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Best blasts of 2010

For hunting or home protection, even on a budget, check out our top shotgun picks

Mar. 7, 2010 - 10:36AM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 7, 2010 - 10:36AM  |  
Rossi Taurus Circuit Judge
Rossi Taurus Circuit Judge ()
  • Filed Under
Mossberg 510 Supre Bantam ()
Weatherby PA08 ()
Stevens 350 Pump Field Model ()
"SteadyGrip" variant of Benelli Vinci ()

So you don't have $100,000 to drop for a fabulously engraved Perazzi, let alone $400,000 for the four-gun series the Italian manufacturer displayed at this year's SHOT Show in Las Vegas?

That's OK, because you can get the guns profiled here for a lot less, with some coming in at under $300.

Shotgun manufacturers are offering line extensions of existing popular models this year. Winchester Repeating Arms has added a 20-gauge to its Super X3 shotgun line. Remington has added the Model 870 SPS ShurShot Turkey Predator to its pump-action line and the Model 11-87 Sportsman SuperMag Turkey to its autoloader lineup.

Scroll through our click-through gallery, at right, for a look at some new shotguns and ammo you might want to add to your sporting firearms and personal-defense collection. Below are some of the details:

THE GUNS

Rossi Taurus Circuit Judge

Rossi, a value line leader for years, has big expectations for this new .410 bore, which builds the incredibly popular Taurus Judge revolver into a small shotgun format. It has an 18.5-inch barrel and a total length of 38 inches, weighs just 4.75 pounds and handles 3-inch magnum loads or .45 Long Colt ammunition.

The Taurus Circuit Judge comes in a blued finish with a hardwood Monte Carlo stock, fiber-optic front sight, cushioned recoil pad and the Taurus Security System, which uses a key to lock the firearm and offers additional safety.

For close-quarters personal defense, the Taurus Circuit Judge revolver fits nicely on the nightstand or under the front seat. But there's something about the sound of a round cycling into the chamber of a pump-action shotgun that will get an intruder second-guessing about whether he wants to mess with this particular home.

Company representatives said the gun should be available by the third quarter of 2010. It's expected to sell for about $600.

Web site: http://www.rossiusa.com.

Mossberg 510 Mini Super Bantam

Mossberg is also cranking out a diminutive pump-action shotgun, although the 510 comes chambered for either 20-gauge or .410. It's a little less than 35 inches in total length, with an 18.5-inch barrel. It has a much shorter length of pull than Mossberg's standard youth guns, and a 1-inch spacer allows adjustments for the smallest shooters. The blued barrel is set in a synthetic stock. It sells for $364.

Web site: http://www.mossberg.com.

Beretta A400 Xplor Unico

At 6.5 pounds and with a 28-inch ventilated rib barrel, this semiautomatic 12-gauge is among the lightest shotguns capable of handling 3.5-inch magnum shells. Beretta invested three years in development to create what it touts as the fastest shotgun in the world. Beretta dubbed its integration of a new gas system, rotating bolt head lock-up and feeding system "Blink" because it cycles and shoots in the blink of an eye. The piston has a self-cleaning elastic scraper band that also functions as a gasket.

The new aluminum-alloy receiver is a unique light-green color. A walnut pistol-grip stock is treated with an X-tra Grain oil finish.

The shotgun was a joy to shoot with light dove loads at clay targets at the SHOT Show's range day, but upon switching to 3.5-inch BB loads, I felt fairly sharp recoil and had to wonder how it would feel pushing a couple of boxes of 3.5-inch magnums through in a morning.

It comes with three Optima-Choke high purity, or HP, tubes, new Micro-Core recoil pad and adjusting drop spacers. The manufacturer's recommended price is $1,625.

Web site: http://www.berettausa.com.

Weatherby PA08

Weatherby, known for relatively high-end firearms, now makes a synthetic stock version of its lightweight, value-priced PA-08 Upland shotgun. This 12-gauge weighs just 6.5 pounds and is chambered for

3-inch shells.

It has the same design as the Upland model, with 26- or 28-inch chrome-lined barrels that sport a vented top rib to help cooling. A lengthened forcing cone, increasingly popular with many sporting shotguns, smoothes shot into the barrel, reducing recoil. It has a suggested price of $399 and comes with three choke tubes.

Web site: http://www.weatherby.com.

Mossberg 500 LPA Tactical Turkey

Mossberg takes a popular tactical shotgun and adapts it for turkey hunting. This cool-looking, easy-handling turkey gun is chambered for 3-inch shells and features Mossberg's new lightning-pump action with an adjustable, riflelike, creep-free trigger (to less than 3 pounds if desired, though that's a little light for a shotgun) and synthetic stock, 20-inch barrel and ported tube. The receiver is drilled and tapped for a scope mount.

Weighing 7.25 pounds, it's dressed in Mossy Oak New Break-Up Camo. The manufacturer's recommended price is $527.

Web site: http://www.mossberg.com.

Stevens 350 Pump Field Model

If you're looking for a very inexpensive shotgun, check out this pump-action 12-gauge. With synthetic stock and a 28-inch barrel that has a modified screw-in choke, it weighs 8.2 pounds. The suggested price is $267, or you could buy a package that includes an 18-inch "security" barrel for $307.

Web site: http://www.savagearms.com.

Benelli Vinci

This semiautomatic 12-gauge shotgun debuted late last spring, received considerable positive reviews in the sporting media and was named the National Rifle Association's Shotgun of the Year. The company calls it the "most reliable, fastest shooting, softest kicking lightweight shotgun."

It weighs just 6.9 pounds, and has a 28-inch barrel. Chambered for up to 3-inch shells, the in-line, inertia-driven operating system combines with a recoil reduction system called "ComforTech Plus" built into the stock.

These shock-absorbing features appear reminiscent of the "energy burner" coils built into some Thompson/Center muzzleloader stocks.

This gun was torture tested on doves in Argentina, with one gun writer reportedly firing more than 4,000 rounds in three days without any malfunction.

It comes with either black or camouflaged synthetic stock. A turkey-hunting variant features a "SteadyGrip" tactical-styled stock for easier handling. The suggested prices range from $1,370 to $1,599 depending on the model.

Web site: http://www.benelliusa.com.

THE AMMO

Winchester PDX1

Winchester Ammunition designed this new personal-defense round for the Taurus Judge, but it would work well in any .410 setup for close-quarters. The shot shell combines three plated Defense Disc projectiles and 12 pellets of plated BB shot. Demonstrations with ballistic gel at the SHOT Show illustrated the stopping power of this load. A 12-gauge version features a 1-ounce rifled slug with three pellets of 00 buckshot. Ouch!

Web site: http://www.winchester.com.

Hevi-13 Magnum Blend

These new turkey loads by Hevi-Shot come in 3- and 3.5-inch shells with shot sizes 5, 6 and 7. Hevi-Shot is touting lethality "to near 80 yards" with these loads, but be sure to test patterns with your gun to assess which range offers an ethical shot. The 3.5-inch shell carries 2.25 ounces of shot and comes five shells to a box, for about $17.

Web site: http://www.hevishot.com.

Black Cloud Snow Goose

Federal's Black Cloud waterfowl loads have gained a strong following. It uses a "Flitecontrol" wad that opens from the rear and is designed to keep the shot load together further downrange, increasing pellets on target at considerable distance. The "Flitestopper" shot pellets have a unique design, with a raised ring around the pellet that's designed to create deeper wound channels. Federal has designed a new 3-inch, 12-gauge Black Cloud load for long-range snow geese. By slightly cutting the load of BB or No. 2 shot, they achieve velocities of 1,625 feet per second. The recommended price is $25.

Web site: http://www.blackcloudammo.com.

Federal Prairie Storm

Also new is Prairie Storm, a specialized load for pheasant hunters. It features the same technology as the Black Cloud load, but the shotshell is first loaded with lead Flitestopper pellets and topped with copper-plated round shot. It comes in 2.75- or 3-inch loads in 4, 5 and 6 shot sizes. A box will sell for about $23. Turkey hunters have to wonder how these loads might perform on longbeards, but that's for another review.

Web site: http://www.federalpremium.com.

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