The 12 gauge shotgun is the popular and the most versatile, and it handles a large range of loads. If you are looking for a shotgun to hunt upland game bird, the 16, 20 and 28 gauges are also a great choice. The .410 is for small game like squirrel hunting and expert clay target shooting. The big 10 gauge is more of a specialty gun for goose hunters.
Action of A Shotgun
A pump action shotgun is the least expensive choice and are also very reliable. A semi automatic shotgun will reduce the amount of recoil that you feel when shooting the shotgun. Pump action and semi automatic shotguns are better guns for hunting deer and turkeys. Break action shotguns offer two shots, compared to to three shots offered by pump action and semi automatic.
Weight of A Shotgun
When considering the weight of a shotgun, the important thing to consider is what you will be using the shotgun for. A heavier shotgun will absorb the recoil of the shot better, but the lighter shotgun is easier to carry. This matters a lot when you do a lot of hiking while hunting, and matters less if it’s for target practice, or shorter hiking distances while hunting.
Balance of A Shotgun
The balance of a shotgun is important as well, and it’s a matter of personal preference. For me, I shoot better with a shotgun that is slightly muzzle heavy. The exception for me is when I am hunting in close cover for upland game bird hunting, such as for grouse.
Finish on a Shotgun
The finish on a gun is really important to some people, and much less important to others. For example, a nice fancy expensive walnut finish and beautiful shiny engraving on the shotgun look great in the uplands and on the target range. But if you are hunting waterfowl, deer, and turkeys, you may prefer something duller, a bit more durable, and easier to care of.
Choosing the Right Gauge Shotgun
Unlike the rifle calibers, where there is a crazy amount of different caliber choices, shotgun selections are limited to six. Each size has it’s own purpose, and each size has it’s own fans.
410 Gauge (67 gauge) shotguns are a great starter gun for kids to learn with due to it being so light with very little recoil. A hard recoil can be intimidating for beginner shooters, and it can train them to be scared of the shot, which will cause them to lose accuracy. A .410 has a light kick, so it is not intimidating, and is a great shotgun to learn with. The big negative quality for the .410 shotgun is that it shoots poor patterns and the ammunition is a bit expensive. For hunting purposes, it’s best suited for squirrel hunting.
Browning Citori Lighting 410 Shotgun
•Browing Citori 725 Sporting 410 Shotgun •Browning Citori White Lighting 410 Shotgun •Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon I Field Over Under 410 Shotgun
10 Gauge Shotguns
10 Gauge (.775-inch diameter) shotguns are the largest legal shotgun gauge in the United States. The 10 gauge was used for everything in the days of blackpowder hunting. Though it’s been around forever, it still hangs on for those hunters that target goose hunting. The 10 gauge patterns well with BB and larger steel shot, and it is a heavy shotgun weighing in about ten pounds, so it absorbs the recoil of heavy loads.
12 Gauge Shotguns
12 Gauge (.729) shotguns are the standard for most shotgun owners because it is the most versatile gauge of all. The 12 gauge shoots everything from the very low recoil ¾ ounce practice loads up to the 2 ¼ ounce turkey loads. 12 gauge shotgun ammunition is available everywhere, and because of the high sales volume, the prices remain low at a fair price. If you are going to own only one shotgun, it should be a 12 gauge.
Beretta Parallelo 486 Side by Side 12 Gauge Shotgun
•Browning Citori 725 Over Under 12 Gauge Shotgun •Beretta 692 Sporting Over Under 12 Gauge Shotgun •Beretta 694 Sporting Over Under 12 Gauge Shotgun
16 Gauge Shotguns
16 Gauge (.662) shotguns are an upland game bird classic squeezed into a tiny, overlapping niche between the 3 inch 20 gauge and the 12. Many shotgun enthusiasts say thta a 16 gauge carries similar to a 20 with it’s lighter weight, but smacks your target like a 12 with a good load. •Browning Citori Feather Superlight 16 Gauge Shotgun •Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen Simi-Auto 16 Gauge Shotgun •CZ Teal Over Under 16 Gauge Shotgun •Stevens Model 555 Silver Over Under 16 Gauge Shotgun
20 Gauge Shotguns
20 Gauge (.615) shotguns are a capable upland game performer with ⅞ of an ounce to an ounce of shot. A 3 inch 20 shoots about an ounce of steel, which is perfect for duck hunting. With the latest advances in slugs, it make the 20 gauge darn near the equal of a 12 gauge, but with much lower recoil. A 20 gauge makes for a great starter gun. •Beretta Parallelo 486 Side by Side 20 Gauge Shotgun •Browning Citori 20/28 Gauge Combo Shotgun •Benelli Performance Shop M2 Turkey Edition 20 Gauge Shotgun •Browning Citori Lightning 20 Gauge Shotgun
28 Gauge Shotguns
28 Gauge (.550) shotguns are best for small birds and short range clay shooting. When shooting at a gun range out to 30 to 35 yards, the 28 gauge has a light kick, but the ¾ ounce shot charge hits hard.
A really fun gun to have is an over under shotgun. When I was a kid I had a .22 rifle with .410 gauge shotgun over under. So I was prepared for shooting many different types of small game at an instant with different types of ammo for each type. It was very fun to carry and target practice with. Best Under Over Shotguns•Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon I Over Under Shotgun •Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon I Field Over Under Shotgun•Beretta 694 Sporting Over Under Shotgun •Beretta 692 Sporting Over Under ShotgunAbout The Author Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive free products from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase. The Best Shotgun Shooting Experience Awaits!