_by Phil Bourjaily
It has taken a while, but Winchester's Super X3 semiauto has danced its way into my heart. I was a fan of the hefty, retro-styled X2. When Winchester lightened it, gave it a makeover (an ugly makeover IMO) and called it the X3, I was underwhelmed.
I was also wrong. The X3 is a winner.
The particular model of Super X3 that changed my mind is the Sporting Clays version. Winchester sent me one on loan to review a year ago for Best of the Best for 2011. It was high school trap season at the time and I gave it to a girl on our team who was struggling. Her scores went from single digits to low 20s. Since then I have used it as a loaner for several kids and everybody who picks up the X3 shoots it well.
Its magic lies in the combination of length (30-inch barrel) and light weight (7 pounds, 4 ounces thanks to an alloy receiver and magazine tube). The stock dimensions of 1 ¾-inches at the comb and 2 inches at the heel seem to suit everyone who tries it. The X3 gas system reduces recoil extremely well. A long, light gun that doesn't kick is just easy to shoot. The X3 is also a snap to clean, and those of us in the left-handed minority appreciate how readily the safety button switches over.
While the Sporting Clays version is a very nice gun, it should be for a list price of $1,699. Fortunately this year Winchester introduced a couple of no-frills field versions of the X3, including the Black Shadow which sells for $999 in a 20 gauge and $1,069 in 3 ½-inch 12.