View Full Version : The long and short of it.

April 30, 2011, 06:42 PM
So I've got my new HD 870 with the 18.5" barrel and I'll be taking it to my folks who have a bit of land, and I was going to take the opportunity to run a few shells through it - you know, try different loads at different ranges to get familiar with the patterns ... and maybe blow up a watermelon or two for fun. Well my step-dad starts talking about clays and dove hunting, and I'm getting a little fired up, having never hunted before (firearms in general are a new interest to me) and I got to wondering how my short, black shotgun would do in those situations, i.e. if it would behoove me to invest in a 26/28" gun as well. Can y'all tell me if a longer barrel would make hunting or sporting more fun?

April 30, 2011, 07:07 PM
Just get a longer barrel for your 870. Changing barrels is a snap unless you have an extended magazine, and even then it's not a big deal. My friend, TheKlawMan was in your shoes not too long ago and now he's a regular at the local target range.

April 30, 2011, 07:08 PM
While long barrels ,as long as 32" , are popular they hardly are necessary. In the woods they are in fact a handicap. Grouse and dove guns are aften 20-22". Remember too that a 24" auto or pump has the same total length as a 28" O/U. I would never by a barrel longer than 24" in a pump.
You are right to always pattern the loads , never guess.

April 30, 2011, 07:48 PM
I've thought about getting an extra barrel, but for a few more bucks, I can have a whole new gun ... And it occurs to me that I may need a plugged magazine.

Hm, I think there's a gun show in town this weekend.


April 30, 2011, 09:34 PM
Yes, the price of a new factory barrel is close to that of a new gun. That's why the 2-barrel combos are a popular marketing option. You might consider an exchanged barrel. A plug, when required, is an easy installation. If one didn't come with your gun, just cut a wood or plastic dowel to length.

April 30, 2011, 10:26 PM
Zippy is right about me having a lot of fun with the 870 at the range, after starting with an 18.5" barrel. While new barrels are costly, I looked for a couple of weeks and bought a used 28" vent ribbed barrel with a modified choke for $85 in very good shape of of a gun forum WTS notice. I can't opine as to whether a short or a long barrel is good for hunting doves as I have no experience yet with hunting.

Dave McC
May 2, 2011, 04:16 PM
A couple things.....

I've taken dove (and taken shots AT doves) with lots of guns, including riot barreled 870s,a Lupara, and so on. Generally, I do better with longer barrels. I do well for quail with short barrels, so this in not a one size fits all rule.

That applies to clays also. I shot wobble yesterday with the 21" barreled 20 gauge 870 and went 22/25, twice. A week past, the 20 gauge SKB with 28" barrels and too much choke saw a score of 48/50.

Thinking over the last few years worth of dove forays, the barrels have run 28-32" and the bird to shots ratio good.

However, if what you have is short, go shoot some skeet, take dove coming in to water, hunt quail, etc.

And look for a longer barrel with or without another 870 attached.....