There are two challenges to finding a great shotgun -- fit and suitability.
The shotguns section of Shotgun Life is dedicated to helping you recognize the perfect shotgun (that you’ll want to keep for the rest of your life, and then hand down to your family for generations to come.)
For some people, finding a great shotgun is simply love at first sight. For others, a great shotgun grows on them -- and they find themselves down in the basement cleaning it for absolutely no other reason than just to be in its company.
But for every shotgun owner who falls in love with their pride-and-joy, there are teams of engineers and craftsmen toiling away behind the scenes to bring your gun to fruition.
As you’ll see, shotguns are generally designed for a particular sport. Some shotguns have composite stocks and fore-ends to withstand the travails of duck hunting. Then there are single-shot trap guns with high ribs that help you intercept rising targets. And skeet shooters find that their beavertail fore-end is particularly adept at bringing about a smooth, quick swing.
So let the search begin. Here is what you’ll find in our shotgun section…
Up until a few weeks ago Rich Cole’s stellar career was 100-percent Italian shotguns. Starting in 1979 he joined Beretta USA as a five-dollar-per-hour apprentice gunsmith. The job included extensive time at the mothership in Gardone, Italy learning the finer points of repairing and enhancing Beretta sporting shotguns.
Sixteen-gauge enthusiasts love shotguns that “hit like a 12 but carry like a 20,” so a 12-gauge that carries like a 20 should be irresistible.
The Winchester Select 101 fits that description, and it has won this 16-gauge devotee’s affection.
From the small town of Thomasville, Georgia, Kevin’s Plantation Collection of exquisite shotguns has amassed an oversized influence on the wingshooting community. And now the collection’s namesake creator, Kevin Kelly, is ready to rock our world again with his remarkably low priced 20-gauge over/under.
Think of the Blaser F16 Intuition as the classic power suit of women’s shotguns. Free of gimmicks and doo-dads, the Blaser F16 Intuition’s plain gun-metal gray receiver is accessorized by only a discreet logo. If you appreciate understated over/unders that exude confidence (and fit well), the Blaser F16 Intuition is your quality off-the-rack choice.
Some people in our sporting universe create beautiful shotguns. Others, like Paul Mihailides, make highly desirable shotguns while also building an all-encompassing upland nirvana in which to enjoy them.
There’s a difference between the gifted craftsmen who build gorgeous shotguns and the renaissance men like Mr. Mihailides, whose entrepreneurial vision shapes the future of our sport. Mr. Mihailides is the American owner of the Italian fine gun firm, Famars. He’s made a fortune in construction and used those resources to build the 3,500-acre residential sporting community and luxury event venue, The Preserve at Boulder Hills – replete with largest and longest underground automated gun range in America – in his home state of Rhode Island.
Not a year goes by that a well-known firearms manufacturer doesn’t come up with a new model that peaks the interest of shotgun enthusiasts worldwide. In late 2017 that manufacturer was Germany’s oldest gunmaker, J.P. Sauer and Sohn (now owned by Blaser), as the company introduced its first semi-automatic shotgun, the Sauer SL5.
Spanish gun makers established their reputations for quality and value by replicating England’s best guns for a fraction of the price. Now Retay Arms of Konya Turkey has taken a cue from Spain by manufacturing the Masai Mara semi-auto with an upgraded inertia-action adopted from Benelli shotguns, but retails for about half.
Among the musical shrines of Nashville that count The Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame is a new fine-gun store – and America’s latest authorized Fausti dealer.
In a way, despite its location in a city of American legends, Double Guns of Nashville adheres to the retail protocol of British Best – hand-selected break-open shotguns with curated upmarket gear. The store, which opened in November, is all about over/unders and side-by-sides from premium makers such as Krieghoff, Blaser, Verney-Carron, Grulla, Fausti and Zoli. They also stock rifles from Rigby, Mauser and Sauer along with Swarovski optics.
“Born in Germany, Lives in Texas” could be the calling the card of the new “Blaser Discovery Program” that combines a holiday in Blaser-USA’s San Antonio hometown with a build-your-own shotgun.
Directed at Blaser F3 customers, Blaser Discovery Program also applies to the economical F16. But it’s the flagship F3 that can get you a ticket to trendy San Antonio for posh lodging, gourmet dining and a lesson with Blaser Pro clays champs such as Cory Kruse, Mike Wilgus or Bill McGuire at a nearby top-notch shooting venue.
In late March and early April of 2017, Shotgun Life visited the legendary Gardone Val Trompia in the province of Brescia, which is the heart of Italy’s shotgun manufacturing. We spent time with shotgun makers Perazzi, Beretta, FAIR and F. illi Poli as well as master engravers Stephano Pedretti, Creative Art, Francesca Fracassi and Cesare Giovanelli. Here is Part 8 of our eight-part series called Shotgun Life in Gardone Val Trompia.
When it comes to sporting guns, balance and performance have a price. The new 12-gauge Beretta SL3 over/under shoulders and swings with the grace of the more expensive Premium Beretta SO series yet at $19,999 delivers a fusion of mechanics and aesthetics in the upland realm so that you might consider it a “baby Beretta SO10,” which starts at nearly $90,000.
America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (fondly known as DARPA to most of us) has developed products for the military that have found their way into our daily lives such as computers, the Internet, GPS, duct tape and microwave ovens.