Shooting smaller gauges.

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Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby Densa44 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:34 am

I've seen some very nice dog pictures with small birds in their mouths. I don't know what all these birds are so you have an idea of my expertise.

If you are using a 12 ga. to blast these upland birds I think you have way too much gun, and now and again you will produce fertilizer. The dog,who so far has done all the work will rush to retrieve the bird which may now be 3 feet long. He may "blink" the bird as it doesn't look like any bird he has ever seen, the hunter may not know this and imprudently start pushing buttons.

My suggestion is to try to avoid this as much as possible. I shoot (pointed) pheasants with a .410 packing #4 lead pellets, and even with that I blew one up last year. It was difficult snowy ground and I came at the dog from up wind and the bird came up right under my feet, the bird came right at me and I fired. What a mess, I blew the side off.

I have come to the conclusion that the best/perfect ga. is the 28, I have 2 friends that shoot them and it just seems perfect to me.

To reiterate, the dog has a right to expect a nice clean bird to retrieve, not something that you need a shovel to pick up.

Oh and BTW unlike what you may think, I'm not a great shot, but at 15 feet I don't have to be.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:02 am

28 ga. for quail,
20 ga. chukar,pheasant,sharptail,
12ga. ducks because of lead shot ban

I'm think I'm going to switch to steel shot for all hunting because of secondary toxicity effects of lead in raptors, etc. A recent lead ban by outgoing U.S. Fish and Wildlife on all federal wildlife refuges was rescinded by incoming Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (as his first act) for reasons I'm not sure I understand.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby Duckdon » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:09 am

12 ga on everything but large waterfowl. For that I use the 10ga. Why not a 8 bore? Because it's not legal.
Close birds, I shoot in the eye.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby stubblejumper » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:11 am

I don't really care what other people use to hunt with, but after trying a few gauges on pheasant and upland birds, I have settled on the 28 gauge, because it works for me. I enjoy carrying a light gun, and shooting when my dog does his job and provides those close range shots. I do pass on some shots that I would probably take with a 12 gauge, but I still take more than my share of birds, and if I pass on a shot now and then, it's no big deal to me. In fact, I see many people trying to shoot pheasants and upland birds at ranges that I would pass on even with a 12 gauge, and they usually miss or cripple birds as a result. I often take friends hunting with me, and they usually take all of the birds when hunting with me. One fellow called me after his son and him hunted pheasants with me and asked how many pellets are in a 12 gauge and a 28 gauge shotshell combined, and after I told him, he replied that one rooster appeared to have been hit by at least half that number. We had set his son up for the shot when my dog had a bird pointed, and when the son missed, both the father and myself fired at once, and the bird pretty much exploded in the air.
I still soot waterfowl with a 12 gauge, but I don't shoot 3-1/2" magnum ammunition.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby orhunter » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:18 am

For any birds that will hold for the dog and shooter, I can't disagree. The problem is getting birds that cooperate. A 28 or .410 on a Chukar/Hun hunt isn't going to lead to much success with the places and birds I've hunted.

One thing I like about the small gauges and small shot charges is how quickly a person can shoot without fear of ruining the bird. It's most natural for me to point and shoot as quickly as possible rather than pause to let the bird get out there....and then miss. On Phez that will hold, I still have to wait with the 28. I've shot a lot of trap and it's most natural for me to get on the bird as soon as the tail feathers clear the CRP.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby bhennessy » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:37 am

My Lefever sxs 16 gauge choked full and cyl is my go to gun just because I love the way it swings and I hit more birds therefore. I also have a 20 gauge Lefever that is choked fuller and fullest so I use it on quail in more open cover. Great fun, super light but hard to hit anything close to medium range with those chokes, for an average shot like me. My 12'gauge Lefever (choked full and cyl) pretty much stays in the closet these days. I shoot # 8 mostly for quail and woodcock, which helps keep the destruction down a bit I think on the close range shots.

The 16 gauge is about to be sent to a gunsmith for some long overdue TLC. It's had a hard 100 years I think.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby AverageGuy » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:05 am

I hunt a little bit with my 28 gauges. Doves and Quail when I do.

Like Densa and Stubblejumper, I use my 28 gauges when I hunt pen raised released birds, including pheasants. Makes it more sporting for those thinly feathered, much slower flushing/flying birds. The 28 is very effective, more so than the small gauge implies. But I have not hunted pen raised birds in the last 2 seasons and do not miss it at all.

I mostly use one of two 6 lbs 12 gauge autoloaders for hunting wild upland birds, a Benelli SBEII 12 gauge and 3 inch shells for Waterfowl, and at times a 10 gauge BPS for late season Giant Honkers.

When hunting Quail, and for early and mid season pheasants I use an improved cylinder choke in a lightweight 24 inch barrel 12 gauge, and the best shells always. I switch to a Mod choke for pheasants towards the end of the season as the birds get fully feathered and sneak out from points and flush going straight away more often... For Upland birds, I was Blessed to hunt Bobwhites, Pheasants and Sharptails in 6 states this season and had some banner days for bird numbers.

I blew up exactly one bird one bird this season, which was a half grown late hatch quail I snap shot off my Pup's point in very tight quarters heavy brush on opening day. (Immediately left that covey alone to grow bigger). Other than that I had zero problems blowing up birds as Densa describes, but for the most part I have the self discipline to let a close flushing bird get within a reasonable distance before I fire.

The speed at which wild birds take flight and use natural cover to their advantage in most of the places I hunt makes that seldom necessary, and the more common task is concentrate, pick out a bird, get on it and fire. The few ND sharptails that held well until I was within easy gun range of my Pup on point were the easiest shooting I encountered all season, but they were not the norm on that trip. Rather, most of the Sharptails I shot 3 weeks into the season, flushed at the edge of range for 12 gauge and Mod choke I was using, as I approached my Pup on point.

The guy I hunted Bobwhites with in KS exclaimed numerous times how he was loving the lack of cripples, and the guy in TX cheered loudly several times "What a shot" when my 1 1/8 oz load of 71/2s allowed me to shag mesquite brush or take a longer shot after a bird had cleared brush that prevented a closer range shot. My partner on that trip shot his 28 gauge, picked his shots, and did very well with it. The birds were so thick it did not matter either way but I most definitely was able to make longer shots. Which also did not matter but does speak to the benefits of a 1 1/8 oz load vs a 7/8 oz load. His 28 gauge O/U weighed the same as my 12 gauge auto.

I have some good days shooting and a few bad ones. The bad ones are most always the last day of a long tiring trip when I am worn out and get to gawking at the dog work and the birds. I can tell you that a 12 gauge with a good load and choke in the hands of someone who can shoot is highly effective and I am real ok with that.
Last edited by AverageGuy on Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby oldtimer » Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:59 pm

Densa,
It isn't the gauge that matters so much, it is the choke. The reason you peppered that bird with a .410 is because every .410 I have seen is a full choke. I shoot cylinder on Ruffs and quail, improved cylinder on pheasants, ducks, sharpies etc. In early season. Late season sometimes I shoot mod. All 12 gauge.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby Bigearl » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:18 pm

oldtimer wrote:Densa,
It isn't the gauge that matters so much, it is the choke. The reason you peppered that bird with a .410 is because every .410 I have seen is a full choke. I shoot cylinder on Ruffs and quail, improved cylinder on pheasants, ducks, sharpies etc. In early season. Late season sometimes I shoot mod. All 12 gauge.


Yep! It's all about patter density.

12ga or 20ga with skeet chokes for quail. Imp cyl for doves and ducks.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby stubblejumper » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:18 pm

oldtimer wrote:Densa,
It isn't the gauge that matters so much, it is the choke. The reason you peppered that bird with a .410 is because every .410 I have seen is a full choke. I shoot cylinder on Ruffs and quail, improved cylinder on pheasants, ducks, sharpies etc. In early season. Late season sometimes I shoot mod. All 12 gauge.

Not the case at all.Densa shoots a CZ SxS in 410 and it does not have full chokes. It has fixed IC/M chokes, with the front trigger firing the IC .Many other modern 410s also have more open chokes, or screw in chokes like my Citori 625 Feather. And even with a full choke, because he is only shooting about half the number of pellets in his 410, compared to a 12 gauge, the pellet density wouldn't be any greater than with a 12 gauge using an IC or Mod choke.
Last edited by stubblejumper on Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby stubblejumper » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:18 pm

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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby 3drahthaars » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:35 pm

Actually, it's the combination of shell and choke that make the pattern.

Soft lead vs. copper plated, velocity, type of wad (poly vs. fibre), chamber length if you're shooting the shorter .410s vs whatever the longest hull is... etc. are variables BEFORE choke enters into the equation.

It was written somewhere that chamber lengths used to be 1/8" shorter than the actual shell, because it improved patterns. That was in the day of fibre wads, paper hulls, etc.

I learned a lot about chokes and patterns when I rolled my own non-tox back in the early 2000s.

The only way to know what you have is to PATTERN, and I always pattern my guns when I experiment with new ammo.

Right now, I shoot Poly wad spreaders in my right barrel and RSTs in my left barrel of my Sauer... they give me the equivalent of IC/M (by % charge in 30" circle at 40 yards) in the fixed M/M barrels.

Even the spreaders will "snowball" quail if you shoot too close. And, in the pines it's always either too close or dodging trunks at 20-30 yards... good sport!!!

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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby oldtimer » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:52 pm

I never have trouble obliterating game anymore. As a youngster I shot WAY to close at birds. Ruffs are the exception, but most of the time just shoot when they get out a little.
Honestly, I do not know why anyone besides a young child would shoot a .410 at anything larger than a quail.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:37 pm

I shoot a 12 on them all. For small birds I uses 1 oz. load. For most, 1 1/8 oz. doesn't tear them up any more than a 28 and I can shoot waterfowl as well.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Shooting smaller gauges.

Postby twistedoak » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:48 pm

gauge size does effect payload size.
but shot size and choke matter more then gauge size.
you'll blow just about anything up with 1-1/4 oz of 6s and a full choke.
but that same 1-1/4 oz of 8s and a cyl bore and your in business.

being I hunt mainly pheasant and grouse
I guess my fav all around gauge would be 16g
and 1oz payloads of 6s-8s thru an imp cyl
I can walk from a pheasant field into grouse woods and just change shells.
the 16gauge as they say carries like a 20 and hits like a 12
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