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  #1  
Old 01-13-2020, 10:05 PM
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Default 12 or 20 Gauge for steel?

Iím looking to get myself a nice 40th birthday present next year. I want a beautiful over under shotgun, lefty or ambidextrous. It would be for quail, dove and clays. With the new steel requirements do I want 12 or 20? Iíve been shooting 12 with steel and been very unimpressed. Do I really want to drop to 20 for a nice upland/clays gun? I need some some help deciding. Iím thinking of 12 due to lackluster performance on steel and a more versatile clay gun. Any ideas on models in over under or side by side welcome. Iím looking at the browning Citori white lightning. I got a 870 beater for turkey or ducks.
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  #2  
Old 01-14-2020, 12:29 AM
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Stick with the 12. Give a hard look at the Browning & Beretta offerings. Both make great guns for the $, but fit is very different. Buy the one that fits best.
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Old 01-14-2020, 5:19 AM
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If your not impressed with the 12 using steel you'll really be unimpressed with the 20 using steel. Stick with the 12, find a gun that fits you.
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Old 01-14-2020, 5:40 AM
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I'd say 20ga all the way . The guns swing faster and you are more likely to shoot it better. Especially for a clays or upland gun ... many a 12ga gunner has been emberased by my 28 ga pump gun
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Old 01-14-2020, 6:32 AM
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12 ga. Way more steel or non-lead ammo available. Probably at better prices than 20ga also.
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  #6  
Old 01-14-2020, 7:46 AM
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Bro-in-law just got a CZ over/under and loves it. He is a lefty 20-ga guy

12ga for me all day long
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  #7  
Old 01-14-2020, 11:30 AM
Abenaki Abenaki is offline
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I prefer a 20 over a 12 in most cases.

You may find that your scores in clays will go up using a 20, because you will not be getting pounded all day by using a 12.

Take care
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  #8  
Old 01-14-2020, 2:01 PM
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I picked up a Browning Cynergy for my 55th in 12ga.
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Old 01-14-2020, 2:21 PM
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I have both and shoot the 12 a lot more then the 20, I also have a couple of C.Z o/u and love them.
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  #10  
Old 01-14-2020, 2:42 PM
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1-1/8 oz of steel #6 pellets comes out to about 354 pellets.

15/16 oz of steel #6 is 295 pellets.

7/8 oz of lead #8 is 359 pellets.

3/4 oz of lead #8 307 pellets.

A 12 gauge loaded with 1-1/8oz of steel 6s is pretty equivalent to a 20 gauge loaded with 7/8oz of lead #8.

A 20 gauge loaded with steel #6 is roughly equivalent to a 28 gauge loaded with 3/4 oz of lead #8.
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  #11  
Old 01-14-2020, 2:52 PM
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Stick with the 12 and up your shot size. personally the #7 steel shot is very weak. I moved to #6 and its still pretty uninspiring...
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Old 01-14-2020, 3:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yoteassasin View Post
I'd say 20ga all the way . The guns swing faster and you are more likely to shoot it better. Especially for a clays or upland gun ... many a 12ga gunner has been emberased by my 28 ga pump gun
Do you shoot a lot of steel through that 28 gauge? Just curious..... I had a nice 28 gauge once, it was a lot of fun. But when the state went to steel, steel ammo for it was pretty hard to find.

If you're gonna shoot a lot, and shoot birds, 12 or 20 would be a better bet.
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  #13  
Old 01-14-2020, 3:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajaJames83 View Post
Stick with the 12 and up your shot size. personally the #7 steel shot is very weak. I moved to #6 and its still pretty uninspiring...
Yeah, if Iím annoyed with the 12 I donít think I would be happy with a 20 for hunting. This will be mainly a hunting gun. Iíve also gone to steel #6 and find it lackluster.
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Old 01-14-2020, 4:42 PM
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I hunt with 12’s and 20’s and because of bird training over 7-8 Brittany’s and as a “gunner” at AKC hunt tests, I shoot well in excess of 300-400 chukars, quail and around 60+ pheasants a year. I probably shoot 60% 20 gauge and 40% 12 gauge and most #6 shot, along with few cases of #5’s. Yes, most, but not all, are club birds.

My general preference is shooting a light weight 20 gauge for all around shooting and hunting. But for AKC hunt tests, it’s critical that I put the bird down on the ground for the retrieve. If I could only have one gun it would be the 20 gauge. 95% of what I shoot is steel shot and the balance Bismuth.

Last edited by Bull Elk; 01-14-2020 at 6:56 PM..
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  #15  
Old 01-14-2020, 6:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Bull Elk View Post
I hunt with 12ís and 20ís and because of bird training over 7-8 Brittanyís and as a ďgunnerĒ at AKC hunt tests, I shoot well in excess of 300-400 chukars, quail and around 60+ pheasants a year. I probably shoot 60% 20 gauge and 40% 12 gauge and most #6 shot, along with few cases of #5ís. Yes, most, but not all, are club birds.

My general preference is shooting a light weight 20 gauge for all around shooting and hunting. But for AKC hunt tests, itís critical that I but the bird down on the ground for the retrieve. If I could only have one gun it would be the 20 gauge. 95% of what I shoot is steel shot and the balance Bismuth.
Well now Iím torn. Iím going to have to rent/borrow some more guns to see what I like.
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Old 01-14-2020, 7:06 PM
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Mike,
It is a bit more challenging with a 20 gauge (2 3/4 inch shells) shooting steel shot as compared to a 12 gauge. When I’m shooting 2 3/4 inch steel shells out of a 20 gauge I’m trying to shoot birds a bit closer than when I’d shoot lead; however, remember, you can gain a bit of an advantage with the 20 gauge by shooting 3 inch shells. So far, I think I can gain a little more distance on my shot, as well as putting more bb’s in the air with 3 inch.
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  #17  
Old 01-14-2020, 7:14 PM
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I’m not looking for challenging. I’m a meat hunter. Thanks for the honest reviews.
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  #18  
Old 01-14-2020, 7:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deckhandmike View Post
Iím not looking for challenging. Iím a meat hunter. Thanks for the honest reviews.
Then you need to maximize your chances. Given your statement, the choice is clear.

You could compromise, and go with a 16 gauge.
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Old 01-14-2020, 8:36 PM
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I’ve recently switched almost everything to 20. #7 steel kills the crap out of doves, #6 flattens quail. #7 heavyweight shot killed 3 turkeys for me this year. A 20 will do 95% of what a 12 will. The only time I’d say use a 12 is if you’re consistently shooting big birds like duck and geese beyond 40 yards. A 20 gets also you less recoil and a lighter gun.
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Old 01-15-2020, 9:09 AM
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12. No question.

I used to take my wife's 20 ga. out for quail & rabbit on occasion. This was in the leaded days. For quail, I hiked around a lot so the 20 was better to carry than my 12 (30" barrel). I've lost more birds and rabbits with the 20 than I liked. Using #7 shot, I had a handful of mountain quail keep flying after watching feathers fly. There was even a jackrabbit & a cottontail where I watched fur fly off their backs only to have them keep running. I ended up going to high-brass #6 and that pretty well solved the problem -- anything hit would drop. But for the extra recoil, I might as well have been shooting a 12.

Admittedly, now that about 15 years have passed since then, I wonder if the issue was more pellet count than penetration. Those boxes of ammo are long since gone so I don't know what kind of velocity I was getting with the 12 vs 20. I just remember that I almost never had game fly/run off after getting hit with the 12 and it was all too common with the 20 when using low-brass field loads.

The only reason I can see to opt to buy a new 20 ga is if a smaller shooter is expected to use it.
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  #21  
Old 01-15-2020, 9:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CVShooter View Post
Admittedly, now that about 15 years have passed since then, I wonder if the issue was more pellet count than penetration. Those boxes of ammo are long since gone so I don't know what kind of velocity I was getting with the 12 vs 20. I just remember that I almost never had game fly/run off after getting hit with the 12 and it was all too common with the 20 when using low-brass field loads.

It was pellet count.

It's ALWAYS pellet count.

Lead 20 gauge field loads are all around 1200 fps. Lead 12 gauge field loads are all about 1200 fps. Steel 20 gauge field loads run 1300-1500 fps. Steel 12 gauge loads run 1400-1550 fps.

The exterior ballistics of each pellet doesn't change because it came from a 20 gauge instead of a 12; but an extra 1/4 oz of shot does an awful lot to fill out a pattern and give you a better chance of breaking a wing or hitting the CNS. In other words, a bird with 3 holes in it dies faster than a bird with 2 holes than a bird with 1 hole. A bird with a pellet through the head, lungs, and a broken wing dies faster and lands closer than a bird with a pellet through the lungs and a broken wing, than a bird with a single pellet through the lungs.

No matter what anyone says once you get above about 1400 fps with steel shot you're better off filling out your pattern (with more shot, decreased distance, or better chokes) than chasing faster velocities.

You ever shoot a duck and just KNOW you hit them just to watch them fly another 200 yards before cupping their wings, descending half way to the water, and suddenly crumpling up and splashing in an adjacent pond? You killed that bird (it didn't look like it but you did); but you either hit it with the very edge of your pattern or your pattern wasn't dense enough to cleanly kill it and now you have look for a bird 2 football fields and a levee away that died in the tules.

With steel shot and 2-3/4 inch shells 12 gauge gives you similar pellet counts to 20 gauge lead loads (a well known duck and bird killer). Three inch shells give you a similar pellet count to 2-3/4 inch lead 12 gauge loads.
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Old 01-15-2020, 9:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
You could compromise, and go with a 16 gauge.
Sixteen gauge guns are scientifically proven to make you a better shot, more attractive, and smarter.
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Old 01-15-2020, 9:54 AM
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OP,

my advice would be to scare up some old MEC reloader at a yard sale or what ever you have to do to not shoot steel and shoot whatever gun you like.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:51 AM
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shadchuk.jpgI've been doing just fine with 20ga steel: 2-3/4" #6 on the valley quail and dove, 3" #4 on chukar and mountain quail.

The key is to drop 2 shot diameter sizes (generally speaking).

I switched completely from lead a few years ago to try and beat the requirement and find what works. My numbers are the same as what they were with lead (#8 and #6 respectively).

I have an older (SKB) Weatherby Orion O/U, as well as a Benelli M1 both in 20ga.

An extra .114" of bore diameter won't change the game if something else is a bit out of whack...

Last edited by leadstorm; 01-15-2020 at 11:08 AM..
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Old 01-15-2020, 6:24 PM
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NapalmCheese, thanks, good info
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Old 01-15-2020, 8:45 PM
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I was torn going down to 20 ga a few years ago. Now I hardly ever shoot my 12s bought my citori in 20ga. 20 ga steel seems to be just as plentiful as 12. Yes 12 has more pellets but was told long ago. “If your on it, your on it. If your not, your not”
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Old 01-15-2020, 9:42 PM
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Bigger is better when meat hunting. I’m not recoil sensitive or afraid of a heavier gun. Based on everything the choice is clear. I want highest chance of dead bird. Therefore 12 is greater than 20. If ten gauge ammo was readily available I’d look at that. Steel sucks. Shot #6 at quail again today and wanted 5#. Lost a few birds that lead would of dropped.

Wish ten gauge #5 was common.

Last edited by deckhandmike; 01-15-2020 at 9:44 PM..
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Old 01-16-2020, 5:08 AM
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Had to switch to steel for dove this last season, using Winchester 2 3/4 #6 made lots of clean hits. The velocity and pellet count work well for me. Weatherby Orion 12ga.
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Old 01-16-2020, 8:23 AM
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Ran the CZ Redhead Premier over/under 12G this year. Shot Kent steel #6 for quail and dove and it was fine. It aint no lead, but it gets birds down. Super happy with the gun!
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deckhandmike View Post
Bigger is better when meat hunting.

Wish ten gauge #5 was common.
10ga #5 on a valley quail?

You must not like the meat that much...

Those chukar pillowed hard on #4 steel...3 out of 4 dead right there. They're about eleventy times tougher than a quail.
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Old 01-17-2020, 9:23 PM
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Steel just seems to be the problem. Nailed a quail with 12 gauge number 6 the other day and it blew the damn bird apart. Head almost gone and both breast wasted. I guess the pellets are hitting but they just don’t drop like lead. I’m just going have to get better at shooting since half *** shots with steel ain’t going to cut it.

The lead just dropped them with marginal shots and didn’t destroy the meat.

Last edited by deckhandmike; 01-17-2020 at 9:28 PM..
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Old 01-18-2020, 9:00 AM
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There is a good reason why nearly all bullets have been lead, it just works better.

When we had to go to copper ten years ago or so where I hunt, it took a while to adjust. the main adjustment for me was going from 180gr to150gr for 30.06.

This year for quail I went from 7-1/2 lead to #6 steel and I am still adjusting. Might need to adjust my choke. Not sure, but my point is we will figure it out.
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