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Shotgun Guages?

Discussion in 'Tactical Shotguns' started by GlockFan624, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. GlockFan624


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    Nov 10, 2009
    Hey everyone, I'm new to shotguns and I have question for you. Can you guys explain each shotgun gauge and the primary role of each? For example, what is the weakest shotgun gauge that would be suitable for home defense?

    Please list any good information you may have.

  2. sambeaux2249


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    Dec 4, 2006
    Woof! That's a lot of info you asked for in a very short post. LOL

    Well.... I'll try to get you started, I'm sure others will explain more and better.

    Okay, the smaller the number, the larger the bore is and the more shot it can send downrange. There are/were a *LOT* of shotgun gauges, but for modern purposes, we are pretty much limited to:

    10, 12, 16, 20, 28, and .410

    10 gauge is the largest, is almost dead, and almost strictly used for hunting
    12 gauge is by far the most common in general, and the most common for defense.
    16 gauge is largely defunct, and mostly used for upland game
    20 gauge is the next most common after 12 gauge, at least for defense.
    .410 is probably too small to be seriously considered for defense.

    For home defense, I would recommend either a 12 gauge using reduced recoil loads or a 20 gauge. In 12 gauge, I'd recommend 00 buck. I'm not sure what's available for 20 gauge, but I'd look for something around 1 buck.

    There are some .410 shells that might be suitable for defense. I'd look at 00 or 000 buck in a 3" shell. It's about half the payload of a 12 gauge, but about the same velocity.

    I hope this helps some?


  3. aippi


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    Jun 12, 2009
    As Sam said there were a lot in the old days and some just surrvived. The gauge is determined like this. In the old days gun maker would make a barrel and then form a lead ball the same size as the bore of the barrel. The number of those lead balls that equaled one pound was the guage of that barrel. So if 12 of those lead balls weighed one pound it was a 12 gauge. Over the years they came to some uniformity.

    Sam's post is pretty good with little to add except yes there are still 8 gauge shotguns around and some guys might want to shoot one, not me. My favority is the 8 guage double barrel in the movie Appalosa. There some 28 gauge shotguns and these are mostly for clays and are mostly offered in high dollar weapons.

    The .410 is accualy a caliber,fortyone hundreds of an inch but we tend to call it a guage and is a very deadly little gun. Slugs from it kill like a rifle at close range and there are some buck shot loads that stack the buckshot in a colum. I have never fired these loads so can't comment on them

    The 20 guage is often thought of as youth or ladies weapon but with the Home Defense market growing it is finding its place. The most common buck shot for it is #3 but there is some #2 around now days. I am proud of my custom built 20 ga tactical models and to my knowledge I am the only customizer building on the 20 so that shows you the faith I have it that guage to stop a threat or put meat on the table.

    The gauge a shooter selects is mostly determind by his preference as all can get the job done. A misnomer is that it takes a 12ga for home defence. Not true. Shotgun dead is shotgun dead and most all the gauges will see to that when used properly.
  4. rem2429


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    Nov 26, 2004
    Llano, TX
    What you need to understand is that a pellet going a certain speed has a certain energy. The bigger the shell, the more pellets available. A 00 buck pellet at 1000 feet per second can kill you, regardless of what shell it was fired from. Let us compare the more common large and small shells. A .410 will maybe have 5 pellets at most, and a 12 guage will have typically 8-12. The collective energy of all the shells pellets increases as the number of pellts increases. What this means is, you can use any of the above to go dove hunting loaded with no. 8 birdshot. The bigger shells will have more pellets and a more dense pattern at any given range provided they are choked the same. Change the .410 choke to keep the pattern density the same, and you decrease the pattern size compared to the bigger shell.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2010