Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #7 Da Scattergun

~December 7th, 2012

Yup, time to look at the most intimidating short range firearm out there, the shotgun.

Praised for balance, cussed for recoil, it is all these things and more. Let’s look at the 4 sizes we have first: the 20, 16, 12 and 10 Gauges. For those of you new to shotguns, the smaller the gauge number, the bigger the barrel. The 10 gauge was a very rare bird back in our era except in custom guns and it is a very heavy recoiling round in today’s loadings, so it’s really not one to consider as the other 3 are much, much better suited for us.

We will look at the 12 gauge first. This is today’s most popular hunting and self defense load and is everywhere. Ammo can be found everywhere and good guns from our era are easy to find. However, it can be a heavy recoiling round and is often intimidating to many shooters. This is the round that resulted in soft recoil pads for shotguns in the 30s! The Field loads we would use are much better in the recoil department than buckshot or slugs.

Accessories, belt slides, etc are everywhere for the 12.

Next up, my personal favorite, the 16 gauge. I admit my bias, and it has come about because of two specific guns I own that fit me very well. Now what are it’s qualities? Less recoil than a 12, the guns in our time frame were built on a midsize platform, resulting in very comfortable guns for most shooters. And also, since the 16 has fallen into disuse by many modern hunters, used ones are often less in price than 12s or 20s for the same quality gun. Our Field loads are still easily found in any gunstore and many of the discount stores will still carry it. There are fewer accessories available and they are harder to find for the 16.

Now the 20 Gauge, these are sweet guns and should be a top consideration for us. Mild recoil, and they are slim and trim guns as they were built on a smaller frame size, the 20 is a charmer to shoot for anyone. Ammo is plentiful and everywhere. And accessories are common and easy to find.

Also, the 20 and 12 have modern home defense buck shot loads, so they can serve as your house gun on a daily basis. The 16 buckshot will have to be ordered online unless you have a HUGE gunstore nearby.

Okay, now on to the action types. These are break open, manual repeater and semi auto.

In semi autos, we have some wonderful choices, like the Browning Auto 5 and Remington 11 that defined and set the standard for autos for decades to come. The mechanism does help to absorb some of the recoil, making these a much softer shooting gun. Browning is bringing out the Auto 5 again and it looks like the new one will pass our 10’ rule even though it has a new, softer recoiling operating system under the hood.

Next, the manual repeater, there are 2 types, the lever and pump. I’m not gonna lump them together here, but the Winchester lever repros are the only lever ones I would bother checking out. Now in pumps, we have some of the finest shotguns ever built to choose from. The Remington 10 , the Ithaca 37 and the Winchester 1897 and Model 12 are all excellent examples of when makers built the best guns they could design and build because labor was cheap, so hand fitting was common. Of all these, the Winchester 97 has the reputation of being the most fragile, as it is very complex. CAS shooters usually recommend having three, one for use, one for back up and one at the gunsmith. The other 3 have the reputation of being extremely rugged and reliable, with the Ithaca 37 still being built today.

Now the break open design: There are three types, the single shot, the over under and the side by side. First, the over & under, never terribly common because they are more expensive to build and sell, they have a rabid following by those that use them on the skeet and trap fields.

Next, the side by side, this is the one that most folks think of when some one says “double barrel”. Many say this is the gun that really won the West, as they are reliable and dependable. Tons of them out there in all our gauges and oh, so very sweet to handle. Be warned though, a light 12 gauge in a SxS will kick very hard in anything but light field loads. Here is where 16s and 20s shine.

Lastly, the humble single shot. Dirt cheap, everywhere, and almost impossible to break. However, during a caper, you have to reload every shot, not a good thing.

Okay, how do you choose? Go into a gun shop and try them out. A shotgun is the most subjective gun out there to fit, so you want to be able to have the gun come up to your shoulder naturally, this is checking the length of pull. When you do this, do it with your eyes shut, then open them when the gun is mounted. If the gun fits you right, your eye will be lined up right down the barrel, this is called the drop. When you find the right fit, you have a really nice relationship with your new friend.

4 Responses to “Deacon’s Bully Pulpit #7 Da Scattergun”

  1. Alohadoug says:

    This year, the Copicut Shooters will be using shotguns in our capers. I’m curious what barrel length you’d recommend.

  2. Deacon says:

    For those who are the very fastest shooters, the few inches in length may make a difference, but I asked one of the guys who was at the Championships in 2012 and action type was more important than length. Now if it is a 30″ or longer it may be a problem, but I would say that between an 18″-26″ you probably will not see a huge difference at this point in time. Now, for home defense, 18-22″ are much handier to maneuver.

  3. "Burpgun" Kelley says:

    For what it is worth, I lean towards the Ithaca 37 in an 18.5″ barrel with no choke. The reliability is there, and with the limited ranges of our capers so far, nothing it won’t hit with ease. I am thinking about writing in a couple of moving target capers with some kind of thrower that is shooter activated (probably a knock down that throws the clay), since this will both increase the difficulty and make the event that much more fun.

  4. Jordan S Zoot says:

    I have an Ithaca Model 37 riot shotgun with an 18 inch barrel in 12 gauge…I keep it for home defense…the first 3 rounds are 00 steel jacketed buckshot..then I switch to #1 shot…much greater kill power.

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