I’m reasonably certain that my quest for a shotgun to devote entirely to waterfowl hunting has come to an end.

    A successful one.

    I own better than a half-dozen shotguns, but none of them exactly fits the bill when woodies or greenheads are pitching into a hidden little pond in search of acorns.

     The Tri-Star Viper Max, however, may have taken care of that problem. A Turkish-made gun (Armsen) imported by Kansas City, Mo.-based Tri-Star Arms, it’s a semi-automatic shotgun chambered for 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge shells; it came with a box full of Beretta Optima Plus choke tubes — full, modified, improved and skeet — weighs 7.4 pounds and retails for $730.

      So if you don’t have 10 Benjamins burning a hole in your wallet, and you don’t worry about people looking down their noses at you because you’re not carrying one of the Killer Bs — Browning, Beretta, Benelli — this gun just might work out for you.

      The gun I tested had a 28-inch barrel that looked way too long until the first time I shouldered it — okay, so I’m an old quail hunter at heart — but I love the way I broke clay targets with it, and I especially loved the way it looked with the head of a 22-pound gobbler snuggled up beyond the green, fiber-optic sight last April 27. At 48 yards, with a 3 1/2-inch load of copper-plated No. 4s fired through the full-choke tube, he didn’t even wiggle when he hit the ground.

      It comes with sling swivels, and I outfitted it with a sling, which makes it much easier to carry to the duck blind or through the woods to a gobbling turkey. The Realtree Max-5HD camo makes it a good choice for hunters who want to hide from toms or hen mallards.

      I loved the feature that allows you, at the end of the day, to unload the two shells in the magazine without having to shuck them through the action, and it comes with spacers to allow you to adjust the length of the stock or the drop to your personal specifications. It also comes with two pistons, allowing you to shoot light or magnum loads, and it comes with two magazine plugs so you don’t accidentally squeeze three 2 3/4-inch shells into the magazine when you’re only allowed two.

      People who know me understand that I hold onto a dollar bill so hard that George Washington cries, so for the budget-conscious hunter, this gun is a winner.   

More Info: www.tristararms.com