20 Guage Opinions

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Mar 28, 2008
I purchased a 20guage Remington 870 with Knoxx Stock for HD.

Why did I go with the 20 guage? I wanted my 12yr old daughter and wife to be able to handle it and I read stuff similar to this on the internet - I specifically recommend the 20 gauge for women and recoil-sensitive men who dislike the blast and recoil of the 12 gauge. "Delivering roughly the ballistic force of two .44 Magnum rounds at once," comments the knowledgeable Ayoob, the 20 "delivers 75% of the lead for only 50-60% of the recoil".

My daughter can handle it just fine and can get all 7 rounds down range in a hurry. The Knoxx Stock is pretty incredible.

Now my buddy in Virginia has been chastising me for this purchase. He said a Remington 1100 in 12 guage would not have kicked any harder and would have been a better HD gun.

What do you all think?
"Better, how?" Because he shoots one? The world is full of people, and most of them are full of opinions. Many opinions are valid, even, but mostly for the person who holds them. No need to inflict them on others.

The 870 is proven, as is the 20 gauge. Not a thing wrong with your choice -- and it is your choice, logically made, which your daughter has already proven is a valid one.

You made a good choice. Don't get into second guessing yourself now. What needs doing now is shooting that good gun. Enjoy!!
I would not chastise someone for the choice but your buddy is partly right. There is a lot of difference between shotshell loadings and sometimes 20 and 12 performance and recoil overlaps. In other words a lightly loaded 12 will kick less than a heavily loaded 20. When you consider that a pump 20 is a lot lighter and a gas operated semi dampens recoil the 20 will often kick harder.

You have to also balance that with the fact that the 20 pump is lighter and easier to carry for kids and women. Choose your ammo carefully and they should be fine.

Welcome to THR!

Why did I go with the 20 guage? I wanted my 12yr old daughter and wife to be able to handle it and I read stuff similar to this on the internet

Your buddy and anyone else that fusses - well Awerbuck said it best.

I will not be at your gunfight
- Awerbuck

Screw 'em that fuss!
Too many folks on THR and in real life I know have the home guns, and not just shotguns, set up for the smallest person that might have to use them.

Small is not derogatory, instead means anyone, male or female, any age, that due to physical size, age, or any physical limitations, might have to use a home/business gun.

This was suggested before I was born in the mid 50's, and I and other like me were raised as so.
So for all my life I have passed this forward.

Being honest, I do bone stock shotguns for other reasons, still I am backing you 110% , and I am not the only one around here that will do so.

Now, just you and the family go get some lessons, continue quality practice and to hell with anyone else that chastises you.
Welcome to THR
I've only owned one gun in my life (which i stupidly sold) and that was a Remington 870 youth model. I haven't shot it in years, but when I did shoot it what I recall most about it is that the recoil was next to nothing when loaded with buckshot (of course at age 13 the slugs were a bit much for me, but I'm a wuss so that makes sense :D). If you look over ballistics tables and such, you will see that properly loaded, the difference between a 20 gauge with #3 shot and a 12 gauge with #4 shot is negligible at best. When I buy my next shotgun, it will probably be a 12, but only because it's easier to find the appropriate ammunition for such. That being said, I'll still probably get the reduced recoil loads so that my girlfriend will be able to handle it more easily should the situation arise that she need it and I not be around.
I've always used the 20ga. for everything except waterfowl hunting, and that's just because I wanted more payload to make up for poor shooting ! LOL

Another thing that many don't bring forward in favor of the 20ga. is it's handling. They are generaly a bit lighter, shorter, and more compact. More like a carbine than a big battle rifle.

They (20ga.) still deliver a payload that will take care of business . Managing recoil, among other things, is about a weight and payload balance. The lighter recoil of the 20ga. is from delivering less payload, but that doesn't mean it's not enough to do the job well.

I too , use and recommend the 20ga. for HD.
I love 20gauge, when I get a shotgun it may very well be in 20gauge. As far as HD use, 12 or 20 are both good rounds for this. Heck a .410 can be used effectively for HD too.
I am probably one of the top 10 Model 1100 fans in the entire world, but I would not recommend any autoloader for self defense. A pump gun is more reliable, and you can't quibble percentages in a life and death situation.
As to the choice of a 20 gauge, I would think it would be more than sufficient to deal with anything you may ever encounter. People tout the 357 for home use, but I sure wouldn't want to go up against anyone with a shotgun at close range with anything.
The 20 ga YE 870 here is not one of the house guns, but it would serve well if needed.

With either the 21" Remchoke VR barrel or the 20" slug barrel with open sights, it handles like an M1 carbine.

Recoil is stout with buck loads but I can handle it.

As always, the key is rounds fired.

Make sure whoever in your house may need to fire it does, and frequently.
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I would not recommend any autoloader for self defense. A pump gun is more reliable, and you can't quibble percentages in a life and death situation.
I don't agree. The pump is more mechanically reliable, needs less maintenance but is more operator dependent. The auto gives up a slight mechanical advantage and is more ammo dependent but it has an edge in the hands of an operator who might not practice regularly.

I currently use a pump for HD but never felt the slightest bit disadvantaged those times when I used a semi-auto because it was well maintained and I had the right ammunition.

I also would be fine with a 20 gauge as opposed to a Remington 1100 or vice versa.
An oxymoron?

Not at all..

A guy with a bad shoulder is not a man anymore? Did I miss a memo?

You have a fine shotgun. I run something similar for bumps in the night, it's a winchester model 120 youth 20 ga with a 21" barrel and the mod choke. It has a youth length wood stock and I do not feel remotely underarmed with it. Everyone in the house can run it effectively.

I think you did just fine. The 20 Gauge shotgun is an excellent choice for youngsters, new learners and those that are recoil sensitive. The ammo selection is wide and varied, and there's not much a 12 Gauge can do that a 20 gauge can't.

I'd go with a pump shotgun over an autoloader for home defense because it's simpler to operate, not subject to jams, and isn't ammo sensitive. The Remington 1100 while an excellent hunting or trap and skeet gun; I wouldn't use one for self-defense especially if the person is unfamiliar with firearms.

To give you an example, I helped my aunt pick out a home defense firearm.
My aunt had never handled a gun before, and was moving to a ranch she had purchased down in Texas. So, I took her out and let her fire all kinds of my handguns and shotguns. She didn't really care for the handguns, but she liked the .22 Rifle. When I asked what kinds of problems she might be facing, she mentioned feral hogs, and wanted something that could stop them and potential 2 legged predators since the Sheriff told her it might be half an hour before he could respond. Since she wanted a "do it all" kind of firearm that was simple for her to operate and maintain, I suggested a pump Shotgun in 12 or 20 Gauge.

She was "ok" with the 12 Gauge, but it bruised her pretty good and she thought it was too much. The shop rented a 20 Gauge Mossberg Pump shotgun out for giggles, so we selected that and a box of bird shot, with some slugs. It was like night and day how much more accurate she was with it. She was really surprised at what the birdshot did to the target at close distances. After emptying the 5 round box of slugs, she decided that the 20 Gauge Pump Shotgun was what she wanted. The store didn't have any 20 gauge pump in stock and there was a big gunshow that weekend.

She ended up with a Charles Daly Youth Model pump in 20 Gauge that fit her like a glove. She purchased it, and took it to the range and tore up the target rather nicely. She hasn't had to use it, but there have been some instances where coyotes have gotten too close to some newborn foals that she has. She says that the shotgun gives her a bit more confidence in dealing with critters and varmints both the four legged and the 2 legged kind.
Why did I go with the 20 guage? I wanted my 12yr old daughter and wife to be able to handle it

You made the right choice for the right reasons. Pay no mind to what anyone else thinks. Shoot and enjoy. :)
Thanks for everyone's feedback and the nice welcome to the forum. I really appreciate it!

Buy some 3" magnums, load your 870 full and let your buddy shoot it dry,he'll change his mind!
Welcome to THR.

Buying a firearm is like buying a vehicle. There is always someone who could have bought something better for less money. You made an excellent choice. Enjoy it and ignore the naysayers.
I shoot almost exclusively 20 gauge. Not because I don't like recoil (my only rifle is a 300 Win Mag), but because I prefer the light weight of a 20 gauge gun. Saving a pound or two when walking a field for 4 hours is a big deal.
Excellent thread, everyone. My guess is that a lot of people who think 20-gauge is weak just haven't looked up the ballistics. Even still, I can't really understand the mentality where the 12-gauge is the ultimate king of stopping power, capable of knocking satellites out of orbit, and the 20-gauge is a pipsqueak not fit for hunting palsied mice. (One wonders what the .410 would be for ... ants??) There's a big difference between 12 and 20, but not that big!

Tell me more about the Knoxx stock ... is it tough? Doesn't make the gun kick too hard? I've heard a lot of bad things about newfangled stocks (flimsy, cheap, etc.) that it's nice to start hearing some good things.

Anyway, good shooting, and welcome. Nice to hear people are giving the 20 its due.
+1 on the 20ga. Remington 870 youth. It's the only shotgun I own and it does it all!
Nothing wrong with your choice of 20-Ga. The 'Twenty' will do its job IF the operator does theirs.

I moved up to a 12-Ga from a 20 when we had to start using "unleaded" rounds for waterfowling. First year I used steel shot in my 20, I coulda sworn the ducks had sprouted Kevlar Feathers.
Daddy you did good! :)There has been a loaded 20 guage youth gun in my bedroom closet for many years. Remember to get your little girl to use it often and have lots of fun with it!
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