The 2014 SHOT Show opened to aisle-choking crowds and booth-bulging buyers. Even so, there were early indications that the hunting shotgun arena this year is packed with a combination of line extensions peppered with the introductions of a few actually new models.
The exact nature of specific line extensions seemed to mirror the company involved. For example, Remington is taking the Versa Max Waterfowl Pro to new levels with a Mossy Oak Blade finish and features like a tactical bolt handle (easier for cold, wet hands to use), oversize safety (works even when hands are gloved) and oversize bolt release button. Add wider, easier to access loading area on the bottom and the whole idea for Remington is that the gun will be easier and quicker for the user when in the field or blind. The Versa Max continues to set the pace for Remington when it comes to semi — auto hunting shotguns.
Mossberg has all kinds of new hunting shotguns, not the least of which is the addition of 20 gauge to the Model 500 FLEX offerings.
But much of the buzz is on Mossberg's Duck Commander series of hunting shotguns that are tied to the whole Duck Dynasty idiom. For example, on the Mossberg Model 930 Duck Commander shotgun are inscribed the words "FAITH FAMILY DUCKS."
Ruger has come back with a reintroduction of the Red Label over/under shotgun that outwardly looks much like the original, but which has been fully updated inside. This gun is a real winner. I had a chance to hunt pheasants with a pre-production specimen in South Dakota last fall and it performed like a champ.
TriStar this year is introducing the Raptor Youth Muddy Girl semi-auto 20-gauge that has a very contemporary stock that is the right size for young or small shooters.
There is a lot of buzz around the SHOT Show about Benelli's new Ethos semi-auto. Definitely it is a contemporary, stylish shotgun. But there is more.
The Ethos retains the inertia recoil system for which the brand is justifiably famous. Now, however, that has been tuned-up a bit — like a twin-lug bolt that allows the gun to be close quietly. This feature is critically important in some hunting scenarios.
Also, the Ethos features Benelli's Progressive Comfort System that stretches out the recoil impulse in such a way that it makes shooting heavy loads comfortable — and means that quick follow-up shots on-target are easier.
Savage is offering its Model 220 shotgun slug gun in 20 gauge. This bolt-action repeater features Savage's Accutrigger and the stock is finished in the Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity pattern. The two-round magazine is removable, and the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounting.
Legacy Sports International is introducing their new Pointer 1000 series of over/under shotguns, available in 12, 20, 28 and .410.
The Pointer 1000 shotguns have Turkish walnut stocks. All but the .410 come with five interchangeable choke tubes. The .410 is choked cylinder and modified.
These new guns are extremely well balanced and handle quick to the shoulder, yet swing effortlessly. Truly these guns deliver a whole lot of bang for the buck at a suggested retail price of $660.