Jan 10, 2015
A Flavor For Everyone
The Perfect Gun For You
I usually dwell on the matters of shooting the 12 gauge for it is the king and far most popular gauge in use today. There is lots of fun to be had with “other” gauges though. Other gauges include the 10, 16, 20 and 28 gauges and the .410 bore. Don't ask me why the .410 ended up being a bore size (similar in diameter to the .45 Colt) instead of a gauge, but the .410 bore would equate to about a .67 gauge. Those mentioned above have stood the test of time and are generally available and/or are in competition today.
Shotshell technology has come a long way, and the development of the 3 ½ inch, 12 gauge magnum has pushed the, once revered, 10 gauge to the side. Primarily a waterfowl gun, the mighty 10 packs a wallop on both ends. If you are shooting it as a fixed breech gun, as opposed to a gas semi-autoloader, you will feel it's full wrath. At that, I have loaded and shot a 10 gauge autoloader in special sporting clays competitions and had a lot of fun with it, even though my hat may have been on sideways when I was done shooting.
For all it's romance, the 16 gauge has been overlooked by shotshell developers, and while a fine load, it is largely bypassed today, for more available gauges. Shells are harder to find and it stands in the shadows of both the 12 and 20.
The 20, in my opinion, is one of the best gauges for a training/development gun. It has light recoil, is made in smaller frame guns and shells are readily available in many configurations. This adds up to being a nice gun to start new, young or female shooters out on as the modest recoil and smaller gun dimensions make it ideal for shooters with slighter frames. It is a great light field carry gun, with a 3 inch, 20 gauge magnum shell. You can do almost everything with it a standard 12 can do.
Competition shooters generally consider the 28 as the finest “small gauge” around. With a ¾ oz. load of shot, it patterns remarkably well and hits hard. A great grouse/woodcock gun. If cost were no object it would be my small gauge of choice, but shells are harder to find and more expensive. It's considered a “square load”, meaning that the length of the shot charge in the hull is almost the same as the width. The thought being that “square charges” have a ballistic tendency to pattern better.
Finally there is the diminutive .410 bore. On one hand, it's a great starter gun because there is literally no recoil and the guns are small, on the other hand, it is regarded as an expert shooters weapon due to the small shot charge and the need to be very accurate with it. That said, it's a great rabbit and squirrel gun too!
So, as you look to your shotgunning future, you can see that there is a flavor out there for everyone!