A Shotgun Approach

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Published on: Aug. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

hard to find.

The 28-gauge, on the other hand, has become very popular, and it’s an absolute joy to shoot. With 1-ounce loads, its firepower is very similar to that of a 20-gauge, except the guns are feather light and lightning quick to handle. The ammo is lighter, too, so you can carry more of it afield. The downside is that the 28-gauge doesn’t have the punch necessary for waterfowl or turkey.

If you opt for a 28-gauge, make sure it’s actually built on a 28-gauge frame and is not just a downsized 20-gauge. If you get a true 28-gauge shotgun, it’ll be hard to lure you away to anything else.

All Choked Up

Unlike a rifle, which fires a single projectile, a shotgun shell launches many projectiles, or pellets.

The manner in which these pellets separate or hold together when fired is called a pattern. A loose pattern sprays pellets over a wider area, while a tight pattern holds them closer together.

While each gauge has it’s own standard diameter, you can alter the diameter of the muzzle to alter the pattern. Most new guns come with interchangeable tubes that allow you to expand or decrease the diameter of the muzzle within seconds. If you want a loose pattern for quail hunting or sporting clays, you can screw in an Improved Cylinder tube. For the ultra-dense patterns many turkey hunters prefer, you can screw in an Extra Full or even a Super Full tube.

Older guns have fixed chokes. I like them better, but they limit the versatility of the gun. That alone is reason enough to own more than one shotgun!

Wood or Synthetic?

As you scan the rack, you’ll notice guns of traditional design made of wood and blued metal. Others will have synthetic stocks colored black, or with various camouflage patterns.

Which should you choose?

If you’re going to hunt in corrosive conditions such as what you typically find during waterfowl seasons, a synthetic stock with anodized metal will certainly prove more durable over time. Most turkey hunters also prefer camouflaged guns for the extra measure of concealment they provide.

On the other hand, a finely designed gun is a work of art, and there’s nothing more beautiful than good wood with a nice finish and deeply blued metal. It is as pleasant and desirable to handle as the finest baseball bat must be to a Major League slugger.

Before you buy, try out several brands, types and models to find the one that suits you best. When the gun comes to your shoulder, your head should align instantly down the sight plane without requiring you to adjust your head. You should be able to reach the trigger easily without having to overextend to grip the fore-end. In short, it should feel like an extension of your arm.

It’s hard to explain, but when you find the right shotgun, you’ll know it instantly. It’s almost like falling in love.

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