Jul
21

Shotgun Gauges

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Why not use a 20 gauge?

A 20 gauge has two distinct advantages.

The first is weight.  They’re between a 1/2 – 1 lb. lighter than the same model 12 gauge and their shells are lighter.  Again, given the above example, 1/8 ounce/shell = 3.125 ounces/box.  As most of the dove hunters that I know carry three boxes of shells with them in the field, that’s 9.375 ounces or a little more than half a pound.  For the 12 gauge dove hunter, a one pound heavier gun and half-pound heavier shells can mean a more fatigued hunter who will start to miss easy shots.  So, if you’re going to only hunt dove-sized game birds and shoot clay targets, a 20 gauge is a good choice.

The second is recoil.  Generally a 20 gauge of the same make and model will kick less than a 12 gauge.  However, there are exceptions.  Generally, the lighter the gun the more it will kick.  Just about the hardest kicking gun that I owned was a Franchi AL-48 recoil-operated 20 gauge that weighed five pounds.  I quickly traded it.  Recoil is more of a consideration for kids, people of smaller stature, and people who have sustained shoulder or neck injuries.  It’s also a consideration for heavier loads.

However, a 20 gauge has two distinct disadvantages.

The first is payload.  A 20 gauge has less pellets, given the same load type (for example, game load compared to game load).  For example, with 8 shot, a 1 oz. field load 20 gauge = 400 pellets.  A 1 1/8 oz. field load 12 gauge = 450 pellets.  The increased payload of the 12 gauge makes a big difference with ducks/pheasants and larger game birds or animals.  However, if your targets are only going to be dove-sized game birds or clay targets, then there isn’t a lot of difference (usually 12.5%) between the 12 gauge and 20 gauge payloads, given the same load type.

The second is cost.  To equal the payload of a 12 gauge 1 oz. game load you’d have to buy a 20 gauge 1 oz. field load, which will cost $1.50 – $2 more per box than a box of 12 gauge game loads, or $15 – $20 more per case.  Most hunters don’t want to pay more to get the same firepower.  But again, if you can live with 1/8 ounce less shot than the equivalent 12 gauge load type (i.e., game load to game load), you won’t have to spend more money.  Also, a box of 12 gauge 1 oz. game loads costs the same as a box of 20 gauge 7/8 oz. game loads, if both are the same brand and shell load (e.g., Winchester Game Loads), so you get 12.5% more shot with the 12 gauge for the same cost.

The bottom line – if your targets are only going to be dove-sized game birds or clay targets and you aren’t bothered by having a 12.5% less payload compared to the same load type in 12 gauge, then a 20 gauge is a fine choice.  But if you plan to hunt ducks/pheasants or larger game birds or animals, you’ll probably find a 20 gauge lacking.

Have you ever noticed a difference in shooting a 12 gauge compared to a 20 gauge?  I have noticed my shooting is not as good with the 20 as with the 12.

20 gauge loads have, on average, 12 1/2% (1/8 ounce) less shot than a 12 gauge.  A 12 gauge game/target load is 1 ounce and it’s 7/8 ounce for a 20 gauge.  Also, because a 20 gauge has a longer shell to width makeup, it has a longer shot string (it takes the shot at the end of the shell more time to reach the target than the shot at the front of the shell).  This can result in more “holes” in the pattern and missed shots.  You could be spot on but a bird could make it through your pattern easier with a 20 gauge.

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

Bible Verse of the Day

I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me.