Test: WINCHESTER SX3 "Raniero Testa" Special Edition

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Test: WINCHESTER SX3 Special Edition Raniero Testa
WINCHESTER is dedicating his own Special Edition SX3 to Italian world-record holder Raniero Testa
Test: WINCHESTER SX3 Special Edition Raniero Testa
WINCHESTER SX3-Raniero Testa: The magazine tube accepts a total of eleven 12/70 gauge rounds. One round less will fit in the 12/76 magazine tube

Super X3

The Winchester SX3 Raniero Testa Special Edition differs from other versions of the semi-automatic shotgun only in terms of its features and accessories. Technically there are no fundamental differences. 

The current WINCHESTER autoloaders in the SX3 series are gas-operated with a Dural-aluminum receiver.  

In accordance with convention, the locking insert latches into the bolt carrier in the barrel extension above.  

As is customary in current  shotgun designs, WINCHESTER's "Active Valve" piston system automatically adjusts the gas needed for repeating. 

The Winchester SX3 Raniero Testa is chambered for 12/76 (12 - 3") gauge and the barrel is accordingly marked ex works.  Most of the other versions of the SX3 in 12 gauge also accept extra-long 12/89 (12 - 3 ½"). 

The Winchester SX3 differs from the older SX2 series not only in the new stock design, but especially in its lightweight construction.  This was accomplished by using an aluminum magazine tube and by keeping the barrel as lightweight as possible. The Winchester SX3 has a characteristically long and very slender forearm, especially for a piston-system, gas-operated autoloader.

The Winchester SX3 Raniero Testa is not the only SX3 model with a flame-red anodized receiver. Its particular trademark, in addition to the inscription, is the extended magazine tube for 11 rounds in 12/67.5 or 12/70. The tube has the same silver-grey finish as the barrel. As is the case with other semi-automatics, a limiter can be quickly and easily inserted into the tube thanks to a screw-cap at the end. 

However, the 12/76 gauge accommodates a maximum of 10 rounds in the magazine, and according to the manufacturer 12/76 is the "official" gauge for the Raniero Testa - the gun bears the corresponding gauge designation and is registered with this caliber in the firearms license. Despite the long 30" barrel and ample magazine tube, the model feels on the whole neither heavy and bulky nor annoyingly muzzle-heavy.

Test: WINCHESTER SX3 Special Edition Raniero Testa
The Semi Auto WINCHESTER SX3 as Special Edition Raniero Testa

Fully loaded, the gun does not do so well in terms of weight and balance; but that can hardly be blamed on the SX3's itself, since eleven rounds under the barrel constitute a significant amount of weight and noticeably shift the center of gravity forward. The gun arrives from the factory in a sturdy case with a high-quality finish, which, when empty, weighs almost twice as much as the shotgun itself. 

The Winchester SX3 "Raniero Testa" comes with a set of standard accessories, including a complete set of BRILEY chokes, along with the usual stock-spacers, recoil pads and shims for adjusting the shim cast and comb drop. An auxiliary sight at the center of the ventilated barrel rail is intended to make for easier aiming, while the actual front sight has an inlay of yellow fiberglass. If needed, optical sights can be optionally mounted using a Picatinny rail attached to the receiver.

At the shooting range with the WINCHESTER SX 3

Unlike Raniero Testa himself, evaluators only had a chance to test fire the Winchester SX3 with about 250 to 300 12/67.5 slugs at a 25 meter range.  The shotgun functioned flawlessly with most types of ammunition.  The gun only malfunctioned twice, both times using 67.5 sport rounds from SELLIER & BELLOT.

A feeding jam occurred when the first round was inserted by hand into the ejection port.  The second jam occurred with a half-full magazine when, for no apparent reason, the expended casing was ejected but a new round was not fed from the magazine tube.

The evaluators ceased experimenting with extra-short sport-slugs immediately after firing the first round.  The reason: following this shot, two 63.5 slugs slid onto the feed ramp and became stubbornly wedged in place. To be fair, though, we should point out that auto-loader shotguns that operate reliably with short 12/60 and 12/63.5 gauge sport ammunition are the exception to the rule - usually something goes wrong.     

Test: WINCHESTER SX3 Special Edition Raniero Testa
WINCHESTER SX3 Raniero Testa: Here master marksman Raniero Testa is shown holding a handful of clay plates before throwing them into the air himself
Test: WINCHESTER SX3 Special Edition Raniero Testa
WINCHESTER SX3 Raniero Testa: The Italian top-shooter's record is twelve clay plates
Test: WINCHESTER SX3 Special Edition Raniero Testa
The bolt design of the WINCHESTER SX3 Raniero Testa allows for an incredibly fast firing rate - assuming the shooter has a fast enough trigger finger
Test: WINCHESTER SX3 Special Edition Raniero Testa
WINCHESTER SX 3: Raniero Testa also uses a rather unconventional shouldering technique to control his shotgun

Even when using powerful hunting slugs, the recoil stayed agreeably mild, although in purely subjective terms it was a touch harder than, for example, with a REMINGTON Versamax or BERETTA's new 1301 Comp. Despite the forward grooving of the feed ramp typical for many autoloaders, the SX3 had no particular inclination to pinch the thumb. But exact results depend, as with other models, on individual reloading technique and hand-size.

As concerns accuracy, there was nothing to complain about. The soft and crisp trigger also made a good impression on the evaluators.

Shooting test of WINCHESTER SX3 "Raniero Testa" 

Factory cartridgeWeight in g / in grsSK (mm)

V0 (m/s)

GECO Competition 67,5 mm

26 / 401

86 (52)



Brenneke Camo

28,4 / 440




Schönebeck SK Action

28 / 432




Sellier & Bellot Practical Whiteline

28 / 432




Baschieri & Pellagri Target Slug

28 / 423

98 (43)



Fiocchi Nova Slug

32 / 494




Fiocchi Slug Palla Brenneke

31,5 / 490




Test-Summary for WINCHESTER SX3

Bottom line: the WINCHESTER SX3 "Raniero Testa" is an elegantly designed, beautifully finished and well-equipped sport shotgun, which sells at a comparatively low price of 1,499 €. Those who especially like the color combination of a red receiver housing, grey metal and black stock will also find  other products in the WINCHESTER line-up with shorter barrels and magazine tubes that are similar in appearance.

We would like to thank "THE DUKE - ORIGINAL AMERICAN Gunshop GmbH", which imported the test gun    

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