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Range Report: Winchester's SXP Hybrid Hunter

The Hybrid Hunter version of Winchester's workhorse pump-action shotgun represents one of the best values on the firearm market

Range Report: Winchester's SXP Hybrid Hunter

Winchester's SXP Hybrid Hunter has a place among the top pump-action shotguns of our time. (Photo by Brad Fitzpatrick)

I grew up in a Winchester home. My first repeating shotgun was naturally a Model 1300, just as my father’s first shotgun was a 1200 and my grandfather preferred his Model 12. But in 2006 when word came down that Winchester wasn’t going to produce the Model 1300 any longer, I suspected I’d be the last member of my family to grow up shooting pump guns from the brand. Fortunately, that changed in 2009 when Winchester—by then under the ownership of FN Herstal—released the next iteration of its iconic pump gun—the Super X Pump (SXP).

The SXP remains in production and has earned a place among the best-selling pump shotguns. In fact, it consistently ranks among the top five slide-action scatterguns in terms of sales at sites like Gun Genius, and that attention is well-deserved and long overdue.

The SXP offers many features that are arguably better than those found on pump guns from other top brands. For starters, the SXP uses an inertia bolt. The rotating bolt head is released when the SXP is fired, and the bolt and forearm begin to slide slightly rearward to initiate cycling. This helps speed cycling and allows you to get back on target quickly. The SXP is the fastest of the pumps, and in the right hands it rivals semi-auto shotgun speeds. I’ve hunted waterfowl for years with various 1300s and SXPs, and while I might not be able to fire as quickly as I can with a semi-auto, my shots-per-duck ratio is always lower with a pump.

Winchester currently lists more than 60 different SXP variants, but the Hybrid Hunter versions might be the most versatile. These guns have synthetic camo stocks (two Mossy Oak, two Realtree and three TrueTimber patterns, as well as a woodland version) and a Flat Dark Earth Perma-Cote finish on the metalwork. They also come with chrome-lined chambers and barrels, as well as three Invector Plus choke tubes. Available in 12 gauge with a 3 1/2-inch or 3-inch chamber, and 20 gauge with a 3-inch chamber, the versatile Hybrid Hunter guns offer a reliable design for less than $450.

Weight ranges from 6 1/2 to 7 pounds depending on gauge and barrel length, which is reasonable for all-day carry. Relatively light 12-gauge waterfowl guns can be abusive, but the SXP is equipped with an Inflex recoil pad that helps cushion the blow and directs the force of recoil away from the shooter’s cheek. The 12-gauge Hybrid Hunter I tested exhibited soft recoil with target loads and could comfortably serve as a sporting clays gun. Waterfowl loads kicked more, of course, but they were manageable.

I believe that the SXP’s control layout is the best of any pump shotgun. The safety is located in front of the trigger guard so a finger that is riding on the receiver can easily deactivate the safety en route to the trigger, while the bolt release button is tucked on the rear left side of the trigger guard. The design is intuitive, and I never find myself searching for the controls while I shoot.

The receiver of these guns is sleek and nicely rounded, and the pistol grip is properly angled so that your finger rests naturally on the trigger. An oversized forearm makes it easy to cycle the gun (it’s much more efficient than the “corn cob” forearms of its predecessors) and the balance is excellent. The Hybrid Hunter that I tested pointed naturally, and the radius heel didn’t hang up on baggy clothes—an important consideration when wearing waterfowl gear. I could mount the Hybrid Hunter consistently.

Like all the SXP guns that I’ve pattern-tested, the Hybrid Hunter shot true 50/50 patterns, which is what most hunters want. This gun will work equally well on ducks and upland birds. It’s also great for small game and even coyotes and foxes drawn in close to the call. In short, this pump gun will cover just about any need you have in the field.

The SXP is made by Instanbul Silah in Turkey, one of the most modern factories in the country, on precise CNC machines. It’s built to Winchester’s design specs and standards. Understand that Winchester does not import existing guns from Turkey and simply rebadge them as the SXP. Winchester had a hand in every aspect of the SXP’s engineering; it might be made in Turkey, but the SXP is all Winchester.

I’ve owned or tested about a dozen SXP shotguns, and all have been completely reliable in tough situations where they were exposed to dirt, debris and precipitation. In fact, I’ve never experienced a single failure from any SXP I’ve tested. You can buy a more expensive field gun, but you don’t have to. The SXP remains one of the few true values in the gun world, and the Hybrid Hunter will work hard regardless of the game or the conditions.

Winchester SXP Hybrid Hunter Specs
hunting shotgun
Winchester's SXP Hybrid Hunter shotgun
  • winchesterguns.com
  • Type: slide-action shotgun
  • Gauge: 12
  • Chamber: 3 1/2"
  • Capacity: 4+1 rounds
  • Barrel Length: 28"
  • Overall Length: 49"
  • Weight: 7 lbs.
  • Stock: composite; Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Habitat
  • Length of Pull: 13 3/4"
  • Drop at Heel: 2"
  • Drop at Comb: 1 5/8"
  • Metal Finish: Flat Dark Earth Perma-Cote
  • Sight: TruGlo fiber-optic front bead
  • Choke Tubes: 3 Invector Plus (IC, M, F)
  • MSRP: $449.99



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