Question about 12ga. ammo


June 10, 2005, 09:18 AM
I have a question, forgive me if you guys find it stupid. :o If I buy 12ga. ammo will it fit in any 12ga.? What I mean is I don't have a shotgun I rent one at the range everytime I go. Just for fun. But ammo at the range, even with the lightest load is too expensive. Can I theoretically go to wal-mart and buy a box of 100 1-3 ounce shot shells and shoot it in any 12ga.? Maybe it is a stupid question, maybe not. Forgive me if it is. :o

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walking arsenal
June 10, 2005, 09:46 AM
It's not a stupid question at all, the only stupid questions are the ones you dont ask.

To answer your question. yes, all 12 ga shells will fit in all 12 ga's with the exception of (a) It's a really old gun, then you might not want to run modern ammo through it. (b) It's a 2 3/4 chamber and you are trying to run 3" or 3 1/2" shells in it, you can tell if its a rated for these magnum loads by reading the barrel and reciever on the gun and the shells will say what they are on the box.

June 10, 2005, 09:49 AM
Like Walking Arsenal said, the only stupid questions are those that remain unasked.

MOSTLY, any 12-Ga ammo will work in any 12 Ga shotgun, but there are a few caveats...

Some of the older shotguns were chambered for 2-3/4" shells only.
Shotguns with 3" markings will accept 2-3/4" and 3" shells.
Some of the newer shotguns will accept the 3-1/2" shells.

Check markings on the barrel and/or the reciver for correct ammo-length specs.

SOME auto-loaders are very 'persnickety' when using the lightest loads. Those ultra-light loads may not have enough oomph to operate the action. If you will peruse the threads here in the shotgun forum, you will see some discussion of that.


One more "for the road"...older shotguns (more than 20 years old or so) ARE NOT SUITABLE for use with the non-lead loads required for waterfowling. Those shells include, but are not limited to steel shot, bismuth shot, and other so-called "non-toxic shot" loads.

June 10, 2005, 09:53 AM
Gauge is the diameter.So 12 ga is .729" diameter bore. That tells you nothing about length of the shell. There are three standards in the USA , 2 3/4", 3", and 3 1/2" [this is the length of a FIRED shell] If you have a 3 1/2" chamber you can fire any of the three. But NEVER attempt to fire a shell longer then your gun is designed for such as a 3" in a 2 3/4" chamber.The shells are also designated by ozs of shot and shot size, such a 1 oz, #4, 2 3/4".Target shooting, skeet,trap, sporting clays typically require #7 1/2 or # 8 shot

June 10, 2005, 10:13 AM
Thank you all so much! I don't know much about the shotgun, only that it is a over/under 12ga. At least that is what I rented two weekends ago. It didn't appear old but it showed some wear.

So the only thing I should be concerned with is the length of the shotshells?
I probably won't be shooting anything to "hot" as I don't want to ruin the old shoulder. :rolleyes: But thank you all again. I guess the best thing to do is to just call the place and ask them these questions huh? I was trying to avoid that, it is one thing to be a newbie on the internet and a complete other when around "seasoned vets"! :o

June 10, 2005, 10:16 AM
Don't forget about the much older 2 5/8" chambers... :)

June 10, 2005, 10:54 AM
After thinking about it, I guess the smartest thing to do would be just to buy 2 3/4 inch shells. That way no matter what size the chamber is, I can fire what I got!

Dave McCracken
June 11, 2005, 08:13 AM
Yup. Any modern made shotgun available for rent and/or for sale will take the 2 3/4" shells.

The value pack ammo in the chain stores is all 2 3/4". Some is also 2 3/4 dram equivalent. DE is an obsolete method of indicating speed, so do not get them mixed up.

June 12, 2005, 02:55 PM
There are two 'rules':

1. The shell must NOT be longer than the chamber. The shell length (mesured when open/shot) is either designaten in inch or in millimeter. Common US is 2 3/4 or 3", the European equivilents are 12/70 or 12/76. BUT, there are many older European 12/67, so better be safe than sorry. AND, there are even shorter chambers. If you ask 'what's the problem', if the shell is longer than the chamber, the shell extends into the barrell behind the chamber. As the barrel is of smaller diameter then the chamber, the shell partially clogs up the barrel and this results in high pressure.
Chamber length is written to the barrel, either in US or Eoropean style. This can mean there is just a '70' written somewhere.

2. There are 'Magnum' shells sold. I have some French 'Mirage clever' Buckshot which says '-70-' and 'max 1050 bar'. My Russian SXS says '12x70' and '650 MPa'. Well, the length is OK, both are 2 3/4" (70mm), but 65 MPa is 650 bar, so even if my Russian shotgun looks like it would also fire dynamite, firing 1050 bar rounds from a 650 bar shotgun doesn't sound right. BTW, bar and MPa are both European pressure units. So if the ammo or the box says anything like 'magnum' or 'xxxx bar' and you don't understand, ask someone who does.
As a shortcut, any 2 3/4 (12/70) shell in a 3" (12/76) should be ok as all 3" are 'magnum'.

If this sounds complicated, that's because it is!

June 12, 2005, 07:28 PM
and all of this presumes that the range does not require you buy ammo from them for use in their rentals.

Brian Dale
June 18, 2005, 11:35 AM
Please forgive me for having come late to the party.I probably won't be shooting anything too "hot" as I don't want to ruin the old shoulder.This one shows much wisdom, for one so young. The Force is strong in him. :cool:

Seriously, though ... if your range lets you, then Yes -- buy value packs (for example, 100 shells for about 15 bucks at Wal-Mart). These are moderate-velocity shells containing #8 shot or thereabouts.

Then just (all together, now) Buy Ammo / Use Up / Repeat. :)

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