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Gunfight Friday: Browning Gold vs Benelli Nova

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October 25, 2013

Gunfight Friday: Browning Gold vs Benelli Nova

By Phil Bourjaily

Last week’s Gunfight Friday was the closest we have had yet since the Gunfights started, with the Bicentennial Nylon 66 beating the tricked-out 10/22 by a nose — or I guess by a muzzle crown in this case.

This week we finally we have a Gunfight in which I have extensive hands-on experience with both of the guns. As you can probably imagine, that means we have shotguns this week, and it’s about time. We’re putting the Benelli Nova pump against the Browning Gold semiauto. It’s plastic vs. wood, practicality vs. good looks, pump vs. semiauto, and 3 1/2-inch vs 3-inch today.

Both are good guns. I had one of the first Novas in the U.S. and back then I got a lot of strange looks when I took it out of the case. Its action was slick, it worked, and the day I dropped it on rip rap it clattered, it bounced, and it had only a couple of minor gravel nicks in its tough receiver when it came to rest.

The Gold, as I wrote previously, is an excellent and underappreciated semiauto, and I have made one into my dove gun this year. The 3-inch Golds always work, they look good, and the stock dimensions seem to fit quite a few people well.

Enough of me talking. Here’s what the gun’s owners have to say about them:

Jhpflanz’s Browning Gold

My Browning Gold probably won't do well going up against the European imports, but should be interesting. I really enjoy my Gold. It’s a 12 gauge, 3-inch, 28-inch barreled semiauto. It handles and points great and shoots where I look. It cycles 2 3/4 or 3-inch ammunition without problems. The wood is easy on the eyes, as is typical for Browning. A traditional 12-gauge semiauto, the Browning fills the semiauto niche in my shotgun requirements. 

Greenhead’s Benelli Nova

My duck gun is a first generation Benelli Nova in flat black with a 28-inch barrel and 3 ½-inch chamber. This no-frills pump would be my first choice, regardless of the price, because of its simple, solid reliability. Whether it is bouncing around in the bottom of the boat, takes a dunk when I trip over a submerged log, or is being used as a hammer to crack ice on a late season hunt, the Nova still works when the birds come in. No auto is as reliable, period.  

Jhpflanz may have not have had the Nova in mind when he said his Gold (which is made in Belgium, assembled in Portugal, incidentally) might not fare well against European imports but we’ll see how you feel. Vote, comment and send in your gun pictures. I have been sitting on a nice in-line muzzleloader photo forever and I wish someone would send in a traditional sidehammer deer rifle to put up against it. Anyone? Send that and any other gun pictures to fsgunnuts@gmail.com.

Comments (25)

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from FirstBubba wrote 25 weeks 2 days ago

I'm not a big Browning fan, but I gotta go with John M.!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TeamAsgrow wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Went with the Gold. I own one in camo and love that gun. The novas have never done much for me with the rattling and clunky feel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

As much as I love Browning guns, especially their wood-stocked guns, I can't give my vote to a semi-auto. It's a personal choice, don't get all defensive, but I don't like hunting with semi-autos and I don't trust them to operate when I really want them to... e.g. the duck marsh on a nasty morning.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Even though they're such differant shotguns, it's still a tough choice, because each one possesses everything the other lacks, elegance vs. funcional, ease of use vs. durabilty, simplicity vs. technologically advanced. But it all comes down to what you intend to use them for. For the hunting I do, I went with the Browning, and it's a great show piece

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

If I did as much duck hunting as I used to do I would probably go with the Nova. But I don't hit the marsh as often as I used to or would like to, and I already own a synthetic stocked pump for those occasions. For upland hunting, clay birds and sheer eye appeal, it's got to be the Browning.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Already have a plastic stocked pump action so I voted for the Browning.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

MReeder you live in South Texas right? So were do you do duck hunting? Just wondering because I love in South Texas too, but there aren't many marshes here.

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from Safado wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Browning all the way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

My son has a couple of the Nova rattletraps. Loves them! Drops it in the rice field muck, slings out the water, comes up shooting; mud and water squirting out of the action. Gets home, strips it down, washes it off with the hose, dries it off and sprays it with a coating of gun oil - good to go. He has won several, 3 I think, at DU events. Not my choice of scatterguns, but for serviceability it's amazing. However, as an owner of several of Mr Browning's designs, Browning gets my vote.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dgyoung wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Built a Browning Gold receiver up into an FN/SLP clone this summer as my annual gun project. All I can say is, wow! No wonder the used FN/SLPs go for so much money. What a sweet gun for home defense or three-gun competition.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Browning all day. The Benelli is scary/ugly enough to haunt a house.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

The Benelli Nova is just plain ugly... like big sky says ugly enough to haunt a house. The Browning Golds are beautiful, well made, function flawlessly and I wish I had a closet full of them. Browning all the way!

Wonder why you didn't put the Browning against a Super Black Eagle. At least that would have been a contest.

I am still pissed people would rather have an inaccurate plastic stocked air rifle wannabe .22 over my 10/22. I guess 10/22's are a dime a dozen and people are sick of them. I tried to keep mine as close to classic as is possible when I had the walnut stock routed out instead of going with a space age freakish looking stock or a Hogue rubber stock. I'm still amazed at the results.... maybe I should open up 150 or so e-mail addresses and vote for my rifle on each one just to see if I could pull off a last minute upset. Oh well.

Mine is a target rifle and his is not, they were two different animals. I rather enjoy being able to go to the range and shoot at 100 yards for pennies a shot, not many people can do that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

I vote for the Browning Gold, that's a nice gun, and out shines the Nova my light years! FOR PRACTICAL no frills hunting, I have a Nove in 20 gauge. It's light, functions great, BUT is as pretty as old mop handle!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

I agree with most of what M.A.T said - tough choice, one gun's lackings are met by the other gun, wood vs synthetic, etc. And 3" vs 3-1/2". I've never shot either one but I like the look of wood and, largely based on your observations, Phil, I doubt the necessity of a 3-1/2". But I have always preferred Italian shotguns over Brownings (I have 8 or 10 in the guns safe), and appreciate the hardiness of the synth stock in the duck blind/boat/marsh. So I went with the Nova. But I really want to check out a Gold.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

The Browning scalpel vs the Benelli meat cleaver. I'll take the Browning. BTW, the price of extra barrels for either gun scares me straight.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

You know, I might be afraid to take the Browing hunting because I might bang it around. But on the other hand I might want to bang around the Nova, in hopes of making it prettier.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Looking at the results, it looks like most people don't care how functional a shotgun is but do care if it's as ugly as the Nova.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 25 weeks 22 hours ago

M.A.T.,
I do live in S. Texas and that's why I don't do as much duck hunting as I used to do when I lived near Lake Whitney in central Texas. Back then I hunted the season hard on the federal land around the lake shore and I had access to a friend's stock tanks for puddle jumping. I did do some duck hunting down here with my son when he was going to college in Corpus Christi, but since he graduated and became a coach/teacher in central Texas that kind of put the quietus on that as well, since I relied on him for lodging and for knowledge of hunting areas around the bay. However, there are some public lands that can be hunted down here, including several wildlife refuges on the coast, a WMA just south of San Antone and some Type II Public Hunting Permit areas. Google "Texas Parks and Wildlife Type II hunting permits" and check out the maps they've got posted on line. Annual cost for access all over the state is just $47. There are also plenty of outfitters down on the coast, but if you hunt with them prepare to pay an arm and a leg, and maybe a torso thrown in.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 24 weeks 6 days ago

I'll take a pump over an auto shotgun anyday, Benelli Nova Wins.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from E.J.H wrote 24 weeks 6 days ago

Love the browning, I would like to say that people looking for a nice goose, turkey, duck, or even trap gun check out the stoger m3500 they shoot great and are easy on the wallet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from E.J.H wrote 24 weeks 6 days ago

Love the browning, I would like to say that people looking for a nice goose, turkey, duck, or even trap gun check out the stoger m3500 they shoot great and are easy on the wallet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 24 weeks 5 days ago

The Browning, because the Benelli is one toad-ugly shotgun, and life is too short to hunt with a firearm as ugly as that.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 24 weeks 5 days ago

Oh and look again Phil, my 10/22 is now a muzzle crown in the lead...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hutter wrote 24 weeks 3 days ago

That Nova will kick your brains out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Treestand wrote 24 weeks 2 days ago

I have owned Two Browning's Shot gun for over 50Yr,A-5 Sweet Sixteen and a 12ga Mod 2000, JMO~ John M Browning was a Master in Gun Design.And I luv me Ithaca 37 also a J.M.B Design.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from M.A.T wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

You know, I might be afraid to take the Browing hunting because I might bang it around. But on the other hand I might want to bang around the Nova, in hopes of making it prettier.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 24 weeks 5 days ago

The Browning, because the Benelli is one toad-ugly shotgun, and life is too short to hunt with a firearm as ugly as that.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

I agree with most of what M.A.T said - tough choice, one gun's lackings are met by the other gun, wood vs synthetic, etc. And 3" vs 3-1/2". I've never shot either one but I like the look of wood and, largely based on your observations, Phil, I doubt the necessity of a 3-1/2". But I have always preferred Italian shotguns over Brownings (I have 8 or 10 in the guns safe), and appreciate the hardiness of the synth stock in the duck blind/boat/marsh. So I went with the Nova. But I really want to check out a Gold.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FirstBubba wrote 25 weeks 2 days ago

I'm not a big Browning fan, but I gotta go with John M.!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from TeamAsgrow wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Went with the Gold. I own one in camo and love that gun. The novas have never done much for me with the rattling and clunky feel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

As much as I love Browning guns, especially their wood-stocked guns, I can't give my vote to a semi-auto. It's a personal choice, don't get all defensive, but I don't like hunting with semi-autos and I don't trust them to operate when I really want them to... e.g. the duck marsh on a nasty morning.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Even though they're such differant shotguns, it's still a tough choice, because each one possesses everything the other lacks, elegance vs. funcional, ease of use vs. durabilty, simplicity vs. technologically advanced. But it all comes down to what you intend to use them for. For the hunting I do, I went with the Browning, and it's a great show piece

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

If I did as much duck hunting as I used to do I would probably go with the Nova. But I don't hit the marsh as often as I used to or would like to, and I already own a synthetic stocked pump for those occasions. For upland hunting, clay birds and sheer eye appeal, it's got to be the Browning.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dallas A. McWhorter wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Already have a plastic stocked pump action so I voted for the Browning.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

MReeder you live in South Texas right? So were do you do duck hunting? Just wondering because I love in South Texas too, but there aren't many marshes here.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Safado wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Browning all the way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

My son has a couple of the Nova rattletraps. Loves them! Drops it in the rice field muck, slings out the water, comes up shooting; mud and water squirting out of the action. Gets home, strips it down, washes it off with the hose, dries it off and sprays it with a coating of gun oil - good to go. He has won several, 3 I think, at DU events. Not my choice of scatterguns, but for serviceability it's amazing. However, as an owner of several of Mr Browning's designs, Browning gets my vote.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dgyoung wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Built a Browning Gold receiver up into an FN/SLP clone this summer as my annual gun project. All I can say is, wow! No wonder the used FN/SLPs go for so much money. What a sweet gun for home defense or three-gun competition.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Browning all day. The Benelli is scary/ugly enough to haunt a house.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

The Benelli Nova is just plain ugly... like big sky says ugly enough to haunt a house. The Browning Golds are beautiful, well made, function flawlessly and I wish I had a closet full of them. Browning all the way!

Wonder why you didn't put the Browning against a Super Black Eagle. At least that would have been a contest.

I am still pissed people would rather have an inaccurate plastic stocked air rifle wannabe .22 over my 10/22. I guess 10/22's are a dime a dozen and people are sick of them. I tried to keep mine as close to classic as is possible when I had the walnut stock routed out instead of going with a space age freakish looking stock or a Hogue rubber stock. I'm still amazed at the results.... maybe I should open up 150 or so e-mail addresses and vote for my rifle on each one just to see if I could pull off a last minute upset. Oh well.

Mine is a target rifle and his is not, they were two different animals. I rather enjoy being able to go to the range and shoot at 100 yards for pennies a shot, not many people can do that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

I vote for the Browning Gold, that's a nice gun, and out shines the Nova my light years! FOR PRACTICAL no frills hunting, I have a Nove in 20 gauge. It's light, functions great, BUT is as pretty as old mop handle!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PbHead wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

The Browning scalpel vs the Benelli meat cleaver. I'll take the Browning. BTW, the price of extra barrels for either gun scares me straight.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from M.A.T wrote 25 weeks 1 day ago

Looking at the results, it looks like most people don't care how functional a shotgun is but do care if it's as ugly as the Nova.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MReeder wrote 25 weeks 22 hours ago

M.A.T.,
I do live in S. Texas and that's why I don't do as much duck hunting as I used to do when I lived near Lake Whitney in central Texas. Back then I hunted the season hard on the federal land around the lake shore and I had access to a friend's stock tanks for puddle jumping. I did do some duck hunting down here with my son when he was going to college in Corpus Christi, but since he graduated and became a coach/teacher in central Texas that kind of put the quietus on that as well, since I relied on him for lodging and for knowledge of hunting areas around the bay. However, there are some public lands that can be hunted down here, including several wildlife refuges on the coast, a WMA just south of San Antone and some Type II Public Hunting Permit areas. Google "Texas Parks and Wildlife Type II hunting permits" and check out the maps they've got posted on line. Annual cost for access all over the state is just $47. There are also plenty of outfitters down on the coast, but if you hunt with them prepare to pay an arm and a leg, and maybe a torso thrown in.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 24 weeks 6 days ago

I'll take a pump over an auto shotgun anyday, Benelli Nova Wins.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from E.J.H wrote 24 weeks 6 days ago

Love the browning, I would like to say that people looking for a nice goose, turkey, duck, or even trap gun check out the stoger m3500 they shoot great and are easy on the wallet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from E.J.H wrote 24 weeks 6 days ago

Love the browning, I would like to say that people looking for a nice goose, turkey, duck, or even trap gun check out the stoger m3500 they shoot great and are easy on the wallet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 24 weeks 5 days ago

Oh and look again Phil, my 10/22 is now a muzzle crown in the lead...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hutter wrote 24 weeks 3 days ago

That Nova will kick your brains out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Treestand wrote 24 weeks 2 days ago

I have owned Two Browning's Shot gun for over 50Yr,A-5 Sweet Sixteen and a 12ga Mod 2000, JMO~ John M Browning was a Master in Gun Design.And I luv me Ithaca 37 also a J.M.B Design.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment