The refinements and option expansions prove the shotgun market continues strong in 2024. Here are the top five new models you’ll want to check out.
by Larry Case
Unless you have been living under that proverbial rock, you know about SHOT Show. SHOT is the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show, and if there is anything under the sun related to firearms and hunting, you will probably see it at SHOT. This year, about 60,000 people flooded the Venetian Expo and Caesars Forum in Las Vegas with nearly 2,000 coming from the ranks of the firearms and outdoor media. Over 2,500 exhibitors were on hand, flanking over 14 miles of aisles to walk. Can you see everything there is to see? I think it is impossible. I just don’t think you can do it.
Nevertheless, we did our best to take in as many of the new firearms as possible. Along with all the rifle and handgun offerings, there were a few fresh shotguns on display. Here are some of the hot items that I came across.
Savage 555 Sporting Model
Savage has enjoyed success for several years now with the 555 over-under shotgun — a solid, no nonsense, economically priced shotgun for hunting and competition shooting. The 555 Sporting model is now available in 20-ga. and .410 bore, with the 555 Sporting Compact now being offered in 12-ga., 20-ga., and 410 bore. The Sporting Compact Model is very interesting to me as it has a reduced length of pull (LOP) that is important to younger and smaller shooters to help them be successful. We also find that many of us regular-sized adults seem to do better with a shorter length of pull. Try it sometime.
The 555 Sporting and 555 Sporting Compact offer users a lightweight aluminum alloy receiver that is scaled to gauge (smaller on the 20 and .410 models — that is important) and incorporates a steel insert that reinforces the breech, minimizing weight and maximizing strength.
The 555 Sporting features include a 3-in. chamber, Turkish walnut stock and forend with adjustable comb height and 14.5-in. length-of-pull. It also comes with a raised ventilated rib with mid- bead rear sight and fiber-optic front sight, and a lightweight aluminum alloy silver receiver with 30-in. (20-ga.) and 28-in. (.410) ported barrels for recoil reduction. The 555 Sporting has a manual safety and a single selective mechanical trigger, chrome-lined barrels, a tang mounted safety, and includes five extended chokes (F, IM, M, IC, C). The Compact model features a 13 ¼-in. LOP. MSRP $989.00.
Mossberg International Silver Reserve Eventide-Turkey Over/Under
More than a few times I have written about the virtues of the over-under shotgun for turkey hunting. Many years ago, Trebark camo inventor Jim Crumbley showed up at a Virginia turkey camp I was at with an O/U shotgun with two different screw-in chokes — one for close shots, one for longer yardages. This year, Mossberg International is importing three Silver Reserve Eventide Turkey O/U shotguns in 12-ga. (3.5-inch), 20-ga., and 28-ga. with 3-inch chambers; all with compact 20-inch barrels and full camo-coverage with Mossy Oak Greenleaf.
The Silver Reserve Turkey O/U shotguns have durable, camo synthetic stocks and forends, a 14-inch length-of-pull, complementing camo metal finish, a 20-inch vent rib barrel topped with a front fiber-optic sight, and dual-locking lugs. Other standard features include shell extractors, two extended choke tubes, Mossberg logo engraved on the receiver, and tang-mounted safety and barrel selector. Bores and chambers are chrome-lined for corrosion resistance. The Mossy Oak Greenleaf pattern offers silhouette concealment with its blend of dirt, bark, moss, and oak sapling elements.
The 20-in. barrels on these guns are the obvious wow factor, and from what I saw at SHOT Show, around the Mossberg booth, and in talking to Mossberg staff, these guns may be the new darling for turkey hunters this spring. Expect a lot of chatter on this gun but don’t expect them to stay on a shelf very long. MSRP $927.00.
Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 Compact
Since its introduction over 30 years ago, the Benelli Super Black Eagle has set the standard for what many think a semi-auto hunting shotgun should be. The Super Black Eagle has a very loyal and stalwart following. Some duck and turkey hunters will claim they will hunt with nothing else. For 2024, Benelli expands the third generation SBE series with the SBE 3 Compact.
With the same mechanical features and design that has made the SBE 3 a perennial leader in hunting shotguns, the new SBE 3 Compact models present a shotgun that is shorter and lighter for improved handling, better fit, and a more comfortable shooting experience for shooting and hunting enthusiasts with a shorter length-of-pull. The SBE 3 Compact sports a 26-inch barrel and has an overall length of 46 ¼ inches. That is 3 ¼ inches and 1 ¼ inches shorter than the standard SBE 3 28- and 26-inch barrel models, respectively. This shorter overall length comes courtesy of a reduced-length buttstock, which shortens the length-of-pull to 13 ⅛ inches. (There is that shorter length of pull thing again…do you see a pattern here?) Weight is also decreased with the SBE 3 Compact thanks to the more compact stock and 26-inch maximum barrel length.
The SBE 3 Compact shotguns are available in a surprisingly light 12-ga. (6.7 lbs.), 20-ga. (5.7 lbs.), and 28-ga. (5.4 lbs.), and are chambered for 2 ¾- and 3-inch shotshells. All models come with a black synthetic stock and standard features that include Benelli’s Inertia Driven system, extended (IC, M) and flush (C, IM, F) Crio chokes, Crio treated barrels, Comfort Tech 3 recoil pads, Combtech butt pads, drop and cast shim kit, and a custom-fitted hard case. Model numbers are 11320 (12-ga.), 11330 (20-ga.), and 11340 (28-ga.). MSRP $1949.
Browning A5 20-Gauge
Since I am old enough to have been around a lot of the original A5 Browning shotguns — John Moses Browning’s A5s — maybe you will let me say that this is not your Grandad’s A5. But that is OK, as this shotgun has been long-awaited and it was met with much adulation at SHOT Show this year and at Industry Day at the Range. Shooters have been waiting for the 20-ga. version of the new A5 since the 12-ga. came out a few years ago. This lightweight little shotgun is built using a smaller-sized frame than that of the 12-ga. models to keep the 20-ga. slim and light. Weighing under six pounds, the gun will be an easy carry all day through the fields and will be nimble to the shoulder.
The A5 Hunter 20-ga. also looks the part of a hard-working Browning field gun with its deep black receiver, blued barrel, and walnut stock with a durable gloss finish. Some of the features include Browning’s Total Barrel Dynamics, the combination of a Vector Pro lengthened forcing cone, a back-bored barrel, and the Invector-DS choke tube system to optimize shot pattern performance. Like the 12- and 16-ga. models that came before, Browning is backing the new 20-ga. A5 with a 5 year/100,000-round guarantee. The 20-ga. runs on recoil (inertia) with what Browning has dubbed the Kinematic Drive System.
In its simplest term, kinetic energy is the energy of motion. The Browning A5 uses kinetic energy better with its powerful, short recoil-operated Kinematic Drive System. Kinematic Drive harnesses recoil energy and converts it into the mechanical motion needed to operate the action. This concept is tried and true, and now perfected by the company that broke ground first with autoloading shotguns. The beauty of Kinematic Drive is the simplicity of design for consistent, reliable function with any load and under the full extremes of weather, temperature, moisture, and grime. This gun is designed to work, Browning says, come hell or high water. Operation is clean because gases are sent out the barrel and away from the action, and there’s also extreme load versatility.
The new Browning A5 20-ga. features a gloss-finished Turkish walnut stock with vertical grip and shim adjustment for length-of-pull, cast, and drop. A gloss black anodized receiver finish with 18 lines-per-inch cut checkering, an Inflex II recoil Pad, fiber-optic front sight with ivory mid-bead, and three Invector-DS choke tubes are included (F, M, IC). MSRP $1979.99.
CZ-USA Next Generation 1012 G2
CZ-USA has reworked it’s very successful 1012 shotgun…again…and it is all for the good. Coupling a Cerakote finish with synthetic polymer stocks is a big win and makes the shotgun almost indestructible. An ambidextrous safety and easily adaptable magazine extensions are also nice. Sometimes, the best wing shooting happens in foul weather, and hunters need a shotgun that’s unfailing shot after shot. Unlike gas-operated shotguns that require frequent cleanings, the 12-ga. and 20-ga. shotgun cycles the action using the shotgun’s recoil and is much less prone to fouling. During testing, CZ engineers pushed the shotgun to the extreme — 5,000 rounds without lubrication — with zero parts breakage or malfunctions. For the hunter, an occasional cleaning and oiling keeps shotguns going strong during normal field use. The 12-ga. CZ 1012 G2 is available in eight models. For those who prefer a traditional look, there’s walnut (with a choice of metal finishes). The All-Terrain, black synthetic, and three different camo finishes guard against the wet, and the camo models blend with the habitat. Oversized controls assist in adverse conditions and the guns come with five CZ Active Extended Chokes (F, IM, M, IC, C). Prices range from $679 to $749, depending on the model.