We hunted with the new 20-gauge “Long Beard” version of the SXP in Florida a couple of weeks ago, and while I had mentioned 20-gauge Long Beard ammo, which is great stuff, I hadn’t said anything about the Long Beard guns, which aren’t too shabby themselves.
The Long Beard is a 20-gauge version of the Tactical Turkey Gun — a shotgun that is pretty hard on the eyes, but extremely easy to handle in the woods. Although I have given up on tactical grips because they are just too ugly for me deal with, there’s no other stock style that’s more comfortable to handle in the woods when you’re sitting against a tree.
Winchester did the SXP tac-style stock right. It has a shorter length of pull, making it easier to use with a scope, and it comes with two comb inserts, one low and one high, so you can adjust the stock for iron sights or optics. The gun has good iron sights with TruGlo beads and is drilled and tapped. The Long Beard has a 24-inch barrel and an extended choke. I’d prefer a shorter barrel because I value compactness and light weight in a turkey gun. That said, longer barrels are supposed to better stabilize shot charges for improved patterns over shorter barrels. Certainly, the patterns we shot with these guns and Long Beard ammo were very good.
The gun weighs a little under 7 pounds and shouldn’t be a burden on your shoulder. I will confess that my hunts in Florida were of the sit-and-wait variety, so I never packed the SXP Long Beard very far into the woods.
Underneath the turkey trimmings, this is the same SXP that is an improved version of the old 1300. Before Winchester turned manufacturing of this gun over to a Turkish vendor, their engineers reworked some of the gun’s problem areas. I have seen trap versions of this gun shot throughout an SCTP season with no problems. Turkish shotguns keep getting better and this one is a good example. Browning/Winchester has experience working with overseas vendors and holding them to high standards, as evidenced by the Winchester 101 and any Browning gun made by Miroku.
One of the 1300’s claims to fame is that its rotary bolt action is so slick it practically pumps itself. This is true. I shot my bird at 12 steps and filled its head and neck with pellets. Rather than flop, it flew (I’ve seen this once before) and I threw another shot at it (and missed) before it crashed after about five wingbeats. The point is, I have no memory of working the slide at all. The gun really does pump itself.
You get all this for $559 in 20 gauge or in 3 ½-inch 12 gauge. The 3-inch 12 runs $529. Bare-bones, non-pistol-grip versions in black sell for $439. These guns are good buys.