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Spankey said:
In true bird country do you guys recommend a 20 gauge? Your birds (heck of a way to put it) have to be tougher than what I may have experienced here. I know you handicap yourself with shell selections when you shoot a 20 gauge. I've had to order some stuff from my local gun shop just to get quality factory ammo in 20 gauge I wanted.
Opening weekend was last weekend in Illinois, and as usual I hunt more days than not. I've not shot a pheasant since yesterday, and here he is:



Over the last 40 years, I've averaged over 30 wild pheasants per year out of Illinois ditches. I must have wasted the first 10 years of my life?

I've taken well over 1000 pheasants with 20 and 16 gauge alone. The pheasant above was dropped dead with a 20 gauge @ 42 yards.

Really, "recommending" gauges doesn't have much endearment for me, as they all can work when used within their parameters and the championing of a ***** has little future. However, for my purposes, a 20 gauge is not just equal to a 12 gauge, it is superior. That's why I hunt with them far, far more than 12 gauges-- why else?

The three 20 gauge pheasant guns that get the most use these days are a Browning Mag 20, Beretta 303, and a Browning B-80. All use Trulock PH extended chokes, and all have been patterned with most commercial loads available today.

I use lead for the most part, and the pattern board proves that 1-5/16 oz. Federal Grand Slam #5 shot, 1-1/4 oz. Fiocchi Golden Pheasant #5 shot, and 1-1/4 oz. Winchester Super Pheasant loads are the current best of breed-- obviously, clearly, unmistakably outpatterning many 12 gauge 1-1/4 oz. loads (though certainly not all).

Using 1-1/4 oz. of the best patterning #5 shot 3 inch shells you can find for your gun, and if you do your job... I can promise you that strong, wild pheasants will drop dead from the sky for you out to 55 yards without a hitch.
 

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And for the life of me, why oh why would one buy a 20 gage, only to shoot 3 inch shells out of it????????????????

Totally defeats the concept of a light gun! Kicks even harder than the 12, unless it is a very heavy 20 gage gun.
Recoil is hardly a factor in wild pheasant hunting; I might walk 12 miles and pull the trigger twice. Late in the year, I have walked 15 miles and pulled the trigger zero times, jumping only hens.

No one I know so much as feels recoil when a rooster jumps, cackling and hollering like mad. Most of the time, I don't even hear the gun go off. If recoil bothers you under those conditions, then you might want to consider taking up bowling or curling.

The limit is two Illinois roosters a day. It is called hunting, not finding. Now, it might take me 3 hours of windshield time and six hours of walking to drop two cock pheasants. That isn't just a good day, it a a great day for myself and Rocky the Wonder Dog. More fun yet when Dad and some the gang join in.

Two trigger pulls in nine hours should not intimidate anyone. The way a gun carries and comes up is just as important as the way it patterns. Carrying a pheasant gun is how you use it for the vast majority of the time.

Sure, I use 3 inch 20 ga.shells for pheasants-- they extend my effective range. Not a single pheasant gun I regularly use has so much as a recoil pad. Totally superfluous.

I hardly use the "intimidating, fearsome" three inch shells in a 20 ga, for quail, dove, grouse, or even partridge. Just because your car can do 120 miles and hour does not mean you have to drive it that way through the parking lot.

There is little question that fixed breech guns have more felt recoil than gas guns, and that a good recoil pad attenuates sharp recoil pulses.

Obsession over recoil makes little sense to those who are hunting, not just shooting. That is what the "game gun" is all about-- ability to carry it, mount it, and quickly get on the bird. Just shooting is a different subject matter.
 

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jugchoke said:
In my 62 years of hunting pheasants, I have killed untold thousands, with all the gages, and most of the types and brands of guns as well. In my old age, at 70, last year, I went back to the 20 gage, as I said, I knew better! Shame on me, I lost at least 3 times the birds as I did this year with a 12 gage. (I too walk those many, many miles, and that is after 3 knee replacements and 5 by-passes!)de
Perhaps one day, when you mature, you will know that gauges don't kill birds, pellets do. My father, soon to be 80 years old, warned me about young, abrupt whipper-snappers such as yourself. :shock:

For the last 12 years, Dad has dropped his pheasants exclusively with 20 gauges. Dad has always been happy to share the fine points of pheasant hunting with newbies such as yourself. :lol:
 

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Frank, what took you so long? Please don't tell me that you are older than my Dad, or have survived more surgeries than he has!

As far as "Twenties are wonderfull guns and I use mine quite often. However, they do not compare with the 12ga ballistically." that is completely wrong.

Shotstring is not relevant to begin with; it is nothing but trivia to pheasant hunting and other flushing game.

A 28 gauge may compare VERY favorably to a 12 ga., so long as you use 3/4 oz. of shot.

A 20 gauge may compare VERY favorably to a 12 gauge, so long as you use no more that 1-1/4 oz. loads.

A 16 gauge may compare very favorably to a 12 gauge as long as 1 oz. and 1-1/8 oz. loads are used.

Certainly, where very large shot sizes are used (larger than #4) a 12 gauge can often pattern better than sub-guages. Certainly, you can have more pellet pattern density with larger payloads (1-3/8 oz. - 1-7/8 oz. and heavier) allowed by the 12 ga. platform than subgauges as well.

Within range, the matter quickly becomes moot. What do you think is more than a sufficient pattern at 25 or 30 yards?

If anyone thinks that gauge equals ballistics, than they should be prepared to give range limits per gauge. There is no such thing, because a well-populated pattern at the ranges you intend to shoot is is just that; pheasants cannot get more than 100% dead, and 100% game drop and 100% game recovery cannot be bettered.
 

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Spankey said:
Let's get a few facts out on the table.
Facts? :shock: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. 8) Certainly, don't try to confuse the issue with common sense.

What is "better" I've tried to answer:

http://www.chuckhawks.com/twenty_vs_twelve.htm

Shotshell ballistics are round ball ballistics, it is admittedly a boring read, but I've tried to reasonably cover it nevertheless: http://www.chuckhawks.com/shotshell_ballistics.htm

A 99% chance of a 4-pellet hit is more pattern than you need to kill a pheasant. This type of pattern is far more dense than you need @ 40 yards, but overkill is better than underkill in my view:

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Contrary to what you may have read, you don't need be the age of Barbara Walters (she's at least 147 years old) in order to kill a pheasant. Also, you don't need to kill a thousand pheasants in order to kill the next two.

Heart surgery and other health issues do not affect pattern quality. Now, my father survived a ruptured aorta-- the ONLY person in Illinois EVER to survive this operation; an a operation with such a low success rate (just my father in Illinois) it is no longer attempted. That was nearly 20 years ago. No way will my Dad tell you that his ruptured aorta, beating prostrate cancer, bypass operation, or getting his second pacemaker is related to pheasant hunting or pattern quality.

Illinois hunters are no better than any hunters in the rest of the country. The ones that whine and obsess the most about "heavy" guns would be better served giving equal attention to the massive girth that hangs over their belts. Hard to feel sorry for sweating slobs and 8 lb. guns when 20, 30, 40 or more pounds of excess blubber is hanging off their bodies because they put it there. :oops:

There is a world of difference between pattern size and effective pattern size:



Effective pattern size is naturally what counts. Choke a shotgun, any shotgun, for effective patterns at 50 yards-- we pay a price on closer shots; we have a smaller effective pattern size.

A good friend of mine hunts turkeys every year with a 28 gauge. He does not cripple or lose birds. He also is a mature enough hunter to NEVER pull the trigger past 25 yards on a turkey. For him, killing a turkey is hardly the point. He enjoys calling them in, and if he can't get them within 25 yards no gun goes bang, and it is a story for another day-- period. The fun and challenge is not killing, it is in the calling. I like his style.

No way would I ever suggest that any 20 gauge has the pattern potential of a 1-7/8 oz. 12 gauge load. It doesn't; but that is moot . . . I don't hunt pheasants with 1-7/8 oz. loads and never will.

The first pheasants I ever dropped were with an old Crescent SxS .410. That was a very long time ago, and I'd never make the case that a .410 is in anyway an ideal pheasant hunting tool. Within its very short limits, it works. I sure wish I has started hunting with a 28 gauge instead; a .410 is a horrible thing to have to work with. But, it can work well-- just very little room for error, and not enough pellets to properly populate a pattern at range.

We can debate pattern efficiency of gauges if really that bored. Sure, you MIGHT be able to find 3-5% more pattern efficiency in a 12 gauge 1-1/4 oz. load vs. a 20 gauge 1-1/4 oz. load. Maybe. Possibly.

All that means is that your 50 yard 20 gauge load is a 52 yard 12 gauge load. That is not anything of tangible, meaningful performance in pheasant hunting as far as I'm concerned. If you think it is, then by all means ... shoot whatever eases your troubled mind.

Spankey, I'm here to tell you with absolute certainty that a 20 gauge is more than adequate for successful pheasant hunting. No doubt, no question, no "ifs ands or buts."

Naturally, what any individual chooses to hunt with is up to them. I hardly care. But, I do care very very much what pattern I place on pheasants.

If I could find basis that the superior patterning, short shot string 10 gauge made sense vs. the sub-bored, crummy 12 gauges that infest us . . . sure, I'd be hunting with a 10 gauge.

Wingshooters can be a peculiar, if not downright wierd bunch. There is something about the human condition that makes us want others to use exactly what we are using, if for no other reason than to reassure ourselves that we are "doing it right."

Naturally, this is all without any basis in fact. Effective patterns are where you find them, and they really have to be found. When the ranges get longer, you need larger balls-- a .36 caliber "squirrel rifle" was aptly named. Larger balls mean larger payloads to properly populate a pattern.

3/4 oz. of #6 shot is about 166 - 168 pellets. 1-1/4 oz. of #4 shot is also 166-168 pellets.

This stuff isn't all that tough. A 3/4 oz. 28 gauge load of #6 shot can produce just as many holes as a 1-1/4 oz. 12 ga. load of #4 shot.

Savvy 28 gauge shooters understand this well, and exploit it. I can tell you who cripples more birds, the 28 ga. guy who takes most of his birds at 30 yards (or less) vs. the "12 ga. guy" that thinks he can stretch shots past 55 yards for the "legendary" late season pheasants by virtue of his "better" 12 ga., 1-1/4 oz. load, and "late season pellets."

The 28 gauge hunter wins in the clean kill department every time. It should be obvious why that is. :wink:
 

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Naturally, in the "pleasingly plump" department, I'm referring only to the overfed Illinois hunter-- not the sleek, svelte wingshooters in the rest of the country. "Pinch more than an inch" is one thing, but when you have more Chins than a Chinese telephone directory, eat breakfast out of a satellite dish, and can take a shower without getting your feet wet . . . it is hard to take the complaints of "heavy" guns, boots, and so forth all that seriously. :oops: Really, when you get a shoe shine, and you have to take the guy's word for it, things just might be a bit out of hand? :shock:
 

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As far the peculiar notion of "SHOT STRING," Lowry has it well-covered: http://randywakeman.com/lowryshotstring.pdf.

Beyond that, which discusses pass shooting-- pass shooting is not relevant to flushing game, anyway.

This picture is quite misleading. We assume that this is a 40 yard pattern because you mentiuon it in the sentance before the picture, but we do not know the load information. 1oz, 1 1/4? #4s, #7 1/2s? And that pheasant! As I stated in a previous post, the vital area of a pheasant is about 12 square inches or about a 4 inch circle. That's a pretty poor pattern!
Is the "WE" the "Royal We" or the Frank "We"? How many of you are there? :roll: Please be quiet, or I'll put you back in the suitcase.

What you carelessly refer to as a "poor pattern" is over 197 holes into a 28 x 32 in posterboard at a laser verified 40 yards. That's OVER 15% more pellets through 28 x 32 @ 40 yards than an 1-1/4 oz. load of #4 shot has before it is fired.

If you want to call that "quite misleading," then call Canon. No camera trickery was involved, and no SFX by George Lucas, either. If you are misled, then please try rubbing your eyes or something. :lol:
 

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Chaco1 said:
What an excellent way to put it. I watch more guys wound birds regardless of gauge because they don't know their limitations or their guns. Most becasue they look at that long tail and shoot the bird in the a$$.
Yes, Chaco, I knew as soon as I typed it that it would put me in the unsavory, indelicate position of agreeing with you. How will I ever face my family and friends again? :oops:

Nevertheless, I'll get over it. Certainly, the 28 gauge can and is very effective when used with discretion. Of all people, my mother dropped many, many pheasants with a Remington 11-48 28 gauge. Mom stopped hunting regularly when raising 5 kids relieved her of that "duty"-- but that 11-48 still patterns beautifully. It kills more doves than pheasants these days, but when I finally mature and show some restraint; maybe I'll pop a couple of pheasants with it myself. :wink:
 

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Frank Lopez said:
You are deliberately trying to indicate that a pheasant could not slip throught he patter unscathed by placing a full sized dummy over the pattern.
Deliberately? Now we have assertions as to intent; I must be the P. T. Barnum of shotgunning. Too bad I have no tickets for sale. :oops:

The interested reader is referred to pages 43-74 of THe Mysteries of Shotgun Patterns, the seminal work by Oberfell & Thompson. Of particular interest is the discussion of patchiness, as defined by a 5 inch circle on page 52.

Note that 100 pellets or more in a 15 inch circle equates to zero patches, as does 175 pellets in a 20 inch circle and a 21.213 inch circle, and 300 pellets in a 30 inch circle equates to 0.6 patches.

Three hundred pellets in a 30 inch circle is neither practical nor desireable, as all patterns are Gaussian in nature, and put more pellets in the "core" of the bell curve.

This you can believe is deliberate: the core of this pattern has OVER 100 pellets in a 15 inch circle, meaning 0.00% patches. A pheasant could not possibly be unscathed if anywhere inside the 15 inch circle. According to normal distribution, it is a 0.00% chance.

Note that 75 pellets in a 15 in. pattern equates to a 0.2 patches, 50 pellets 0.7 patches on average.
 

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You can analyze how you personally wish, however that does not have support in Burrard, Oberfell & Thompson, or the industry. Nor does an arbitrary 5 in. circle, which ignores critical strike portions of the bird (head, neck, wing bones, vertebrae). Your circle drawing is incorrect; the linitation of low-rez images. That pattern is better than an 82% pattern @ 40 yards, well above full choke performance.

The pellet count is not there to support 24 inches; Oberfell and Thompson used 20 in. more than anything; Brindle and Zutz used other criteria.

The same goes for the special pleading involved with shotstring. Burrard, Oberfell & Thompson, and Lowry have all disproved it as being of significance. That is a huge body of disproving to now attempt to prove.

Maximum effective pattern size can only exist at one exact range for one pattern to be fired in the future. Distances and presentations are constantly variable, constantly changing, as are patterns themselves.

Effective, reasonable compromise is the balance being eternally sought. Gauge is not part of that equation.
 

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Frank Lopez said:
Burrard, Oberfell and Thompson and Lowry! :roll: Of the three, Burrard was the only one to do the actual tests.
Well, Sir, you will have to stand corrected. Thompson did most of the shooting personally at Oklahoma State University. Certainly, Brister had the pleasure of shooting at his wife as most people know. Ed Lowry, professional ballistician with a long history at Olin-Winchester, is perhaps the most qualified of them all-- few people have done as much work with shotshell interior and exterior ballistics than Lowry. It is what he has devoted a goodly portion of his life to.

You can attempt to discount this: http://randywakeman.com/lowryshotstring.pdf but no one has.

I don't rewrite my own articles, so I link them: http://randywakeman.com/ShotgunPowertheMyth.htm

The last thousand or so wild pheasants that I've dropped with a 20 ga. are, at the very least, a representative sampling. None of them died from natural causes, and anyone thinks that it was just a thousand lucky shots-- you are most welcome to that unsupported, strained notion. I can show, I have shown it, I have redundantly demonstrated it, and I autopsy the birds I drop. I don't shoot pheasants with my keyboard, so the actual field results speak loud and clear.

Were that true, we'd all be carrying 28ga guns and loading them up or down as necessary!
A ridiculous notion like this is only to argue over nothing. Gauge does not equate to anything, patterns do. It is difficult to put more pellets in a shot cloud than you have to start with. 3/4 oz. has its limitations, but no one I know has said that there are "no" limitations with a gauge, any gauge. The limitation is pellet count, so it should be clear to the most obstinate soul that when used withing reasonable limitations as defined by the payload, gauge is not the sole definition of field performance.
 

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Spankey said:
I would plan on shooting and bringing 20 ga. Remington Long Range Express, Nitro Pheasant Loads and Buffered Nitro Magnums in 2 3/4" #'s 4, 5, & 6 shot. I know it's not all about the gun and ammo, I'll have to do my part and am looking forward to it. I'm planning to bring both 12 & 20 ga. O/U for a trip like this.

Any opinions are appreciated.
Spankey, see what you started? :shock:

You are on very solid ground, and by carrying both a 12 and a 20 gauge with you your preference will be clear by hunt's end.

I do believe that #5 shot is "THE" best compromise for pheasants-- better penetration than #6, yet also a better pellet count per oz. than #4.

1-1/8 oz. loads give you larger effective patterns than the 1 oz. 2-3/4 in. loads, or denser patterns as you can see for yourself.

When it is over, you will no doubt have your own perceptions and conclusions. Looking forward to hearing them.

Have fun!
 
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