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I was one of the fence-sitters referenced above, citing both 12 and 16ga. and have been mulling over my final choice. Honestly I prefer 16 for quail and grouse, but need 12 for pheasant. I do enjoy a weeklong pheasant hunt each year and with that in mind, IF you restricted me to one gauge, I would pick the 12 even though 90% of my hunting is grouse hunting. I can adjust the load of the 12 to the game as others have pointed out, but I wouldn't be too happy about it. The tipping point in my analysis is the existence of my light 12 A&D boxlock. It is by far the most versatile gun in my small arsenal. I can use it on grouse and pheasants alike and it carries very nicely.

Does anyone else have a single gun that tips the balance to their preferred gauge?


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Owen. I do. My preferred gauge is 12. I have one gun i will never sell and it is a 12. Most of my guns are 12 gauge and I have the most confidence in the 12 because, whether targets or game, the 12 does everything I want. I broke 24 at trap with my 20 gauge SxS the only time I used it for that, but in the end I have always shot a 12 and shot it more than a 20 or 16. I am 64, have arthritis in my shoulders and neck and , thank God, i can still carry my 7 and a half pound 12 ga all I need to. I don't know why but having that one 12 gauge gun just seems comfortable.

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To me, there is no best shotgun guage. There are only most memorable experiences and best days (to-date):
- my first dove on the wing I powdered with a .410;
- perhaps my longest kill was with a 16, a sharptail paced off at 62;
- my highest pheasant ever, a late season ND bird coming off a ridge a friend was pushing, with a 12 ga.;
- my first limit of chukar in Idaho, with a 28;
- and the gauge I shoot the most, a 20, has dropped sand grouse and guinea fowl in Africa, and huns and huns, and more huns (along with honkers, and everything in-between).

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Originally Posted By: Grouse Guy
To me, there is no best shotgun guage.

GG


I agree there is no best gauge, but there are preferences. The question asked was not best, but "favorite"

Nearly every great hunting memory I have is with a 16.

My favorite remains 16 for everything, though I do own a 24, a 12, and two 20's, the core of my collection is comprised of six 16ga guns. I don't count i herited family guns.

Hunting gun preferences are in my experience linked to particular guns more than gauges, though gauges play a part. Sometimes by luck or chance you get the right gun that fits and hits and the habit and like grows.

The two best guns for me are similarly balanced, weigh within an ounce, and barrels are within an inch. Both are 16ga. Out of habit I have stayed with 16 from when I was a kid hunting my Father's German guild gun, though my Fox Sterlingworth, my Browning 16 O/U, to my Louis Christophe and lastly a beat-up Purdey project gun.

There are one or two purchases ileft in my future and they will more than likely be 16's.

I make no claim that 16 is uniquely superior, in fact while ballisticly sufficent for the uplands, and for me just right at 6lbs and a few ounces plus or minus, feeding the beast is a pain. If you shoot 16 alot, you will probably become a reloader.

Through habit, the feel of a well balanced 6ib gun feels just right to me. If I had brought a good english 12 SLE in 1985 whem I had the chance I might be favoring a 12 gauge 6 1/2 pound gun.

Everyone has their own predilections and preferences, mine is 16.

Most of my "best" guns are 16's. For more than 30 years I have loaded and collected 16ga tools, components, and ammo. At this point I am over committed and will not change.

Last edited by old colonel; 04/16/17 10:22 PM.

Michael Dittamo
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Originally Posted By: old colonel
Originally Posted By: Grouse Guy
To me, there is no best shotgun guage.

GG


feeding the beast is a pain.


I couldn't agree more.

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The first game bird I ever killed (a wild ringneck pheasant) was killed with a 16 gauge Stevens Springfield sxs. To this day, the 16 gauge remains my favorite upland gauge, with the current favorite an Arietta Model 578 I picked up used a few years ago. Just perfect for most upland tasks.

I still have that Stevens, by the way. It was my father's and he gave it to me when he stopped hunting. Only shotgun he ever owned. I treasure it and his Winchester Model 94 .30-30 above all the other guns in my vault.

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I'm a 12 gauge shooter though I grew up on the ranch shooting a Remington Model 17 pump 20 gauge. However, over the past decade I've dipped my toe into the water of 16 gauges and really liked the temperature. This past four month quail season I think I shot a 16 on all my frequent hunts except maybe one or two. And though I have some darned nice 16's it seems the one I grab and go with is a lowly beat up Lefever DS 16 with 26" barrels. There is just something magical about it. Can't explain but more often than not when it goes "bang" a bird drops. And its so darned nice to carry. And I don't have to worry about scratches!


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My safe holds 16's and 12's. No other gauges. If I had my druthers, all the guns would be 16's, but.....

There are a good number of 12's that just call out to me, for one reason or another. Truth be told, I have favorite guns, not a favorite gauge.


The world cries out for such: he is needed & needed badly- the man who can carry a message to Garcia
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I hunt ruffs more than anything and for that my 28 gauge is perfect, but, I gotta have my 12 for pheasant, especially late season. I suppose if I were forced to own one gauge, it would be a light weight 16.

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Canvasback,
I realized after you mentioned favorite guns, that is what draws me to the special ones and not their gauges. I've never owned a 16, perhaps because people steered me away from them when I was starting out long ago because of ammo and the like. I've read numerous times about it's suitablility as an upland gauge, and it's barrels being the perfect diameter to fit in one's hand, overall weight, shot load, etc. Now that RST has me covered for shells for any bird that I might persue, I really owe it to myself to have at least one.
Karl

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