Guns were judged in seven categories, with a maximum possible score of 100 points. Ease of Maintenance (worth 10 points): We looked at how each gun came apart for cleaning, how complex it was to care for, and how easy it was to reassemble. Ergonomics (10): Here, we tested triggers, opening levers, bolt releases, and more. We loaded and unloaded to see how easy it was to thumb shells into the magazine. Trigger pulls were measured with a Lyman scale. Fit and Finish (10): We examined wood-to-metal (or plastic-to-metal) fit, the quality of checkering, metal finishes, engraving, and wood figure where applicable, as well as overall lines.
Functionality (20): As we shot, we asked: Did it cycle? Did ejectors eject? Were safeties stiff? Did everything work as it should? Handling and Recoil (20): We used heavy and light hunting and target loads to gauge how hard each gun kicked. For handling, we shot from a low gun start at sporting clays and five-stand targets.
Meets Purpose (10): Shotguns are made to fit niches, so we looked at each gun’s performance and its features to determine how well it fit its particular job description. Value (10): The standard formula of score divided by price would have penalized high-grade guns, since engraving and good walnut cost so much. Instead, we compared each gun against others in its price range to make a determination. —P.B.