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Joined: Jun 2001
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After reading a lot of threads through out this site, it seems like a lot of us are reccomending a longer length shotshell when we make gage and load reccomendations to hunter/shotgunners asking questions regarding the best loads for 12gage shotguns.<P>Example: If you buy the 12ga. 870pump, be sure to get the 3in Magnum or better yet, the 3.5in magnum.<P>If it's true, and a lot of shooters agree, and good ones to boot , when you shoot a 20ga, stick to the 2&3/4in. 20ga shotshells not the 3in Mags!<P>Reasoning is: The patterns become less efficient with the longer shot column length of the 3in mag. You actually get a better pattern at longer ranges with the standard shotshell due to shot deformation etc. And they just make your gun kick harder.<P>Taking it a step further, the Brittish, shotgun builders to the Queen and experts in the design of shotshells, tell us that the 12ga. 2.5in shell loaded with 7/8ths to 1.0oz of shot at moderate velocity, is the most efficient/effective shotshell for the 12gage.<P>Any more shot added to the optimum shot column length of any given gage actually decreases it pattern effectivness at hitting targets on the wing, and it's more exaggerated at longer ranges.<P>If all above is true, why are we telling everyone to get bigger, longer, and faster loads in the 12ga. This does not compute?<P>Maybe it's just magnum madness again, if more is good, is even more, better?


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It all depends on how well an individual gun patterns. Sometimes the longer shells do throw tighter patterns. This is often true with buffered loads. That's why your magnum ammo has this feature. With steel shot, you need the extra lenth just to get enough of those extra hard, and extra large, pellets in the case. E

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First of all, knowledgeable people, including me, are recommending the 3 1/2 inch 12 guage specifically to allow for the use of 3 1/2 inch steel loads for waterfowl, which are generally superior to 3 inch steel, which are generally superior to 2 3/4 inch steel. Same is true in the 20 and the 3 inch. Steel does not have the shot deformation problems you referred to created both by setback and by scrubbing. And allows you to use the bigger shot sizes necessary to retain downrange energy while allowing enough shot to maintain decent pattern density.<P>The reason that some people are not sold on the 3 inch 20 with lead for game is that due to it's diameter and some of the factors you mentioned it is not a noticeably more efficient killer at longer ranges unless you use or load premium loads and then, it is still markedly inferior to a similarly loaded 12. So, if you are going to be taking longer shots, use a 12, and if you are hunting upland or decoying ducks then the 20 is adequate even with 2 3/4 inch shells.<P>The British were right for that time frame when those shells were developed but I can assure you that today they do not hunt wild waterfowl with the loads you mentioned, unless they are what they call flighted which means someone releases pen raised or captured ducks and they fly over a blind, or unless they are using a 2 1/2 inch chambered gun and that is all they can shoot due to proof restrictions. Indeed, the loads you mentioned were specifically developed for driven game, where the maximum shot is usually well under 40 yards, and for use with very light weight doubles where recoil was a distinct concern, particularly when shooting high overhead shots as you often are when shooting driven game. And, when, the modern knowledge of shotshells was not available and the antimony content of shot was zero. 2% antimony makes a world of difference in what a lead pellet is capable of. If the British and the reasoning you quote were correct every world championship in every shotgun sport would be won by side by side doubles. The actual number is basically zero. Not that they don't have some great shooters, they do, but they use semi-autos or over and unders. <P>Probably the most efficient 12 guage bird killing shotshell at reasonable ranges ever developed which balances recoil and killing ability is the 2 3/4 inch, 3 1/4 dram, 1 1/4 ounce of premium hard lead shot which has developed to be the shell of choice by pigeon shooters, which is the biggest money game in the shooting world, not counting war, and where that shell has been proven millions of times to be the best choice. But a major factor in that choice is the necessity for a rapid second shot, without that they would undoubtedly use more shot and more shell if it was legal. BTW, although they are not commonly available, both Federal and Winchester make pigeon loads and they are absolutely wonderful dove/upland loads. Definitely superior to the 3 3/4 dram load which people commonly refer to as high brass.<BR>That pigeon load is a great well balanced load, but put it up next to some 1 1/2 ounce premium lead loads at long range and it looks very anemic and even more so if you use premium 3 inch lead loads. They will absolutely destroy any comparisons with the "efficient" loads you are talking about.<P>The real answer is for long range, even more is better if it is in the right package.


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