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Whats the point of a longer barrel for duck hunting?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by blackops, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. blackops

    blackops Well-Known Member

    What are the pros and cons of a longer barrel for duck hunting or bird hunting period?
  2. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. mrjohnston

    mrjohnston Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. Big Bill

    Big Bill Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. bernie

    bernie Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. blackops

    blackops Well-Known Member

    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.

    So do I.
  7. Two Cold Soakers

    Two Cold Soakers Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. natman

    natman Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Big Bill

    Big Bill Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2009
  10. KzoneAL

    KzoneAL Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Well-Known Member

    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.
  12. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2009
  14. the rifleer

    the rifleer Active Member

    it gets you closer to the duck...
  15. mrjohnston

    mrjohnston Well-Known Member

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

    blackops Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. chas08

    chas08 Well-Known Member

    (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
  18. wankerjake

    wankerjake Well-Known Member

    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
  19. chas08

    chas08 Well-Known Member

    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.
  20. natman

    natman Well-Known Member

    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.

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