Last Updated January 10th 2024
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Benelli Super Black Eagle 3
Beretta A400 Xtreme
The best shotguns are some of the most versatile firearms out there. You can use them for duck hunting one day, waterfowl the next and, in an emergency, home defense.
But some are better than others, for specific tasks and in general. So what are the best shotguns for hunting in 2023? Here are our top picks.
1. Benelli Super Black Eagle 3
- Price Range: $1,700-$2000
The Super Black Eagle 3 is a top-of-the-line semi-automatic shotgun that is known for its reliability, accuracy, and smooth recoil. It is a popular choice for waterfowl hunting, turkey hunting, and sporting clays.
It is versatile enough to take whitetail deer hunting, hog hunting and more, with a 26 inch barrel.
The SBE3 features a number of innovative technologies that make it a superior shotgun.
The inertia-driven system is smooth and reliable, with a soft shooting feel.
And the Comfortech 3 recoil pad further helps to reduce felt recoil, making it easier to shoot. Optional gel pad inserts mean you can adjust the length of pull and the Optima Bore HP barrel provides superior accuracy and patterning.
The SBE3 is available in a variety of gauges and barrel lengths, making it a versatile shotgun that can be used for a variety of purposes. It is a good choice for serious shooters who are looking for a reliable and accurate shotgun.
Switch out the interchangeable choke tubes to go from light loads for duck hunting through to heavy turkey loads, deer hunting, elk hunting and more.
Does that make it the best shotgun on the market? We really think it does.
It is available in 12 gauge, 20 gauge and 28 gauge, and barrel lengths range from 24-30 inches. And you can get guns with a pistol grip, other parts & accessories and a range of camo finishes to turn one of the best duck hunting guns into a specialist turkey gun.
2. Winchester SXP
- Price Range: $300-$450
Best Pump Action Shotgun
If you’re not bird hunting, so you don’t need the fast follow up shots, or you’re like John Wick with the action, then you can save a lot of money with a pump gun like the Winchester SXP.
So if you’re going after deer, hogs or you’re predator hunting, then pump actions are a perfectly valid life choice. They can be the best shotguns on the market and it’s only in recent times that the semi-auto shotguns have closed the gap in terms of reliability.
Starting from just $300, the SXP is an award winning shotgun that is a perennial favorite in tactical shotgun and field shotgun forms.
If you want to spend a little more and you are hunting birds that tend to move a little faster, you might want to upgrade to the semi auto Winchester SX4 shotgun.
The Winchester SX4 is a gas operated semi auto shotgun that takes the fight to the Benelli and Beretta, but we like to give you options round here.
We do like the gas system on the Winchester SX4 semi auto shotguns, though. So don’t discount the gas guns for upland bird hunting and recreational shooting, or a shotgun for hunting deer, even if you do prefer the best pump shotguns.
3. Beretta A400 Xtreme
- Price: $1,799-$1,999.99
Best Duck Hunting Shotgun
This semi auto shotgun is great for duck hunting, other waterfowl and fast moving game birds.
Of course you can also use it for whitetail deer hunting and lots more. I mean, it’s yours…
A400 shotguns all feature Beretta’s innovative B-Link gas operated system, which is known for its soft shooting, and reliability.
They also feature Kick-Off Plus recoil reduction system, which helps to reduce felt recoil. And they all come with Beretta’s Optimabore HP barrels, which are designed to provide superior accuracy and patterning.
Interchangeable choke tubes mean you can switch from birdshot to buckshot and slugs, too, if you want to go medium game hunting/big game hunting with your duck guns.
Of course it’s another model line and personally we recommend the Xtreme Plus, which is lightweight, fast cycling and also comes with the recoil reducing Kick Off Plus system.
But check the full line here, and also don’t forget the likes of the Beretta A300 Ultima.
In fact you could easily make a case for putting the Beretta A300 Ultima on the list instead, but the inertia driven A400 is lighter and easier to clean. That matters with hunting shotguns in the soggy upland bird hunting world.
4. Franchi Affinity 3
- Price Range: $849.99-$1,400
Best Low Budget Semi Autos
The Franchi Affinity 3 is a semi-automatic shotgun that is known for its reliability and versatility. It is a good choice for a variety of shooting applications, including waterfowl hunting, turkey hunting, and sporting clays.
The Affinity 3 features a number of innovative technologies that make it a reliable shotgun. The inertia-driven operating system is smooth and reliable, even in harsh conditions. The Invector-Plus choke tubes provide superior accuracy and patterning. And the Comfortech recoil pad helps to reduce felt recoil.
The Affinity 3 is available in a variety of gauges and barrel lengths, making it a versatile shotgun that can be used for a variety of purposes. It is a good choice for serious shooters who are looking for a reliable and accurate shotgun.
You can stick with the 3, which is good for 3 inch loads, or go for the Affinity 3.5 that is chambered for larger shells. Also you can buy shorter barrel home defense shotguns.
And if you want a little less recoil, you can buy 20 gauge shotguns and some bird hunters love them.
5. Browning Maxus II
- Price: $1,500-$2,000
The Browning Maxus II features a number of innovative technologies that make it a reliable shotgun. The Kinematic Drive System makes this soft shooting gas gun smooth and reliable.
The Invector-Plus choke tubes provide superior accuracy and patterning. And the Comfort Balance Recoil pad helps to reduce felt recoil in this semi auto shotgun.
You can choose up to 3.5 inch loads, which is great for bird hunters’ magnum goose loads.
The Browning Maxus II is available in a variety of gauges and barrel lengths, making it a versatile shotgun that can be used for a variety of purposes. It is a good choice for hunting big and small game alike, and one of the best duck hunting semis out there.
6. Remington 870
- Price: $460-$700
America’s Best Selling Shotgun
The Remington Model 870 is a legend in these parts. It’s America’s best selling shotgun, and the Remington 870 Wingmaster and Fieldmaster are both great hunting shotguns.
Now the Remington 870 Wingmaster is the waterfowl hunting specialist and the Fieldmaster is for big game hunting and slightly smaller stuff out on the prairie. But to be honest an Elk probably doesn’t care which of these pump shotguns you shoot it with…
You get a wood stock and forend on the Remington 870 Wingmaster, with near perfect fit and finish, which is kind of nice in this largely synthetic company. Especially in a pump gun with this price tag.
It takes 3 4/4 and 3 inch shells, which gives you a choice, and you can switch the chokes to go for bird, buckshot or devastating slugs.
It’s one of the best duck hunting pump guns money can buy and the Remington 870 has set the standard for slide action 12 gauge shotguns for more than 60 years.
We like the wide variety of tactical shotguns with an 18 inch barrel for home defense shotguns too. And there are 20 gauge shotguns if you want them.
7. Browning Citori
- Price: $2,200-$8,000
Best Over & Under
The Browning Citori double barrel shotgun is a classic over/under shotgun that still might just be the best shotgun on the market for clay pigeon shooting.
Double guns still have their place in this world, even though it’s mostly for sporting purposes. And you do see the double barrel shotgun on farms for pest control, hunting small game, hunting dogs, predator hunting and scaring off intruders like the old days.
They’re still very capable duck guns, too, although the new shotgun breeds do better with follow up shots.
8. Mossberg 940 Pro Waterfowl
- Price: $929.99
The Mossberg 940 Pro Waterfowl is another contender that could easily make your personal cut, but lost out here.
Your hunting gear is a personal choice, after all, and this is a solid gas gun in Tactical or hunter form.
Lots of people opt for the Mossberg 940 and you can switch between 2 3/4 inch and 3 inch shells and you can opt for duck hunting or target loads.
The ported choke tube allows for interchangeable chokes so you duck guns can take out turkeys and grouse as well.
9. CZ Bobwhite G2
- Price: $ $713.99
Best Side by Side Shotgun
Grandpa’s old side by side is all but a forgotten memory these days, unless you’re into sport shooting.
The side by side shotgun is still considered the best shotgun on the market for sport shooting and the break action is a simple requirement for some categories. You just can’t be turning up to the country club with a Turkish AR12 shotgun after all…
Side by side shotguns aren’t a normal part of life these days. Even farmers rarely walk round with them hung over an arm like the old days. And that’s partly why there are fewer of them and they’re much more expensive on the whole.
The CZ is an affordable side by side with double triggers, so you can choose chokes and different loads on two single shots, and an English style straight grip. The barrel is finished in black chrome, which is hardier than a blued finish, and this is a super reliable shotgun that is also incredibly accurate.
If you like them, these are some of the best side by side shotguns on the market.
Other side by side shotgun offerings include the Stoeger Coach Gun and Charles Daly. So there are plenty of side by side shotgun choices out there.
Best Red Dot Sights For a Shotgun
You might like ghost ring sights, or a fiber optic front sight, but a red dot sight can change your world. A red dot sight can help you in the early morning and evening light, by giving you a clearer sight picture.
The Aimpoint T2 is a slightly chunky addition to your set-up, but it’s awesome. We also like the Holosun 507C, which you can put on your AR-15 and pistols too.
Have a look at the best red dot sights here:
I mean a concealed carry shotgun would be an awful shotgun for hunting anything other than snakes in your yard, But some people do that…