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 Post subject: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:50 pm 
Field Grade

Joined: Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:30 pm
Posts: 26
I love my 20 gauge but it sure is pretty slim pickins out there for ammo choices. We don't get the wide selection the 12 gauge guys get. What are some commercially available loads that work best for tight patterns and effective for home defense? I have a Mossberg pump 20.
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I know it is a highly debated topic (kind of like which oil should I use), but maybe there are some suggestions for recommended shot size for HD? Let me know your thoughts on this one...All suggestions are appreciated and welcomed.


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 Post subject: Re: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:48 pm 
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From Chuck Hawks:

20 Gauge

The 20 is an excellent self-defense caliber, particularly for those who dislike the recoil of the 12 gauge. I recommend the 20 gauge over the more popular 12 for home defense. Choose the 20 gauge 3" shell Federal "Classic" #2 buckshot (F207-2-5PK) with 18 pellets, or the Winchester "Double XX" Magnum #3 with 24 pellets (X203C3B). If your gun cannot accept 3" shells choose the Remington #3 with 20 pellets (SP20BK5PK-3). All of these loads provide definitive short-range stopping power.

I specifically recommend the 20 gauge for women and recoil-sensitive men who dislike the blast and recoil of the 12 gauge. "Delivering roughly the ballistic force of two .44 Magnum rounds at once," comments the knowledgeable Ayoob, the 20 "delivers 75% of the lead for only 50-60% of the recoil". Many police departments have found their officers shoot much more accurately in realistic training exercises with the lighter-kicking but still potent 20 gauge.

If you are new to shotgunning and considering getting one for self-defense I strongly urge you to buy the reliable and reasonably-priced "Mossberg 500 Special Purpose" 18.5" barrel 20 gauge pump shotgun (catalog #50451). This tried-and-true workhorse is the standard shotgun of the U.S. Armed Forces and costs a little over $200. You'll be much happier with the lighter-kicking 20 gauge than the 12 gauge version used by the military, and - most importantly - you'll shoot the 20 more accurately and rapidly.

For an in-depth look at the 20-versus-12 gauge issue I recommend all shotgun owners (and potential shotgun owners) read 'Stressfire II: Advanced Combat Shotgun' by Massad Ayoob. Perhaps I am beginning to sound like a broken record on the theme of Ayoob's books, but once you've read them you'll understand why I recommend them so highly (and repeatedly). Note: Ayoob dislikes the 20 gauge Remington 870 pump shotgun and recommends you choose the Mossberg 500 in 20 gauge for general self-defense and home-defense use. So do I.

For ultra-close range home defense birdshot will do the trick. Choose any #4, BB or larger high brass lead hunting load, and have the balance of the magazine filled with #3 buck in case the birdshot doesn't put them down fast enough.

Avoid slug use in 20 gauge; you are better off defending yourself with buckshot. If you must use slugs, pick the Dynamit/Nobel or Federal "Classic" (F203-RS) rifled slugs. Using slugs requires careful aiming and rifle sights: few 20 gauge shotguns have the latter.

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 Post subject: Re: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:02 am 
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There are no FC wad 20ga loads that I am aware of and with the breacher barrel choke tubes are not an option. I believe there may be some #1 buck loadings available but all I'm finding is #3. Look for the biggest shot you can find (#1 buck being the smallest shot size that reliably reaches the FBI minimum standard for penetration) in a standard payload (7/8 oz). Make sure your load is constructed with a shot cup to help control the pattern. Other than that buy a box of everything that meets this criteria and see what patterns best in your gun.

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 Post subject: Re: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:52 am 
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Hello again, Bob. As before, I still recommend the Truball slugs and #3 buckshot in 2.75" shells because a 3" shell might actually slow down repeat shots. If you buy at least a sleeve of Federal Premium Power Shok F2033B, 20 Gauge, 2.75", 20 Pellets, 1200 fps, #3 Lead Buckshot, 5 rounds/box, the price is only $3.55/box.

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Cheaper Than Dirt has Federal PB203RS 20 gauge 2.75" Vital-Shok® TruBall® Rifled Slug, 1600 fps muzzle velocity, 1864 foot pounds energy at muzzle, for $3.83/box of 5.

I just realized that you can't keep your buckshot and your slugs separated by color. :) Good luck, Bob.

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 Post subject: Re: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:30 am 
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Old Chuck nailed it again.
Fish Springs wrote:
From Chuck Hawks:
...
For ultra-close range home defense birdshot will do the trick. Choose any #4, BB or larger high brass lead hunting load, and have the balance of the magazine filled with #3 buck in case the birdshot doesn't put them down fast enough...

Oy MFing Vey :(

And if you're using the 20 for lower recoil what the hell is the purpose of using 3" shells?

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 Post subject: Re: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:46 am 
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sjohnny wrote:
And if you're using the 20 for lower recoil what the hell is the purpose of using 3" shells?


After reading all the posts here about the importance of penetration and shot size, I bought some #2 buck, which was the largest I could find for 20 gauge. It only comes in a 3" shell. For me it is NOT comfortable to shoot in a small lightweight pump.

If low recoil is important, the best compromise might be the Federal "Personal Defense" low-recoil #4 buck load.


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 Post subject: Re: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:06 am 
Field Grade

Joined: Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:30 pm
Posts: 26
Thanks everyone, I know I have asked on this topic before, but just wanted to see if there was any new offerings or information out there for 20 gauge. I'm getting ready to buy some more buckshot to use and I do want to buy a few and try patterning. I probably won't go with any 3" even though I have no problem with it. The little mossberg 20 is a great little rig with everything I have shot through it so far...it's just the pattern I wish was tighter.
On a side note...I asked (pleaded actually) Hornady if they were ever going to make some TAP 20 gauge rounds and they said they don't have any plans right now. I wish someone would offer something better for HD and tight patterns.


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 Post subject: Re: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:11 am 
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It is frustrating. Federal does make some 20-gauge FliteControl loads but I think the largest shot size is #4 birdshot.


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 Post subject: Re: Best ammo choices for us poor 20 gauge owners
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:41 am 
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For my information on the 20 gauge for home defense, see here:

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot22.htm

I used Winchester #3 Buckshot with good results.

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