The Best Gun For Waterfowl Hunting

By Travis Thompson

Ya’ll know what drives me crazy?

I’m not talking about a mosquito buzzing around your head crazy . . . Nope, I’m talking about crazy like that time you and your buddy Tony tried to load a calf in the backseat of your grandpa’s ’82 station wagon and he got kicked in the head and you lost a tooth type of crazy . . .

This question.

The banality of this question drives me calf in the station wagon crazy.

I watch a lot of sports, and baseball is my favorite.  Every year, they elect a few new players into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  And every year, there is a debate about whether Dale Murphy or Jim Rice or Tim Raines is really worthy of being in the same Hall of Fame as Willie Mays or Ted Williams.

A fellow writer*, Joe Posnanski, spent some time on a column, a few years back, where he posits that we should have a Hall of Fame, and then, for the super great, the “Willie Mays Hall of Fame” . . . But then, he goes on to point out that, in reality, not even Willie himself would make this mythical shrine, as the subjectivity of statistics and numbers would leave him on the outside looking in.

*Joe and I are both writers.  In the same way that Jeff Gordon and I both drive cars.  Tiger Woods and I have both played golf.  Roland Martin and I are both fishermen.  I have a cavalier relationship with colleague comparisons.

So, that brings us back around to our original question:  What is the best gun for waterfowling?

Okay.  You want an answer?  Here goes . . .

Let’s start with one of the first responses you’ll see – the Benelli Super Black Eagle III (because Roman numerals make everything better – shotguns, Super Bowls, Kings of England) . . .

Inevitably, you’re going to get hammered with the SBEIII (plus a couple of “find a SBEII” purists) . . .

We’re not pulling any punches.  The SBEIII is a saaaawweeeeeet gun.  It has killed many ducks, and will continue to do so.  But it comes with a healthy price tag.  Maybe we should keep looking . . .

Well, if the SBEIII doesn’t meet your needs, certainly you’ll love the Browning A5.

This is the gun you’ll see in black and white photos in your grandfather’s scrapbooks.  Timeless.  Classic.  Beautiful.

It could probably be argued that more waterfowl have died at the pointy end of an A5 than any other shotgun.

Oh.  Oh I see.  The commenter 27 posts in had an uncle that had one misfire one time.  Thumbs down on the A5.

That’s good, because Winchester just released the SX3, and it’s a waterfowler’s dream.  I mean, Winchester is a standard, and it’s gotta be well built, and you can get it in 3.5″ . . . Plus, it’s a little cheaper than the previous two . . . Perfect.  We’re home free.  And hey, doesn’t Browning own Winchester or something like that?

Uh oh.  Some guy from Kansas with a profile picture of him holding a poodle like a baby just pointed out that Winchester has some quality control issues on the SXP, and since this model has similar letters in the name, probably need to keep looking.

The Browning Maxus?  Looks solid.  Browning name.  No one has said anything bad yet.

Wait.  You’re kidding.  They don’t make a magazine extension?  That’s out.

Here we go.  This guy has been shooting a Mossberg 930 for years with no issues.  Cheap.  Solid.  Autoloader.

Nope.  That guy just got skewered by real duck hunters.  Weird.  He’s the first one I’ve seen comment with any ducks in his picture.  Oh well.  Too bad.

A Remington?

Now we’re talking.  If the A5 is the model affiliated most frequently with old-timey duck hunts, Remington has to be the brand that’s been in on the most kills.

What are we looking at . . . 1100 . . . Oh.  Sorry.  I meant 1187.  Oh.  A Versamax?

Hang on – is the 870 a pump?  That’s cool.  Never thought about using a pump.  Do any of those other manufacturer’s make pumps?  Also, is it standard to paddle while on duck hunts?  An alarming number of these commenters are using their guns as paddles . . . Why do they so frequently seem to end up in situations where they may require a paddle but never seem to have one . . .

The Nova?  Holy crap. That’s more than the Mossberg auto.

I get what I pay for?  Ohhhhh – I see . . .

The SXP?  A recall?  I thought that was fixed.  It was?

The BPS . . . Is that a Bass Pro thing?

A 535?  Can’t do a Mossberg, remember the comments directed at that one guy?

Franchi?  CZ?  Tristar?  LOL.  You guys are just making up words.


Maybe a pump isn’t the best for me . . . I’m thinking maybe I am leaning towards the SBEIII . . .

But that price . . .

Then it happens.  Invariably.  109 comments down the post, in a purgatory of noise you read, comes a ray of light:

There isn’t a “best” waterfowl gun . . . They all have advantages and disadvantages . . . Some will point differently for me and for you . . . There isn’t a one size fits all gun.  They all shoot the same shells.  You’ll still have the same ducks.  Pick one up.  If it feels right, shoot it.

The best waterfowl gun is the one in your hands when the ducks come in.

Now.  If you really want to be awesome, we need to talk about which choke is best for waterfowl . . .