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Technically, you can use any old shotgun to hunt doves. After all, dove hunting is about more than killing doves. It’s also about fresh air, camaraderie, and tradition. But doves are pretty tasty birds, and I’d just assume fill my bag limit when given the opportunity, and if you want to be successful, you need the right type of shotgun.
The best shotgun for dove hunting is lightweight, well-balanced, and easy to maneuver. Doves are relatively tiny birds that fly fast (up to 55 miles per hour) and erratically. Because mourning doves possess some incredible in-flight agility, they can be pretty hard to hit without the right weapon in your hands.
If you’re in the market for a dedicated dove hunting shotgun, you’ve come to the right place. Here are what we consider the best options currently on the market.
Our Best Choice
This inertia-operated autoloader is slim, trim, and easy to maneuver. Lightweight and designed to enhance intuitive shooting, you’ll have no trouble pulling a bead on fast-moving doves with this Italian-made shotgun. It also includes replacement TSA recoil pads which not only help absorb felt recoil, but also allow you to customize length of pull for more comfortable shooting all around.
Top Shotgun for Dove Hunting on the Market Today
5 Best Shotguns for Dove Hunting
1. Franchi Affinity - Best Shotgun for Dove Hunting
Franchi shotguns bring the best of Italian style to rugged American upland fields. The Franchi Affinity is a solid option for dove hunters. Slim, trim, and durable, this model is easy to maneuver, allowing you to quickly pull a bead on a fast-moving bird.
This inertia-operated autoloader has an oversized bolt handle and bolt release button that are both easy to manage, even with gloved hands.
Both new and seasoned dove hunters will appreciate how the Franchi Affinity is designed to enhance intuitive shooting, which is highly important for effective wing shooting. It features a trimmed-down fore-end that allows the bore axis to easily line up with the shooter’s eye when the gun is shouldered.
The Franchi Affinity also comes with replacement TSA recoil pads that absorb recoil, but also allow you to adjust the Length of Pull (LOP) for more comfortable shooting.
If we were going to change anything about the Franchi Affinity, it would be the trigger pull. It is definitely a bit on the stiff side. However, it doesn’t detract much from the gun’s overall dove hunting performance.
2. Winchester SX3 - Best 20 Gauge Shotgun for Dove Hunting
No list of “Best Shotguns” would be complete without at least one model from industry leader, Winchester. The company has been shaping the shooting world since 1866. We’ve chosen Winchester’s lightweight SX3 because its semi-auto Active Valve gas system is proven, reliable, and perfect for fast and effective follow-up shots.
This model features an oversized bolt handle, bolt release button, and safety that are all easy to manipulate even when your hands are covered in camo gloves. The SX3 also has a snag-free Inflex recoil pad, so you can enjoy an entire day of dove hunting without heading home with a sore shoulder.
The 20 gauge version on the Winchester SX3 (which is perfect for doves and other upland game birds) comes in black synthetic, traditional wood, or camouflage.
It also comes with several screw-in choke tubes, so you can switch out your modified choke for a full choke during turkey season.
Some smaller hunters may find the Winchester SX3 to be a little front heavy, which can throw off balance and negatively affect accuracy. However, most hunters shouldn’t have too much of a problem.
3. Remington Versa Max VT - Best Auto-Loading Shotgun for Dove Hunting
Generations of dove hunters have relied on a Remington shotgun for fast-paced precision shooting. A relative newcomer to Remington’s shotgun line-up, the Versa Max VT was designed for serious wing shooting. Engineered for dependability and tested and proven with thousands of rounds, this smooth-functioning, gas-operated auto-loader is more reliable than your best bird dog.
Not only does the Remington Versa Max VT offer the ultimate in consistent cycling, it is also designed for softer recoil, which makes it perfect for high-volume dove hunting. Additionally, Remington has also designed this frontline model to require less maintenance, so you can spend more time having fun in the field and less time cleaning your firearm.
The Versa Max VT also comes with 5 Flush Mount Pro Bore Chokes (Improved Cylinder, Light Mod, Mod, Improved Mod, and Full), so you can use this shotgun for everything from doves to deer.
The rather hefty weight (7.75 pounds) of the Remington Versa Max VT may be off-putting for some smaller shooters. However, the weight helps reduce felt recoil. As a dove hunting gun, you probably won’t be hiking many extra miles to your stand, so the weight is mostly a non-issue.
4. Weatherby PA-08 Synthetic Stock - Best Inexpensive Shotgun for Dove Hunting
Highly affordable, the hard-working Weatherby PA-08 makes a great entry level shotgun for dove hunting. It is easy to use, comfortable to carry, and built for tough use in the field. This scattergun doesn’t have many bells or whistles, but that’s a good thing. With a simple vent-rib and brass bead sight, lining up your eye and getting this thing on target couldn’t be easier.
The Weatherby PA-08 is just as reliable as any other firearm that bears the Weatherby name. The long, 28-inch barrel is built for accuracy. Although fairly well-balanced, this extra-long barrel does add some extra weight. As a result, the Weatherby PA-08 weighs in at 7 pounds 4 ounces.
5. Mossberg 505 Youth All-Purpose Field - Best Youth Shotgun for Dove Hunting
If you want to take your kids out dove hunting, the Mossberg 505 Youth All-Purpose Field is the perfect gun to put in their hands. Although this firearm isn’t really built for dove hunting, it is built for the young beginner.
Chambered in .410, it offers the lowest recoil of any shotgun on our list. To further reduce shoulder fatigue, Mossberg includes a generous rubber butt pad.
Easy for shorter shooters to handle confidently, the Mossberg 505 Youth features a 12-inch length of pull and a shortened 20-inch barrel and magazine tube to reduce general weight and improve balance. It is also durable enough to handle rough use in the field and offers smooth cycling young shooters will appreciate.
Although the .410 bore helps keep recoil to a minimum, it has a significantly smaller shot spread than the average 12 gauge. This makes it much harder to hit fast moving doves, which could be frustrating for impatient dove hunters. However, we still think this shotgun makes a great introduction to dove hunting for the youngest shooters.
Summing It Up
The Franchi Affinity earns the top spot on our list because it is just so intuitive to shoot. The trimmed-down fore-end allows the bore axis to line up naturally with the shooter’s eye the instant the weapon is shouldered. This one feature almost guarantees you’ll bag more doves this season.
If you want something with a little less recoil, we love the Winchester SX3 20-gauge shotgun. This semi-auto is reliable and rugged and offers more than enough power to bring down doves without killing your shoulder.
The Mossberg 505 Youth All-Purpose Field is our top choice for the youngest dove hunters. However, be aware that the smaller shot spread makes it harder to hit fast-moving birds.
Whichever weapon you choose, make sure you spend some time practicing before opening day. Your best chance of dove hunting success lies not in the weapon itself, but in your confidence and proficiency with whatever shotgun you have in your hands.