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Old November 18, 2009, 09:44 PM   #1
davem
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Auto or O/U?

Looking for some advise: I am thinking about what would be better for my situation, a 12 gauge O/U or 12 gauge Semi-auto. I would do some shooting at the range, trap or clays, and use the gun for ducks and turkey, maybe upland game. I will reload at least some of the ammunition- all for target practice.

On the trap/clays I think the O/U may be better if the gun doesn't have auto ejectors- that is- I can pick out the spent shell cases and save them. I have noticed Semi-auto shooters often pick up the ejected cases after their turn so maybe that's not an issue.

For those of you that have at various times owned BOTH- what did you settle on? Thanks.
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Old November 18, 2009, 10:27 PM   #2
Jeremiah/Az
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The auto will be softer recoiling probably, but the o/u gives you 2 different chokes if you want. All shells should be caught at skeet & trap if you wish to keep them. At our club, you can not pick them up if they are ejected on the ground, a safety thing. Trapshooters get very upset if you throw hulls at them. Use a shell catcher on an auto & put your hand over the empties on an o/u as you open the gun.
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Old November 18, 2009, 10:29 PM   #3
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Either would work but the biggest concern I see with using an auto loader is the big difference in the required loads for your stated intended use. Some autoloaders that do well ejecting heavy turkey loads do not do well ejecting light target loads.
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Old November 18, 2009, 10:38 PM   #4
dahermit
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I had a Browning BT-99 (a dedicated single shot trap gun), that had an auto ejector. If one holds their left hand over the breech while pushing the opening lever with the right thumb, you can keep the empty hull from ejecting into the air. Just place the hull into your left vest pocket.

I also have a Winchester 101 20 gauge (an over and under), that points superbly due to the weight of two barrels. But for hunting as you describe, especially for water fowl, an auto would be better due to 3 shot capability.

My solution to the dilemma of which shotgun is better for different purposes is to buy a different shotgun for each purpose.

Last edited by dahermit; November 18, 2009 at 10:43 PM.
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Old November 19, 2009, 09:23 AM   #5
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>>For those of you that have at various times owned BOTH- what did you settle on?<<

Like many of us here, I have both. Started out with O/U but have switched over to autos for clay shooting. Mine are Benellis, so it has nothing to do with softer recoil. I just like the way they perform, and rarely use an O/U anymore. Eventually, you'll probably end up owning both, and will make your own decision as to which you like better.
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Old November 19, 2009, 09:34 AM   #6
oneounceload
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I have both O/U's and a semi. Both are as different as night and day in their feel and balance. Depending on your duck blind, either might work well or be a PITA, depending on how many in the blind, how close, etc.

A good target gun should weigh about 8 pounds or more for recoil absorption. A good field gun (assuming 12 gauge), should be about 1 pound less for carrying ability in the field.

As to ejectors, no one I shoot with has extractors - they're ALL ejectors. You just put your hand over the barrel when you open the action and they pop into your hand. There are a few models, (can't remember which off the top of my head), that allow you to select ejector or extractor, but that is really a non-issue.

The MOST IMPORTANT factor will be the fit of the gun and the FEEL in YOUR hands. Try to borrow/rent guns of both types and shoot them. See which ones comes closest to a good fit (that way you'll have minimum adjustments to make). Which one swings better for you? Which one does a better job of reducing the felt recoil? Which one is aesthetically more pleasing to you?

Unless someone here actually knows you in person, no one here can tell you exactly what to get. We can give you opinions on what we have found to work well for us as individuals - but that all needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Personally, I would opt for 2 guns only because you mention waterfowl - a plastic-stocked Beretta/Benelli or similar for the wet conditions that waterfowl typically entails, and something nicer for the clays and upland. Not saying one can't do it all with one. Again , MY preference. And for clays and upland, I like a O/U - two different choke selections, I prefer the balance and swing characteristics of a 30 or 32 inch barrel set.

Good luck in your quest
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Old November 19, 2009, 10:27 AM   #7
zippy13
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I, like the previous posters, have both auto and O/Us and auto. The vast majority of my shooting is skeet where I prefer a smooth swinging tubed O/U. I have them in both 28 and 30-inch barrel models and light and heavy models. For trap I have a combo with 34 single and 32 double barrels.

All of my guns are target models. The 28-inch light skeet gun (P-SC3) makes a nice upland rig; and, with 28-ga tubes it's a delight to shoot. My R-1100-Trap, with it's long over-bored barrel and full, fuller and fullest screw-in chokes works well for waterfowl.

As oneonceload mentioned, extractor only O/Us are rare. My guns are all ejector models, too. One soon learns how to smoothly and quickly switch the hand from moving the thumb lever to catching the hulls. Many years ago, I shot with Winchester 101s that I converted to extractor only. I found it was actually slower to reload with them and they were a real bother if you were shooting with gloves. I switched them back to ejectors after a few years. I should mention: an ejector model converted to extractor typically provides less shell presentation than a true extractor only model. Also, extractor only models have fewer parts (to go wrong) than selective ejector models.

Ditto:
Quote:
oneouncload
The MOST IMPORTANT factor will be the fit of the gun and the FEEL in YOUR hands. Try to borrow/rent guns of both types and shoot them. See which ones comes closest to a good fit (that way you'll have minimum adjustments to make). Which one swings better for you? Which one does a better job of reducing the felt recoil? Which one is aesthetically more pleasing to you?
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Old November 19, 2009, 12:13 PM   #8
BigJimP
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+ 2 on what Zippy and OneOunce both said... I also have both ( and pump guns too ) ...

There is no right or wrong answer to either action style / but Fit is the big issue - not the action style.
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Old November 19, 2009, 12:16 PM   #9
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I am a fanatical duck hunter and call in a duck camp for other hunters. O/U's are reliable and look good but they are a nightmare when used to duck hunt for many. There are a few who like them. They are not good in tight areas like blinds. They get dinged up all to heck in boats and they have a tendency to kick out live shells (The ones built like the Beretta O/U I owned did anyway.) at the most inopportune times when you are wading with them in flooded timber. If you wade in to hunt and stand in water, it is not a question of "if" but "when" you will drop your shotgun in the water. If you duck hunt with any shotgun and think you will not get it scratched up, dirty, muddy and wet, then you are in for some serious discomfort.

I personally run a Browning Gold with wood furniture. I really like the speed load function whereby a live round is automatically kicked into the chamber when the bolt is kicked back after you are out of "bullets". The newest version offering this neat feature handed down from the Auto Five is the Browning Maxus. Plastic stocks and a polymer matte finish are better but I also hunt with a duck call made in 1945-----like the looks of wood furniture. You will need to be completely familiar with a full strip down procedures for any shotgun you seriously duck hunt with or know a good gunsmith and have plenty of money to spend on having it cleaned thoroughly and frequently.

The automatic will malfunction sooner or later I don't care how much you paid for it or who made it. It is just a part of life and the trade off for being able to get off three shots quickly. The O/U will kick more but be reliable to a fault if you keep it clean. Either way you will be well served just go into it with all the facts. The best duck hunting 0/U's for the money are the lower end Brownings and Berettas. The Winchester 101 is also an excellent choice. The Ruger will be brutal on your shoulder. If I ever go back to the O/U, it will the current Belgium-made production Winchester 101 field grade.

This is opinion based from years of experience your views may be different.

Here is what i am talking about----both situations where the shotgun will be abused.





Last edited by SAMILSPEC; November 19, 2009 at 12:26 PM.
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Old November 19, 2009, 05:49 PM   #10
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I disagree with Samilspec on some issues - and I've hunted a lot of ducks - in flooded timber and in blinds - and I've never dinged up a gun or dropped one ..... I'm not saying it doesn't happen / I've seen guys fall out of boats and all kinds of things .... To and from the blind / or in the boat / or to and from the field to hunt birds - I keep the gun in a soft case / scabbard - and I don't throw it around and abuse it. I have a place for guns, place for decoys, etc ...and if I'm on a guided hunt out of state, I usually hang onto my own scabbard in the boat and am careful where I put the gun in the vehicle.

All of my O/U's are Brownings with high gloss stocks ( primarily XS Skeet models, with 30" barrels ). I prefer to hunt with these guns - and have them in 12, 20, 28ga and .410 - so it depends on what I'm doing from ducks, pheasants, quail, etc ...and most of my O/U's are 15 yrs old or so ...

None of my guns will eject an unfired shell - so its not an issue. I do agree that an O/U is a little more reliable - in that if you can get a shell in the chamber, and close the gun, it will probably fire. But O/U's need care and attention as well - and whenever I'm hunting, or shooting sporting clays, on rainy days - the stock comes off when I get back to the lodge or home - everything dried out / lubed - put back together.

I've had a number of semi-autos over the yrs - Browning Auto 5's, Rem 1100's, Rem 11-87 etc - but the only semi-auto I own currently is a Benelli Super Sport. Its my travel gun, when I fly, so I can take one gun to do everything ... and its never malfunctioned .... but I completely strip it when I come out of the field and clean and lube it / put it back in battery. I've never had a semi-auto fail in the field / so its not going to necessarily happen if you take care of the gun. That is not to say that guns can't break firing pins, etc - that would certainly disable a gun .... but I try and stay on top of my maintenance and replace pins, springs, etc on a routine basis.

As far as guns for wet weather - the Benelli is easier to deal with / synthetic stock ( can completely clean and lube it in 15 min / and be back in battery ). I use the Benelli as my "rain gun" for Skeet and sporting clays ...when I don't feel like taking a nice O/U out in the weather ..... but on a nice day in the field, a little bite in the air, birds moving around - I really want one of my O/U's in my hands ...

Recoil is a function of the weight of the gun, the velocity of the shell and the ounces of shot in the shell. It doesn't make any difference who made the gun - but Fit is an issue. The Ruger isn't any different than a Browning on recoil.

Browning makes about 26 different models of the Citori lineup / Browning makes another dozen or more in the Cynergy line / Beretta makes at least a dozen - so there are a lot of O/U's in those 3 lineups ( from $1,000 - $4,000 probably ). If the Lightning series Browning ( their entry level field gun ) fits you, no doubt its a good strong gun / I've still got one I purchased 22 yrs ago ....but Beretta makes some good guns as well ( they just don't fit me ).... but most of the guns Browning makes don't fit me either. Picking a gun is really about Fit ....so it hits where you look. For me, that means a gun with a parallel adjustable comb ( like the Citori XS Skeet or XS Special ) - and I think they are one of the most versatile guns that Browning makes.
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Old November 19, 2009, 06:41 PM   #11
Danny45
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There's just something about the beauty that is a quality Over/Under shotgun.

And, there's just something beautiful about the way a quality, camoflaged, semi-auto operates.

Buy both!

For under $1000.00, you can get a camo Stoeger M2000 semi-auto with 5 choke tubes (I love mine, never had a problem with it regardless of what load I was shooting) and a imported Over/Under that is very nice. Check out the deals at Academy and other retailers.

But if you have to pick just one, get a good Semi-Auto. Camoflaging an O/U for turkey or ducks should be a crime.

Did I mention that the Stoeger is owned by Benelli? Must have forgotten that part.
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Old November 19, 2009, 06:47 PM   #12
SAMILSPEC
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You have to factor in I am calling, watching other hunters to make sure they are safe, watching for ducks, holding a shotgun and handling a dog simultaneously-----when you do that for 30 days in a row of a 60-day season getting up every day at 2:30 am, stuff will get dropped, dinged and scratched. I don't do this any more but I have at at the end of a season, you are worn out.

I had a Beretta 686 action and hated it. It did not fit me, the thing went to safe every time you broke open the shotgun and the ejectors worked so well, if you were not careful----live shells went "plop-plop" into the drink.

The only people I hunt with that have pristine shotguns tend to baby them when we are hunting. I just won't do it. I clean them meticulously but I refuse to worry about one.

You sound like the exception to the rule but the OP needs to factor in duck hunting is one of the harshest environments a shotgun will ever endure.
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Old November 19, 2009, 06:50 PM   #13
davem
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Thanks guys for all the input. Your comments have made me think of a few new issues. On waterfowling- it would be nice to be able to use a sling in some situations so that would bode well for a semi-auto. On an O/U in a boat or blind- is it difficult to break open the gun if the blind is a tight fit? I was thinking symthetic black stock on a semi-auto.
So...... now I am thinking that the main benefit of the O/U would be at the range where you could put your hand over the shells to catch and save them.
If a semi-auto is used at a range- do you just leave the shells on the ground?
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Old November 19, 2009, 07:02 PM   #14
oneounceload
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Quote:
If a semi-auto is used at a range- do you just leave the shells on the ground?
Depends on your club- most that I have shot at have no problem with you picking up empties; some do however. For singles, T&S makes a shell catcher that will slip on your gun so the empty sticks out of the receiver for you to easily get it.
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Old November 19, 2009, 09:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
If a semi-auto is used at a range- do you just leave the shells on the ground?
Shell catchers work on singles, but must be removed for doubles. Some clubs don't allow grounded hulls to be harvested -- it takes up valuable shooting time.
This brings up another topic: if you're going to shoot a lot of targets, then there is a high probability you'll reload. Autos and reloading are, at best, a marriage made in hell. That's one reason many folks prefer O/Us.
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Old November 20, 2009, 02:10 PM   #16
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I agree with Samilspec - in the sense that I'm just one of the hunters in the field ....... he's doing the calling, working the dog, worrying about some newbie's handling a gun for the first time .... and all I'm doing is shooting and having a great time - and admiring a good caller and dog handler in action ...(both skills I don't have ..).

( I don't camo my O/U for duck hunting ..) - the gun is out of sight until the guide yells for us to "take em" .....

When I had a bird dog / for upland birds not waterfowl - I would usually leave my gun in the truck - let the kids shoot and all I did was work my dog - but a guide doesn't have that option. Paying customers are an interesting lot ... some are serious shooters, accomplished clay target shooters, accomplished bird hunters ......and some are so hung over from partying the nite before they can't see, some have no idea what a mallard drake in flight looks like vs a hen and bust anything that flys, some cripple more birds than they kill requiring the guide to do a lot of clean up, and don't get me started on gun handling skills around newbies ( makes me flinch ....).

I would probably go with a synthetic stocked semi-auto or a good pump gun if I were a guide.
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Old November 20, 2009, 04:01 PM   #17
SAMILSPEC
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BigJim:

9 times out of 10, the reason my shotgun takes a swim is due to the fact I have unloaded it and have it leaning on a tree or the dog stand and I am watching the other hunters and kerplunk!

A sling is a good thing. Personally, they impede my swing and I do not use them but I do carry a floating case with a shoulder strap on it.

I think the point BigJim and others make and rightly so is to find what works for you. I hunt a lot with an 870----a lot-----but I think you are at a disadvantage due to the lack of a quick follow up shot and you tend to get off target when you jack the hull out at least I do anyway.
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Old November 20, 2009, 04:54 PM   #18
BigJimP
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Yes, go with what works for you ....and the gun that fits you the best. I hunted for many years with a Browning BPS 12ga pump as well.

( and tip your guide well .../they work hard so everybody has a good day in the field ).

I had the distinct priveledge of hunting with a "Champion of Champions duck caller - David Starks in Stuttgart, Ark for a couple of years in the late 80's ...and it was amazing but all you guys that can call in Ducks are artists ....and nothing is more fun than watching a good professional caller and a well trained dog work... ( great memories ).
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Old November 20, 2009, 05:26 PM   #19
SAMILSPEC
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Starks was Junior world champion in 1967, Champion in 1981 and 1984 and then Champion of Champion in 1985. After one hits C of C, they are done, they can go no further.

Those guys amaze me with what they can do. You definitely hunted with one of the best. I grew up in South AR and my father keeps a Camper near Bayou Meto outside of Stuttgart. At 73 years young, he is there right now with baited breath waiting for tomorrow's opener. Hopefully, I will get to hunt with him again this season.

I hunt out of a 125 year old duck camp just South of Dallas currently. We have 11 blinds and roughly 1,000 acres. It is the oldest, continuous for profit hunting club in the state of Texas. We are blessed with some incredible shooters. Most them are shooting the older 16 gauge Auto 5's or Winchester Side X Side 16's and Bismuth shot. Those men can shoot better with 16's and 20's than most do with 10 gauges or 12 gauge 3-1/2 inchers. It is a privilege to call there.

I run an Old Black P.S. Olt Keyhole Duck Call made in the mid 1940's. They are hard to blow but they sound just like that old dominant hen mallard. Many cut them down or modify the tone board for the low, throaty raspy sound and to make them easier to run. I usually run them as it but use a different reed. They are still the go-to call many AR guides use today. David Starks blew a Chick Majors call in his first youth contest. The Chick Majors call served as the foundation for the Rich-n-Tone calls of today.

Here is the old black Olt. Philip Sanford Olt was ahead of his time in creating a call made out of something besides wood-----they do not distort when the weather is damp, cold or both. Notice how they abbreviated Illinois when this thing was made. In the second picture, you see the end of the tonal plug with what looks like a keyhole in the end of it thus the moniker keyhole Olt. This one was not cleaned up when it was pulled off the old rubber mold as you can see on the left bottom side but it is the best sounding one I have. For what it is worth, that old mold was made in 1904 and they never changed it up until the company went out of business in 2002, they just kept repairing it.






I don't know what it is BigJim but at age 45, I still love the nostalgia of the wood stocks and blued steel. I know I should shoot a smooth bore with polymer stocks but I like the patina of the worn bluing. Browning wood stocks seem to be as good as any out their for weather resistance.

I plan to hunt tommorow. Hopefully, we will get some good shots with both the camera and the shotgun.

Back to the subject at hand, I would buy a shotgun at least in the middle of the price range. Shotguns usually get shot a lot relative to other firearms because they are so versatile. You get out of one what you put into it. If you get a semi-auto, take the time to keep it clean and it will take care of you. If you do not like to clean a weapon except for wiping it down, get an O/U.

Last edited by SAMILSPEC; November 20, 2009 at 08:03 PM.
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Old November 20, 2009, 06:43 PM   #20
davem
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First off- thanks to all for giving me your experienced opinions- really appreciate it.
The reloading and the shooting at the range are of interest to me. I also want to settle on just one gun in the hope that I'll be a better wing shooter if I stick with one style rather than several different guns.
On the sling- I can get one of the quick attach styles with Velcro and I agree a sling while shooting is not that good.
To be honest- I was thinking more of a semi-auto but now I am thinking more of an O/U. I know the semi-auto will hold 3 rounds but 2 is usually more than enough- how many times have most of you needed that 3rd shell and did you connect?
If I do opt for the O/U as I understand the single trigger style works like an auto- you just pull the trigger a second time to shoot the other barrel- just as fast as the semi-auto- is that correct?
I will use this gun, at the clay/trap range, duck hunting, turkey hunting, maybe pheasants. I am thinking a 28" barrel would be a good- all around choice- what say you????
There is also a wide range of choices and prices- I assume the $350- 400 guns aren't probably that good and the $1,500 plus guns are likely all pretty good. What about some of the in between choices? Any recommendations?
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Old November 20, 2009, 06:45 PM   #21
BigJimP
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Interesting... and I don't know a thing about Duck Calls ....

I did see Starks Champion of Champions Trophy when I was in Stuttgart at the club he was guiding for. He hung around the club for dinner and a little bs after the hunt and guns, etc - but he didn't say too much ( and we were all from out of town ...)..... but he was an easy guy to be around.

I sold one of his buddies a 10ga Browning BPS that I decided I didn't even want to carry home ....(its a long story - but I thought I needed a 10ga pump gun / and realized quickly I was out of my mind ...) and was happy to unload it.
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Old November 20, 2009, 06:48 PM   #22
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Quote:
There is also a wide range of choices and prices- I assume the $350- 400 guns aren't probably that good and the $1,500 plus guns are likely all pretty good. What about some of the in between choices? Any recommendations?
Check CDNN and Bud's along with other sites and you should be able to find a nice Beretta or Browning O/U, or possibly a SKB for your price range. With proper care in a marine environment, they'll last you a lifetime of hunting
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:09 PM   #23
SAMILSPEC
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If you get the ducks in the decoys----a 20 gauge 3" magnum or 12 gauge 2-3/4" is sufficient.

Dave I would not rule out a 3" 20 gauge over and under. Forget the machismo many men with the little you know what syndrome will give you. A 20 Gauge O/U is cheaper to shoot and they handle like a dream. 3" 20 Gauge Bismuth is deadly on ducks at decoy range. When you take birds with something less than a 12 gauge ultimately you are respected.
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:12 PM   #24
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BigJim:

If you see one of those old Olts at the neighbor's yard sale for $2 or 3$, snap it up. They are no longer made and fetch from $40.00 to $200.00 on eBay depending on the condition. The ones in a box in great condition with the instructions usually go for $150.00 to $200.00. They are the most misunderstood call made. Learning to use one is awful----you will faint it takes so much air to get them to buzz but once you get it, they are easy to operate.
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:47 PM   #25
davem
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Well, I'm not adverse to a 20 gauge, as I understand it all shot travels at about the same speed regardless of gauge, the only advantage of a larger gauge is more pellets per shot BUT if a 20 gauge patterns such that it puts more shot in a 30" circle than a 12 or 10 at the same range, then the 20 is the more killing. The 20 would definitely be better for upland game like pheasant. Do very many of you hunt ducks with a 20?
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