View Full Version : What can you hunt with a 12 guage that you can't hunt with a 20?

White Rabbit
August 6, 2000, 04:08 PM
Please don't include slug guns.

Thanks to all,


--Question everything, or believe anything.--

Eric of IN
August 6, 2000, 04:40 PM
As far as I know there's nothing you can hunt with a 12, that you can't hunt with a 20, but on waterfowl, especially geese, a 20 is much more limited than a 12.

Teach a kid to shoot.
It annoys the antis.

August 6, 2000, 04:43 PM
The short answer is nothing. I know of hunters who have taken ducks and geese with 20s although a magnum 12 is more popular for geese. When you go to a smaller shell you need to realize that you are putting up less lead/steel and should adjust your shooting accordingly.

One of the deadliest pheasant hunters I know shoots a 20 gauge side-by-side but he doesn't shoot them at long range and is a very fine shot.

For any upland game and ducks over decoys I'd would happily shoot a 20, I might want a heavier gun for pass shooting waterfowl. Since the advent of non-toxic shot laws, I prefer a heavier load in a 12 for geese.

I prefer a 12 for my hunting because its easier to load down than load up.

[This message has been edited by PJR (edited August 06, 2000).]

Badger Arms
August 7, 2000, 12:34 AM
Sorry, but I sense a loaded question here. In terms of pellet energy, there is virtually no difference between the 20 and the 12. You will get the same killing potential per pellet at any given range all things being equal. The concept here is pattern density. This has to do with choke and shot load. The 12ga simply has more pellets travelling at the same velocity. All you have to do is use a tighter choke and become a better shot and the terminal effect is the same. The 12ga is more forgiving because you can get the wider pattern that is just as dense. IMO, this makes for a lazier shooter and makes it more difficult to judge how well you are doing. I used to shoot trap with a .410 and did pretty good. Makes me a better shot with the 12ga I sincerely believe.

Dave McC
August 7, 2000, 06:40 AM
Not much...

Like someone said, pellets moving at a specific velocity pack equal amounts of energy individually. It's the number of pellets that count.

A 1 oz load from a 12 will have the same energy as a 1 oz load from a 20(or 16 for that matter) but will probably have a more even pattern, given identical choke and velocity. Also, a 1 oz load in most 20s is a vicious kicker.

What I personally wouldn't use a 20 for would be...

Anything requiring steel shot.

Anything pushing range much past 35 yards.

Deer hunting with Buckshot.

Turkey hunting.

And, under certain conditions,all of the above may also be 20 ga territory.

The big advantage of a 12, IMO, is the availability of so many different loads off the shelf.

August 7, 2000, 01:04 PM
Good post Dave McC! I was about to jump in on this subject, but you took the wind out of my sails 'cause you accurately covered it all!

But, I've still gotta' add my 2 cents!

To me, there are only two gauges .... the 20ga. and the 12ga.! The twelve gauge covers ALL bases. The 20ga. covers MOST bases, but can be be used by the most recoil-sensitive shooter.

The 20ga. (in the 3" chambering) makes both the .410 or 16ga. obsolete (IMHO).

With handloading, the 20ga. can be loaded down to .410 recoil and payload levels. With 3" magnum loads, the 20ga. can do anything the heaviest 16ga. can do and most of what the 12ga. can do.

Regards! DaMan

[This message has been edited by DaMan (edited August 07, 2000).]

Dave McC
August 7, 2000, 02:27 PM
DaMan, heavy loads in most 20s hurt. Anything past 1 oz is bruise inducing unless one's form is nigh perfect.

The 20 is a marvelous cartridge, but like anything else, can be pushed too far.

The 16 ga is well nigh obsolete, but not for any shortcomings it had. An oz of shot in a good pattern will take care of most upland stuff quite handily,and the 16 patterns an oz very nicely most times.

Shotguns should be selected by mission. For stuff that doesn't require a heavy load a 20 does fine. For when an oz and 1/4 or more is needed, break out the 12s and 10s.

August 8, 2000, 09:53 AM
Dave MCc, again you are correct. I wasn't trying to slam the 16ga. It is a good gauge, but the 20ga. is a bit more flexible.

The 20ga. is an excellent choice for a young person. With 2 1/2 Dram 3/4 or 7/8oz loads, recoil is kept way down. These low-recoiling loads are an excellent way to introduce the recoil sensitive shooter to wing shooting.

Once the shooter can handle the lighter loads, the "horsepower" can be turned up for hunting.

I think it's a mistake to start a beginner out with a .410. IMHO, the .410 is an expert's target gun, which will tend to frustrate the beginner.

Regards! DaMan

Dave McC
August 8, 2000, 02:06 PM
Agreed on the 410,DaMan,it has resulted in more frustration than good.Exception, squirrel hunting.

A proper arm for the tyro might be the much overlooked 28 ga. A 5/8 oz load in one is a great trainer, and good for small close game also.

A 16 ga with 7/8 oz loads USUALLY has better patterns than a 20 loaded similiarly, but we're picking nits here...