It's always remarkable to discover that certain firearms, historically deemed best in class, have actually gotten better. It's even sweeter to discover that many of the improvements to these guns speak directly to the women's market. Such was the case at the 2022 SHOT Show, which spotlighted the imagination of thoughtful designers and engineers. And while the show may not have been operating at full capacity, there was certainly no shortage of hardware that captured our attention. Check out this selection of shotguns that will be on NRA Women's must-see/must-shoot list for 2022.
Benelli Super Black Eagle 3
For more than 30 years, Benelli’s Super Black Eagle has ranked among the most popular and reliable semi-automatic shotguns for discerning waterfowlers, outperforming in the most demanding hunting conditions. Superb ergonomics, technologically advanced engineering and innovative features are reasons enough to love this gun. Now the SBE 3 (introduced in 2017) has new aesthetic offerings: Cerakote and camo combo color combinations for its 28” barrel shotguns with 12- and 20-gauge 3” chambers. Hunting flooded timber? Consider the Tungsten/Gore Optifade Waterfowl Timber combination (bottom). If your plans change to grassy swamps, the Patriot Brown Cerakote and Gore Optifade Marsh pattern (top) are the perfect pairing. MSRP: $1,899. BenelliUSA.com.
Browning A5 Lightning Sweet Sixteen
The 16-gauge has long been known as the “Gentleman’s Gauge,” but many of features offered on Browning’s A5 Wicked Sweet Sixteen may well propel the moniker into also a “Gentlewoman’s Gauge.” Here’s why. For one, the stock is shim-adjustable for length of pull, cast and drop, and its weight is also closer to that of a 20 gauge—with a shot payload nearer the 12 gauge. The shotgun’s "Lightning Style" semi-pistol grip design (noted by the rounded knob at the bottom) offers a quick, instinctive grasp and easy reach to the trigger, making it ideal for fast-flushing upland birds. The Browning A5 16 gauge is built on a smaller, lighter receiver for reduced weight and a sleek feel once in the hand. Finally, the humpback receiver profile increases the length of the sighting plane, offering the same advantage for which the first Auto 5s became famous. This “sweet” semi-automatic field gun is the one NRA Women may reach for first for both upland hunting and sporting clays. MSRP: $1,819. Browning.com.
Franchi Instinct L (top) and Franchi Affinity 3 (bottom)
Franchi Instinct L and Affinity 3
If like many NRA Women you are a fan of Franchi’s popular “Instinct” over-under series but long for it in a lighter model, your wish comes true in 2022 with the “Instinct L,” a 20-gauge, 3” chambering, 26” barrel model. The newest break-action in the line is designed to bridge the gap between the 28” barrel 12--gauge models. Notable features include an all-steel, color case-hardened receiver; automatic ejectors, and classic Prince of Wales-style stock. Additional standard features of the Instinct L over-under shotguns include a high-visibility fiber-optic front bar, IC, M, and F choke tubes, and a custom-fitted hard case. MSRP $1,449.
Also from Franchi this year is a sub-gauge for southpaw hunters in in its Affinity line. On the new Affinity 3, the ejection port and safety button are positioned on the left side of the receiver, which means left-handed shooters no longer need to adapt to awkward loading and bolt manipulation, let alone spent hulls crossing their line of sight. Its lighter weight, reliable operation and gentle recoil—further enhanced with Franchi’s TSA recoil pad, which reduces felt recoil by up to 50 percent—make the 20-gauge Affinity 3 Left-Hand a comfortable all-day companion on the bird fields or the clays range. MSRP: $899. FranchiUSA.com.
Mossberg 590S Series
Mossberg's legendary 500 platform gets more exciting with each iteration, with new reasons to add one (or more) to your home-defense inventory. In late 2021 America's oldest family-owned firearms manufacturer introduced its 590S Series of 12-gauge pump-actions, capable of cycling 1.75,” 2.75” and 3” shotshells interchangeably, in any combination, without the use of an adaptor. The 590S Series includes two full-length stock options and two versions of the birdshead-gripped Shockwave. If you're interested in the technical aspects, here's the rundown: 590 tactical guns include non-binding twin action bars; positive steel-to-steel lock-up and anti-jam elevator; dual extractors; drilled and tapped receivers; and universally recognized, ambidextrous top-mounted safety. A convenient clean-out magazine tube with cap provides for easy maintenance. Additional features of the 590S series include black synthetic stock and fore-end; cylinder bore barrel (AccuChoke barrel on the 20” version); matte blue metal finish; sling swivel studs; and logo-engraved receiver on all models. The 590S Pump-Action Shotguns are offered in two configurations, 18” and 20”. MSRP: $605—$708, while the Shockwave versions come with a choice of 14.375” or 18.5“ barrel lengths; front bead sight; and strapped, corncob-style fore-end. MSRP: $605. Mossberg.com.
Savage Renegauge Security
Savage Arms came on board in 2020 with its unique Renegauge shotgun, and was so liked by NRA Women we awarded it the inaugural NRA Women Golden Bullseye for “Long Gun of the Year.” Since the gun’s introduction, various models and line extensions have been added, each with a specific purpose, whether it be for hunting, competition or its latest home protection model, the Renegauge Security. The Renegauge line is designed to accommodate a variety of loads, from the hottest high-brass and the mildest low-recoil shells with the same dependability. Savage’s patented D.R.I.V. (Dual Regulating Inline Valve) gas system ensures excess gas vents before it drives the bolt, resulting in consistent ejection, less felt recoil, and a fast cyclic rate. The Renegauge easily accommodates any shooter, as measurements such as length-of-pull, comb height and drop at the heel can be adjusted to fit. MSRP: #1,499. SavageArms.com