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The Shotguns of SHOT Show 2024: A Walnut & Camo Renaissance

SHOT Show and shotguns go together like peas and carrots. We emptied a pile and half of shells, and these are the boom sticks that tickled our fancy.

Shotguns of SHOT Show 2024Shotguns of SHOT Show 2024; (photo/Matt Gagnon)
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Keeping with the trend of hunting making a big resurgence at the 2024 SHOT Show, the shotgun lineup for the year was impressive. From fun little 20 gauges to heavy 12s with serious impact, there was a little bit of something for everyone in Las Vegas this year.

Much like our coverage of the rifles of SHOT Show this year, we found far more hunting options than we have in the past few years, which was refreshing. If there’s an area of the shooting world that tends to lend itself to the tactical/personal defense space, it is certainly shotguns.

This isn’t to say there weren’t a heap of those. There were. There were loads of them. However, our little niche of walnut and camo seemed to have expanded, and for that, the elation was high. If there’s one thing the GearJunkie crew really looks forward to, it’s shooting someone else’s shells at range day.

Shotguns of SHOT Show 2024

Browning A5 20 gauge

Browning A5 20 gauge

I love a good 20 gauge, and Browning did the little gun right by offering the A5 in a 20. This was by far the most fun gun to shoot at the shotgun range, and that’s not just because it fits my frame. We all took turns taking aim at bright orange clays, and I can say with relative confidence that between two relatively burly fellows and me, we all giggled an irrational amount. It’s just a fun little gun to shoot.

For being walnut, the A5 20 gauge is incredibly lightweight, coming in under 6 pounds. It’s easy to shoulder and has the most minimal pop to it. You could shoot all day, so long as your shells last. That autoload feature really seems to help you burn through them quickly, compared to my old pump action.

This would be a great first gun for kids taking to the bird fields or just a great little gun for anyone wanting a fun day without a sore shoulder. And it’s so light it would carry like a dream.

It may be my favorite shotgun of SHOT Show this year.

Check Price at Browning

Mossberg 940 Pro Turkey 12 Gauge

Mossberg 940 Pro Turkey

The turkey guns were all the rage at this year’s show. Mossberg had a lineup of bird guns that offered just about every option and niche that a feather-chasing hunter could want. The 940 Pro Turkey – Holosun Microdot Combo seems to nail it for the Tom chasers who like optics.

The semi-auto action is smooth and efficient. An adjustable LOP means the gun can be set up for shorter-stature hunters and grow if needed.

If you’re considering making the move toward a shotgun with optics, this combo is a turnkey setup that will get you in the field without too much thought.

Check Price at Scheels

Franchi Affinity 3 Sport Trap 12 Gauge

Franchi Affinity Sport Trap

We can’t leave out the recreational shooters. The Franchi Affinity 3 Sport Trap targets new sport shooters (pun obviously intended). That being said, it’s a fine choice for any recreational shooter who doesn’t want to completely break the bank. This model sports Franchi’s Omni Stock Adjustable fit, allowing for customization of stock position for comfortable and secure shouldering.

Aside from sport shooting, it’s more than capable in the field as well. I feel like manufacturers often try to fit a product into a tight niche, but Franchi acknowledges that this 12 gauge is just at home following feathers.

Check Price at Franchi USA

Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 12 Gauge

Super Black Eagle 3

I’ll be honest: this shotgun is available in loads of options and finishes, and the synthetic camo stocks certainly have a cool look to them. However, call me old-fashioned, but if I’m dropping over $2K on a shotgun, it better be made of a dead tree.

The Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 in walnut is pretty, but now that I’ve got my biases and preferences out of the way, let’s look at the updated versions that I think I’m excited about.

Super Black Eagle 3

See? They do look cool and modern.

Aside from appearances, these bang-sticks also offer some improved ergonomics after many years of trials. On top of it all, Benelli also offers it for lefties.

Check Price at Scheels

Savage Arms Stevens 560 12 Gauge

Savage Arms Stevens 560

Few companies do budget-friendly shotguns quite like Savage Arms. The Stevens 560 is certainly no exception. This semi-automatic shotgun, with a walnut stock and fore-end, weighs in at just over 6.5 pounds, chambers up to 3-inch shells, and costs just under $500. That’s not something you find every day with the modern shotguns currently hitting shelves.

Sure, you can find other budget guns, but with that low price comes a budget feel. Savage guns have the quality feel of a much high-priced shotgun and all the reliability, too.

With both full-size and compact models available, this is a stellar option for an adult hunter or a youth hunter.

Check Price at Sportsman Warehouse

The GearJunkie Team Testing Shotguns at Range Day, SHOT Show 2024

Sure, there’s just about every type of gun at the range and they all have their draws. However, each year, I think we spend more and more time shooting shotguns. There’s something casual and fun about emptying a box of shells into the air that supersedes ringing gongs at long range.

Shotguns of SHOT Show 2024
Range time before the rain found us taking aim at clays; (photo/Matt Gagnon)

The rain showed up just as we finished up the shotgun section of Industry Day, and I’m certainly grateful it was our first stop for the day. The exposed shooting scenario is fun, regardless, but I’m sure the camera guy (Matt) appreciated the cover of the rifle ranges when the clouds fully let loose.

Browning A5 20 Gauge
Checking out the new Browning A5 20 Gauge; (photo/Matt Gagnon)

I’d say we all have a blast shooting the little A5 as compared to the other shotguns at the range. It didn’t bite like a 12 gauge, and I genuinely felt like I could have shot the thing all day. It may have to make its way into my slowly growing collections. I mean, it’s essentially a gift for my bird dogs, right?

The GearJunkie team always looks forward to the shotgun range during Industry Day; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)
The GearJunkie team always looks forward to the shotgun range during Industry Day; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

From classic walnut break-actions to modern semi-auto synthetics, we played in the sprinkling like kids in a dang candy store. This is often the only time a year we get the chance to put a pile of new guns to our shoulders and have a real-time side-by-side comparison, and we certainly took advantage this year.

If shell prices increase in the coming months, we fully accept our part in the supply chain drain.

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