With the ideal loads and chokes, the increasingly famous 20-gauge is a viable option for waterfowlers, in ~ limits


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© Tony Zappia


By Phil Bourjaily

The 20-gauge duck total is trending. Its enhancing popularity might have an ext to carry out with one aging hunting population than with any ballistics breakthroughs, yet I see and hear of much more hunters taking 20s right into the ar now, making use of them come bag everything from teal come geese. Within its limitations, the 20-gauge have the right to be every little bit as effective as a 12-gauge. The firearms are lighter, the recoil is softer, and also for some, it"s just fun come shoot a smaller sized gun.

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The instance for the 20-Gauge

A tiny but growing variety of clubs limit your members come 20-gauges. In ~ the Dingville Duck and Social society in California, owner and also "benevolent dictator" Al Montna, that is additionally DU"s advisory an elderly vice president because that public policy, hasn"t permitted any gun bigger than a 20-gauge since the 1970s. The smaller-bored shotguns minimize the temptation to skies bust, and they are noticeably quieter than 12s, putting much less pressure ~ above the birds.

Club member Jay Goble states he wouldn"t go back to a 12 even if Montna enabled it. "No way," that says. "I love the irradiate weight and also low recoil of my Franchi Renaissance over/under. Occasionally when I"m shooting teal ns don"t get the gun mounted all the way. That will certainly knock her block off v a 12-gauge, however I don"t feel it v the 20." Dingville members regularly take teal, sprig, mallards, and specks at their club. Additionally, Montna, Goble, and also several various other members have taken your 20s come Alberta to hunt huge Canadas. "The guides asked, ‘What are you going to carry out with those?"" Goble says. "We were patient and let our birds work close and also we had actually no problem at all."

Chokes and also Loads

Twenty-gauge hulls don"t hold much shot. In the work of command ammo the wasn"t a problem, however Montna states the shift away from command was complicated until the premium nontoxics appeared on the market. Now, that says, the 20s have the right to cleanly take birds out to 35 yards or more. "Our members shooting HEVI-Shot or HEVI-Metal," the says. "Popular shot sizes include 4 and 6. We have learned the these tons shoot best through an ext open chokes favor skeet, boosted cylinder, and also light modified. Many of ours members shoot over/unders, and also they"ll use improved cylinder in one barrel and light modification in the other."

Missouri outfitter Tony Vandemore is another devoted 20-gauge user, having made the switch to a Benelli M2 for every his duck and Canada goose hunting. Vandemore favors HEVI-X tons through a rob Roberts T3 choke, i m sorry is about equivalent to an improved-modified constriction. "That chop choke place a most pellets ~ above target," Vandemore says. "As a guide, I"m often the last one come shoot, and with this fill I can take birds the end to 40 yards."

If you stick strictly to steel, you"ll discover the 20 is finest with smaller pellets at closer ranges due to its limited case capacity. Newly I patterned part 1-ounce loads of stole 1s, 2s, and also 3s v an improved-modified choke and also came away reasoning that 35 yards would certainly be my longest shot v a 20.

To repeatedly take birds at 40 yards through a 20-gauge, you"ll have to spend money ~ above bismuth, HEVI-Shot, or also Tungsten super Shot. Even so, if I want a total strictly for long range, I"d shooting a 12, in keeping with Nash Buckingham"s famous dictum: "Never send a young on a man"s errand." ~ above the various other hand, a couple of years back I polled several guides throughout the country and found the their clients" typical shot was 22 1/2 yards. Ballistically speaking, that"s not anything close come "a man"s errand." v a lightweight 20-gauge, it"s not also a hefty lift.

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20-Gauge Waterfowl Guns

Where as soon as the only synthetic-stocked 20s to be youth guns, today there room plenty of full-size, blind-ready 20s with fabricated stocks, swivel studs, and also black or camo finishes to select from. Pump shooters can pick the proven Mossberg 500 in black synthetic or Winchester"s slick SXP in Mossy Oak shadow Grass Blades. You"ll discover semiautos at every price point, starting with Weatherby"s black SA-08 at $649 and running every the way up come Benelli"s power Shop M2 Waterfowl Edition in ~ $2,399. In between, you deserve to choose among the Franchi Affinity, Winchester super X3, Remington 11-87, and also Beretta A400, complete with Kick-Off recoil reducer.