12 GA vs. 20 GA -- educate me on whys

Discussion in 'General Shotgun Discussion' started by QueenGlamis, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. QueenGlamis

    QueenGlamis New Member

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    We want to get a shotgun for home defense and target shooting. We aren't hunters so no need for that aspect to be covered. I know the 12GA is more powerful and cheaper shells etc. but I have some neck/shoulder issues so I can't just go out and shoot a 12GA all day. We have a single shot H&K 12GA shotgun, and it is accurate and destroys anything in it's path. however I want something a little lighter recoil that is comfortable for me and our kids (16 & 13) to shoot repeatedly. I have seen a few different models, and am interested on hearing opinions of y'all on the different options out there. Prefer a shorter barrel, 5 or more rounds, pistol grip + traditional stock is preferred but not required. I like the option of adding a flashlight so a small rail is good, and ghost rings and/ or at least a fiber optic sight is a plus!

    We also looked at some .410 with the intention of getting a S&W Governor at some point in time but after looking at the shotguns, it seems it may be a waste of money because my kids have been shooting rifles and shotguns since they were 6-7 years old and I think they will not enjoy the .410 as much as a 20 GA.

    I look forward to seeing the opinions on models/options/preferences out there. Budget is below 400-500 dollars. :)

    Thanks!
    QG
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013
  2. texaswoodworker

    texaswoodworker New Member

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    Short barrel and light recoil don't always mix well on a shotgun.

    For example. I have two guns that are pretty much the same (Mossbergs) . One has a 28" barrel, the other an 18" barrel. Both are 12 ga. The one with the 18" barrel kicks like a mule on steroids. The one with a 28" barrel kicks like a rabbit (well, to me).

    The main difference between the 12 ga and the 20 ga is the amount of shot each shell holds. 12 ga holds a lot more than 20 ga.

    If your wanting light recoil, go with the 20 ga. Shells can be had for pretty much the same price at wallyworld (Federal bulk packs).

    Another option would be to put a nice recoil pad (I like Pachmayr) on a 12 ga. They can make a HUGE difference.

    As for the accessories you listed (pistol grip, rail, sights, ect) you MAY find a shotgun with all of that, or you may have to buy a shotgun and put that stuff on it yourself.

    Now for the gun. You can either get a new pump action, or possibly a used autoloader in that price range.

    For the pump, you can't go wrong with a Mossberg 500 or a Remington 870. I've also heard a lot of good about the cheaper Maverick 88 (made by Mossberg) and the H&R Pardner. If you go to gun shops or pawn shops, you should have no problem finding one. I'd suggest looking at some of the used ones too. There are a lot of them out there in really good condition that are pretty cheap. I bought an old New Haven (Mossberg 500 sold under a different name) 12 ga for under $190. It needed a new ejector ($15) and a good cleaning/tuneup but now it works great.

    As for the autoloaders, you'll just have to look around. Some may get that cheap, or they may not. (I've seen a few).

    BTW, the Mossberg 500 hold 5 shells. Not sure about the Remington, but I think it probably does too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013

  3. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    You have much more range of ammo with a 12 ga. Super light sub-1 oz loads that barely recoil at all to firebreathing 3" or 3 1/2" buckshot and slugs.

    The main difference is gun weight/size. Most 20's are built on smaller frames and are easier to handle that a 12.
     
  4. unclebear

    unclebear New Member

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    The way i've always looked at it is 20 gauge is good for kids and light framed people, also makes a pretty nice rabbit gun. Where the 12 gauge is good for anything really because you can get light loads for rabbits and squirrel but then you can get a nice heavy slug for deer and larger game but on the same end you can get 3 1/2' magnums for turkey and geese and what not.

    The 20 gauge does hold less shot but there usually lighter guns which makes them pretty good camp guns or hiking guns. Me personally I'm a 12 gauge guy has more range more shot it's just a plus from a 20 gauge.

    Don't get me wrong 20 gauges are effective and nice shotguns I just prefer the 12.
     
  5. cblowe13

    cblowe13 New Member

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    The 20 gauge does have some recoil as well I compare the 12 gauge to a 45 acp and a 20 to a snappy .40 s&w. I think the snappy 20 gauge has its uses but I prefer the 12. IMO only go to academy and buy the semi auto Tristar raptor atac. There are so many great choices for a shotgun though. The best semi auto for around 500 or so is the browning a5. Wow you will be amazed.
     
  6. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Applaud your decision to skip the .410.

    Oh, I have a few, but frankly that is more of a gun for the expert than the novice. and ammo is double the price of 12 g.

    You will not find a lot of folks that can shoot Sporting Clays with a .410. And there is a reason for that.
     
  7. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

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    +1 on the 20Ga. For you. The Wife and I both have bad backs and broken shoulders. We have the Mossberg SA-20 bantam W pistol grip. Looking into a +1 or+2 mag extension. Also recently got a new semi12 as well..the Catamount Fury II..a good pad does make a big difference.
     
  8. Chainfire

    Chainfire Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That is just not right.....What have you got against kids? :)
     
  9. Gatoragn

    Gatoragn Active Member

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    Wow, once again Chain & I find common ground. I have evolved to the point that I now prefer a 20 ga when pheasant hunting due to lower weight of the gun and the ammo. Granted I use 3 inch shells, but you can knock down pheasant out to 40-45 yards with the right choke.

    The velocity of factory field load shells is about the same in both 12 & 20 ga, therefore the impact of a single pellet of say #6 shot is roughly the same when it strikes the target whether 20 or 12 gauge. But the 12 has more shot, which in theory increases the odds of impact with the target.

    I too used to think I had to have 12 for everything, but age and experience have taught me there are other effective options.

    I started shooting a 12 ga at 12 years old, granted is was a gas operated Remington 1100.

    As Robo stated, there are more 12 ga ammo options, and gun configurations, "on the shelf".
     
  10. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Gator- you'd better read Chain's post again.








    He is referring to USING a 20 g on kids- and light framed people. :eek:

    Myself, find a slingshot and a marble usually works to get their attention.
     
  11. Gatoragn

    Gatoragn Active Member

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    You have a point there, I gave Uncle Bear the benefit of the doubt, that his post was absent of malice. But, I have been mistaken before, and probably will be again. :eek:
     
  12. bobski

    bobski Well-Known Member Sponsor

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    the big mistake people do is they buy a gun then shoot something with it.
    you need to identify what you want to shoot and decide what will shoot that object best.

    follow me?

    wrong way....
    you buy a gun.
    you buy wrong ammo.
    you shoot something...and miss.
    --------------
    correct way is....
    i.d what am i going to shoot.
    what will i hit it with.
    buy the gun to do it.


    2 extra additions...

    how often will i shoot it and which is most compatable to my body?

    no mention of actions mentioned here.
    they are...
    break action
    bolt action
    semi auto
    pump action.

    using the list above, if comfort in shooting is key, you need to pick one that wont hurt you.
    combine that with how often you plan to shoot and youll have your gun picked.

    factors that effect choice....

    cheap light guns kick.
    certain actions kick.
    certain ga ammo kicks.
    improper fitted guns kick.

    properly fitted guns dont.
    light recoil loads dont.
    certain actions dont.
    well built heavy guns dont.

    and to make it even harder, no two people are the same.

    so...as much as id like to give you a factual answer....the only way youll find the right one is to start trying on some shoes!

    this is why ftf has a shoot and hoot twice a year at my place. everyone brings shotguns and everyone tries different ones to see which works best.

    by the 10th box shot....the answers become pretty obvious for some.
    good luck!
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  13. wittmeba

    wittmeba New Member

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    Stepping down to a 20 ga will make a big difference. Also if you are in the market see if you can find a nice used semi-automatic. They dont have the big kick like a single shot or pump. The semi-auto will "push" rather than bang due to the gasses used to operate the action.

    My wife shoots a 20 ga Remington Model 1100 semi-auto and loves it.
     
  14. p35bhp55

    p35bhp55 New Member

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    I think the 20 has an advantage on recoil and handling. As the ammo mess clears there will be heavy shells available again. As far as pistol grips go I have three of them, they are all in the same storage box. Another poster made the point that pistol grips are particularly unsuited for the Mossberg 500 because of the otherwise well positioned safety. Hadn't thought about it cause I never used them but he has a good point. I would find an older 870 if I just had to have the pistol grip.
     
  15. QueenGlamis

    QueenGlamis New Member

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    Bobski,

    All great points and thanks to all for your comments!

    We are talking target and (hopefully never) home defense. I am not a total wimp, just want something that is comfortable for me and the kids to target shoot. I would really like to try to shoot a few different models before choosing which to buy. Looked at an 870 pump yesterday, can't argue with the name and mass appeal they have. Mossberg is the name that comes to mind 1st when you talk about shotguns for a non-hunter, recreational shooter.

    I agree I will invest in a good recoil pad, and I like hearing the different comparisons of what they feel like, very helpful! I am able to shoot handguns without issue, all day. AR15, no problem. So maybe I am not as wimpy as I think LOL. :D

    Our 1st preference is pump, however I never shot a semiauto so that opinion may change quickly.

    bobski, if I were closer I would be very honored to come to the shoot and hoot, but that is a drive from AZ! ;)
     
  16. p35bhp55

    p35bhp55 New Member

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    "Mossberg is the name that comes to mind 1st when you talk about shotguns for a non-hunter, recreational shooter."

    There are a lot of hunters, myself included, in this duck, goose, deer and small game hunting state that will be shocked to hear you can't hunt with a 500. ;D They are kinda basic tho.
     
  17. p35bhp55

    p35bhp55 New Member

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    I have to take the light off before hunting season. Mossberg 500c 20ga. 18 1/2 inch barrel,
     

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    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  18. QueenGlamis

    QueenGlamis New Member

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    p35 didn't mean to offend ;) just I know there are a ton of higher end, beautiful shotguns out there that are designed more for the hunters out there. It is hard to cover the spectrum from the rec shooters to the hunters. Trying to cover all the bases isn't easy LOL!

    Now I am itching to try some out! Dang it I talk about shooting and all the sudden I am dying to go!
     
  19. QueenGlamis

    QueenGlamis New Member

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    now that's exactly what I am talking about! Nice weapon and thank you very much for sharing!
     
  20. Sniper03

    Sniper03 Supporting Member Supporter

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    I agree with Uncle. A 20 ga. is a great gun for introduction to the shotgun for children, ladies and for bird hunting. I use to hunt Pheasants and Quail over Setters and the 20 ga was my prefered guage. The 20 ga. is great for that due to the fact it does not tear up the meat as much as a 12 ga. on the birds. And also for those that are recoil sensitive. I think one of the worst thing one can do is hand a brand new shooter a 12 ga. with high velocity shells when they have not been properly instructed on proper stance and positioning of the weapon. Some think this is a funny thing to do by watching them being punished. NOT! It creates bad habits, fear and flinching. If it is the first introduction and the 12 is used light lower power loads would be recommended.

    03