The first duck I ever shot was taken with a 12-gauge over-and-under shotgun; a gun that I’ll never forget. As time passed I made the switch to auto-loaders without regrets. But every time I open my safe and see that first-duck O/U staring back at me, the itch to return to a double-barreled bird gun grows.
Last season I scratched that over/under itch of mine by swinging CZ-USA’s predatory Swamp Magnum. Yes, admittedly, I chuckled the first time I heard the name, too. And then, strangely, felt like letting out a bellowing roar.
Once I got it in my hands, the kidding-around ceased. With two 30-inch barrels chambered for 12-gauge shells up to 3.5-inches, this shotgun can put out more “roar” than I could ever muster. The Swamp Magnum is a beast, y’all.
The CZ Swamp Magnum’s name sounds rough and rugged; however, the simple cardboard box the shotgun ships in is anything but. You’ll need a separate case if you plan to travel.
The shotgun’s manual and choke tube case look standard at first glance. A quick double-take on the documents reveals the true heart and soul of CZ’s Swamp Magnum. The Swamp Magnum is a camo-wrapped Turkish-made Akkar Model 206 Churchill over/under shotgun with a synthetic stock.
Factory stamping on the chamber confirms Akkar as the manufacturer. CZ is well-known for contracting with Huglu; however, I’ve heard some argue that Akkar is a slight step up in quality.
I’ve run into issues with guns from both factories, but haven’t had enough time with equal varieties from each to form a strong opinion of one over the other.
The choke tube kit accompanying the Swamp Magnum includes three additional extended choke tubes for a total of five (skeet, improved cylinder, light modified, modified, and full). A nice 12-gauge/20-gauge choke wrench sits with the tubes in their plastic case. Disappointingly, the knurling on the tubes isn’t very aggressive and can become somewhat slick in the field.
CZ didn’t include a choke with a constriction between Modified and Full on purpose. They picked this selection of steel shot approved tubes specifically for hunting waterfowl, which also explains why there are no doubles of any tube size.
For hunters that like more constrictive chokes with steel shot, CZ recommends using an aftermarket choke tube. The full choke isn’t steel rated and is meant for lead turkey loads.
The Swamp Magnum takes down like most O/U shotguns; remove the forend, unlock the barrels, and fold them down from the receiver. Re-assembly of the shotgun is easy and the fit of this firearm is remarkably tight.
The forearm’s fit and lock-up with the front of the receiver and barrel assembly is also notably snug. The forearm release lever is easy to find and actuate and sits very flush to its housing plate. There is zero play in the forend when assembled.
The forend lays flush to the shotgun’s action and features concave channels designed to fit the shooter’s thumb and thenar eminence muscle group. The forend features dimpled texturing reminiscent of a golf ball on each side before tapering into the barrels.
The Swamp Magnum’s action is extremely tight. It opens with ease, but is quite difficult to close. Even after a manual break-in period and several hundred rounds, a good amount of effort is required to lock-up on two new cartridges.
This action is a great candidate for those who enjoy polishing a shotgun’s action to perfection.
The ejectors on the Swamp Magnum are solidly reliable, but a little aggressive. Expect your spent 3-inch shells to sail at least 12-feet from your location. A crisp and satisfying, “crack!” resonates as the action spits out one or both spent cartridges.
Just past the forend sits a welded steel sling swivel stud. It isn’t completely blended into the shotgun’s bottom barrel but is still very low-profile.
The camo wrap was perfectly laid onto the multi-surface feature and helps the swivel stud practically disappear. The accompanying standard black screw-in swivel stud sit below the Swamp Magnum’s stock.
The CZ Swamp Magnum’s front bead is a bright, clean, ivory-colored hemisphere. A rounded-face bead catches more light, allowing the shooter to more easily pick up the bead in his or her peripheral vision as they focus on the target.
An unremarkable trigger sits behind the shotgun’s action and features about 1/8-inch of take-up preceding the same amount of creep and over-travel. The trigger breaks on both barrels at an unrefined 2.75-pounds. Reset is full-length and provides no tactile indication.
A lackluster top-tang safety and barrel selector sits in thumb’s reach of the grip. It has decent texturing and profile, but the mechanism feels sloppy. The Swamp Magnum’s selector is automatic, meaning it resets to ‘safe’ each time the action is opened.
Shooting the CZ Swamp Magnum was a constant battle with the cheap selector. I found that it wanted to slide back towards the center, especially when shooting the ‘under’ barrel first. Once it slid slightly out-of-place, the selector was hard-pressed to come off unless you had just the right angle.
I was excited to take the Swamp Magnum goose hunting last season. But during the first few weeks of November I had experienced or seen the selector stick too many times with ducks landing in the hole. There was no way I was willing to bring the Swamp Magnum out and risk losing a shot on a honker or two.
[Editor’s Note: CZ-USA considers this a warranty issue and believes it is not expected behavior. For any customer they would inspect this and repair it free of charge, including covering shipping both ways. We may send it in to see if it fixes the issue.]
The polymer stock on this shotgun is simple and slick. There is no special recoil-reducing technology within the stock and the only texturing is the golf ball-dimpling on the grip’s very comfortable palm swell. The rubber recoil pad is firm and held in place with two screws.
The O/U has a slightly above-average 14.5-inch length-of-pull. For comparison, the Browning Citori CX’s LOP is 14.25-inches and Benelli’s 828U is 14.375-inches.
Although the Swamp Magnum has a seemingly large profile (4 feet of overall length with extended chokes), it fits well when shouldered, is easy to control. All controls are easy to access and (attempt to) manipulate.
Furthermore, the shotgun is nicely balanced, with its center point residing slightly forward of where the forend meets the receiver.
At the range, both of the Swamp Magnum’s barrels were patterned from a rest at a distance of 40-yards; each shot with the bead sitting just below the middle of a 30-inch circle on a 36-inch square piece of butcher paper.
The lead load was 2.75-inch Remington Gun Club (7.5-shot, 1.125-ounce, 1200-FPS) while the steel loads consisted of 3-inch Federal Premium Black Cloud ammo (2-shot, 1.25-ounce, 1450-FPS), and 3-inch Federal Premium Black Cloud High Velocity (3-shot, 1.125-ounce, 1635-FPS).
With a modified choke, lead shot put a more even, consistent pattern on the paper when compared to the small variety of steel shot tested (3 shots each type, per barrel), which wasn’t surprising.
The steel shot loads were represented well enough throughout the circle on the patterning board, but their overall patterns were spotty, with large pattern-less voids strewn throughout.
The two variations of Black Cloud steel shot loads were patterned through the Swamp Magnum to determine if there was a significant difference in performance based on a change in shot speed. As anticipated, the shot pattern of Federal Premium’s 1635-FPS High Velocity load (above, right) exhibited noticeably larger voids compared to the standard 1450-FPS Black Cloud (above, left).
As with any double-barreled shotgun, both barrels aren’t going to hit in the exact same place downrange – especially at every distance. At 40 yards, the top barrel of the Swamp Magnum shifted the center of its spread as much as 15-inches above where the bottom barrel pattered.
After patterning the Swamp Magnum, I headed to the range to shoot lines of 5-stand. Preferring to shoot bottom barrel first, I choose CZ’s light-modified extended choke to sit under the modified choke. My cartridge selection was Remington Gold Club 2.75-inch, 7.5-shot, 1.125-ounce lead target loads provided by Freedom Munitions.
I initially shot right-handed and the first few shots had a familiar sharpness only an over-and-under shotgun can deliver, erased, of course, by disintegrating flying clay saucers. The ivory-colored bead was easy to pick up, but not so bright that it drew my eye away from the target. The ejectors hurled my spent cartridges out of the cage and I quickly adopted a “deflect to shell bin” approach when opening the breech on warm chambers.
The Swamp Magnum’s 30-inch barrels and well-balanced design helped the shotgun swing really well on flying targets. I wanted to duplicate that feeling so I switched to shooting left-handed. On my first line I matched my best right-hand score of the session; 22/25 on a 0-card with the cages back at 20 yards.
With the exception of a sticky safety, I really enjoyed shooting clays with this gun. But the Swamp Magnum wasn’t meant for the range, it was meant for a long life in the field.
During last year’s waterfowl hunting season the CZ Swamp Magnum made the rounds from duck blind to duck blind with me for several weeks. I was excited to take some birds with it. My hunting buddies were, too.
We each took turns pulling the Swamp Magnum to our shoulder with mallards just yards from the barrel. More than half of the time the safety stuck while the birds peeled away. Those 30-inch barrels never seemed to heat-up the way we like to see it happen.
Then somewhat quickly I made the decision to ditch the extra weight during hunting and relinquish the Swamp Magnum as a 5-stand-only shotgun. The safety simply wasn’t reliable enough for the field.
I really want to love CZ’s Swamp Magnum. The concept is appealing and there are more than a few features a hunter can benefit from. Dual 3.5-inch chambers afford hunters the option to run a wide variety of waterfowl loads.
The twin 30-inch barrels with extended chokes swing very easily. The palm swell in the basic stock feels great. The Realtree MAX-5 camo wrap is high-quality with fantastic color and depth. Altogether, the Swamp Magnum weighs a mere 7.1 lbs.
Unfortunately, beginning with the extra-tight action, a mediocre trigger, and less-than-impressive chokes, the Swamp Magnum feels more like a good gun for shooting clay pigeons than Canada Geese.
The Swamp Magnum’s unreliable selector is where I lose interest in the firearm. Battling the issue while running lines of 5-stand or sporting clays at the range was embarrassing. Losing back-to-back shot opportunities at back-peddling Greenheads 7 yards from my feet was frustrating. Watching my friends lose shot opportunities in the same fashion was infuriating.
Those events, in combination with the overly-tight action leave me disappointed that CZ didn’t take the steps to ensure the Swamp Magnum was a truly field-ready firearm.
Specifications: CZ Swamp Magnum O/U 30″ 12-gauge (MAX-5)
Chambering: 12 gauge
Max Shell Length: 3 1/2″
Barrel Length: 30″
Chokes: Extended black
Stock: Synthetic, Realtree MAX-5
Length Of Pull: 14 1/2″
Receiver Finish: Black anodized
Barrel Finish: Camouflage, Realtree MAX-5
Ejector or Extractor: Ejectors
Rib: 8mm Flat Vent
Overall Length: 48.25″
Weight: 7.1 lbs.
Comb: 1 3/8″
Heel: 2 1/2″
Trigger Mech: Mechanical, selectable
Safety: Automatic tang safety
MSRP: $1,075 (about $850 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Design: * * *
CZ’s Swamp Magnum is really a “borrowed” design; essentially a camo-wrapped Akkar Model 206 Churchill. The quality of the Realtree MAX-5 camouflage is top-notch, but the shotgun’s simple design misses the mark in critical areas. Although its ergonomic features are comfortable and the gun swings nicely, the action is annoyingly tight and the safety is frustratingly finicky.
Weight: * * * *
Even though the Swamp Magnum is a 12-gauge over/under style shotgun with a pair of 30-inch, extended-choked barrels, it tips the scales at just an ounce over 7-pounds. The shotgun is well-balanced, which helps it feel even lighter in your hand and when mounted.
Durability: * * * *
This beastly shotgun saw conditions from hot and sandy (desert duck hunting) to wet and muddy and came through unscathed. The camouflage wrap proved very resistant to scratching, while retaining its excellent print quality. The Swamp Magnum’s additional finishes and coating across its metal parts fended-off any potential tarnishes.
Pattern density and consistency (+choke tubes): * * *
The set of chokes included with the Swamp Magnum over/under is specifically designed for waterfowl hunting. The chokes pattern lead shot better than steel, and steel patterns were consistently spotty. The Knurling on extended chokes could have been more aggressive.
Overall: * * 1/2
The CZ Swamp Magnum over/under is a brawny-looking over-under 12-gauge shotgun that swings sweetly on sailing saucers and swooping sprigs of the avian variety. The Reatltree MAX-5 camo covering the firearms’ furniture and dual 30-inch barrels is a high-quality, durable print. The gun’s very tight action and sticky safety are less than optimal for field use and could benefit from additional fitting and polishing.
[Editor’s Note: CZ-USA considers the safety behavior experienced here to be a warranty issue and believes it is not expected behavior. For any customer they would inspect this and repair it free of charge, including covering shipping both ways. We may send it in to see if it fixes the issue.]