Top 7 Best Waterfowl Shotguns for 2020

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best waterfowl shotgun

If you want to head out into nature to shoot at ducks or other waterfowl, one of the first things you need is the best waterfowl shotgun. Duck hunters with the appropriate gun are going to be more successful while they are shooting out in the field. That means considering things like a 2 inch or 3-inch chamber, whether to go with a 12 gauge or a 20 gauge, and what extras will help with all your hunting.

Since choosing between various waterfowl shotguns to find the best one can be challenging, we wanted to offer some assistance. We’ve gone through all the options on the market and made a list of seven of the top offerings. We’re sure that by the time you look through the choices, you’ll find the one right waterfowl shotgun for your needs.

You can find out more about each shotgun below and what they bring to the table compared to others. We’ve also provided information later in the article that will go through all the factors that go into the top waterfowl shotgun, so you know what to look for. First, though, make sure to take a look at our product comparison table, which offers some insight into each gun and its primary specifications.

Best Waterfowl Shotgun for Duck & Goose Hunting

 NameRound Capacity
Barrel Length 

Benelli M2 12-Gauge Field

Benelli M2 Field Semi-Automatic Shotgun
5 + 126 inch Check latest Price

Browning A5 Semi-Auto Shotgun in Mossy

Browning A5 Semi-Automatic Shotgun in Mossy Oak Bottomland Camo
4 + 1
28 inch Check latest Price

Remington Versa Max

Remington Versa Max Waterfowl Shotgun
3 + 128 inch
Check latest Price

Winchester SX4 Waterfowl Hunter

Winchester SX4 Waterfowl Hunter Semi-Automatic Shotgun in TrueTimber DRT
4 + 128 inch Check latest Price

Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus Semi-Auto


Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus Semi-Automatic Shotgun in TrueTimber DRT Camo
4 + 126 inch Check latest Price

Benelli Super Black Eagle

Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 Semi-Automatic Shotgun in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades Camo
3 + 126 inch Check latest Price

Benelli Super Vinci Semi-Auto

Benelli Vinci Super Semi-Automatic Shotgun in Realtree MAX-4 Camo
3 + 128 inch Check latest Price

Benelli M2 Field Semi-Automatic Shotgun

Our first choice for the best waterfowl shotgun is the M2 from Benelli. This isn’t a gas-operated 12 gauge since it relies on inertia instead. The main design of this item is to ensure quick handling and the ability to run even under hard use. It takes up to 3-inch shells and has a 26-inch chamber, one of the most popular for this kind of hunting.

The butt of the stock has a recoil reduction system that reduces recoil by almost 50%. This helps you stay on your target even with quick-moving game when you need to take a follow-up shot. The stock end also has a synthetic overcoating and dimpled checkering to create a non-slip device that can be used in any kind of conditions you stumble on.

This M2 uses an inertia system with only three main components, which means it is going to work most smoothly than a gas-operated shotgun. You can swap between shells that are 2 ¾ or 3 inches, so you can get the power you want in any situation. Also, this item lets you interchangeably chamber those shells so you won’t be struggling with extra adjustments.

This gun offers a bolt head that rotates along with steel locking lugs that go into the barrel extension for a steel-to-steel lock. This is a favorite feature for those who have used the device since it makes the lock stay tightened even when firing shots. That means you can spend less time fiddling with things and more time shooting your target.

Some other features offered with this shotgun include Crio choke tubes, a Crio System barrel, and a stepped rib to provide extra ventilation. This helps ensure the tool is uniform and accurate with every shot, which works well when hunting waterfowl. If you’re looking for a great rifle that can handle whatever you put it through, make sure to give this one a shot.

Pros

  • Offers an inertia driven system that helps with uniform shooting
  • Recoil is reduced using ComforTech technology for comfortable hunting
  • Features GripTight synthetic over coatings and a steel-to-steel lock
  • Promises quick handling due to the design of the semi-auto shotgun

Cons

  • Isn’t designed to operate like one of the more traditional waterfowl shotguns

Browning A5 Semi-Automatic Shotgun in Mossy Oak Bottomland Camo

This 28-inch chamber waterfowl shotgun is made by the same people who created the famous Browning BPS, and it shows. As one of the best choices for waterfowl, the pump-action offers excellent performance even when trying to hit several targets at once. Many of the users boast about the smooth pump-action and the reliability this gun provides.

This is a reasonably simple option that anyone can use, whether they are a beginner or more experienced. It doesn’t force you to fire off tons of shots when one or two is likely to be plenty for your needs. Some consider it one of the top choices for someone who hunts while keeping their environment in mind. It works in water, on land, or anywhere else you need to take down some fowl, and it doesn’t make the process complicated.

For those who want to make adjustments while hunting, this Browning is easy to use and adjust. It comes with choke tubes included to cut down on expenses when buying a new firearm. The pump action is smooth on both initial shots and follow up shots so you can be sure to hit your target even when it’s fleeing. You’ll likely get more shots the first time than ever before.

This 12 gauge is a fantastic choice for someone who wants simplicity and performance. There’s no need to do a lot of adjusting unless you wish to do so. You can simply aim and shoot while knowing that you have the power and accuracy to follow through. There’s a lot to enjoy about this model, not least of which is that this one has a rugged design for all conditions.

Pros

  • Features a 28-inch chamber that can land shots 40 to 50 yards away
  • Semi-auto is a lightweight gun that can even be taken out on canoes
  • Auto 5 has excellent firing power through 12 gauge and 3-inch shells
  • One of the easiest to adjust options for those who want to focus on hunting

Cons

  • Included recoil pad doesn’t always offer enough protection for some users

Remington Versa Max Waterfowl Shotgun

This Remington shotgun is operated by gas, semi-automatic, and works with a selection of different shells to meet your needs. Unlike older items from the brand, this one has a port system for adjusting gas pressure that is based on shell length, so changing barrels isn’t needed. It also has a lot of great ergonomic features to help you get in a full day of comfortable hunting.

One of the great things about this choice is that it can take up to 3 ½ inch shells for those who are after the most power. This might not be necessary in most cases, but it’s still nice to have the option available. The gun also has a self-cleaning action, so there’s less maintenance needed from the owner. This will appeal to anyone who wants to hunt but doesn’t like the upkeep associated with it.

The stock on this model is synthetic and offers a Mossy Oak Duck Blind camouflage when you need some extra stealth. There are also over-molded grips for comfort and to ensure your rifle doesn’t slip out of your hands while you’re transporting or using it. This shotgun is drilled and tapped, so you can also add on a scope mount for even better performance than it offers out of the box.

This is an especially useful option for taking down prey thanks to the thought that went into creating it. For instance, it offers a bolt lever lock on the upper front part of the trigger for convenience. It has an enlarged safety so you can get to it quickly, along with adjustable pull, cast, and drop length. Several cheek height inserts can be added onto the item to customize it to your preferences.

Pros

  • Includes one of the best gas systems on the market and a 28-inch barrel
  • Offers soft shooting with 3-inch shells, so there’s no need to worry about recoil
  • Features an easy to operate design that is reliable in all sorts of environments
  • Comes with a total of four extended choke tubes for fewer extra purchases

Cons

  • Might be a bit heavier than some of the other waterfowl shotguns on the market

Winchester SX4 Waterfowl Hunter Semi-Automatic Shotgun in TrueTimber DRT

This product from Winchester is a gas-operated semi-auto explicitly designed for taking down geese and other animals. As one of the best on the market, it has a variety of extras to make it convenient and easy to use. The barrel is relatively long and one of the most common sizes for waterfowl, so most hunters will be happy with that, along with the weight.

This item has a significant safety so you can activate it quickly, making it safer than many other guns out there. It also has a recoil pad built-in so you don’t have to stress out about having a sore shoulder after a few hours in the field. Other top features include a bolt release system, a valve gas system, and inflex technology. It has a little of everything to make hunting easier for anyone.

For a product that takes 3-inch shells, this Winchester is very lightweight and won’t bog you down if you’re walking a long distance. It also comes with a unique camo finish called TrueTimber, so you can enjoy being stealthy while you try to bring down your target. Due to the limited weight of this shotgun, it can be used by those of smaller stature, or even children.

Another perk when choosing this 28-inch barrel model is that it isn’t overly expensive compared to other options on the market. Being half the price of some of the other guns we’ve showcased, it’s impressive how much power and accuracy the gun can offer to you. It may not have all the bells and whistles, but it is safe, durable, and handles the job when you need it most.

Pros

  • Features an ambidextrous safety so activating it accidentally cannot occur
  • Includes chrome-plated chamber and bore to prevent corrosion and rust
  • 12 gauge is lightweight for easy transport when hunting long periods
  • Waterfowl shotgun comes at a reasonable price for those on a budget

Cons

  • Some may prefer a 26-inch chamber instead of the included 28-inch barrel

Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus Semi-Automatic Shotgun in TrueTimber DRT Camo

This gun from Beretta offers a lot of bang for the buck and has created many satisfied customers among the waterfowl hunting crowd. The camouflage on this contender for the best rifle can help you to blend into tall grass near water where your targets are gathering. It’s also known for being able to hit a target from at least 50 yards away accurately.

The Beretta name might be more familiar to those who use handguns, but the company also offers a variety of shotguns. This device has a ton of power and can knock down fowl from a respectable distance. It’s also made in a design where it can be assembled and disassembled easily so you can maintain it without breaking a sweat. This is one of the things that makes it an option that can last for many years.

For those who are new to using a waterfowl shotgun, this is an option that will be easy to learn on. There are several reasons that it is recommended for all experience levels. It offers plenty of power, it includes smooth bolt action, and it’s easy to take apart to clean after you come home from a hunt. There are few hunters out there that wouldn’t appreciate having this around to work with.

The Xtreme Plus is a shotgun that is great for easy hunting of waterfowl when you just want to relax. It’s lightweight at only over seven pounds, so those who are smaller won’t have an issue transporting it from place to place. It even comes with a selection of tubes for the choke, so you don’t have to make extra purchases to get started.

Pros

  • Waterfowl shotgun offers robust and reliable firing even with 3-inch shells
  • Includes recoil reduction technology for less stress when firing multiple times
  • 26-inch chamber dissipates heat quickly compared to other 12 gauge options
  • Offers a high level of accuracy when using shells of up to 3 inch in size

Cons

  • The model might be too expensive for those who have a strict shotgun budget

Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 Semi-Automatic Shotgun in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades Camo

The Super Black Eagle 3 from Benelli is one of the best guns you could have and comes in a semi-auto, gas-operated design. It offers a 26-inch chamber that can hold large cartridges while ensuring you get reliability and accuracy when you take all your shots. It’s a new version of the original, which was one of the most loved rifles for those who like to take on waterfowl in the wild.

You’ll get five choke options when you select this device so you can customize it to your needs without spending extra money. The options include a flush fit cylinder, full, improved modified, extended improved modified, and full. The stock is made of a durable, dense polymer that has enough weight to offer absorption and balance without being overly burdensome.

It offers a ComforTech butt stock with a new location and size for the chevron to make it easier to use than past versions. It also comes with a shim kit for eight drop and cast configurations, along with a new forend and stock design. This shotgun offers an ergonomic rounded trigger so you can easily pull it to your shoulder and swing it around to a target before firing a shot.

This gun is based on inertia technology and can cycle between three sizes of shells without requiring you to make any adjustments. In addition to the extra we’ve already mentioned, it also comes with a hard case so you can ensure it stays in good shape for years. Between the recoil management, ergonomics, and improved design, this is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to get some hunting done.

Pros

  • Gun features excellent recoil absorption when using even 3-inch shells for hunting
  • Includes a total of five choke options with a 26-inch barrel for convenience
  • 26-inch barrel offers the accuracy and reliability needed for specialty hunting
  • Offers Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades camo for use in the field

Cons

  • Some users might find this 12 gauge is overly expensive compared to others

Benelli Super Vinci Semi-Automatic Shotgun in Realtree MAX-4 Camo

Our last best shotgun for all those birds on the water is from Benelli and is designed to offer the utmost reliability. It’s similar to the previous rifle that we looked at but has features that make it stand out from the pack. It has the same gas-operated system that offers a punch of power every time you make a shot. It also weighs in at less than seven pounds, so traveling with it is not an issue.

One of the reasons this is so lightweight is because the barrel is only 26 inches. However, even with the shorter barrel, it has an exceptional level of accuracy and can take down prey at a distance. Since it’s semi-automatic, it has less recoil than a pump action, which is going to help you take down a target without sudden movement. It offers a three-inch chamber and a 12 gauge bore.

When it’s time to clean the shotgun, it easily comes apart into three pieces to make it a simple task. Once you’re done, reassembling is just as simple, and you can go out on the hunt again. This model comes with several accessories, including integrated sling attachments, a hard case, and five choke options. It also has been drilled and tapped to add the base of a scope.

This gun comes with a camo design specially made to fit in with grass, cornstalks, cattails, and more. It offers a non-slip surface for more comfortable shooting when you are out to hunt and lets you cycle between different sizes of ammunition without making a bunch of adjustments. All in all, this offers a lot of the best features for waterfowl hunters and has very few downfalls.

Pros

  • 28-inch barrel offers reliable cycling and quick follow up shots in the field
  • Includes excellent reduction of recoil for long periods of hunting without stress
  • 12 gauge is gas-powered and semi-auto to take down mallards and other fowl
  • Offers a lightweight design that can be transported and moved without trouble

Cons

  • Some users will find that this gun is out of their budget and too expensive

What You Need to Know When Buying a Waterfowl Shotgun

The truth of the matter is that not every waterfowl shotgun offers the same experience. These shotguns come in 12 gauge and 20 gauge, provide 26 inch, 30 inch, and 28-inch barrels, and can have a variety of chamber sizes from 2 inch to 3 inch and even more substantial. All of these things affect the power, velocity, accuracy, and recoil of the waterfowl shotgun, so all of them matter.

When you’re looking for the best shotgun, you need to have the information to know the difference between a waterfowl shotgun with all the best features and a shotgun that is low-quality, less reliable, and capable of massive recoil. While all of the waterfowl shotguns we’ve mentioned are quality, that doesn’t mean all of them out there meet the mark.

You may know that a Browning BPS and a Mossberg 835 both work for waterfowl but knowing what sets each of them apart is something you should also be capable of. Below, we’ll go over some of the most critical factors in choosing a waterfowl shotgun, so you know whether you want a 12 gauge, a 20 gauge, or something totally different.

Choosing a Waterfowl Shotgun Gauge

When you’re looking at the best options for a waterfowl shotgun, you’ll notice that 12 gauge is the most common. In some cases, a 20 gauge can also be adequate, especially for a youth or someone who is shooting decoy birds from a short distance. However, there are many reasons to consider 12 gauge the best option. This type of waterfowl shotgun tends to offer better versatility and can take easy to find, inexpensive gun shells.

Some individuals prefer a 10 gauge to a 12 gauge shotgun, but the former has extremely limited uses. The high capacity loads coming out of the barrel work well at long distances for clean kills, but you also have to realize it will have more recoil, and the shells will cost more. However, if you go this route, many of the shotguns have at least a 3-inch chamber and interchangeable chokes.

Before the 12 gauge shotgun became the gold star of waterfowling, the 16 gauge was the most common choice. However, the high cost of bullets and the limited availability make this less used compared to the 12 gauge waterfowl shotgun, which you can find hundreds of versions of on store websites. While there may be a comeback for the 16 gauge at some point, for now, the best choice is a 12 gauge.

Selecting a Gun Chamber Length

With the newest versions of the waterfowl shotgun, you can often expect to find a 3-inch chamber. This gives you a better shot capacity, which can make a difference when hunting large ducks or geese or shooting on large bodies of water. An alternative to the 3-inch chamber is a 2 ¾ inch, which has less recoil and offers shorter shell length. Most people looking for the best shotguns will find something between 2 ¾ to 3 ½ inches is best, with the 3-inch option serving as the sweet spot.

Going beyond 3 inch for the chamber can be useful if you want a specialty waterfowl shotgun. This kind of shotgun became available in the 80s when steel shot was created for waterfowling. The larger chamber over a 3-inch increases capacity for large pellets since steel has less energy and patterning than lead. However, going beyond 3 inch isn’t often needed and can lead to an expensive gun with a ton of recoil.

Deciding on the Best Barrel Length

While many people grew up using a waterfowl shotgun with a 30-inch barrel, this isn’t the case today. The 30-inch barrel was believed to extend the sighting plane to offer more accuracy from the waterfowl shotgun. However, the way barrel length is looked at today is a bit different, which has changed the best gun for waterfowl hunters.

In the best situation in a perfect environment, having more than a 28-inch barrel would help with accuracy, but 100% ideal situations do not exist. Since a waterfowl shotgun needs to be balanced, swung, shoulders, and carried, anything more than a 28-inch barrel can be too heavy at the front. Most people will choose a 26 to a 28-inch barrel, depending on their specific needs.

Picking the Right Action for the shotgun

Break Action

A break-action shotgun can come in single and double barrel versions, but most find a double barrel better for waterfowl hunting. There’s often a need for a follow-up shot that a single shot can’t handle as well as a double-barrel gun. Also, this kind of shotgun has a smooth swing that is well balanced and only slightly front heavy.

When you use a 12 gauge, 28-inch barrel, double shotgun, you can choose between a set of chokes. Pull the trigger for the 3-inch barrel that has the choke you prefer. With a single barrel 3 inch chamber, there’s a selector to increase versatility when shooting.

Another great thing about a double 3-inch barrel shotgun is the fact that it is reliable under all sorts of conditions. However, keep in mind that with a dual 3-inch chamber, one of the issues is that it can be more expensive. Also, this shotgun is going to have more recoil than a single. A shotgun with a double 3-inch barrel can also be hard to reload under low light.

Pump Action

Pump action waterfowl shotguns are another choice for duck and goose hunters. One of the perks with this kind of gun is that it can offer a third shot for those who need it. This type of shotgun also features a high level of reliability and requires less maintenance. Its dependability and simplicity make it an excellent waterfowl gun for beginners as well as experts.

As far as the cons of pump shotguns, the second and third shots often don’t leave the 3-inch barrel quite as quickly as they do with an autoloader. However, this is a negligible issue that may not matter to most hunters looking for shotguns. What might matter is that this type of shotgun can have a hefty amount of recoil.

Choosing Between Inertia or Gas Waterfowl Shotguns

There are fans of both gas and inertia powered shotguns, just as there are fans of both the Mossberg 835 and the Browning BPS. One of the things that set them apart is that an inertia gun is going to be the most reliable in bad weather and will get less dirty. However, these shotguns also have much more recoil than one that uses gas.

On the other side of the coin, gas shotguns are the ones that will offer less recoil and nearly the same reliability as inertia shotguns but will need more maintenance. Someone who prefers less maintenance might choose one of the 28-inch barrel inertia shotguns, while someone who doesn’t mind more work and less recoil will want gas waterfowl shotguns.

Selecting the Right Weight for Waterfowl Shotguns

Compared to shotguns from the past, the weight is getting increasingly low with options as light as seven pounds. The weight is one of many features to consider when searching for the one shotgun to meet your needs. Along with barrel size and recoil, the weight will determine whether a gun is easy to travel with and then use to shoot one or two birds.

One thing to keep in mind is that weight can also relate to what you shoot from the gun. Someone who hunts only ducks will do well with a light gun, while someone who wants to take on geese might choose the heavier one. Even if the heavier gun has more recoil, it’s also capable of taking on bigger prey.

Extras Features and Accessories for Your Shotgun

We’ve talked at length about things like the gun barrel and level of recoil, but we haven’t delved into accessories for these tools. Sling swivels are features that often come with a firearm and are popular for hunters. These can help with recoil and performance when hunting for a long day. Another accessory you may want to look at is a gun case, which can ensure the shotgun doesn’t get banged up.

Choke tubes are another accessory popular in this kind of hunting and may be something you want to add to your purchase. Many people even choose to purchase two of them, one with a tight choke and the other with an open choke. Take some time to consider your options when it comes to accessories and find things that fit your particular hunting style.

Wrapping Up

The best waterfowl shotgun is out there, and all you have to do is make the purchase. The duck or goose you’re going after will have no chance against the 12 gauge shotgun you choose from this list. With a variety of features to meet the needs of duck hunters around the world, one of these options is sure to fit yours.

You can trust every one of the guns on this list to offer what it advertises and make it easier to hunt down waterfowl at every turn. Now that you know what to look for in the top waterfowl shotgun, all that’s left is finding the right one and making a purchase. You’ll have tons of fun taking out your new 12 gauge shotgun and hunting down some birds.

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