I think I am going pheasant hunting this year (first time hunting ever) but I need to get a new barrel for my 870. Can anyone tell me what barrel I need? I saw some online that are 26 inches with the vent rib sight. I don't know what kind of choke I need to get.
Can anyone give me any suggestions?
First, what barrel do you currently have on your gun? Length? Choke? Plain round barrel or vent rib? The the length and choke should be printed on the side of the barrel (it'll say something like "26 inch Full choke"). If there is no choke listed, then...
Second, look at the end of the barrel; do you see a threaded choke tube with small notches in the end? If so, all you have to do is buy a new choke tube (or two or three) and a choke tube wrench, not a new barrel.
If you do decide to get a new barrel, get one with choke tubes and a set of tubes to go with it, and you'll be set to hunt everything that's "huntable" with a shotgun.
Finally, you can hunt birds with almost any type of shotgun, barrel length, and choke, if you're willing to accept some limitations. For open chokes (Skeet, Cylinder, Improved Cylinder), you'll have to get on the birds quickly and shoot, before the bird gets too far away and your pattern opens up too much. If you have a Modified barrel, you are probably okay for early season birds, or hunting over dogs. If you have a Full choked gun, take your time and let the birds get a bit farther away before shooting; the larger pattern will make hitting easier.
Heck, we hunted EVERYTHING with Full-choked guns when I was a kid; if it was far away, you were all set, and if it was up-close, you just waited a bit until it was far away. The only time this doesn't work is if you are in very thick cover; by the time the bird gets far enough away, you won't be able to see him any more.