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Which new semi automatic shotgun to choose in 2024?

For the past few months I have been lucky enough to be able to use different semi auto shotguns for my hunting and pest control. Last month, I returned the most recent gun and tried not to cry as I handed it back, whispering to it that I would see it again soon...


While I take a break for a few weeks to focus on selling up and moving house (and waiting for the crops to come through so I can get back on the pigeons); I thought I'd take a moment to go through the pros and cons of each semi auto that I've been using over the past few months - I already know which one is going to be my new gun, but it might be helpful for others who are thinking about getting a new semi auto shotgun this year...




HATSAN MAGNUM

This is the semi automatic that I have been using for the past decade or more. I've used it for wildfowling, pigeon decoying and roost shooting. It's a basic gun with primitive actions (the cartidge loader is clunky for example), but it does what it says on the tin.


I use a strap to carry the Hatsan around for ease of use. Walking for a mile before you get to the best spot for wildfowling, and the potential of having to carry heavy birds back, means it's best to carry as little as possible; so removing the additional weight of a gun slip is ideal. It does make it a bit of a pain to shoot with the strap so it's a good idea to remove it before you start shooting - I admit I am too lazy to do this!


The gun itself is fairly lightweight, easy to clean and the gas recoil system is great; plus it has never failed me - until last Summer. Out decoying pigeons, it randomly started to struggle to recycle the cartridges. No matter what I put through (usually Eley pigeon select 6's, but I tried Fiocchi, Gamebore and Hull, to no effect); they just kept jamming!



As a very impatient person, and after a few choice words, I quickly decided the gun had to go! I'm aware that it is a lower end, more affordable gun, that was the reason it was great - no worrying about it getting caked in mud on the marsh, or getting scratched by branches in the woods. However, I couldn't continue to use equipment that I couldn't rely on when I was out promising a farmer to deal with the problem of pigeons on his peas! So, it was time to think about a replacement - and time to reach out to GMK and take them up on their kind offer of support - to trial a few guns.




BERETTA UPLAND A400

The Beretta Upland was my first gun loan. It had been many years since I last held a Beretta, but instantly this shotgun felt familiar in my hands. It had a wonderful barrel weight; heavy enough to feel a nice smooth swing but not enough that my puny little arms couldn't cope.


It was honestly one of the most enjoyable semi autos I've had the pleasure to shoot. My partner also used this on the clays, and as someone who shoots with his hand quite far forward on the foreend, it also suited him perfectly. It handled lead and steel equally well, the action was as smooth as butter, loading cartridges didn't require me to lose more and more of my thumb nail each time and the kick was almost non existent!




I took it out Wildfowling and roost shooting a couple of times, with not much luck as there wasn't much about. But what I did shoot, I certainly felt the difference between the Hatsan and what felt like a much more superior gun. At three times the cost of a new Hatsan, it's understandable. Despite my tight budget, I knew that I'd be happy to pay that amount for this gun. After all, it's an investment - and if it lasted a decade like the Hatsan, it was worth it.

However, I just couldn't get over the fact that the safety button was in front of the trigger on the guard (a silly little thing maybe, but distracting enough that I was getting irritated). Then, there was also the look of the gun. It was stunning, but for some reason my mind couldn't get over the fact that it wasn't completely synthetic and black, or camo. Probably because that was what I was used to with the Hatsans I had owned. On top of that, as comfortable as the gun felt in my shoulder, the chunky foreend that felt familiar, did not feel 100% right in my older, more arthritic hands. So, it was onto the next gun.




BENELLI M2 CERAKOTE

I fully intended to spend a year trialling different semi autos. But after using the Benelli, only my second gun loan, I was sold.


I felt like this shotgun was made for me. It was light enough to carry around for hours, but with enough weight in the barrels to feel like it wouldn't jump around with each shot. It had the same smooth as silk action as the Upland, and the safety was back where it belonged; behind the trigger.


Plus, the grip was devine - slim and sculpted, it made holding it with arthritic fingers a breeze. And taking it apart to clean was as easy as 1,2.... there was no 3! For once, I didn't feel like a gun had been put in my hands that was made for a 'man' - this was made for a regular shooter.



So, the Benelli takes 1st place! I look forward to settling into my new home in a couple of months, at which time not only will I be heading straight out to get a Benelli M2, I'll also be enjoying my new gundog puppy!


If you want a more 'technical' style review please check out this brilliant A400 Upland review - or for more indepth info on the latest M2 model you can read more on the Benelli website.



Happy Shooting!

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I hope you're enjoying reading my blog! I'm not an expert, I only wish to share my personal experiences, of someone who did not grow up in the countryside nor enter the hunting world in the traditional way.

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