2021 Shotgun Showcase


By Rachel HovelandPhoto by Logan Hinners


Just in the nick of time, Covid restrictions were lifted late in spring and we were outdoors with a full crew and in full action for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s annual Shotgun Showcase, 2021 edition!

Participants were delighted to get out on the Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club Sporting Clays Course to see one another in person for a little friendly competition and to test out one dozen new shotguns on the market for this fall. It may well have been the perfect spring day for weather and shooting conditions, but much of the talk was about fall, hunting … and how these shotguns would perform in the field.

Every shooting station was loaded up with boxes of Federal Top Gun sporting shells, and staffed by a manufacturer’s representative anxious to show off their latest and greatest shotguns and get them into our eager reviewers’ hands. And so we shot. A lot!

Shooter participants generously took the time to evaluate each firearm they handled, and share their honest ratings, thoughts and opinions. Here’s all that feedback, compiled and summarized in 12 quick, reader-friendly entries with photos. With models ranging from budget-friendly to splurge-worthy, this year’s 2021 Shotgun Showcase has a firearm for everyone, whether you’re getting your first shotgun for hitting the field this fall, or hoping to add to your collection.

Because, believe me (insert wink here), you can never have too many shotguns!

Jump ahead by model:
Winchester SX4 Upland Field
Franchi Instinct SLX
CZ 1012 Bronze
Browning Citori Hunter Grade II
Weatherby Orion I
Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon III
Caesar Guerini Ellipse Evo
Mossberg Silver Reserve Eventide
Henry Single Shot Brass
Benelli Super Black Eagle 3
Fabarm Autumn
Savage Renegauge Prairie

Interested in watching the complete set of bonus video reviews?
The 2021 Shotgun Showcase bonus review videos can be found here.

Winchester-SX4-Upland-Field-(1).jpgWINCHESTER SX4 UPLAND FIELD

20-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 6-14

In 2019 Winchester premiered the SX4 Upland Field model to the Super-X line of semiautomatics, and we were happy to see the addition of the 20-gauge to the line this year.

This semiauto utilizes the same Active Valve Gas system, drop out trigger group and TruGlo fiber optic front site as other SX4s, but includes many upgraded features unique to the Upland Field model: The matte nickel-plated receiver features an engraved upland scene, and a beautiful Grade II/III satin oil-finished walnut stock features straight checkering. Additionally, this smaller 20-gauge model is 4 ounces lighter than the 12-gauge —ideal for long upland hunts.

Reviewer comments emphasized the embellished yet functional appearance, and the ease of use: “Felt very comfortable and looked great — a beautiful gun you could carry all day and count on to perform,” wrote one reviewer.

Includes three Invector-Plus flush choke tubes. Available with 26-inch and 28-inch barrels in 12-gauge and 20-gauge.

MSRP: $1,279.99


28-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 5-3

The SLX is the newest addition to Franchi’s Instinct line of over-unders, with the 28-gauge added new for 2021.

Though similar to its Instinct SL model counterpart, the Instinct SLX is designed to be the finer, stylish addition to the lightweight SL line. The wood is an upgraded AA-grade walnut and the forearm is styled in curled, Schnabel fashion. If you look closely, you’ll notice the attention to detail continues: The decorative engraving on the receiver continues throughout the firearm, even onto the action-release.

Reviewers enjoyed the function and balance of the firearm while also rating it phenomenally in the Style category: “Elegant and perfectly built — this firearm has great lines and tasteful scrolling and engraving. On top of that it is light and easy to carry, handle and shoot.”

Includes five extended Mobile choke tubes. Available in 12-, 16-, 20- and 28-gauge, all in 28-inch barrels.

MSRP: $2,099.00

Watch a bonus video review here.

CZ1012Bronze.jpgCZ 1012 BRONZE

12-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 6-8

With the 1012, CZ has introduced its first inertia-operated semiautomatic to their shotgun line, promoting the shotgun as a minimal maintenance workhorse that is tuned to run a wide variety of shells.

The firearm includes a flat, vented field rib, Turkish walnut wood and extended choke tubes. Reviewer comments focused on the dependable function and looks — a classic design with a modern, subtle color to the receiver, particularly well done for the price range: “Great value for an inertia semiauto. It was very smooth, and it just plain felt and looked great!”

This walnut version of the 1012 is available in 12-gauge with 28-inch barrels in three receiver colors: black, bronze and gray. Also available in black and camo synthetic versions.

MSRP: $645.00


12-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 7-12

A 2021 SHOT Show Special from Browning’s proven and well-loved Citori line, the Citori Hunter II is a working-grade gun designed with durability and handling performance in mind. The firearm features blued barrels, Grade II/III satin-finish walnut, gloss-finish metalwork and an unpretentious nickel-plated receiver with gold enhancement.

Reviewers scored the Citori Hunter Grade II strongly in the Function and Style categories, with one reviewer complimenting: “Strong and durable looking with the function/fit of a quality gun. A definite clay-breaker and good field gun. Feels great to shoot a Citori!”

Includes three flush Invector-Plus choke tubes. Available in 12-, 16-, 20- and 28-gauge, and .410, all with 26-inch or 28-inch barrels.

MSRP: $2,199.99

Watch a bonus video review here.


12-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 7-0

The Weatherby Orion has been a popular option over the years for hunters and shooters looking for a quality over-under below the $1,000 price point. The firearm features a low profile, tastefully modest black receiver and glossy grade A walnut stock with a rounded Prince of Wales grip and matching rounded forearm. It weighs in at a very manageable 7 pounds.

Reviewers scored the Weatherby Orion I very highly in the Price category, with many commenting on the great value of the firearm: “This is a great shooting gun with great balance, phenomenal for the price point.”

Includes three flush choke tubes. Available in 12-gauge with 26-inch and 28-inch barrels.

MSRP: $999.00

687-Silver-Pigeon-III.jpgBERETTA 687 SILVER PIGEON III

12-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 7-8

The newest iteration of the classic Silver Pigeon line, the Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon III is an attractive over-under designed for those that don’t wish to compromise aesthetics in the field. Built on the well-known 680-series receiver platform, the 687 Silver Pigeon III has a sleek, low profile and forward balance. The field-ready rounded forearm and pistol-grip stock are beautiful class 2.5 walnut wood with a gloss finish, complimented by a tasteful floral and upland scene engraved on the receiver.

The 687 Silver Pigeon III gained strong scores in the Style and Function categories, and our reviewers drew attention to the great handling of the firearm and elevated appearance: “Pulls up nicely and is easy to swing into the bird, this is an attractive gun I’d happily carry in the uplands.”

Includes five flush Optima-Choke HP choke tubes. Available in 12-, 20- and 28-gauge and .410, all in 28-inch or 30-inch barrels.

MSRP: $2,699.00

Watch a bonus video review here.


20-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 6-10

Caesar Guerini’s Ellipse Evo was designed for shooters targeting smaller upland birds, particularly quail. The shotgun is built with a distinct, steel rounded action: All four sides are rounded with no corners, featuring a high-polish coin-finish with scrolling pattern engravings. This is complimented with oiled walnut furnishings and a Prince of Wales stock that is paired with a walnut buttplate.

More than just its aesthetic appeal, the shotgun is field ready: forward balanced with a single, non-selective trigger and rounded forearm.

The Ellipse Evo received high ratings from Showcase reviewers for Style and Function: “Attractive, sleek and smooth with great handling, I would highly recommend this shotgun for a quail hunter.”

Includes five flush choke tubes. Available in 12-, 20- and 28-gauge with 28-inch barrels.

MSRP: $7,225.00

Watch a bonus video review here.


12-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 7-0

Mossberg is known for offering a variety of accessible, sturdy shotgun options. New for 2021 is the addition of the Reserve line of over-unders to the brand. The Reserve line is intended as a crossover shotgun, great for sporting or in the field while remaining durable, reliable and affordable to all shooters.

Designed to thrive in all weather conditions, the Silver Reserve Eventide features a durable, black synthetic body with matte blue receiver and barrels, and a fiber-optic front site. Reviewers complimented the versatility and value of the firearm: “Great all-around, durable field gun. Feels solid and reliable — I would be comfortable taking this in the field on a wet, rainy day.”

Includes five flush choke tubes. Walnut and synthetic back available in 12-gauge with 28-inch barrels. The 20-gauge, 28-gauge and .410 (all in walnut only) feature 26-inch barrels.

MSRP: $636.00

Watch a bonus video review here.


.410 • WEIGHT: 6-12

Playing into the nostalgia of our childhoods, the Henry Single Shot Brass was a crowd favorite to shoot at this year’s Showcase. An attractive firearm, the Single Shot Brass features American walnut on an English-style stock, and is finished with a smooth brass buttplate and brightly polished brass receiver.

The single shot break-action is extremely simple to shoot: With the rebounding external hammer there is no manual safety, and the shells fully extract when opening the action. Reviewers rated the firearm well in Function, with many commenting that the Henry Single Shot brought up fond memories of heading out into the field as a kid.

Includes a single choke tube (threaded for Rem-style chokes) and is available in 20-gauge and .410 with 26-inch barrels and 12-gauge with 28-inch barrels. Available with brass or black steel receivers.

MSRP: $646.00


20-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 5-15

The Benelli Super Black Eagle has a reputation as an all-weather performance field semiautomatic, so we were eager to shoot the newly introduced 20-gauge addition to the line at Showcase.

Weighing under six pounds, the 20-gauge Super Black Eagle 3 operates off Benelli’s Inertia Driven system, and features the distinct-looking Comfort Tech stock, designed to greatly reduce recoil. The firearm includes an oversized bolt and safety and an angled drop lever, all to provide for maximum functionality with gloved hands.

This firearm was one of the top-rated shotguns of the day for Function, with many comments focused on the smooth and consistent action. “Love this 20-gauge,” commented one reviewer. “I would enjoy carrying this gun for almost any hunt, with the knowledge that it will work when it should!”

Includes three flush and two extended Crio System choke tubes. Available in 12-gauge and 20-gauge with 26-inch and 28-inch barrels, in black and various camo patterns.

MSRP: $1,799.00

Watch a bonus video review here.

Fabarm-Autumn.jpgFABARM AUTUMN

20-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 6-2

The only side-by-side tested at this year’s Showcase, the new box-lock Fabarm Autumn was in high-demand to be shot by reviewers. Everybody wanted their hands on it. The Autumn was designed with the American hunter in mind, and is named for fall days in the upland woods.

The firearm features a distinctive color case-hardened receiver with decorative scrollwork and rounded corners that smoothly transition from the receiver to the Turkish walnut stock and forearm. The wood is oiled to a matte finish. The fast-handling English-style stock is paired with a matching walnut buttplate. Lastly, the top rib is textured to reduce glare in the field.

Reviewers unanimously agreed: This was a beautiful, enjoyable gun to shoot. Said one shooter, “A really fun to shoot side-by-side … comes up smoothly to shoulder and gorgeous to hold in hand.”

Includes five flush INNER HP choke tubes. Available in 20-gauge with 28- or 30-inch barrels, configured with choice of pistol-grip or English stock.

MSRP: $4,095.00

Watch a bonus video review here.


12-GAUGE • WEIGHT: 7-15

Last year Savage introduced the brand’s first semiautomatic shotgun — the Renegauge, now available in TruTimber Prairie Camo. The firearm is designed to shoot all varieties of shells reliably and to fit the dimensions of any shooter.

The tan receiver, fluted barrel and camo stock and forearm — with tactical accents and oversized controls — combine to create a modern look. The Renegauge comes standard with two additional recoil pads and two additional comb pieces to easily adjust length-of-pull and comb height, as well as a shim system for adjustments of stock drop and cast. You can create 20 different configurations out of the box.

Many reviewers commented on the heaviness of the gun for carrying in the uplands, but praised the performance, rating the gun strongly in the Function and Comfort categories: “This shotgun was awesome to shoot — smooth and easy to function. It would make a great hunting gun that you would not be afraid to beat up!”

Includes three flush choke tubes. Available in 12-gauge with 26-inch or 28-inch barrels in gray/black and various camo patterns.

MSRP: $1,649.00

Rachel Hoveland is web developer for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, and the organization's resident shotgun nut and expert.