Winchester SX3 Shotgun

Editor: Cory M.

Just the facts:

• SYNTHETIC STOCK WITH TEXTURED GRIPPING SURFACES gives your hands a sure, non-slip grip and the non-glare Mossy Oak® Shadow Grass Blades finish won’t spook wary waterfowl
• .742″ Back-Bored TECHNOLOGY provides optimum shot patterns that are dense and even
• INVECTOR-PLUS™ CHOKE TUBE SYSTEM offers consistent patterns to match your situation
• HARD CHROME CHAMBER AND BORE make these surfaces highly resistant to corrosion and wear from steel shot
• VENT RIB gives you a smooth, clean sighting plane
• TRUGLO® LONG BEAD™ FIBER-OPTIC FRONT SIGHT offers true, precise sight picture
• Active Valve GAS SYSTEM cycles a wide variety of loads while reducing felt recoil
• QUADRA-VENT™ PORTS vent excess gases for cleaner operation
• DROP-OUT TRIGGER GROUP allows easy cleaning
• CAST/DROP SHIMS AND LENGTH OF PULL SPACERS allow adjustments for perfect fit

The magazine holds up to four, 2 3/4″ shells depending on shell length. Some slugs shells are a little longer than standard 2 3/4″ shot shells.

Item # Caliber Magazine
Capacity Barrel
Length Overall
Length Length
of Pull Drop
at Comb Drop
at Heel Nom.
Weight Rate of Twist MSRP

511155291 12 Ga 3 1/2″ 4 26″ 47″ 14 1/4″ 1 3/4″ 2″ 7 lbs 0 oz $1,199.99

511155292 12 Ga 3 1/2″ 4 28″ 49″ 14 1/4″ 1 3/4″ 2″ 7 lbs 2 oz $1,199.99

511155391 12 Ga 3″ 4 26″ 47″ 14 1/4″ 1 3/4″ 2″ 7 lbs 0 oz $1,139.99

511155392 12 Ga 3″ 4 28″ 49″ 14 1/4″ 1 3/4″ 2″ 7 lbs 2 oz $1,139.99

511155691 20 Ga 3″ 4 26″ 47″ 14 1/4″ 1 3/4″ 2″ 6 lbs 10 oz $1,199.99

511155692 20 Ga 3″ 4 28″ 49″ 14 1/4″ 1 3/4″ 2″ 6 lbs 12 oz $1,199.99

*Total Capacity (Includes one shell in the chamber): Waterfowl Hunter and Universal Hunter: 2¾” = 5, 3″ = 4, 3½” = 4


My Story

Boom! What more could you want to hear out of your shotgun? Well, that depends on what your needs are I guess. Ultimately, the guns ability to consistently fire will be its greatest strength but what else helps to set a gun apart from the rest? The Winchester SX3 is at first glance just another handsome looking auto loading shotgun. At first glance you might notices the gradual curve of the comb and the ventilated rib that houses a single bead at the end of the gun. At first glance this gun, while beautiful, will not really scream at you to buy it.

sx3 water

If you make the choice to have the clerk take if off the shelf, and you should, you will notice that it is light. The gun weighs just 7.2 pounds for the 28’’ barrel length that I chose. That means those long walks to the blind will be a little more tolerable. The length of pull was perfect for me right out of the box but the gun offers spacers to adjust if needed. Now, if you like the feel and you make the choice to buy this gun there is nothing more I can tell you because you are going to find out how great it is soon enough. If you are still on the fence about it keep reading.

The SX3 has an Active Valve system. What this means to you is that the folks at Winchester have developed a TURE universal auto gun that will, in my experience, eat 2 ¾’’ 1 oz. shells as well as 3.5’’magnums. The factory suggests that the 3.5’’ models only go as light as 1 1/8 oz. loads. But I have found it will shoot the lighter 1 oz. shells just fine. The gas system adjusts to the different types of shells and makes sure your gun goes boom until its empty. You will have peace of mind knowing that no more jams will occur because of light loads. The gas system also helps to reduce felt recoil.

The SX3 is also backbored a process that significantly improves shot pattern when paired with a good choke system. The Invector series chokes that are offered with this gun are top notch. That being said I chose to put an aftermarket choke tube into mine as it was given to me as a gift. I can tell you however that the Invector chokes are great and they flat kill birds. Dead. I won’t get into patterns as there are many variables that can change results and that is not necessarily a reflection on the gun.

Winchester talks about the SX3 being the fastest action on the market. That is a neat selling point but in the duck blinds, goose pits, and pheasant fields this is not really an issue. The need to fire 9 shots in less than 2 seconds is not realistic in hunting situations. Moreover, 99% of shooters could not make accurate shots in that time. It’s neat to brag about it being fast but it’s really just a novelty.

sx3 turkey

This gun is simple. As with all gas operated guns there is more carbon to deal with than piston guns but the tradeoff for a gun that always goes boom is worth a little extra cleaning time. The SX3 comes apart fast and there is not much to it. No complicated pins and levers to break down it just opens up and lets you get in there and clean with ease. I am an advocate of keeping a clean weapon. That being said in the interest of finding out just how well this gun would operate I let it go for one entire season with nothing more than the occasional spray of RemOil. I was surprised to see that after nearly 4 cases of shells and blowing rain, snow, ice, dirt, and whatever else I never had a malfunction. The gun goes Boom!

I could ramble on about all the technological aspects of the gun but that information can be easily found at the Winchester web page. I just want to tell you my experience with this gun. Take what I have said as good non biased information from a guy who shoots a lot and hunts in the worst conditions Mother Nature can conjure up. I love my Winchester SX3. It is just an all-around great gun that does what it is designed to do. You will not be disappointed.

What can be done better?

There is a small plug on the bottom of the stock that can get loose and fall out. It is there to cut weight I’m sure but it can get loose and fall out. After much use my recoil pad cracked. There is one small piece of plastic on the top of the pad which I’m sure is there to help with ear issues. Mine developed a crack at some point. It is still functional and is not loose but it is noticeably cracked in half. The internal of the gun is rock solid and the overall functionality of the gun is by far the best that I have seen.

sx3 butt pad

Gun Information:
Some shooters of Super X3 shotguns are like members of a strange secret society. We don’t say too much or brag too much. We just go about our business taking more ducks and geese in worse conditions than the others. Those of us who fit this description know that the Super X3 is clearly the most durable, robust, dawn-to-dusk workaholic shotgun there is. It never gives up. It never surrenders. Period. So, next time you run into a Super X3 owner pry a bit and you will learn a few secrets about the autoloader of the 21st century. Make no mistake, the Super X is the original “Super” autoloader.

This is a great year to be a lover of Winchester Repeating Arms and especially the Super X3 family of shotguns.
Feel it for yourself. The bold look of the Super X3 is more than just aesthetic. The stock, grip and forearm dimensions are slimmer for a lighter, more controlled feel. Contributing to the feeling of lightness is an ultralight alloy magazine tube and recoil spring system that removes a half pound of weight. The new lightweight barrel further reduces weight with a narrow profile and a machined rib. Inside the barrel you’ll find .742″ Back-Bored Technology for the ideal combination of shot uniformity and velocity.
Winchester Repeating Arms is respected for producing reliable, good looking, top performing shotguns. Our latest Super X3 models are no different. The self-adjusting Active Valve ensures speed, recoil reduction and durability in all conditions. An entirely new look with flowing lines adds a modern flare. Shoulder a Super X3 to feel the future of Winchester Firearms.
You get exactly the same speed he used to break the hand throw clay target record and the speed record in every Super X3 — plus a lot of other great features. Durability. The Super X3 mechanism has undergone testing where a total of 5,000 rounds were fired without a single malfunction. Ammunition and other conditions can affect results, but 5,000 rounds under any conditions is extraordinary and reaffirms the integrity and durability of the new Winchester Super X3 design.
The Super X3 is critic tested. It is considered by many outdoor writers as among the most reliable autoloaders ever built. The new Super X3 is ready to hunt as hard as you do. Whether it’s walking endless grain fields, slogging through marshlands or chilling out in a treestand, you can count on the SX3 to be there when you need it most. The SX3 blends the proven technology of our Active Valve™ gas system with updated features and distinctive styling to create a line of autoloaders that are ready for any hunting challenge – as you’ve come to expect from all Winchester firearms.
Welcome to the wetlands. Unlike you, the SX3 is impervious to extreme cold. The all new stock and forearm feature contours that enhance the effectiveness of the camouflage, and make a normally bland camo gun look awesome. The slender stock and forearm dimensions improve feel, especially with heavy gloves. Ducks, geese, snipe, coots, whatever . . . the Super X3 has proven it will do the job in any weather.

Cool things:
• Self-adjusting Active Valve provides world-class performance, firing five shells in about a half second
• New patented next generation Pachmayr® Decelerator® pad absorbs recoil, and the hard heel insert provides a slick surface that won’t grab clothing when shouldering
• Length of pull is easily customized
• Lightweight alloy magazine tube and recoil spring system trims weight by half a pound

sx3 port1

Super X3 Shotugns have had three metal finishes over time: 1) camo dip, 2) Perma-Cote™ UT and 3) a traditional blued finish. All three have different advantages. Most today are blued or camo and have different care requirements. Check your guns specifications for the finish.

sx3 barrell

The Active Valve system.
Gas autoloaders do what recoil operated guns simply can’t — control recoil before it ever touches your shoulder. And there is no better gas system than the Active Valve found in Super X®3 shotguns. The Active Valve system consists of a gas piston with an internal valve that self adjusts to fire a wide range of loads. The gas piston (1) and valve operate independently, exerting less pressure on the piston for greater longevity and efficiency than other gas-operated autoloaders.
With light loads (2), most of the gases from the fired shell are used to operate the action. With heavy loads (3), excess gases are vented from the piston. When firing the heaviest magnum loads in 3 1/2″ models a portion of the gases are also vented forward out of the Quadra-Vent™ ports in the forearm for maximum efficiency. 3″ models fire everything from light, 1 oz., 2 3/4″ target loads to 3″ magnums, while 3 1/2″ guns handle loads from 1 1/8 oz., 2 3/4″ field loads up to heavy 3 1/2″ magnums.
To put it simply, the Super X3 is the most reliable, fastest shooting, softest recoiling autoloader in the world. available.

Lightweight leader.
Why spec a steel magazine tube when one that weighs 3/4 of a pound less will do the same thing? That’s what we thought when we chose a high-strength alloy magazine tube for the Super X3. To ensure longevity, a brass ring has been added to withstand the effects of hot gases from the shot charge.
In addition to the lightweight magazine tube and recoil spring components, a new lightweight profile barrel with a machined rib further reduces weight. The weight reduction adds up, allowing the Super X3 swing faster than any other autoloader and reducing fatigue, mile after mile.

Easy length of pull adjustments.
Several models feature spacers that fit between the stock and recoil pad to customize your gun to your exact measurements. Two spacers are included with these Super X3 models to adjust stock length between 13 3/4″ and 14 3/8″ on wood stocks and 14 1/4″ and 14 3/4″ on composite stocks.

Fine tune cast and drop.
Selected Super X3 Composite shotguns include spacers to adjust stock drop and cast over a 1/4″ range. The spacers fit between the stock and receiver to lock in your personalized dimensions, ensuring optimum eye to bead alignment.

Less is so much more.
While it was next to impossible to improve on the ergonomics of the SX2, we did it. Extensive research told us to reduce the waist diameter of the grip and the diameter of the forearm. These new dimensions not only accomodate shooters with smaller hands better, but give everyone who shoots the Super X3 a feeling of increased control. The trim new forearm is one of the slimmest available on a 12 gauge gas-operated autoloder. Pick one up, it’s a difference you’ll notice at the gun counter and appreciate in the field.

.742″ Back-Bored Technology.
Extensive research and testing has proven that when it comes to back-boring, .742″ is the only diameter that will ensure tight, consistent patterns. It’s simple physics. With a larger bore diameter gases can easily blow by the shot cup as it moves down the barrel and reduce pellet velocity. Too small a diameter and the pellets are deformed as they pass through the forcing cone, leading to fliers and generally poor ballistic performance. The gentle 5° taper of the forcing cone in an Super X3 barrel provides the smoothest possible transition for the shot cup from the chamber to the barrel to minimize pellet deformation.

Super X3 Shotguns have come in a variety of finishes over the years. Most of today’s models feature either 1) a durable dipped camouflage finish on the stock and metal parts or 2) a traditional blued steel barrel and anodized receiver. In the past, some models had a special finish called Perma-Cote UT. Some special models still may have this finish on the receiver and barrel, but most don’t. Historic models, no longer in production, may also list this finish. You should check a model’s specifications to determine what finish a certain Super X3 has as you decide on the Super X3 you want.

Recoil absorption from the industry leader.
When we decided to spec a new pad on the Super X3, we turned to the industry leader in recoil absorption technology, the engineers at Pachmayr. And they didn’t disappoint. This ultrasoft, incredibly effcient proprietary new pad sucks up felt recoil like a dry sponge absorbs water. And unlike many pads made of a soft compound that can grab on clothing when shouldering the gun, our pad has a built in heel insert that prevents snagging when at the critical time when the gun is coming to your shoulder.

Security in all conditions.
No matter what conditions you are hunting or shooting in, the composite stock on the Super X3 is designed to provide the ultimate in hand traction. Our unique in-molded stipling adds grip where it’s needed, with no rough egdes that can lead to discomfort like those on some guns. The composite material of the stock makes clean-up easier than ever with just a little soap and water.

Simple bolt design.
Unlike some more complicated designs, the bolt in the Super X3 has only three main parts. This simple design is ultrareliable and easy to remove for routine maintainence.

Easy to clean trigger group.
There isn’t an easier to clean trigger group than that on the Super X3. This slick and simple system provides a crisp feel with minimal overtavel. The open design allows all components to be easily accessed for cleaning and lubrication without disassembly. The trigger group is held in place by two pins that can easily be pushed through the receiver for regular maintenance, or done in the field if the gun is dropped in the muck. Only one tool is needed to push out the pins, the one integrated into the bolt handle!

Lightweight barrel and machined rib.
We’ve taken weight from the most unlikely of areas in the Super X3 by removing every last ounce of unneccesary weight from the barrel. The new lightweight profile barrel swings faster without giving up anything in strength, reliability or longevity. The new machined rib is designed to be lighter, stiffer and stronger than any other rib available. Two more features that contribute to the sub-7 pound weight of the Super X3.

Winchester sx3 shotgun review
  • Functionality
  • Value
  • Ergonomics
  • Durability


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