Finding The Shotgun For All Reasons with Colonel Smoothbore
By Matt Schauer

Posted: August 26, 2012

In our last lesson we narrowed our choice of shotguns to either a 20 or a 12 gauge. If you plan on hunting mostly upland birds, with one or two waterfowl excursions a year, and an occasional trip to the clays range, a 20 gauge will suffice quite nicely. While you will rarely use 3 inch shells, I suggest your 20 gauge shotgun be chambered for them. Nearly all of your hunting in the upland fields, and your clay target practice will be with 2 ¾ inch shells, but your occasional waterfowl outing will probably require the heavier payload of a 3 inch magnum.

Perhaps the most versatile gun of all, including handguns and rifles, is the 12 gauge shotgun. Quail, ducks, geese, grouse, swans, turkeys, partridge, and pheasantswill all fall to the 12. In addition, with the probable exceptions of elephant and Cape buffalo, properly loaded 12 gauge guns used at close ranges, are adequate and effective on most of the world’s big game. Many African professional hunters chose 12 gauge guns loaded with large buckshot or slugs as their preferred medicine for the extremely dangerous wounded leopard or lion. For bears in thick brush, many professional guides choose a heavily loaded 12 gauge shotgun. Besides being the most adaptable hunting shotgun, the 12 is ideal for the clay target enthusiast. It is truly a “gun for all reasons.”

20 and 12 gauge guns come in all forms, and costs can range from as little as a few hundred dollars, to hundreds of thousands for a gun that is a masterpiece of form, function, and art. There are single shots, pumps, semi-autos, over-unders, side by sides, levers, bolt actions, and even handguns available to the shotgun user. In our next session, we’ll begin a study of each of these models, their various configurations, and how they fit into our hunting or clay target plans.

Until next week, take a visit to my website,

Be safe and good shooting.

-Colonel Smoothbore