Waterfowl Shotguns

We take a closer look at the Benelli SBEIII with the new BE.S.T. coating and Savage’s first semi-auto shotgun, the Renegauge.

Waterfowl Shotguns

When it comes to hardcore waterfowl hunting, the specialized equipment needed to enjoy the sport can fill quite a long list. Sure, if a hunter is going to go out and hunt ducks only a time or two every other year, he or she can grab whatever shotgun is in the safe and a handful of steel loads, pull on some waders and head for the marsh.

But those who use their waterfowl shotguns frequently in nasty weather conditions need a gun they can rely on to get the job done, cycle reliably and make the ride home without already having a glaze of rust on the barrel when they get there. Fortunately for those brave-hearted souls who like cold, wet, blustery weather better than any other kind, many manufacturers make specialized waterfowl models that are tough, reliable and much more impervious to the elements than the other shotguns in their lineups.

Retailers trying to determine what waterfowl shotguns to carry for their customers can sometimes become overwhelmed with all the choices. In a nutshell, hunters shopping for a waterfowl shotgun are looking for several features, not all of which are available on every model. Some of those features include at least 3-inch chambers (many prefer 3 1/2-inch), an operating system that reduces felt recoil, the ability to shoot steel shot, a good recoil pad, and a dull or camouflaged all-weather finish that can take the tough conditions often endured by duck and goose hunters.

Let’s take a look at two models introduced at the 2020 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Both are excellent candidates for your customers who might be looking for the latest and greatest duck and goose gun.


Benelli SBE3 with BE.S.T. Finish

As if the ultra-popular Benelli Super Black Eagle III could get any better, Benelli upped the ante this year by offering the gun in the company’s new BE.S.T. (Benelli Surface Treatment) finish. According to the company, engineers put 10 years into developing the finish, which is touted to solve the main issue facing waterfowl shotguns: corrosion.

Benelli SBE3 with BE.S.T. Finish
Benelli SBE3 with BE.S.T. Finish

The proprietary BE.S.T. finish bonds molecularly to the barrel, barrel extension and select internal components to create what the company says is an impenetrable armor that stops rust and corrosion while providing superior abrasion resistance. And Benelli is putting its money where its mouth is, offering a 25-year warranty on all BE.S.T.-treated parts on the SBE3 and other guns with the finish.

In order to apply the new finish, Benelli developed a hybrid PVD/PECVD machine that uses diamondlike carbon (DLC) particles applied with a high-vacuum plasma nanotechnology. In doing so, gun makers can apply the finish at low temperatures, protecting the mechanical integrity of the steel. According to Benelli, the process is environmentally friendly and produces no hazardous chemical by-product. Then, Benelli chrome lines the inside of the SBE3 barrel for added protection.

Of course, Benelli didn’t just invent the finish, put it on some shotguns and start selling them by the hundreds. The company torture-tested an assortment of barrels with different finishes for comparison to the BE.S.T. treatment. A normal blued barrel, which was subjected to four hours in a salt fog test, resulted in rust accumulation over the entire barrel. A barrel coated with the BE.S.T. treatment underwent 200 hours in the same conditions with no signs of rust or corrosion. In fact, BE.S.T.-treated barrels have been exposed to saltwater for more than three consecutive months with no sign of rust or corrosion.

The BE.S.T. finish should make what was arguably one of the best waterfowl shotguns around even better. The SBE3, introduced in 2017, is a complete redesign of the original Super Black Eagle line. It uses Benelli’s Inertia Driven System, which never requires adjustment and cycles consistently shooting light field loads all the way up to 3 1⁄2-inch magnum ammo.

It also features a Comfort Tech stock, which was designed by splitting the stock diagonally and using shock-absorbing chevrons within the stock to greatly reduce felt recoil. The gun’s Combtech cheek comb pad is just more icing on the cake. Drop and cast can be adjusted by inserting supplied shims between the front of the butt and the receiver. Also, the SBE3 has a rectangular, oversized bolt release.

The SBE3 with BE.S.T. finish is currently available in 12-gauge with 26- and 28-inch barrel. MSRP is $1,999.


Savage Renegauge Waterfowl

Waterfowl hunters are fortunate to be among the targeted users of Savage’s first semi-automatic shotgun introduction. The Renegauge Waterfowl model is another fine option for those who want a new autoloader for chasing ducks and geese, according to Al Kasper, Savage president and CEO.

Savage Renegauge Waterfowl
Savage Renegauge Waterfowl

“Renegauge is unlike any other semi-automatic shotgun and demonstrates our commitment to innovate as an independent company,” Kasper said. “This project has been in the works for years because we wanted to enter a new category in a big way. The team in place now did an amazing job getting this to the finish line. Hunters and shooters are going to be amazed with the fit, feel, function and versatility of this shotgun. And it’s a platform we can and will build on — so look for more in the very near future.”

The platform Kasper alludes to is the company’s new semi-auto cycling system just developed by its engineers — the Dual Regulating Inline Valve (D.R.I.V.) gas system. The patented, industry-first dual-valve self-regulating gas system allows high-powered and low-powered loads to cycle with the same consistency and reliability. That’s accomplished by the system emitting excess gas, thereby maintaining optimal bolt carrier velocity across the various loads.

The action is built around Savage’s new lightweight, one-piece bolt carrier. According to the company, the one-piece action bar assembly, including the pusher sleeve, is laser welded to the carrier and chrome plated for increased strength and ease of assembly and disassembly.

Three recoil pads are included with each gun so the user can adjust length of pull, and three comb height inserts are included to further tailor individual fit. The adjustment components are made of a proprietary gel designed to tame recoil for the shooter and reduce the impact on the shotgun’s internal components. An included shim kit lets hunters further adjust drop and cast for minute adjustments.

For those who might want to try a renegade in shotgun or 3-gun competitions, the gun’s beveled loading port, angled trigger housing, receiver and elevator are intentionally designed for easy, rapid loading of cartridges.

As far as technical specifications, the gun weighs 8 pounds, has four-plus-one capacity, is chambered for 3-inch magnums and wears a Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades camo finish. MSRP is $1,549.


Looking Ahead

There are plenty of other fine waterfowl shotguns on the market, and Hunting Retailer will be publishing a review of several other models later this year. In the meantime, you can’t miss with these new Savage and Benelli models that should find success at the retail level as well as in duck and goose blinds this fall.


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