Mossberg 500 12ga vs. 20


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Mr.CRC
October 3, 2009, 12:41 PM
Hi:

I'm fairly set on buying a Mossberg 500. The primary purpose will be HD.

I realize, thanks to lurking a lot and reading these forums to get some education, that it's not quite as simple as just "getting a gun." I intend to practice shoot quite a bit. Also, I'd like it to be feasible for my wife to shoot it (in a few more years, after my kid is old enough to be appropriate to bring to a range). She is petite, to put it mildly.

A competing consideration is that I'm not 100% confident that she could actually handle a threatening situation without substantial risk of getting in worse trouble than if unarmed. That question may be better resolved however, after she has had a chance to actually practice shooting.

Because of the desire to have my wife be able to handle it, and also because if I want to practice a bit, it would probably be more practical to own and pleasant to shoot a 20 ga, rather than 12ga. However, I am still waffling about what gauge to buy.

I like the fact that there are more ammo choices for 12. I also like the fact that I could play with muzzle loading with the Mossy 500 12ga, which is something I have a bit of fascination about.

I have little concern that a 20ga. is underpowered compared to 12ga.

There's one little thing that bugs me though, about the 500 in 20ga. The "security" 20 ga.barrel appears to be 20 inches, instead of 18.5 inches for the 12 ga. security barrel. That extra 1.5 inch difference makes me unable to resolve away from the 12 ga. since I live in rather cramped quarters.

Well I have to make a decision. I will read your input, if any, with appreciation.

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hardluk1
October 3, 2009, 01:19 PM
Maybe take you wife to a skeet range and let a instrutor work with her to see which gauge works for her. You can get a rifled slug barrel for the 20 and at least use that in most BIG deer states where rifles are not legal . I have picked up longer screw in chock barrels for very little money so you can shoot on the range or hunt with too. You do shoot a bit less of a load with a 20 so spend a bit of time to pattern your gun rather than just go for the heaviest and baddest that they can find.Not many people want towork at finding what works best.

MAKster
October 3, 2009, 07:30 PM
In reality 20 gauges often don't have less recoil. 20 gauge guns weigh up to a pound less than a 12 gauge so the felt recoil is often the same. There is a large selection of 12 gauge buck shot and you can even buy low-recoil buck shot that is intended for home defense. It is hard to find 20 gauge buck shot and what is out there is typically #3.

DaleCooper51
October 3, 2009, 07:56 PM
There's one little thing that bugs me though, about the 500 in 20ga. The "security" 20 ga.barrel appears to be 20 inches, instead of 18.5 inches for the 12 ga. security barrel. That extra 1.5 inch difference makes me unable to resolve away from the 12 ga. since I live in rather cramped quarters.

It is unlikely that you will notice a difference between an 18.5" and a 20" barrel.

Fred Fuller
October 3, 2009, 08:10 PM
Mr. CRC,

I wouldn't waste any time worrying about whether a 20 gauge is 'enough gun' for HD. It certainly is, as in any other circumstance- when the shooter does their part. That is the one variable that cannot be overlooked.

As to the 20 gauge Mossberg, there's no significant differences in the performance of the gun between the 12 ga. 500s and the 20 ga. 500s. The 20 might be a bit light for genuinely heavy loads however. Remember, the weight of the gun is one factor in felt recoil. I'd hate to be shooting a 20 ga. 500 with 3" magnum buckshot loads- that would hurt. With the usual loads of 20 gauge buck or slugs, it should be more manageable. Whether it's manageable enough for a given shooter or not, I can't say, of course. There are too many variables at work.

I would echo the suggestion above to get your spouse to a gunstore, and/or to whatever range offers rental guns if you have one nearby, to get some hands-on experience with various makes/models. Talk to family, friends and co-workers and see if any of them have short-stocked 20 gauge guns at home they'll take to the range with you and your wife along. You provide the ammo, of course, and maybe lunch or dinner too. There's no substitute for getting hands on a given gun to find out if it fits and feels good to a prospective shooter. That you can do at any well stocked gun shop. Shooting will require either borrowing a suitable shotgun or renting one from a range or gun club which offers suitable models.

My 25-year-old neice went through the 'I need a shotgun' thing between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. She drove over 5 hours one way and spent a couple of days with us to get 'Defensive Shotgun 101' and to pick out the gun she wanted. From among a tableful of various makes and models, she chose a Remington 870 Express Youth model in 20 gauge. That's what she shot the class with, and that's what she took home.

Please don't overlook the Youth or even smaller Junior or Compact 870s. They're a little heavier and thus will likely soak up recoil a bit better than the lighter Mossberg. If your wife really is petite, she may find the Compact 870 a better fit. It has an 18" vent rib barrel and a 12" LOP stock, IIRC. I've seen them at Gander Mountain, thay don't seem to be very widely stocked. You can see an 870 Youth gun at http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=141743549 . These have a 21" VR barrel with RemChokes and a 13" LOP stock.

There are Youth models of the 20 gauge Pardner Pump around too. Those seem like very good guns, though I don't have enough experience with the Parders yet to know how well they'll hold up in actual use. I've been pounding on a couple for a few weeks now in an effort to find out- so far they seem to be very solid guns. Note that the H&R Pardner line is made in China, if you find that objectionable. They feel a bit stiff right out of the box, but smooth up appreciably with a few sessions of pumping and cleaning. I haven't used any sort of abrasives on mine to speed up the process- just pumping a few hundred times here and there, field stripping and cleaning occasionally. They feel every bit as solid at this point as the 870 the design is copied from. I haven't broken one yet...

Do some shopping around, start lettng your DW handle some different makes and models, and get a feel for different guns. Don't rush, and please don't buy the first gun you intend to experiment with. Do the gunstore thing, the borrowed gun thing and/or the rented gun thing before you buy.

I can't emphasize enough how important good gun fit is to a new shotgun shooter. Most of the time it's easier to fit a gun that has a wood stock, if it needs fitting. And a premium recoil pad is definitely a good investment too. I'm not one of those who encourages people to spend unlimited amounts of money on defensive guns with the argument "Well, how much is your life worth anyway?" That's hardly relevant IMHO. Odds are neither you nor she will ever really need to use the gun in the first place.

But it's my opinion it isn't the odds that matter- it's the stakes. So I think people do need defensive firearms, and those guns need to be 1) reliable, 2) completely reliable, 3) manageable for the shooter in caliber, size and design. And did I mention reliability? :D

Cost may or may not have much to do with reliability. A plain old H&R or NEF single shot shotgun is one of the most reliable shotguns going, and they can be had in decent used condition for $50- 100. With the proper mindset and a bit of training and practice, a single shot shotgun is a viable defensive gun. Now I'd rather have any good pumpgun than a single shot if I had a choice, but I think I could be as discouraging as I needed to be to a bad guy if all I had was a single shot. And would you care to guess what shotgun is propped behind our front door way out here in the country in rural NC? Yep- a NEF 20 gauge youth gun, with a handful of birdshot, buckshot and slugs handy. Take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhgwHQCJwWw for some ideas. You can find my recent review of this training video right here in the Shotgun forum if you want.

First thing to do with a new shooter is to determine their dominant or master eye. See http://www.archeryweb.com/archery/eyedom.htm for how-to info.

Take your time, start out with the lightest loads you can find for training and practice, and make it fun. There are a lot of women who shoot these days- if you can find others, you wife may enjoy the process of learning more. So look around- http://www.corneredcat.com/ , http://www.womenshooters.com/ , http://www.aware.org/ , http://www.awsda.org/awsda/ and http://www.2asisters.org/ might help in this regard.

Stay safe,

lpl

okiewita40
October 3, 2009, 09:20 PM
If it were me I would get the 12ga. More options plus you can get some reduced recoil rounds for the ladies. Most important thing is safety and proper training. A course with a certified instructor would be the best thing to go with.

Mr.CRC
October 5, 2009, 10:41 PM
In reality 20 gauges often don't have less recoil. 20 gauge guns weigh up to a pound less than a 12 gauge so the felt recoil is often the same. There is a large selection of 12 gauge buck shot and you can even buy low-recoil buck shot that is intended for home defense. It is hard to find 20 gauge buck shot and what is out there is typically #3.

That is a good point about the weight vs. recoil.

Actually, I'm considering #3 buck anyway, since I am in an apartment. I'm not even sure if that is safe enough to avoid hitting neighbors. There are very sticky ethical dilemmas involved with weapons.

Perhaps due to the confined quarters, I should even consider .410 with #3 ?

Mr.CRC
October 5, 2009, 10:42 PM
Thanks for all the info, Lee.

Fred Fuller
October 6, 2009, 11:04 AM
You're welcome.

I think the only buckshot load you'll find in .410 are 000 buck, not #3 buck. A 000 buck pellet out of a .410 is going to penetrate about the same as a 000 buck pellet out of a 12 gauge- the velocity imparted is pretty much the same, and the weight of the pellet is definitely the same.

Concentrate on hitting what you shoot at in the first place, and arrange your 'fatal funnel' in advance so there is a substantial backstop (fully loaded bookshelves, file cabinets, a decorative stone or brick interior half wall, heavy furniture, or whatever) to contain any accidental misses or overpenetration. If you think about it, the areas that actually backstop places like the only doorway to your bedroom/saferoom are relatively limited, and it should be possible to reinforce them in advance if desired.

lpl

natman
October 6, 2009, 12:04 PM
There is only going to be a slight difference in recoil due to the lighter weight of a 20ga, but the lighter weight is an important factor for some women, especially if they are petite. Take a look at:

http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/shotguns/model_870/model_870_express_synthetic_7-round.asp

Remington makes a shorter youth stock in wood and probably in synthetic, or you could have this one shortened.

This might also be a good choice, depending on how hard it is to get rid of the ridiculous choke:

http://www.mossberg.com/images/Mossberg_Guns/930/NEW/50145.jpg

There is no need for 3" loads for HD. 2 3/4" buckshot will work just fine.

d2wing
October 6, 2009, 06:45 PM
Most women shooters I know prefer the 20 because it is generally easier to handle.There is more different ammo for the 12 guage. I would get a youth 20g. or better, one that converts stock size between youth and adult but a 12 wouldn't be wrong.

oneounceload
October 6, 2009, 07:16 PM
First - you and your wife should read TheCorneredCat.com.

Secondly,
There's one little thing that bugs me though, about the 500 in 20ga. The "security" 20 ga.barrel appears to be 20 inches, instead of 18.5 inches for the 12 ga. security barrel. That extra 1.5 inch difference makes me unable to resolve away from the 12 ga. since I live in rather cramped quarters.


An inch and a half is a NON issue

Third - as has been mentioned - a 20 will kick as much, OR MORE, than a 12, depending on the load used

Go to a gun club (shotgun club) and have her try some different guns - she just might surprise you. NEVER ASSUME that just because she is "petite", that she isn't capable of handling anything you can - with some training.

JimKirk
October 6, 2009, 08:27 PM
A 9 lbs 12 ga with a 3/4 oz load will reload less than a 6 lbs 20 with a 3/4 ozs load, BUT which is more handy? But as far as I know the only 3/4 oz load would be birdshot, but if you follow the recent threads(and believe) that only "non birdshot"(buckshot or slugs) loads are suitable for HD, you will find that you will be limited as to what to shoot in either 12 or 20 ga. I'm a small 5' 5"( although I'm working on the small) male and I find the shorter LOP guns fit me better and thus I shoot them better. I can swing and aim them better than the larger guns. I also think that I would never know how much a gun kicked if I had to shoot in self defense, just as I never hear or feel how much my deer rifle recoils or sounds when I shoot a deer! Look at these before you decide:
http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/shotguns/model_870/model_870_express_compact.asp

Jimmy K

An 12 ga 1 oz load of 00(8/oz) buck in managed recoil buckshot weigh the same as load of 20 ga. #3 buck(20/oz)

50caliber123
May 2, 2010, 11:02 PM
I have fired 12 gauges for ten years, want to switch to 20's after a lot of time shooing them. It seems like the older, wooden stocked guns as well as the youth models fit me better, I feelless thanhalf the recoil in a 20 then out of a 12 gauge. I really think, after years of shooting, that fit is probably the most important factor in good marksmanship. For some reason, a gunthat has a slightly short lop can be more comfortably fired than the exact make and model with a lop.

Al LaVodka
May 3, 2010, 07:38 AM
Mr. CRC;
As this was seven months ago, what'd you guys get!?
Al

MUSIBIKE
May 3, 2010, 06:40 PM
I am a big fellow. And, I think 20 gauge is a great all purpose shotgun. Mine has been used over the last 25 years for hunting, skeet and now, lays by me at night for home defense.

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