View Full Version : .20 Gauge Doubles for HD

November 25, 2001, 06:26 PM
To the experts: Guys, I have shot shotguns a limited amount, and I am becoming interested in them for HD applications. What is your opinion of the short HD doubles out there? Any recommendations? Are there any that are really light/narrow with compact frames, I intend to shorten the barrel to minimum OAL. Thanks.

Dave McC
November 25, 2001, 07:21 PM
Doubles tend to be divided into two groups, those that are excellent wingshooting guns and the CAS type stuff.

One not so bright fellow of my acquaintance bobbed an LC Smith double to legal minumum for a house gun. He could have sold same for a trunkful of 870s.

And any time a double is shortened(and I've done it ONCE), the chance of both bbls impacting to the same point is mere happenstance. Good doubles are expensive because bbl regulation is done by skilled hands, not minumum wage factory drones.

The imports do not impress me much.

If I HAD to set up a HD 20 ga double, I'd look for a used Savage 311. This unlovely but rugged model would be the best combo of low cost and reasonable quality. And it carries enough weight to aid control. Super lightness is not a desireable attribute in a HD weapon.

And, I'd not go for ultra short, either. I had a little French SXS with 27" bbls that was just about the same length as the 18" bbled 870 that serves as a primary HD tool here. A SXS cut to about 22" is very fast handling.


November 25, 2001, 07:33 PM
Well Im no expert...and I dont play one on the net...lol.....although I have played with this shotgun caliber issue a bit. Imo as biased as it is, I think that most people would be better served with a 20 gauge over a 12gauge---primarily because they dont practice enough with the 12. Elderly and others who will not shoot often, or shoot enough to learn to handle the recoil of the 12gauge might continue to practice or be encouraged to shoot more with the 20ga. Ammo selection would be an issue depending upon your environment both inside and outside the home.
As for the type of weapon, any longrifle/shotgun etc., can have retention and manuverability issues within a home, if you tie up both hands in handling a weapon you sacrafice some degree of control if you have to use the phone or a seperate light, turn a door knob, negotiate doorways or hallways.... all of those issues can be eliminated with thought and tactics that will benefit the ensconced homeowner. The dbls that are self cocking (no external hammers aka rabbit ears), will if loaded remained cocked which has been put forth as a possible issue with regards to weakening the firing spring, Im not sure that I agree with that argument, but once loaded and shut the shotgun is cocked which brings the safety up as the next possible issue....the last double I had cut down was an older rabbit ear model......it was in 12 ga. and stout.....----the dbl guns that will be cut down will still get the job done, although they will be slow to reload, depending upon extractors or extruders, they certainly would be intimdating. A pump gun cut down the same would give you 1 or two more shells in a similar package and would be quicker to reload.
Dont know if any of this helps...just my opinions.....fubsy.

November 25, 2001, 10:07 PM
Due to the nature of the design of the action, doubles are a lot shorter overall than pumps or semis of equall barrel length. Thus, if I were to use a good double for defense work, i would leave the barrels alone.

reload drills with doubles can be fun. With practice, and automatic ejectors, the first four rounds can go out quite rapidly.


November 26, 2001, 03:39 AM
MANY years ago, my first HD shotgun was a Rossi Coach Gun in 20 ga. It had exposed hammers, and I cut it to 18" barrels.

It was short, and safe to store loaded, but I never felt comfortable with just two shots, and after the triggers malfed and fired both barrels at once, I went to a Remington 870 12 ga.

It will do the job, but like the Colt Single Action, it's day as a prime defense weapon has past.

What few inches you gain in overall length aren't going to help much.

Dave McC
November 26, 2001, 07:42 AM
The 20 gauge, Fubsy, will be as effective under the constraints of HD as the 12, but...

While lighter loads do kick less, an oz at a specified velocity will have the same free recoil, regardless of bore diameter, from shotguns of identical weight.

Comparing apples to apples, a 7 lb 20 ga will kick(Felt, not free recoil) about as much as a 12.
Maybe more, oft the 20s have pads smaller in surface area, so the energy is concentrated.

And many 20 gauges turn into vicious kickers with heavy loads. The 20 gauge Youth Express here kicks as much as my Frankenstein gun with similar payloads, and less than my heavy "Serious" shotguns.

Still, the smaller actions and lighter weight of most 20s provide an advantage in handling for those of us not built like NFL linemen.

Those of us interested in primarily HD use for shotguns should try both 12 and 20 gauges and go with what they like. Both will do the job...