Recently, I decided to get more serious about clay-target shooting (particularly sporting clays) so set out to buy a new shotgun dedicated to that particular clay target sport. I had two main criteria: a semi-automatic action—I’m getting older and wanted to reduce felt recoil as much as possible—and a price tag of less than $2000. I determined to take my time and not rush the selection process; in other words, enjoy the journey. After a lengthy yet fun search, I ended up buying a brand that I had not initially considered: Winchester. The particular model was the Super X3 Sporting 12-gauge shotgun.
What initially attracted me to the gun was the way it naturally aligned with my dominant eye and easily pointed where I was looking. The gun just felt right. But it was the shotgun’s good looks that ultimately sealed the deal; I’m a sucker for a stock with a quality oil finish.
I wanted to have the shotgun professionally fitted, so immediately made an appointment with Rod Stumbo of Rod’s Custom Stocks in Shelby, Ohio. He and his wife, Theresa, travel the country eight months each year attending competitive shotgun shooting events. They pull a large RV to each shoot, the rear of which contains a mobile machine shop. Using that equipment, Stumbo fits shooters and can alter their shotgun stocks on the spot.
“On a scale of one to ten, with ten being highest, fit is a ten when it comes to successful shotgun shooting,” said Stumbo. “Because when shooting flying targets—either clays or game birds—you only have a few seconds when the target is within range to pull the trigger. There is no time to adjust your body to the gun, as there is in rifle shooting when firing at stationary targets A shotgun must fit a shooter, or you’ll miss more than you should.” After spending 45 minutes with Stumbo he informed me that I am Mr. Average, and as a shooter that’s a good thing. I stand five feet nine inches tall and weigh about 155 pounds. Stumbo said most U. S. gun manufacturers design their shotguns to fit shooters with those approximate dimensions. “The gun actually fits you pretty well as it is” Stumbo finally said. “I would not suggest doing anything to alter it. However, I would suggest having the slop taken out of the trigger.”
Stumbo does not do mechanical work on firearms, so recommended a gunsmith. The simple trigger adjustment cost only about $50, and I was then good to go. (If you’d like to read more about shotgun fit, click here to read Chip Gross’s story, Having Your Shotgun Professionally Fitted: What to Expect.)
The Winchester Super X3 Sporting shotgun has extremely fast cycling speed, capable of firing 12 shots in just 1.442 seconds. The grade II/III satin oil-finished walnut stock boasts cut checkering and a fully-adjustable comb. Bolt, carrier, slide and cocking handle are all nickel-plated. The barrel is .742-inch back-bored, and both the bore and firing chamber are chrome-plated. Since it is a target gun, it is chambered for 2¾-inch shells only. The magazine holds up to four rounds.
The front sight of the gun is Truglo Tru-Bead fiber-optic, with interchangeable light pipes of various colors. The ported, ribbed barrel’s mid-bead is white. Five Invector-Plus screw-in choke tubes (extended signature) come standard: skeet, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and light full. Also included is a T-shaped choke-tube wrench. The recoil pad is a black Pachmayr Decelerator, and the shotgun has an ambidextrous cross-bolt safety. A drop-out trigger assembly allows for easy cleaning.
Three barrel lengths are available: 28, 30, and 32 inches. This gun tips the scales at just over seven pounds, and comes with a fitted, hard-plastic case (red ABS) embossed with the Winchester logo. The Winchester Super X3 Sporting shotgun has a MSRP of $1,699, which makes it a moderately-priced clays shotgun. Field models of the gun are also available, and are priced less. Unlike the sporting model, they come standard with stock spacers, allowing for easy length-of-pull, cast and drop adjustments.
Once on the sporting clays range, my new Winchester Super X3 did not disappoint. I’m now breaking more targets than ever, and doing so more consistently. Having never owned a semi-auto before (I was a dedicated over/under guy for years), I’m still getting used to the gun, but am more than pleased with its reliable performance. Shotgun shooting boils down to fit and feel, and this scattergun has both. The shotgun shoots where I point it, and the fact that it looks classy while doing so is icing on the cake.
Overall length: 51¼ inches with the 30-inch barrel attached
Length of pull: 14½ inches
Drop at comb: 1½ inches
Drop at heel: 1¾ inches
Weight: 7 pounds, 8 ounces with the 30-inch barrel attached