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 Post subject: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2005 6:28 pm
Posts: 8
Looking to purchase a new 3.5" autoloader strictly for waterfowl (its gonna get wet and its gonna eat mag loads). I looked at the models I am interested today and all fit well, so that won't be the deciding factor. The following are the ones I am considering in no particular order:

Winchester SX3
Browning Maxus
Bennelli SBE II
Berretta Ultima2

Really looking for opinions on overall durability and reliability. Would also appreciate any technical evaluations/descriptions of the different mechanisms.

Thanks in advance, jwr.




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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:44 pm 
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All are fine choices but I'd go with the SBE II. Simple to maintain, bone reliable.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:00 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:08 pm
Posts: 21
all are great guns. imo, they have similar lemon rates, which are all low, so your chances of getting one that's problem free are about equal. i have the sx3 and like it but would like the maxus or sbe as well. the beretta is a nice gun but is a little thick in all the wrong places for me. pick them up and see what fits best. remember that length of pull, drop at comb and heel are usually adjustable on the higher end guns.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:21 pm 
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First, a couple of things. You have to ask yourself if you really need that much firepower? If the answer is yes, then consider a 10ga. They are much better ad digesting and distribiting heavy loads. The second thing you need to answer is whether you can hit with regularity at the range of the gun? Most people, by far, cannot attain the capabilities of a standard 12ga 3 inch load, and a good portion of those are incapable of reaching regularity at the max range of 2 3/4 inch loads.

Of course, if you have the 3 1/2 inch gun, you can shoot anything in it. But you'll have the added up front expense, as well as that extra weight, that even in a duck blind can get to be a problem at the end of a long day.

That said, if I had to pick one of the guns you list, I'd go with the Browning. One is really about as good as the next, but I just perfer Brownings.

Frank

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:39 pm 
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Location: Thiensville Wisconsin
Benelli, hands down one of the best waterfowl guns out there, the beretta would be a great choice as well, having the ability to shoot multiple loads in multiple sizes is great espically during goose and duck season, here in WI the seasons run hand in hand, so it's nice being able to shoot goose loads, then switch to duck loads.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:18 pm 
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For a waterfowling gun the 3 1/2" 12 gauge is far more versatile in the waterfowl blind than any other. I don't understand the recommdation for a 10 gauge and then the next sentence price and gun weight is pointed out against the long 3 1/2". The models you mention weigh from under seven pounds to somewhere around seven and a half pounds. This is as light as many 3" 12 gauge auto loaders. If you do use a 10 gauge I recommend hand loading as ammo is harder to find, more expensive, less choices, and under loaded pressure wise. The long 12 is the most modern chamber length/gauge and therefore with stands higher pressures because the worry of older guns is not there.

I think the Berretta Ultima2 you mention is the Beretta Xtrema 2.

All of them are reliable and well made designs. Here's a link for the different auto loading operations.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=103338&hilit=gas+vs+inertia&start=20

The SBE II is Inertia operated and the others are Gas operated. They can all go longer periods between cleanings with the SBE II having the edge. They are all easy to clean with the SBE II being easier on partial cleanings and the Xtrema 2 on full break downs. The Maxus and SX3 are the lightest followed by the SBE II and then the Xtrema 2. They all balance with more weight towards the stock with the SBE II having the most. The SBE II and SX3 have mid height ribs to the low for the Xtrema 2 and Maxus. They all have their safty buttons at the back of the trigger gaurd except for the Xtrema 2 wich is at the front. The SBE II has the largest trigger gaurd which is nice for gloved hands. The SBE II and Xtrema 2 have automatic magazine cutoff's, the Maxus has a cutoff switch, and the SX3 can cutoff the rounds by pushing up slightly on the carrier while pulling back on the bolt. To go along with their automatic cutoff's, the SBE II has a cartridge release lever and the Xtrema 2 has a button. The Xtrema 2 has the additional bolt lock lever on the left side of the receiver. The SBE II holds four rounds total to the five for the others. Only the Maxus can't take a magazine extension to hold more. The Maxus is the only one that does not have magazine cap to hold the forearm on as it is attached much like an O/U. The Maxus and SX3 have larger bores and the Xtrema 2 is slightly overbored. Larger bores tend to pattern hard non toxic shot, larger load weights, and larger pellet sizes better. The Max, SX3, and Xtrema 2 are better with light loads than the SBE II. They all come in W/B, B/S, and camo finishes except the Xtrema 2 is not offered in W/B. The Max and SX3 have the Dura-Touch option which keeps a grip on the gun even with wet gloves on. The Xtrema 2 has rubber panels which helps some with the grip of the gun. The Xtrema 2 comes with the Kick Off option and the SBE II with the ComforTech option. The ComforTech has a soft comb that can be replaced with different heights. They all have stock adjustments like cast, drop, and LOP. The Maxus and SX3 have top locking lugs and the Xtrema 2 and SBE II have rotary bolt faces. This makes them a little longer tan the Maxus and SX3 with the same barrel lengths.

You can't go wrong with any of these four models for a waterfowling gun. Try to hold them all next to one another with different barrel lengths and pick the one you like the best.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:46 pm 
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I bought a Super Black Eagle years ago when they first came out and later bought the Winchester Super X2. I prefer shooting the X2 over the SBE simple due to the gas operation. It has never failed to cycle anything. My guns get cleaned after each hunt therefore I don't know which one can run the longest without being cleaned, generally of course it would most likely be the Benelli. Had I bought the X2 first, I probably never would have purchased the SBE. I have never been able to wear either one out so therefore I cannot comment on the SBE II or the Super X3. If either one is as good or better than their forerunners you won't have a problem. Never was a fan of the Beretta's, they are great guns but just don't fit me well. I cannot see how you could go wrong with any of your choices. The 3.5 inch 12 gauge just flat works for heavy waterfowling. 10 gauge is just not an option for me anymore unless its conservation season where its high flying Snows all day and the only reason why I use one then is because I have one. I could do without it with either one of the 3.5 twelves.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:57 am 
Field Grade

Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:21 pm
Posts: 98
Location: SC
I have both a SBE 2 and a Maxus. I love them both with the slight edge going to the Maxus. Both are lightweight, durable, and reliable. The SX3 would be next on my list followed by the Extrema 2. The E2 is a nice gun, I'm just not a fan. You can't go wrong with any of the above for a reliable waterfowl gun. Don't get caught up in the some of the brand bashing that happens on the forums. Everyone has an opinion but the majority will tell you that all of the above are fine shotguns.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:03 pm
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I can't add much to what has already been said, especially by Worc. To me, it comes down to economics and the ability to withstand abuse. I think the SBE II Benelli has the edge for someone like a waterfowl guide who needs a gun that will continue to function for a guy who has too little time to sleep during the season, making it hard to allocate time to gun cleaning. For anyone else, well, the Winchester is a good gun for considerably less money.

On cycling light loads, 7/8 oz does not work in my SBE, 1 oz will give me about a feed failure per box, and 1 1/8 (which is specified by Benelli) is never a problem.

Further to Frank's comments, you don't need a 3.5" gun for ducks unless maybe you are hunting sea ducks or over long coastal mudflats and have to contend with tides, but if you hunt geese much, or they are present where you duck hunt, it's a worthwhile option IMO. Yes, a 10 ga. is better for geese if you don't have to carry it far, and you can find shells, etc., but then you're talking another gun. I actually prefer my SBE for decoying geese, as it is faster and easier to get into play then my 10.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:12 am 
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I like my Beretta 391 Xtrema 2. I have used only 30 3.5" shells in three years. It is soft shooting and reliable.

For the waterfowl hunting I have in Kansas I only rarely see a need for 3.5" shells. The geese we are shooting now can be taken with 3" shells and 1 1/4oz # 1 or 3 steel shot for the first shot at 25 yards. If I was pass shooting geese and needed to make 50 yard shots I would want a 3.5" chamber. I guess I agree with Frank.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:56 am 
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Joined: Sun May 14, 2006 8:44 pm
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3.5's out of an SBE2, OUCH !! All the guns you have listed are great guns. I personally bought a Maxus this year and love it. Light, easy to clean, the recoil is FAR less than an inertia gun, and muzzle jump is very low. The muzzle jump is something I never thought about in 30 years of hunting, but after shooting this gun all year it is a huge factor in wings shooting. Follow-up shots are much much easier. The Maxus also cycles 7/8 oz loads, the rest do not.

Good Luck !!


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:12 pm
Posts: 27
In my opinion, the Xtrema2 is the true waterfowlers gun. The aquatech is extremely effective against corrosion and wear. I also like to practice with my hunting weapons, and my gun has never had a problem cycling light loads. All are good though, its what feels best.

I think the xtrema2 is easier to clean as well with the recoil spring not located in the stock. Also, if you stay on track with cleaning the piston, its not as hard as people think.

Just my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:18 pm
Posts: 1833
I would also add to the list a Browning Gold. You can find an older NIB one for quite a bit cheaper than the Maxxus. If I was going to get a 3.5in autoloader that would be it. My girlfriends dad has one, and it's a great gun. It's a bit hefty compared to my 390, which is a plus for a waterfoul gun IMO.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:05 pm 
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Frank Lopez wrote:
First, a couple of things. You have to ask yourself if you really need that much firepower? If the answer is yes, then consider a 10ga............

I don't know if it's a state or federal rule but I do know that you aren't allowed to use a 10ga on refuge land here in Ca.






Any of the mentioned autos will do the job. Don't forget to throw the Browning Silver into the list. I'm a Browning man so naturally I lean twards the Maxus, Silver, and the Winchester SX3. I really like the aluminum mag tube on the winchester. The stainless ones on my brownings will rust if not taken care of. I'm really curious about how that new remington versamax is going to pan out. It's a pretty neat and simple design. If you have the time and patience it might be worth waiting to see if it turns out to be another viable option.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2007 7:16 pm
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I don't now and never will get the 3 1/2" mindset. There isn't a bird out there that can't be killed with 2 3/4" HeviShot, much less the 3" version. Why not save a bunch of money and simply buy a 3" Beretta. I feel over-gunned each time I pull the trigger on mine. If the Urika II in plastic is still available I would get that. Otherwise, a 3901 would be fine.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:53 pm 
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I know it's not on the list, but the Baikal MP-153 is a 3.5" gun that will do what the others will. It's alot like the Extrema but without the bling.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:15 pm 
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SS wrote:
I don't now and never will get the 3 1/2" mindset. There isn't a bird out there that can't be killed with 2 3/4" HeviShot, much less the 3" version. Why not save a bunch of money and simply buy a 3" Beretta.......


That's funny, I never could get the mindset to pay two to three dollars for every single round of hevi-shot ammo I would fire during a season of waterfowling. :lol: I use the stuff once a year when I drag an oldie into the blind and the stuff works great but for me it's just to expensive to use every week. You're really not going to save any money by purchasing a less expensive gun and then feeding it far more expensive ammo.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:30 pm 
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IMO, 2 3/4" Hevi(or equiv HD) equals 3.5" steel with less recoil, which means better followup shots. It all works out to 35-40yds. We hunt a 60yd wide river, and those that shoot steel like the heavier 3.5" loads for dead ducks to 50yds+-. I keep an eye on the rebates and have stocked up on the Hevi/HD in the past at $1.20/round. I mix in some steel, like the new HeviMetal 3s. even Kent #5's in early season, and it works fine in the ponds when the birds are decoying. A windy day down the river, the steel stays on the shelf.
As far a guns go, the forward safety on the Beretta line throws off some people. Personally, I like a low rib, so while I like Benellis, I've settled in on a Maxus and Extrema2 as my go to waterfowl guns. THe SX3 is too straight for me and has the high rib, which doesn't work for me. The new A400 will be out soon in Camo...it one ups the Extrema2, IMO. Less bulky, lighter weight, handles better for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:11 pm 
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clampdaddy wrote:
You're really not going to save any money by purchasing a less expensive gun and then feeding it far more expensive ammo.


Never has been and I doubt it will ever be. The more dense loads do the same thing as the 3 1/2" steel load as they both add more pellets and more pellet energy. The 3 1/2" does do it with a little more recoil but, they are not that bad. My buddies wife uses 3 1/2" steel loads for geese out of her Cynergy. The more dense loads do it at a greater cost and that cost difference gets larger each year as you buy more shells and the gun is a one time fixed cost.

You can shoot the shorter more dense loads out of a 3 1/2" model but, you can't shoot the less expensive 3 1/2" loads out of a 3" model.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions 3.5" Waterfowl Autoloader
PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 2:54 am
Posts: 193
All of the guns you have listed will suite you well but for me haveing owned most of them it would be an Xtrema2, If you are a hard hunting Waterfowler your gun will get wet, muddy and full of seeds and weeds. The only gun I would choose from them is the Xtrema 2 since the action spring is located in the forend on the Mag. tube this allows you to clean the gun quickly and completely evertime with no added effort.
I own an SBE II now but had an Xtrema and wish I had it back! I have done alot of upgrades to my SBE II and it works great but pulling out the recoil spring everytime I have been in a hard rain or hit a deep hole while walking or just cleaning in general stinks!
Plus the Xtrema 2 fits me like it was custom made just for me.

Just my 2 cents, Kurt




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