A rifle with a scope is practically useless at short range with bushes, because you can’t focus a scope and shoot from the hip in seconds like you can with a shotgun. A shotgun is the most versatile gun there is. A 12-gauge shotgun is the most common, but some older women and children prefer the lesser recoil of the 20-gauge.
Is there a big difference between a 12-gauge and a 20-gauge shotgun? A 12-gauge can take anything from a 2 ¾” length to a 3 ½” long shell, which means that the longer length and width has extra powder in it, giving the shell more distance. A 20-gauge always shoots with less powder. But there is a saying; “If you can’t hold the 12-gauge steady enough to kill something, then you are worlds ahead with a 20-gauge.”
Experts from Winchester and Remington claim than in pheasant hunting, it doesn’t make much difference between a 20 or a 12-gauge. So what is the difference for women? Is it heavy to carry and does it have hard recoil? Certainly a 12- gauge is heavier to carry. But if you are sitting in one spot while deer hunting, then a 12-guage would be fine. If walking all day is an issue, then a 20-gauge is best.
The most important thing is to get a shotgun that you can carry all day and shoot comfortably.
12-gauge pump shotgun
I have shot a 12-gauge all my life. But I have a permanent bruise on my right upper arm to prove it, especially from years of shooting trap. In most cases a 20-gauge is the best choice for women who haven’t grown up with a 12-gauge. I wouldn’t even bother with a 10-gauge as some guys have gotten detached retinas from the recoil of a 3 ½” shell shot from a 10-gauge. They use a 10-gauge to shoot at geese that are too high for a 12-gauge. We all know who they are because the loud noise seems like it wakes up the entire county.
A gun should feel like it’s an appendage when you are hunting. If your shotgun is too long and it’s too heavy, you will be too exhausted to shoot accurately when it counts.
If you buy a shotgun, you must check the length of pull, that is the distance between the butt of the stock as it fits at your shoulder to placing your finger on the trigger. Most shotguns are made for men or children. Some women buy children’s shotguns because the length of pull fits. If the length is too long then you have to cut the stock down to fit you. Make sure that is possible with the shotgun that you buy.
The police carry 12-gauge pumps because of its firepower and that after they remove the hunters plug (that wooden dowel that prevents hunters from inserting more than 3 shots); the police can shoot up to 6 shots. (some even more).
The smallest barrel is the .410 shotgun used by children for pigeon, doves or small grouse. It has nearly no recoil. The width of the shotshell is so small that it can fit into a pistol called the “judge” loved by ranchers to kill rattlesnakes.
Double Barrel .410 shotgun
Most shotguns have chokes that screw into the end of the barrel. They squeeze the shot shell as it leaves the barrel. The tighter the squeeze, the farther it goes. Chokes that are more open allow for a wider spread (Improved cylinder). That type of shot is for pheasant hunting. A modified choke shoots further than the wider improved cylinder. For deer hunting you are required to use slugs. That is a shotshell full of one solid piece of lead and can put down any big animal. Improved cylinder that opens the barrel the widest is used for a slug.
If you can only afford one gun, then buy a shotgun for hunting and protection. In close contact protection from any animal, the shotgun would be best choice. In fact against a black bear, a slug or 00 shot would bring him down. For Deer, a slug would do it. A #4-5 size shotshell would bring down any pheasant. Duck hunting would require a 4 shot, while goose requires a double BB or a T shot.
Grouse hunting is usually done with a #6 shot. Raccoons would require anything from a slug to BB, they are tough beasts.
Squirrels and rabbits would be fine with a #7-9 shot. Doves would be best with an 8 shot. Turkeys best with #4, 3 or 2 shot shell.
Marauding crazed zombies should be downed by #00 or slug.
The police say that more problems have been solved with just the noise of the homeowner sliding the pump back and engaging the shot shell into the barrel. It makes that familiar noise to scare off the burglar and no one gets hurt.
Shotguns come in types: pump, automatic, over and under, double barrel or rifled barrel. You can buy 2 or 3 pump shotguns for what an automatic would cost. That’s probably why I have 5 pump shotguns. (Or is it that I find them irresistible?). While some people love the autos, those of us who are shooting in below zero weather always remember the person in our group whose $3000 automatic became jammed from the brittle action in the guns receiver (where the shell goes in to barrel). For the same reason that I don’t like automatic car windows when they ice over, I don’t like automatic shotguns. When it sticks, it is bad.
The receiver part of the shotgun can vary. Some allow you to insert a shot shell into the receiver from the side and the bottom. Some only allow them to be inserted from the bottom. A side opening allows you to insert different size shells without ejecting the others. This has an important advantage when you see a goose and want to insert BB without taking out all the size 4’s for ducks.
I always have a shell-holder on the butt of my shotgun. I want to be able to grab a shell in a hurry. The metal shell-holders like the police have are really heavy, but they are easy to install. They are great if you are sitting in a deer blind, but heavy if you must walk a lot.
Getting a camo dipped color for your shotgun is great. All of my shotguns have camo, either that I put it on or had it dipped. I mean you are turkey hunting with stealth in mind and wear camo clothes from head to toe, but your shotgun has a silver barrel and black stock…come on! Turkey’s have excellent eyesight.
Over and under’s are merely two barrels; one on top and another underneath. They come with one or two triggers. One trigger shoots the top barrel and the other trigger shoots the bottom. Or one trigger shoots the top and then pulled again will shoot the bottom. Double barreled shotguns can have one or two triggers too. But you only have a max of 2 shots. A rifle barreled shotgun is only for sabot shells to fire for deer. It shoots further than the other shotguns known as smooth barrels. A rifled barrel has twists inside that spin the sabot shell much like a rifle would and causes the sabot shot to fly much farther than other shotguns. This is an advantage for deer hunting. Unfortunately, that is the only use for a shotgun with a rifled barrel. That’s great if you have several shotguns and only need one of them for deer or bear. The best scenario would be to get a shotgun that you can remove the rifled barrel and put in
With all that said, you can’t run and shoot with a shotgun like a pistol despite what Europeans believe in their arguments against pistols. The Canadian government has the same ridiculous idea. You don’t want to take a shotgun with you on a hike. You want a pistol on your hip or concealed.