The National Shooting Sports Foundation has released audio tips for selecting a waterfowling shotgun. The gist of NSSF's tips? You don't need a specialized duck gun. I tend to agree, but there are a few things Ilike in a waterfowl shotgun.
-3-inch chamber. Actually my point here is something you don't need: A 3 1/2-inch chamber. Non-toxic loads, including steel, have come a long way. Ammo makers have improved lethality (namely by reducing the amount of steel shot and speeding it way up) andpatterns. Want to continue spending the extra money for 3 1/2-inch shells? Fine. Maybe it'll help the economy. But a 3-inch, 12-gauge shell will kill decoying ducks and, yes, geese, just as dead.
-Semi-auto action. "But Wintersteen, pumps work after all the automatics have frozen up!" Baloney. If it's so cold outside that a decent quality, modern auto-loader won't function, I'll be inside watching football. Sure, every semi-autosuffers the occasionalcycling failure, but as long as you clean them and go light on the oil, the majorityare very reliable. They also don't require pumpingand most recoil less than pumps.
-Good recoil pad. Because duck loads kick, and I am a sissy.
-Synthetic stock.High-gloss walnutis pretty and nostalgia-evoking, but duck hunting is hard on guns. Why use a material that scratches, cracks and warps when we have more durable, less shinymaterials at our disposal?
-Matte black finish. Because shine is the enemy.
-28-inch barrel. No,I don't like a long barrelfor a"better line of sight." You shouldn't be looking at the barrel at all. My reasoning here is that shorter-barreled guns tend to be whippy and I like the handling characteristics of a heavy gun. Plus, as someone who has had his ears rung by a 24-inch gun,a long barrelisalso a little easier on yourblind mates'hearing.
Of course, choosing a shotgun isas subjective as picking a wife.Fortunately there's an option out there for any taste. What do you like in a duck gun?