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12 guage v. 20 gauge

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12 guage v. 20 gauge

Old 06-20-2004, 12:49 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 1,491
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

Hi stuckinthereeds,

The 20 gauge is a very good general purpose upland gauge. Built on a frame originally intended for the lighter gauge they can certainly be more pleasant to carry around all day! Ammo availability is as wide spread as for the 12, just as inexpensive, and can do just about anything the heavier gun can, (other than hunting really heavy big game).

I remember reading a line along time ago is some shooting publication. "A man that uses a 12 gauge is hungry and has a family to feed. A man that uses a 20 gauge takes pride in his "shooting". A man that uses a 16 gauge can't decide if he is hungry or proud. Oh, using a .410 is just plain bragging."

Good luck with your decision.

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Old 06-28-2004, 07:35 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Richlands Virginia
Posts: 271
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

i own a 12 and 20 ga.with the new 3 inch shells it is a pretty good turkey gun to.
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Old 06-28-2004, 09:51 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Body in SE WI, mind in U.P.
Posts: 4,781
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

20 guages are fine for any kind of wingshooting, including waterfowling, you just have to remember that your effective range is going to be about 10 yards shorter.
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Old 06-29-2004, 11:58 AM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Gypsum KS USA
Posts: 1,289
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

I don't mean to brag (akbound), but I do nearly all of my wingshooting, other than waterfouling, with a single shot .410 3"...I own three 12ga's besides all my .410's, and one 20ga SxS for sporting clays and skeet...I get as much game with either gauge, but I get as much game with my .410 as I have with any larger bore, but then again, that's what I grew up shooting...I've had them all from 28ga to 5ga, other than ammo availability, the 16ga is probably the best choice out there.

As far as deer hunting goes, or any other big game hunting, the 12ga rules the domain, the 20ga might do, I don't know, but as far as I'm concerned, the 16 and 12ga's are the big game slug guns.

Mostly, the difference in the 20ga and the 12 for birds is preference or size. Smaller people or older people will have an easier time with the lighter carrying and lighter kicking 20ga, however, it's still got a good spread and a good shot count and density, which also makes it nice for beginners, light recoil with enough stuff to do the job. The 12ga allows a larger spread with the same density, or a greater density in the same area of spread, however, it packs a little more punch and tends to be a bit more to pack as well.

So, do you prefer a easier carrying, easier shooting gun that requires just a little more skill on your part, or a little heavier gun that kicks a bit more that will let you "miss" by a little more?
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Old 06-29-2004, 04:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Posts: 1,964
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

ORIGINAL: stuckinthereeds

I have always been a fan of 12 gauge shotguns.
Me too, especially for waterfowl (though I do like a 10 gauge for blind shooting honkers.

ORIGINAL: However, lately I have been more interested in purhcasing a 20 gauge.
Buying new guns is always an interesting endeavour and not to be discouraged.

ORIGINAL: It would be used mainly for all types of bird hunting.
ALL types? Be sure to keep one of your 12 gauges for waterfowl in particular.

Original: What are your thoughts when choosing a 20 over a 12?

** If you have injuries which make you sensitive to recoil then a 20 gauge would be a marked improvement.

** If you get tired or plan on getting tired of carrying a 12 gauge, then a 20 gauge would be a marked improvement.

** If you want to make your hunting more challenging then a 20 gauge could help/force you towards that end (hopefully killing ratios and ethics will remain status quo).

I really don't have ANY thoughts about choosing a 20 over a 12 --- It just won't happen. I couldn't wait to get a 12 gauge when I turned 10 years old and I sure won't be stepping back down anytime soon. Sold the childhood .410 long ago, tried a friends 20 gauge duck hunting..... [TAKE 'EM!!!]..... ahh, no.

But hey, that is just me. You will need to decide what is best for you and your shooting/hunting enjoyment and take it from there....

Good luck with your new acquisition.
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Old 06-29-2004, 06:05 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 17
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

Peter Capstick wrote the definitive work on this very topic. It first appeared in Sports Afield, and later as a chapter in his fine book, "Death in a Lonely Land." It is titled, "Anything the 20-gauge can do, the 12 Can Do Better." Here is part of it:

...Let there be no misunderstanding; I am extremely fond of the 20 guage, but only within those areas of reasonable effectiveness... Look I often shoot a 20 when conditions permit. There is nothing wrong with proper loads in a 20. It is simply a fact that it will not perform as well, given even slightly extended ranges, as will the 12. Sorry, but that's the way it is...

...My affair with the 20-bore began with a graceful little Belgian import... 26 inch barrels that blended with a beautifully figured French walnut stock. She pointed where I looked, and got there faster than I could focus. I had bought her, I told myself, for the same reason I drank vodka martinis and fished a dry fly. It was simply a more sporting way to do things. Fifteen years have gone by now, and I still drift a Light Cahill and certainly still drink vodka. But I've had to swallow my illusions about the 20-gauge. She's just not enough gun for today's upland shooting.
A couple of years ago, when I was working for the travel division of one of the major arms companies, I had a unique opportunity to test the 20 against the 12 under varying conditions with a unique mixture of upland game. The company was just about to start marketing the 20-gauge version of their Japanese made over\under 12 gauge, both very attractive pieces of hardware. As I was scheduled for a jaunt through Europe and North Africa to make arrangements for some gunning trips the company would offer, it seemed logical that I, and the other men on the trip, tote along a few of the new 20s for sort of an informal field test.
The trip started in... Scotland... Using the 20-gauge field load of 2 1\2 drams eq behind one ounce of lead shot, we slogged through the heather and gorse for a week, getting some very fine shooting... Each day I would alternate between guns, switching to the 12 with 3 1\4 drams pushing 1 1\4 ounces of shot, carefully noting the results of each day's shoot in my notebook. After six day's sport, I tallied the results.
Taking care not to fire at birds much over 40 yards, I had bagged exactly 26 percent more red grouse with the 12-gauge than the 20, with the same number of shells. Of the birds knocked down with the smaller gun, 31 percent were still alive when retrieved, against 11 percent with the 12. Except for gauge, both guns were as identical as they could be; the same model and both choked improved-cylinder and modified. The figures seemed significant, I thought, but a week's shooting on one species is hardly conclusive.
Next stop was... Portugal... where we hunted red legged or Spanish partridge through the cork and olive groves. Much like chukars, hunting these birds on foot reminded me of nothing so much as ruffed grouse back home, except that the red legs were smaller, faster, and if you can believe it, wilder. Fernando Fernandes, twice pigeon-shooting champion of a country that takes shooting very seriously, was virtually stiff with laughter at the idea of taking on "perdiz" with the 20-gauge. The box score for the group proved he was right; more than twice as many birds had been taken with the 12 than the 20 under identical conditions.
A few hundred miles farther south... Moracco, where I joined the noted French shooter and gastronome, Bertrand des Clers, for ten days of magnificent sport with driven snipe, partridge, duck, and wild boar. Hordes of howling... Arabs... floundered through the flooded grasslands driving sheets of wintering Siberian snipe at us for six days. One of my shooting partners concluded after the next two beats that Moraccan snipe were "very small birds surrounded by vast quantities of air." It was a pretty accurate deduction in view of the performance of the little 20-gauge... these weigh no more than a few delicious ounces, small enough to slip, time and again, through the poorer pattern of the 20-gauge load of No. 9s we were throwing. After shooting snipe 3 days with each gun, I had killed exactly 66 percent more with the 12.
That trip shook the foundations of my love affair with the 20, a relationship that got even rockier after a dozen trips through Argentina and Colombia, where I kept the test going on tinamou, martineta, paloma, and torcaz, which almost exactly equal our quail, pheasant, doves, and pigeons in body size and habits.
Since 1969, as a professional white hunter in Zambia, Botswana, and Rhodesia, I have shot literally thousands of birds for food for myself and my clients - mostly guinea fowl, sand grouse, francolin, button quail and other species - with both the 12 and 20 gauges. The conclusion was inevitable: The 12 gauge, at normal upland ranges, will put more birds in your game bag under virtually any circumstances than will the 20-bore...

It goes on, going more into the math and other technical matters, as well as several other good points, and for anyone with access to the book, the entire chapter is well worth reading. I myself have several 12 and 20 gauges, and I too, have always had a love affair with the 20, but, much as I hated to face it, I, too, flat out put more birds in the bag with the 12 than the 20. I still use my 20s, but when I want birds, I reach for the 12 (or sometimes the 10, with ducks and geese). My own experiences have very much borne out Peter Capstick's writings.

Sorry about the length of this post, but I hope it will help someone else bag more birds the way this chapter helped me...

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Old 06-29-2004, 07:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 136
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

I started out hunting with a 20 but once I was big enough my Dad gave me a 12 and I never looked back until 3 years ago. I went grouse hunting and just for kicks picked up my friends 20 and decided to shoot that for the day. It was amazing how much the weight difference made in my reaction time as well as how much energy I saved through the long day by not dragging around the extra weight of the 12. For waterfowl and pheasants I still carry a 12 for the added distance but I doubt I'll ever carry a 12 for grouse again.
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Old 06-29-2004, 09:27 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Location: Coralville, IA. USA
Posts: 3,802
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

As far as deer hunting goes, or any other big game hunting, the 12ga rules the domain, the 20ga might do, I don't know, but as far as I'm concerned, the 16 and 12ga's are the big game slug guns.
Well, I've honestly never deer hunted with a shotgun, I've been a strictly muzzleloader guy until this coming season when I'm hunting with my revolver. But my dad had done a ton of shotgun (party) hunting for Iowa whitetails before he decided to switch to muzzleloaders (see where I get it from! ), and he'll certainly tell you that there are in the ballpark of 60-70 deer that are no longer with us to vouch for the effectiveness of a 20 gauge loaded with the cheap 2 3/4" Remington Sluggers. Whether it's a 20 or a 12, you're still talking about a big chunk of lead heading downrange, but my dad has always sworn by his 20 gauge because it's more accurate than the 12 with Forster style slugs.

Nothing wrong with a 20 gauge, if you respect its small limitations and adjust accordingly.

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Old 06-29-2004, 11:30 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Brook, IN
Posts: 491
Default RE: 12 guage v. 20 gauge

Usually I use a 12 over a 20.

I use the 12 for the following:

late season pheasants
trap shooting

I use the 20 for the following:

Early season pheasants--w/3" federal supreme#6or#4 shot
trap shooting
quail hunting over dogs in mixed cover
grouse hunting up in the thick woods of Minnesota

The 12 ga I use the most is a Rem M870 with synthetic stock and the 2 20 ga I use is an old Ithaca M37 pump and a Stoeger side x side.
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