20 gauge Autoloading Shotgun Options in 2016

By Randy Wakeman

Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe Shotgun
SA-08 Deluxe 20 gauge. Illustration courtesy of Weatherby.

Twenty gauge autoloaders are near and dear to my heart, going back to a jam-o-matic High Standard Supermatic Trophy of many years ago that I used for practically everything. Aside from a 16 gauge diversion lasting several years, most of my Illinois doves and pheasants get taken every year with 20 gauge guns and I have taken more turkeys with 20 gauges than anything else. One of my favorite skeet guns is an alloy Browning B-80.

There is not one perfect 20 gauge shotgun for everyone, however. When it comes to things like weight, balance, fit and controls, everyone has to decide for themselves what is right for them.

The Browning Silver is still the old Browning Gold action in 20 gauge and it is getting a bit long in the tooth. It weighs 6-1/2 pounds and it needs a trigger job, a better recoil pad and aftermarket choke tubes to be enjoyable.

The Browning Silver is a 6-1/2 pound 20 gauge, which is close in weight to a 6-3/4 pound Fabarm L4S 12 gauge that is good to go out of the box, without trigger work or aftermarket choke tubes. When the difference is just three or four ounces, it gets to the point where if you load one less shell, they carry the same.

I have used a Benelli M2 Comfortech 24 inch 20 gauge gun for the last several years. At six pounds even, it carries effortlessly. It does have a rattly bolt, is stiff loading and is a bit overpriced for what you get. It is not particularly soft shooting, but pheasant hunting is not high volume shooting.

For the money, the Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe (shown above) with a 26 inch barrel has excellent walnut, a polished blue barrel, weighs six pounds on the nose and has a better trigger out of the box than either the Browning or the Benelli. It is also surprisingly soft shooting and does not have the stiff loading problem of the Benelli.

The latest crop of Berettas are very disappointing. They are overpriced, cheaply made guns with heavy triggers that do not compare well to the Beretta 303/390 models or Browning B-80 models. For turkey hunting, my favorite is an old (long recoil) Browning A-5 Mag 20. The plain rib Belgium models are around 6.5 pounds and still great guns with one ounce or heavier loads.

Right now, December 2016, if I am off for wild pheasants with a 20 gauge, it will be an alloy B-80 26 inch, or a Benelli M2 Comfortech 24 inch. The best deal going on a new 20 gauge gun is the Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe.

Back to Shotgun Information

Copyright 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.