Benelli knows how to make remarkable shotguns that promise dependability and no-fail performance, no matter the conditions. The manufacturer’s latest addition to the SBE 3 lineup — the SBE 3 Max-7 — is ready to be the last waterfowl shotgun you ever own.
by Jace Bauserman
I have tested many Benelli shotgun models and never tire of it.
Benelli makes some of the finest shotguns ever. For a waterfowl addict like me, it’s impossible not to love their no-fail durability, weather resistance, reduced recoil, balance, and uncanny ability to, in the words of Benelli, “dominate the skies.”
A New Member Of The Team
Benelli’s Super Black Eagle 3 shotguns have earned a reputation as waterfowl-eating machines. The newest adds to Team SBE 3 include 12-, 20-, and 28-gauge models dowsed in Realtree’s new-for-2023 Max-7 camo pattern.
The model delivered to my doorstep was 10310, a 12-gauge, 3-1/2-inch chambered shooter with a 26-inch barrel. The camo pattern laid over the Comfort Tech 3 stock, receiver, forend, and Crio barrel is stunning. The shotgun will melt into any waterfowl terrain. Besides the recoil pad, comb, 24 chevron-shaped holes in the stock, trigger guard, action, and extended Crio chokes, the entire shotgun is blanketed in Max-7.
Realtree created Max-7 for the waterfowling crowd. Loaded with cattails, reeds, cane, grasses, and crops like corn, oats, wheat, and sunflowers, this pattern conceals in open fields, flooded marshes, and everywhere in between. Realtree wanted a design allowing the hunter to disappear in any waterfowl environment on Earth, and Max-7 is the answer.
We’ve touched on the shotgun’s aesthetic features, but let’s dive deeper into some Benelli wonders that jumped out from the get-go.
I applaud the blend of extended Crio and standard Crio chokes. The new-for-2023 model 10310 has extended Crio chokes in Modified and Improved Cylinder and standard Crio chokes in Cylinder, Improved Cylinder, and Full. With this many choke options and a chamber capable of handling 2-3/4-, 3-, and 3-1/2-inch loads, waterfowl goers can set up properly for any hunt. Whether fast-flying teal at close range or B-52-sized Canada geese over decoys, you can test various loads and chokes for perfect pattern customization.
The stock build is remarkable. Dubbed the Comfort Tech 3, Benelli split the stock diagonally and added shock-absorbing chevrons, which soak up recoil like a sponge. Combine the chevrons with the padded cheek comb pad, which provides no-slip cheek weld and reduces facial impacts and vibrations, and you have a shotgun that is fun to shoot and promotes rapid and accurate second and third shots.
The trigger guard is sizeable. Hunters will have no trouble wearing bulking gloves and accessing the trigger. The safety is large, and an audible click sounds when manipulated.
Benelli added a more significant bolt release, and the angled drop lever with gnarled metal is easy to grip and allows for fast, efficient operation. I also applaud the Easy Locking Bolt System. Benelli created this locking bolt style to ensure proper action lock-up and repeatability no matter the size of the shotshell in the chamber.
Wait, There’s More
Another SBE 3 feature that often goes overlooked is the Easy Loading System. Benelli gave the 10310 a beveled loading port that allows only the two-piece carrier latch’s front piece to move, enabling shotshells to glide into the magazine. Added grooves in the loading port guide shells, so you don’t have to turn the shotgun over and look down when you need to reload.
The forend, like the stock, is composite. This reduces weight while boosting legendary Benelli durability. The forend is also gridded and checkered to enhance shooter grip. The magazine cap is sizeable, gridded for easy on/off, and has a sling attachment stud.
The Crio barrel measures 26 inches. I prefer this length over 28 inches when hunting waterfowl. A vented rib runs the entire barrel length and is topped with a red-bar front sight.
Penning this section is always the most difficult when I test a Benelli shotgun. The reason is Benelli’s don’t have flaws. Each SBE model I have tested over the years performs as advertised. The model 10310 was no different.
First, I removed the extended Crio Modified choke, inserted the standard Cylinder choke, and broke 50 clays with 2-2/3-inch Winchester AA loads. The shotgun cycled the 1-1/8-ounce loads brilliantly, blowing them several yards from my shooting position. The pattern provided by the load/choke combo was impressive. My 18-year-old son Hunter and I created orange dust ball after orange dust ball.
At 48 inches long and weighing 6.9 pounds, this shotgun shoulders, balances, and swings like a dream. It’s the type of shotgun you pick up and instantly know the breast count in your freezer will rise. It carries well with the hunter, and though I rarely concentrate on the fiber-optic red-bar sight, it’s an excellent addition.
Next, I removed the standard Cylinder choke and inserted the extended Crio Improved Cylinder choke. My ammo of choice was Federal’s Upland Steel #6 Shot. I like this load for doves and quail, and though a low-brass steel load, it reaches out and touches fast-flying feathers. Hunter and I let the clays sail a tad further, and orange dust was again the story.
Do I shoot doves and upland birds with Benelli SBE 3 builds? Absolutely; however, I’m a hardcore waterfowl hunter. My main focus is how a shotgun handles high-brass, heavy-ounce 3- and 3-1/2-inch shotshells.
After removing the Crio extended Improved Cylinder choke, I added the Crio extended Modified choke. This is my go-to choke for most of the year, and you can’t beat it. I cycled over 200 3-inch rounds and 50 3-1/2-inch rounds from Hevi-Shot, Fiocchi, and Federal for two days. I shot in the rain, direct sun, et cetera, and didn’t experience a single jam.
Combining the shotgun’s overall build with the Comb Tech 3 stock and Combtech cheek pad reduces recoil and allows the shooter to swing to the target, crush it, and keep the barrel moving on the exact sight plane. This is a critical feature when waterfowl hunting. I love nothing more than pulling doubles and triples, and this shotgun, even when shooting 3-1/2-inch BBB Black Cloud, didn’t buck the shoulder and raise my cheek off the comb.
The proven Inertia-Driven system deserves an article entirely on its magic. Adjusting cycles is never required, and because inertia and not gas is used to cycle, Benelli shotguns stay cleaner. They will continue to function even when you allow them to get dirty.
A Do-All Shotgun?
Pulling the trigger from a money standpoint is a big one. Benelli knows what they’ve created and knows SBE 3 models are worth every penny. When you invest over $2K on a shotgun, though, you want to know that shotgun is a do-all model. While SBE 3 makes are engineered to handle the rigors of waterfowl hunting, they work wonderfully for upland, turkey, and recreational shooting.
When Benelli created the SBE 3, the manufacturer wanted flawless performance in a shotgun with improved ergonomics. They have done it. This shotgun is a waterfowling win — ready to handle Mother Nature’s toughest conditions and still DOMINATE THE SKIES.
Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 Max-7
- Stock Finish: Realtree Max-7
- Receiver Finish: Realtree Max-7
- Barrel Finish: Realtree Max-7
- Gauge: 12
- Barrel Length: 26 in.
- Grip: Standard
- Stock Configuration: Comfort Tech 3
- Chokes: Crio
- Chambered For: 2-3/4, 3-, and 3-1/2 in.
- Magazine Capacity: 3 + 1
- Sight: Red-bar front
- Action: Semi-auto
- Drilled & Tapped: Yes
- Length of Pull: 14 3/8 in.
- Drop at Heel: 2-1/8 in.
- Drop at Comb: 1-3/8 in.
- Overall Length: 48 in.
- Weight: 6.9 lbs.
- MSRP: $2,199