Best Waterfowl Shotguns – 2019 Complete Buyer’s Guide

Finding the best waterfowl shotgun can be a challenge. But if you have a good idea of how they work and which ones are the most effective, then there is a good chance that you’ll be able to find one that suits you with little to no difficulty. If you like to hunt ducks or other types of waterfowl, you’re bound to find a shotgun that will work to your advantage.

You can be on land or on the water in a canoe, so you’ll need to find a shotgun that you can rely on no matter what setting or surroundings you set yourself up in. While there are many shotguns that are used for waterfowl, we managed to handpick seven of the best waterfowl shotguns on the market.

Before we get to the list itself, we’ll talk about whether or not all waterfowl shotguns are the same. We’ll also talk about how you can choose a waterfowl shotgun for the purpose of your hunting adventures.

Comparison Chart of the Best Waterfowl Shotguns

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Benelli SBE 3 Waterfowl-Edition 28" 12 Ga Shotgun

  • Barrel measured at 28 inches
  • Best overall waterfowl shotgun
  • Chambered to fire .12 gauge shotguns
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Remington 870 Express Super Magnum 12 Ga 28"

  • 28-inch barrel
  • 12-gauge chambered
  • Runner-up for best overall waterfowl shotgun
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Mossberg 835 Turkey/Waterfowl Combo 24/28” 12 GA Mossy Oak Break-up 6+1RD

  • 6 +1 round capacity
  • Pump action type shotgun
  • Best Waterfowl shotgun for the money
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Browning BPS 28IN 12 GA 3.5" Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades 4+1RD

  • Chambered to fire 12 gauge shells
  • Barrel length measured at 28 inches
  • Best waterfowl shotgun for under $1000
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Browning A5 3-1/2'' Semiautomatic Shotgun

  • 28-inch long barrel
  • Capacity of 3 + 1 rounds
  • Best pump shotgun for waterfowl
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Mossberg Model 500 28" 12 Ga Purpose Pump-Action Shotgun

  • 28-inch long barrel
  • Pump action design
  • Best Mossberg Waterfowl Shotgun
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Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus Ko 12 Ga 26"

  • 2-round capacity
  • 12-gauge chambered
  • Barrel length is 26 inches
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Are All Waterfowl Shotguns The Same?

The short answer: no. To give you a better explanation, there are a few distinct differences to shotguns that are best used for waterfowl. First and foremost, there are waterfowl shotguns that come in different calibers.

Not to mention, they all come in different kinds of measurements and lengths. If all shotguns were the same, it would be hard to choose between one or the other without having to fire off a few test rounds.

How to Choose a Waterfowl Shotgun

The key to finding a great waterfowl shotgun is making the distinction between a great waterfowl shotgun from one that is considered to be unreliable and low-quality. Rest assured, the shotguns on our list are superior in quality and performance. Here are some of the reasons why we selected these the shotguns and why they excel at hunting waterfowl:

Price

Yes, the price tag is going to matter to a lot of buyers, especially those who are on a budget. You’re probably one of them (and there is nothing wrong with that). Keep in mind that the price shouldn’t matter to you as much as the quality and performance should. Find the best that you can afford so you don’t have to settle for unreliability and overall disappointment.

Choose High-Quality Materials

We seriously cannot stress this enough. There is a reason why high-quality materials is a must when it comes to finding the best waterfowl shotgun. It can only be summed up in one word: longevity. The better the materials, the better the chance your shotgun will last you a long time (assuming you take good care of it by way of regular cleaning and maintenance). Steel, polymer, and aluminum are just a few materials you should keep an eye out for while looking for a shotgun (or any accessory that goes along with it). 

Which Caliber is Best For You?

This last part will probably be more based on your personal needs and preferences. So if you want a .12 gauge, get one. If you prefer .20 gauge calibers, we won’t blame you for that preference either. If it’s powerful enough to deliver some serious knockdown power, then it really shouldn’t matter which caliber will fit you best.

Review of the Best Waterfowl Shotguns

The following is a list of the seven best waterfowl shotguns currently on the market. As you go through the list, it is important that you take note of any features and characteristics that will match the description of your “ideal waterfowl shotgun”. Close enough is a lot better than nothing at all.

Now, let’s take a look at the “best overall” choice on our list:

PROS

  • Excellent firing power
  • Solid construction and durability
  • Accurate across various distances
  • Ridiculously lightweight, even when fully loaded
  • Can handle the abuse that waterfowl hunting can dish out

CONS

  • None available

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were enthusiastic about this shotgun overall. They said that the firing power was excellent and was good enough to knock down waterfowl targets from the air, water, and land. In fact, one user said that this shotgun was probably one of the most useful shotguns he’s used for the purpose of waterfowl hunting. Overall, a lot of users said that the shotgun was lightweight, easy to feed, and fun to shoot.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the things that really stood out was the lightweight construction. And for something that has firing power that packs a serious punch, you’ll be quite shocked that this shotgun (considering how heavy duty it is) is light in weight. But rest assured, it is solid and does what a waterfowl shotgun is supposed to do. If you want something that actually lives up to the “best overall” honor, this could be the shotgun to go with.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be a great waterfowl shotgun for a lot of hunters who want to knock down a duck or any other related waterfowl in just one shot. If you like a shotgun with some power, you’re going to love this. Since it fires .12 gauge rounds, that comes standard. But don’t write this off as “just another .12 gauge”. This one is built to be a workhorse when waterfowl season comes along.

Bottom Line

The Benelli Performance SBE 3 Waterfowl-Edition Shotgun is well-deserving of the “best overall” title and for a few good reasons. If you want a shotgun that will allow you to knock down a target in one shot, this could certainly be what you’re looking for. It’s built solid and delivers a performance like nothing else.

PROS

  • Aesthetically sharp
  • Excellent firing power
  • Lightweight and built solid
  • Accurate and precise at most distances
  • Vents on the top of the barrel aid in quick heat dissipation

CONS

  • Trigger pull may be a bit stiff
  • Recoil pad could be a bit thicker
  • Front sight can be hard to see at times

What Recent Buyers Report

Many new buyers say that this shotgun’s firing power gave way to massive success in their waterfowl hunting. Not only that, they were able to hit ducks from about 50 to 100 yards out on the water (and got them from a good distance while the ducks were airborne). One user said that the front sight is small enough to not obscure his target and therefore delivered a precise, accurate shot.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This shotgun looks pretty dang solid in construction. And the performance is top-notch. In other words, it’s the way a waterfowl shotgun should function. The black finish makes this puppy nice and sharp from the inside and out. While it may not be a smart idea to get a shotgun for looks, you can probably get away with it in this case since the shotgun’s performance is quite good.

Who Will Use This Most

While not considered to be a “budget” shotgun, it’s actually quite affordable. The performance and quality make this a bit of a steal. If you have a sizeable budget and you’re willing to spend a little bit extra on a shotgun, this could be the one you end up buying.

Bottom Line

The Remington 870 Express is solid and packs a good amount of firing power for a good price. It was hard to decide on this or our next shotgun for the honor of best budget option. Speaking of which, that’s next on our agenda.

PROS

  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Accurate at 75 to 100 yards out
  • Super reliable; won’t jam or malfunction
  • Excellent for both turkey and duck hunting
  • Lightweight, perfect for carrying on a canoe

CONS

  • None available

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers were quite happy with this shotgun. They were able to get off some quick shots with the help of a quick and smooth moving pump-action. They added that the firing power was excellent and enough to knock down a duck from a good distance both on the water and in the sky. One user said that he was able to handle this quite nicely with little recoil to work with while on a canoe. Furthermore, he added that the shotgun didn’t feel heavy to the point where the canoe would sink.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Mossberg has had the reputation of manufacturing some of the most reliable shotguns in the world. So it’s no surprise that this 835 model stands out as one of the most reliable on the market. And for the price it’s going for, that sounds like the steal of the century. You don’t get any jamming, nor will the pump-action jam on you. So if you want a shotgun that will give you superior firing power and reliability that is hard to beat, this shotgun just might pique your interest.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be a great shotgun for you regardless of whether you are on a budget or have money to play with. Even if you are in the latter financially, you shouldn’t pass up on a shotgun like this. Especially when you place something like reliability to a high standard. This will function like a champ and will give you years of faithful service so long as you take good care of it.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg 835 Turkey/Waterfowl Combo Shotgun is perhaps one of the best shotguns you can find for hunting on land and water. Whether you shoot your targets on the ground or in the middle of a lake on your canoe, this puppy will certainly be the hunting buddy you’re looking for. This shotgun will make every shot count, and its reliability is second to none.

PROS

  • Lightweight and solid
  • Durable construction
  • Excellent and reliable firing power that packs a punch
  • Affordable for budgets with a bit of breathing room

CONS

  • Recoil pad could be a little thicker
  • Pump-action might be stiff at first
  • Some have complained about this being a little louder than expected

What Recent Buyers Report

Most new buyers of this firearm were those who were on a budget but had a bit more breathing room than others. They managed to find a shotgun like the Browning BPS at a price just south of $1000. Performance-wise, they got exactly what they’ve paid for and then some. One user said that he was quite excited to use it for duck hunting once he put through a few practice shots at the range. When it came to the main event, he wasted no time and landed a duck in the air in one shot.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This shotgun has a camo finish that will blend in with the surroundings. Ideally, this might be something you’ll want to have on hand if placing yourself in a hidden position while searching for waterfowl is important. Aside from the looks, the performance is about as good as you want from a waterfowl shotgun. Firing power is superb and it’s accurate from a good distance. On a good day, you can probably knock a duck out of the pond or lake from about 100 yards. Not bad for a shotgun.

Who Will Use This Most

This will in all likelihood be a solid waterfowl gun for you if you like to dress up in your camo and waders and sit near a part of the lake and wait for an opportunity to strike. This shotgun looks good, works good, and can certainly be a godsend for your bank account. If you are willing to spend a bit extra on your budget, this shotgun will certainly make the cut. You won’t be disappointed with the quality and performance in the slightest.

Bottom Line

The Browning BPS 28 inch 12 gauge has a lot of promise. And it will deliver on that promise almost every single time. You’ll be able to knock down your targets no problem even if you elect to blend into the environment rather than be out in the open. This is probably one of the textbook examples of how a shotgun for waterfowl hunting should work.

Best Pump Shotgun for Waterfowl: 
Browning A5 3-1/2'' Semiautomatic Shotgun

PROS

  • Easy to adjust
  • Excellent shooting. Reliable and accurate
  • Has some great firing power behind each shot
  • Light enough for you to carry onboard a canoe
  • Can effectively land shots at waterfowl situated some 40 to 50 yards away

CONS

  • Trigger pull weight might be a little heavy at first
  • Some have complained about this jamming right out of the box
  • Some have reported that the recoil is a little stronger than expected

What Recent Buyers Report

This pump shotgun won the hearts of many consumers who purchased it and tried it out. They thoroughly enjoyed the overall performance. They managed to quickly make shot after shot when trying to hit multiple targets. One user even said that he was able to quickly net his bag limit for the day thanks to the reliability and the smooth moving pump-action. Overall, he’s quite happy with this shotgun and even went so far as to say it was far better than his original 12 gauge.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a simple shotgun that doesn’t require you to fire off very many shots if you think 4 rounds is good enough for you. Not only that, it’s perhaps one of the best shotguns that you can use if you’re the kind of hunter that uses the surroundings to their advantage. So if you are a sucker for the camo finish and want something that will definitely get the job done, both on land or on water, this shotgun will show up and deliver a power-packed performance. Believe us when we say you will not be disappointed.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are a fan of pump-action shotguns that are easy to adjust and easy to use, you’d be hard-pressed to find something quite like this anywhere else. With a smooth as butter pump-action that leads to quick shooting and even quicker follow-up shots, why would you want to pass up on faster shooting (especially when there are ducks fleeing to another area)? This can knock down a duck on the water or right out of the sky. You’d be wise to give this shotgun a closer look.

Bottom Line

The Browning A5 3-½” Semiautomatic Shotgun is probably the go-to choice for you if you want something with a pump-action that will allow for easy shooting. Once you give this bad boy a spin, there’s a good chance you’ll want nothing else other than this shotgun. Don’t be surprised if this ends up being the firearm you stay with for years on end.

PROS

  • Easy to exchange the barrel
  • Smooth as butter pump-action
  • Simple to clean and maintain on a regular basis
  • Buttstock is excellent in quality; the stain and gloss are amazing
  • Super reliable; not a single malfunction or jam after 100 rounds or more

CONS

  • A bit weighty on the barrel end
  • Some complain about it having a cheap, flimsy feeling
  • A few have complained about the buttplate being a little sticky

What Recent Buyers Report

Overall, recent buyers were not disappointed in this Mossberg shotgun in the slightest. The quality was decent (but not cheap or flimsy as some complained about), and the performance was solid, as it delivered some serious shooting power from distances ranging from 40 to 60 yards out. One user even said that he was able to hit a duck in just two shots max. He was impressed with the overall look of it as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Mossberg 500 is yet another member of the Mossberg family. So right off the bat, the reliability is what everyone is talking about. It’s got the right measurables and the right features to be considered one of the best waterfowl shotguns in the business. The pump-action makes shooting quicker compared to some other pump-actions on the market. So if fast and accurate is what you are looking for, this shotgun will definitely stand out as an enticing choice.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are in search of a shotgun that will go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to waterfowl hunting, this Mossberg 500 just might be the one that tops the list when it comes to reliability. If it’s a Mossberg, then you know it’s going to work in the times when you need it most. And it can reach some pretty good distances by a hunting shotgun’s standards. If 50 to 60 yards max is good enough for you, this might be what you need.

Bottom Line

The Mossberg Model 500 Classic is the best shotgun for waterfowls brought to us by Mossberg. And these can last you a long time thanks to the high-quality materials it’s made from. So if you want a shotgun that has the potential to last you a really long time and remain reliable no matter what, this could be the shotgun you’ll want to invest in.

Best Beretta Waterfowl Shotgun:
Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus Ko 12 Ga 26"

PROS

  • Reliable and powerful firing power
  • Recoil is reduced right out of the box
  • Accurate at ranges between 30 to 50 yards
  • Camo finish makes blending in easy
  • Heat dissipation on the barrel is quicker compared to some shotguns

CONS

  • None available

What Recent Buyers Report

As expected, many new users were quite satisfied with the overall use of this shotgun. Most of the new users were hunters that stayed in one place while hunting waterfowl and blended in with the environment. Even one user said that the camo looked great and definitely helped him blend in with the tall grass at his usual hunting spot. To add, he managed to hit a target with ease while it was situated some 50 yards away.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Does Beretta really make shotguns? Yep. Just in case you thought they only made handguns, this is your reminder that they don’t always make handguns all the time. For a 12-gauge shotgun, it packs some serious firing power that can knock down just about any waterfowl target from an impressive distance. Of course, it’s not a great shotgun if you don’t have the ability to easily disassemble it for the purpose of cleaning and maintenance. So if you hate the idea of having to deal with complex disassembly and re-assembly of firearms, rest assured this is the shotgun you’ll want. In short, this is a shotgun that is easy to take care of and in turn, meaning that it can stick around for many years of use.

Who Will Use This Most

This will probably be the best newbie-friendly shotgun you can find. If you have never gone waterfowl hunting before, then you’ll want a good shotgun to start out with. This has a good amount of knockdown power, the bolt action is pretty smooth, and it’s easy to disassemble and re-assemble once it’s all clean and spiffy.

Bottom Line

The Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus is the shotgun you’ll be happy to have in your arsenal if you want a simple and easy to use shotgun for waterfowl hunting. Even with two rounds at your disposal, it’s enough to get a good shot in and reload for the next wave of ducks. Whether you are a newbie to waterfowl hunting or a seasoned veteran of the craft, this shotgun will definitely be a good hunting buddy to have for the long-term.

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying a Waterfowl Shotgun

Before buying a waterfowl shotgun, it’s important to know a few things in order for you to make an informed decision. This should give you an opportunity to better understand how waterfowl shotguns work. Here are some things that you need to know:

They Have to be Tough and Durable

This is a non-negotiable requirement. You’ll need to find something that will be able to handle the abuse and other bumps and bangs that come with waterfowl hunting. Not only that, but these shotguns have a chance to also get down and dirty since you’ll be able to wade through mud, water, and other environmental elements. 

Reliability Matters -- Always!

Even if it’s something you’ve heard before, reliability is a huge must here, especially when it comes to waterfowl shotguns. These types of shotguns will be used in situations where you’ll need to be able to fire multiple shots (despite being able to hit one duck with one shot). You might be able to clean up and knock down your bag limit in a moment’s notice. Find a shotgun that is reliable (especially one that allows for quick shooting).

It Should be Easy to Disassemble for Cleaning and Maintenance

As mentioned before, these shotguns will get down and dirty. So, you’re going to need a shotgun that will be able to disassemble quite easily so you can clean every nook and cranny of the shotgun itself. It’s important that you clean it on a regular basis in order to expand its longevity and keep it in functional order.

How to Clean a Waterfowl Shotgun

Cleaning a waterfowl shotgun will require you to cover every inch of the gun itself. It’s important that you follow these instructions so you know how to properly get the job done each time you have to do the deed. Here are the following steps:

  1. Before moving forward, you’ll need to check the shotgun to ensure there are no shells inside in the magazine or chamber. Once you are clear, move on to the next step.

  2. Disassemble your shotgun piece by piece.

  3. Using a rag and cleaning solution, be sure to wipe down the parts that need to be cleaned. First, start off with the inertia system. Be sure to get the hard to reach areas as well.

  4. Wipe down the firing pin. Then remove the trigger system from the shotgun (assuming you haven’t done so) and wipe off the excess dirt, oil, and anything else.

  5. Next up is the recoil spring. Be sure to wipe this down with an old shirt or a cloth that won’t leave any lint behind.

  6. Be sure to wipe the insides of the other parts of your shotgun (mag well, pump-action, choke tube, etc.)

  7. Wipe down any excess stuff from the cross-thread.

  8. Lubricate the hinge near the firing pin. Be sure to do the same with the other moving parts of your shotgun. One drop should be enough. Move it around to ensure that all your bases are covered.

  9. Clean the barrel with a good bore brush and a cleaning pad. Be sure to do a few passes to ensure that it’s nice and clean.

  10. Replace the trigger assembly and the pin that holds it in.

  11. As you slowly re-assemble the shotgun, be sure to put oil on other moving parts like the pump-action track, inertia system, or any other parts if needed.

Conclusion

The best waterfowl shotgun is out there waiting for you. So, find one that will work with you for the long term and be sure that you are able to use it to your advantage each time you go out waterfowl hunting. If you’re the kind of hunter that isn’t afraid to get down and dirty, then find a shotgun that will do the same. Be sure that it’s reliable, accurate, and easy to clean once all is said and done.

People Also Ask

Below is a list of frequently asked questions that will give you a better understanding of how waterfowl shotguns work. You should use this as a guide so you can make a more informed decision:

What Gun Do You Use For Duck Hunting?

If you are in search of a shotgun that will be fitting for duck hunting will likely be a 12 gauge shotgun. Keep this in mind while searching for a shotgun that is intended for that purpose.

What is the Best Shotgun Barrel Length For Duck Hunting?

On average, most duck hunters will rely on a shotgun that will have a barrel that measures at around 28 inches in length. Others may often opt for a slightly longer barrel (specifically 30 inches in length). 

Is a Longer Barrel on a Shotgun Better?

The jury is out here. But one thing to keep in mind is the longer the barrel, the better the chance it will add a bit of weight to the shotgun. If you want to keep your shotgun light in weight, you may want to consider a shorter barrel. 

Does a Longer Barrel Increase Accuracy?

The longer the barrel, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to make precise and accurate shooting when hunting waterfowl. You may also see a slight increase in velocity as well. 

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