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Old July 26, 2005, 10:13 AM   #13
Barry in IN
Join Date: October 14, 1999
Location: Indiana-west central
Posts: 99
20 gauge for defense? OR, 20 ga buck/slug testing

I like keeping at least one shotgun as a "house gun". That job had gone to an Ithaca 37 12 gauge for 10-15 years.
Due to a back injury/condition, I started looking at ways to reduce recoil and gun weight. Recoil is only half the problem. It hurts just holding some long guns in the firing position. If I could just trim gun weight a little too.....

Which brought me to the 20 gauge. I got an 1100 LT20 Youth synthetic, which is a pound lighter than a comparable 12 ga 1100/11-87.
I had reservations about the 20 for defense use, mostly due to #3 buck being the largest size available. Federal makes 3" 20 ga with #2 buck, but my gun is a 2-3/4 incher.
I thought that if the 20 could pattern them tight enough, it could work.
I got all the 20 ga buckshot loads I could readily find (3) and a couple of slug loads and went at it.

I tested at 15 yards, because that is the farthest distance I could shot within our house. Should I have to shoot from the inside to the outside, I'll switch to slugs or a rifle.
These are averages. Usually of three shots.
With the IC choke tube, at 15 yards-

1-Winchester Super-X #3 buck (20 pellets), catalog # XB203:
Pellets in 12" circle: 20 (all)
Pellets in 6" circle: 14
Widest spread for all 20 pellets: 9-1/2"

2-Federal Power-Shok #3 buck (20 pellets), cat # F203 3B:
Pellets in 12" circle: 19
Pellets in 6" circle: 7
Widest spread for all 20 pellets: 12-3/4"

3-Federal Premium #3 buck (20 pellets), cat# P256 3B:
Pellets in 12" circle: 19
Pellets in 6" circle: 7
Widest spread for all 20 pellets: 12-1/2"
With Modified choke tube, still at 15 yards-

1-Winchester Super-X:
Pellets in 12": 20 (all)
Pellets in 6": 17
Widest spread for all 20 pellets: 7-3/4"

2-Federal Power-Shok:
Pellets in 12": 17
Pellets in 6": 8
Widest spread for all 20 pellets: 12-3/4"

3-Federal Premium:
Pellets in 12": 19
Pellets in 6": 9
Widest spread for all 20 pellets: ??? Shot twice (all I had left), only had 19 on paper (20" wide X 40" high) each time. The 19 on paper averaged an 11" spread.

20 Gauge Buckshot Comments-
I was concerned about any reduced effect that #3 buck would have compared to 00. But the Winchester #3B had a max spread of under 10" with either choke tube. This is at the longest possible in-house distance. That's a pretty concentrated hit. I think it would do fine.

I know that's too tight a pattern for some tastes, but I'm sure it could be opened up if desired.

Point of impact was close with the three types of shells and two chokes. The center of the patterns were within an inch or two among all of them, and pretty well centered on point of aim.
Hits were evenly distributed, and made round patterns- surprisingly, with each shot.
I know you can't tell much with slugs at 15 yards, but I could see a couple of things:
-Would the point of impact be much different than the center of the buckshot patterns?
-Would either of the two (IC and Mod) chokes be particularly bad or good with slugs?

Imp Cyl choke, 15 yards, standing, poor sights-
1-Winchester Super-X 3/4 oz (claimed 1600 fps) catalog # X20RSM5: 3 shots, 1-3/4" group, 2" low.
2-Federal Power-Shok 3/4 oz, cat 3 F203RS: 3 shots, 3/4" group, 2" low.

Modified choke tube, 15 yards, standing, still with poor sights-
1-Winchester Super-X 3/4 oz: 1" group, 1-1/4" low.
2-Federal Power-Shok 3/4 oz: 2-1/4" group, 1-1/4" low.

OK, the Winchesters liked Mod, Federals liked Imp Cyl.
The Mod tube raised the point of impact with both types of slugs, but not with buckshot.
I guess I did learn a little bit there.

I will do more testing when I get more ammo. I have some more buckshot loads and slugs in mind to test. Plus, I need to get the real sights mounted, and test slugs at a longer distance.

I was worried that whatever recoil I lost by going to the 20, I might get back due to using a lighter gun. It didn't seem to be the case. Recoil felt considerably lighter than my 12s. The gun was enough lighter that I could handle it without torquing up my back like heavier guns do.
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