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Lets take a poll for everyone's choice of gun for quail, dove and other upland game. I'm in the market for a new upland gun and am curious to see how many people use a 12g or 20g and if they prefer a Over/under, Semi, or pump.

Include the following information
  • Is it a Over/under, Semi, or pump
  • Why you chose a Over/under, Semi, or pump
  • 20 or 12 gauge
  • Why 20g or 12g
  • And if you had to pick again would you still pick the one you have
Thanks everyone for their feedback
When I first moved to AZ, I went to buy a shotgun for dove season at a local shop in Yuma. They were basically begging folks to shoot a 20 gauge, because their stock just sat on the shells for years. Boy have things changed rather quickly in recent years as the older folks are sick of lugging around heavy 12 bores. If you’re looking for a used gun, there’s a steady influx of used 12 gauge models coming into stores like Cabelas.

A 12 gauge is very forgiving, which is advantageous for a guy who wants to just get out and kill game without having to put too much range time in.

Now being specific to the available wild birds we have here in AZ, a 20 gauge can do it all. Dove are easy to kill even at longer ranges and testing ones wit with a sub gauge will make you a better shot in the long run.

It really doesn’t matter what anybody else is shooting! What matters is what YOU want to shoot. I’ve watched a guy clean house on a skeet field with a cheap Mossy pump as dudes with high dollar double guns sat with a chagrin look on their faces.

If your survey is about one gun that can do it all, then my choice is a 20 gauge semi auto. Light and sporting, while still being able to shoot magnum loads with minimal recoil. Interchangeable chokes for different ranges and loads. Lots of guys romanticize lightweight double guns, but shooting mag loads through them is not pleasant. Shooting tight holding birds over a well trained gun dog is awesome, but those opportunities are becoming less and less with this drought and urban sprawl.
 

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When I first moved to AZ, I went to buy a shotgun for dove season at a local shop in Yuma. They were basically begging folks to shoot a 20 gauge, because their stock just sat on the shells for years. Boy have things changed rather quickly in recent years as the older folks are sick of lugging around heavy 12 bores. If you’re looking for a used gun, there’s a steady influx of used 12 gauge models coming into stores like Cabelas.

A 12 gauge is very forgiving, which is advantageous for a guy who wants to just get out and kill game without having to put too much range time in.

Now being specific to the available wild birds we have here in AZ, a 20 gauge can do it all. Dove are easy to kill even at longer ranges and testing ones wit with a sub gauge will make you a better shot in the long run.

It really doesn’t matter what anybody else is shooting! What matters is what YOU want to shoot. I’ve watched a guy clean house on a skeet field with a cheap Mossy pump as dudes with high dollar double guns sat with a chagrin look on their faces.

If your survey is about one gun that can do it all, then my choice is a 20 gauge semi auto. Light and sporting, while still being able to shoot magnum loads with minimal recoil. Interchangeable chokes for different ranges and loads. Lots of guys romanticize lightweight double guns, but shooting mag loads through them is not pleasant. Shooting tight holding birds over a well trained gun dog is awesome, but those opportunities are becoming less and less with this drought and urban sprawl.
Buster,
I agree with a lot of what you said.
Doves aren't hard to kill with a 20 gauge. Even a .410, for that matter. Gambles Quail on the other hand are a different story. They are tough birds! I tried hunting them with a 20 gauge. It went OK at first, but I started to lose a lot of wounded birds. Some required a second shot. The 20ga just wouldn't put them down for me. I used a modified choke and #6 High Brass Kent Fast Lead ammo. The last straw for me was a couple of seasons ago on the opener when I shot a Gambles from 15 yards. I saw the pattern on the bird. He was right in the center of it. He should have been deader than a beaver hat. Instead he basically looked at me and said, "That's all you got?" Then he ran off and I never found him.
From then on it has been the 12ga and High Brass Winchester X125 #5 ammo. It puts them down with authority and contrary to what most people think, does not destroy the birds. Of the 10 I bagged on last seasons opener every one was good to go.
If a 20ga works for you for Gambles, then by all means use it. I'll stick with the 12ga. Just my .02
 

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20g Armsport Over/ Under 3" - First gun at 12 yrs old, still have her 31 years later and she still shoots great.
Tristar 12g Semi
 

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Can you guys use lead shot in AZ or do you have to use non toxic shot. I would think that might be something to take into consideration when buying a gun, if you need to use steel.
 

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Buster,
I agree with a lot of what you said.
Doves aren't hard to kill with a 20 gauge. Even a .410, for that matter. Gambles Quail on the other hand are a different story. They are tough birds! I tried hunting them with a 20 gauge. It went OK at first, but I started to lose a lot of wounded birds. Some required a second shot. The 20ga just wouldn't put them down for me. I used a modified choke and #6 High Brass Kent Fast Lead ammo. The last straw for me was a couple of seasons ago on the opener when I shot a Gambles from 15 yards. I saw the pattern on the bird. He was right in the center of it. He should have been deader than a beaver hat. Instead he basically looked at me and said, "That's all you got?" Then he ran off and I never found him.
From then on it has been the 12ga and High Brass Winchester X125 #5 ammo. It puts them down with authority and contrary to what most people think, does not destroy the birds. Of the 10 I bagged on last seasons opener every one was good to go.
If a 20ga works for you for Gambles, then by all means use it. I'll stick with the 12ga. Just my .02
The #5 load you’re talking about is more a pheasant load then a quail load. The same can be shot in a 20 gauge, but with a slightly smaller payload. Bigger bore generally means bigger pattern, thus more forgiving. Do you have patterns of the hunting loads you’ve shot on paper? Last season, I hunted quail only one time with a 12 gauge and shot a bird my dog pointed at 20 yards and literally blew it up with #6 steel! I make my share of misses, but try to minimize the game I wound and generally a tighter choke allows for cleaner kills or cleaner misses regardless of gauge. This season, I’m developing 410 loads that will compete with any 12 gauge load. For quail, I have #7.5/6 Hevi Shot loads that will hit harder than the #5 lead loads you speak of. I agree a larger bore will generally kill more game easier for any particular shooter, but smaller bores can be used to effectively kill all our available game. Just look at the popularity of TSS and 410s for turkey hunting. I have a friend in IL that killed over a hundred geese last season using his custom load of a half ounce of #7 heavyweight shot (15g/cc) in a 2.5” .410 shell, so its not the gauge that is the limiting factor.
 

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I shoot a Benelli SBE II 12 ga. semi-auto for everything. It's mainly my duck gun but it works great for pheasants and chukar too. It's probably a little overkill for quail and dove but it's super dependable and I'm so familiar with it that I see no need to change it. I like the look and feel of O/U shotguns, especially Browning's, but I like having that 3rd shot!
 

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I've used a 20 gauge O/U the past three years, but I'm selling it and moving into the semi world. Picked up a cheap Dickinson 12 gauge inertia last year that I let my little brother use for our dove hunt. The thing ran like a champ! I still limited well before he did though :LOL:
 

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Can you guys use lead shot in AZ or do you have to use non toxic shot. I would think that might be something to take into consideration when buying a gun, if you need to use steel.
There are some restrictions, but it is mostly a lead friendly state.
 

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Legacy recurve with blunts on fluflu arrows.
25850
 

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I hunted a lot last season with a 28ga (and missed a lot), small gauge guns are lighter and you can carry nearly a box of shells in your pocket. One of the guys I hunt with love's 16ga, he didn't miss nearly as often, but I think if we swapped guns, he'da still outshot me.

I really like SxS, but I think I shoot better with a pump.... break open guns are shorter and you can carry them open in the crook of the arm leaving both hands free.

its easy to catch the empties when opening a break open or control when you open a pump, a semiauto tosses the empty way out that way, right into a cactus or some other place you're not looking so you end up littering a bit. (speaking of cactus, get a metal dog grooming comb to pull the jumping cholla out of you or dog and carry small pliers to pull thorns out of dog after every trip.)

II might hunt some of next season with a SxS muzzleloader.

quail season is early oct thru early feb, lotsa days and lotsa desert to cover, buy some of each and report back to us!

Poole
 

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Not much bird hunting lately so I just stick with 50-year hand downs, a Marlin Mark 1 12 g pump, Very light and easy to handle. May switch that out for a 410 double made in Spain by Zavala
 

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Not much bird hunting lately so I just stick with 50-year hand downs, a Marlin Mark 1 12 g pump, Very light and easy to handle. May switch that out for a 410 double made in Spain by Zavala
Now you’re talking. I’ve been practicing with my 410s and jumping to such a small bore has been challenging!
 
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