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Old August 2, 2006, 08:45 PM   #1
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20 gauge vs 12 gauge for skeet

I just went skeet and trap shooting last weekend to sharpen up for the upcoming bird season. I used my 12 gauge semiauto and had some what of a successful day. I also brought my 20 gauge o/u and shot that as well. My question is this, it seemed that I hit just as many birds with the 20 gauge as I did with the 12 gauge, is there something going on here that I should know? The 12 gauge has more bbs than the 20, so doesn't that make the shot easier? Please advise.
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Old August 2, 2006, 08:56 PM   #2
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For a given choke the size of the pattern is the same for a 12 ga or 20 ga. The difference is in pattern density, not pattern size. My experience with skeet has been that the shots are not long enough for the difference in pattern density to matter.
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Old August 3, 2006, 12:33 AM   #3
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I've never shot skeet

But i've shot several thousand rounds at the trap range (before it closed) with a 12-gauge, 2-3/4". One time I was there, a guy was shooting a 20 (might have been 3", I'm not sure), but he kept up with everyone else.

I've got my 12's, but I certainaly wouldn't dismiss the 20. That's a fine gauge.
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Old August 3, 2006, 08:11 AM   #4
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The 12 gauge will have a larger effective pattern than the 20, even with the same shot load. As you drop bore size and shot weight, effective patterns will be reduced...has to!

But, the 20 gauge has a "large enough" pattern to shoot skeet and trap very well...if you do your part. Many people shoot 12 gauge skeet events with lower gauges.

As targets become farther way, "smaller" and tougher to shoot the advantage will always go to the 12. Notice I said "advantage". That doesn't mean they can't be hit with smaller guages.
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Old August 3, 2006, 08:58 AM   #5
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I shoot all 4 guages, but tend to "prefer" the 28 and 410. I practice with these guages a lot and when there is a tournement I will shoot the 12 & 20 also. The smaller guages are tougher to break birds with as they are less forgiving of a bad lead etc. The 410 won't generally smash the birds, but they sure do break them. I just like shooting the smaller guages as they are cheaper to reload and less noise and recoil. When I go to the 12 it is like swatting flies with a snowshovel instead of a flyswatter, just seems easier to me.
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Old August 3, 2006, 08:59 AM   #6
Jim Watson
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A 20 gauge is ample for NSSA Skeet. Some shooters use 20 ga in the 12 ga event because it kicks less and to avoid taking the tubes out of their O/U which would change the balance and increase the recoil even more.

A 20 gauge will break ATA Trap targets but I when I was a frequent trapshooter I never saw one in serious competition. Although we did have one guy who had a 20 gauge tube made for his trap gun so as to spare his injured shoulder. That before the light 12 gauge loads now available got common.
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Old August 4, 2006, 06:52 PM   #7
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Thanks for the information; So there shouldn't be a problem with shooting skeet with my 20 gauge o/u but maybe trap would be more difficult? I'm thinking about a 12 gauge o/u, but that could be a little expensive on my budget ( the wife doesn't know budget) if you get my drift. Anyway, I'll give a try with 3" shells in my 20 gauge o/u for trap and see if that does the job.
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Old August 5, 2006, 08:43 PM   #8
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You should not need any 3" shells to shoot any clays game. A 7/8 oz load of shot is plenty to break skeet targets with. As Ruger4570 said the 28ga and .410 is what I use almost exclusively anymore, 3/4oz and 1/2oz of shot respectively. They bust targets if the shooter is on the bird. I recently shot a round of sporting with one of my 28 gauges. Had some decent longer shots and intermediate shots, 30-45 yards, I outshot the guy with the 12 gauge that said I needed a bigger gun to do well in sporting clays, 78 to 72 on the scores.

Stick to light loads in the 20ga, 7/8oz about 1200fps and you will do just as good or better at skeet than a 12ga, and won't really give up more than a bird or two in trap if you have choke tubes available, maybe not even then.
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Old August 5, 2006, 10:03 PM   #9
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Shooting skeet with anything larger than a 28 is a waste of lead. My 28 scores are so close to my 12 scores that the difference is chance. The 28 is such a pleasure to shoot that I never shoot anything else unless it's a competition. Now the 410, well, that's a different matter...
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