View Full Version : 12 or 20 gauge?

May 10, 2007, 09:41 AM
I am looking at buying a shotgun. I have narrowed it down to a couple in each, 12 and 20 guage. In order starting with what I will use it for most is, grouse, rabbit, coyote, & deer. I have seen rabbit get torn up by even light 12 gauges. I encounter several sitiuations that make me want to lean toward the less loud of the two, such as taking grouse while deer hunting, hunting coyotes with close neighbors. I have shot both and do prefer the 20 gauge. What it really all comes down to is the coyote. If I get 12 gauge then I will get the Dead Coyote choke and ammo, but if its 20 gauge I will use slugs. Will a 20 gauge with improved cylinder choke be good enough, with practice, for coyotes out to 75 yards?

Smitty in CT
May 10, 2007, 10:59 AM
IMO, 75 yards with a 20GA slug is pushing it...

Trying to get a good group (under 3") at 50 yards with a 20GA slug is tough.
I have not found a combination that I would trust to take a 75 yard shot with.

If you're worried about noise, there is always the "quiet" gun (www.quietgun.com) or Hastings used to make a metro choke, basically a 20"+ choke tube. It makes a 12 GA sound like an air rifle, I don't know if I would want to put a slug down one though.

May 10, 2007, 11:09 AM
Uhhmmm... you may want to do some research on ammo (#00 buck, #7.5 bird, 1oz slugs, 1oz+ magnum slugs, etc....) - the type of ammo used willl make huge differences - more than the 12 vs 20 question.

But in short - with a 12g - with the correct load - you can take down just about anything including large bears! :eek:

With a 20g largest I've noted listed is deer size.

So for coyotes either gun will work. Here is a link with some basic info - on game/varmit type + ranges.


Also you mentioned chokes... yes you can shoot slugs through no choke (cylinder/smooth) or an improved choke... here is some additional info on chokes - in general useful when not shooting slug loads.




May 10, 2007, 12:39 PM
I have used a remington 20 ga to take deer at 75 yards and my sister has used her mossy 500 to take deer at 100-150 (she had a scope and we both used rifled barrels) A 20 is perfect for small game if you use lighter loads and can hit them (I never hit any moving target save for one pidgeon with my youth 20 ga. Ok I take that back I got a lucky shot on one of those deer at 50 yds running) A 8 is a little light but a 6 1/2 -7 is fine for grouse. I will say that I shot a squirrel with a 20 ga load of 2 3/4 7 shot and the squirrel ran off. Last time I used light loads (it was a close shot and the ground around the squirrel twitched meaning I couldn't have missed)

roy reali
May 10, 2007, 04:43 PM
Now, I am amazed at the knowledge of shotgunning presented here!:eek:

May 10, 2007, 09:46 PM
the whole argument that a 12 gauge 'blows up' game and a 20 dosent is complete B.S. its all about what load you are using. yeah if you shoot a rabbit w/ #6 shot, 1 3/4oz turkey load its going to 'blow up'. or if you use a light load of 1oz and a full choke up close.

The difference between gauges is not really much if any velocity difference its max payload. w/ that said i often see 1oz 20 gauge loads (i forget what the 'standard) 20 gauge load is, but 1oz is close. you can also get 12 gauge loads in #6 a similar popular shot sizes....with how much payload....1 oz! SAME THING. Same payload, and such close velocities you couldnt tell the difference.

with the 12 gauge comes a easier to get wider variety of ammo. you can load up to serious loads, or down to basically a 20 gauge load. the only downfall of the 12 gauge, in my opinion of course, is the fact they are generally 'large' guns and not a light quick 20 gauge package.

at the same time often you see the same gun in 20 and 12 gauge and figgure i want the lighter/snappier gun, and go for the 20 gauge. but a lot of 20's are built on 12 gauge frames.

May 10, 2007, 09:53 PM
Get a 12 O/U, and buy 20 tubes for it, and you have both.............plus a 28 and 410 if you wish....................ck

roy reali
May 10, 2007, 09:54 PM
Where does one find 20 gauge shells loaded with a 2 3/4 load of seven shot? Six and a half shot must be pretty hard to find too?

May 10, 2007, 10:32 PM
Where does one find 20 gauge shells loaded with a 2 3/4 load of seven shot? Six and a half shot must be pretty hard to find too?

I assume you really mean... 20g - 2 3/4" - #6 or #7.5 - here's a few easy links. Also Walmart typically carries this stuff.




(sort by gauge)


roy reali
May 10, 2007, 10:45 PM
2 3/4 refers to shell length in inches, that I know. It has nothing to do with the amount of payload in the shell. Also, I am not sure that 6 1/2 shot exists.

I was trying to point out some folks lack of shotgun knowledge. I am by no means an expert, but I know enough to know when a post is put up by a rookie or a wise guy.

May 11, 2007, 09:06 PM
i've never heard of 6.5 shot. I'm not going to say that it dosent exist, it may very well, but i never heard of it. #7 shot does exist though, but hard to find. usually its #6, right to #7.5 apparently #7 shot is a more over seas common shotsize.

May 11, 2007, 09:29 PM
6.5's and 7's are listed as "available" shot sizes in my Lyman's reloading manual. I have never seen either of them in a store. I do shoot with guys that like 8.5's on the 16 yard trap line.

My Lyman's manual also lists 10's, 11's, 12's and Dust. I'd buy a bag of Dust if I could get my hands on one; just for kicks.

roy reali
May 11, 2007, 09:39 PM
I really doubt that the poster mentioning 6 1/2 shot reloads shotshells.

May 11, 2007, 10:19 PM
mswestfall, i heard of #12 shot only in the .22lr shot shells. sounds like a super pointless shot size. i never heard of dust? what is the use of #12 and dust(!???)? shooting piegons in a barn and not blasting holes in the wood maybe?

May 12, 2007, 03:50 AM
From what I used with my 20:

8, 7.5, 7, 6, 4, 2, and 00 IME. Never really used or saw anything else. (never did turkey) Comes in 2 3/4 and 3 mag.

for the 12:

8 (yes I have seen light 8 and used it for trap), 7, 7.5, 6... wait it's basically the same as the 20. Except for BB and BBB for geese. Comes in 2 3/4 and 3 mag IIRC. was there a 3.5 mag for 12? I think you needed a special chamber if they did.

Eric - IA
May 12, 2007, 06:48 AM
My 2 cents (off the original topic):

There are 12ga. shells loaded with lead "dust" used for breaching doors and locks at point blank range with minimal risk to the shooter.

roy reali
May 12, 2007, 09:13 AM
Who makes shotshells loaded with 7 shot? Where do you find them?

You mention "light" loads. What dram equivalent do you mean?

May 12, 2007, 09:32 AM
If you reload i would suggest the 12 ga.
Heres a cool trick I learned. Buy some 20 ga. discs the cardboard ones, and place it in the 12 ga hull, it will fit perfectly....allowing you to make smaller lighter loads saving your wallet and the rabbit! Then you can take that 150 yd shot on that deer with that 12 ga. slug! 12. ga also has allot more variety of shotshell cartriges than any other guage! : D good luck! Either one would be great.....p.s. what shottys are you looking at?

roy reali
May 12, 2007, 09:57 AM
Do you reload shotshells? What dram equivalent do you use? Do you know where to get 7 shot? I am curious. I think that would be an ideal shot size for smaller upland game.

May 12, 2007, 10:30 AM
Unless your a little boy get the 12GA!For long waiting times in the woods till the game comes,you wil be glad you have the extra power.Small game to bear ammo avalible.

roy reali
May 12, 2007, 03:46 PM
Are you saying that the 12 gauge has extra power with birdshot loads too?

mr kablammo
May 12, 2007, 05:55 PM
Have you thought about a shotgun with a two-barrel set? It seems that you are interested pumps or semi-autos. However, there are some makers, Franchi for instance, that make (or did make) an O/U that could be used with either 20 ga or 12 ga barrels. Check out gunsamerica, gunbroker, auctionarms and search for Franchi. Perhaps a two-barrel set is suitable.