Any Opinions on the Winchester SX3?


Looking at picking up a semi-auto 20 gauge, mostly for competition and hunting. I had been looking at a 20 gauge Winchester SX3 with a 22” barrel, fiber optic front sight, cantilever optic mount, and what looked to be a notch rear (ew...) for ~$850, but I don’t know much about them. Are they okay? If not, any other recommendations around ~$1000 ish range? I had also looked at a Benelli M2 but getting what I want out of it will add a considerable cost...


What kind of competition and hunting are you looking to try to do? For like upland bird hunting it likely would be plenty sufficient, the guns themselves don't have a bad rep or anything, though personally I tend to be preferences to Beretta for shotguns for sporting purposes when a semi auto is desired, but you can quickly get down into the weeds on that.

For competition..... eeee, maybe, maybe not, depending on the game maybe, maybe not, depends on what you are shooting. Outside of skeet shooting there are very few I know running 20 gauge anything competition wise. Also, if you are thinking the the 20 gauge is going to have less recoil, because it is a smaller gauge, that might also be a fallacy depending on the set up of the gun. I've shot more than a few 20 gauge shottys and even one particular .410 that kicked worse than most of the 12 gauge guns I have.


It’ll get used for PA small game. Ducks, rabbits, pheasants, grouse, etc. Maybe the occasional turkey but I don’t usually hunt turkeys. I know cartridge choice tends to matter a lot more for small game than what it’s shot from for hunting, and as long as the thing doesn’t explode a malfunction isn’t a huge deal.

The shotgun-oriented competition closest to home is clays, but at some point I know I’d like to try 3-gun with it. But right now I’m such a casual competitor because of my job that having a dedicated competition shotgun just doesn’t make much sense to me, so the biggest thing is that it just needs to not explode and run reliably with quality ammo.

My selection of 20 gauge as the chambering is almost entirely that I own several 20 gauge shotguns already, and am sitting on a whole lotta 20 gauge ammo of various flavours. I also feel that it’s totally adequate for the things I use a shotgun for, so I have little reason to change.


Essentially I’m looking at getting a new shotgun as a hunting shotgun that I occasionally compete with for personal skill development. The SX3 I was looking at seems like it fits the bill but I thought some additional input couldn’t hurt.


For a hunting gun I think it is far and away from a bad choice. I know a lot of guys who have whacked a lot of pheasant with 20 gauge. For duck it may not be optimal but that is about as far as I'd go there not having messed with water fowl in forever. Biggest thing with the hunting side is wanting something that is light and you can carry and that runs with field loadings. The winchester should be fine. Myself I might go 12 gauge depending on the bird, but then again I have more 12 than anything, and I also have a friend who does most of his pheasant and quail and the like with 28 gauge. I've also popped pheasant with a .410 so there is that too.

For clays, the 20 isn't usually what I would call ideal. this coming from someone who throws around 10K of 12 gauge down range a year. Granted for my games 12 gauge is the defacto if you want to be competitive, Just being realistic there. Depending 20 gauge might cost a bit more, though honestly I haven't priced clays loads for 20 in so long I am honestly not sure how much of a difference that they are. I don't think they at the nose bleed pricing of 28 or .410 though. Not having messed with 3 gun much, the issue I could see running 20 gauge is on a steel knock down target you may be a bit behind the power curve depending on how they set it up and your load of choice.

Only other point that I can think of would be the point of impact of the gun for clays and such since most have their guns, myself included, set up to shoot high. So if you take it and put the bead on the target chances are you are going to miss as the pattern will go over the target. This is also getting into the minutia of the whole thing and I can go right off the deep end there. Suffice to say, depending on the main purpose of the gun, if it is hunting, you'll probably fine, though if you can do go shoot one first, since that can matter. If it going to be mostly a clays or competition gun though I might look else where and again maybe go out to a range and try a few option first there.


Regular Member
I have no experience with newer Winchesters, but have heard little bad about them. Where I am,dove, quail, duck and geese are huge.

Dove shooters with autos tend toward Benellis and Berettas, with some Brownings. Quail shooters tend toward small gauge O/Us.

Duck/geese hunters who use autos almost exclusively run Benelli Super Black Eagle's in 12ga with 3" magnum loads. Those who don't use Berettas, or pumps (I've duck hunted once and use a Nova). That's from knowing 3 or 4 full time guides and another 10 to 20 serious hunters.

For your stated purpose I don't see an issue with 20ga. Haven't shot clays.
I own a Winchester SX3 with a 28" BBL in 12 gauge. I've owned it for 5 or so years at this point and have put it through its paces on a variety of upland and waterfowl species. When it was my go to gun, I put somewhere in the neighborhood of 800-1200 shells through it per year between hunting and clays. It's an absolutely fantastic gun. It's reliable, its durable, and it'll eat up everything from 2 3/4 #8 up to the heaviest turkey loads. I've used it in sub zero temps on the rivers of Montana as well as in 80 degree, humid climates in the south. It just runs.

Breakdown and cleaning of the gun is easy. To be honest, I think I may have cleaned 3-4 times over the span it was getting heavy use.

I do vividly remember the one malfunction I had while using the gun on a turkey hunt, but I'm fairly confident that the source of the issue was a bad primer on the shell.

The only gripe I had with the gun itself was the size of the trigger guard. I do most of my shotgun hunting on rivers and lakes in and around the rockies, so a larger trigger guard is preferred for shooting with a glove.

I picked up a Beretta A400 Extreme Plus last fall and have not looked back. I almost feel guilty turning my back on the SX3, but the Beretta has some really useful advantages to it that makes it my preferred auto-loader at this point.

I put some shells through a Benelli M2 20g last summer at a clay match, I was impressed with how it handled and shot, but thats the extent of my experience on it. I have a close friend who guides waterfowl on the Eastern shore and he absolutely swears by his M2 in 20g, despite him owning several SBE 3's and 2's. As for 12g vs 20g: the the modern 20g waterfowl loads (Hevi-Metal or Hevi-Shot) will knock down what you need it to out to about 40/50 yards. It's obviously great for upland, doves, quails, and clay shooting.

Hope that helps a bit.