I love the 20 gauge! I still remember my parents giving me a savage 20 gauge pump for Christmas when I was 10 years old. I spent the evening before the pheasant opener going over each shell, placing them in the vest in hopes they would bring birds down the next day..and they did! For some reason, we are in an age of magnum craze and we sometimes forget about the gauges and calibers that still get it done with style. Just about every time I take to the field for pheasant, quail, grouse or dove…my vest is adorned with dozens of cute little yellow shells.
Some argue the 20 gauge is too small, especially for late season birds. Nope! Do the ballistic math. The 20 gauge will send 1 oz of lead down range with the same velocity your 12 gauge can with less recoil and a lighter gun to boot. That light gun really pays off late season when long walks over snow are the norm. The only disadvantage is the smaller payload. That 12 can send over 1 1/2 oz of lead to the target but if you know how to shoot, that is just not that big of an advantage. Move up to the three inch 20 gauge shell and you have some serious power! Today, many companies are making smaller frame shotguns that actually “fit” the shell which makes the 20 gauge a really handy gun, generally being a full pound lighter than the 12 gauge.
The 20 gauge is a great gun to start with and stay with. I usually recommend it as the perfect starter gun but in reality, for most of my upland game hunting, it is the one to stay with. Did I mention how much I like those cute little yellow shells?
There is still plenty of quail and pheasant season left. Get out there and have fun. Recent warmer temps can make for some really enjoyable field time. I am seeing good quail numbers and that fast handling 20 gauge is just the ticket. And…darn those little yellow shells are cool!