View Full Version : 20 ga vs. 12 ga

Bam Bam
March 9, 2001, 10:48 PM
Well, am I a wimp? After shooting scatterguns for two years I like 20s more than 12s. They are lighter, look more elegant (to me), and a couple of boxes of shells don't weigh a ton. So am I a wimp?

March 10, 2001, 04:03 AM
Not at all. 12ga guns are painful. Some guys
seem to have the right body structure that it's
not painful, but most, including me, get beat up
by these things. I would definitely like a 20ga if
there were as many choices of guns and accessories for them.

March 10, 2001, 04:16 AM
"...look more elegant (to me),"

Nothing against 20 ga, but the 12 is like a fine doric column at the temple of Paestum...much more elegant than ze zventee....

Al Thompson
March 10, 2001, 06:35 AM
Sort of like the question - "is a saw better than a hammer?". Each tool has it's place. Luckily we have a plethoria of tools - only problem is organizing the money to get'em all.



March 10, 2001, 07:07 AM
Bam Bam

A wimp? Hardly. More like a man of discernment and taste I'd say.

As for having the "right body structure" to shoot any load that's another way of saying if the gun fits well it doesn't seem to kick as much.

The only warning is that the 20 in a light gun can kick as much, if not more, than a 12. I think it's the light guns that attract most people.

The 20 is definitely elegant. I've always thought the Browning Citori in 12 was boxy and cumbersome but in 20 it is a delight. The same with the Krieghoff in 20 gauge. It is a magnificent gun, much more sleek looking than the K-80.

March 10, 2001, 07:40 AM
I'm certain Dave( Mac) is going to jump into this at some point, so I'll defer to his far greater knowledge on the subject. It's entirely possible it isn't the guage as much as it is the fit a lot of times where recoil is concerned. Last week, I fired both of my 12 ga SxS coach guns. The Stoeger had almost twice the felt recoil as the Rossi. Propping them up against the wall side by side, I noticed the Stoeger had an inch or two more distacne betwwen the trigger and the butt than the Rossi. The Rossi also had a straighter line between the barrels and the stock (comb?). Dave posted an excellent thread about fitting a shotgun to the shooter that I should have paid more attention to at the time,,my loss.

As far as asthetics are concerned, yes, I agree, I have a 20ga Browning BPS that looks lean and sleeek next to the Rem 870. Yes, I also agree, boxes of 20 ga and loose rounds are easier to carry.

Captain Bligh
March 10, 2001, 09:30 AM
I went through 33 years of my life shooting a 20 gauge Browning A-5. I thought I was happy. I enjoyed the gun and thought it did everything I wanted it to do while avoiding the stiffer recoil of a 12 gauge. Then I bought an 870 Express in 12 gauge. As recoil goes, I swear the 870 feels better. Go figure. I kicked myself for not buying the 12 gauge earlier. The point is perceived recoil feels differently from one style of gun to another.


Dave McC
March 10, 2001, 10:11 AM
A coupla things. concerning 20 gas, recoil and fit....

First, only big payload missions like geese and turkey hunting shows a clear advantage to the 12 ga, as long as ranges are sane. I've used various 20s on critters from squirrels to whitetails with perfect performance as long as I took shots of moderate range.BTW, the 20 ga Rottweil Brenneke may be one of the best deer rounds for close work there is. Blood trails with it run shorter than most 12 ga sabots leave.

Also, even classics like the Parkers can be a little heavy for upland game in 12 ga. A 20 ga double is almost guaranteed to be a great quail gun, assuming stock fit.

Second, the 870 Youth Express 20 ga here weighs close to 7 lbs, but still is a vicious kicker with 3" mag loads, or even some high brass 1 oz loads.Stock fit is more the culprit than Ft/lbs of pure recoil.

And on that note....

Fit and form are inextricably connected. Someone with great form can shoot OK with a poorly fit stock, a dud with lousy form can miss 25/25 with the best fitting stock in the known Universe.

But, most of us are shooting less than perfect fitting stocks, and our shooting proves it. A little testing and temporary modification can work wonders.

A note on the 20's kick. Since most 20s are physically smaller than the 12s, the butt is smaller also. The less area of contact, the harder the kick. Adding a larger pad will tame the beast a bit, but it might look a bit funny.

Finally, Pop used the same 12 ga Savage O/U for decades, until some lowlife stole it at a field trial in the late 60s. Friends bought and gave him an SKB 20 ga, choked IC/M.
He loved that little SKB,and shot it just as well as his old favorite...

March 10, 2001, 10:27 AM
Well I am not a hunter, all of my shotgunning is at clay target games. I love my 12 GA K80, but now have a K20 in a 20/28 combo set that seems to get taken to the ranges more and more.

The smaller gauges are fun to shoot and are cheaper to reload. And if you are not the ultra competitive type shooting them is just as much fun as shooting a 12. I see more and more recreational shooters using small bore guns, my club even has a yearly shoot dedicated to sub gauge and a handicap system for regular monthly shoots. Two years ago a friend won a shoot using 20 ga and the club handicap.

If you enjoy the 20, shoot it !

My philosophy is that when you have to put up with pain and discomfort, then it is time to reconsider why you are shooting. I would rather shoot a lower score and have fun than pound myself silly on the trap field.

Geoff Ross

March 10, 2001, 07:26 PM
Your not a wimp. For most upland hunting the 12ga has no real advantage. Common hunting loads in both the 12 and 20 throw 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 oz of shot. The 20ga is significantly lighter which is a factor when your hiking thru the CRP all day. To me the 20ga autos in particular seem much more graceful and handy.

Now, the 12ga comes into it's own when you start talking turkey, deer, and waterfowl. Short of that the 20ga is perfect game-getter.

I bought a 20ga Model 870 Express Youth last year for rabbit hunting. I go with a buddy who has a beagle. He won't let me use a .22 and I got tired of him ribbing me for using a 12ga on rabbits (his dog is a champ, most shots are taken at 15 yds or less). We shoot light 7/8 oz loads of #6 shot on full choke. The 870 Youth has a 1" shorter length of pull, a stubby 21" vent rib barrel, but only weighs 6 lbs (a full pound and a half less than a 870 12ga with 28" barrel). Though I'm a 5'-10" grown man it's not a problem when hunting Wisconsin in January/Febuary - the 2" of extra clothing you wear to keep from freezing makes it fit just fine. The short 21" barrel doesn't get in the way when stalking thru dense cover and I prefer the vent rib to the rifle sights you usually find on short barrels.

Next year I'm gonna get a 10" or 14" .410 barrel for my Contender and try rabbit shot-hand-gunning. -- Kernel

March 10, 2001, 09:50 PM
http://www.shotgunsports.com THERE YOU WILL FIND EVERYTHING CONCERNING 12 VS. 20


Bam Bam
March 10, 2001, 11:05 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I asked the question because I just bought a 20ga BPS 28" to go with the 12ga. Both are great but the 20ga swings effortlessly and quickly. The 12ga seems ponderous in comparison. Used both today at trap. Not much difference in terms of results. One reason I got it is if the potential Mrs. wants to take up shooting she will have a pretty gun waiting for her.

May buy her a 20ga Franchi AL48 too. Those are pretty guns, too.