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Hello,

What gauge shotgun is best for skeet? I have read a lot about .410 bore, 28 and 20 gauge all being good choices. I am looking to purchase a shotgun that I can use for fun and for skeet. My 13 year old son is also interested in shooting shotgun. We may even dabble in some bird hunting. Any input would be of use. Thanks.
 

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I’d go with a 12 gauge. My first shotgun when I was 12 was a 12 gauge BPS and never had an issue with recoil. The more shot in the air will make for more targets hit and a better first experience. You can always drop down to a smaller gauge ie 20 or 28 but for a beginner I’d stick with the 12.
 

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Give a kid a 20 and he will certainly be happy but in the back of his mind he will always want a 12 like Dad is using.

They do make reduced loads for 12s if recoil is a problem and they also make youth sized stocks.

If I was going to shoot skeet, I'd want the biggest, widest pattern I could throw. Maybe years down the road when 25 straight became "easy"?, I might then want to try it with a smaller bore.

I'd apply the same logic to birds. If I was lucky enough to get a shot at pheasants which have all but left this area, I'd again want more shot in the air than a 20 or 28 offers. When my skill level increased, then I might try my hand with a smaller bore. Though a smaller, lighter, faster swinging 20 double is a really nice bird gun with the proper chokes.
 

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My son learned with a 12ga that was almost as long as he was tall. When he started getting more doves than I was, I got him a 20ga. I don't do bets with him at the Trap range anymore.
Common mistake to start young ones with smaller gauges. Throwing less shot makes for more misses. More misses, makes for lost interest.
 

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12 gauge with #9 shot. The recoil is not bad with the target 9 shot. I shoot #8 1 1/8 1200 for trap. There is a big difference between these loads.
 

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I liked a 1 1/4 oz, 3 1/4 dram eqiv handload of hard 7 1/2 shot out of Dad's old Browning superposed 12 choked skeet and skeet. Didn't feel bad at all at a moderate 1220 fps or so. It put more shot up in the air without excessive recoil.
 

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I thought 10 gauge was made for birds.
There is a reason they call them "goose guns"

They are usually much heavier than other "bird guns" in smaller gauges. I never have shot a 10 gauge but I did shoot one of those light weight Pardner single shots that weighted somewhere between 5 and 6 pounds that was chambered for 3 1/2 inch 12 gauge shells. We put some 3 1/2" turkey loads in it once and it would back up anyone who was crazy enough to shoot it about 3 steps. It was pretty funny to see actually.
 

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There is a reason they call them "goose guns"

They are usually much heavier than other "bird guns" in smaller gauges. I never have shot a 10 gauge but I did shoot one of those light weight Pardner single shots that weighted somewhere between 5 and 6 pounds that was chambered for 3 1/2 inch 12 gauge shells. We put some 3 1/2" turkey loads in it once and it would back up anyone who was crazy enough to shoot it about 3 steps. It was pretty funny to see actually.
Those turkey loads I think are what we used to call field loads, weaker than regular hunting loads I think.
I may be wrong.
 

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The 10 bore gained popularity as a bird gun because back then a bigger bore muzzleloader or a cartridge firing a bigger case carried more shot. Shells were shorter back then with 2 1/2 - 2 9/16 be common and earlier than that they were even shorter though we read little about them. The shot charge for a 10 bore was like 1 5/8 - 7/8 oz. That's barely getting into heavy 12 bore loads today and is dwarfed by 12 bore magnum. The 10 was a big gun but really a soft shooter in those halcyon days.
 
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Those turkey loads I think are what we used to call field loads, weaker than regular hunting loads I think.
I may be wrong.
I'm not sure what tedwitt is recalling but it could be "Pheasant loads" that he might be thinking of. Was it Winchester who years ago marketed "Dove" loads which were light low brass loads and also "Duck and Pheasant" loads that were loaded heavier in high brass? "Turkey" loads today are much stouter than both and carry a good punch. Those were in the days before steel shot which I'm not familiar with at all.

Thanks Sharp for the history of the 10 bore. I would have never suspected that but it makes perfect sense. Probably similar in a way as to why it is better to shoot a moderate 12 over a long magnum 20 with the same shot payload. I believe the patterns are better out of the larger 12 bore just as they would be better out of an equal shot charge load in a 10. One other difference in the 3 bore sizes is that the overall weight of the shotgun today increases as the size of the action and barrels increase. Which is another reason some prefer the light, quick handling 20s.
 

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I remember things in bits and pieces. The 10 has a shorter shot string with the same shot charge than the 12 and that works all the way down the bore sizes. The 12 is shorter than the 16, etc., etc. The shorter the shot string, generally the better the pattern. Ballistically it has to be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I remember things in bits and pieces. The 10 has a shorter shot string with the same shot charge than the 12 and that works all the way down the bore sizes. The 12 is shorter than the 16, etc., etc. The shorter the shot string, generally the better the pattern. Ballistically it has to be.
I am new to the technological aspects of a shotgun. I have fired one a dozen times or so. I have done some research on ammunition in terms of number of pellets but I do not understand much beyond that. What is a shot string? Payload? What size, load is best for what type of defense/hunting/skeet?
 

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I belong to 3 Classic trap clubs in Wisconsin & 2 trap & skeet clubs in IL. Most of the people I shoot with use 12 gauge with # 7-1/2 or # 8 shot loads, semi-auto, over-under or pump. For Classic trap only, single shot shotguns are preferred. Back in the day I used a Remington 870 with trap & skeet barrels. These days I use a Baretta Smurf gun for skeet & a Baretta Silver Pigeon, over-under for trap.
 
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