Skip to main content

Critical Features for Your Next Waterfowl Scattergun

Critical Features for Your Next Waterfowl Scattergun

Here’s a look at an all-time iconic shotgun, plus what to look for when selecting a duck gun. (Shutterstock image)

My all-time favorite waterfowl gun is now more than 40 years old.

The Browning BPS is as relevant to the waterfowl market today as it was when it was released in the late 1970s. These shotguns are extremely durable and reliable thanks to a solid steel receiver and twin steel action bars, and the enclosed receiver prevents gunk and debris from jamming the action in the blind. That steel receiver makes the BPS a bit heavier than competing shotguns, but that’s not always a bad thing — extra weight makes the BPS a smooth-swinging scattergun and the added heft reduces recoil for fast follow-up shots.

The bottom-feeding design and tang safety make this gun equally suited for both right- and left-handed shooters, and there’s even a 10-gauge model available if you hunt big birds and want the maximum payload possible.

The Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades 12-gauge model is my personal favorite and is available with a full camo dip with your choice of a 3 or 3 1/2-inch chamber. MSRP for the BPS starts at $700, which is a good price for a gun that’s built to Browning’s high standards.


“Mossy
Browning’s Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades 12-gauge

Features to consider

A rundown of the critical features you’ll need to consider before buying your next waterfowl scattergun.


  • Action: Semi-autos offer the ability to fire three shots with three successive trigger pulls, and gas guns will help reduce felt recoil. Pumps require more effort on follow-up shots, but pumps have a reputation for dead-nuts reliability, and once you’re familiar with it you can cycle a pump very fast. Double guns aren’t as versatile as semi-autos and pumps, but they’re a great option, and affordable waterfowl models include CZ’s sleek Swamp Magnum.
  • Price: For many hunters, the list of potential duck guns is limited based on budget. Pump shotguns are, in most cases, less expensive than semi-autos or double guns because they’re simpler to build. You can purchase a new camo-clad pump repeater like Winchester’s SXP, Remington’s 870 or a Mossberg 500 for around $500, and those three guns have accounted for a boatload of birds.
  • Finish: I like a camo dip on my waterfowl guns for two reasons: it helps reduce glare and it adds an extra level of protection against the elements. Can you hunt with a blued gun? Certainly, but you’ll need to protect the metal with a layer of gun oil and keep highly reflective finishes out of sight of incoming birds.
  • Chokes: Don’t overchoke. Many shooters immediately lean toward tighter constrictions (namely modified chokes) with steel shot, but patterning is extremely important. Test your guns with your favorite ammo on a patterning board and see how the gun performs for yourself. I’ve switched to IC chokes, and that has worked well on a wide range of waterfowl hunts.
  • Gauge: Many 12-gauge waterfowl guns offer the versatility of 2 3/4-, 3- and 3 1/2-inch loads, and 12-gauge non-toxic ammo is widely available. Undoubtedly, 20-gauges offer less recoil, but they aren’t capable of handling 3 1/2-inch loads if you hunt large ducks and geese. For big birds, 10-gauge guns are fine, but they’re not as versatile as the ubiquitous 12 bore.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

In this ICAST Fishing Gear Guide video, Mark Mills with Daiwa and Florida Sportsman's Jeff Weakley talk off-shore fishing gear.

Thomas and Thomas Contact II Fly Rod

Thomas and Thomas Contact II Fly Rod

Joe Goodspeed, rod designer at Thomas & Thomas, tells Fly Fisherman editor Ross Purnell about the six new models of Contact II fly rods, including a 10-foot 2-weight and a 10-foot 3-weight. Constructed from five types of premium carbon and fiberglass fibers bonded by a proprietary aerospace resin, these rods are stronger and yet capable of making, short, delicate casts.

Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

With so many people turning to fishing as a way to escape the stress and challenges that have arisen in recent months, we've teamed up with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the National Marine Manufacturers Association to explore some of the freshwater fish species you can target if you're just getting on board with fishing. #TheWaterIsOpen #GetOnBoard

Make Your Own Tackle Box with Plano Edge Flex

Make Your Own Tackle Box with Plano Edge Flex

Plano's Charlie Davis and In-Fisherman's Rob Neumann talk about the new Plano Edge Flex as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them.10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement. Make the most of it.Quick-Strike Tips for Early Archery Deer Success Whitetail

Quick-Strike Tips for Early Archery Deer Success

Tony Peterson - August 18, 2020

Starting opening day, there's a small window to tag out before pressure impacts buck movement....

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?5 Great Lures For Bluegills Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

See More Trending Articles

More Guns

Here are 10 standout guns from the annual show.Best Shotguns from SHOT Show 2020 Guns

Best Shotguns from SHOT Show 2020

Game & Fish Digital Staff - February 03, 2020

Here are 10 standout guns from the annual show.

SHOT Show 2020: Whether it's hunting Rocky Mt. elk or Southern whitetails, here are 10 great new guns.Best Centerfire Hunting Rifles for 2020 Guns

Best Centerfire Hunting Rifles for 2020

Drew Warden - February 06, 2020

SHOT Show 2020: Whether it's hunting Rocky Mt. elk or Southern whitetails, here are 10 great...

Bret Vorhees was previously VP of Sales and Marketing at Walther Arms.Taurus USA Names New CEO SHOT Show

Taurus USA Names New CEO

Game & Fish Digital Staff - January 20, 2020

Bret Vorhees was previously VP of Sales and Marketing at Walther Arms.

The Escort 22LR offers ease of use, affordability.Shotgun Maker Escort Releases New Bolt-Action Rifle Guns

Shotgun Maker Escort Releases New Bolt-Action Rifle

Game & Fish Staff - August 11, 2020

The Escort 22LR offers ease of use, affordability.

See More Guns

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now