Can you hunt ANYTHING with a 18-20" barrel?


April 30, 2007, 10:20 AM
I'm thinking of buying another shotgun. I already have an old 16 ga autoloader. Thought of going toward a 12 ga with a shorter barrel. The thought is for home defense, etc. dealer told me you can't hunt well without a longer barrel. You thoughts?

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April 30, 2007, 10:24 AM
i hunt turkey and quail with a 20" shot gun

April 30, 2007, 10:26 AM
Seing how most of the Win 94's and Marlin 336 have 20 inch barrels, and the have taken more deer than any thing...

I would say Yes

Sorry, I didn't read the whole post.

April 30, 2007, 10:31 AM
Apologies. Limited to SHOTGUNs. should have put that in the title.

Art Eatman
April 30, 2007, 10:45 AM
The barrel length of a traditional hunting shotgun has to do with the balance and swing in getting onto a flying bird.

If you stay away from those silly pistol grip shotgun stocks, there's one little trick that makes a short-barrelled shtogun handle like a standard: An extended mag, with a legal plug. After all, it's only a weight issue; weight ahead of the balance point.

An 870 18" or 20" is a great platform for this. For "at home" use, a full mag and open choke tube. For hunting, three rounds and the plug, and the appropriate choke tube in place.

John Satterwhite gave me a rundown on this at the 1982 Steel Challenge. He's a one-time Olympic shooter, who also can pump and hit seven hand-thrown claybirds. He talked; I listened. :)


April 30, 2007, 11:04 AM
Owned several shotguns, at least a dozen. I hunt upland birds with a 870 Special Field that only has 21" barrel with a "English" no pistol grip stock. Hunted with it about 20 years now and a pistol grip on a quail/pheasant gun now feels out of place.
Ease of handling and pointablility seems to work good for me.
I would think a pistol grip like on a AK would be a real hindrance on a bird gun.

April 30, 2007, 11:31 AM
An 18 inch Mossberg was the best shotgun I ever used for pheasants in heavy cover.

Carl N. Brown
April 30, 2007, 12:26 PM
Put up some cardboard with outlines of game animal
(quail, squirrel, rabbit, whatever) and shoot some patterns
at normal hunting distances with a 18" or 20" cylinder/
improved cylinder HD (home defense) or police "riot" gun.
I think you might be surprised.
Modern ammo with plastic wads tends to pattern a lot
tighter than most folks expect from an 18" or 20" cylinder
bore barrel.

April 30, 2007, 01:21 PM
OAL and weight matters.

A 21" 870 is 41.5" long and weighs about 7 lb.

A 26" Winchester Select Deluxe Field O/U is 43" long and weighs about 7 lb.

Pretty similar, and they'd have pretty similar handling in the field.

Remember that a receiver gun is about 3-4" longer than a double gun.

Long guns = natural smoothe swing, slower to the shoulder, get hung up in brush, good on almost all moving targets
Short guns = little or no inherent swing, quick pointing, easy carrying in brush, good only on rising targets

If you're shooting fast-rising birds flying away from you, in the brush, a shorter and lighter gun will probably net you more birds in the pot.

If you're shooting birds passing you going right or left, in relatively open space, a longer and heavier gun will probably net you more birds in the pot.

That doesn't mean you CAN'T hit a crosser with a short gun, just that you probably won't hit 'em as often.

April 30, 2007, 02:26 PM
put some rifled slugs through that 20" at 100 yds.

April 30, 2007, 02:36 PM
Many people prefer a shorter barrel for rabbits pheasants turkeys squirrels and such.
If you want you can look for a barrel with interchangeable choke tubes or have them installed or have one shortened and have a Polychoke installed if you dont mind the looks.
Short barrels lose some velocity but are often more handy than a long one especially in brush.

April 30, 2007, 03:13 PM
I have bagged many dove with a 21" 20ga. I can't imagine there would be much difference with a 20".

April 30, 2007, 03:25 PM
"...can't hunt well without a longer barrel..." Ducks and geese maybe, but not upland game. Hunting upland game is far more civilized than hunting birds that prefer to fly in crappy weather at the crack of dawn too.

April 30, 2007, 07:09 PM
Thanks, guys. Your comments have been very helpful. I'll feel a lot more comfortable with that 18.5-20" next purchase. ...and no pistol grip. Tried holding one and couldn't stand it.

All the best,

April 30, 2007, 07:18 PM
Go for it. You can do it with a slingshot if you're good enough.

April 30, 2007, 08:05 PM
if you choose a shorter barreled shotgun, choose a turkey setup; the turkey setup will give you the ability to interchange chokes and you can select the best ones the pattern for home defense and bird hunting; if you choose a dedicated defensive gun with a cylinder bore barrel, you're stuck without the ability to choke the load unless you have the barrel professionally setup to accept thin walled chokes;

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