Innovations for deer and bird hunters keep coming in the shotgun world. Pairing improved barrels and new slugs give deer or black bear hunters increased range and accuracy. Guns designed for waterfowlers who hunt in harsh environments feature rust-resistant coatings, while upland-shooting models are being designed for lighter, faster handling. Here are some of the new notables:
Browning, one of the firearm world's heavyweights, gets the marketing nod for the splashy rollout of its new sporting shotgun, the Maxus. Chambered for 3- or 3.5-inch shot shells, Maxus has an aluminum alloy receiver, a new power-drive gas-operating system with larger exhaust ports for heavy loads, and a composite stock and forearm with Dura-Touch armor coating. Browning says the new gas system — the Inflex Technology Recoil pad designed to pull the stock's comb down and away from a shooter's face at the shot — and a new trigger system has the Maxus delivering up to 18 percent less recoil, 44 percent less muzzle jump, 19 percent faster bolt speed and 24 percent faster trigger locktime than the nearest competitor. It comes with a 26- or 28-inch barrel.
MSRP: $1,129 for the 3.5-inch edition and $999 for the 3-inch model. Models sporting Mossy Oak Duck Blind camouflage will cost more.
Remington Model 870 SPS ShurShot Super Slug
Built on the 870 action (arguably the most famous pump shotgun action of all time), this sweet new 12-gauge sports a 25.5-inch fluted barrel with a 1:35-inch twist and the parabolic "Ultragon" rifling originally made popular by now-sister companies H&R 1871 and New England Firearms. The Ultragon-rifling design features six lands and grooves without the sharp edges of traditional rifling. This design imparts bullet spin without leaving sharp impressions on the sabot jacket or foster-style lead slug. The result is a better gas seal and less pressure loss, which equals higher velocity and better accuracy.
The SureShot pistol-grip thumbhole stock, designed for lefties or righties, allows stable handling, while the SuperCell recoil pad cuts shoulder thump. This is one deer gun that'll be bad news for bucks.
Remington Model 887 Nitro Mag
Remington quickly notes this new pump gun isn't designed as an 870 replacement, but it does have some new wrinkles. The 887 has a steel receiver with an 870 contour barrel and standard Rem Chokes system, but it adds an "ArmorLokt" protective coating designed for harsher waterfowl environments. The only exposed metal is the magazine tube.
It has a modular trigger-group assembly, which may make some novice home repairs easier. The pump release is easy to reach and operate with gloved fingers.
MSRP: A basic black version sells for $350; an Advantage Max 4 edition goes for just under $500.
Stoeger Coach Gun
This single-trigger variant of the traditional short-barreled, double-trigger scatterguns Stoeger designed for cowboy shooters makes handling faster and easier, especially if the gun is lifted in a self- or home-defense situation. Buckshot from these stagecoach guns got bad guys' attention back in the Old West; this Stoeger will do the same for modern defenders of life and property.
These single-trigger models have gold-plated triggers and are chambered for 2¾- and 3-inch shells, in 12- and 20-gauge. They're offered in a blued finish with traditional satin-finished walnut stocks. A Supreme model features a blued finish with a stainless-steel receiver, a higher-grade walnut stock, an improved cylinder, modified screw-in choke tubes and a choke wrench.
MSRP: $469 ($369 for the fully blued version).
Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight
The craftsmen at the new Ithaca Gun Co. manufacturing plant in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, have an obvious passion for their work. The team, carrying on the Ithaca name, is maintaining popular models such as the Deerslayer line, but it is also trying to spread its wings — they proudly displayed the new, 100 percent American-made Model 37 Featherlight 28-gauge at January's SHOT Show in Orlando, Fla.
The engraving is done by one of the original Ithaca master engravers, with the high-end AAA-grade version featuring 24-karat gold inlay in the dog and quail scene on the receiver. Barrel, rib attachments and rib are all cut from the same piece of steel — no soldering.
MSRP: $999 to $3,499, depending on grade.
Thompson/Center Arms Triumph Bone Collector
The jury's out on naming a gun after a fledgling outdoors television show, but cross-merchandising aside, this looks like one dandy muzzleloader. Muzzleloader seasons often offer some of the best hunting in the lower 48 states, and easy-to-load (and clean) tack drivers help increase the popularity. The gun has a Weather Shield corrosion-resistant finish and comes with a composite stock in dark gray or Realtree AP camo finish.
Energy Burners, somewhat like minirecoil pads, are inserted within the stock. They slightly compress during recoil, easing felt recoil by an advertised 43 percent. The Power Rod solid-aluminum ramrod with pivoting handle and the Speed Breech XT breech plug, which is easily removed by hand, allow for easy loading, unloading and cleaning. The gun has a 28-inch fluted barrel with adjustable fiber-optic sights and is drilled and tapped for scope mounts.
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