I am a new shotgun enthusiast from the R3 era – Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation.
I do not come from a family of outdoorsy people or firearm owners. Exposures and accessibility to equipment were rough getting started. Had it not been for the mentors and friendships during my process, I am not sure my love and respect for conservation and hunting would have developed.
After a few seasons of sporting clays and falling in love with upland hunting, I took an interest in learning how to hunt waterfowl. I did not know what was needed to attempt it. I thought I needed a well-trained dog and to master waterfowl calls, but all I needed was a 2 a.m. alarm and a reliable shotgun that suited my frame. When I started hunting waterfowl, I owned one 12-gauge shotgun mainly used for sporting clay.
I am not sure when waterfowl hunting became an obsession, but I was soon in a blind for more than four days a month. I felt my activity level was enough to justify needing an additional shotgun just in case mine malfunctioned. The problem was that shotguns are unavailable in my area to try before you invest in a new one. I made it a personal mission to try out different shotguns and determine my fit, ergonomics, and price range. My first shotgun was on a lucky sale, it was not a perfect fit, but I adjusted to it. After some trial and error, I learned that the feel and fit of a shotgun contributes to successful shooting.
As my hunting adventures increased in frequency, so did my observation of my hunting environment and the desire to blend more in the open. My hunting buddies had “upgraded” to camo-finished stocked shotguns, leaving me with camo envy. Having heard, “ducks do not care what color your gun is,” did not reduce the desire for a camo-clad shotgun.
On a Mission
Luck would have it that I was invited to review a Franchi Affinity 3.5 Waterfowl Elite. Now, the kicker was that I had not shot a Franchi at this point in my outdoor life. It never crossed my mind to consider one, and nobody within my circle owned one. I was set on a specific brand, and honestly, I was a little aloof about the Franchi. My only request was that it had a 28-inch barrel length, 12 gauge, and capable of loading 3 ½ inch shotshells. The 3 ½ inch, non-toxic, #2 shot shotshells were much easier to come by during my region’s 2021-2022 season. I was determined that the next shotgun I purchased would be able to handle 3 ½-inch shells in case that was all I could get.
The Franchi Affinity 3.5 Waterfowl Elite was shipped to me. It arrived a few weeks before I was heading out for my second attempt at a snow goose hunt. The day I picked up the Franchi, a new found excitement was activated. When I opened the box and saw that it sported the perfect camo pattern for the environment and surrounding areas I hunt
I sent out a group text letting the ladies of my sporting clay league and waterfowl hunting circles know I had a new shotgun to demo. I invited them for a clay date to try it too. I was shocked at how well I handled a 50-target run of sporting clays before sharing it with multiple ladies and a few guys.
I had a few weeks to prepare for my snow goose hunt, so it gave me ample time to practice and become intimate with the Franchi Affinity 3.5 Waterfowl Elite. Next, I purchased some inexpensive 3 ½ inch turkey loads to do an ill-advised “mag dump.” I was told by numerous seasoned wing and clay shooters that it had to be the craziest idea I have ever expressed out loud.
They wanted proof that I went through with it. Bets were placed on my shoulder being bruised, and me complaining about aches and pains for a few days. I had one witness that recorded my shenanigans, and we posted it on my social media. Next, I shared a picture of my comfortable, non-bruised shoulder. I was shocked at how soft the recoil felt with those turkey loads. I felt so confident with the Franchi Affinity 3.5 Waterfowl Elite in hand that if snow geese flew overhead, I would land a few. The Franchi was balanced and reduced felt recoil. If I could not shoot ten 3 ½ inch shotshells consecutively without discomfort, I would have needed to rush-order 2 ¾-inch shells.
Snow Goose Revenge
The previous season, only one goose showed up. My entire hunting squad was taking a stretch break at the time, and none of us could take a safe shot at the solo goose. This season, I was prepared with a camo shotgun that broke many clays. With a snack-packed blind bag filled with 12-gauge, 3 1/2 inch shells with BBB shot, I was determined to come home with a full cooler.
What a memorable weekend! With the Franchi Affinity 3.5 Waterfowl Elite, I had my first successful snow goose hunt. My hunting squad harvested 32 snow geese in total within a few hours.
I needed to tackle cleaning the shotgun. It hunted hard in extremely cold temperatures and muddy, wet, dusty environments. I surface wiped it and bore snaked after every other shoot, but after my snow goose hunt, it was time for a deep clean and inspection. It was a little different than the shotguns I had cleaned. However, it was not difficult to figure out how to remove the forward grip and disassemble and reassemble the components quickly.
I Need One
At the time of my initial review, this shotgun made my potential wish list. Not the I WANT list, but the I NEED list for a dedicated waterfowl gun. The managed recoil, handling, ergonomic structure, and weight worked in my favor. The price point is fair and economically feasible compared to others.
I am still new to the world of hunting, yet I am immersed enough to understand what I need, why I need it, and how much I want to invest in a product. I want reliable, generational products, but I also do not want to spend an ample amount of money this early in my hunting journey or spend a ton of money on a firearm that I have not been able to try out before buying it. This shotgun proved to me that it would be a great dedicated waterfowl gun to add to my staple gear pieces.
Franchi Affinity 3.5 Waterfowl Elite
I received the Franchi Affinity 3.5 Waterfowl Elite with the Gore Optifade Waterfowl Marsh Stock finish and a Burnt Bronze Cerakote barrel finish. The MSRP is $1449.00, and retail chains average roughly $1249.99. Here are the features you will have right out of the box:
- Optional Gore Optifade choice of Waterfowl Marsh or Waterfowl Timber stock finish
- Weighs 7 lbs
- TruGlo Dual Color Fiber optics
- Standard 28″ inch barrel
- Franchi Affinity Waterfowl 12 gauge Trulock choke tube set
- Close Range .720 (Cylinder)
- Mid Range .710 (Improved Cylinder)
- Long Range .700 (Modified Cylinder)
- 1 flush choke tube – Modified, steel shot approved
- Choke Key
- Stock counterweight.
- Standard Shim Kit
- ¾-inch recoil pad
- Round Capacity is 4+1, varying by shotshell length
- Oversized bolt frag handle and frag bolt release
- The receiver is tapped for mounting optics
- Length of pull is 14 3/8 inches
- Drop at Heel: Adjustable 2″ to 2-1/2″
- Drop at Comb: 1-1/2″
- Overall length 50 ¼ inches
- Minimum Recommended Load: 3-dram, 1-1/8 oz
- Inertia driven system