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Thanks for the clarification and information...I guess I am an old soul. And being from the South, we mostly eat what we shoot, I have shot clays in one or more venues and enjoyed it, but a good old fund raising turkey shoot at the VFD or even the church yields a frozen turkey or canned ham.
Weapon of choice, 16 ga single barrel full choke Mod 94 Stevens/Savage. Lots of $1 and $2 turkeys and hams.

And I edit- folks with 12 gauges scratching their heads.
 

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Everyone is different in their likes and preferences to shotguns. Different factors such as age, stature, build, and infirmities affect our choices. I am officially long in the tooth and will be 72 in 4 months. I gave up my 12ga guns in 2008 after rotator cuff repair and a total shoulder replacement. I use a brace of 20ga guns for all of my shotgun chores.

I hunt grouse, pheasant, quail, dove, ducks, geese, turkey, and rabbits all with my pump or SxS 20 gauges. I do not feel handicapped in any way and continually harvest as much, or more game than I did with a 12ga. In 2011 I harvested the biggest turkey of my life (25lb Merriams) at 40yds with a 20ga Magnum load of #4 Pb. That Tom was dead before his beak was in the dirt! I use #2 & 3 steel for ducks, #1 steel & #2 Hevi•Shot® for geese and fill my limit. I use #3 steel for pheasant and it really brings them down.

There have been so many advancements in shotgun ammunition performance in the last 10-15 years, particularly in nontoxic alternatives; that it boggles the mind. We as hunters reap the benefits of that.

The 20ga gains in popularity each year. IMHO, a 20ga is a fine all-around shotgun.
 

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Gauge choice depends on the job at hand. I prefer 16 for most bird hunting, but, if I'm going to be walking a lot, the 20 comes out. I use the 12 ga for serious work around big animals. A 12 ga Brenneke slug will put a permanent hurt on a large furry omnivore intent on bodily injury. 12 Ga 3" 000 buck will take a 1600 pound bull's head pretty much completely off at 10 yards, so it will do the same to a bear. I use an old Savage 24F 30-30 over 12 ga or varmint hunting. With 125-grain ballistic tips pushing 3000 FPS, it's good to 400 yards and loaded with #4 buck in a 3" shell and a super tight coyote choke, I've rolled coyotes at 100 yards. (If you're wondering about the load data for the 30-30, remember all the data in the books is based on the super soft 125 grain designed for low-velocity expansion. The charge weights for the 150 gr and 170 gr bullets are often higher than for the 125 grain. With the ballistic tip or similar 125-grain bullets, you can load the 30-30 to near 300 Savage velocities with safe pressure.)

I don't hunt ducks, geese, or turkeys regularly but have taken them mainly with a bow and arrow or 22 revolver while deer hunting. The hardest hunt I ever had was trying to put the sneak on a flock of geese in Alaska to take one with a bow. I finally did it after a dozen failed attempts. I also have a little Savage 42 22LR over 410 under the seat of my truck that I use for quail and rabbits out in the desert.
 

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For the first 6-8 years my shooting buddies and I made the 300 mile trip to West Texas for a 3-4 day dove hunt excursion I shot various semi's and SxS 12ga guns ... all with that silly 14+ inch LOP. Having had a nasty rotator cuff/dislocation incident with my right shoulder in 1984 (before surgery was really trusted), I had a bit of a disadvantage from limited movement. My number one mentor planted the idea of either chopping the stock or buying something with a shorter LOP. On a whim, I bought a 20ga. Mossberg 500 "Bantam" (junior model) with a 12-1/2 LOP and 22" barrel. Even though it was a short barreled 20ga, with a good bit less shot package, my kill ratio went up 25-30%. The felt recoil was a little less than some of the 12's I'd had in the past, and a little more (due to it's weight) than some others. In my case, I have no doubt that reducing the LOP was the main factor in my improvement. I wish that Mossy made the same gun in 12ga so I could try it, but all my old dove hunting buddies have either died or have given up "big boy stuff" in favor of going on them silly money wasting cruises.

jd
 
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For the first 6-8 years my shooting buddies and I made the 300 mile trip to West Texas for a 3-4 day dove hunt excursion I shot various semi's and SxS 12ga guns ... all with that silly 14+ inch LOP. Having had a nasty rotator cuff/dislocation incident with my right shoulder in 1984 (before surgery was really trusted), I had a bit of a disadvantage from limited movement. My number one mentor planted the idea of either chopping the stock or buying something with a shorter LOP. On a whim, I bought a 20ga. Mossberg 500 "Bantam" (junior model) with a 12-1/2 LOP and 22" barrel. Even though it was a short barreled 20ga, with a good bit less shot package, my kill ratio went up 25-30%. The felt recoil was a little less than some of the 12's I'd had in the past, and a little more (due to it's weight) than some others. In my case, I have no doubt that reducing the LOP was the main factor in my improvement. I wish that Mossy made the same gun in 12ga so I could try it, but all my old dove hunting buddies have either died or have given up "big boy stuff" in favor of going on them silly money wasting cruises.

jd
Mossberg® offers EXACTLY what you are looking for in the...
500 Youth Bantam
#52132
 

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Read a couple of things that are not true but may not matter. The "Express" load of 1 oz for a 20 gauge is 1220. For a 12 bore at a1 1/4oz it is 1330 fps. Those that shoot steel at ducks get into some very high velocities of over 1500. Trap loads for the 12 were loaded down to 1125 fps. As distance increases the velocities tend to equal out a little.
Question was asked about which gun will kill the farthest. There was an old myth that the 20 will kill as far as a12 if you "hold tighter". Winchester did a study back when comparing shot size and payload on mallards and totally disproved that myth.
Now. I used to hunt pheasant with a GSP and it did not matter what gauge I was using off point. They were close enough such that I could saturate them more than I liked with a 20. Even with my Golden retriever that I hunted with on my last years of bird hunting I could get by with 1 oz of shot.
Plant Tire Motor vehicle Tree Wood

I had a handload of 1oz steel I used on these wood ducks with that SXS 16 gauge. I was mostly a 16 gauge fanatic. Most argued the 3" 20 was as good. I handloaded my shot shells and they were wrong. These ducks were shot out of pot holes in the woods and were fairly close.
Dog Bird Carnivore Plant Grass

This goose was taken out of a pothole at about 15 yards with 1oz of steel 5's with the 16 ga. I held on his head and dropped it like a rock. The wood duck underneath., was shot with the same load but at a longer distance and the dog had to run it down. I think it was Bob Brister that claimed that good dogs may has made the 28 gauge look better than it really is. I say that for about any gauge. I have used a rasp on the butt stock to get more than one shotgun to shoot where I wanted it to. That make more difference than gauge.

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Okay. So a 20b will recoil less in an gas auto, but also less in an O/U cause of the barrel weight. Hm.

To be clear, this is for the Mrs. Not just because she is of the female persuasion, that would be sexist and wrong, but as she is slightly built. I shoot 12b and .308 without feeling any recoil. I think after fifty years behind the bead I am so used to it, the hold and give is almost natrual.
 

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U Tube is full of smaller statured folks, shooting a shotgun. One item frequently noticed, is the length of pull is way to long for these shooters. This leads to bad form, which tends to amplify felt recoil, and the poor fit, makes hitting targets problematic. Expect to have the stock shortened to fit, on many purchases, this is a good time to add a quality recoil pad. Youth stocked shotguns are available, but do let this over ride a preferred action type, make, model or ascetic appeal. You should determine her length of pull, and take this and a tape measure when looking at shotguns, or when referencing a specification table, likely the stock will need to be cut on the chosen model.
 

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I love my 20 gauge pump. First gun I could call my own. Got it for Christmas when I was 11. I've shot just about every bird legal in my home state. I find it ideal for grouse and rabbits. Although I have shot many turkeys and ducks with it, I find the Benelli 12 gauge better suited for those. A nice 20 gauge O/U would be perfect upland gun here in Maine.
 

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Okay. So a 20b will recoil less in an gas auto, but also less in an O/U cause of the barrel weight. Hm.

To be clear, this is for the Mrs. Not just because she is of the female persuasion, that would be sexist and wrong, but as she is slightly built. I shoot 12b and .308 without feeling any recoil. I think after fifty years behind the bead I am so used to it, the hold and give is almost natrual.
To me, how well the long gun fits has the most to do with felt recoil. My Benelli semi kicked like a mule with a hard-ish rubber pad compared to my Stevens pump with a solid plastic plate. Like some things Italian, it looks beautiful but function can be, a bit quirky. I added a nice squishy limbsaver and it is now fun to shoot. The Stevens fits me very well.

According to my wife, her 243 and my 338, have the same recoil, too much. She got herself a Savage with an accufit stock in 270. Now when asked about recoil she says she doesn't hardly notice. She has all the spacers removed. Her Ithaca 20g has a short length of pull. She has been checked by many with all the normal ways for length of pull and they indicate her LOP should be longer. However, she is very slightly built and does not have the strength to hold a long gun, it is very uncomfortable for her. The shorter LOP makes it far easier for her to point and hold on target.

Another advantage of an O/U is the bottom barrel pushes more in line with the shoulder causing less rotation around the shoulder (muzzle rise) making it feel like it has less kick.
 

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Dawei 16 SXS was choked M/F but I used finer shot in it. Also picked up some polymer/tungsten shot later on that worked well. Did not shoot any steel heavier than 4's in M/F and had another SXS that was IC/M that I shot 3's out of. The Ballistic Products ITX shot mentioned was expensive but as I hunted pheasant with the stuff I did not use a lot of it as there were not that many pheasants. Steel shot that was hard on barrels was the big stuff used n geese, where the shot sizes exceed #2's. When I loaded the steel I also poured in a little dry lube (enough to just coat the shot not enough to be like a buffered load) which made it pattern better and would reduce the chance of bridging. I had a buy on some Bismuth shells at one time in 12 ga. Tore some down to load in the smaller gauges. Darn stuff was oblong and varied in size from 5-3's and only averaged 4 in sized. It did seem to work though. Bought some Bismuth later on and it was round and sized right. They had to add a little more tin to Bismuth to get it to work.
For the local ruffed grouse, if I were forced to just use a 20 gauge with 1 oz of #7 shot I would be quite content. I had to order the #7 shot special but when just used for hunting it lasts a long time. Hits harder than 7 1/2. One would not think so, but it does. Shot a grouse once that I saw flinch at the hit and found it laying dead with just one pellet through the breast. My dogs ran down more than one grouse that had a single #8 in the breast. Even shot one on the fly that had one. Eas not mine because the breast meat was green around the pellet.
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Thank you! I have a circa 1921 Ithaca® Lefever Nitro-Special™ 16ga SxS 28" barrels choked MOD and FULL. I have never shot steel through it but am looking at various Bismuth loads. It would be nice to take to the duck blind again.
 
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I'm 54 years of age, 6'1" and 190lbs. I've used 12-gauges since I was a kid, but a couple of years back, I bought a brand new Beretta over & under shotgun in 20-gauge for clay pigeon shooting...and JESUS, that thing knocked me about all day!

I tried several times over the course of the next few weeks with all sorts of loads and that little "ladies gun" just kept biting the hell out of me!

Don't know if it was due to the thing being so light, that made it recoil so hard & fast, but I didn’t keep it for very long...sold it and bought myself another soft-shooting 12-gauge! 😂
 

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They are getting a bit carried away with light weight shotguns lately. I have a little 28 that is tricky to shoot due to that.
There was a theory in English shot guns that the shot charge used should be 1/96 of the guns weight. 6 lb gun should only shoot a 1 oz load. Isn't all bad. They also used the 12 gauge as a standard and made shot guns with shorter chambers. 2 1/2" were not uncommon and I had seen shells offered as short as 1 7/8" Back in the days of soft shot they felt they got better patterns using the larger bore. Some 20 bores are made weighing under 6 pounds. Might carry easy but they can be a challenge to hit anything with. Fit and the size of the butt plate also play in.
At one time Browning made a light weight 12 that was supposed to be used with only 1 1/8 or the pigeon load of 1 1/4 loaded to 1200 fps. I am sure that some bought it and used baby mags in it. I had a light weight Italian made 12 bore that I sold and some would not buy it as it was only 2 3/4" chambered. I cannot imagine shooting 3" in a gun like that one.
Dawei. I highly recommend the Bismuth loads. I used them on ducks with my 28 gauge with good results and they are ideal for an older gun like yours.

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It’s been 12 years since my son was shooting on a youth trap league. His team shot both state and national up at Vandalia, OH ( grand American) and after 2005 at Sparta, IL. At 11 yeares old, he started and ended with a model 12 in 12 gauge. All on his team at 11 years old shot a 12 gauge as it’s all about the load you are shooting. Many used a 1 oz. load at about 1150 FPS which is considered extra light. My point is, almost all these new trapshooters start with a 12 gauge as they make loads so light now days. In fact at the national shoot, they only had about 1 or 2 pallets of 20 gauge compared to a whole room of 12 gauge shells in all flavors. If it will be used for hunting, then increase the load for hunting and often out hunting, one doesn’t notice the recoil. For cowboy action, they are using about a 7/8 oz. load at 980 FPS. This is called a low noise/low recoil load and it is super soft. And of course, if your a reloader, you find the velocity and load recipe that works for you.

As others have said, sometimes a 20 gauge gun is a bit smaller and lighter, then it can actually have as much recoil as a 12 gauge. I am using a Win. 24 ( double barrel) in 20 gauge as it is based on a smaller action and is faster for cowboy action shooting. As a funny side about it is that I load a standard target 7/8 oz. shot at 1150 FPS for it and borrowed some shells to a lady shooter and she said my shells kicked! Sure as heck, she was using low recoil 20 gauge and my target 20 gauge was loaded hotter.

Anyway, if it were myself, I would get a gas operated 12 gauge and not think twice for a recoil sensative shooter. We have started alot if budget conscious shooters with a Winchester 1400/1500 gas gun. For some years, Winchester didn’t even put recoilpads on these guns. Remember a gas operated auto kicks less then a recoil operated auto. I know as my light Franchi recoil guns have a bit more kick than the recoil guns. But those light Franchi guns are so wonderful carry in a hunting field.
 

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From a clays reloader perspective, with the cost of powder at $35 + a pound (before hazmat shipping)and shot around $85 for 25 lb shipped, the 20 gauge makes some more sense as it uses around 30% less powder, 518 loads vs 318 per pound in the case of Green Dot both with 7/8 target loads depending on shell.
 

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For me the added amount of flyers out of a 12 are a benefit.
As far as the difference between the two is not that great.
Stock design and fit is something a lot of people do not consider. Fit is more than just changing length of pull.
If you do not think it makes a difference shoot a NEF 12 or 20 and with the same load shoot it in a pump gun.
 
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