What is the difference between a 12 vs 20 gauge? If you’re in the market for a shotgun, you’ll need to decide which gauge is right for you. Gauge measurements refer to the diameter of the shotgun’s bore, or the inside of the barrel. The most common gauges are 12 and 20, with 12 being the larger of the two. In fact, a 12 gauge has a bore diameter of 0.729” compared to 0.615” for 20 gauge.

The larger bore diameter of a 12 gauge shotgun means that it can handle larger shot sizes and more powder than a 20 gauge. This results in a larger overall payload and more power behind each shot. However, this also means that a 12 gauge can have more recoil than a 20 gauge, which may be a consideration for some shooters. Additionally, 20 gauge shotguns are often lighter and more maneuverable than 12 gauge shotguns, which may be a consideration for hunters or shooters who need to carry their firearm for long periods of time.

Key Takeaways

  • Gauge measurements refer to the diameter of a shotgun’s bore, with 12 gauge being larger than 20 gauge.
  • A larger bore diameter means a 12 gauge shotgun can handle larger shot sizes and more powder, resulting in more power behind each shot.
  • However, a 12 gauge shotgun may have more recoil and be less maneuverable than a 20 gauge, which may be considerations for some shooters.

Gauge Measurements in Shotguns

When it comes to shotguns, gauge is a term used to describe the diameter of the bore or the inside of the barrel. The gauge of a shotgun is determined by the number of lead balls with the same diameter as the bore that would weigh one pound. For example, if it takes 12 lead balls to weigh one pound, then the shotgun is a 12-gauge.

The most common gauges for shotguns are 12, 20, and .410. The 12-gauge has a bore diameter of 0.729 inches, while the 20-gauge has a bore diameter of 0.615 inches. This means that the 12-gauge has a larger bore and can shoot larger and heavier shot than the 20-gauge.

While the 12-gauge is the most popular shotgun gauge, the 20-gauge is a great option for those who want a lighter and more maneuverable shotgun. It is also a good choice for beginners or those who are sensitive to recoil.

In addition to the 12 and 20-gauge, there are also other less common gauges such as 10, 16, and 28. Each gauge has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to choose the one that best fits your needs and preferences.

Overall, understanding gauge measurements in shotguns is important when selecting the right shotgun for your needs. Whether you choose a 12-gauge or a 20-gauge, be sure to practice proper safety and handling techniques when using your shotgun.

12 Gauge Specifications

Bore Diameter

The 12 gauge shotgun has a bore diameter of 0.729 inches, which is larger than that of the 20 gauge shotgun, which has a bore diameter of 0.615 inches. This larger diameter allows for a larger shot payload and more recoil, making it a popular choice for hunting and self-defense.

Common Uses

The 12 gauge shotgun is a versatile firearm that is commonly used for hunting, sport shooting, and home defense. Its larger bore diameter makes it ideal for hunting larger game such as deer and turkey, while its ability to fire a variety of loads, including buckshot and slugs, makes it effective for self-defense.

Available Ammunition

The 12 gauge shotgun has a wide variety of ammunition available, including birdshot, buckshot, slugs, and specialty rounds such as beanbag and rubber bullets. The most common loads for hunting and self-defense are buckshot and slugs, which provide a high level of stopping power.

In summary, the 12 gauge shotgun is a popular and versatile firearm that is well-suited for a variety of uses, including hunting, sport shooting, and self-defense. Its larger bore diameter and wide variety of available ammunition make it a reliable and effective choice for any situation.

20 Gauge Characteristics

Bore Diameter Comparison

The 20 gauge shotgun has a smaller bore diameter of 0.615” compared to the 12 gauge shotgun which has a bore diameter of 0.729”. This means that the 20 gauge shotgun has a smaller barrel and less recoil than the 12 gauge shotgun. The smaller bore diameter also means that the 20 gauge shotgun has a smaller shot pattern, which can make it more difficult to hit targets at longer distances.

Preferred Applications

The 20 gauge shotgun is often used for hunting small game, such as birds and rabbits, as well as for clay pigeon shooting. Due to its smaller size and lighter weight, the 20 gauge shotgun is also a popular choice for youth and female shooters who may find the 12 gauge shotgun too heavy and difficult to handle.

Ammunition Options

The 20 gauge shotgun has a variety of ammunition options available, including birdshot, buckshot, and slugs. Birdshot is commonly used for hunting small game, while buckshot is used for hunting larger game or for self-defense. Slugs are used for hunting larger game at longer distances, as they have a single projectile instead of multiple pellets like birdshot and buckshot.

In conclusion, the 20 gauge shotgun is a versatile firearm that is popular among hunters and shooters of all ages and skill levels. Its smaller bore diameter and lighter weight make it a great option for small game hunting and clay pigeon shooting, while its variety of ammunition options make it suitable for a range of hunting and self-defense applications.

Comparative Analysis

Recoil and Handling

When it comes to recoil and handling, the 20 gauge shotgun has a clear advantage over the 12 gauge. The smaller bore diameter of the 20 gauge means that it produces less recoil, making it easier to handle and shoot accurately. This is especially important for novice shooters or those who are sensitive to recoil.

On the other hand, the 12 gauge shotgun produces more recoil due to its larger bore diameter. This can make it more difficult to handle and shoot accurately, especially for those who are not used to shooting shotguns. However, experienced shooters often prefer the 12 gauge for its power and versatility.

Versatility and Performance

In terms of versatility and performance, the 12 gauge shotgun is the clear winner. Its larger bore diameter allows it to shoot a wider range of ammunition, including heavier loads and larger shot sizes. This makes it ideal for hunting larger game, such as deer or turkey, as well as for self-defense and law enforcement applications.

The 20 gauge shotgun, while less versatile than the 12 gauge, is still a reliable and effective firearm. It is often used for hunting small game, such as upland birds or rabbits, as well as for sport shooting and home defense.

Selection Criteria

When choosing between a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge shotgun, there are several factors to consider. If you are a novice shooter or are sensitive to recoil, the 20 gauge may be a better choice for you. However, if you are an experienced shooter or plan to use your shotgun for hunting larger game or self-defense, the 12 gauge may be a better option.

Ultimately, the choice between a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge shotgun comes down to personal preference and intended use. Both firearms have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to choose the one that best meets your needs and fits your shooting style.

Frequently Asked Questions

What differentiates a 12 gauge from a 20 gauge shotgun?

The primary difference between a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge shotgun is the diameter of their bores. A 12 gauge shotgun has a bore diameter of 0.729 inches, while a 20 gauge shotgun has a bore diameter of 0.615 inches. This difference in bore size affects the amount of shot that can be loaded into each shell and the recoil that is generated upon firing.

Why does a 12 gauge shotgun have more recoil than a 20 gauge?

A 12 gauge shotgun has more recoil than a 20 gauge because it fires a larger amount of shot and propellant with each shot. This generates more energy and force, which is transferred to the shooter’s shoulder upon firing. Additionally, the larger diameter of the 12 gauge bore means that there is more surface area for the gases to push against, further increasing the recoil.

Can you safely fire a 20 gauge shell in a 12 gauge shotgun?

No, you should never attempt to fire a 20 gauge shell in a 12 gauge shotgun. The larger diameter of the 12 gauge bore means that the 20 gauge shell will not fit properly and could cause serious damage to the firearm and potentially injure the shooter or bystanders.

How does the bore diameter of a 10 gauge compare to a 12 gauge shotgun?

The bore diameter of a 10 gauge shotgun is larger than that of a 12 gauge shotgun. A 10 gauge shotgun has a bore diameter of 0.775 inches, which allows it to fire larger shot sizes and more powerful loads than a 12 gauge shotgun.

What is the typical use case for a 12 gauge versus a 20 gauge shotgun?

A 12 gauge shotgun is typically used for hunting larger game, such as deer or waterfowl, as well as for self-defense and law enforcement purposes. A 20 gauge shotgun is often used for smaller game, such as upland birds and small game, as well as for recreational shooting and training purposes.

How does the steel thickness vary between 12 gauge and 20 gauge shotguns?

The steel thickness of a shotgun barrel is typically proportional to the gauge size, meaning that a 12 gauge shotgun will have a thicker barrel than a 20 gauge shotgun. This is because the larger diameter of the 12 gauge bore requires more material to maintain the same level of strength and durability as a smaller bore size. However, the actual steel thickness can vary depending on the specific make and model of the shotgun.

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