20 Gauge Shotgun: Know the Benefits of This Gun!

April 7, 2021

20 gauge shotgun


Did you know that 20 gauge shotguns are often considered the "all-around" shotgun? If you want to get a shotgun, but don't know what to choose, then this blog post is for you. This article will give all of the details about 20 gauge shotguns. We'll talk about how they differ from 12 gauge shotguns and why they're worth considering when looking at buying a shotgun. You should also read on if you need more information about cartridges!


20 gauge - Side by side

A 20 bore shotgun is a type of firearm that's often considered the "all-around" gun. It can be used for hunting and sport shooting. In comparison to 12 gauge shotguns. Which are popular with hunters because they have the ability to increase shot count per cartridge and a greater spread of shot. The main difference between them though comes down their size. While many people find 12 gauge shotguns too cumbersome if say walking through thick brush looking for game. Whereas 20 gauge shotguns are much lighter, which is why they're often used for hunting.


20 Gauge - Shooting small game

The 20 gauge shotgun is a versatile firearm. Which can be used for hunting and sport shooting, but also in competitions such as skeet or trap where the goal of hitting clay pigeons with pellets becomes more important than sheer power to kill game at greater ranges. These firearms are great because you have less recoil if you use the lighter loads and its a lighter gun!!! Making it easier on your shoulder when firing long strings (more shots) from this type gun.

But you must remember the recoil will actually be more if you use heavier loads because the gun is lighter. This means you wont have as much weight behind the gun to absorb the energy (this is what most people forget). The standard load for a 20 gauge and 12 gauge is 28 grams. This means if you use a 28 gram load in your 20 gauge and 12 gauge you will actually feel more recoil off the 20 gauge. Where you gain a benefit from the 12 bore is by using heavier cartridges such as 32 gram loads or 34 gram loads. 

Another important characteristic to remember with the 20 gauge is the pattern. A 20 gauge will shoot a much tighter pattern than a 12 bore simply because its got a narrower bore. This means you will have to use less restrictive chokes in your twenty bore to achieve an equal pattern to the 12 bore. Which isn't a problem at all, its just a case of knowing about it!


20 Gauge - Shooting clays

Most brands of shotguns on the market are very good these days. Beretta and Browning are still two very good standout shotguns. They brand of shotgun that you wish to purchase will come down to personnel preference the majority of the time. Pick what you like and then you can have adjustments to make it fit correctly for you. 


20 Gauge - Pump action

The most important thing to consider is what type of shotgun you are looking for. There may be a conventional style or an over and under, single shot break action gun that will suit your needs better than the other types available on the market today? As previously mentioned Beretta has some good options in their line up as well at Browning.


  • Over & Under: The most popular style of shotgun these days is the "over and under". This is because the majority of people claim they are more accurate to shoot. They point much better than a "side by side" shotgun! This is true for hunting and clay shooting and will be the type of shotgun that you encounter most. 
  • Side by Side: However, there are a lot of people that prefer the traditional style of shotgun such as the "side by side". There are a lot of reasons why this is a popular style. They have been around for so long and they do what you need them to, reliably! The "side by side" shotgun will be your best bet if hunting game very close up such as woodcock or rabbit. This is just my opinion because you see more of the animal and less of the barrel. Which I find more effective close up. 
  • Single barrel: Another choice is a single barrel shotgun. This is a popular choice for shooting for people starting out. Or someone who believes in giving the animal a chance with only one shot! However, a single barrel will not be your best option when hunting game, though! A second shot on many occasions becomes extremely handy. There's many a times when your out shooting where you don't see anything all day. Then a cluster of birds will get up in front of you, you need to take advantage of this situation!


  • Semi Automatic: These have become an extremely popular choice in recent years and have in many areas overtaken the over and under in terms of popularity! There's a two reasons for this. One is that they are much more affordable in price, and secondly their system of operation has become so perfected! They are now mechanically sound where as they never used to be. And you have the option of increasing your shot count dramatically which is the biggest attraction of course.
  • Pump Action: Pump action shotguns are a little bit more of an acquired taste than semi automatics. They take some getting used to if you're not already accustomed with them, but they do have their own advantages! One of the advantages to owning a pump action shotgun is that its quite a satisfying action to use! But in terms of practicality the semi autos have taken over.


Shotgun shells are relatively inexpensive and can be found in almost any gun shop. Although the prices are going up. The top three shells that I would recommend are:

  1. 1
    Gamebore: Game bore are now the stand out cartridge or shell if you ask me. They are hands down better than the rest out there. Particularly their "black gold" shell which is a very fast shotgun shell. 
  2. 2
    Fiocchi: Fiocchi is a very old company that has been in the business for well over 100 years. They have an excellent reputation and they produce some of most reliable shotgun shells on this list. They seem to of gotten better in recent years too with some of the patterns from their shotgun shells being the best I've seen. 
  3. 3
    Eley: Eley would have been at one stage the best cartridge that you could buy. However in recent years I've found several of their cartridges under performing. Some of them misfiring, poor patterning, slow and costly for their most expensive cartridges. However they do still produce some good cartridges and boast a very large selection to choose from!


20 gauge - Need less tight chokes

The smaller the bore size of a shotgun the larger the diameter of the barrel. The gauge of a shotgun is determined by: The number of lead balls equal to the diameter of the barrel it would take to weight 1 pound of lead. Therefore a 20 gauge or bore shotgun would take 20 lead balls of the diameter of the barrel to weigh 1 pound of lead.

Different sizes of shotgun gauges:

  • 2 Bore/gauge
  • 4 Bore/gauge
  • 6 Bore/gauge
  • 8 Bore/gauge
  • 10 Bore/gauge
  • 12 Bore/gauge
  • 16 Bore/gauge
  • 20 Bore/gauge
  • 28 Bore/gauge
  • .410 Bore/gauge


20 gauge

I'll start off with what I personally prefer, and that is a 20 bore. But to understand why I like that you must know what my use of the shotgun entails. And mys uses for the shotgun is mainly for shooting pheasants, ducks, rabbits, crows, pigeons. And occasionally I do some clay pigeon shooting. I love the 20 bore, it is so much lighter and smaller than your 12 bore but you don't really lose much at all. You have a little bit of added recoil when shooting heavier loads but then I'm not shooting all day either.

To me a 12 bore is massively overrated and a 20 bore would be my choice of gun every time in these scenarios. However, they do have their uses one of which being providing more recoil if your shooting all day. For example in a pigeon hide or clay shooting!! Or if you're after larger game often such as geese and foxes then you have the ability to up your load significantly. Here they can become beneficial.

There are other bores that have some popularity to an extent too. Such as your 16 bore or your 28 bore. But the truth of it is you don't really gain much by using these. You simply have much less choice when it comes to ammunition for no real benefit. 


Without a doubt the best gun for you to buy as a beginner would be a .410. They are affordable and they can be used for a variety of game. Mine was a little single barreled Baikal which i shot extremely accurately.

I was 10 years old when I received my 410 shotgun off of my Father at Christmas. It was a brilliant first gun and I never missed much with it at all. My father took us out into the woods to go hunting for rabbits and pheasants. 


Lets take a look at all the pros and cons of a 20 gauge shotgun. The pros and cons of the 20 gauge are being compared to that of a 12 gauge:



  • Light
  • Maneuverable
  • Can bring the gun up to your shoulder quicker!
  • Often feels much nicer to hold because its more slender
  • Often has more recoil
  • Cant shoot as heavier loads  
  • Cartridges more expensive
  • Less variety of cartridges to choose from



Jake's Outdoors is a blog for all of your hunting, fishing and general outdoor needs. Jake's Outdoors has created this space to help beginner level enthusiasts find their way into the world of outdoors and will provide advice on how to get started. We'll cover topics like what gear you need, where to go hunting or fishing in your area, how to cook fish/game animals you've caught as well as other general outdoor tips.

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