
  • Inventory Materials: Walnut
  • Chokes: Choke tubes (new weapons), mounted chokes (older fashions)


  • Backside ejection helps hold particles out of the motion
  • Confirmed design 
  • Made since 1937, based mostly on John Browning’s Remington 1917


  • Forearm requires an extended maintain with entrance hand
  • New fashions are costly

Based mostly on the Remington Mannequin 17 pump designed by John Browning, the Ithaca Mannequin 37 featured bottom-ejection that stored particles out of the motion and likewise made it a most well-liked gun of left-handed shooters. Regardless of its all-steel receiver, the 37 made up into a light-weight gun, and it turned a favourite amongst upland hunters who like a pump or couldn’t afford a flowery double for the grouse woods. It was additionally a standard-issue riot gun in lots of police departments for years, which speaks to its reliability. Ithaca went out and in of enterprise many occasions, however over two million have been produced, and the weapons are nonetheless made right now in Sandusky, Ohio. There are many New York-made 37s on the used-gun market. The brand new weapons are made in restricted portions and are very properly match and completed, and fairly costly by pump gun requirements. Personally, I’m not a fan of bottom-eject pumps since the necessity to go away the underside port clear normally requires a forearm that wants an extended grip with the ahead hand. That’s me, and thousands and thousands of Mannequin 37 followers would love a phrase

8. Winchester Mannequin 12

A Winchester Model `12 and two Mearns quail.
A Winchester Mannequin 12 and two Mearns quail. Phil Bourjaily

Key Options

  • Gauges: 12, 16, 20 
  • Inventory materials: Walnut, usually uncheckered
  • Chokes: Mounted


  • Light-weight, trim
  • Very clean pump-stroke
  • Simple to search out, as many had been made


  • Sophisticated and tougher to take down than fashionable pumps
  • Most have tighter chokes

Launched in 1912, the Winchester Mannequin 12 was, within the opinion of many, the best pump gun ever made. It mixed a slick stroke with double-gun-like pointability that made it a fantastic gun for waterfowling, trapshooting, trench warfare, and upland searching alike. A 20-gauge Mannequin 12 with a brief, ribless, cylinder-bore barrel was a lightning quick gun, and within the fingers of the quail hunters who cherished them, completely lethal on a covey rise. Over two million Mannequin 12s had been made between 1912 and 1964. A lot of these are 12s with lengthy barrels, however for those who come across a 20 or a 16, seize it, despite the fact that you’ll pay slightly extra. There is no such thing as a fashionable substitute for a Mannequin 12, and in case you are a pump-gun lover, it is best to have certainly one of these. Browning made a restricted run of 20 and 28-gauges a number of years in the past, and people crop up once in a while.

Browning Auto 5 Sweet 16
This Candy 16 got here with a leather-based case and two barrels. It price Jim’s father $164 in 1965. Reader Photograph

John Browning’s nice Auto 5 shotgun turned a particular favourite amongst hen hunters when the “Candy 16,” a scaled-down, lightened, 16-gauge model of the gun, was launched in 1937. Holding 5 16-gauge shells, it supplied loads of firepower in a gun as gentle as many 20 gauges. The Auto 5s long-recoil motion all the time labored, though you needed to get used to the bizarre bouncing really feel of the barrel transferring backwards and forwards because the gun cycled. Candy 16s had been made till 1975, and some restricted runs of Miroku-made Japanese weapons had been made, and people had choke tubes, in contrast to the unique Belgian weapons, which had mounted chokes.

Fashionable Substitute: A5 Candy 16

browning a5

As nice because the Candy 16 was, Browning’s new Candy 16 A5, launched in 2016, wears its namesake’s title and acquainted humpback profile extraordinarily properly. A lot lighter than the Auto 5 Candy 16, this gun is available in underneath 6 kilos. It’s additionally an inertia gun, so it lacks the bouncing, shuffling feeling of the Auto 5 if you shoot it. It has shortly turn out to be the selection of upland hunters who need a gentle semiauto and admire the ballistics of the 16.

10. Browning Superposed

A 20-gauge Browning Superposed.
A 20-gauge Browning Superposed. Phil Bourjaily

Key Options

  • Gauges: 12 and 20
  • Wooden: Walnut
  • Chokes: Mounted


  • Nicely-made, match and completed
  • Sturdy motion


  • Tall, high-profile body
  • Non-chromed chambers require further cleansing

On the time of his dying, John Browning was laborious at work on an over-under shotgun that might change the O/U market perpetually. The one O/Us round within the Twenties had been high-dollar weapons, and Browning needed to make a gun that was cheap to provide so it may very well be priced simply inside the attain of common hunters and shooters. His son, Val, accomplished the design, which debuted in 1931. Born in the course of the Despair and discontinued when its Belgian manufacturing unit was taken over by the Nazis and bombed throughout WWII, the Superposed hit its stride and located a market within the prosperous Nineteen Fifties. It turned the Everyman’s aspirational gun that Browning had envisioned years earlier.

Like most John Browning weapons, the Superposed is sophisticated, with a number of components, together with an odd forend that slides ahead relatively than coming off the barrels if you take the gun down. It additionally has a excessive, ungainly profile, which, in accordance with shotgun concept, doesn’t level as naturally as a trimmer design. And but, it’s a fantastic gun, simple to shoot properly, and it turned extraordinarily common. It was made as a manufacturing gun till 1975 and exists right now as a customized mannequin.

The Superlight model is the 12 gauge Superposed you need, as the usual fashions are heftier and higher suited to waterfowl and goal capturing. The 20-gauge Superposeds are excellent for hen searching, nonetheless.

Fashionable Substitute: Citori 725

Browning Citori 725 Sporting Over/Under Shotgun

Rising Belgian labor costs compelled Browning to simplify the Citori design (which was not a nasty factor) and transfer manufacturing to Japan (additionally not a nasty factor, though that’s the way it was seen on the time). The brand new model was referred to as the Citori, and it has gone on to turn out to be a basic. In 2011, Browning took weight out of the Citori’s barrel and body, making it slimmer and lighter than earlier than. It is available in each metal and light-weight alloy-framed fashions.

Issues to Think about Earlier than Shopping for the Finest Upland Shotguns

If you store for an upland gun, it’s a must to take into consideration how that gun matches in with the kind(s) of upland searching you do. A 12-, 16- or 3-inch 20-gauge makes a good selection for those who take longer photographs, particularly at greater birds. And, regardless of the normal enchantment of outdated weapons, there’s something to be stated for the flexibility of a gun that has choke tubes and may shoot metal shot if want be.

Think about weight and stability, too. A gun with shorter, lighter barrels could also be simpler to hold and quicker to the goal on going-away birds within the brush, and it may be troublesome to shoot for those who take lengthy, typically crossing photographs in open nation. In that scenario, a longer-barreled gun with some weight-forward may show simpler to shoot.

Most significantly, does the gun fit your needs? There’s little time to regulate your self to a gun when a hen flushes. You could have full confidence that the gun will shoot the place you look so that you by no means need to take your focus away from the goal.

The Finest Upland Shotguns Ever Made: Last Ideas

Select your upland gun correctly. It’s a gun you’ll carry for miles till it’s virtually part of you within the fall. It must be gentle sufficient to log these miles, and clean and regular sufficient to attach with within the split-second when all that strolling pays off. And, whereas most individuals favor utilitarian waterfowl and turkey weapons, some ornament enhances an upland gun’s swish strains. I’m biased, however I feel upland weapons are simply extra enjoyable to have a look at, store for, maintain, deal with, carry, shoot, and personal, than another sorts of shotguns.

A part of the enjoyable of choosing an upland gun is that there are such a lot of classics, outdated and new, to select from. The weapons listed below are all nice decisions, however they’re removed from the one decisions, and discovering the precise upland shotgun for you is among the many fulfilling components of the upland hunter’s journey.

Why Belief Us

For greater than 125 years, Discipline & Stream has been offering readers with trustworthy and genuine protection of out of doors gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outside, and that zeal comes by means of in our product opinions. You possibly can rely on F&S to maintain you updated on the most effective new gear. And after we write a few product—whether or not it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cowl the great and the dangerous, so you realize precisely what to anticipate earlier than you resolve to make a purchase order.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *