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 firstname.lastname@example.org.