Shotguns – the Firearm Do-Alls

nighthawk-870-shotguns-08

We hear about how shotguns are the do-all when it comes to hunting and self-defense. What we don’t always hear is how to best choose one or that to make them a do-all, we need to know what to feed them. Some of what comes into play is because our game in the U.S. is highly regulated and with the exceptions of some private reserves and clubs and private lands, we end up competing for game. That competition isn’t likely to go down in the future. Some comes into play because we have drywall and kids and neighbors, and what we choose to protect them may not be best for hunting purposes.

Chokes and barrels

Two aspects of shotguns that matter most are our barrel lengths and the chokes in the barrels.

Shotgunning Chokes and range

Shotgunning Chokes and range

Barrel rule-of-thumb considerations

The longer the barrel, the longer shot is going to stay tight and the easier it is to “aim”. On the other hand, a 26-32” barrel is quite the cannon to be swinging around the doors and corners in our houses.

Barrel rule-of-thumb considerations

The longer the barrel, the longer shot is going to stay tight and the easier it is to “aim”. On the other hand, a 26-32” barrel is quite the cannon to be swinging around the doors and corners in our houses.

Big barrels also build up more momentum. That’s awesome for wingshooting and shotgun sports, most usually (skeet excepted), because we need to keep swinging for the shot and follow-through – just like in baseball. In a creak-in-the-night or repel-the-boarders situation, however, we typically want something we can readily change direction with. That means a shorter, lighter barrel.

The downside to a short, light barrel is that it is lighter. A lot of light shotguns are shoulder bangers. That can make them more difficult for some people to keep or get back on target for follow-up shots. Comfort is also important because practice takes more time than doing. We need to build the muscle memory, and that takes repetition. Age of the firearm, ammo loads, stock pads and style, shoulder pads, and the trick of weighting a stock with fishing shot can affect the felt recoil.

Weight in the field

Barrels make up a big percentage of the weight and length of a shotgun, but action type and purpose affect weight, too.

Semi-autos are heavier. The weight alone helps reduce felt recoil, but the action also helps absorb some of it. A sporting gun may very well have a weight in front of the magazine tube that increases momentum of the swing – that’s great for sports, potentially useful hunting geese and ducks, but it adds up to quite the package to haul around, especially when you carry a bag and water everywhere. In a defensive situation, we want to avoid things that lock us in to a particular direction. We take short steps and stay poised so that we can quickly change direction. Less weight becomes an asset, just like that shorter barrel on its own.

Shotguns

Break-action shotguns tend to be shorter and significantly lighter than pump or semi of the same barrel length.

Break-action shotguns tend to be 3-5” shorter and significantly lighter than a pump or semi of the same barrel length, because their actions are so simplistic. They lack the chamber and feeding mechanisms of the others. This contributes to their being about the lightest shotguns to carry, and it’s why some call over-under guns “whippy”. That’s great in some field situations, although I tend to want to max out my 3-5 legal rounds, not be reduced to two, and at home I for-sure don’t want to limit shells.

Clearing up chokes

As much or even more than barrel length, chokes influence how tight our pattern of shot stays. The goal I’ve typically seen is for your shot to be spread to about 20-40” at your target distance, but there’s play there.

I’ve been a shotgunner for more than a decade and a half. I still don’t know all the very many chokes manufacturers have come out with. But I do have a quickie tip for shotgunners that can help keep track of the words rattling off enthusiasts’ tongues.

First make an okay sign with your fingers. Then close your hand into a fist.

  • Okay = O = Open – Open cylinder/Open bore, CYLINDER bore, the widest choke
  • Fist = F = Fully closed = Full – FULL chokes, the tightest choke
  • Modified and all the variants are in the middle. (Conveniently, M.)
Shotgun-Chokes-Basic

Different Shotgun Choke Types

Why does the shotgun choke matter?

If I have a tight choke and am shooting high speed, small pellets, there may be so much shot that a game animal ends up turned into burger. Likewise, if I have a loose choke and take a 40-60 yard shot, especially with BB or low-number shotshells I may have 15” and 30” gaps in my shot pattern. That open pattern may let something fly or zing right through unscathed, but even worse, I may injure an animal lightly enough for it to get away now, but it will later die. That’s not responsible hunting…

more…

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2016/06/09/shotguns-firearm-do-all/

WIKK WEB GURU
WIKK WEB GURU

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