A Swingin’ Affair

There Was No Shortage Of Smoothbore
Surprises At The 2016 SHOT Show

By Holt Bodinson

If the 2016 SHOT Show—held in glitzy Las Vegas—was any indication, the shotgunning world is full of surprises. As always, there were new models of all varieties, mostly minor variations of a theme, but then you can turn down an aisle and unearth a treasure. Here are a few highlights from the recent show.

Benelli, home of the Super Black Eagle, Montefeltro, 828U, Ethos and other elegantly designed and engineered models, really threw us a curve. We haven’t had a new shotgun shell in some time, so it was quite a surprise when we picked up Benelli’s little wand of a semi-automatic, their 5.3-pound 28-gauge, Ethos, and read “3-inch” on the barrel. That’s right—the 28-gauge, long prized as a lightly recoiling field and skeet gauge, has been “magnumized.”

Benelli has teamed up with Fiocchi to pull this off. Walking over to the Fiocchi booth, I discovered the Italians are already loading the new shell with two payloads. In Fiocchi’s “High Velocity” line, there’s a 1-ounce load of No. 5-6-7-1/2-8 shot at 1,300 fps, and in their “Golden Pheasant/Turkey” lineup, there’s a 1-1/16 ounce loading of No. 5-6-7-1/2 nickel-plated shot at 1,200 fps.

The question is “Why?” Why take a soft-pushing shell that has endeared itself to hunters and skeet shooters alike, when shot in svelte, lightweight guns and run it on steroids? According to Benelli, the reason is “a 25 percent increase in knockdown power and 20 percent more pellets on target at 35 yards, giving shooters of the new Ethos 28-gauge the extra edge on those bigger—and often spookier—late season birds.”

And the extra recoil in a 5.3 pound gun? Benelli has an answer for that, too. The stock features the Benelli Progressive Comfort recoil system consisting of three, graduated, interlocking buffers that absorb recoil energy progressively based on the nature of the load being shot. Those buffers will supposedly tame the new 3-inch shell.

Benelli has always been an innovative company. It will be interesting to see if this 5.3 pound, 3-inch combo will carve out a successful niche for itself. The price is $2,199. This year is also the 25th Anniversary of Benelli’s Super Black Eagle model. Look for a number of limited edition models including four commemorating the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific flyways.

Another brand exuding the Italian mystique is Franchi. Franchi is introducing two new models designed from the ground up to fit a woman. The Affinity Catalyst 12-guage autoloader and the Instinct Catalyst 12-gauge O/U feature stocks with the drop, cast, pitch and length-of-pull tailored to an average woman’s build. No pink colors, no chopped down buttstocks, Franchi’s models have been designed and tested to complement women shooters. It’s a long-overdue development. Hopefully, both lines will soon be chambered in 20-gauge as well. The price for the autoloader is $999 and $1,599 for the O/U.


Benelli’s ETHOS breaks new ground with
Fiocchi’s also-new 3-inch 28-gauge shell.


Franchi’s Instinct Catalyst is tailored to an average woman’s build.


Mossberg’s Pro Series are classy additions to their extensive shotgun line.


Winchester’s SuperX3 Sporting Adjustable (above) and Composite
Sporting Carbon Fiber (below) are built to smoke the competition.


Mossberg’s “Built Rugged. Proudly American.” moniker has been enhanced with the introduction of their new 930 Pro-Series of autoloaders. The four models in the “Pro-Series” include Sporting, Waterfowl and a Jerry Miculek competition series. The Pro-Series guns feature boron-nitride-coated gas pistons, piston rings, magazine tubes, hammers and sears, carefully dimensioned and slicked up shell stops, bolt slides and elevators and drop-adjustable stocks. The Sporting model was designed with the assistance of Gil Ash, owner and professional shooting instructor at the OSP School. It features a carefully dimensioned stock designed for sporting clays competition, extended Briley chokes, a Cerakote finish and HI VIZ TriComp front sights. The price is $1,029. The “930 Pro-Series” are highly refined, purposely-built autoloaders and classy additions to Mossberg’s extensive shotgun line.

Perazzi’s display of premium Italian gunmaking is never something to miss at any SHOT Show. Front and center this year was a 12-20-28-.410 set of matched O/U game guns featuring exhibition quality walnut and highly engraved sideplates for a whopping $373,680.
Remington is celebrating its 200th Anniversary this year with commemorative models of their 870 and 1100 shotguns featuring upgraded wood, engraving motifs and gold inlays. The ultra-low recoiling, 3-inch, V3 autoloader is also making its debut with a choice of either a plain black synthetic stock ($895) or in Mossy Oak Blades or Break-Up Country camo ($995).

Winchester showcased two new competition autoloaders: the Super X3 Sporting Adjustable and the Super X3 Composite Sporting Carbon Fiber models. The “adjustable” model sports an adjustable comb, otherwise both models feature nickel-plated receivers, chrome-plated bores, Signature Red Briley bolt handles, bolts releases and magazine caps, drop-out trigger groups, extended Signature Invector-Plus choke tubes, ported Perma-Cote gray barrels, ventilated ribs, Tru-Glo sights and Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pads. The prices are $1,869.99 and $1,739.99 respectively.

The shotgunning world’s favorite 501(c)(3) charity was there in Vegas as well. The Kids & Clays Foundation began in 1999 to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities by supporting sporting clay and other shotgun events nationwide. To date, $15 million net has been raised through an average of 20 shooting events each year. The recipients, the 320 Ronald McDonald Houses, are “‘homes away from home’ for families of critically ill children who are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals at little or no cost.” Check out the 2016 calendar of Kids & Clays events. There’s probably a fundraising shoot close to you. It deserves your support.

Kids & Clays
823 Franklin Street
Michigan City, IN 46360
(219) 874-2100

Benelli USA/Franchi
17603 Indian Head Hwy.
Accokeek, MD 20607
(800) 264-4962

O.F. Mossberg & Sons
7 Grasso Ave.
North Haven, CT 06473
(203) 230-5300

Perazzi USA
1010 W. Tenth St.
Azusa, CA 91702
(626) 334-1234

Remington Arms Co.
870 Remington Dr.
Madison, NC 27025
(336) 548-8700

Winchester Repeating Arms
275 Winchester Ave.
Morgan, UT 84050
(801) 876-3440

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