Whats the point of a longer barrel for duck hunting?


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blackops
December 31, 2009, 06:11 PM
What are the pros and cons of a longer barrel for duck hunting or bird hunting period?

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ArmedBear
December 31, 2009, 06:24 PM
No pros and cons, really: more of a matching the way the gun handles to the way you want it to handle.

A shotgun for wing and clay shooting is like a golf club. You want its natural swing speed and characteristics to match the way the target flies.

The differences are more obvious with upland birds.

My favorite gun for California Quail (prolific in this part of Idaho) is a 26" 20 Gauge O/U that weighs under 6.5 lbs. The birds are FAST, they fly low and drop, and even when you're hunting with a dog, desert quail tend to flush out with no warning. The gun shoulders FAST, the safety comes off unconsciously, and the barrels swing quickly to match the birds. Carry a heavier, longer 12 Gauge ahd you can kiss off bagging many, or, often, any California Quail. Chukar and Huns give a little more of a window for the shot, and tend to be a little farther away. A slightly slower, longer gun like a 26" 20 Gauge semiauto seems to work well. For pheasants, it depends on the way they're flushing. For doves, the ideal gun is probably light but long, like the Benelli Cordoba 20 Gauge, which is made specifically for dove shooting.

For incoming ducks over decoys, a shorter 12 Gauge can be the ticket: point and shoot. For passing flocks of waterfowl, a longer 12 Gauge or even 10 Gauge can swing slow and smooth, to help make those kinds of shots. Even before steel shot, "goose guns" tended to have 30" barrels.

An 18.5" HD gun is made for quick pointing, but not smooth swinging. On passing targets moving fast, it is not a great choice -- but with effort and practice, you can hit a passing target. After doing it for a while, you'll get a longer barrel, or a different gun for hunting. Note that good shotgunning on moving targets involves moving your entire upper body with the gun. A longer gun makes that much more natural.

mrjohnston
December 31, 2009, 07:04 PM
ArmedBear said it very well.

By 22 inches your powder is through doing it's job, the rest of the barrel just makes the gun swing the way you want it. I hunt with a 28" barrel on my 870 12 ga, and we hunt a mix of flooded timber, pass shooting on the river and fairly open water. In the timber my youth model 20 ga was a dream to shoot, and the 12 had to be forced on to target. My dad hunts with a 24" barrel in timber and pass shooting and a 28" barrel over open water, in his 10 ga bps.

Big Bill
December 31, 2009, 07:13 PM
A longer barreled gun, especially one shooting 3.5" magnum cartridges, gives you more reach. Try shooting geese with an 18.5" Winchester defender. Like a dummy, I did once. It doesn't work so hot. I did get one, but the shooting we were doing was too far for my gun.

Armed Bear - do you hunt down in Owyhee county much? I used to hunt a bunch over on the Idaho side, west of the Duck Valley Indian reservation.

bernie
December 31, 2009, 07:16 PM
In my pit, barrels under 26" are banned, except for youth. It is extremely easy to swing a short barrel to close to someone. There is a potential safety issue. However, if the gun does not get away from the pit well, it will absolutely ring your ears from muzzle blast. I hunt with hearing protection, but it is still very unpleasant.

blackops
December 31, 2009, 07:27 PM
A longer barreled gun, especially one shooting 3.5" magnum cartridges, gives you more reach.

So a 30 inch barrel is going to let you reach out farther even with 3's instead of 3-1/2's? How so, more velocity and constricting your BB's an extra 2"? I thought a 28" with a full choke would do the same a 30" would with a modified. Just different feels in your swing. Just wondering.

I hunt with a 28" barrel on my 870 12 ga

So do I.

Two Cold Soakers
December 31, 2009, 07:43 PM
I thought a 28" with a full choke would do the same a 30" would with a modified.
You thought wrong.

Longer barrels swing and point differently than short barrels. They also offer a longer sighting plane.
A shotgun barrel's length, after a point, has NOTHING to do with range, velocity, pattern or "accuracy".

Learn it.
Know it.
Live it.

natman
December 31, 2009, 07:59 PM
A longer barreled gun, especially one shooting 3.5" magnum cartridges, gives you more reach. Try shooting geese with an 18.5" Winchester defender. Like a dummy, I did once. It doesn't work so hot. I did get one, but the shooting we were doing was too far for my gun.


I suspect that the poor results you experienced with your Defender were because of a cylinder choke, on top of the poor swing qualities of an HD length barrel.

After about 20" or so barrel length is all about swing characteristics. A few inches either way does not make a significant difference in pattern or velocity. Velocity is pretty much constant by then and pattern is determined by choke.

Big Bill
December 31, 2009, 08:20 PM
My Defender doesn't have a choke, and it swings really nice. In fact, is swings better than my Remington 870 Express (IIRC it's a 26" barrell) hunting shotgun. But the Remington is just right for what I do. I don't choke any of my shotguns.

KzoneAL
December 31, 2009, 08:32 PM
Long barrel...better sighting plane..adds more wieght out front for better more natural follow through... smooths the swing out.Short barrels are not as forgiving tend to stop the gun more with very little follow through.This has more to do with how refined your shooting form is and how well your gun is fit to you than how long or short the barrel is.

ArmedBear
December 31, 2009, 08:52 PM
Sorry to say this, maybe I'm just ignorant, but I don't believe it. Especially if one is shooting 3" magnum loads. Do you have any facts to back up this statement?

I'm going to agree with you, Big Bill. I don't believe it, either.

I've done some shotshell reloading, though not 3.5" magnums. For the heavy payload, you will need some REALLY slow powder so you don't spike the pressure and blow up the relatively thin walls of a shotgun barrel.

Now the lightest loads I've worked up would probably shoot the same from an 18" barrel or the 34" barrel I used to use them in (Trap). But when you're talking about 2 oz. of shot at 1300 FPS or more, you will need a nice, slow powder burn to make it work in a 12 Gauge.

The rule of thumb about all the powder being burnt up in 21" is true for 2 3/4" shells with loads in normal ranges. However, a 3.5" super-duper-ultra-goose-blaster-special is a whole different animal.:)

Back to the OP's question... For the most part, though, it's still about how the gun handles. For shooting faraway geese, you want a smooth, slow swing. It's really hard to get a correct lead when you're having to swing in slow motion. With a short, quick barrel, forget it. The opposite applies to quail -- by the time you get a 30" 8 lb. gun moving, the quail is in the next state, laughing at you.

jmr40
December 31, 2009, 08:52 PM
The powders used in shotshells burns pretty fast and any differences in barrels longer than 20" or so is minimal. The longer shells usually don't have any more powder than the shorter 2 3/4" shells, just more shot.

ArmedBear
December 31, 2009, 08:56 PM
The longer shells usually don't have any more powder than the shorter 2 3/4" shells, just more shot.

If you know how to make 2 oz. move at 1300 with the same powder that moves 1 oz. at 1300, you should get a job with an ammo maker. They'd be glad to have you, I'm sure.

Try putting enough Red Dot in a magnum shell to get 2 oz. of steel shot moving at 1300 fps or more.

I'd love to see you try shooting it -- if I can be in a bunker with a thick polycarbonate window.

Magnum shotshell powder is SLOOOOWWWW burning, and it's NOT the same powder you use for standard loads. Since you can't just triple the pressure in a shotgun barrel without making it into a 25 lb. artillery piece, you have to use powder that gives the heavier "magnum" load a lot more time to accelerate to full velocity. Otherwise, you will blow up the gun, plain and simple.

the rifleer
December 31, 2009, 09:33 PM
it gets you closer to the duck...

mrjohnston
December 31, 2009, 09:52 PM
My Defender doesn't have a choke, and it swings really nice. In fact, is swings better than my Remington 870 Express (IIRC it's a 26" barrell) hunting shotgun. But the Remington is just right for what I do. I don't choke any of my shotguns.

Slap a bayonet on that thing and your swing'll smooth right on up...

blackops
January 1, 2010, 12:24 AM
You thought wrong.

Longer barrels swing and point differently than short barrels. They also offer a longer sighting plane.
A shotgun barrel's length, after a point, has NOTHING to do with range, velocity, pattern or "accuracy".

Well considering I was referring to pattern, velocity, and range it looks like I DID think right. The question had nothing to do with swing or line of sight.

chas08
January 1, 2010, 01:10 AM
it gets you closer to the duck...
(LOL) That,!!!! I can identify with. I like shorter barrels and lighter guns for fast quick birds such as dove and quail, and longer barrels and heavier guns for Ducks and Geese. Being closer can't hurt.:D

wankerjake
January 1, 2010, 01:28 AM
A shotgun barrel's length, after a point, has NOTHING to do with range, velocity, pattern or "accuracy".


I patterened shotguns with a buddy of mine. We were both shooting remington 870 expresses. He has a 26" barrel, I have a 28" barrel. We both had modified chokes. At 40 yards, my 28" barrel patterned better than his 26" with every one of the 3 different loads we tried. Better pattern = longer range. I'm convinced that longer is better...lucky for me!:p

chas08
January 1, 2010, 09:35 AM
The rule of thumb about all the powder being burnt up in 21" is true for 2 3/4" shells with loads in normal ranges. However, a 3.5" super-duper-ultra-goose-blaster-special is a whole different animal.
How much barrel is needed for a 3.5" super-duper-ultra-goose-blaster-special to burn all the powder? I have an SP-10 that has a ported 26" Remchoked barrel and the porting starts at 20". I bought the gun used, already ported. I'm not sure if it is factory porting or a very well done aftermarket job.(teardrop shaped porting) I am considering replacing it with an un-ported barrel because it is so loud. My apologies to the OP for the momentary thread hijack.

natman
January 1, 2010, 11:40 AM
I patterened shotguns with a buddy of mine. We were both shooting remington 870 expresses. He has a 26" barrel, I have a 28" barrel. We both had modified chokes. At 40 yards, my 28" barrel patterned better than his 26" with every one of the 3 different loads we tried. Better pattern = longer range. I'm convinced that longer is better...lucky for me!:p
Your barrel patterns better than his.

Your barrel happens to be longer than his.

However, the conclusion that your barrel patterns better than his because it's longer is false. It's a coincidence that could just as well happen between two barrels of the same length.

jmr40
January 1, 2010, 12:02 PM
Or just try swapping the choke tubes between the guns. Just because 1 gun shoots tighter parrerns is not necessarily a good thing. Most hunters would be better off with a more open choke anyway.

I don't think anyone has ever said that shorter barrels would shoot just as fast as a longer barrel, just that the difference would be minimal. Even with the big 3.5" magnums.

There is a reason why most duck hunters use barrels between 26"-30". It is because of balance and pointability. If the 30" barrel shoots slightly faster it will not make the difference between a dead duck and a miss.

Where and how you hunt along with personal preference should determine what barrel length you choose. For waterfowl I would not go below 26", which is my prefered length on my Benelli. For other guns the length may be slightly different. For some reason Benelli's tend to be longer in overall length than other guns and my 26" M-1 is about the same overall length and balance as a 28" Remington.

I also conceed that I am not the deadliest wingshot. The lighter quicker pointing gun helps me make a higher percentage of the easy shots. A longer barreled gun may well make the harder shots a little easier, but those are low percentage shots for me anyway, so I just don't take them.

oneounceload
January 1, 2010, 12:04 PM
A longer barreled gun, especially one shooting 3.5" magnum cartridges, gives you more reach.

Not even close to being true. Any barrel over 18-20 inches will deliver the same payload in the same manner as a 30 or 32" barrel. Barrel length, as previously mentioned, has everything to do with swing dynamics

I don't choke any of my shotguns.

Unless your shotguns are all cylinder bore, there is some degree of choke, even if it is a fixed choke

Will Fennell
January 1, 2010, 12:41 PM
Its not about ballistics.....it is simply easier to hit flying targets, be they ducks, clays, doves, pheasants, quail[ yes quail ] with longer barrels as opposed to shorter barrels. Longer barrels are simply more "accurate pointers".

Now, sometimes it may be worth the loss of shooting performance[ the ability to hit the bird] for the sake of utility, but make no mistake, its easier to shoot aerial targets well with barrels on the longer end of the spectrum.

rcmodel
January 1, 2010, 12:54 PM
It might be interesting to note that some of the tightest patterning & hardest hitting 3 1/2" shotguns made today are 20", 21" or 23" barrel Turkey guns.

It's all about the choke, not the barrel length.

rc

oneounceload
January 1, 2010, 01:30 PM
I patterened shotguns with a buddy of mine. We were both shooting remington 870 expresses. He has a 26" barrel, I have a 28" barrel. We both had modified chokes. At 40 yards, my 28" barrel patterned better than his 26" with every one of the 3 different loads we tried. Better pattern = longer range. I'm convinced that longer is better...lucky for me

Just because a choke has a particular designation on it, it does NOT necessarily mean it is correct. Being off by just a few thousandths can change patterns.

ArmedBear
January 1, 2010, 01:57 PM
Any barrel over 18-20 inches will deliver the same payload in the same manner as a 30 or 32" barrel.

Are you sure?

That's undoubtedly true for 1 1/8 oz. of lead at 1290, or whatever regular field or target load you name. However, 3.5" 2 oz. steel loads use completely different powder, with a very different burn rate. Is that powder really all burned up in 18"? I'm thinking it isn't.

rcmodel
January 1, 2010, 02:40 PM
Even the very slowest shotgun powder used in 3 1/2 steel shot loads is a little faster burning then some magnum pistol powders.

It's all burned up in the first 18" - 20", or nearly so.

(See my earlier comment about 3 1/2", 20" - 23" Turkey guns.)

They might offer a few feet per second per inch of barrel in a longer barrel.

But, adding another foot of barrel to a 20" won't add enough velocity to make any differance, or notice.

rc

nicksterdemus
January 1, 2010, 04:01 PM
"Any barrel over 18-20 inches will deliver the same payload in the same manner as a 30 or 32" barrel."

I don't have a dog in this hunt, but I fired various loads in 2 3/4" out of a 18.5" brl and then lit the fuse on a 3" mag, 000 buck-10 pellets @ 1225 'ps.

I'm waiting on a framed pic from an I phone, yet it looked like the fireball was at least 8" and possibly an even dozen.

Model Express Buckshot Express Buckshot
Order No. 20408 *********20406
Avg Wt Case 40 ***********31
Gauge 12 *************** 12
Index 12HB000 ************12B000
Length 3 ******************2 3/4
Model Express Buckshot *******Express Buckshot
Order No 20408 **********20406
Pellet Count 10*************** 8
Powder Dram Equiv
Shot Ounce
Shot Size 000 **************000
Velocity-'ps 1225 *****************1325
---
However, this comparison chart shows the two less 000 pellets w/2 3/4 @ 100'ps faster than the 3".

I didn't buy/shoot any 2 3/4 000, but I shot 2 3/4 00 of Remington and it didn't have a fireball coming out of the end of a brl. It has 9 pellets and the same listed 1325'ps.

So, maybe there is a little difference besides just shot weight, yet for the most part it's heavier shot/slower speed in the 3" and lighter shot/faster speed in the 2 3/4.

I don't have any 3.5" guns.

DeepSouth
January 1, 2010, 04:50 PM
I have one shotgun that I actually hunt with. It is a turkey gun with a 24" barrel, I thought I would wind up wanting a longer barrel for duck but the 24 has worked very well. I see no need in a longer barrel. I think it is all about what you are used to.


BTW: If I shoot Winchester or Rem ammo I get little to no muzzle flash, if I shoot Fiocchi, well, I'll just say I don't think that junk would all burn up in a 10 ft barrel. My brothers 28" in barrel does the same.

tactikel
January 1, 2010, 07:17 PM
Above said it well, a longer barrel swings better, gives a better sight radius, but offers little in the way of increased velocity (or "harder hitting"). I have an 870 special field with a 21" barrel, will it kill ducks? sure. But it is whippy and muzzle light- great for poking at fast flushing grouse, but not easy to swing for crossing geese. I have a Mossberg 835 3.5" mag and the barrel alone weights about as much as the SF :scrutiny:. The slow powder used by the ultra-mags mandates a heavy barrel to handle the pressure. This is a good thing, the gun swings nice and the weight soaks up recoil (the things really kicks). Shoot some sporting clays (or informal hand thrown crossing shots) and the value of a longer barrel will be apparent.

blackops
January 1, 2010, 10:04 PM
I asked my pap about this cause it just starting buggin. Not that hes' "Duck Commander" or anything, but he said the longer barrel is for line of sight and swing...that's it.

natman
January 1, 2010, 10:41 PM
My Defender doesn't have a choke, and it swings really nice. In fact, is swings better than my Remington 870 Express (IIRC it's a 26" barrell) hunting shotgun. But the Remington is just right for what I do. I don't choke any of my shotguns.

I strongly suspect that your 870 Express has a modified choke tube installed. What do you mean "I don't choke any of my shotguns."?

MCgunner
January 1, 2010, 11:07 PM
A longer barreled gun, especially one shooting 3.5" magnum cartridges, gives you more reach. Try shooting geese with an 18.5" Winchester defender.

With no choke, you're limited to about 20-25 yards of effective pattern.

I shoot mod choke (patterns over 90 percent on a 30" pattern board at 40 yards) on my 24" 10 gauge H&R Single shot. The whole gun is no doubt as short as your defender, but with steel Ts, it brings geese down from 60 yards. It swings just fine, thanks to 9 pounds of heft. Length of the gun sorta makes up for the load of bricks feel of the weight. My little 20 gauge coach gun I hunt doves with is a might whippy, but it points quick on fast birds. I've hunted teal with it, but I've not really found a good patterning round in 20 gauge 3" steel, yet. I still prefer my 12 gauge Mossberg pump on ducks, 28" barrel, modified choke.

A friend of mine STILL hunts ducks with a 20" barreled BPS in 12 gauge and another with a 24" Mossberg Ultimag 835. On the 835 I really prefer the shorter barrel to a 28". It makes up for the extra length and weight of the gun being chambered for 3.5" loads.

Bud Tugly
January 1, 2010, 11:22 PM
I hunt mostly grouse and woodcock in dense cover and prefer a 22" youth model. These birds literally explode from cover and you either snap off a very quick shot or they're gone.

Any long-barreled gun in those conditions will snag on brush and generally be way too slow to shoulder. They are definitely superior in more open terrain where you have time to track the game before firing, but don't work well where I hunt.

Of course that's just one fairly specialized situation.

Leaky Waders
January 1, 2010, 11:27 PM
Why a longer barrel for duckhunting?

1) So when you drop your oar you can row your boat with your shotgun without stooping.

2) So when your wader boot is stuck in the mud you can unload and use your gun to press off of the muck without having to stick your hands in freezing cold water.

3) So the barrel of the gun will fit in the gun holder clips on the side of the boat.

4) So you're not swinging at someone in the blind.

5) As posted above...it gets you that close to the duck ;)

6) Better sight radius.

7) So the fisherman who is creeping into your setup can see the barrels poking from the blind before you cut loose with 3.5 inches of goose fearing fury while he wets his pants on the backcast.

L.W.

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