Weatherby SA-08 Upland

Here's a 12-gauge semi-auto for any season that looks almost too good for the field.

Weatherby may be synonymous with magnum rifle cartridges, but the company has been turning out some mighty fine shotguns lately. The line started in 2008 with the PA-08 pump-action and the SA-08 semi-auto. It just so happened my wife needed a new shotgun around that time, and the SA-08 Upland caught her eye. I bought her one for Christmas, because I couldn't argue with her choice. Here's why.

Kristen's up for hunting anything: pheasants, ducks, geese, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys. A 12-gauge with a 3" chamber works wonderfully for all those. While it may be a bit much for the smaller stuff, it's better than being under-gunned for the big birds. The gun uses a dual-valve system that handles everything from 7/8-ounce loads to 2-ounce magnums. Switching valves really isn't a big deal when that kind of versatility comes with it.

My wife doesn't like recoil any more than the next person. The operating system in a semi-auto gas gun like the SA-08 cuts recoil as compared to a pump or double-barrel gun. So, she can hammer birds and furred critters with a 12-gauge without getting hammered herself.

Being petite, Kristen doesn't get along with heavy guns. Weighing about 6 3/4 pounds, the lithe SA-08 swings nicely in her hands. She's whipped my butt on the skeet field more than once, and a crossing cottontail is as good as barbecued when she points the barrel of the SA-08 in its direction.

Like many women, Kristen appreciates aesthetically pleasing objects. I think that's what attracted her to the SA-08 Upland in the first place. It's a pretty shotgun. The walnut stock has rich tones, while the matte-black finish on the metal is understated. The two go well together on a field gun. Touches of chrome on the bolt and bolt release, and a gold-colored logo add some pop. The gun has svelte lines, and it just looks lively.

Weatherby has expanded the SA-08 line to include synthetic-stocked and youth models in a variety of finishes. The company just released a 28-gauge version, too. But the Upland is the workhorse of the bunch that looks like a show pony. And don't let its name fool you; the Upland is for hunting more than just birds on the wing. Kristen put it to good use on a boss gobbler last spring (see the April 2014 issue of American Hunter). She now considers me the best husband ever.

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