The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Dave McCracken Memorial Shotgun Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old September 8, 2004, 06:56 AM   #1
Sulaco
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 10, 2001
Posts: 102
Is A 20 Gauge For Me?

I have a Remington 870 Police in 12 Gauge. It is a parkerized gun so nothing goes with it (as far as accessory barrels, etc.). It has an 18" imp. cyl. bead front sight barrel and a Wilson magazine extension. It is my home defense shotgun.

I need a shotgun (this one, or a different one entirely) setup for bird (around here, bird is dove and duck), turkey and deer. I would prefer a ventilated rib, bead front sight barrel in about 26" or so for bird and whatever would work well for turkey and then I have to decide if I want a rifled or smooth bore barrel for deer.

I know I have a lot to figure out, but before I get really into it, I wonder if I should be looking at a 20 gauge? I have always heard the difference in the two is minimal in most things, is this true?

Thanks for the help.
Sulaco is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 07:12 AM   #2
trapperready
Member
 
Join Date: May 18, 2004
Posts: 23
IMO, you'd be better off with a 12ga. A 20ga is great for using as an upland gun. However, if you throw waterfowl into the picture, you will have a much better selection of ammo with a 12ga.

Most of the 20ga shotguns are proportionatly lighter than their larger bore counterparts, and that decreased weight often amounts to every bit as much recoil. So, a 20ga can make sense if you have to carry the gun a lot (as in upland hunting), but for more stationary hunting (like doves, deer, ducks, turkey) the weight of the gun is less important. In fact a heavier gun will help to soak up some of the recoil.

Given what you have on your list to hunt, I'd look real closely at the Winchester Super X-2 in 12ga. It will function with a lot of different loads, and the 3 1/2" chamber will allow you to shoot any kind of shell you might need.
trapperready is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 07:23 AM   #3
sm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2002
Posts: 1,810
The 20 ga is a great gauge. Makes for a great "upland bird" gun , easier to tote afield, and I doubt a deer would know the difference if hit with a 20 ga slug versus a 12 ga slug.

You mentioned Ducks ( waterfowl) and Turkey. The 20 ga is capable, though limited with load offerings for this type of game. Another consideration is the rule of 96's, meaning the payload :: to weight of gun - Recoil.

1oz payload from a 20 is more noticeable than from a 12. 12 bore has more load offerings from the factory as well.

I like the 20 a lot, within its limits, loadings and range - hard to beat. IN your request for Waterfowl and Turkey I would recommend the 870 Express. This gives you the same MOA as your're accustomed to, option of 3" payload if need, and using 7/8 oz loads for upland game - very minimal perecieved recoil.

For Instance Sport's Academy has these for $199 - subtract the $25 Rem rebate good until Nov, and $174 plus tax....then purchase whatever additonal chokes you require for game.

I believe in the 20ga, I really like the 28ga , .410s have a place. If I had my druthers, 12 bore and a 28 ga. covers the game I shoot and clay games as well.

HTH

Matter of bore - not choke.-Brister.

Edit - Trapper and I posted at the same time ...
Good points Trapper - I was going for using same platform for familiarity, and being a tightwad on the monies. SX2 is a great gun - no doubt.
__________________
Use Enough Gun
TFL Alumni
sm is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 08:41 AM   #4
Bacchus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 3, 2001
Posts: 259
While I love the 20 as much as the next person,

I have to agree with the other posters: while the 20 may be appropriate for some of the hunting you mentioned, I think that the 12 is more versatile and appropriate for all of the hunting you mentioned.
Bacchus is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 08:59 AM   #5
Clemson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 9, 2001
Location: Greenwood, SC
Posts: 820
Gee whiz, guys. I agree with the above posts to a point. I do 90% of my shooting with a 20 gauge. I don't, however, hunt ducks, and I hunt deer with a rifle. I would have to go with a 12 gauge for those critters. The obvious solution however, is two new guns. A 20 gauge auto for doves and a 12 gauge with two barrels for deer and ducks. An alternate would be to buy a slug barrel for the 20 gauge auto for deer use.

Clemson
__________________
NRA Endowment Member, NRA Certified Instructor
CWP Holder
US Army veteran
Gunsmith www.boltandbarrel.com
Clemson is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 09:11 AM   #6
trapperready
Member
 
Join Date: May 18, 2004
Posts: 23
Steve - As long as it's not me doing the buying, cost is no object.
trapperready is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 09:23 AM   #7
sm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2002
Posts: 1,810
Hey - I believe in getting the WHOLE SET.

I mean after one gets one of each of the 12, 20, 28 and .410 ...start on getting Semis's, Pumps, O/U, SxS, Single shots,...old Classics....
Neatest thing I played with was the 32 gauge - Spanish made O/U of a make I forget...still have some 32 shells around.

I am not allowed to accompany some folks to make firearm purchases...then they turn around and call me anyway.

I tried to tell the fella ...Don't let your wife shoot a 28 ga. He did. His next dumb move was letting ME take her shopping.

I'm a guy - I know how stupid we men can be.

You ever need a scapegoat for buying a shotgun - blame me. I used to it....
__________________
Use Enough Gun
TFL Alumni
sm is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 09:50 AM   #8
Cowdogpete
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 7, 2002
Location: Bosque County, TX
Posts: 265
12 ga. 870 combo.

20 is just a bit weak for ducks and turkey although it can be done.

Steve, what about 10 and 16?

Cowdogpete
__________________
Smoke on THR
I love the smell of cordite in the morning.
Cowdogpete is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 10:02 AM   #9
sm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 5, 2002
Posts: 1,810
I forgot , wait 10 yrs when you catch up to me, you'll see.

Of course in 10 years you can remind ME of who I am - if you can remember.

The 10 bore is another - weird deal, like the 28 ga. The Payload to bore allows it to better than supposed to be. The guns are bigger / heavier, recoil is better managed and percieved. You ever get a chance to shoot a Marlin Goose Gun [10 ga gun ] - EASY on the shoulder - no kidding, soft to shoot , hard on critters.

Growing up - I wasn't exposed to many 16 ga guns - must be my locale or something. Not enough loading to choose from - Sad - because the 16 is a very efficient ga.

Only problem I ever had was getting a bunch of black 16 ga hulls mixed with the black 12 ga...I don't care how hard to try - well...you can't load a 16 ga hull with 12 ga components....Oh I had to do this on a MEC 9000, I couldn't learn on my Single stage....20 ga won't work either....just experimenting ...
__________________
Use Enough Gun
TFL Alumni
sm is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 11:00 AM   #10
mete
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 14, 2004
Location: NY State
Posts: 5,326
The 12Ga is really very good, with many types of ammo available.Get a gun with 3" chamber, then you can go from 2 3/4" target to 3" for waterfowl.12 is also much better for deer.For slugs you could use a rifled choke or get a rifled barrel for better accuracy.
mete is online now  
Old September 8, 2004, 11:21 AM   #11
Sulaco
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 10, 2001
Posts: 102
So, it sounds like the 870 combo using a 28" VR and a 20" Imp. Cyl w/ rifled sights is the gun for me. I can use different chokes to suit the need. Thanks guys. I will sell my Police model and get it soon.
Sulaco is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 12:31 PM   #12
Dave R
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2000
Location: Idaho
Posts: 6,073
You made the right choice. New barrels for the 870 are cheaper than a new gun.

And 12 ga. "lite loads" can work like a 20. But 20 "heavy loads" can't match 12 heavy loads.

So I think you got the most versatility, there.
__________________
I am Pro-Rights (on gun issues).
Dave R is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 10:00 PM   #13
trapperready
Member
 
Join Date: May 18, 2004
Posts: 23
Cowdogpete - I have no experience with the 10ga, but I am a fan of 16ga shotguns. In fact, over the past year, I've wound up with an old A-5 and an even older Model 12 in 16ga.

The more that I've shot, the more I realize that anything over an ounce of shot isn't necessary (as long as you're shooting lead). While there are exceptions (such as wild pheasants a few weeks after the opener), most of the upland birds can be readily dropped with 7/8 or 1 oz loads.

A 20ga can push that amount nicely. However, a 16ga should do it a little better. A 12ga would probably be better still, but the gun itself is going to be a little heavier, which by the end of the day can take its toll.

When a 16ga is scaled correctly, it's noticeably lighter than it's 12ga counterpart, making it easier to carry. Especially when you are chasing an energetic lab, which is in-turn chasing a fleet-footed winged critter that refuses to take to the air.

The downsides of the 16ga are primarily:

1) Lack of availability of ammo. Even some of the well-stocked places in town only have a few lonely boxes of 16ga on the shelves. It does seem that this has gotten better over the last couple years, though. Try to find some at a gas/ammo/bait shop in the middle of nowhere, and you're probably out of luck. 12ga and 20ga is usually abundant.

2) Lack of variety of ammo. Related to number 1 above. Since the shops don't carry very much, they usually don't have much variety. Sometimes, all I've seen are 7 1/2s or 8s. Ideally, you'd want to have 5s, 6s, and 7 1/2s for game. Also, I've yet to see any target loads on the shelves. Forget about a ValuePack at Wal-Mart.

3) If you do as I do (which I don't recommend), I often have a whole host of shells rattling around in my "huntin' bag". Fortunately, all of my 16ga shells are blue, so I can keep them seperate. However, I've personally seen a friend jam a 16ga shell in the barrel of a 12ga pump. Fortunately, he caught his error before he fired a 12ga shell behind it... and kept his face intact. We did have to cut a long straight branch and pound the thing out of the barrel though.

4) Older (like 1930's-vintage and before) 16ga guns often have short chambers... usually 2 9/16". These can be unsafe with modern loads, and in any event won't cycle properly. In many instances, the guns can be converted (by lengthening the chamber and recutting the ejection port at a minimum), but such conversions often run a couple hundred dollars. If you don't go that route, then there are places to order 2 1/2" shells. This is what I've done, and I've had very good success with those shells. I'm saving the hulls, as you can fit a MEC reloader with an adapter plate to load the shorter shells.

For me, I just kind of like quirky stuff (which is why I've got a non-functional BSA motorcycle in the garage) and the 16ga fits that bill, without being impractical. In fact, since most of my hunting is for upland game, the 16ga is just about ideal. I plan to do most of my hunting this year with the 16ga Model 12, using either 1 oz of #6 shot or 7/8 oz of #7 (not #7 1/2). If all goes well, I'll be shooting dove, grouse, pheasant and maybe woodcock. By the end of the season, I should have a very good idea of how effective the 16ga is. In the past, I've almost always used a 12ga, unless I know in advance that we'll be out all day in pretty nasty terrain/cover. Then I'll sometimes bring a 20ga instead. This year, I'll split the difference.
trapperready is offline  
Old September 8, 2004, 10:52 PM   #14
HSMITH
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 21, 2002
Posts: 2,019
How much waterfowl hunting are you going to do?

How well do you shoot a shotgun?

The first question relates to ammunition costs. A 20 gauge with Hevi-Shot is a DEADLY duck gun, but if you hunt a lot it is very costly. The second question relates to how large a handicap is the smaller gun going to be. If you shoot fairly well and can use lead shot or slugs the game will not know whether it was hit with a 12 guage or a 20. If you are a newer shooter the 12 guage provides the capability of a larger pattern than the 20 guage with the same density as the 20 guage due to heavier payload, and gives you a little better opportunity to harvest some game. For a good or better shooter using lead shot the difference between 12 and 20 is minor at best.


Waterfowl is another story. The 20 guage with steel shot is an expert only proposition IMO. IMO you not only need to be an expert shot but a darn good and seasoned duck hunter to boot before even considering the 20 guage with steel. IF you can afford a couple boxes of tungsten or Hevi the 20 using exotic shot is superior to the 12 when it is used with steel, and quite capable of taking any waterfowl at ranges most would consider a tall tale. If you hunt waterfowl much the 12 guage 3.5" shells provide a tremendous advantage over 3" shells when using steel shot, but again if you can afford the exotic shotshells the longer shells are not needed.

How you use your gun is a HUGE factor in what you should look for. Not all of us can have a locker full of shotguns making the choices and compromises more critical. Any 'one gun' shotgun battery is a compromise but there are some suitable choices for most any hunter or shooter, the hitch is that the compromises you make can have a big impact on your success in the field. Choose wisely.
HSMITH is offline  
Old September 9, 2004, 04:40 AM   #15
Dave McC
Staff In Memoriam
 
Join Date: October 13, 1999
Location: Columbia, Md, USA
Posts: 8,812
Pick up a catalog from CTD, Abel ammo, etc. Note the variety of loads available in 12 gauge vs 20. Even without invoking the 3 1/2" deity, there's several times the choices in 12 bore.

Big reason for choosing a 20 over a 12 for an all around shotgun is ease of handling by smallish shotgunners. Otherwise the 12 is the better option.
Dave McC is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:08 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11127 seconds with 9 queries