Wild Northerner Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 28


Wild Northerner staff

Note: New gear is awesome. No denying it. New gear isn’t always proven over the long haul. This series of columns follows gear I have used and abused, at times, in my adventures outdoors in fishing, hunting, camping, paddling, hiking and so on. It’s gear that is well made, stands up over the seasons and years and is dependable.

A few years ago, I decided to buy a new gun for grouse hunting and immediately fell for the Browning Silver Hunter 20-gauge shotgun. I would make the purchase over and over again. This semi-automatic shotgun features the self-adjusting Active Valve gas system, which uses gas from fired shells to operate the action instead of contributing to recoil.

I have three seasons under my belt with the Silver 20 and it has helped me produce a lot of grouse meat for soups, sandwiches and other delicious delights.

Here are the key factors that make this shotgun an ideal choice for any upland bird hunter.


The Silver 20 checks in at just under three-kilograms. It is light and easy to carry on long hikes while searching out birds on a tough day. It looks heavy, but is not. I have watched many hunting buddies’ surprised reactions when they hold the gun for the first time. Everyone one is amazed at the light weight. I have never once put a sling on this shotgun. There’s no need. It is comfortable to carry all day on the trails. My longest day of hunting with it was a total of 20.5-km one day. My arms never were tired or sore afterwards. LOL, my ego was a bit beat up though as my buddy and I only managed four birds that day in howling wind and rain.


My Silver 20 is the three-inch chamber model. This gun delivers on accuracy and stopping power for upland birds. It gives you grace when firing at birds in dense cover and provides more range to get birds in the distance. I use Winchester Super X 2-3/4-inch, five-shot ammunition. Having three shots can be handy in a tight spot if you flush a flock of birds and they burst from cover in a variety of ways and directions. There is also little to no recoil. I don’t even notice it. I put the bead just above the grouse’s head and pull the trigger. I can say without a doubt I’ve probably had three or four birds with any pellets in the breast meat.


This shotgun has been with me more than 50 times in the past few years for bird hunts. I wouldn’t even think of ever using another gun. I bring a .22 from time-to-time, but I never bring it out. I always reach for my Silver 20. The operation of this shotgun is smooth and effortless. I have experienced zero issues with it so far. Disassembly and reassembly for cleaning is a snap as this is still a meat and potatoes gun at heart even with the modern technology associated with it.


For me, this gun has been the perfect match. I have increased my bird count since picking it up. It’s not cheap. These shotguns retail for about $1,200. They are worth every nickel in my opinion. The Silver Hunter is a beautiful gun as well. It has a classy and rugged look. Being a 20-gauge, the gun also gives some versatility to hunt bigger game thanks to having the power to fire rifled slugs. That is always a bonus. It is a fun gun to shoot. I have taken birds through some nasty brush and cover thanks to the power of the gun and the shells I use. It makes for some exciting times in the bush when you’re tracking a flushed bird. I would seriously give this shotgun a long look if I was a hunter looking for a new upland bird gun.

Ode to the old gear

Silver shotgun delivers smooth performance