Ask most hunters how many guns they need and their answer will likely be, “One more than I already have.” Guns serve many purposes. They are family heirlooms, works of art, and specialized hunting tools; but given the choice of one gun for all your shooting needs, it’s hard to beat the 12 gauge shotgun. With the right chokes and loads, the 12 gauge is capable of taking down every North American game animal and is also the best tool for defending yourself, your home, and your family. Here’s a few ways to put your 12 gauge to work.
Load It Light
Screw in a modified or improved cylinder choke and load your favorite 12 gauge with 1 1/8 ounces of 7 1/2 or 8 shot and your perfectly equipped for a day of dove shooting or a trip through your favorite grouse covert.
The trend among shooters has been to use smaller 16, 20, and even 28 gauge shotguns for this light work. 12 gauges are heavier, but fire an average of 28% more pellets than a 20 gauge every time you pull the trigger. Those extra pellets could be the difference between a miss and a clean kill. No wonder the top ten sporting clays shooters in the world all shoot 12 gauges.
Load It Heavy
You’ve had a successful day of dove hunting and tomorrow’s plans include hitting the marsh for a waterfowl hunt or the woods for some fall turkey action. No problem. Spend five minutes swapping that modified or improved cylinder choke with a full or extra full. Head for your cache of ammunition and select some non-toxic shot for waterfowling or a handful of magnum turkey shells.
With modern 3 1/2 inch magnums the 12 gauge has rendered the 10 gauge all but obsolete. Hunters looking to lessen the felt recoil of these magnum loads should choose a gas operated semi-automatic 12 gauge like the Remington VERSA MAX.
Think the 12 gauge shotgun is only good for birds and small game? Think again. Switch out the smooth bore of your favorite bird gun for a rifled barrel, load the gun with saboted slugs and turn that wingshooter into a deer killing machine. Shotguns set up for shooting slugs are capable of making shots out to 200 yards.
The fact that most record book whitetails are found in slug only states should be enough incentive for any traveling whitetail hunter to invest in a rifled 12 gauge barrel. Even if you don’t have a rifled barrel, traditional slugs and buckshot can take down deer inside 50 yards with ease.
The 12 gauge shotgun is the most effective weapon for home defense, period. Many shooters choose a handgun or AR-15 for protecting themselves and their loved ones, but these guns simply can’t do what a 12 gauge can.
A single shot from a 12 gauge loaded with buckshot is four times more powerful than a round fired from a .45 ACP and nine times more powerful than a 9mm, two of the most common handgun home defense rounds. A shotgun is also easier to shoot accurately compared to any handgun.
AR-15s lack the one-shot stopping power of a shotgun loaded with buckshot or slugs. The ability to immediately immobilize your attacker could be the difference between life and death in a home defense situation.
Big game, small game, upland birds, or home invaders, your 12 gauge can handle them all. Pull yours from the gun case today, shoot a round of clays, and thank it for its service and versatility.