Shootout Issue

April 2014 Industry

For those of you who are new, every year we compile 25+ boat tests into a single issue. This issue is known as our Shootout Issue and it is on newsstands now. For subscribers, it's included in their subscription. If you are intersted in reading the reviews, the link at the bottom will allow you to purchase it as a stand alone. 

About our Shootout

For years the manufacturers in northern Indiana have been strongly hinting that they’d like to see our annual Shootout Boat Test relocated to Lake Wawasee, a lake that is practically in the backyard for a lot of the pontoon and deck boat builders. Our previous 18 boat tests have been held in southern states such as North Carolina, Georgia and Florida as well as Midwest states like Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and even southern Indiana. And let’s not forget the year we held one of our Shootouts in Arizona while trying to keep the performance deck boat builders happy.

We’ve moved our test around for years in an attempt to keep it fresh, while also helping our test to feel more like an event than just another gathering of boats.    

Well, persistency from the northern Indiana builders finally paid off, as we officially ran out of excuses as to why this Indiana lake wouldn’t be a great place to hold our test. It also helped that the Oakwood Inn, one of our favorite lakeside hotels, recently reopened its doors after being closed down for years. It’s amazing what a little paint and some new furniture will do to a place as we were welcomed with open arms to invade and take over their docks for a week.

Our annual Shootout test is growing each year as we continue to invite all of the pontoon and deck boat manufacturers and encourage them to bring their latest and greatest boats to one location to be evaluated, inspected, photographed and anything else we can think of as we thoroughly go over each one for our review.

Compiled in this issue are our findings, which include pricing for each boat as tested so you can make an informed choice when narrowing your search. If the price tag is too much of a stretch, be sure to look at the options because in most cases by just taking fewer bells and whistles or maybe a little less power, you can find a pontoon or deck boat that better fits your budget. And in some cases, we were testing the manufacturer’s top-of-the line model so it would be worth your time to check out its mid- or entry-level models too if one particular boat interests you.

We also break down what we love about each boat as well as what we’d like to see changed or improved. Because no boat is perfect, we have to include our “just being picky” section, but with some of these high-end models it gets harder and harder each year to find something we don’t like.

As technology has evolved over the years, so has our test. We used to be able to test 25 to 30 boats in three days, but this year we were pushing to get everything completed in five. One of the key factors is our time-consuming video portion of our test, which to be honest, confirms to everyone that I have the ultimate dream job since I show up in the clips diving into tight corners with a big smile on my face while driving the performance pontoons.    

Our staff worked overtime to package all of our data, specs and information to fill the pages of our annual Shootout issue. But if you’re looking for a little more, be sure to visit to view the video version of the boats we tested.

We hope you enjoy reading our reviews as much as we enjoyed testing the boats and that our efforts will help you make the best boat-buying decision this year. 

Did you miss the Shootout issue and now want to see the boat reviews? It's not too late! Buy a single copy or subscription here:

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