Best Shotgun for Bird Hunting – 2024 Edition

Ever dreamt of soaring birds meeting a fiery end thanks to your lightning-fast reflexes and the perfect shotgun? Well, chuck those slingshots and rusty rifles! The key to a successful hunt lies in finding the best shotgun for bird hunting. We hunt a lot of birds so we give your our opinions. Let’s go!

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The thrill of bird hunting is undeniable – the crisp morning air, the camaraderie with fellow hunters, and the satisfaction of a well-placed shot. But before you head out into the field, which shotgun are you going to take?

With a vast array of options available, from pump-action workhorses to sleek semi-autos, it can be overwhelming. Fear not, aspiring bird hunter! 

This guide will equip you with the knowledge to navigate the shotgun landscape, ensuring you select the perfect firearm to take your bird hunting adventures to legendary heights.

Our top picks are next. If you want to learn more click for our Buyer’s Guide.

The 7 Best Shotguns for Bird Hunting

Best Overall: Remington 870 Wingmaster

best shotgun for bird hunting
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  • Action: Pump-Action
  • Gauge: Available in 12, 16, 20, 28, and .410
  • Reliability: Known for rugged durability and long-lasting performance
  • Versatility: Interchangeable barrels and chokes for various hunting and shooting needs
  • Design: Classic design with high-quality wood and metal finishes
  • Recoil: Solid build helps manage recoil effectively
  • Affordability: Priced moderately, offering good value for the features
  • Availability: Widely available and supported by a broad range of aftermarket accessories
  • Legacy: One of the best-selling shotguns in history, trusted by hunters and law enforcement alike
best shotgun for bird hunting
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  • Action: Over/Under
  • Gauge: Available in 12, 20, 28, and .410
  • Value: Offers good features at a moderate price point
  • Design: Elegant silver receiver with scrolled engraving
  • Barrels: Chrome-lined barrels for durability and better shot pattern
  • Chokes: Comes with a set of interchangeable chokes for versatile shooting
  • Safety: Equipped with tang-mounted safety and barrel selector
  • Handling: Balanced and easy to handle, suitable for hunters of various skill levels
  • Finish: Quality wood stock and forend, often with checkering for better grip
best shotgun for bird hunting
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  • Action: Semi-Automatic
  • Gauge: Available in 12 or 20
  • Reliability: Highly reliable, known for cycling shells smoothly
  • Recoil: Features the “Kick-Off” recoil reduction system for lighter felt recoil
  • Weight: Lightweight design, making it easier for prolonged carry in the field
  • Versatility: Suitable for various hunting and sporting scenarios
  • Speed: Rapid follow-up shots due to its semi-automatic action
  • Design: Eye-catching walnut stock with an anodized bronze receiver
  • Technology: Incorporates the latest Beretta technology for optimal performance
  • Price: Higher-end of the spectrum, reflecting its advanced features and build quality

Browning Citori

best shotgun for bird hunting
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  • Action: Over/Under
  • Gauge: Available in multiple gauges including 12, 16, 20, 28, and .410
  • Build Quality: Renowned for excellent craftsmanship and durability
  • Balance: Well-balanced, aiding in quick and precise shooting
  • Design: Classic and elegant, often featuring engraved receivers and high-quality wood stocks
  • Chokes: Comes with interchangeable chokes for versatile shooting
  • Safety: Tang-mounted safety with barrel selector
  • Handling: Suited for both beginner and experienced shooters due to its ergonomic design
  • Reputation: Long-standing reputation for quality and reliability in the hunting community
  • Price: Generally on the higher-end, reflecting its quality and features

Benelli Montefeltro

best shotgun for bird hunting
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  • Action: Semi-Automatic
  • Gauge: Available in 12 and 20
  • Reliability: Known for smooth, reliable action with a wide variety of shells
  • Weight: Lightweight design for ease of carrying in the field
  • Recoil: Inertia-driven system offers reduced felt recoil
  • Design: Sleek and functional, often featuring walnut stocks and slim profiles
  • Versatility: Good for both hunting and sporting use
  • Ease of Cleaning: Designed for easy disassembly and cleaning
  • Handling: Ergonomic design makes it comfortable and easy to handle
  • Price: Mid to high-end, reflecting its quality and technological features

Winchester Model 101

best shotgun for bird hunting
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  • Action: Over/Under
  • Gauge: Available in 12, 20, 28, and .410
  • Build Quality: Sturdy construction with attention to detail
  • Balance: Well-balanced for better aiming and shooting
  • Design: Classic aesthetics, often with engraved receivers and quality wood stocks
  • Chokes: Comes with a selection of interchangeable chokes for versatile hunting
  • Safety: Tang-mounted safety and barrel selector for ease of use
  • Ergonomics: Designed for superior handling and comfort
  • Legacy: Long-standing history and reputation in the shotgun community
  • Price: Generally in the mid to high range, reflecting its quality and features

Franchi Instinct L

best shotgun for bird hunting
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  • Action: Over/Under
  • Gauge: Available in 12, 16, 20, and 28
  • Reliability: Known for reliable firing and easy maintenance
  • Weight: Lightweight design for prolonged field use
  • Design: Elegant, featuring a case-color-hardened receiver and A-grade satin walnut stock
  • Chokes: Comes with a set of interchangeable chokes for various hunting scenarios
  • Balance: Well-balanced, providing natural pointing and handling
  • Safety: Tang-mounted safety also acts as a barrel selector
  • Price: Mid-range, offering a good balance of features for the cost
  • Handling: Suited for hunters of various skill levels due to its ease of use and ergonomic design

Buyer's Guide - Best Shotgun for Bird Hunting

Picking the right shotgun can be the defining factor between a hit and a miss in the field. With pheasants being notoriously tough and elusive, you’ll need a gun that matches your skill and enhances your performance. 

Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a beginner seeking to gain an edge, our guide dives deep into the features that make a shotgun ideal for pheasant hunting. 

From gauges and actions to chokes and barrel lengths, we’ve got you covered with in-depth reviews, expert comparisons, and practical tips to ensure you make every shot count

Gauge Matters

Regarding gauges for a pheasant shotgun, my weapon of choice is a 12-gauge. While 16s and 20s can also be effective for pheasant hunting, pheasants are tough birds. I prefer to have the assurance that, should I hit a bird that keeps flying, it wasn’t because I was undergunned.

Choosing the Right Action

    • Over/Unders (O/Us): O/Us are my go-to action for various reasons. They are easy to open when crossing a creek or fence, making it simple to check for muzzle obstructions. I prefer carrying a broken-open gun when I’m not actively hunting.
    • Narrower Sighting Plane: O/Us offer a narrower sighting plane, which I find slightly better for shooting birds in open landscapes, typical of pheasant country.
    • Third Shot: While the absence of a third shot was more concerning years ago when pheasant populations were higher, two shots are generally sufficient nowadays. 

    Choke Choices

    For pheasant hunting, I opt for the following choke settings (see our blog):

      • Improved Cylinder in the Bottom Barrel: This is effective for the average first shot at 20 to 30 yards.
      • Improved Modified in the Top Barrel: This gives me confidence for follow-up shots or shots at greater distances.

      Barrel Length

      My shotgun features 28-inch barrels. This gives the gun a bit of forward weight, which is useful for more deliberate shooting and crossing shots. Quick mounting is not usually a requirement for pheasant hunting.

      Weight, Fit, and Point of Impact

        • Weight: A little over 7 pounds, the weight is easy on the arms but heavy enough to absorb recoil effectively.
        • Fit and Impact: The gun is a good fit for me and shoots fairly flat, which works best for my hunting style.

        Durability and Reliability

        I can attest to the gun’s reliability and durability. I’ve never had any issues with it. Plus, it survived an incident where I fell on it, breaking my arm but leaving the gun unscathed. It’s a hard piece of equipment that I don’t mind using intensively in the field, especially since I got a great deal on it.

        These are the key factors I consider when choosing a pheasant shotgun, encompassing everything from gauge and action type to chokes, barrel length, and durability.

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