Shotgun Choice BR (with Colonel Smoothbore)
By angelamontana

Posted: January 21, 2018

In a recent column, we discussed the process of picking a shotgun, and for most shooters we can immediately eliminate a couple of choices. If you are a beginning or novice shot gunner, and you don’t own a shotgun, DO NOT even consider buying a 410 bore, 28 gauge, or 10 gauge shotgun. While 410 bore and 28 gauge guns are lightweight and soft recoiling, the smaller shot charge (fewer pellets) make the 410 and 28, guns for experts only; and the ammunition costs are 2 to 3 times more than a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun. 10 gauge guns are large and cumbersome firearms designed for use in a waterfowl or turkey blind.

Believe me; you don’t want to be packing a nine or ten pound shotgun up and down steep Montana mountains in search of grouse or partridge. Also, 10 gauge ammunition is very, very expensive, often hard to locate , and load choice is quite limited. And finally, shooting several 10 gauge shells in one outing is a bit like going 5 rounds with Mike Tyson, not a pleasant or rewarding experience.

One of my favorites is a shotgun chambered in 16 gauge.  Once a hugely popular chambering, especially in the southeastern United States, 16 gauge guns rapidly lost favor about 40 years ago. Recently, several manufacturers have offered limited quantities of 16 gauge guns in various configurations, and ammunition companies followed with new loads.  Lightweight like 20 gauge guns, with shot payloads comparable to the 12’s, a 16 just might be the perfect pheasant gun. To my mind, there is not a more perfect “fowling piece” than a fine, lively side by side chambered in 16 gauge. But alas, with the “sweet sixteen,” we once again find a scarcity of loads, especially in non-toxic shot, and higher costs than the 12’s or 20’s.

So here we are, our choices are somewhat narrowed to the 20 gauge or the 12. Soon, we’ll look at both and explore some of the guns chambered in each. Until then, if you have any questions send them to me at

Please check out next week’s column. I’ll tell you how to Zero-In on some incredible new shooting opportunities; I’m sure you will be impressed and excited.

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore