View Full Version : 20 gauge single shot questions
July 10, 2011, 10:44 AM
When would you use or have a need for such a gun like this? 20 gauge single shot seems like an odd choice for anything other than the person who just has to have one for a collection.
July 10, 2011, 10:55 AM
they're great for kids, women, and the recoil shy. I got mine when I was 12 and still like to get out and plink with it from time to time
July 10, 2011, 10:58 AM
I'd use a 20 ga single shot for trap shooting and deer hunting.
July 10, 2011, 11:00 AM
Perfect squirrel gun for a kid. He gets to hit squirrels without the danger of a stray .22 bullet flying off somewhere.
July 10, 2011, 11:24 AM
I just bought one for my 73 yo dad. He can't handle that much recoil anymore and the 20 ga should be just about right for him. He needs bifocals so a point and shoot shotgun for late night or low light home defense is important to him.
July 10, 2011, 12:03 PM
I'm kind of looking at a H&R 1871 Pardner 20 gauge for cheap. I like it but I'm try to figure out if I need it or not.
July 10, 2011, 12:11 PM
The H&R single shot shotguns, in whatever gauge, have one big advantage that have kept them a top seller for many decades.
They have no other commendable features.
July 10, 2011, 12:30 PM
Cheap snake gun to keep at your cabin, at the farm or in the back of the cab of your pick-up truck. I have an old Topper .410 for this purpose, but the shells are cheaper for the 20 gauge.
July 10, 2011, 12:34 PM
What about for hunting rabbits? Would it be too much?
July 10, 2011, 12:55 PM
It would be fine for rabbits with the right shot selection, kind of expensive though and you'd have to be mindful of the shot when you eat them.
July 10, 2011, 01:04 PM
Come to think of it, I've got my Remington 581 .22lr for that. What kind of bird hunting could I do with a 20 gauge?
Yes, I may pick this gun up anyway but I don't collect closet queens. I went out shooting clays yesterday and brought out all my shotguns, it was fun!
July 10, 2011, 01:25 PM
Besides small game like squirrels and rabbits, it would also be fine for upland birds...dove, quail, etc. if you're not overly worried about getting your limit everytime. Cheap, reliable, simple, effective. Many people started their hunting careers with one.
July 10, 2011, 02:25 PM
Great point. I have been thinking about getting back into bird hunting although it's been 35 years. Now I have to relearn everything I forgot which is pretty much all of it!
July 10, 2011, 02:42 PM
What kind of bird hunting could I do with a 20 gauge?
Any kind. Doves, quail, pheasant, ducks, geese, turkey, it just doesn't matter. A 20 gauge is perfectly capable of taking any small game that you're able to find. My grandfather used a 20 exclusively to take all manner of game, and during the early days he market hunted with it. During his later years he used a 20 gauge on decoying geese and took as many as the guys with the 12 gauges. I've hunted with a 20 gauge almost exclusively for the past 20 years and once I learned to use the gauge, I've never felt handicapped.
Sure, a 12 gauge can put more shot in the sky for denser patterns, but the 20 gauge does just fine at ranges under 40 yards. Hunt a little harder, let the birds get a little closer and the 20 gauge will do the job.
July 10, 2011, 03:01 PM
We have one that we leave at our lake house and it is useful for snakes, pests of all types, and home defense if need be. It serves well for the $75.00 it cost.
July 10, 2011, 03:13 PM
Maybe I need to reconsider my needs. 12 gauge has always been the go to size but maybe I'm missing the bird hunting boat so to speak. As far as having a $75 20 gauge, that's just pure fun.
July 10, 2011, 03:58 PM
I started out on a 20 gauge H&R single shot. However, it kicked more than a 12 gauge.
July 10, 2011, 04:11 PM
Add butt pad, check!
July 10, 2011, 04:19 PM
they're great for kids, women, and the recoil shy
As light as they are and typically ill-fitting, I'll disagree with this statement. I never understand why folks seem to think a light 20 is automatically less recoiling than a 12
He can't handle that much recoil anymore and the 20 ga should be just about right for him
it would also be fine for upland birds...dove, quail, etc
Has the balance and swing dynamics of a pig on a shovel
We have one that we leave at our lake house and it is useful for snakes, pests of all types
There we go - a legitimate answer and use (besides a cheater bar n a jack stand)
Want something cheap for farting around? Here ya go - want something for serious work like HD, hunting or whatever, get the right gun
July 10, 2011, 04:33 PM
i used a 20 ga single shot to get my wife into clay shooting... yes it wasnt long before she moved onto somthing better... but it was a great gun for her to start with.
July 10, 2011, 07:03 PM
Where did you guys go in Oregon?
July 10, 2011, 08:02 PM
Here ya go:
July 11, 2011, 12:47 AM
Can be used for squirrel hunting.
July 11, 2011, 06:23 AM
I've got an Ithaca 66 Super Single in 20 gauge that was my Father's.
It's what I learned to shoot on.
Kicks like a damned mule.
Single shots are fine for general hunting/foraging.
July 11, 2011, 07:02 AM
I'm not a real knowledgeable in the realm of shotguns. I own a Stevens single shot 20ga. that I believe doesn't have the same actual recoil as a 12ga. It is much lighter than your typical 12ga. and probably induces a sharper felt recoil using heavy loads. It still isn't much of one for me anyway using factory loads. With that, these are my points/counterpoints to the discussion:
1. They're usually so inexpensive that it's hard to turn down buying one, especially if you're on a tight budget and/or just starting out.
2. As said before and mine as well, it's very light. For those in the know regarding skeet, trap, hunting, etc, I'm thinking this could be a blessing or a curse. I find it a blessing for the beginners and kids. I think trying to heft weight around causes fatigue to set in for this demographic. They already have enough to worry about. It's a distraction that isn't needed at this point.
3. If you're a reloader, the argument of it being as much recoil as a 12ga. can be quelled...sort of. The same argument can be made on reloading for 12ga. as well. My point is you can tailor to your needs/wants by reloading which goes without saying.
4. It can compete with a 12ga. on most fowl and varmints up to the size of a coyote. Not saying all game nor is it better. Just saying it can do more than most think...
5. And last, yet most important in my book: SAFETY. No matter how much you think you taught your kid or beginner on safety, they just might not have that ingrained in their head. No matter what, once that first shot is spent, it's not going to go off again if they forget about trigger control. Had a friend that took his son out to learn how to shoot a shotgun for the first time. Handed him a semi-auto (don't remember the model). He aimed at the target, shot a great pattern, and with pleasant surprise the kid turned around with a surpised/excited look on his face from a job well done. Well, as he turned around, so did the shotgun. Fortunately, it was only half-way around before he performed a negligent discharge and he had it pointed down. Kid had enough punishment, though. Had to eat through a straw for the next 4 months while his mouth was wired shut.
July 11, 2011, 12:59 PM
I've got a Ithaca 66 Super Single in 20 gauge...
Got the same thing in 12ga. It was my first deer hunting shotgun as a kid.
Always shot Rem. 2 3/4" Sluggers out of it.
Well, about 11-12 years ago, my brother came down the day before deer season and decided to stay for opening day. Spur of the moment kinda thing. I had plenty of 2 3/4" Sluggers but he insisted you could only kill deer with the 3" so off to town he goes getting the 'super killers'.
My other brother and I, knowing how this thing kicked with the 2 3/4", told him to get 5 or 6 boxes as he would have to re-zero for the 3"ers.;)
He brings 10 boxes of 3'ers back. He fires one rd. and turns to us with his mouth hanging opened. We insisted he wasn't holding the gun right and convinced him to shoot two more rds. By this time we are on the ground laughing so hard the tears were flowing.
What are brothers for!:D
He ended up hunting with the 2 3/4"
July 11, 2011, 02:37 PM
All the single shots,including those 20s, shine where they're carried a lot and shot a little. Woods running, trapping, backpacking etc.
Universally, they fill a need for a utility shotgun, inexpensive and reliable.
Universally, they kick like heck. Modest stock dimensions, bad fit and light weight all contribute to the shove.
The upside to the lightness is they can, with suitable light loads, be handled by small,frail and inexperienced folks who may have trouble with a heavier gun.
A 5.5 lbs single here is on loan to a 10 year old a,long with some 3/4 oz handloads. He shoots it without trauma but not without fun....
July 11, 2011, 03:30 PM
I have used a 20 ga for over 30 years for grouse, rabbits and yes trap. For grouse I use 1oz of 6 or 71/2, rabbits 3/4oz of 5's and for trap 1oz of 7 1/2 or 8's, always nice on league night at the trap range to pull out the Rem 870 20ga field with the straight English grip, 21" barrel and shoot a 23-25 with it and look at the faces with the guys with their $2-3000 trap grade 12ga O/U's faces. Next favorite 20 was the Rem 1100 in that version, wieght a 1/4lb more, 6 1/4lb but the weight was in the for end so it had a nicer swing, damn son grabbed it up on me after they quit making them.
July 11, 2011, 06:39 PM
ya'll are making me think that the 20 ga single shot I got for my dad may be too much for him...
July 11, 2011, 07:12 PM
The more the merrier. Single shots can be nice (ask my Parker Bros. Trap) and so can a nice handy 20 Gauge.
I actually just bought a 20 Gauge/rifle combo.
July 11, 2011, 08:14 PM
The one I saw today didn't quite light my fire. I couldn't believe how poorly the stock was mismatched to the receiver. 1/8" plus bigger all around. I'm not sure if I want it or not now. Have they always been like that?
July 11, 2011, 09:06 PM
I was given a Winchester Model 37 way back about 1955 when I was a mere child. I learned to hunt with that and used it all the way through high school. I'll tell you one thing, with a single barrel you learn to make every shot count. Too often you don't get a second shot except the occasional squirrel way up in a tree. Doves, rabbits, and quail are one shot and you're done. By the way I still have that shotgun although I haven't shot it in probably 50 years. I suppose it'll go to my son one day. Maybe he'll enjoy it as much as I did although he already has several very nice pumps and automatics already.
July 11, 2011, 09:16 PM
The one I saw today didn't quite light my fire. I couldn't believe how poorly the stock was mismatched to the receiver. 1/8" plus bigger all around. I'm not sure if I want it or not now. Have they always been like that?
That's called "proud" and it allows the stock to e refinished once or twice - on very good guns, it is expected
July 11, 2011, 09:21 PM
This is mostly repeating what others have said, but for benefits of a single shot,
- their light weight and shorter overall length (compared to pumps/autos with same barrel length) make them nice to carry and more maneuverable in dense woods and brush.
- simple design with few moving parts means fewer things can potentially go wrong. I'm sure there are exceptions, but H&R's single shots generally have a good reputation for being reliable.
- this is more of an intangible benefit than a real selling point, but there is a certain satisfaction that comes with taking game with your one shot. The one shot also forces shooters to use a little more discipline when hunting.
As for drawbacks, I don't buy that all single shots kick so hard... especially when shooting common 20 gauge loads. A basic 7/8 oz. load at 1200 fps will have about 16 ft. lbs. of free recoil out of a 6-pound gun (which is what a lot of single shots weigh).
By comparison, a common 1-1/8 oz. load at 1200 fps in a 7.5 pound 12 gauge will have about 20 ft. lbs. of energy.
This does NOT take into account how gun fit or recoil pads affect felt recoil, but the fact is that a single shot is not going to pound anyone into the ground just because it's a single shot. Many factory 20 gauge ammo offerings are light enough to keep recoil very manageable. Some single shots DO have decent recoil pads or pads can be added, and I suppose these guns DO fit some people fine.
...As for more legitimate concerns (IMO), the lack of a vent rib on most of them can make it harder to get a consistent sight picture. And, as others have said, the balance can be sketchy (most seem muzzle light to me).
July 11, 2011, 09:30 PM
So I shouldn't worry about a proud stock. I just haven't seen one that fat before and it just looked to me like the new guy was doing the fit up that day. It would someday be handed down to my grandson who is about three weeks old now. I have some time to age it before he gets it!:D
July 11, 2011, 09:44 PM
My brother bought his kid a Youth Model Rossi single shot 20 gauge. He claimed it is the worst recoil he has ever felt.
That said, a quality single shot shotgun is very useful. Around here everyone grew up with a single shot shotgun and a bolt action .22
July 12, 2011, 01:16 AM
I still have my Ithaca .20 gauge M66 youth model from the 1960's. I have not shot it more then 10 times since the late 1980's, & that was just for some plinking. I'm not a hunter, would not pick this shotgun over my main home defense weapons but still, I can never see me parting with it. Too much sentimental value.
All my guns will go to my kids when I die. Hopefully by then, one of the grandkids can have some use for it.
July 15, 2011, 10:48 PM
I still have my Old Model 37 in 20 gauge that my dad bought me when I was a boy. I have killed hundreds of squirrels and rabbits with it along with a few ground hogs. It is the same shotgun that my three sons learned to hunt with.
Bubba in c.a.
July 16, 2011, 04:07 PM
Some of my favorite guns are single shots--they are simple. reliable, and good trainers for other people. For years i had an H&R 12 gauge with 18inch barrel for home defense and camping. I`ve since moved up to more firepower, but I`m glad I had this gun when money was tighter.
One option to consider is to buy a matched set--one gun with 2 barrels (shotgun and rifle). i currently have a Rossi in 20 ga. and .223. It shoots OK but if I had it to buy again I`d go for a NEF.
July 17, 2011, 09:47 PM
Well, I picked it up today and hopefully it works out. I think this gun will fill a need when bird hunting season begins. Haven't shot it yet but I did clean it up. Are new guns always super dirty?
July 17, 2011, 10:01 PM
Britt, you didn't buy it, did you? We were only kidding!
Nah -- enjoy.
July 17, 2011, 10:09 PM
New guns usually have a type of packing grease on them. It helps prevent rust in storage, but often makes for a messy and subpar lubricant. It tends to wipe off a dark brown color or similar. Also, if the gun was test fired before it left the factory, you can just about bet that it wasn't cleaned either. One thing to be careful of with these guns is to make sure you keep a good coat of oil on them. I had one that I cleaned with action cleaner and forgot to oil and it started to get some minor surface rust in less than a week in a med-high humid environment. It cleaned up fine, but I lightened the color of the bluing in a spot where I used steel wool on the rust.
I like the single shot shotguns for the same reason I like my single shot .22. It makes you take time and think about the shots and aim well and feel more accomplished when you work that action and do all the work and get hits. I have seen a lot of ammo wasted by new shooters with semi-autos. :D
July 17, 2011, 11:18 PM
Yep, did all that and yes, it had the browns going on. Gun cleaner followed by Hopps #9 followed by Rem oil wipe down. She's a clean one now with a thin coat of oil. Can't wait for a day at the range!
July 18, 2011, 03:08 AM
Go for it Britt. You can have a lot of fun shooting clays with your single shot. (Many expensive trap guns are single shots).
July 24, 2011, 07:42 PM
H&R Pardner 20 gauge range report!!!
Okay, this shotgun is damn nice. I think it only needs one shell at a time because I didn't miss anything all day long. One shot, one kill and I'm not a great shot either. It does kick a little bit, kind of like a 30-30 which doesn't bother me at all. I'm sure it's because of the light weight but I wouldn't change a thing on it. I highly recommend this shotgun!
One thing to watch out for, the shell ejector throws them out high fast and hard so point it away from your head or you could end up with a shell imprint on your face. Don't get me wrong, I like this feature! Now I want to buy the 410 version.
July 24, 2011, 08:27 PM
Could always add a more professional rubber butt-pad. If your above average arm length you may not even have to cut the stock back...
July 24, 2011, 09:10 PM
Dave knows me.
The only shogun I have left is a single shot, youth, 20 bore.
I miss the the other shotguns, and have been there, done that from serious competitions, to being in harm's way. [there is difference in incoming and outgoing firearm rounds], shotgun rounds included.
Dave and others Know why I prefer the Youth model.
I ain't got a problem it being a 20 bore either, but I do have a fondness for slugs based on "life is life and reality is real".
Dave will back me up, I am sure.
Dave and others knows...and me...my real life experiences...
Internet on the other hand, no comment.
"Young-un- Rurak said to shoot two, you know about this in competing, now let us begin the lessons of serious stuff, where you shoot two...my single shot is loaded, load yours up as I showed you, and to use your term "run 'em...Oh I gots trip wires live and rigged for this course of fire young-un,,,
I miss my Mentors, but I gotta meet you in person someday.
Phone calls will have to do for know...
July 29, 2011, 06:17 PM
When I posted my reply, that was based on my first experience. My very first visit to the range with my 20ga single was superb. I dialed that baby in taking two shots with a Hornady SST at 40 yards, then fired one off at 100 and it was spot dead nuts on the money. A guy that was with me wanted to try it. I told him to place that first aiming circle on the Nikon BDC scope on target and he popped through the same hole I made. He could not believe it. He told me he was going to run out and buy the same gun I had for that deer season. Short model youth, break-open, single shot. I put a Limb-Saver butt pad on it along with a Claw carrying strap and I loved that little, but capable, shotgun. After my job loss, I reluctantly sold it. Now after some money has come in, I thought I'd replace it with the longer barel, thumb-hole stock variant with the factory scope base and Leupold 2-7X shotgun / muzzle-loader scope. So far, I have failed to reproduce the spot on accuracy and confidence I had with the other.
July 29, 2011, 08:30 PM
Some day, Steve.
Steel, each and every shotgun is a law unto itself when it comes to accuracy. It takes testing to find out what it will do with a given load.
Don't give up. Try different slugs, and work on your bench technique. Betcha good results are out there waiting to be found.
July 29, 2011, 11:10 PM
I am amazed at this one of mine. I've added a shell sleave that goes around the stock and holds five shot. This gun breaks open super easy and I can reload and fire it very fast. This is a one shot, one kill gun and now I feel good about taking it on a hunt. This H&R 20 gauge Pardner's a good one!
August 1, 2011, 02:46 PM
Sad to say, my present H&R and fourth visit to the range was not productive. After only 4 shots I packed it in. Will try a fifth time using a different scope. Mine might not be holding zero which could cause me to waste ammo chasing my tail. Can't hit an inside wall if I was standing in a barn. We'll see what the morning brings after the scope swap.
August 1, 2011, 05:23 PM
Which H&R do you have? I thinking you have a Handi-rifle. The shotguns seem to do just fine.
September 17, 2011, 08:17 PM
I have another follow on question about this shotgun. It comes out of the box with a modified choke and seems to be able to hit almost anything. With the right ammo, would one be able to use it for deer hunting and what sort of range would one be looking at? Would a scope need to be fitted? I've figured out how to do that without touching either the receiver or barrel.
September 17, 2011, 08:35 PM
By "right ammo" do you mean buckshot or slugs? You should be able to shoot either out of a MOD choke.
I've never hunted deer with buckshot, but I've heard people say that 40 yards is a practical limit, but that's with 00 from a 12 ga. Not sure what to expect from a 20 ga. (which typically comes with #2 or 3 buck). Maybe 30 yards?
With slugs, your options would be rifled slugs. Remington, Winchester, and Federal all make these, but you may want to experiment because your gun may be more accurate with one type than the others. Another option for smootbore barrels are Brenneke slugs, which I'd be tempted to try if I were to hunt deer with slugs. If you can get good sights or a scope on the gun, you could probably take deer out around 60 yards (well, probably farther, but I'm being conservative). Shooting with only a bead, shot placement becomes imprecise, and I'd say your range is back down to around 40 yards.
Just curious, how you plan to mount the scope if it doesn't involve the barrel or receiver???
September 17, 2011, 08:57 PM
I'm looking at slugs for it.
As for the scope mount, I'm looking at having it come off of the fore grip in a U shape and a rail. I also have a scope mount for a Winchester 94 top eject that could be used too. I will have to be sure of the long term use of the forearm as a scope mount though as it may work fine or it could work loose. The other option would be to mount a Lyman type fold down peep sight like the one you would find on an old Sharps or something.
September 18, 2011, 08:46 AM
Odd? There is nothing odd about a 20 GA single shot. It's one of my favorite choices for squirrel and rabbit. I started with a H&R .410 single shot at age 10, then a Winchester 20 GA single shot at age 12, then my Marlin 12 GA pump with 30" barrel at age 15 (still have the 20 and 12). By the time I got my 12 GA, I almost felt like I was cheating, making it too easy. I returned to the 20 GA for squirrel and rabbit, although I kept on using the 12 GA for close up deer hunting.
I wouldn't really recommend 20 GA much for deer except with slugs, to lessen the chance of a wounded animal. I comically started deer hunting with my .410 using 2.5" slugs ( :o ) but probably wouldn't have been able to take one right away with it, so luckily I never got a shot with the .410.
September 18, 2011, 11:13 AM
I do have a 12 gauge High Standard Model 200 that I could use instead. It just seemed like I might be able to open the 20 up to more possibilities. Last thing I want is a wounded deer wandering the woods. Slugs would be the only way to go but I would like to get a good idea of what the effective range of a slug would be as well as having an accurate sight system in place. If it's not a good idea, then I won't bother.
February 2, 2012, 02:01 AM
I just bought a Youth model (short) 20 ga. Remington 870 for home defense at my country house and shooting wild pigs. I'm only 59 but do have arthritic shoulders so the light weight is a plus
suggestions on shells to use for the pigs?? I've heard their armor is rather dense!
I have discovered they don't generally load 00 buck in a 20 ga. shell( which was my original plan for home defense and hogs.) Will still use 9MM Kahr handgun for inside defense but need something for outside with not a lot of overshot problems
February 2, 2012, 11:10 AM
I recently bought a used 20 gauge single shot. I bought it for the lady of the house to use in the house. I will cut it down to about 20" and get buck shot. I think in the dark under stress it is the perfect defense gun for a woman not used to guns. I use an old 12 gauge H&R single shot to hunt deer. The tube is thick on the old ones and I silver soldered a scope base right on the tube. The 20 gauge was headed down the same road until my girlfriend said she wanted a house gun. I would not even think about using a pump or auto for deer.
February 2, 2012, 12:17 PM
I have a H&R and I love it to death!
February 2, 2012, 04:48 PM
No hog expert here, but were I using any 20 on pugnacious porcine prey of ponderous poundage I'd stoke it with Rottweil Brenekkes.
As for the little singles in 20, they make wonderful shotguns for long carrying and occasional shooting.
February 4, 2012, 01:06 AM
Very first deer I ever got was with a Stevens 94 (20 gauge single shot)...first duck too....wait, also first goose.........I could keep going on but the message would be the same. Still have the gun, still hunt deer with it, not planning on breaking that habit any time soon. #3 Buckshot out of the 20 gauge works just as well as any buckshot out of my 12 gauge but with a lot less recoil. That model 94 keeps a tighter pattern with buckshot than any other shotgun I've tried. :)
February 10, 2012, 07:50 PM
I personally swear by 20 gauges. the only reason i traded up was because thats what all my buddies shoot so when i run out of shell i can always borrow some of theirs. I have personally taken ducks and geese out to 80 yards with no problem. when they hit the water they are always deader than a door nail.
February 10, 2012, 08:05 PM
My hunting pard is 71 y.o., has broken his back two different times and his neck once, in separate accidents over the years - and has been mandated by his Doctors to no longer shoot anything with substantial recoil.
He uses a .30-30 for deer, where allowed (out-of-state), but a rifled, 20ge NEF/H&R Pardner II for the shotguns-only deer searson in our state.
So far, he's never needed more than a single shot to fill his shotgun tag - and it's hard to argue with success.
I only wish I was as successful. . :rolleyes:
(I use a 20ga too - but an Ithaca 37 Deerslayer repeater. I haven't had to shoot a 12ga in more than 10 years)
February 12, 2012, 04:14 PM
Any single shot break open shotgun is sweet, but for a youth shooter, it has a stronger kick than a gas powerd shotgun. The hammer cock give the youth shooter a once chance of follow up, thus more concentration on the bead. Single shot break opens are easy for break down, cleaning and for visual unloaded safety check. I moved from my first Savage 20 break open in my youth to my Savage Fox 20 side by side (dual trigger). It was just perfect in weight and power for dove, quail, rabbit and squirill. Depending on the age of the young shooter, let them try it out in the field to determine their comfort level.
February 15, 2012, 11:10 PM
Great thread here. Just today I picked up a Pardner 20 GA single shot from a pawn shop for $35 out the door. Took it out back and shot it a few times, this is a slick little gun! Picked it up for my son to use, really doesn't kick all that hard.
March 2, 2012, 05:19 PM
My second firearm was an old 20ga single shot, got it when I was 13. I used to go dove hunting in Texas with grandpa and his friends. I got so good with that thing I could often get two birds out of a flight going over... birds heading my way: aim, shoot, reload, aim shoot. Two shots, two birds.
Grandpa was quite proud of me. :) My hunting vest pouch was always full by day's end.
March 3, 2012, 07:58 AM
What I would like to try is an H&R single in 28 gauge.
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