After last year, I figured the SHOT Show could not possibly get more tactical. I was wrong. My show started in the howling winds at Range Day, where the Norma ammo folks had hired a minigun for the day, and every 20 minutes touched the thing off, setting the tone for SHOT 2019. With Dave Petzal not in attendance, someone had to be crabby this year, and at that moment I decided it should be me. But then I found a few shotguns worth writing about. I noticed that Cerakote and camo is the new blued steel and walnut, which is indeed practical and even eye-catching, in a new-school way. And there were bird guns, too, and a few new target models that made me yearn for warmer clay-shooting weather. And my mood improved…a little. All told, 2019’s crop of new shotguns is a solid one, with some real winners. Here are my favorites so far.


CZ Bobwhite G2

The CZ Bobwhite is back and better than ever.

CZ has reintroduced its classic, no-frills double gun, the Bobwhite, this year, now known as the Bobwhite G2. Light and slender, it’s made for carrying miles in the uplands, and it comes at a price that won’t discourage you from dragging it through heavy brush. Like the original version, it’s a simple gun with twin triggers and extractors, a straight grip and splinter forend. Inside, however, the gun is all-new, reengineered with a CNCed receiver and sturdy coil springs. The metal has a durable black finish, and the bores are chrome-lined and come with five choke tubes rated for steel. The best part? The price, which is $655 in 12 and 20 gauge, slightly higher for 28;


Benelli 828U Sport

The newest 828U has all the features you want in a sporting shotgun.

Benelli’s 828U O/U now comes in a sporting version, which may not sound like a big deal, but in this case, it is. While manufacturers often take a field gun, lengthen the barrels, and write “Sporting” on the receiver, Benelli made major changes to the 828U to make it a serious competition gun. The most notable change is the receiver, which is now made of steel instead of alloy to increase the gun’s weight for recoil reduction and smooth handling. The stock has been beefed up, too, and features a right-hand palm swell, Benelli’s Progressive Comfort recoil reducer, and 3.5 ounces of adjustable weights in the stock, allowing you to alter the balance. The gun weighs just over 8 pounds with 30-inch barrels and comes with extended choke tubes. It has all the great features of the innovative 828U field model, plus all the features you want in a great sporting gun. $4,399;


Retay Masai Mara Waterfowl

The well-made Turkish Retay Masai Mara now comes in a waterfowl version.

Retay’s new Masai Mara inertia semiauto comes in a 3 ½-inch waterfowl version this year. Although not yet well-known in the U.S., the Masai Mara is a very well-made Turkish gun built in a modern, high-tech factory. It has some unique features, including a trigger group that pops out with the push of a button, a removable ejector, and Retay’s own bolt design that eliminates the “Benelli click” misfire. The 3½-inch version features an enlarged bolt handle and bolt release button, and it comes in black, Bottomlands, and Max5. It’s a fairly light gun at 7¼ pounds but not unmanageable with 3 ½-inch shells, as I found out when I shot it at Range Day. $1,200 in black, $1,399 camo;


Stevens 301 .410 Turkey

This break-action .410 is designed to take advantage of the new TSS turkey loads.

Spurred (pun possibly intended) by the runaway success of .410 Tungsten Super Shot turkey loads last year, Stevens has developed a dedicated .410 turkey gun. A break-action single-shot hammer gun, the 301 has a 26-inch barrel with an extended turkey tube and an integral base for a red-dot sight. It has a camo synthetic stock with sling swivels. I had a chance to hunt with and shoot the 301 last fall and pattern-test it using Federal’s TSS loads. To my surprise, it delivered solid turkey-killing patterns (120 hits in a 10-inch circle) at a measured 40 yards. And it’s very inexpensive, leaving you more money to spend on pricey TSS turkey ammo. $199;


Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus

The latest A400 Xtreme is optimized for the duck blind and goose pit.

For 2019, Beretta’s excellent A400 Xtreme now comes in a new Plus version, enhanced for waterfowl hunting, and the best part is that you get a bunch of new features that you don’t have to pay one penny more for. These include a stepped rib with a middle bead, a lengthened forcing cone, a recoil- and vibration-reducing rubber comb, enlarged bolt and magazine releases, and a loading port that’s been ground open for easier loading. It also has the shock-absorber-like Kick-Off recoil reducer, which does a very effective job of taming magnum recoil (the gun will shoot everything from very light target loads to 3½-inch shells). The new Xtreme Plus retains one of my favorte gadgets, too—a magazine cap the releases with a push and half a turn, like a child-proof cap. $1900;


Stoeger 3500 Waterfowl Special

This affordable waterfowl gun has top-of-the-line features.

Stoeger’s affordable 3500 3½-inch inertia gun gets a waterfowl makeover for 2019, with all the features currently being bestowed on top-of-the-line guns. The result is a practical, tough shotgun that still won’t break the bank. The 3500 features a camo stock and forend; a cerakoted barrel and receiver; an enlarged bolt handle and bolt closer; and the bottom port is ground out for easier loading. Extended choke tubes and a paracord sling complete the package. $850;


Winchester SX4 20-Gauge

The newest SX4 is perfect for waterfowlers who love small-bore shotguns.

Big news for small-gauge fans is the introduction of the Super X4 in 20 gauge. The 20 has all the soft-shooting, reliable attributes of the proven SX4 gas gun, and it adds the classic Browning speed-loading feature, too; push a shell into the magazine tube and it is whisked up into the chamber. The 20-gauge SX4 has the same enlarged controls of the 12-gauge version for ease of operation. Chambered for 3-inch shells and able to cycle a wide range of ammo, the camo models make a great choice for those who want to try the challenge of hunting turkeys or waterfowl with a 20-gauge. Black-synthetic and walnut-stocked models are also available, including a scaled-down compact version. $1070;


Browning Citori Feather Superlight 16-Gauge

Browning Citori Feather Superlight 16-Gauge

If there was a gun that could brighten my dour mood at SHOT, it was this little slice of upland perfection. With its straight stock and scaled-down receiver, the 16-gauge Citori Feather Superlight makes a trim bird gun that’s light without being too light (6 pounds, 4 ounces), lively, and well-balanced. It’s nicely finished, too, with a simple checkering pattern cut into its oil-finished, dark Grade II/III walnut stock that sets off the silvered, alloy receiver decorated with classic Superposed-style engraving. It comes with 26 or 28 inch barrels, three choke tubes, and a hard buttplate. And, did I mention it’s a 16 gauge? The 16 is making a little comeback thanks to the new Sweet 16. This gun is riding its coattails, and we’re all better off for it. The only problem with the Feather Superlight is that it’s a limited-edition special run. Browning will make as many guns as dealers order at the show. You may have to hunt hard for this gun, but find it, and it will hunt hard for you. $2469;


Remington V3 Turkey Pro

Remington V3 Turkey Pro

The V3 comes in a dedicated turkey version this year, which is good news for us, bad news for turkeys. The V3 is fairly light, and the ones I have shot have functioned perfectly. Easy to clean and easy on the shoulder, too, the V3 features the trigger design taken from the late and unlamented CTi 105, which was definitely that gun’s best feature, and it gives the V3 turkey gun a light, clean pull that’s ideal for making precise shots at turkey heads. The gun has a 22-inch barrel with an extended, ported TruGlo turkey tube and the stock has been shortened to 13 inches to make it easier to handle when you’re slumped against a tree, which is a definite plus. It comes with a boresighted TruGlo red-dot sight, and the package sells for $1195;