Duck and geese hunting are immensely popular during the fall and winter months. But no matter how good a hunter you are, without a good weapon, your waterfowl hunting game is going to falter. So, your success in the field is directly correlated with using a good waterfowl shotgun. If you’re in a rush and just want to see our favorite waterfowl shotguns, check them out there.
- Winchester SX4 20-Gauge 28” Barrel
- Remington 870 28-Gauge 25” Barrel
- Mossberg 500 12-Gauge 28” Barrel
- Benelli Performance Shop SBE 3 Waterfowl Edition 12-Gauge 28” Barrel
- CZ Drake All-Terrain 20-Gauge 28” Barrel
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Why Not Use a Regular Shotgun or Rifle?
This is a legitimate question. If you are a firearms enthusiast who already owns a range of shotguns and rifles, is a waterfowl shotgun necessary?
One of the main benefits and most significant differences between standard and duck hunting shotguns is the oversized mechanisms. Waterfowlers are outside in the late season, which means cold – you’ll be using a pair of heavier gloves.
A duck or geese shotgun will have larger controls to make your life easier. Then, there’s the benefit of quicker load swaps. The best semi-auto shotgun for duck hunting will have a durable finish, capable of withstanding metal-sided blinds, rough boat rides, and wet dogs.
What to Pay Attention To?
When it comes to the gauge, the 12-gauge is pretty much standard. With that said, less-experienced shooters might find the 20-gauge easier to use. Still, the 12-gauge options are more versatile, and the shells for them are easier to find. 10-gauges and 16-gauges are an occasional waterfowler choice, but their uses are limited.
Then, there are the factors of barrel and chamber lengths. When it comes to the barrel, the 28-inch models are the best options. The extra four inches improves accuracy, but water-fowling is not a static endeavor. Chamber length-wise, you’ll want to go with a 3-inch chamber. Still, many hunters prefer 2 ¾-inch shotgun shells and 3 ½-inch chambers.
Action-wise, you shouldn’t be looking at single-shot shotguns. Even the best waterfowl shotgun for the money should boast two barrels, seeing as how follow-up shots are frequent in the world of duck/goose hunting and that they need to be quick.
Do I Need to Get Used to the Gun?
Even the best waterfowl shotgun on the market takes some getting used to. This is why practicing shooting in the preseason is generally advised. There are too many waterfowlers out there who don’t touch their duck hunting shotguns until the season comes a-knocking. Then, they complain that they can’t hit anything.
This is to be expected. Even with a gun you’ve used for years, you need to get in sync with it. This is done through sheer practice.
If you’ve just got a new shotgun, be sure to try it out. It’s a new weapon and, no matter how good it is, you’re going to have to get used to it. Plus, if you set aside enough time to get used to your new gun, you’ll avoid a lot of frustration with all the new features.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the best duck hunting shotguns on the market. We hope that this list will help you make up your mind about your go-to waterfowl hunting tool.
Our Top Shotguns for Waterfowl Hunting
The SX4 comes in both 20- and 12-gauge versions, but the 20-gauge is vastly more popular. Although you’ll find many seasoned duck hunters using the SX4, it is a preferred tool for beginners, which means that the 20-gauge factor is essential. If you’re into low-recoil weapons or are a beginner who prefers a gun without too much kick, this gas gun might be the perfect match.
Even though it’s suitable for beginners, it still packs a 3 ½-inch chamber – and all that for less than $1,000.
Don’t expect a toy gun, either – the Winchester SX4 20-gauge is a reliable, durable, resilient waterfowl gun. When it comes to camo 20-gauge shotguns, you won’t find too many models better than this one, especially when you look at the amazingly low price.
The price point becomes even more surprising when you consider that the SX4 is what you’d refer to as a “next-gen” model from the manufacturer.
There are three SX4 options available on the market – 24-inch, 26-inch, and 28-inch. This particular model is 28-inch, which is ideal for a waterfowl shotgun.
- Low recoil
- Quality and affordable
- 3 ½-inch barrel
- 30” barrel would be ideal
The Remington Model 870 deserves a special place on any list of weapons. Whether we’re talking about duck hunting or home defense needs, the 870 is likely the most popular shotgun ever made. Partially, this is owing to the high standards practiced by the manufacturer. Although high-level manufacturing and QC shouldn’t be taken for granted, it’s the pump-action design that makes this weapon so stable and reliable.
For the hunting crowd, particularly for waterfowlers, reliability is possibly the single most desirable firearm trait.
Yes, the 20-gauge is the most popular gauge for duck hunting shotguns, but the 28-gauge is a preferred option for hunters who exercise precision. The 25-inch barrel leaves something to be desired, but it remains remarkably accurate, despite the short barrel.
This Remington 870 model is built for water-fowling – it comes in waterfowl-themed camo, so you don’t have to worry about refinishing.
Price-wise, this popular shotgun remains one of the cheapest options on the market. In fact, many waterfowlers who use $1,000+ shotguns still have this $600 gun at their home, just in case. This speaks a lot about its reliability.
- Very cheap
- Gauge and barrel length leaves something to be desired
The Mossberg 500 boasts decades of law enforcement and military use. Thanks to this, the 500 has become a highly sought-after weapon for home security use.
This gun is straightforward to clean and maintain, which is essential for waterfowl hunting.
This Mossberg model comes in three different series. The Tactical series offers 16 different configurations, the Hunting series provides 30, while the FLEX series offers nine different configs.
Of course, we’re going to be talking about the Hunting series here – particularly the 12-gauge model that boasts a 28-inch barrel. This barrel is the standard configuration for waterfowl hunting purposes.
The Mossberg 500 is a pump-action shotgun, which means simplicity and a straightforward design. This further implies reliability in the field.
There are many additional options, such as stocks, grips, scopes, etc. Mossberg offers all of these, so there’s no need to go looking for third-party options. Plus, you get 30 different configurations to choose from – you’re likely to find the best waterfowl shotgun for you right off the bat.
- Extremely cheap
- Various customization options
- 30 different configurations to choose from
- 12-gauge with a 28-inch barrel
- A longer barrel would’ve been perfect
The Benelli Performance Shop SBE 3 is a prime example of a waterfowl hunting shotgun with oversized components, such as the bolt release, the bolt handle, and the safety button.
Expect a polished and honed action from the SBE 3, which means smoothed out internal components. This brings faster cycling for the Benelli model and helps facilitate speedier follow-up shots.
Let’s talk about extended choke tubes. Guns with extended choke tubes protect the muzzle from dings and bumps. These are also very useful because you can remove them with your fingers. Unfortunately for many waterfowlers, your typical waterfowl shotgun doesn’t come with an extended choke. Luckily, the SBE 3 does, which is one of its selling points.
This is not to say that this is the only thing that Benelli Performance Shop SBE 3 has to brag about.
Don’t forget that this shotgun is called the “Waterfowl Edition” for a reason – it was explicitly designed with water-fowling in mind.
Of course, you get a 28-inch barrel, which is perfect for duck and goose hunting. It’s also a 12-gauge gun, so there are no complaints there, either.
Bear in mind, though, that the SBE 3 is quite an expensive model. Expect a price tag north of $2,500.
- A tailor-made shotgun for waterfowl hunting
- Ideal specifications
- Quality, sturdy build
- Gorgeous camo
- Steep price tag
If you’re looking for a quality beginner’s waterfowl shotgun, the Drake from CZ is your best bet. The model does feature a 12-gauge version, but you might want to get more serious when deciding to go from 20-gauge to the ideal gauge for waterfowl hunting – the 12-gauge. With that said, you get the benefit of the perfect barrel length – 28-inch.
Mechanism- and control-wise, the Drake is as basic as they come – you get a single mechanical trigger, meaning that the shotgun doesn’t rely on the recoil to reset the mechanism.
For the price, what you see is what you get. Don’t expect anything fancy. Still, don’t be deterred by the fact that the gun is made in Turkey – the QC is more than solid, and the designers have outdone themselves.
If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find this an excellent waterfowl shotgun for under $700. It’s not the cheapest on the list, but you get the quality of a much more expensive shotgun with it.
The Bottom Line
The price doesn’t dictate the quality of any gun, and the same goes for waterfowl shotguns. That said, the Benelli Performance Shop SBE 3 Waterfowl Edition is the clear winner here.
Not only is it intended for waterfowl hunting, but it does offer the ideal specs that you’ll need – you get a 12-gauge shotgun with a 28-inch barrel for seasoned hunters. Expect quite a kick, price-wise, though.
If you want to go with a cheaper weapon, the Remington 870 is your best bet. Not only is it great for duck and goose hunting, but it is reliable and used for home defense all across the US.