Best New Shotguns (and Shells) for 2009

best shotguns
The shotgun class of '09 made its SHOT Show debut at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center and I was pleasantly surprised to find it stronger than anticipated. There were good guns in all price ranges, and some interesting new shotshells to shoot out of them. And, there were there were hints of interesting things to come - Benelli's Vinci won't be introduced until the end of March, and Fiocchi's soft, dense tungsten-polymer Tundra Shot ammo should be available by hunting season. In the meantime, here are some guns and ammunition I saw at the show, and some of which I had a chance to shoot. Browning Maxus: Browning's new autoloader replaces the Gold, making use of a redesigned Gold gas system and a crisp new trigger. Outside, it's got cool features like the forearm latch in place of a traditional magazine cap. At a pre-SHOT shooting event I was reminded just how easy this gun is to shoot- it's light, nicely balanced, soft-shooting, and points extremely well. In 3 and 3.5 inch 12, starting at $1199. browning.com
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Remington 887: Designed to be weatherproof competition to Benelli's polymer-receivered Nova, the 887 does the Nova one better with a receiver and barrel completely encased in composite. The gun weighs about 7 1/ 2 pounds. The ejector automatically compensates for 2 3/ 4, 3 and 3 1/ 2 inch shells to reduce short-stroking, and the magazine tube can be unscrewed for cleaning. In 12 gauge, 3.5 inch, $399 in black. remington.comPhil Bourjaily
best shotguns
Remington 870 Super Slug: This 870 slug gun promises to be a tack-driver, at least by shotgun slug standards. It has a heavy, fluted, fully rifled barrel pinned to the receiver to reduce vibration and increase the weight of the gun to about 8 pounds. The Super Slug also features the Shur Shot stock. The Super Cell recoil pad combines with the heavy barrel to reduce recoil. $772 remington.comPhil Bourjaily
best shotguns
Ithaca 37 28 gauge: The classic bottom-ejecting Ithaca 37 pump not only refuses to die, but this year it comes in a beautiful, scaled down 28 gauge model made at Ithaca's plant in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. The 28 comes in three grades. The gold-inlaid AAA grade is shown here. A grade, $999; AA grade, $1,589; AAA grade, $3,499. Ithacagun.com
best shotguns
Caesar Guerini Apex: Caesar Guerini continues to find ways to pack more high-end value into its guns. The new Apex combines laser, EDM and hand engraving techniques to create deep, intricate patterns on the gun's full sideplates. Other touches include a one-piece lower tang/skeleton grip cap and high grade walnut. Underneath it all, however, the Apex is still a Guerini: an excellent shooter backed by some of the best customer service in the industry. In 12, 20, 28 gauge, in field sporting and trap versions. $6995 (field); $7550 (sporting, shown); $8995 (trap). gueriniusa.com
best shotguns
Winchester 101 Pigeon Grade Trap: Winchester's under-appreciated Belgian-made "Select" O/U is renamed and re-styled as the 101. Although it has the appealing look of the last 101s of the early 1980s, this is a different gun, a low-profile O/U that may even be better than the original. It comes in several models, including a Pigeon grade trap model with and without an adjustable comb. $2,289; $2,429 w/adjustable comb. winchesterguns.com
best shotguns
Hevi-Shot Hevi-Metal: Environmetal tackles the high price of tungsten ammo by mixing smaller HeviShot pellets with larger steel, paired so all of them will arrive together on target. The idea of this load is to increase pattern energy at ranges out to 40 yards or so, and do it affordably. In 3 and 3.5 inch 12 gauge, in steel sizes BBB, BB, 2 and 3. $17/25 round box in 3 inch; $20/25 in 3.5. hevishot.com
best shotguns
Remington Managed Recoil Target Loads: Remington extends its Managed Recoil line with 7/8 ounce target loads at 1100 fps. I had a chance to shoot these the day before the show and they will crush targets without crushing shoulders. They come in Remington's Premier hulls, which reload beautifully. $12 box. remington.comPhil Bourjaily
best shotguns
Winchester Xpert Game/Target 28 and .410 Loads: I've blogged about these before, but now I've had a chance to shoot them. Loaded with 3/8 ounce of steel 6 shot in .410 and 5/8 ounce of 6s in 28, these small-gauge steel loads crunched targets at skeet distances whenever I could put the muzzles in the right place. At moderate ranges, these should work well in the grouse woods and teal ponds, as well as on the target field. $12.00/25. winchester.com
best shotguns
Federal Premium V-Shok Coyote Loads: Federal's FliteControl wad combined with their very dense HeavyWeight tungsten-iron pellets shoot great long range patterns through almost any choke. The BB pellets produce coyote and goose-getting results out to 60 yards. Don't miss, 'cause they're not cheap at $27.95 per 5. federalpremium.com

Shotgun expert Phil Bourjaily reports his picks for the best new shotguns and loads he found at the 2009 SHOT Show.