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Thread: 16 ga vrs 12 ga

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    Default 16 ga vrs 12 ga

    I have a husqvarna 16 gauge double on its way. So I've been looking through some of the odds and ends of miscellany. It seems that 16 gauge was popular back in the day. there is a good bit of reloading equipment for the 16.

    All this got me to wondering about how they stack up to one another. A while back a friend commented that all the 16 gauges that he had owned shot slugs more accurately than any of his 12 gauges. I really can't imagine why that would be. He most likely used the common "rifled" slug. anyhoo I'm looking forward to fooling with it all.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?


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    Senior Member alaskabushman's Avatar
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    I have a single shot 16 gauge that I've had for years. The ammo is hard to find in my area so I dont shoot it much. I think it can probably do just as much as the 12 can, with slightly less recoil (if that's even noticable) but this is conjecture on my part since I've never hunted with it. My particular gun has a really stiff hammer spring and a gosh-awful trigger (around 13 pounds) so it spends most of it's time in the cabinet...I'm sure yours will be more enjoyable.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    My father and uncle both had 16 ga....MF Win Model 12...uncle Ithaca model 37.....
    The Win had a poly-choke...the Ithaca a modified.

    They used them for everything....small game, pheasants (at a hunting ground), duck, geese...and der with foster slugs.
    The Win... I was allowed to use... that came with the 2 shell rule.....

    I kill a lot of game with the Win....and didn't worry about shooting the slugs thru the poly coke....as the interwebs were not invented yet.

    When they both passed, I gave my nephews each one....

    Later I picked up a Crescent Arms DB w/exposed hammers.....use it for pheasants in our hunting ground...and did OK..but was more of a "Hey lookie what I got"...LOL

    Also picked up a 16ga barrel for the H&R/NEF Handi Rifle....as I didn't have one....
    Haven't shot it yet.

    There is a 30 cal ammo can about 3/4 full of mixed 16 ga shells...mostly #4,#5 and #6's....all lead...and quite a few slugs.....all older ...from the 1950's and older.

    Ammo now is expensive, and hard to find.....haven't looked, but can't remember seeing any steel shoot either.
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    I’ve carried 16ga most of my life. My favorite is the Winchester Model 12 because the 16ga guns were built on a 20ga frame. Light and easy to carry. It is a fantastic gun to carry all day for small game. I have reloaded for most of my life, so ammo is never a problem. The 16ga 1 1/8 heavy field load has plenty of killing power.

    I have only recently gone to a 12ga for the versatility. Buying bismuth at nearly $3 a shell took the enjoyment out of carrying the old Model 12 last year. In places where I can carry lead, I still enjoy the 16ga.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by granite7 View Post
    Iíve carried 16ga most of my life. My favorite is the Winchester Model 12 because the 16ga guns were built on a 20ga frame. Light and easy to carry. It is a fantastic gun to carry all day for small game. I have reloaded for most of my life, so ammo is never a problem. The 16ga 1 1/8 heavy field load has plenty of killing power.

    I have only recently gone to a 12ga for the versatility. Buying bismuth at nearly $3 a shell took the enjoyment out of carrying the old Model 12 last year. In places where I can carry lead, I still enjoy the 16ga.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Just my personal feeling, but I think the gun writers and gun media purposely tried to killed the 16 gauge back in the 1950-1960 era.

    I still remember reading terms over and over like "falling out of use", "not needed due to the versatility of both the 12 and 20 gauges", "obsolete", and that favored term "limited uses".

    Fact is that anything the 12 will do the 16 will also do. They just do not make a 3 1/2" magnum 16 gauge! And the truth is that they probably do not sell enough of those monster 12 gauge shells to justify their production. Any of the loadings I use on a regular basis in my 12 gauge, generally the 1 oz but occasionally 1 1/4oz, would work just as well out of a 16 gauge.

    My favored slug is even the 7/8oz. Lee cast model. I could shoot that weight out of a 16 without worry.

    In the rest of the world the 16 gauge is the favored large bore shotgun. The Brits are about the only ones that join us in favoring the 12 bore. Europe and South America are swamped with 16 gauges. If a gun here is offered in 12 gauge in SA or Europe it will be available in 16 gauge even if that gauge is not imported to the U.S. by their plants due to lack of sales.

    My Dad's side of the family were 16 gauge shooters. Every shotgun in the house/family was a 16 way back in the 1960s. On the Mom's side all of the bird hunters carried 16s. I remember one uncle had one of the famous Browning Sweet 16 models and it was a visual and shooting beauty. Engraved and 24k gold inlaid, gold trigger, and he carried it in the field.
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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    thanks for the replies. I have a book by Jack O'Connor called The book of rifles and shotguns. The book has quite a bit about the 16 ga and shotguns in general.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

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    My dad had a Rem Mod 11 in 16 ga when I was a kid (I still have it). I hunted with it some. It has a 30 inch barrel and was a little rough on quail but worked well on high flying doves and ducks. When he let me start using his Auto 5 12 ga (I still have it too) the Mod 11 kinda took a back seat. Then when I was 14 he gave me a Stevens 311D in 20 ga (of course I still have it too) and that began a love of double guns that is still strong today.

    I also have a Sweet Sixteen but it's jsut for looking at these days.

    I have noticed that 16 ga ammo is more available today than it was in the past. Perhaps it's making a comeback.

    Alan

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Rifles and Shotguns is a firearms classic. If more people had a copy there would be less bad information on the internet and fewer people believing that bad advice.

    I miss those old writers.
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    I thought I had them all. Which one is "Rifles and Shotguns"?

    Alan

    Never mind, found it. It is put away. As knowledgable as Mr. O'Connor is, I do not enjoy reading his work as much as I do that of others.
    Last edited by Alan R McDaniel Jr; 01-02-2018 at 02:06 AM.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    O'Conner usually wrote as a firearms technician with just enough story telling to hold the average reader's interest.

    The other major writers of that time, Col. Askins and Elmer Kieth, could have written jokes for Johnny Carson.

    Col Askins once wrote a piece for Gun Digest titled "Sometimes They Bit Back" that was a collection of stories about hunting dangerous game in all the wrong ways. Near misses with critters from the equator to the arctic.

    One story in that article about a guy jumping off a motor boat onto an ice flow to shoot a big polar bear. He stalked the bear on the opposite side of a pressure ridge not realizing the bear was bobbing above the ridge now and then to watch his process. They came to a gap in the ridge and the bear was waiting in ambush and chomped down on the hunter's butt which was covered by a brand new set of down insulated coveralls. Down exploded in a cloud that stunned the bear so badly the hunter managed to get away and raced back to the boat with the bear right on his tail, minus one good rifle, which he refused to go back and recover.

    I still remember that story from the 1960s.

    I also remember reading the first printing of Elmer Keith's claim to have shot a big-horn ram at 400+ yards with a 44 magnum. Kieth would have fit right in on "that other forum" where BS is the standard shooting fare.

    O'Conner was probably the smartest writer of that era, closely followed in the 1970s by Skeeter Skelton, who knew his information as well as being able to spin a good yarn.

    One of the things I remember about that crew was that most of them were vets from WW1 and WW2 or WW2 and Korea. Col. Askins was still making static line parachute jumps until well into his 60s, Skeeter was a Korean War Marine, Jeff Cooper was a WW2 Marine. Their experiences and opinions were made in the turmoil of combat and all of them believed in using cartridges that were more than adequate for the game/social situation and available in the best and most reliable gun you could get.
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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    I have another book by O'Connor, if memory serves it's called Hunting Game Animals of the Southwest. I have a lot of books but am missing anything from Charles Askins. I grew up with a huge pile of magazines going back to the 1920s. I have probably read the first article Elmer ever wrote.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

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    Senior Member alaskabushman's Avatar
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    My wife is from Lewiston, Idaho. That is where the Jack O'Connor memorial center/museum is located. I've visited it several times and it's a neat place. Packed with animal mounts that Jack and his wife killed. Also displayed are several of his guns. He was a neat character who knew his stuff. Contrary to popular belief, he did use quite a few calibers besides the .270, that was just his "gimmick".
    There ain't too many problems you can't fix with $500 or a 30-06.

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    Gun writers, like all writers to some extent, I suppose, have rivalry issues. They are going to promote their favorites and disparage what they don't like or have an interest in. Keith and O'Connor had open issues with each other. Given the personalities of the two, I doubt that it was for show. They each had their strong points and those did not always overlap. I will turn to O'Connor for rifles and Keith for handguns. If I want technical data I will ask Hatcher and Gunsmithing Roy Dunlap. For pure storytelling relaxation I truly like Capstick and John Taylor. J.A. Hunter also tells a good story. Do they stretch the truth? Certainly, but for Hatcher. From what I've read, he was all business.

    On the subject of shotguns, I believe that Keith has the edge, but that could be, and probably is, prejudicial on my part since I have read more of his writing on the subject than any other writer.

    Of all I have read on shotguns, Col. Cooper probably had the best anecdote. "Most engagements involving a shotgun are of relatively short duration". Probably my favorite quote of all time. Col. Cooper knew his stuff and was pure business. I had the honor of corresponding with him once (at least that's what I called it). I asked permission to use some of his material in a paper I was writing for a college class. He responded, "Granted". I thought it was a pretty big deal, but he was one of my heroes. I do think he pushed his Steyr Scout a little hard, but who am I to argue with Jeff Cooper.

    I enjoy reading them all really, until they start disparaging each other. It is not professional.

    These days though, I read primarily for enjoyment. I don't care if the story is true or not or if the writer has made themselves larger than life. It just doesn't matter that much any more. Right after Capstick died there were those who started saying that he didn't do some of the things he wrote about. Okay, then if he did some of the things he wrote about then he did more than most. Besides, I never knew a hunter or a fisherman who didn't embellish the distance of a shot or the poundage of a fish.

    Alan

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    Over the years I have had my "affairs" with the 10,12,16,20 and 28 shotguns. But never the .410. About 30 years ago I managed to afford a trifecta of Browning Citori O/U shotguns. 3" 12ga, 2 3/4" 16 ga and 3" 20 ga. Unfortunatly, not to long after long after that, My shoulders began to give out and I could no longer tolerate the recoil of a 10 or 12 gage O/U.

    The Citori went to my SIL. Yes, I know semi autos have less recoil but both my SIL and I are double bbl shooters at heart. Next he talked me out of the 20 gage, which is his go to gage. I finally gave him the 16, after five failed shoulder operations.

    Looking back at 65 years of shotguning, my favorite gage for upland game is the 16 gage, with the 20 gage a close second. For all around water fowl, I would choose the 12 gage and only use a 10 gage for pass shooting. The 16 gage would be my choice for decoying birds but finding non toxic 16 gage means start looking now(January) and ordering by the case. I also like the lighter weight of the citori 16, compared to the 12 or 10 gages. The 20 gage, with 3" loads does a good job on water fowl for my SIL.
    I know this will offend many of you but I have little use for the 28 gage. Basically because of the small shot loads. Same thing with the .410. Between my SIL and I we own one(1) .410,( which I won at a banquet) and it is our designated rat and red squriel gun.(sp) I bought the 28 gage for a grouse hunt in Canada a few years ago and wasn't happy with its performance or range. Gave that gun to my SIL for the Grand Daughters to learn on.
    As for slugs, IF I wanted bear protection, I would choose a 12 gage in a pump action. However for deer, a 16 or 20 gage works just fine. I really prefer the Hevi Shot slugs over any other brand for Bear or Boar.
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    I have one 28 sxs. A Parker reproduction. I have never shot it. Probably never will unless a pen raised quail hunt presents itself. Same goes for my Lefever 410 sxs. I have my dad's Mod 42 and hunted with it when I was a kid. It was the only shotgun he had for a long time. He hunted quail, doves, ducks and geese with it successfully. Those were different days though. I remember when we lived in Alvin, Texas flocks of Canada geese flying over our house so low you could have used rocks to knock them down. He would stand out in the back yard and kill as many as he wanted to pluck that day with that Mod 42. It also provided rabbits and squirrels for the table as well. When I was about 8, my grandfather gave me an Eastern Arms dogleg 410 (still have it). I hunted rabbits and squirrels and even knocked down a few woodcock (only young eyes, quick reflexes and a heaping spoonful of luck can accomplish that) with it. It was tough on rabbits though so I bought a bag of 00 buckshot and cut the shot out of the 410 shells about 3/4 inch above the wadding. I left enough paper on the shell to crimp over one shot. I killed rabbits with that since I could not hunt with a 22 in LA. It was surprisingly accurate and only made a little "plomp" sound when fired.

    Back when lead shot could be used the 20 ga 3" mags could do anything a 12 could do. These days, (or at least the last time I went duck hunting) I just get the highest speed #4s I can find in 12 ga, preferably 3".

    These last few days have been excellent duck hunting weather and one of my friends and his son have been doing very well. He invited me along, but for proper duck hunting you have to get up before 7:00. Consequently I don't duck hunt much any more.

    Alan

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan R McDaniel Jr View Post
    ........snip

    These last few days have been excellent duck hunting weather and one of my friends and his son have been doing very well. He invited me along, but for proper duck hunting you have to get up before 7:00. Consequently I don't duck hunt much any more.

    Alan
    7:00?......The first flights have already left.. to the feed places... and shooting has slowed down....so you can have a cup of coffee before 7:00 am
    LOL
    BTW...I hear ya.
    I don't duck hunt anymore either since open heart surgery...and my 4 year old super lab passed from some mysterious disease......

    Spent a lot of money and time on that boy....and really miss him....Took the fun right out of it for me.
    Solf my duck boat this fall...wasn't getting used.
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    I haven't been since Boone died. He was lab/golden x and absolutely phenomenal plus a number one friend. About 99% of the fun of duck hunting was watching him work. So, I feel for you and know what you mean.

    Alan

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    The last time I hunted ducks the limit was 5 or 6 and we had to ID the duck for specie and gender before shooting it. We could still limit out in about 15 min.

    I enjoy early teal season more. Don't have to ID the birds (because no other ducks are down), and they are fast enough so that I miss more, which means I get to shoot more.

    The last trip I made with Boone, I had shot a Bluebill that went straight over me. He wavered and dropped a leg and glided into the cane about 200 yards from the blind. My buddy asked me if I wanted to wait for another bird and I told him no, that Boone had gone to get it. He kinda "harrumphed" but didn't say any more. when we got to the bank he asked where my dog was and I told him again that he had gone to get the cripple. He told me that I'd better call the dog so he wouldn't get lost. I wasn't worried. In about ten min Boone came loping into camp with the duck, still alive in his mouth. I've watched him track divers that were under water and retrieve them. A man usually only gets one dog like that in his life. I had two. The first was a German shepard/ lab x that would point quail and retrieve quail and doves. I'd sit on the tailgate in the evenings and pick doves and he would watch the sky. His ears would perk up when he saw doves and I'd pick up my shotgun and shoot. His name was Marmaduke. One day when he was about four years old I walked away from the house to go shoot a few quail for supper. He decided to tag along. First time he'd showed any interest, and I'd never given it any though to take him hunting. He saw me flush a covey and knock one down. He was on it and when I got there he was just holding it in his mouth. I popped the head off and gave it to him. That was it. He was a quail dog after that. One day my dad and I were hunting and the dog was following along as usual. He went ahead of us and kinda acted birdy then went on point. My dad couldn't believe his eyes and didn't believe them until he flushed the covey in front of the dog. Frankly, I couldn't believe it either. I've had others but none that would hold a candle to those two for hunting.

    Alan

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    Sorry to hijack the 16 gage thread.

    Alan

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